One of the busiest stands at this year's Tackle and Guns Trade Show was that of Svendsen Sport, distributor of the Okuma range of tackle in the UK. The activity was well deserved given the amount of new equipment and innovation on display at the show. At the front of the stand was a glass cabinet, illuminated with spotlights, showing off Okuma's latest reels and some of Savage Gear's huge range of lures. The stand-out reel for me was the Okuma Andros.
The Okuma Andros is a small to medium sized multiplier - I'd say the perfect size for most boat fishing in the UK. The reel features a lever drag and the only model by this name is 2-speed. Like other reels in the current Okuma range, the colour scheme features a striking orange, which for my eye at least, looks quite good.
My first impressions were good, but it wasn't until I handled the reel and looked down the spec sheet that I realised just how good this new reel is. The Andros 511 isn't a cheap reel. When it launches early in 2011 it will have an RRP of £318.00. Even with the expected retailer discounts this puts it straight up against highly praised reels like the Daiwa Saltist 2-Speed Lever Drag and the Shimano Talica II - that's tough competition.
So what are its odds of success? Well, the Andros does have some pedegree, although I wouldn't be surprised if no one in the UK had heard of the ancestor - the Makaira. The Makaira has been a real winner for Okuma in the US, taking on the pelagic heavyweights on a daily basis. Take a look through the US tackle forums and you'll find a lot of praise for this reel. The Andros is rumoured to share many of the features of the Makaira in a more accessible, compact form.
If you prefer your appraisals closer to home, how about this. The Okuma Andros was voted 'Best New Multiplier Reel' at Europe's leading tackle trade show, EFTTEX 2010. Let's look at the spec.
A cleverly designed reel foot sees the reel sitting lower on the rod which allows for a deeper spool. The result is a large line capacity (350m of 0.40mm) for a reel of this size and weight (460g) - lighter fishing equals better balance, more sport and greater fun.
The Andros has inherited the 2-speed gearing design from its big 'game' brother, the Maikaira, complete with 17-4 grade stainless steel, helical cut gears. The 6.4:1 ratio will speed up retrieval and help you get fresh bait back in the water faster, while the low end 3.8:1 will mean it has the grunt to take on the denezins of the deep. You shift gears with a simple lever at the base of the handle and the push release is a large thumb button. I can say after playing with the system at the show it is both positive and easy to use - a very nice feature.
The strength of the drive train is enhanced by the use of 6 Japanese ABEC-5 bearings plus 1 anti-reverse roller bearing. This is a big deal for a reel of this size. And again showing the big game intensions of this reel, there's a mechanical ratchet helping out that anti-reverse bearing - the combination won't let you down.
The lever for the drag is smooth in operation and has a click - it would be hard to knock the lever out of position without noticing. The drag itself is a wet Carbonite system lubricated with Cal's drag grease (well known in other parts of the world). If it's important to your fishing style, the max drag is 11kgs with 6kgs at strike. The drag can be adjusted in the normal way through a large, knurled knob - more positive and easier to set than my current Avets.
The frame is machined from bar stock aluminium and features both an audable rachet and an adjustable cast control on the left hand side. Without looking inside I wasn't able to determine what type of cast control has been used here - I'm sure it will be adequate for a reel of this type. Speaking of looking inside the reel, a welcome feature for some will be the 'one-screw' take down, giving quick and easy access to the internals when required.
After playing with the reel at the T&G show and researching a bit more into the heritage, I can say with some confidence that Okuma have a winner in the Andros. I wouldn't have to give any thought to whether I'd take this reel to sea - I most certainly would. Only the shop price set by UK retailers will dertermine just how popular this reel becomes when it's launched over here next year. I agree with the EFTTEX award, an awesome new reel from Okuma.