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Finding the Perfect Teaser Reel

Capt. Skip Smith’s opinions on this key piece of gear

June 21, 2021
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A blue marlin caught on a fishing leader.
Teasing in a hot blue marlin is one of the biggest thrills in sport fishing. Richard Gibson

There are many different choices for teaser reels on the market today—from the old red Elec-Tra-Mate and pancake-style reels to the Miya Epoch brand. I remember the days when an old Penn Senator 6/0 was hanging off many bridge rails. Then a few guys started using the fancy gold reels, such as the Penn Internationals and Shimano Tiagras that they hand-cranked whenever the lines were cleared.

For me, the biggest problem came when we started switch-baiting for marlin and sailfish. To tease in the fish, we would hand-line the teaser, stopping to be sure the billfish was still there, and then hand-lining as fast as we could to keep the marlin or sailfish from getting a good grip on the teaser. It is also one thing to tease small blue marlin—they can get a good grip on the teaser but usually don’t have a huge Brazilliano inside their mouth either. When a large marlin gets a really good grip on the teaser, you need to be able to let go. Taking proper wraps during the tease is just as important as when you wire one from the cockpit. If the fish disappears, you have a handful of mono while keeping an eye on the other bridge teaser and/or cockpit teasers. If the fish piles on the other bridge teaser, do you dump the mono in your hands and start to hand-line the other teaser? Might there still be one on that teaser? Also, did you turn the steering wheel on the first bite and now you want to turn the other way to give the billfish some cleaner water to make the switch? How nice it would be to just push the button on an electric teaser reel and have it reel in the teaser fast enough to tease the fish, especially since hand-lining 100 feet of 300- to 400-pound-test mono left quite a few captains with scars on the backs of their hands. That’s why you need to push the button and have a teaser reel that can really reel it in—fast!

Watch: Check out the ACY 67 here.

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In the past, I did not believe in pushing a button and letting the reel tease in the fish. Plus, all of the electric teaser reels that I had seen being used were too slow. Most marlin would have eaten the bait off the end of the teaser or chewed on the teaser so many times that they would have been spooked off. Keep in mind that a billfish has chased plenty of live baitfish over the course of their lives and never had their face beaten so badly as trying to eat a teaser again and again.

On the seamounts of the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, you often can be teasing a marlin on one teaser and have two more trying to eat the other one. That is when you need to be able to reach over and push the button, but it really would be nice to have a reel that would wind at a faster speed than what most other teaser reels can retrieve. You need to clear that other teaser immediately.

When I found the new Shimano BeastMaster ­electric reels, I hooked them up and went to the seamounts. They have a line counter, so when you push the button to clear the teaser, they stop right where you wanted them to. But the most impressive part was the speed at which they pull in the big softhead lures we use for our bridge teasers. I could hand-line one, and when I needed to get the other one out of the way, I just pushed the lever, and the other teaser was cleared quickly.

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Recently, I was invited to Lindgren-Pitman to see their new bridge teaser reels. I will say that this reel setup is pretty incredible. It will let out the teaser with a touch of the screen, not to mention the retrieval speed and power is unmatched, again all with the touch of the screen. Most all of us use LPs for our dredge reels and know how powerful and reliable these products are. Someone will get the first one soon and then you will get to experience it for yourself. It just might be the best teaser reel I’ve ever seen.

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