In this review of the new 13 Fishing Concept A3, we will take a look at a baitcasting series that has continuous upgrades and refinements each season.
This year, 13 Fishing is not afraid to take some big chances, especially when it comes to the drag systems and overall gearing.
Also, you’re looking at a bit more refinement with 13 Fishing’s reels. The overall concept of the A3 design is power right to the core, beginning with the guts of this understated yet robust reel.
It is made with Japanese Hamai precision, meaning that the new gears are made with a hardened brass. This puts it in the running for being one of the thickest and strongest reels in its class.
The Bottom Line
- One of the strongest low profile baitcasting reels on the market.
- Very smooth reel with a whopping 30 lbs of drag for larger species.
- Overall high level of manufacturing quality with parts that are easy to find service.
- Designed for the saltwater enthusiast with anti-corrosion and protection throughout.
If you’re looking to reel in some big fish, 13 Fishing has got you covered with the A3. The bull drag system has been upgraded to account for over 30 lbs of drag force.
13 Fishing also included their patented ‘Ocean Amor 2’ feature which means that the reel on the Concept A3 is more resistant to corrosion and completely compatible with saltwater. The frame of the reel itself is made up entirely of aluminum, along with the gear side plate which means that it is going to have strength and durability when it comes to catching larger species such as Bull Reds and Snook.
The non-handle side of the side plate is made out of carbon fiber and is firmly attached using the ‘Beetle Wing’ design. What this does is it reduces the overall weight of the reel and you do not have to worry about dropping your expensive sideplate when adjusting the spool.
Japanese Hamai Cut Gearing – The Japanese Hamai digital cutting system means that your gear threads are going to be incredibly accurate and your gears are going to mesh perfectly together. You’re not going to feel much resistance with this quality of manufacturing.
HAM Gearing System – HAM, otherwise known as ‘hard as a mother’ is a big brass gear, which is the main driving gear. It has been hardened by 13 Fishing as much as 37% more than competitors, so you know you will be in control when reeling in even the bigger fish. Because it’s made out of brass, it’s an extremely robust piece of equipment and will last you a long time.
6-Way Centrifugal Braking System – The six-pin braking system has teeth located around the perimeter, which allows for a fine adjustment. Keep in mind that the number you click to determines how the brake weights are engaged. While the pins themselves are pretty small, they seem to do a great job.
3+3+1 Stainless/Anti-Corrosion High Spin Bearings – These types of bearings definitely hold up much longer than their non-anti-corrosion counterparts. If you get caught out in the rain or accidentally dunk your reel in the saltwater, you’ll be glad you’ve got stainless steel bearings that are not going to corrode on you overnight. Keep in mind it is still a good idea to rinse your reel after every use in saltwater.
Arrowhead Line Guide System – This open line guide system is a free-flowing area, allowing your line to pass through without any resistance and allowing the line to lay evenly on the spool. This assures that you are ready for your next cast without having to worry about backlash or tangles in your line.
30 lbs of Fish Stopping Bulldog Drag – While this level of drag is more than you would ever need for your typical big bass it can come in handy if you are targeting those large Muskies or Pike when you are up north fishing in the summer months. For those of us who spend the majority of our time on and around saltwater, 30 lbs of kick-ass drag becomes a pretty important number when targeting big bull reds, snook, and even a medium sized tarpon now and then.
Beetle Wing Rapid Access System – The six-pin brake is housed inside the beetle wing, which is made out of carbon. The same basic principle has been applied with this system, except now the hinges are located at the front instead of the back.
It’s spring loaded and stays attached even when it’s open, making it incredibly easy for you to go in there and make your changes without the fear of having that sideplate pop off into the boat or even worse the water.
Dead Stop Anti-Reverse System – This simple system does the job and does not allow for any back play or slop when setting the hook.
