Saturday, February 5, 2011

Van Staal Reels.....Worth the Price?

One question I am frequently asked is whether a Van Staal reel is worth the over $700 price tag.

I have been using bail-less Van Staal reels since they came out over a decade ago. I have a VS 150 and VS 200 reel and I have had them for about 12 years. I got the reels as gifts from the original company after I made a very successful promotional video for them when they were just getting started. Since then the company has been sold several times.

Here are the positives. The reel has become the workhorse of real good surf fishermen. Fish a spot where the sharpies hang out, and I would say 7 out of 10 of them will be reeling Van Stalls. Their toughness and durability is unequaled in the surf and breakdowns are rare. They are sealed reels and completely corrosion resistant. I also love the instant anti reverse bearings that only allow the reel to move in one direction. I also favor a bail -less reel. Maintenance is minimal....spray them down after use, occasionally lightly lubricate exposed parts.

Here are some negatives. I was never that thrilled with their drags, not real smooth, but only adequate. Their rollers suck as I tend to replace them (about $30 apiece) just about every year because of grooves that develop from the braided line, and rollers are not covered under my lifetime warranty. Casting distance is only adequate; big pit reels will easily outdistance them. And, maintenance is costly. I curse every year when I have to send my two reels in for yearly service ($50 apiece) in order to maintain the lifetime warranty. I love reels that I can take apart and repair myself like the old Penn 704's and 706's.

So, that's about it. Are they worth it? They are costly, no doubt, but most diehard fishermen say they are well worth the big bucks. If there is a better reel on the market these days for a reasonable price of under $200 I think it would be a hit. I haven't found that reel yet.