13 Fishing Tear Drop Review by Joe

November 24, 2013 - I think this is the earliest I've ever been on the ice.

Last night, before I closed up the shop, I grabbed a 13 Fishing Tear Drop reel and went to spool it up. This is an odd looking contraption for a fishing reel and nobody on the planet has anything like it. You've perhaps heard of underspin reels; the kind where it is closed face reel that has a little lever on it for "pushing the button" and you can put it on any spinning rod. Handy little reel for those eventually seeking to get into a more grown-up spinning reel, but it's still a closed face reel and only good for summer use. Well, the 13 Tear Drop is a like an "under-baitcast reel". You can put it on any winter spinning rod and that opens up a world of options like rod lengths and weights from a 17" UL sight rod to a 36" laker rod. But, for reasons I won't go into, it is a hardwater reel only.

When I spooled it up, just like any low-profile, bait caster reel, I struggled to get 4 lb mono on it. It would go every where but where I pushed it, so I finally popped the side cover off by pushing the little, flush, release button and rotating the side cover down about a 1/4" and it lifts right off. Then I grabbed the spool spindle ( metal pin) and lifted the spool out of the reel housing. I ran the line through the reel hole and then tied it on to the spool. Slid the spool back into place and noted that there were bearings on each side as well as places that could be greased where the spindle was held. At 13 Fishing, they used very little grease for what looks to be to prevent clogging that too much grease might do. . I didn't mess with "making it better". I slid the spool back in place the way I found it making sure the line when through the exit hole (don't know what to call the hole where the line comes and goes) and gently placed the side cover back on in the same position as it came off. Gave it a counter-clockwise rotation and "click"; it was back together.

I tightened down the spool of line on our line winder and cranked it on to the Tear Drop. My guess was that the line would more or less "self-level" like it does on a truck winch. Even at 4 lb. test, it did that. I cranked on a bunch but not a completely full spool of (egads!) regular open water line. It wasn't labeled "ice " line!!!!!! I say this because there is a HUGE and I mean HUUUUGGGGGE perception out there that all line manufacturers use a "special formulation" resin for ice fishing. Open water line will apparently explode or at very least, catch on fire if used in the winter through the ice. I don't know how we ever survived when I was a kid because we used summer line in the winter and vice versa all the time. That was back when Stren was total crap line and we wouldn't use it because it was brittle. Probably sat in the sun or there was something wrong with the rod tip or reel. Didn't matter what the reason of if the line got a fair shake. We didn't use it ever again. Unfortunately, this is a prevalent syndrome among fisherman. It's called confidence tackle and gear. You stick with what worked for you back when your grandpappy was still in his 50's and you never , ever, try something new. That's because today is the last day you'll ever be able to fish and you have to make every minute count. Tomorrow, apparently an asteroid will be wiping out the planet and mankind. So, trying something new in line is done with extreme prejudice.

Anyway, I put on Silver Thread AN40 4 lb. test (Japanese line on a reel made in China - conflict potential here) found some tackle and hit the hay. I was surprised that I had to do ver little contorting to get the line to end up fairly evenly on the spool. There was also ample capacity. Upon initial examination of this reel, I thought the capacity looked small. It is not. Tomorrow's a test morning. It's a dirty job but somebody's got to do it.

This morning I got up went downstairs and stoked the fire in Kuma, and got my gear on. I swung by the store and grabbed a brand new Nils 6" hand auger for my ice tester and headed down to the lake. Black ice with white ribbons of snow zigzagging along what were fault lines as the ice formed in the last two days. It's about 5 degrees F right now and the wind is blowing from the southwest. I step onto the ice and make sure I get far enough out away from the beach. Don't want to screw up a new Nils by driving it into the sand below. I begin drilling by spinning the auger using the offset handles with no downward pressure on the auger. In 7 turns, it goes clean through. Upon cleaning away the chips and slush there proves to be about 5" of ice. So, I advance northward on the ice sheet and in 30 feet, I do six cranks with the Nils auger not wanting to go through and reach down and scoop out the chips with my mitt. It's a dry hole in about 4 inches of solid ice. I continued on testing ever thirty feet or so. Every now an then, the auger would go through in almost seven revolutions but the ice was fairly consistent. I went out to the bluegill hunting grounds from last winter and this summer. You could see the weeds through the ice and every now and then, an auger hole would suddenly cause a long crack that would run in two different directions like a windshield hit by a rock from a logging truck tire. People who are not used to seeing this kind of sudden cracking get all twitchy. I do not.

I followed my safe-ice trail back and got my gear. I put on my full Arctikon Suit because I was going to be sitting in the wind. I also put tungsten ice creepers on because it's a big, slippery skating rink right now. Got out, drilled my hole and dug out the Tear Drop. Hit the thumb release bar and down went my jig. It was an historic moment. The crowds cheered, or at least the wind howled.