Concept Cork Knobs or Power Handle – You’ll find that 13 Fishing’s cork power handle is larger than others out there on the market, measuring in at 100mm compared to the conventional 90mm. As well as being aesthetically pleasing, the cork knobs are a great thickness, allowing for a good grip that won’t loosen even when they’re wet.
For those of you who prefer a single knob, you can always choose the Power Handle which is included as part of the package so there is no need to purchase separately.
13 Fishing Trick Shop Compatible – There are a number of components to the A3 concept that can actually be adjusted based on your personal preference. For example, if you’re not a fan of the cork knobs, you can easily replace them for different models through 13 Fishing’s Trick Shop. Many other features that come with the A3 Concept are swappable through 13 Fishing’s Trick Shop.
HD Aluminum Frame and Gear SidePlate – The frame and gear side plate are made out of aluminum, making it incredibly lightweight yet hardy against the elements and strong to handle large fish without any issues.
Airfoil Carbon Palm SidePlate – Similar to the frame and gear sideplate, the airfoil palm sideplate is also made out of a material that is hardwearing but incredibly light for easy handling. Carbon creates a smooth surface that rests gently against your palm, allowing for optimal grip and general handling as your other hand works the gears.
Freshwater and Saltwater Capable – The A3 concept gives you not only the traditional paddle handle but also the power handle. This particular feature means that it’s a great option if you’re more of an in-shore saltwater fisherman, looking to catch some big fish.
However, it’s also just as compatible in freshwater as well, making it a great option that can transcend both scenarios.
Ocean Armor 2 Saltwater Protection Process – The A3 concept is a great option if you like to fish in both freshwater and saltwater. The Ocean Armor 2 saltwater protection is essential for keeping your gear in good condition when you’re using it in saltwater.
Because of this feature, you don’t have to worry about where you use this reel. While you may still want to rinse your reel off once you’re done, you certainly don’t have to worry about it corroding quickly at all.
Features at a Glance
- Japanese Hamai Cut Gearing
- HAM Gearing System
- 6-Way Centrifugal Braking System
- 3+3+1 Stainless/Anti-Corrosion High Spin Bearings
- Arrowhead Line Guide System
- 30 Lbs. of Fish Stopping Bulldog Drag
- Beetle Wing Rapid Access System
- Dead Stop Anti-Reverse System
- Concept Cork Knobs = Power Handle
- 13 Fishing Trick Shop Compatible
- HD Aluminum Frame and Gear Side Plate
- Airfoil Carbon Palm Side Plate
- Freshwater and Saltwater Capable
- Ocean Armor 2 Saltwater Protection Process
As you can see in the chart below the Daiwa Concept A3 comes on two gear ratios a 6.3:1 with a retrieve rate of 28.8 inches per crank and the faster retrieving 8.1:1 with a retrieve rate of 37″ per crank.
For most people the 6.3:1 is going to be your go-to all-around ratio as it will cover everything from swim and jerk baits, thru topwater lures and crankbaits.
For those of you wanting to fish heavy structure where you want to keep the lure near the surface or you want to get that skipping action, I would suggest the 8.1:1 ratio.
For those of you who want all the details I have provided the chart below.
|Model||Retrieve||Retrieve (in)||Braid Line Capacity||Max Drag (lbs)||Gear Ratio||Weight||Bearings|
|30||6.3:1||10.5||(3AC+3SS) + 1RB|
|30||6.3:1||10.5||(3AC+3SS) + 1RB|
|30||8.1:1||10.5||(3AC+3SS) + 1RB|
|30||8.1:1||10.5||(3AC+3SS) + 1RB|
When using the 13 Fishing Concept A3 a few things stood out to me.
The first thing is just how much drag they have been able to pack into a compact reel that still fits in the palm of my hand easily. The 30 lbs of what they call Bull Dog Drag is very impressive and it is smooth. All of this packed into a reel that has a form factor smaller than say the Shimano Curado 300.
Next would be the Centrifugal braking system which I found to be very easy to adjust based on the size of the baits I am casting. Hidden under the Beetle wing sideplate is the 6-Way braking system.
