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13 Fishing Concept A Review

13 Fishing Concept A Review

The 13 Fishing Concept A has a lot of power packed into a tight low profile baitcasting reel that fits very nicely in the palm of your hand.  When compared to something like the Daiwa Tatula series of reels you will immediately notice that the form factor of the body is much more compact.

The Concept A was first introduced in 2014 along with its big brother the Concept C and then the current updated model was released in mid-2015 which includes the much improved Beetle wing sideplate.

I love how solid the reel feels – the handle spins smooth and free but does not feel sloppy or loose like some free spinning reels can.  This feeling continues when fishing the reel due to the high-quality construction of machined aluminum parts, “Dead-Stop” anti-reverse bearing, stainless anti-corrosion high spin bearings and what is called the Bulldog drag system that has a manufacturer specification of 22 lbs of drag.

At 6.8 oz, this is lightweight but not the lightest in its class.  However, due to the small form factor, this reel feels like a finesse reel but with the power to bring in big fish without stressing the reel.  If you want something slightly lighter weight check out the 13 Fishing Concept C which weighs in at just 6.2 oz.

The Bottom Line

  • Compact and lightweight with the power to handle larger fish
  • Very smooth reel with great drag
  • High level of manufacturing and quality parts
  • Saltwater friendly and durable

The 13 Fishing Concept A is a good value and is available HERE.


6-Way Centrifugal Braking System – The 6-way centrifugal braking system allows for you to adjust the 6 pins of the braking system from under the beetle wing sideplate.  I typically have mine set in the 3-4 range when fishing a 3/4 oz. crankbait.

3+3+1 Stainless/Anti-Corrosion High Spin Bearings – This is a smooth reel thanks to the quality anti-corrosion stainless steel high-speed bearings.

Arrowhead Line Guide System – The arrowhead line guide system does a great job of making sure that the line lays evenly on the spool when retrieving which is very important as it makes sure that there are no lumps or tangles when it comes time to cast.  This means that you get a more consistently smooth cast and retrieve.

22 lbs. of Fish Stopping Bulldog Drag – The Bulldog drag system is smooth and strong from the start with minimal noticeable variation during a run. The only variation on this was when the drag was cranked down all the way, which is similar to most reels.

Beetle Wing Rapid Access System – The Beetle wing rapid access system allows the sideplate to pop open and move to the side easily so you can access the braking pins for adjustment.  This is a great feature as you do not have to worry about dropping the sideplate in the water, which is an expensive and all too common error made with many baitcasting reels.

Dead Stop Anti-Reverse System – The dead stop anti-reverse is solid and does not provide and slop or back play which means you will get a solid hookup every time.

Concept Cork Knobs – The Concept A comes standard with high-quality cork knobs.  I always prefer the look and feel of cork over EVA as I think you get a better grip.

13 Fishing Trick Shop Compatible – For those anglers that want to make the reel their own by customizing certain parts, this can be done with 13 Fishing Trick Shop reel parts.

HD Aluminum Chasis – The HD Aluminum chassis is solid and eliminates any flex.  The chassis is then finished off with 13 Fishing’s Ocean Armor Saltwater protection to ensure a long lifetime.

Freshwater and Saltwater Capable – 13 Fishing has made this baitcaster for saltwater as well as freshwater fishing by using durable components and a great finish process.  Corrosion resistant bearings keep the reel running smoothly and the Ocean Armor Saltwater protection process keeps the saltwater elements out of the parts that are most susceptible to corrosion.

Features at a Glance

  • 6-Way Centrifugal Braking System
  • 3+3+1 Stainless/Anti-Corrosion High Spin Bearings
  • Arrowhead Line Guide System
  • 22 Lbs. of Fish Stopping Bulldog Drag
  • Beetle Wing Rapid Access System
  • Dead Stop Anti-Reverse System
  • Concept Cork Knobs
  • 13 Fishing Trick Shop Compatible
  • HD Aluminum Chasis
  • Freshwater and Saltwater Capable
  • Ocean Armor 2 Saltwater Protection Process

As you can see below, the 13 Fishing Concept A is available in 4 gear ratios.  Let’s take a look at what each is best for.

The 5:3:1 retrieves 21” of line per turn. This is the slowest of the ratios and is typically going to be used for most crankbait applications. The slower speed retrieve allows time for the lure to get down deeper and provides the best action for crankbaits.

