Maxel Rage Pro 90 Battle Tested Review -

Maxel Rage Pro 90 Battle Tested Review

I recently had the opportunity to conduct 'field research' on a 2-day charter aboard the Liberty out of Fishermans Landing in San Diego. In this post, I'll share my tuna jigging setup and experience pulling on a 170-pound bluefin tuna.

I used a United Composite CXJ 6005 acid-wrapped jigging rod with a Maxel Rage Pro 90 reel for my nighttime tuna jigging setup. I spooled the reel with approximately 420 yards of 80-pound multi-color braid, topped with a short 25-foot section of 200-pound Izor Line First String. I started straight-tying my jigs directly to the top shot to simplify the connection. My jig for this trip was a prototype 320-gram SPJigging Vertical Jig.

Over the two days, we encountered scattered schools of bluefin tuna ranging from 60 pounds on the west end of Catalina to larger models on the east end. We marked fish at depths ranging from 250 to 600 feet, up to 120 feet thick, and up to 500' around the boat. The quantity of fish in these schools was nothing short of amazing.

Throughout the trip, the Maxel Rage Pro 90 reel performed exceptionally well. I successfully landed four fish, two on bait and two on jigs. The two hooked on jigs were on the "pump."

The UC CXJ 6005 is a stiffer rod lacking the typical slow-pitch parabolic action you would expect from a jigging rod. It makes up for what it lacks in parabolic action with tremendous lift. I extended the foregrip to create a quasi-rail rod setup. This modification allowed me to maximize the rod's fast taper, lifting the jig or the fish's head with minimal effort. The rod's shorter length made it effortless to apply pressure, stopping running tuna by holding the rod at a 45-degree angle or using the rail to keep the fish spiraling upwards.

What truly stood out during this experience was the Maxel Rage Pro. Suppose you've never used a proper jigging reel like the Rage Pro, Jigging Master Monster Game, or Shimano Ocea Jigger. In that case, you may not appreciate the subtle nuances fully and the benefits these reels offer. The lightweight, longer handles, high torque, and drag pressure make it easy to slow a fish down, turn its head, and consistently gain line. Additionally, the CXJ 6005's shorter length and fast tapered design made it feel like I was reeling in the fish with less effort, minimizing the wear and tear typically associated with using heavier rods.

I hooked my biggest bluefin tuna at a depth of approximately 400 feet. Ocean Odyssey's multi-color braid made tracking the depth called out by Captain Taro or Anibal easy. The fast taper of the rod allowed me to effectively pump the jig through the water column, lifting and winding with minimal effort to move the jig. Remembering the amount of line in the water, the natural belly from the scope, and the slack created when dropping the rod's tip can make it challenging to wind through the bite. A proper hook set requires picking up the slack and swinging on the fish to ensure deep penetration from the hook's barb.

After hooking the fish, it made a powerful run, taking another 300 feet of line. I pointed the rod at a 45-degree angle and gradually increased the drag beyond the preset 25-pound setting, using my thumb to apply pressure. After the fish moved from under the boat to the surface, about 700 feet, I pulled the rod horizontally across my body while rotating my hips. By doing so, I created a bend in the upper third of the rod, utilizing the rod's natural recoil and the reel's torque to close the distance quickly. The rod's extended foregrip allowed me to apply short-pumping action and leverage the rail, while the reel's long handle facilitated easy line retrieval. Once I passed the braid-mono transition, I confidently kept a deep bend in the rod, ensuring the fish spiraled upwards with little concern about breaking my 200-pound top shot.

In retrospect, the rod, reel, and jig performed flawlessly during the battle. The fight was quick, and I felt less tired compared to previous encounters with smaller fish. Looking back, the only adjustment I would make is to be mindful of how much lift I apply while pumping jigs through the water column. Excessive lift can introduce too much slack, affecting the jig's action. In an upcoming article, I'll share underwater footage of the SPJigging Vertical Jig in action, which confirms that, like most vertical jigs, a subtle pump goes a long way.

All the Best,


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