I will mention it again as I think it is very important to note that the Beetle wing is designed with a spring that pops the sideplate out of the way quickly but that it is still attached so there is no chance that part of your reel is going to drop into the abyss (speaking from personal experience).
When I loaded up the reel with 40 lbs braid and started chucking a 6oz swimbait, I was very pleased with the how easy it was to cast and the distance I was able to achieve. I had elected to use the 6.3:1 ratio and was pleased with retrieve ratio and the overall solid feel.
- Lightweight and small form factor
- Beefy 30 lb Drag
- Overall quality built reel that just feels good in your hands
- A few screws were loose on my unit
- The brand has not been tested for a long period of time.
13 Fishing Concept A Reel
13 Fishing’s Concept A reel is similar to the 13 Fishing Concept A3 as we have mentioned above – in fact, they’re virtually identical. However, there are some minimal differences to make a note of. One of these is that the 13 Fishing Concept A3 is the larger model.
With a larger model, one of the most significant differences is going to be the drag. The Concept A reel has a maximum drag of 23 pounds, while as we know, the A3 has a maximum drag of 30 pounds.
This is probably the most significant difference, so if you’re a saltwater fisherman who is going to need a beefier reel, you’ll want to opt for the 13 Fishing Concept A3. However, the 13 Fishing Concept A is slightly less expensive, which means you get almost all of the great features of the A3 without the higher price tag. Read the full 13 Fishing Concept A Review HERE.
Daiwa Lexa 300/400
When it comes to comparing 13 Fishing’s Concept A3 with the Daiwa Lexa 300 series and 400 series, again it all comes down to drag – and, in this case, price. The Daiwa Lexa 300 series has a maximum drag of 22 pounds, while the Daiwa Lexa 400 series has a maximum drag of 25 pounds.
While both of these are typically enough drag, if you’re more of a saltwater guy then you may still want to invest in the 13 Fishing Concept A3, which has a maximum drag of 30 pounds for those larger fish. It’s also worth keeping in mind, however, that both the Daiwa Lexa 300 and 400 series are slightly more expensive, too. Read the full review of the Daiwa Lexa 300/400 HERE.
Shimano Tranx 300/400
The Shimano Tranx 300 and Shimano Tranx 400 is another reel from a known brand that’s more expensive than 13 Fishing’s Concept A3, with less drag, however, we’ve got to take into account that it’s the Shimano brand, which means that it’s going to be an excellent reel that has proven durability over time.
The ergonomics of the Shimano Tranx 300 and 400 series are excellent but the form factor of the 13 Fishing Concept A3 is still smaller and packs more drag. The Shimano Tranx design really puts it at the top of the pack when it comes to fishing in both saltwater and freshwater. To learn more for yourself read the full Shimano Tranx 300/400 review HERE.
If you’re an avid 13 Fishing fan, you’ll probably notice that the 13 Fishing Concept A3 is just a larger clone of the 13 Fishing Concept A Reel. This has been done intentionally – the Concept A reel has been incredibly popular with consumers, so it makes sense that they would bring out a larger model that’s virtually the same.
The most significant difference is the size being a 300 series reel and the additional drag.
Having a brand with an excellent reputation come out with one of its favorite reels in a larger size is a dream come true for many. It means that you don’t have to switch brands to find the features that you love – all you have to do is upgrade your existing 13 Fishing Concept A for those larger fish.
We loved the fact that the 13 Fishing Concept A3 reel can deliver 30 pounds of drag in a reel that fits nicely in the palm of your hand without breaking the bank. There are some great brands out there that offer competitive reel options, but when it comes to price the 13 Fishing Concept A3 is hard to beat.
If you’re looking for a robust, smooth reel with familiar features and protection against saltwater fishing, you’ll want to check out the 13 Fishing Concept A3 and move it to the tip of your list for options in a 300 sized low profile baitcasting reel.