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Reviews

Friday, 09 December 2016 11:37

Tronixpro Virtuoso XT & ST Fixed-Spool Reels

Much of Tronixpro’s pedigree is in supplying match quality terminal tackle and rods. The company’s high end, Continental-style surfcasting rods designed with a local twist have become game changers and helped accelerate the move to a more Continental style of fishing in the UK. It was only natural then that the company would at some stage look at producing a fixed-spool reel to match their successful range of rods.

The Virtuoso range – compromising two reels, the premium XT and the entry level ST – are designed primarily as a long-distance casting tools, ideally suited to Continental surfcasting rods. They’re built with large spools that allow line to peel off with minimum friction to aid casting… but that’s not the clever bit. One of the most frustrating things with owning a fixed-spool reel is that when you want to use different line setups, finding spare spools for your reels can be a nightmare.

Virtuoso reels completely eliminate this with the ability to buy separate spools, an interchangeable concept where you can literally run as many spare spools as you want. This versatility makes it an ideal reel for the angler who requires several spools covering different line types and diameters to match the venue they’re fishing.

Virtuoso spools are available in three sizes – shallow,  medium and deep. The shallow spool is ideally suited to fishing with low diameter, lighter lines and braid. With enough capacity to take 350 metres of 0.20mm line, it enables you to fish at range with fine line without having to add backing as you would on standard sized spools.

The medium spool is an all-rounder, giving you plenty of capacity to fit the larger diameter lines on. It gives you a range of 380 metres when filled with 0.35mm line, or 295 metres with 0.45mm line. The medium will probably be the most widely used spool, so Tronixpro has supplied both the XT and ST model with this spool as standard. The deep spool is a monster, capable of holding 475 metres of 0.40mm line. This is the brute you need when you’re fishing rough ground with a large amount of heavier line.

Each spool is made from aluminium for lightness and strength. To aid distance casting the spools have a smooth, tapered lip that allows line to spool off with as little friction as possible. All spare spools are supplied in a fetching gunmetal finish, coupled with a unique colour to differentiate each spool. The shallow spool is gold, the medium green and the deep orange. Each spool fits both the XT and the ST reels.

You also get a nifty elasticated spool band with each spool to secure your line; again, these can be purchased separately. And if you want to store all of these spools in an organised manner Tronixpro has you covered. The latest luggage collection includes a spool bag that enables you to carry six spools neatly in your tackle box.

The first reel in the range is the Virtuoso ST, a stunning looking model finished in all black with metallic red details around the handle. The handle itself is CNC machined for high strength, with a rubberised grip to avoid slippage that’s large enough to enable you to crank the reel if you have to. The bail arm is again finished in all black with a gold line roller. It comes with a medium sized aluminium spool finished in black with red details around the spool base and lip. The Virtuoso XT is finished in silver with a dark, almost purple metallic detailing that makes it stand out. Again the reel features a precision engineered CNC machine handle but the grip has been upgraded to a large, ergonomic, EVA grip that gives you the capacity to crank in most fish you’re likely to encounter off the shore. The bail arm is finished in silver with a gold line roller. Two aluminium spools are provided with the XT, a medium and a deep spool, both of which are finished in the same gunmetal as the spare spools but instead feature black detail on the spool base and lip.

Both reels are an 8000 size, ideal for most beachcasting scenarios, and constructed from a durable, lightweight graphite body. Weighing in at 530g for the XT and 590g for the ST, they are relatively lightweight and balance a Continental-style surfcasting rod well.

When it comes to casting, line lay can seriously hamper distance. Both reels feature a slow oscillation system for an intricate, balanced line lay that ensures there is no bunching and the line can’t dig into itself.

Under the hood the reels feature stainless steel bearings, which are shielded to prevent any nasties getting into them from the harsh saltwater environment. The ST features nine bearings and the XT has 11. These high bearing numbers give the reels a very smooth feel on the retrieve; the extra two bearings in the XT make a noticeable difference to the overall feel. Each reel is powered by a worm shaft to increase the amount of grunt the reel has to battle larger species from the shore, and both reels have a gear ratio of 4.6:1. Finally, the front drag system features three drag discs to provide the brakes for when the larger fish come calling, and the drag knob features a precision “click” for fine-tuning.

To see how the reel performed in the field we arranged to meet up with Tronixpro marketing manager Mike Thrussell Jr at one of his local beaches in North Wales. He wanted us to test out the reel with the Tronixpro rods and also with some different line options to see what we thought. We’d also get to have a bit of a fish too. The ST had been coupled with the 4.5m Tronixpro Medusa, with the fine tip, for working closer inshore looking for flounders. The XT had been coupled with the 4.2m Cobra for casting distance, looking for what else would be out there. Both reels complement the rods well, providing well-balanced outfits that aren’t too heavy and are a pleasure to use. Casting the rods demonstrates that the reels are more than capable of keeping up with the distances these rods can achieve when wound up.

The morning was spent catching flounders and dogfish; the flounders were all caught close in to about 30 yards, with the dogfish coming at range. Quite often two dogfish at a time would be hauled to the shingle, there was no obvious strain or difficulties evident on the XT reel and it seemed to cope with everything that was thrown at it with ease. Mike said that in field-testing trials, the XT has landed smoothhounds to over 10lb and there had been no negative reports coming back into the company.

The England Junior team put the reels to good use at the recent Home Internationals in Norfolk, again with no negative reports. It was noticeable that the EVA handle on the XT was helping to make winding in from long distance much easier; it’s also warm to the touch, something we’re sure would be gratefully received in the depths of winter! The ST rubberised handle is also a godsend – when your hands are covered in bait juices it makes life just that little bit easier. Line lay was spot on, we couldn’t fault it.

In conclusion, it’s a good, well thought out package. We love the fact you can own a reel and finally be able to easily purchase spare spools to host as many different lines as you want, without hassle. We also like the fact that both reels can accept all Virtuoso spools. This brings the reels’ versatility into two price points that are affordable to all.

The reels match the performance of many of their more expensive rivals and are going to find an ideal home in the armouries of the match angler who needs the versatility offered by the Virtuoso concept. For the price, you’re getting a lot of reel.

Spare Spools Shallow (350m of 0.20mm; 250m of 0.28mm; 200m of 0.35mm) RRP: £17.99 Medium (380m of 0.35mm; 330m of 0.40mm; 295 of 0.45mm) RRP: £15.99 Deep (475m of 0.40mm; 422m of 0.45mm; 380m of 0.50mm) RRP: £15.99 Reels come with reel bags and each spool has a spool band included; all spare spools come with spool bands.

Virtuoso ST Weight: 590g Gear ratio: 4.6:1 Bearings: 9+1 Spool included: Medium RRP: £59.99

Virtuoso XT Weight: 530g Gear ratio: 4.6:1 Bearings: 11+1 Spools included: Medium, Deep RRP: £79.99

Contact TronixproT: 01903 732567

www.tronixfishing.com

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