Okuma RAW II 40 fixed spool reel

I had read a few snippets mainly from American sites regarding the toughness of this reel. The information centred mainly around the strength of the drag system for fighting tuna, and the ability of the reel to fend off the rigours of saltwater. I was more interested in the latter; as a kayak fisherman, sooner or later reels are going to get a dunking – and saltwater is not very forgiving. A couple of my friends had already reported issues to me about Okuma reels after they had received ‘proper’ saltwater dunkings, so I was keen to see if the reel was tougher than its stable mates.

First impressions were that it was a stunning looking reel, but smaller than I thought it would be.

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The reel does not come with a spare spool or handle, but does have the washers which can be used to tune the line lay on the spool…

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Let’s have a quick look at the specifications/features…

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Line capacity…

270 yards of 8lb line

190 yards of 10lb line

170 yards of 12lb line

170m of 0.30mm line

130m of 0.35mm line

100m of 0.40mm line

The reel contains 7 ball bearings and a roller bearing, and has a gear ration of 5:1 which is about right.

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I am not going to say too much about the features above, lots of buzzwords which don’t really mean much to anyone – but there is a definite bias towards toughness, saltwater protection and quality materials, which should bode well.

Now for a closer look at the reel. Starting with the handle…

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As I already mentioned, its difficult not to get carried away with the looks and styling of this reel – it draws you in for a closer look at nearly every angle. And much as I know looks mean nothing in a kayak fishing reel of this type, it is a great piece of design. The handle on the 40 reel is made of carbon (the design of the handle on the bigger 50 sizes is different, using aluminium rather than carbon). I couldn’t resist a few photos…

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On to the front of the reel and the bale and spool assembly. The bale arm is solid, and worked well at eliminating line twist when I loaded the spool with braid…

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The spool is made from aluminium and looks good; the drag mechanism is contained in the spool, and is supposed to be watertight – time will tell. The drag itself was smooth but powerful – I mean really powerful – the mind boggles as to the size of fish you could tame on the 40 size. But in the UK, the scope is somewhat limited. Having said that, its silky smooth, and its good to know that the drag is tough enough to deal with any toothy critter you are likely to encounter.

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Around to the other side of the reel now – and again, this real just oozes class in the looks department…

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The gear housing is very compact for a reel which boasts such a strong set of gears. Interestingly, the gears are actually oval in shape – this is claimed to improve line lay on the reel and make the reeling action smoother. All I can say is that the reel felt very smooth when winding.

Moving to the back of the reel…

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A single screw allows easy access to the guts of the reel for maintenance – this is a genuine improvement on the Trios, which had multiple “hex” type screws which were not easy to undo. Again, this bodes well for the longevity of the reel.

Looking underneath the RAW II, we find the anti reverse switch neatly tucked away – all pretty standard and functional, but it still manages to look good without even trying !

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So that concludes the tour of the reel, but you know by now, that my reviews are not complete until the reel has been used in ‘anger’.

I loaded the RAW II with 10kg hi-vis Varivas braid and a 20 lb flourocarbon leader. The reel went out on quite a few trips with me. The thing that strikes you straight away about this reel is how strong it is for its size – it looks so small and neat, but it really seems to punch way above its weight. Straight away, I was wondering what rough and tumble tactics I could use to test out the reel. The first trip saw me paddle along the rugged North Devon Coast. The reel was used for plugging, but it was clear that this was just a walk in the park, and the reel needed to be stretched.

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The next trip saw me going to Salcombe, and then to Cornwall. The Cornwall trip would hopefully put it through its paces. It coped well with the usual mackerel and pollack – no surprises there.

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I had teamed it up with a Teklon Concept 702ML rod, which is fast becoming one of my favourites. Time for something different. Some lure fishing over very rough ground. I was using plastic worms rigged Texas style with weedless hooks, this meant I could fish them right in amongst the rough kelp and boulders where hopefully the big fish would be hiding.

To cut a long story short, I caught a few chunky wrasse – topped off by an absolute monster ! I have caught alot of wrasse from the shore over the years, including several over 5lbs and some real big’uns from Alderney. But this thing was in a league of its own. I had left my scales in the car, but me and my buddy Adam reckon it was over 6lbs, and boy did it put up a great scrap. What a way to test out the reel – and it coped admirably.

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I like this reel alot, it looks good and performs really well. It is built to last, with maintenance in mind – only the test of time will tell for sure if this reel is as good as I think it is. Not cheap, but then, its not a cheap reel, and quality costs.