Back at the store, I tested the drag on the Tear Drop by pulling it off the end of the rod as would a fish. It felt good. It wasn't perhaps as smooth as other spendy baitcasters out there ( I have no idea why it has to be so smooth as I don't believe it matters that much) but it worked very well and was very adjustable with the star drag on the crank. In the hole, I dropped down various little tungsten Pelkies. You push the button ( would be the thumb release on a regular low-pro bass reel) and the line drops smoothly. It's only 5 degrees out and I'm having no trouble getting jigs to drop in a controlled manner. Unlike a spinning reel where the line just dumps off of a stationary spool with no moving parts, you need to remember that the line on the Tear Drop is rollng a spool to release line from it. It won't be as fast or as sloppy as a spinning reel. You may have to lift the rod up to dump more line but it was uneventful but very effective.

As I jigged, twitched, vibrated and did whatever I thought would bring in the gills for a looksee, the hole kept freezing over almost instantly. The line built up that familiar stretch of ice on it and I cranked it right into the reel. You know what happens when you crank wet and frozen mono into a Tear Drop reel when it's 5 degrees out with about 15 mph wind? Nothing. Ice went in and came back out without a problem. The only sticking point I had was the ice in the eyes of the rod. That wasn't the reel's fault. The TearDrop has a smoking fast return. Incidentally, that 4 lb summer line rolled out just fine. Didn't become incorrigible. No issues whatsoever as I expected.

Didn't catch a fish but I got to test out the reel in live conditions.

Why do we need a reel like this spendy little Tear Drop by 13 fishing? It's a straight line reel that doesn't twist your line. Every spinning reel on the planet, regardless of what the write on the box, twist your line as you wind it in. The spinning reels rotor goes round and round and so does your line. Having a swivel on your line means that you lure will have a harder time twisting your line, but it doesn't address what your spinning reel does to the line as you retrieve it. Straight line reels don't twist the line as they put it on the spool like a winch. There is no rotor with bail causing issues by redirecting the line to wrap around a vertical spool. Straight line reels have a horizontal spool.

Here's what I found in my first two fishless hours with a Tear Drop straight line reel.

  1. Cold weather doesn't seem to affect it. At least in 5 degrees outside, it was smoother than snot on a doorknob as far as line coming off the spool.
  2. It has a tendency to self-level the line on the spool when under pressure.
  3. The drag appears to be quite good with a really broad range from very light to no line going out and everything in between.
  4. It sits on the ice, ready to be picked up easily because it's an under-baitcaster.
  5. You can use it with heavy mitts on as I forgot to wear gloves.
  6. The design lets you use a wide variety of spinning ice rods. Baitcaster-style rod selection is very limited in ice fishing.

Order Tear Drop Here

Do you need this reel? Well, if you are like me and watching your jig spin in shallow water drives you nuts, then yes, you need one of these. Spinning jigs also confuse the heck out of bluegills and rainbow trout. They all stop, study, analyze, and usually swim away. You can't make a spinning jig with plastics vibrate or flutter while it spins. Things that spin endlessly are not natural.

There are lots of other straight line options out there and they cost a lot less. That is true. But most of them are glorified fly reels and operate at a 1 to 1 return. When you get a sizeable fish on, if it heads up suddenly, you feel like you are beating eggs to make a quiche as you crank to stay ahead of the larger fish to keep your line tight. I know several fisherman who literally drop the "egg beater" on the ice and hand-line the fish in. If we wanted to go back to hand-lining, we would but who wants that? . Most of us like a decent fishing reel, with a decent drag and a good rod. Instead of a high-tech step backwards with other straight line reels, this is high-tech step forwards with the Tear Drop. It has the capability to fight a large fish if needed. Plus, unlike all the egg beaters, you can adjust the drag on the fly. In most 1-to1 straight line reels, the drag is under the palm of your hand as you hold the rod. Not as handy and nowhere near as good as the accessible star drag on this particular reel.

You are essentially getting the great features of a low-pro baitcaster all wrapped into one slick spinning-rod unit. You can buy more expensive spinning reels and they do to your line EXACTLY the same as what cheap spinning reels do. Spending more money on a "better" spinning reel will not eliminate line twist. I know because I have a bunch of spendy and a bunch of cheap spinning reels. The Tear Drop addressed the problems encountered with spinning reels while still giving you the ability to crank in like you mean it and have a good drag. And that is the whole point.

The Cons of the Tear Drop Straight line Reel

Well, I didn't ice a fish yet, so I don't know exactly what it will do, but based on playing with it in cold temps and real water, I'm convinced it will do very well.

There are two minor issues however. One; the handles don't fold and it's a little bulky in the rod bag. Two; it's a tad heavy. I didn't really notice the weight while I was using it because I had it nicely balanced against a 27" rod. It might feel a bit big on a 17" sight rod. I'll be trying that next.

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