Monday, April 30, 2012

Rick's Review:Bass Pro Shops® Johnny Morris® Carbon Black Bass Caster Low-Profile Baitcast Reel

I grew up with spinning reels and have always put the handle on the left side of the reel and worked the pole with my right hand so I would't have to switch hands on the pole. When I started to use bait casters I would borrow them from friends who always had "right handed" reels. This meant the reel handles were on the right forcing me to cast with my right hand and then switch the pole to my left to work my lure presentation which has always felt awkward to me. When it came time for me to buy my own bait caster I looked at the local shops, and the only reels they had were right handed reels so that is what I bought. Over the years I have learned how to control the rod with my left hand rather well, but it still feels awkward and I never stopped wondering if I would do better with a "left handed" reel.

I received several Bass Pro Shops gift cards for Christmas this year and decided it was time to get a new bait caster. I really didn't know what I wanted but, being a professional purchasing agent, I know how to research products that I really do not know a lot about. So I gathered up all of my purchasing experience and I went looking for the best left handed bait cast reel I could find in my price range. I looked at all of the major brands, and compared all of the styles, specs, and prices. I looked at all of the write ups, and read all of the consumer reviews I could find. Most of my fishing is done in a lake that doesn't have any weeds (or extremely large fish) so having the extra cranking power of a slow speed reel wasn't important, and I opted to get a 7.1:1 gear ratio to more easily burn a Rat-L-Trap or spinner bait. Then, after several days of  exhaustive research, I entered the gift card codes and spent $130.00 + freight on the Johnny Morris Carbon Black Bass Caster Low Profile reel, and waited anxiously for it to arrive. 

About two weeks after placing the order I come home from work to find a small cardboard box with my brand new reel in it. I immediately took it out of the box and played with the adjuster knobs and drag system and marveled at how light it felt in my hand. I then went out to my garage and grabbed a fishing pole that didn't have a reel on it, and Wal-Mart's finest no-name 8-lb mono that i had for the kids's poles and proceeded to set up my rig. Then, knowing it was mid January and Trout were more plentiful then bass, I grabbed a 1/8oz in-line spinner and tied it on. I was well aware that this was not an optimal set up, but it was what I had on hand, and twenty minutes from opening the box I was parking the truck at the lake by my house. I made my first cast, and immediately commenced to untangling the mother of all backlashes and cursing my self for not taking the time to properly adjust the reel before casting. By the time I got things untangled it was too dark to see so I had no choice but to wait for the weekend to try it out properly.

Saturday morning found me back out at the lake with a properly adjusted reel. I still had the small spinner tied on and was able to effectively cast that little guy with this reel with relative ease. With slower speed spinning reels it can take several dozen feet to start the blade spinning on these little in line spinners, but the high speed gearing in this reel set that blade going almost immediately. I was also reveling in the smooth and silent operation this reel had when I felt a fish hit the spinner hard. I performed a flawless hook set, and felt the reel pop clean off of the pole. My heart sank as I watched my brand new reel swing out pendulum style and smack into the hard ground with a loud crack and then run straight up into the large eye on the pole. The fish was still on the line!
With a successful durability test completed, I set about the difficult task of re-seating a fishing reel with a fish on the line. I was able to get it seated and pull in a rather nice little trout. I didn't get any other bites that day, but I did put the reel through its paces, and found it to be an easy to use piece of equipment with that little lure on it. At home I looked at the pole to see why the reel popped off and found that the nut that seats the reel to the pole had some chips in it and wouldn't stay tightened down. I had another pole to put this reel on, but it was trout season and this reel, thought it worked, was not ideally suited to this kind of fishing, so I set the whole rig aside to wait for some warmer weather.

Now that the weather has warmed up I have my new reel on a good pole and spooled up with some decent 12LB mono, I have tied on several different styles of lures. From a basic Texas rigged worm and slow retrieve cranks on up to the fast action of a buzz bait I have been real pleased with the operation and comfort of this reel. I found the quality and materials to be very good, and the anti backlash features make it easy to use. It has a ton of bearings in it for smooth operation, and long distance casting. The one thing I didn't like about it was the adjusters. Having switched to a left handed reel I was expecting the adjuster knobs to work the same way as a right handed reel, however, they turn the opposite direction. I am not sure why that is, but it took a great deal of getting used to. 

This is an excellent reel and I would recommend it to anybody, but, Bass Pro Shops discontinued it shortly after I bought it. Having said that, if anyone out there is looking for a good reel check out  the Johnny Morris line of reels. If you buy one, I think you will be pleased.

I was not compensated for this review. this is my honest opinion about this product.             



  1. I've heard that this reel is a BEAST...and I like that baitcasters handles are on the right side. because then when you're pitching and flipping or jigging, your line doesn't get tangled in the handle...

    1. Thanks, Devin. I really like this reel, it did take some adjusting for the left handed reel, but now that i am getting used to it I am much better at my presentations, and i am getting more bites. I just have much better controle with the pole in my right hand instead of my left. besides that, i can immediately start reeling in a lure right at the surface without having to bring it back up aft it sinks during the hand switch.

  2. Rick
    The invention of the low profile reel has made casting and palming the casting reel much easier. Thanks for sharing a great post.