I was 3 years old when Mr. Wade made his first overseas trip solely for the purpose of pushing the limits of his own adventurous fishing spirit. After watching him in action on the discovery channel for a few episodes I began to have a curiosity not in just the fish in the rivers and lakes he produces, but in the man himself. This seemed to be more than just some guy the discovery channel decided to use for a fishing show.. Something about him seemed like the man was more than the show. Curiosity got the better of me when I first saw him using lever drag reels and I began my research.
Mr. Wade really seems to be driven by the need to meet the challenge of the great difficulties associated with going after big game fish. He respects the fish. He’s so far on the opposite end of the spectrum from all those televised bass pro fishing tourney guys in their fancy boats and suits all decked out with sponsorship advertisements. He’s the living manifestation of the purity of the sport of fishing.
As host of Jungle Hooks and River Monsters, his life’s work really pays off – but I’m not talking financially. I’ve never met nor conversed with Mr. Wade but I believe he would value the knowledge that he is spreading the spirit of adventure, the love for the sport and the excitement of fishermen all over the globe more than the value of his paycheck. Like Mr. Wade I do not have to fish to put food on the table for my family. I fish for the adventure, for the giant ‘big-one’ lurking below the surface of the water. I have spent countless hours in the middle of nowhere drearily watching poles in the dark for fish signs with only the local wildlife to keep me company. I know what its like to try for days, weeks for a specific quarry only to leave empty handed, but not beaten. Watching Mr. Wade on River Monsters I can really give a nod of consideration at times, an understanding of agreement for a particular facial expression or what not that you simply cannot get from the canned crap mass-commercialized bass fishing tournaments so commonly televised today. I’m surely not alone in this feeling, this sense of camaraderie. As a fellow fisherman reading this I bet you understand it too. Tip of the hat to you Mr. Wade, keep living the dream.
Now – on to what all you fishermen want to know… just WHAT ARE THOSE GLORIOUS LEVER DRAG REELS ON THE SHOW?!
For me the topic of drag issues came about from a fishing incident on my boat last summer, see There is something very, very big in lake Arcadia for details. While I was out on my boat my good friend Skylar hooked something HUGE. After fighting it for over 40 minutes and getting only a glimpse of the massive beast rolling in the water next to the boat the hook snapped free. Spincast reels are not friendly when it comes to having to rapidly increase and/or decrease drag. Thus, the solution to the problem was found in the hands of Jeremy Wade. After paying careful attention to the tackle on the show I have identified the lever drag reels.
Jeremy Wade, host of River Monsters, uses some awesome tackle. You don’t find him wearing hats jackets and shirts all doo-dadded up with sponsorship patches. You don’t see brand name products slipped into the show nonchalantly either. You don’t see him show casing equipment some company paid him to use on the show. He knows what’s best and uses whatever he see’s fit to use, not what a sponsor would force him to. He uses a lever drag on his shows that I have specifically interested in.
The reels used on the show require you to give up a kidney, but don’t fret, there are several cheaper alternatives in the same lever drag family!
Tiagra 50, Tyrnos 2-Speed
Starting with the best, he uses a Shimano Tiagra 50 for his big, big game. This reel retails from bass pro at $869.99.
It’s impressive stats are – 950ft of 80lbs mono-filament / 1920ft of 200lbs braided line, 44lbs max drag, lever drag. http://www.basspro.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product__10151_-1_10051_63433
Next up, the Shimano Tyrnos 2-speed. This reel retails from bass pro at $359.99.
Stats are – 350ft of 50lbs mono-filament / 750ft of 80lbs braided line, 33lbs max drag, lever drag. http://www.basspro.com/Shimano-Tyrnos-2Speed-Baitcasting-Reels/product/88892/103266
Tyrnos 20 single speed, cheaper alternative & recommended buy for people looking for Jeremy’s glorious “lever drag” reels. $249.99 from BassPro.
