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Shimano Tekota A Levelwind 500 / 600 Review

In this Shimano Tekota A Levelwind 500 / 600 Review, we’re highlighting all the features that make this reel stand out among the crowd.

Shimano has an excellent reputation for designing some of the best fresh and saltwater reels. The Shimano Tekota A boasts a lightweight S body type with a smooth cross carbon drag.

The reel is small and light enough to maximize comfort without sacrificing spool size, depth, or power.

They’ve upgraded the original Tekota line to feature Coreprotect water resistance, a loud clicker, and an easy to replace anti-fogging lens for the line counter. The Tekota A is cut out for use with any trolling technique including planer boards, downriggers, and lead core.

One thing that immediately stands out about the Shimano Tekota A is its effective, lightweight design. They intended to make this reel comfortable and smooth without sacrificing durability and power.

The brilliant design could be the reason the Tekota A was the 2018 Showcase Winner at ICAST.

The Bottom Line

  • One of the top compact levelwind reels on the market
  • Very smooth reel with great cross carbon drag
  • Designed for harsh saltwater conditions with Shimanos Coreprotect
  • Very strong and lightweight Hagane metal body

The Tekota A Levelwind reels won ICAST 2018 for a reason and are available HERE.

Features

S-Compact ergonomic body design – The body shape of the Tekota A is designed to fit comfortably into your hand while remaining durable and sturdy enough to battle it out with a big fish all day long without getting tired.

Easy to Replace Anti-Fogging Lens – You don’t have to deal with the line counter lens fogging because the LC models feature a lens that will never fog per the manufacturer.  We have not had any issues during our testing even on those south Florida days when it feels like it is 150% humidity.

Super Stopper Anti-Reverse – When you’re battling a big fish, the last thing you want to worry about is getting hurt when the handle starts spinning. The Super Stopper is a Shimano specialty, and it prevents the reel handle from back spinning when you set the hook on a fish and makes sure that you get a solid hook set each and every time. 

The super stopper on the Tekota A has additional protection from the saltwater due to the Coreprotect seals.

Coreprotect water resistance – The Coreprotect water resistance feature does an important job for your saltwater reel. The Coreprotect keeps your reel and all the internal components safe from water damage and corrosion due to saltwater. Without this feature, you would not find yourself fishing saltwater for very long. 

Coreprotect is a combination of a water repellant and a series of gaskets around the critical entry points of the reel that makes the reel extremely water repellant, not waterproof.

Hagane Body – The Hagane Body is a metal reel body with high rigidity. The body stiffness and impact resistance virtually eliminate body flexing. The result transforms the angler’s actions directly into cranking power.

Louder Clicker – Many anglers have mixed feelings about the use of clickers when trolling. Some see it as a necessity while others think it’s lazy fishing. Regardless of your perspective, the Tekota A comes with a louder clicker than previous models so there will be no shortage of noise to alert you of a fish on.

Cross Carbon Drag – Part of the reason why the drag is so smooth with the Tekota A is due to the cross carbon drag material. It provides you with a wider assortment of drag settings so you can tweak it to meet your needs. 

To achieve the smoother drag, Shimano places a carbon fiber disk on either side of the master gear to apply even pressure.

Right and Left Hand Retrieval – With both the 500 and 600, you can get them in a right or left-hand retrieval. These reels are one of a kind because they are the only one in the Shimano line to offer dual retrieval. They all come with a gear ratio of 6.3:1 and 3+1 bearings.

Fine Craftsmanship – One thing that stands out is the craftsmanship of this reel. It looks beautiful and works even better than it looks. The durable build is designed to prevent corrosion and remain water resistant.

Aluminum Spool with Level Wind – Forged aluminum spooling deploys strength and durability in this reel. All their models use a non-disengaging level wind system that moves the line back to the spool. Anglers do not need to guide the line with their fingers when retrieving.

The non-disengaging function means that the levelwind works with the reel in a free-spool while casting.

Aluminum Framing – With the right amount of care and attention, you should have no problem keeping this reel in perfect shape for many years. The anodized aluminum framing with side plates works to protect the gears while eliminating twisting.

Tekota does a great job at providing a durable and robust reel while still making sure it remains lightweight and comfortable for use.

Accurate Line Counter – Some models containing an LC come with the option of having a line counter. The counter weighs about one ounce and has a removable panel for service on the outside. These line counters are useful for trolling techniques that require a specific amount of line like with a downrigger.

The line counter fits comfortably between your fingers and allows you to reset it with the click of a button easily.

S-ARB Bearings – These bearings are a similar upgrade to the Shimano A-RB bearings. These feature a shield on both sides to prevent corrosion or abrasion from sand and dirt.

Three Different Handles – While your shopping around for a Shimano Tekota reel, you might notice three different crank handles. The small models like the 300 and 300 LC feature a double padded handle while the 500 and 600 use a counterbalance style.

All handles from Shimano Tekota use a no-slip Septon grip.  

 Features at a Glance

  • S-Compact comfort and ergonomic design
  • Anti-Fogging Lens
  • Super Stopper Anti-Reverse
  • Coreprotect Water Resistance
  • Hagane Body Eliminates Resistance
  • Louder Clicker
  • Cross Carbon Drag
  • Right and Left Hand Retrieval
  • Fine Craftsmanship
  • Accurate Line Counter
  • S-ARB Bearings

When you compare the Shimano Tekota A Levelwind 500 / 600 to some of its competitors. You realize how smooth and light this reel is. The craftsmanship of the reel is pristine and it comes at a fair price.

