We haven’t reviewed any reels in a while because when we do obtain a new reel, we like to give it plenty of time on the water to see not only how it handles brand new, out of the box, but also if any peccadilloes arise over time.
Let’s face it, we’ve gotten some reels that during initial testing perform without a hitch and others, that given a few months, begin to break down very quickly. So, without further ado, let’s take an in-depth look at the Quantum PT Smoke 150 Casting Reel.
I’m sure that a lot of you are aware that this reel was all the buzz at ICAST 2011. The reason is the engineering of this product was such that you could tell the folks at Quantum spent a lot of time and effort to develop it not only as a standalone item but also as a launching pad for future offerings.
There are now a number of sub 7 ounce reels on the market that use various materials to achieve this but we were more interested in this one because it stuck with using aluminum as opposed to graphite or magnesium to achieve this.
I guess I’m showing my age but good old fashioned metal has always felt better in hand to me than the newer exotics being used today. Add to that the fact that nothing in my view has proven itself to be more rigid over time, then you can empathize with our intrigue over the Smoke.
Quantum Smoke PT 150 Specs
For starters we’ll give you the specs for comparison sake. The Smoke 150 tips the scales at 6.8 ounces, comes in both right and left hand retrieve (although you can’t get the cranking ratio in left yet), uses an 8 bearing system with Quantum’s proprietary bearings, EVA foam grips, a swept, skeletal handle, Quantum’s proven layered ceramic Drag System with published pressure in the mid-teens and their external micro-adjustable centrifugal braking. It retails for about $220.00 with no price difference between the various gear ratios which are 7.3:1, 6.6:1 and 5.3:1.
The 5.3:1 is what is not available in left-hand retrieve yet, which is a huge issue for the team here at MVF! Attention Quantum: As soon as you make the left handed retrieve available, shoot us an email!
Here is why we chose the 150 over the 100. Two main reasons motivated our decision. The first being that the 150 obviously has a larger line capacity which we wanted for the applications we intended to use this reel and secondly, the 150 utilizes the micro-adjustable ACS as opposed to the 100 which uses the standard ACS.
The difference between the two is that both systems uses 9 braking pins but the standard has 4 settings – complete free-spool and each successive increment employs 3 of the braking pins. The micro-adjustable ACS has the same 9 braking pins but the adjustments are complete free-spool and each successive increment employs 1 of the braking pins. The result being that the 150 can be more finely tuned than the 100. Okay, so now let’s get it on the water!
On The Water
We paired the Smoke with a Smoke rod as the two together weigh less than 10 ounces. With the reel fully spooled, the balance point was about an inch above the foregrip. So far, so good. This combination is built to be well balanced and they have achieved that.
The first lure that we tied on was a square bill crankbait. So we did the initial set-up on the brakes and drag, reared back and let her fly. The reel was quiet, smooth and the braking was just right. Our bait hit precisely where we aimed it and we began our retrieve.
Now I realize that “quiet” is a subjective term. With the Smoke as with most reels that use a centrifugal braking system, there is a subtle whine from the reel as your lure is sailing toward its target. In the case of the Smoke, that whine is kind of a mid-range tone that lets you know you’re in control.
We began our retrieve which was very smooth and fluid without a hitch. Between the rod and reel the feel that is transmitted to your hands is certainly above average. There is no problem discerning between soft and hard cover; a definite plus for baits like cranks that you want to make contact with submerged cover.
We have fished a wide variety of lures with the Smoke’s. The results have been similar with all of them. Better than average feel for what the lure is doing and never have we felt as though the reel has been over matched while throwing baits up to 1.75 ounces.
We’ve managed to land some decent fish with the Smoke albeit nothing to truly test the drag’s reported maximum pressure. Fish in the 5 pound class are handled with ease as are every other fish that we have hooked into with this reel. There is no noticeable flex or stress on the reel and it continues to perform just the way it did the day we took it out of the box.
Before You Fish
At this point I do want to let you know that every new reel we get gets a little maintenance prior to hitting the water. Besides our inquisitive nature in terms of viewing the guts of any new piece of equipment, we like to do a few simple things to ensure the performance of any new reel. That being to lube them prior to spooling them up.
Our thinking is that we don’t know how long any new reel has taken to get from the factory to us. Days or weeks spent in transit in the hold of a ship or on the back of a train or truck trailer and of course time spent on the shelf can hinder its performance. If you simply lube the bearings before you spool up, you may find, as we have, that you get the best from a reel.
We have been fishing the Smoke’s for a while now and have not had any issues with them. On the contrary, when you have a combination that weighs so little, fishing all day doesn’t tax you like it does when using heavier gear.
If there is one area that we have found is less than our expectations it is that while the 150 casts very well, it doesn’t give us the same distance with very light lures as some other reels do. The flip side to this is that it handles lures on the heavier side better than most other reels at this price point. Now the distance on light lures isn’t by any means terrible. It is really just a matter of a few feet. However, if you fish a lot, you will notice those few feet.
Taken in its entirety, the Smoke is an extremely light, well executed reel that we imagine we will be fishing for years to come.
See ya’ on the water …