Stats are – 700ft of 20lbs mono-filament, 820ft of 50lbs braided, 33lbs max drag, lever drag.
The Shimano Tyrnos 16 single speed. Retails $249.99 at jmtackle.com.
Stats are – 350ft of 30lbs mono-filament / 690 of 80lbs braided, 33lbs max drag, lever drag.
The Shimano Tyrnos 12 single speed. Retails $239.99 from saltwaterfishing247.com.
Stats are – 250ft of 25lbs mono-filament, lever drag.
The Shimano Tyrnos 10 single speed. Retails $209.99 from amazon.com.
Stats are – 230ft of 20lbs mono-filament, lever drag.
The Shimano Tyrnos 8 Single speed. Retails for $239.99 from amazon.com
Stats are – 170ft of 20lbs mono-filament, lever drag.
|Product Code||Mono Cap. (kg/m)||Capacity Power Pro||Gear Ratio||Retrieve Per Crank cm||Bearings||Drag Power||Drag Type||Weight|
****UPDATE – Feb 10, 2012.****
I have since purchased a Shimano Tyrnos 20 single speed, the cousin of the 2 speed pictured above that Jeremy Wade mentions on his website. The Tyrnos comes in several sizes, 8 ,16 ,20 ,30 ,50. I chose the 20 based on my needs as an Oklahoma BIG cat fisherman. I wanted a LEVER DRAG reel that could handle heavy braided line with a strong drag. at $249 it’s not a cheap reel by any means, but it also doesn’t break the bank & is a quality reel that wont fall apart after a few years of use. Nearly everything in it is up-gradable &/or replaceable including the lever clutch drag system. The reel is by all means a very fine piece of machinery. In simply handling it you can feel the superiority of the construction & solid design compared to all other reels I own (a lot). The crank handle is thick solid metal with zero flexibility or wobble, the bait clicker, when turned on, is very loud and provides a small amount of drag so that the spindle doesn’t go flying loose when the lever drag is placed in free drag. Even though there are 2 models larger than this reel (30 & 50) let me tell you, this reel is BIG. I advise no larger than the 20 for any non-deep sea fishing endeavors – I was able to put WAY more 108lbs braided line than I needed on the reel.
I installed it on an 80lbs rated 7 foot Ugly Stick with 108lbs braided line & a 2 foot long plastic coated steel cable leader. So far I’ve had it out on the boat once (brrr!), fished with it for a couple hours without productive results, buuuut I didn’t expect much when its 35F out. It feels comfortable with a left hand grip above the reel & the bottom of the pole tucked in near my waistline. I can easily switch from hard cranking to the drag lever in an instant without having to adjust the holding position of the pole. I can’t wait to hook something worthy of a good lever drag fight. Perhaps a relaxing trip down to the nav channel for more big fish is in order soon.
Read about Mr. Wade’s tackle here:
That’s awesome man! I just watched his show tonight and was wondering what reels he used. You’re right, he doesn’t need any sponsors!
I live and catfish in Minnesota. I only found out about catfish in my area last fall, and after a 45 minute fight with only a 10 pound cat on 8 lb. line i was hooked! I can’t wait for it to warm up so they start biting!
That’s a beautiful new reel you got! Good luck!
thanks for the comment. if you dont mind spending 9 bucks a month you can sign up for online instant watch only portion of netflix, several seasons of river monsters on there. the episode where he nearly gets stoned to death by superstitious villagers is on there, crazy stuff. something about the chief’s brother going missing and its the strangers fault so he must be sacrificed!
i’ve read a lot about winter fishing and have had some luck in the past, but this winter was hellish at my local lake (lake arcadia edmond oklahoma). i think i went two months strait without catching a catfish. fished waters from 45-38F all winter. braved brutal winds and cold wet hands from shad catchin. it’s finally warmed up down here though, channel cats are bitin pretty good but having had any blues hit yet.
as for the reel, man its solid and really feels great when you pull a big one in with it. this is my first conventional reel though and lemme tell ya…. learning to long cast with these things can be frustrating holy crap. still working on it i’ll get there.
my main motivation for buying this reel was the “something very big in lake arcadia” event. it’s my firm belief that if that “creature” was hooked on a lever drag reel it would have made the papers.
