For lure anglers at least, the world of medium to high end reels is dominated by two Japanese brands..Shimano and Daiwa. Sure there are some popular and well made reels being produced by Okuma, Spro, Mitchell and Fox to name just a few, but in reality the quality reel market is pretty much dominated by the “Big Two”.
So for another manufacturer to design a product that will persuade UK anglers to think outside the box, leave aside their brand loyalty and spend their hard earned cash on something different, is a big ask. It is however a question that US Company quantum have asked themselves..and there answer is the Exo PT.
|Reel type||Fixed spool|
|Price||expect to pay around £200|
The Exo isn’t new, which in some ways is an advantage. It was first shown to the US tackle trade back in 2012 so if there were any glaring issues, they would be well known by now. Searching google for problems being raised on forums doesn’t seem to yield much, so that would indicate that this is a pretty dependable reel with no big issues.
When you first feast your eyes on the Exo, the first thing that strikes you is that this is a fairly radical looking reel. Design wise it’s stunning..or at the very least it’s quite different, almost everyone I’ve spoken to thinks it looks pretty cool, a little futuristic and certainly a head turner.
So what’s the thinking behind the reel from the designers point of view ? Well the official Zebco blurb suggests that the design is all about minimum weight and maximum rigidity and strength..
“Metal Where it Matters”. That’s the thinking behind our exoskeletal hybrid construction. It
combines a special, ultra-rigid aluminum alloy in load bearing areas with a lightweight composite
that reduces weight in non-critical locations by 50%. This allows us to build the lightest possible
frame with absolutely no sacrifice in strength. In fact, it’s 38% stronger than magnesium and 6
times stronger than a graphite composite frame.”
Unfortunatley Luretour is not blessed with a state of the art science lab, so we can’t test out Quantum’s claims of being 38% stronger than magnesium or 600% stronger than Graphite composite, but what we can do it actually go fishing with it. So that’s what we did.
Well before you go fishing, you have to spool up some line and the ExoPT 30 certainly holds plenty of line. The reel ate up 150m of 15lb braid and about the same of mono backing with no problem at all. In fact I must admit I would have quite liked the option of a shallow spool, but certainly the reel loads nice and evenly and we got a nice consistent fill straight out of the box without having to mess with adding or removing washers. I tend to prefer to under fill my fixed spool reels, especially if they are going to be used mainly for canal and small river work as getting maximum distance from casts isn’t really necessary, but easy line management on freezing cold and windy days is.
The Exo features 11 bearings, so you would expect it to be smooth and it is. Not quite up there with a Stella or a Certate, but then it’s a good way cheaper than those reels, but certainly as smooth as a Shimano Stradic or Technium. The reel has a nice feel to it and line lay is very consistent. Drag wise the reel features a mixture of carbon fibre, ceramic and stainless steel and the drag seemed very smooth and easy to set. Unfortunatley during the couple of weeks we had to test the reel we never hit anything really big enough to test the drag to it’s max, but the fish that did take line, took it without jerkiness or issues. Seemingly the use of some ceramic washers in the drag system is to dissipate the heat generated by long, fast runs from hooked fish..well we would have loved to have tested this out on some pacific GT’s but all we really had available were canal perch and well…screaming runs that induce overheat in your drag system isn’t something that perch are really very good at.
Weight wise the 30 size reel definitely feels lighter in use than some of my other similarly sized reels, however somehow the smaller 15 size version (which a friend of mine has) feels much more suited to light lure work. The 20 size feels much more comfortable when used for lures of 10g and up. One thing that might come as a surprise is that there is no anti-reverse off switch on the reel, so you can’t backwind. Now many anglers virtually never backwind anyway, but I know some guys who are very good at vertical jigging, for whom back-winding is an essential part of the way they fish, so the Exo will not be the reel for them.
So what about the benefits of the much hyped aluminium frame ? well it certainly does give the reel a lovely solid core and in fact the reel as a whole features very few plastic parts which makes me think this is a reel that will wear well. The bail arm is worth mentioning too as it’s made from “Ni-Ti” material which I believe is the makers name for Nickel Titanium. Now nickel titanium has two very cool properties. It is actually able to stretch and move quite easily (for a solid metal) and is defined as “super elastic”. It also has excellent shape memory which means that even after it’s super elastic qualities have been utilised it will reform in it’s previous shape. Simply put…you can drop and bend the bail arm..but it will just pop straight back to it’s original shape. You can actually try it if your brave, just take your thumb and forefinger and twist the bail arm..without a huge amount of pressure it bends and distorts, but as soon as you release the pressure the bail arm snaps back into place as if it had never been bent. Very neat and very helpful if you have a tendency to drop, stand on or otherwise abuse your tackle.
So is it all just good then ?
Well maybe not. One of the concerns we have about the reel is the amount of “unnecessary” parts of the reel that have been cut away to make weight savings. All this porting means that there is quite a lot of the reels moving parts exposed. Now we are assured that all the key areas are sealed and protected and it’s absolutely true that we didn’t have any issues with grit or debris getting into the important moving parts during testing, but I just have concerns about how you stop at least some build up of dust and grit over a long period. During our testing period the weather was damp and cold, so there was very little dust and grit being blown about. I wonder just how would build up over the course of a long hot summer. Unfortunately it’s a question we can’t answer after a two week test, but it’s something to consider.
The other thing that we noticed was maybe a little picky and is purely cosmetic, but the two parts of the handle are made from different material which don’t actually match very well, which is a shame since this is a reel that prides itself on good looks. One part of the handle is matt and the other is shiny, which makes the crank arm look like a bit of an afterthought.
Overall this is a really lovely reel. It’s smooth, solid and light. The drag is excellent and the looks are stunning. In the smaller 15 size format in particular this is a fantastic reel for light lure work that will look tarty with just about any rod. We love the flexible Ni-Ti bail arm and the whole reel feels well engineered. However if you want to be able to backwind this isn’t the reel for you and we reserve some concerns about dust and grime ingress over the long term..that said, with more and more lure anglers upgrading their tackle and looking for something just a little bit different, we certainly expect to see more Expo PT’s on the banks this season…we might even splash out and get the little 15 size model ourselves.
Our sample reel was arranged by www.lurelounge.com who hold stock of the reel