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THE REEL ARRIVED in a handcrafted wood field with a shiny silver Z screwed to the highest. Inside, the ZX2’s physique was cradled in a customized compartment, the indifferent deal with secured in its personal nook by a leather-based strap. The best way it was offered jogged my memory of a limited-edition pistol, which was becoming as a result of this spinning reel, with its sharp machining and matte-black anodized end, seemed like a tactical weapon. I glanced on the serial quantity on the aspect plate—quantity 105 off the road.

In 2005, Zeebaas emerged as the primary competitor to Van Staal, which on the time made the costliest spinning reel ever produced, with a price ticket north of $1,000. For a few years, Van Staal reels have been extra a standing image than something, however because the striped bass inhabitants roared again within the late Nineteen Nineties, they grew to become the gold commonplace of diehard surf-casters that put their gear by way of hell. With no bail to interrupt, a sealed drag and physique, and solid-stock aluminum building, you possibly can bang a Van Staal off jetty rocks, or dunk it within the sand and salt, and it could carry on ticking. Again then I used to be a surf-obsessed assistant editor at Salt Water Sportsman, so when the prospect got here to take a look at a rival Zeebaas—a reel that 22-year-old me might by no means have afforded—I jumped.

Eighteen years later, I couldn’t inform you the place that field ended up, however I at all times know precisely the place the reel is. The parents at Zeebaas have been good sufficient to let me maintain on to it, and since then, numerous different spinners have damaged or been tossed into cupboards, however the ZX2 has been entrance and heart on deck.

My first critical outing with the reel was in Montauk, New York, the place a buddy and I break up a dirt-cheap motel room within the surf-casting mecca. The place didn’t have a hose exterior. So for 5 nights straight, that reel was blasted by salt spray and laid on the sand and not using a rinse, and but it by no means a lot as sputtered. After that, it grew to become my solely surf reel and put tons of of stripers on the sand.

However then I did one thing foolish and purchased a ship. Every year afterward, I’d push the 1983 Pursuit a bit farther offshore, and the Zeebaas by no means missed a visit. It fought mahi-mahi and brown sharks. When throwing poppers at tuna grew to become trendy, I couldn’t afford a much bigger offshore spinning reel, so I used the ZX2, which put my first popped yellowfins and bluefins on deck and not using a hiccup. It had the heart to beat fish exterior its weight class, however greater than something it was dependable. It could have been overkill for Niagara River lake trout, and sweet-water striped bass on the Delaware River, and pike in Canada, but it surely earned an opportunity to catch all of them just because I knew it wouldn’t let me down.

Right this moment, it’s chipped, dinged, and scarred, but it surely’s nonetheless the primary reel I seize for big-fish pursuits. By no means as soon as since I’ve owned the ZX2 has it been serviced. I’ve by no means had it resealed, cleaned, or re-greased. Whereas I don’t advocate doing that (and neither does the corporate), identify a spinning reel that prices lower than $600 that may have a prayer of being abused for almost 20 years with out ever needing a tuneup. Individuals typically scoff on the worth tags of Zeebaas and Van Staal reels, however in a time when it seems like issues are so disposable, it’s laborious to argue that you just get what you pay for with most issues. However I’ll say this: Now that I can afford a Zeebaas, I’d purchase one other in a heartbeat—besides it doesn’t look like I’ll ever have to.

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