I really enjoyed your tribute to Jeremy Wade. I had a simular story in that I was inspired to try fishing after watching season one. I went a bit extreem though-having gone to Brazil twice and caught a few big ones (two over 100lb). I started an e-mail friendship with him and he has given me a lot of useful advice about fish and fishing. I flew up to NY last year and met him when he was touring for his book. I wasn’t sure he would know it was me-but afterall, how many women has he sent to Brazil to fish for big catfish?
thank you for posting 😀
love your fishing pictures!
Thanks-my pleasure to catch! More to come later this year. Although I would love to go fishing with him-I’m afraid I’d be much too nervous!
what fishing pole does he use when he catches the bulls eye snakehead?
He talks about the bullseye snake head off-show a bit in this video. Looks like he’s using a generic bass rod & off the shelf baitcast reel.
If he was using a different one in the show I don’t know on that one.
he spears em too.
Hey, I really enjoyed readIng this post! Since you are an owner of the Tyrnos 20 single speed perhaps you could answer this question I’ve had about it; can the “bait clicker” be turned off on this reel? I’ve read one review suggesting you cannot silence the clicking, but above you suggested it can be. Could you set me straight on this? I would be most grateful!
Yes there is a little silver knob on the left side of the reel, slide it forward and back for OFF/ON clicker action. i click it off when casting, click it back on and drop the drag to zero when im waitin.(the clicker holds the line good enough to not free spool at zero drag).
Thanks a ton! I’m gonna buy one now. I plan to fish big Cats with this out of the MN and Mississippi River. Now to figure out if I should splurge for the 2 speed or not…
unless your fishing in 500+ feet of water a 2 speed is completely unnecessary, this sucker reels in FAST.
have fun practicing casting it, this type of reel has a steep learning curve.
I know he uses almost exclusively Shimano…what I was wondering about was his cast/retrieve rod and reel. The smaller one he uses actual lures on instread of live or cut bait. Any ideas?
I’ve seen him use a few open faced spinning reels when fishing for biggun bait and I don’t think I’ve ever seen him use spincast, I’ll have to review a few seasons and get back to ya on what I find out. Originally I was only interested in the lever drag capability of some of his big rigs. From my own experience I like a lightweight 6′ open faced spinning reel rod with an open faced spinning reel with an elongated, and stepped when available, spool. There are many spinning reels out there that have favored the deep but thin spool, I find that these produce too much resistance when casting. The spinning reels with a longer, shallower and stepped spool release line much more fluidly and in my experience having owned both, cast farther and experience less tangles than short deep spools. I have tried high quality reels of both types, and have phased out all but one of my narrow deep spool spinning reels.
This narrow, deep spool is the kind I do not recommend.
This elongated, shallow and stepped spool is the kind that I highly recommended.
He does use baitcast as seen here. No idea what model, but that rod is at least a 7 footer.
Here he is with an open faced spinning reel, it’s of the same elongated type I recommend.
And one for you enthusiasts… Here’s an early picture of what looks like a giant sling shot leaning against his car.
In one episode I noticed a close up on a reel and it was clearly marked Abu Garcia. Any clue as to if this was a one time deal or has he used other Abu Garcia before?
I don’t know the answer to that question but I’d suspect that he’s tried out about every type and brand of fishing reels out there.
