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Tackle & Gear Reviews


Maxel's Hybrid reels offer a high-quality package with superb features for all-round inshore and light-tackle offshore fishing.
By Pete Barrett
For more information:
View Website Maxel Fishing Tackle Co.

They're called Hybrid because they combine the engineering, machining and impeccable high standards of the company's Ocean Max lever drag reels, but in a star-drag configuration. The Hybrids are true multi task reels equally at home drifting for fluke, live lining for stripers, chumming or jigging bluefish, bottom fishing for sea bass and tog, and light trolling for dolphin and albies.

"You can buy one reel and use it for just about everything," said Jerry Gomber, Director of Development for Bimini Bay Outfitters, the Maxel distributor, "and the round shape and recessed reel foot positions the Hybrid low on the rod so it's very comfortable to fish whether bottom fishing or jigging. At only 13 ounces, it balances nicely with rods from 6 to 7-1/2 feet."

Adding to the comfort and superior design is an S-shape handle that keeps the handle knob closer to the center of the reel to minimize reel wobble while the angler is cranking fast for speed jigging. The round handle knob has a non-slip surface, and a small but very fisherman-friendly feature is the machined hourglass shape of the handle knob shaft that helps the angler's fingers get the best grip on the knob. The overall handle length is perfect for rapid line retrieval without being awkward.

I fished a Hybrid 25 for bottom fishing and also for jigging, and really liked the thumb bar spool release feature. While palming the reel in my left hand, I could quickly depress the thumb bar with my right thumb with no fumbling at all. Re-engaging back into gear is instantaneous with a forward crank of the reel handle, which is great for jigging. When bass or blues hit the jig on the drop down in free spool, you come tight to the fish in a nano second soon as you crank the handle.

The Hybrid's 5:1 gear ratio really hits the sweet spot. It's plenty fast for bluefish jigging at a quick pace, or with slowed down handle cranks it's great for slow-pitch jigging. When short stroking fish from deep water, the ratio is just perfect for gaining line and keeping it tight on every down stroke of the rod. You stay tight and gain line quickly.

The drag is buttery smooth, and there's plenty of it - 28 pounds! This awesome power can stop fast-running school tuna, turn a powerful striped bass away from a jetty or win the argument when hauling a blackfish away from a wreck. The star drag wheel has clicking detents so once the drag is set it won't slip. The arms of the "star" on the star wheel are ergonomically angled slightly inward toward the center of the reel so fingers can't mistakenly alter the drag setting while cranking the handle.

Maxel seems to have thought of everything. There's no cross-top bar so the angler can thumb the spool for optimum line control when live lining or fluke fishing. There's a clicker for light-tackle trolling or for when dead sticking a strip bait.

The Hybrids are available in two sizes, the HY20 and HY25, in silver or black, and there's also a southpaw version of both reels in silver finish. Line capacity is substantial; 275 yards of 30-pound test braid for the HY20 and 330 yards for the HY25. With an instant anti-reverse clutch bearing, shielded stainless-steel spool-support bearings, cold-forged aluminum spool, heat-treated stainless steel gears, one-piece precision-machined and tempered aluminum frame and a beautiful anodized finish the Hybrids are first-class in every way.