Thursday, April 1, 2010


I've been using Zebco reels, well, since I started fishing at about age 3 or 4. I got my first Zebco kiddie rod and tiny reel early on, and several Zebco 33's graced my late childhood and early teens until I discovered Abu-Garcia spin, bait and spincasting reels in my teens.

But I never forgot the Zebco rigs and reels I had, and used them often. Early on in the 1970's, my dad bought some of the larger 808 sized Zebco reels for pier and bridge and jetty and light surf fishing on our yearly South Padre Island vacations. We had other lighter reels for using on the boat, and although I fell into using Ambassadors and Abumatic reels for speck and red fishing, I always used the big Zebco reels for night time pier and bridge and jetty fishing.

I have all of my older Zebcos from days gone by, and they all still work. The more expensive models seem to work better than the cheapest and smallest units, but they still work. They're not a Curado or a Mitchell 300, but they still work great for kids and panfish. El Fisho Jr's first fish at age 4 was caught on a 60's era Zebco 202, and it was a channel cat longer than he was tall and probably weighing close to 10 pounds. All things considered, El Fisho Jr. caught a big fish for his first fish. The fight took a long time and he struggled to land the fish. But he did and the Zebco worked just fine.

I had him using the Zebco 202 because at the time he was rough on tackle. We'd been fishing a few times before and he had caught nothing, even though I caught a few fish. He was prone to dropping his rod in the water at age 3, but by age 4 he was holding onto a rod pretty well.

I use the above reel, which is called the 808 SALTWATER GRADE reel by Zebco. It's my traveling reel that I take to California. It's pretty heavy duty and ideal for pier fishing, and I always try to do some pier or light surf fishing if I'm traveling near a saltwater coast. East, West or South.

That's why I'm the Fishing Musician, or at least one major reason. I'll fish in a kitchen sink that has 6" of water in it if it looks fishy enough. I just plain like to fish.

Here's what this reel features for about $30.00:

Ball-bearing drive

• Selective multi-stop anti-reverse

• Dual ceramic pickup pins

• Dial-adjustable drag

• Auto Bait Alert

-Changeable right or left retrieve

• Corrosion-proof stainless steel covers

• Pre-spooled with 20-pound monofilament

808SW Reel Specs

Up to 125 yards of 25 pound test


I use this simple reel because it travels well. Unlike a spinning reel, which ordinairily I would use for this type of saltwater fishing, it has no bail to become bent in a packed suitcase. It is rugged and has corrosion resistant parts, which means if you wash and oil/grease it, it'll last a long time. All of my old 80's 808's and 888's are going strong. They are great beach reels, especially when fishing at night in the surf and mostly in the dark.

Some of the posters at this site agree with me about Zebco reels . They are not expensive or fancy and yes, there is a difference between them and the finer reels I may own, but for many circumstances, they are just the ticket.
My dad was a big believer in Zebco reels in the 60's and 70's. He bought the higher end 33's and larger reels they made, and a few Cardinal spinning reels. They were good stuff, and most of them still work today. I often use our old 202's from the 60's when fishing for rainbow trout or for bay fishing with the kids. Just as I did, El Fisho Jr. learned to fish on my old 202 and the same rod it came with.
I have recently thought that adding a few of the Saltwater 33 reels to my collection wouldn't be a bad idea. They may possibly be discontinued but I've seen them online in various stores. In any event, it seems like a good bay fishing or light pier and surf fishing. Sometimes, after you've been fishing a big surf rig or pier/jetty rig for awhile, it's nice to work some artificials with a lighter rod and reel.
I've recently discovered a stash of old 888 and 808 reels that a brother of a friend gave me back in the early 90's. He had grown tired of them in his jetty fishing, and knowing my liking for these reels, told me I could have them. There's four of them plus several more that he had parted out in repairs. I cleaned them up way back when and oiled and greased them up then put them in a plastic storage tub with a bunch of other unused fishing stuff.
The reels are in great shape. I need to put new line (or "cord" as my fishing grandpa used to call it) on the reels but that's no biggie. I'll give Billy Ray a couple as he appreciates these reels as well, despite his high end fishing tackle selections.
These are great reels for catfish and saltwater fish, and are great for fishing at night with simplicity. They don't cost much and with care will last a long time. There has been an awful lot of fish caught on Zebco reels over the years.
I've fished my 808's in the bays and piers and surf and coasts of Florida, the Bahamas, Texas and California. They have done well in these locales.

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