I must have seen the same episode. It is clear that the reel in question is a Abu Garcia. Do you have any cheaper but quality suggestions on reels and rods for up and coming River Monster catchers like myself?
abu garcia is about the cheapest decent quality reels i’ve worked with. its the “high end” reel on the walmart fishing isle. the abu garcia premier line is pretty pricey, but you can still get good abu garcia reels for under 50 bucks. http://www.walmart.com/ip/Abu-Garcia-Cardinal-S-Spinning-Reel/23608401 for example, nice standard sized spinning reel for 30 bucks.
however, for big game these little walmart reels wont do very well. you want to look for a big game catfish spinning reel that has a METAL.. god.. metal not plastic trust me they break so easy.. metal rod attachment arm and a metal crank handle. a plastic spool is fine, but a plastic attachment rod WILL break after a season or two from brittleness. i had one break in mid fight, made sure i went all metal thereafter.
There is a very cheap but very functional big game reel from Academy Sports if you have one in your area – do a search for Daiwa® DF100A Giant Spinning Reel. 40 bucks at academy I have one of these big boys on a solid fiber glass stubby pole for really big cats. i refer to it as the ‘gator pole’. http://www.basspro.com/Daiwa-DF100A-Giant-Spinning-Reel/product/88924/ cheap practically zero extra features, but has lasted me several years and never fails. And its huge. Definately worth adding to your collection if you’re on a budget. This reel can handle 80lbs mono no problem.
40$ at bass pro – http://www.basspro.com/Daiwa-DF100A-Giant-Spinning-Reel/product/88924/
35$ at Academy Sports – http://www.academy.com/shop/pdp/daiwa-giant-df-100a-spinning-reel/pid-106153?N=273169066&Ntt=DF100A&Ntk=All
actually i just noticed that in the very last picture of my post where im in camo holding that channel cat the reel in the picture is abu garcia.
As a independent (going by myself without gramps or adults) have been fishing for over 50 years.
Memories begin as a young dock rat, using anything which held line, mostly junk casting reels with birdnests somebody gave up fixing. I do get a bit “red-ass” when I keep hearing about Walmart this Walmart that. Over the years have started many a youth fisherpeople using Wallyworld as starting point. Worked with troubled youth as a career, most do not have deep pockets.
Picked up some good reels there myself as well.
I now fish with whatever I wish, and have a load of “excellent” reels, some costing 5 x more than a Trion for instance.
We who wish more of our youth would dip a line more often salute Wallyworld!
Great article Dave……………………….
Ive been debating on whether or not to go with the tyrnos or some other kind of tld shimano, over the newer shimano tekota 800. The 800 has the level wind feature but not the lever drag. My question is, these reels without the level wind feature but with lever drag, while fighting a fish do you have to worry about the line filling the reel unevenly? Or does a high # line even itself out on the reel?
very good question. the spool does fill with a hump in the center, but its not a problem unless you try to put on like 400 yards of 60lbs line. my 20 holds a LOT of line, never had a problem. in fact i have 300lbs braided rope on it right now (normally 80lbs mono, messing around with rope) and i have plenty of line to cast and retrieve. with 40-80lbs mono i’ve never had a problem with stuck line from high tension. if you try to max the line out and spread it evenly as you put the line on initially you will have a problem the next time you reel in on the water as the hump will come in contact with the frame, but.. that’s not a fault of the reel its a fault of the user. just dont overload the spool. when putting line on just let it spool up naturally.
If you have a big fish on the line-the last thing your thinking about is the line. I’ve caught catfish in Brazil over 100 pounds using 100 pound mono-and I might add with Okuma Convector reel I bought at Dick’s Sporting Goods. A high price reel is no guarantee of catching anything.
true, but there’s an obvious advantage in drag agility in a lever drag reel. better tech is hard to argue against regardless of the price.