The 6:6:1 is going to retrieve 26.1” of line per turn. This medium speed gear ratio is probably the best for an all-purpose setup and can be used for a number of techniques such as spinner, swim and jerkbaits as well as topwater lures and crankbaits by adjusting your retrieve speed on the rotations.

If you are fishing heavy grass or cover and need to get the lure back quicker then the 7:3:1 ratio will retrieve 28.9” of line per turn. For flipping, pitching, and frogging this would be my choice.

When you just need speed – you know who you are – the 8:1:1 will bring that lure back at a rate of 32” of line per turn.  This is often used when fishing in heavy cover or around a lot of structure and you need to get in and out quickly.  Uses would be the same as the 7:3:1 just at a slightly faster retrieve rate.

Field Test

For my field test, I paired a Concept A 6.6 Right Hand retrieve with a 7′ G Loomis E6X crankbait rod.  Together the setup only weighed 13.8 oz., 7 oz for the rod and 6.8 oz. for the reel, this is the kind of lightweight setup I love to fish.  If you want to shed a little bit more then consider using the13 Fishing Concept C which weighs in at 6.2 oz. vs. 6.8 oz.

The first thing I noticed is how well the reel palms in your hand. It is small and compact, but the handle is larger than would be expected for a reel of this size and the large cork paddles are easy to locate and provide plenty of torque for larger fish.  I am a big fan of cork as I like the look and feel and these are high quality.  I still always seal my cork handles with something like U-40 Cork Sealant to assure longevity of the cork.

The casting was very easy.  I set the braking pins on 4 to start with and then settled in on 2 as the appropriate setting and a bit more tension on the tension knob to adjust the brakes.  I was able to cast a good distance accurately and only experienced a few small backlashes but that was user error and could have easily been avoided by keeping the braking system adjusted slightly tighter.

Retrieving was very smooth and at a nice pace of 26.1″ per crank with the large cork handles.  I was casting a variety of jerk baits such as paddle tails with both weighted Owner twistlock hooks and with 1/8 oz & 1/4 oz Z Man Trout Eye jigs as well as a variety of crankbaits.

Hook sets were solid with the anti-reverse bearing and the drag was both solid and smooth.  The largest fish I caught was a Jack Crevalle at around 8 lbs. so that was a good test for the rod and reel combination. It put up a good fight but I was able to control the fish at all times.  I am confident that this setup will perform well under a much larger load such as big bull red and over slot snook.

The Arrowhead line guide system seems to do a very good job of laying the line evenly on the spool consistently.

Overall for someone that likes to fish both fresh and saltwater the 13 Fishing Concept A is a good solid reel that appears it will be able to stand the test of time due to the quality manufacturing and components.


  • Beetle wing sideplate is attached
  • Corrosion resistant for saltwater
  • 22 lbs. of drag
  • Trick Shop compatible


  • Not Magnetic braking, therefore not as fine adjustment is available
  • Have to open sideplate to adjust braking


If you want to stay within the 13 Fishing brand then you can take a look at the Concept C but it is going to set you back for an additional $60.

Going with a different brand I would have you look at the Daiwa Tatula series of reels.  The Daiwa Tatula Type-R is going to be the closest in terms of weight and form factor with a weight of 7.6 oz but only offers 13.2 lbs of drag.  One of the nice things about the Daiwa is that it does offer the Magforce magnetic braking system which in my opinion has a finer adjustment than the 13 Fishing braking system.

For the Shimano fans out there make sure that you look at both the Shimano Curado I for about $20 less and then the Shimano Curado 70 for about $20 more.  The Curado 70 is going to be the closer of these two when it comes to weight but only offers 10 lbs of drag, the Curado I weighs .6 oz more and still only offers 12 lbs. of drag.

In Conclusion

13 Fishing has a very solid offering with the 13 Fishing Concept A, especially if you are targeting larger fish or fishing in heavy cover and have a need for the 22 lbs. of drag that it offers to move fish where you want them.

The reel is designed to be used in saltwater conditions and is ideal for those of us that like to finesse fish with lightweight gear and still target bigger fish.

Overall the 13 Fishing Concept A is a solid reel for the money and would be a welcome addition to anyone’s fishing arsenal.

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