It all seems so silly now but it was not so long ago when I was actually scared of baitcasting reels. I was about 11 years-old when I was first handed a Penn 500 saltwater conventional reel to drop to the bottom on a boat. I recall the incident vividly and assume that others have had similar encounters. As you may have guessed, as soon as that weight hit the bottom the spool kept going and I had a huge bird’s nest to deal with. Ever since then I was sticking with spinning reels until I started watching YouTube and saw so many anglers casting for bass using baitcasters. I was intrigued and was so curious about what the benefits were and if I could look as cool as the pros with those smooth flicks and rod “looping” to send the baits just gliding perfectly to a targeted location. Since I was tubing in harbors hunting for spotted bay bass here in Southern California, I had to give it a try.
I started looking for a good fit, I did not want to spend much, the reel had to be good in the saltwater and I had to have some built in help since I knew what the consequence of a bad cast was. I had already known about KastKing from a Perigee II rod I had just bought so thought I would take a look to see if they had anything for me. Bazinga! KastKing had just announced a new model reel to their many baitcasting reels, the Royale Legend GT.
Taking a look at how well the reel fit what I thought I needed, it checked all the boxes. First off, the thing just looks super sleek. Black and with a matte red finish to minimize all my finger prints. It even had a nice wide thumb switch, just on the aesthetics I was enamored with and already it was in consideration.
The reel had to be able to be used in saltwater and sure enough, it had five double shielded bearings that would prevent saltwater from getting in and causing too much corrosion. Now about that help; I needed to learn how to use it. My Royale Legend GT came with eight magnets that were fully adjustable to help minimize the dreaded bird nesting. I could just turn the dial depending on how much weight I was using and off I went! Seemed easy enough. My shopping was over, I had to get this reel to give it a try. After all that, I could not believe that I could get exactly what I was looking for, for under $40.
Thanks to Amazon, two days later I had the reel in hand. I noticed that the reel also had some other really nice features that I did not know I needed but was happy to experience. First of all, the spool was large enough for me to load plenty of 15lbs braid on it. I had beefed up my braid rating to reduce the chance of line cutting when my targeted bass would wrap around pylons in the harbors and was happy to see that the Royale Legend GT could more than accommodate it. The brass nozzle that the line came out of was smooth and did not seem to cause any drag during casts. The little knob to adjust the spool clicked, so I knew when I was turning it and it stayed put. All features I had no idea to look for until I started fidgeting with it and started to think I knew why something was working the way it was. I was so impressed at how the spool on the reel was so smooth. I would sit and just spin the handle and then click the thumb button and watch the spool just spin and spin. Nothing on the reel felt cheap or like plastic, not being an expert or anything, I felt comforted that I did not get cheated.
Okay, so now it was time to give this new toy a try. I spooled it up and went out. I noticed right away that all that sweeping motions and little flicks were just not going to be possible on a float tube. I was stuck with overhand casting if I wanted to use a baitcaster since I could not get the rod beneath me and my range of movement was limited. All good, I cranked up the magnets on the side to have them slow down the spool and went for it. I realized pretty quickly that if I was going to practice this, I should use monofilament line since once braid line gets wet, it is pretty hard to untangle a nest. Another key element is, you must be careful with the rod movement when you cast. You cannot jerk or twitch when you cast it takes a bit more finesse, but when you get it right you can see why these types of reels are so popular. When on my tube it is more difficult, but I have also tried using it at a park lake while standing up. The way one of these reels spools line off reduces the amount of “noise” as the line goes through the guides. I believe this is why people use them more, they seem like that are just more accurate with distance and ease of use. I thought more about it and noted that the energy to cast seems easier with less movements needed to cast as there is no need to flip a bail or to worry about line twist from wind knots. With that in mind, I started to think about how awesome using one of these would be in the surf where you are casting all the time and have a need to reel in (when the waves come in) and then release line (when the waves pull out). While it was working and I was getting the action I was looking for, I needed to step down the line weight to get more distance.
I have now continued my path and have caught literally hundreds of fish with my Royale Legend. The drag has never let me down with plenty of force to pull my beloved spotted bass out of the crevasses in the docks. Like any sand or bottom type bass when you get that bite, you need to reel just about as fast as you can for just a few yards to keep the fish from ducking into a rock structure and pin themselves in. With a gear ratio of over 7:1 this baitcasting reel can take in almost 30 inches per turn. That allows me to get that slack taken in and have the pressure directly on the fish before they can turn their head and dig themselves in.
I was already thinking about buying another Royale Legend GT, perhaps larger for some bait and wait in the surf or to try for bonita and calico on boats, the opportunities were endless. At this point I felt that I would never be going back to only a spinning reel or conventional angler. A successful first venture and I had felt confident that I chose wisely with my first baitcaster.
Photo 1 – Sleek and vibrant this reel has been plenty of outings and still looking incredible
Photo 2 – Plenty of drag to haul in the big boys.
Alakai is an avid angler who fishes the waters in Southern California. Whether on charter boats, fresh water parks, surf or in the harbors and bays, Alakai loves getting out as much as he can to enjoy the sport of fishing