Monday, April 05, 2010

Imperial Impressions

Having yet to fish this spring I jumped at the opportunity to spend the Easter Weekend with the girls over on the West side. I was fortunate enough to procure the Log Cabin accommodations for weekend so it was an easy sell to the family. This accomplished two things. First an early relaxing family getaway and secondly an opportunity to fish the Big Manistee prior to the boys annual trip. Having sat at home Internet fishing and spinning the King Pin Imperial prototype for the past week or so I was itching to put some water behind it. After receiving a follow up email from Bill Shearer I better understood it’s intended target market and price point and was prepared to form an honest opinion. The only thing holding me back was the drive to the west side.
We arrived at a decent hour Friday morning and I quickly got the family situated in our accommodations. I made sure the girls were content and slipped down to the river for an afternoon fish. The weather was pushing 80 F and full sun. The river was running a low 1600 cfs flow rate and my initial evaluation was that it was going to be tough. I decided to fish the Sawdust access and made my way down to a few favored runs to try my hand. I was fully expecting to see the banks lined with piscators and drift boats but was pleasantly surprised to see this section void of life. Typically this tends to indicate hard times on the water but I felt fairly confident there was at least one fish in there with my name on it. A few hours later and 4 fish to hand I was well on my way to forming an opinion of the latest King Pin offering. I fished the remainder of the Easter weekend on the Big Manistee and put a few more fish on the bank. This is what I discovered about the King Pin Imperial Centre pin reel:
As per my initial impression post I still feel this reel is an visually pleasing offering. The handles are very unique and eye pleasing and offer no line catching characteristics whatsoever. The porting pattern is aesthetically pleasing and the bronze anodizing adds a very classy look. As promised the start up of this reel is very low with the ABEC 5s but really isn’t an issue for those of us that fish moderate to large flows. None the less it’s nice to have precision quality built in for those frog water aficionados. The palming rim is a little small but I have been told that this is being addressed with the final version when it comes to market. The overall reel weight is average and tolerances are very tight. So much so that on a few occasions when the reel was dunked in the water silt and grit were apparent between the spool and the back plate. This is nothing new to quality high tolerance pins but the screw mounting the spool to the spindle isn’t as easily removed on the water as some of it’s competitors reels. I was also told that this too is being addressed with the production version of the reel so really is of no significance as the spool will easily be removed for a quick flush out when necessary. The clicker mechanism is very strong. It is strong enough to transport an 8gm loafer with required shot loading from location to location without unwinding. The clicker is very ergonomically located and engaged. I did however find that it is not as easily disengaged. Perhaps it was a range of motion thing but I found myself using two hands to disengage it at times. One other issue I have with the rear mounted clicker lever was that often my line would catch on it when casting and stop my cast dead or short. If I had to choose one downfall for this reel it would be the fact that this happened to me so many times over the weekend. I am a side caster and perhaps this explains this occurrence but for me it proved to be a pet peeve.
In summary I think King Pin has a winner with this reel. It is an attractive lower priced alternative in their family of reels. It’s intended to compete with the Islander in the main stream work horse Center pin market and if one were to choose this reel over it’s main competition they wouldn't be at a huge loss. I am a tried and true Islander die hard. I own 3 IS’s. I have absolutely nothing to gain from downplaying or promoting this reel. I can honestly say it is a well built quality reel that will last and fish proud for many years. I am going to bring this reel on the big trip this week with the boys. We plan on fishing many miles of river and I will be certain to get their impressions and offer up any further comments in future posts. For now I’ll leave you with this review.
A special thanks to Bill Shearer for sending this reel to test. It was a very kind gesture that hasn’t gone unnoticed. It’s nice to be granted these opportunities and test equipment up front for a passion we all cherish. Thanks again Bill.


Bill said...

Excellent and fair review!
I've passed on the critique to Kingpin.
The fulcrum for the ratchet lever has been adjusted on the drawings, and will be better on production reels.
As for the line catching on the lever, I didn't encounter that in my testing,but very glad to hear about it.

As for the fishing, I'm jealous!
All I saw yesterday was two tiny 'bows, and alot of suckers!

Trotsky said...

My biggest impression is that you are "DE"-Void of any quality headgear and are a lover of the dink....
Lots of rain last night...maybe too much?

lambton said...

Funny you should mention headgear...I have a new addition to my game but you will have to wait until the trip to see what has replaced the visor.
As for rain...the West side didn't see any of it last night. Projecting 20 mm for tonight though!! Just the ticket IMHO! It would take a torrential down pour of epic proportions to blow those rivers right now. You know...kinda like the ones that are falling at home today and the next couple of days. :0(
How's the basement. Bet you just regained some feeling in the prickly walnuts! POS!