True-but only if you have the money for that tackle. On my three trips to South America, I’ve found my tackle to be quite adequate. Local knowledge and bait play an important part. Just don’t want some people to think it’s all about the reel. I don’t get my tackle at Walmart, but also don’t get hung up on getting one of the most expensive reels in the world. My last trip down to Guyana, I was using 175 pound braided line-but only managed a 30 pound Redtail as my biggest. I always tackle up for the biggest fish i’m likely to catch-not on this trip….but that’s why it’s called “fishing” and not “catching”!
redtail. thats one gorgeous looking fish. the wife always oohs and awes on that episode.
I’ve caught nine Redtails-30lb to 110-but Jeremy catching that one in Brazil in season one, was the spark that lead me to take up fishing (aged 53) and travel there to get my own. Leaving in five weeks for a three-month trip to the UK where I hope to meet up with Jer while he is in England-between trips for season seven. By the way-hope you caught that special RM last night at 10 (after the new show) where Jeremy talked about the tackle and fish over the years. If not-as usual, I’m sure AP will repeat. Probably will be avaliable on the RM website.
I live out in the woods – sadly cable isn’t available so i rarely get to watch them as they air. i can always tell when they do though, usually a huge spike in traffic a couple days after a new one airs.
just have to link to your redtail writeup, a great read. love fish fight stories! http://www.tackletime.net.au/Articles/October/redtailstail.html
Yes, so do I! Heading back down to South America early next year, but I haven’t decided exactly where yet. Still looking for that massive Piraiba-I’ll have to have a discussion about this with him this summer. I have friends in various countries who promise me a good fish-but have to do my research. Every trip is at least a year of planning.
I havent looked at Okuma much. browsing over their product line it looks like they have a good lever drag line of reels called the Solterra. looks like a very viable alternative to a pricer shimano.
Right now I have over 20 rods and reels-some only for South America, but always looking.
I plan to spool either the tekota or tyrnos with 100lb power pro. Another worry with the tld style is since I will be using 100lb power pro, if the retrieving line will cut into the line on my spool since that small hump will likely occur. Because that 80lb mono that youre using is thick so its not as prone to digging into itself on the spool. Thanks for the quick responses to fellas! Much appriciated, its a lot easier to make decisions about dropping hundreds on reels when others have the knowledge/experience you dont!
i had 80lbs power pro on it for a while & had zero problems with it. its definitely on the short list of my prefered braided lines. its almost completely free of waxy crud. i just have more faith in the abrasion resistance of mono.
Hey Jonny-just FYI, I’m a woman. Not many travel and fish like I do, and I’m far from an expert but consider myself on a learning curve about many things-including fishing. Best experience is to try-some
things work, some don’t, but always give it a go!
Also, can you gentlemen compare the penn squall 50, to the tekota? These two are a couple that ive played around with at the gander mountain I work at..
no experience with either.
Hi Dave, just stumbled upon your blog and great write up! Although there is no need for a lever drag reel here in my little country…
I can confirm that Mr Wade is using a Shimano Antares baitcasting reel in that picture up there. Top of the line Shimano BC reel! A little too big for my Asian hands to palm though.
Also, just attended his talk today and he is one awesome dude!
That’s a lot of cammo just to go fishing.
was breaking a new ghillie suit base, had just bought them. see archers ghillie build log for the final product.
if you dislike camo this is the wrong site for you to be posting on.
Nice reel man I might be getting one for Mississippi River Cat fishing and saltwater. Should i get the 30
20’s big enough to catch any catfish in the world. its pretty big.
Ok thanks. But I still might be the 30 because I found a deal on a brand new 140 dollar single speed
Do you know what rod he is using with the tiagra and the tyrnos? I’ve known what reels he has been using for quite some time but I can’t figure out what rod he uses. I’m sure it’s custom but it never shows in the episodes.
no idea. seems to vary though depending on if he’s on a boat or shore line.
David awesome information.
But could you please give information of spinning reels and rods as well which Jeremy uses
Sorry I don’t have any information on the spinning reels. The main focus was on lever drag types.
I’m looking for a bell type.That holds 1,340 yards of 80 test line.Can you help me?
Great read in 2019