The free pool uses a side lever instead of a standard thumb button which is clunky for some applications, but this should nearly go unnoticed for most anglers. The spool is deep enough for hundreds of yards of monofilament or braid depending on your preference.

The build of the Shimano Tekota A Levelwind 500 / 600 is a diecast aluminum frame with the stamped aluminum right side plate. The reel has a braced graphite non-handle side plate with an aluminum spool and rod clamp.

Many versions use a manual clutch except for the 300 LC, 500 LC, and 600 LC which have an auto-return.

The premium S-ARB bearings used in this reel utilizes shields on both sides to prevent rust and corrosion. The smooth 3+1 system allows for steady retrieve and a powerful 24-pound max drag across all the models.

For those of you who want all the details I have provided the chart below.

ModelLine Retrieve (in)Mono Cap(lbs/yd)Braid Cap(lbs/yd)Max Drag (lb)S-ARB Ball BearingRoller BearingGear RatioWeight (oz)Retrieve
TEK500HGA3812/440
14/340
12/285
40/390
50/330
65/240
24lb316.3:115.5Right
TEK500HGLCA3812/440
14/340
12/285
40/390
50/330
65/240
24lb316.3:115.5Left
TEK501HGA3812/440
14/340
12/285
40/390
50/330
65/240
24lb316.3:116.4Right
TEK501HGLCA3812/440
14/340
12/285
40/390
50/330
65/240
24lb316.3:116.4Left
TEK600HGA3816/390
20/300
25/240
40/540
50/460
65/330
24lb316.3:116.4Right
TEK600HGLCA3816/390
20/300
25/240
40/540
50/460
65/330
24lb316.3:116.4Left
TEK601HGA3816/390
20/300
25/240
40/540
50/460
65/330
24lb316.3:117.1Right
TEK601HGLCA3816/390
20/300
25/240
40/540
50/460
65/330
24lb316.3:117.1Left

The Shimano Tekota Levelwind Reels feature a wide assortment of sizes and capacities. They have a rock-solid construction, and the reels provide a simple solution for anglers who troll in fresh, and saltwater.

If you hit the Great Lakes, you’ll love the palmable line counter on some of the models. If you’re a saltwater angler, you’ll appreciate the durability and strength along with the protection from harsh saltwater.

The Tekota A is one of the newest reels and it’s the result of many upgrades through research, development, and time on the water. Shimano reels are engineered to outlast the competition through their die-cast aluminum frames, smooth but strong drags, comfort grips, oversized clickers, and cross-bar design for quick access to the spool.

If you opt for a line counter model, they are comfortable and easy to use. The left side plate makes it highly palmable, and it puts the counter right between your forefinger and thumb for optimal control. With this, you have easy access to a reset button but protection, so you don’t accidentally reset the counter.

The Coreprotect feature has shown up in many Shimano reels over the years and it’s still popularly available in the Tekota A Levelwind. Coreprotect identifies at-risk areas where water resistance is essential. Around the frame seal and around the clutch button are two areas where you don’t want saltwater getting in.

Saltwater is known for wreaking havoc on your gear so you want to do everything you can to protect it. Coreprotect water resistance with regularly scheduled cleaning should keep your reel in tip-top shape.

Pros

  • Smooth drag
  • Coreprotect water resistance
  • Super stopper anti-reverse
  • Improved clicker
  • S-ARB bearings with shields
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Reports of Innaccurate line counter
  • No harness lugs

Alternatives

There are a few other reels that I would have you take a look at.

If you are looking to step up in price a bit then take a look at the Shimano Tranx 300/400 which is a low profile reel ideal for both inshore and offshore fishing.  If you want to target even bigger fish then consider the Tranx 500.  Read the full reviews of the Shimano Tranx 300/400 HERE and the Shimano Tranx 500 HERE.

Then from Daiwa take a look at the Saltist Black and Gold Star Drag.  While this reel does not offer a line counter or a levelwind feature it is similar in size and capability.  I find this reel to be strong, similar in weight and drag capacity.  Read the full Daiwa Saltist Black and Gold Star Drag Review HERE.

Lastly, a new favorite of mine is the Daiwa Lexa HD 300 or Daiwa Lexa HD 400 which is similar in price, drag, retrieval rate, and overall strength.  I fish a combination of inshore and offshore and I like that I can use this reel in either scenario.  A full review is on the way.  Until then check out the Daiwa Lexa HD 300 HERE and the Daiwa Lexa HD 400 HERE.

 

In Conclusion

I think that the steps the company has taken to improve the feel and comfort of their reel have paid off. The drag on the Shimano Tekota A is about as smooth as you can get. It’s a top-notch feature that continues to add to the comfort and professional feel of this reel.

One issue I have with this reel is the lack of variation in terms of gear ratio and almost everything in general. As you sort through the different models, they don’t provide many variations for different styles, fishing methods, or personal preference.

With that said, you get all the features you would want out of a premium reel without having to pay the premium price. For around $200 you could have one of the best reels on the market.

Lastly, you have protection against issues down the road. You have the Coreprotect water resistance to prevent corrosion and damage to the reel. You also have the S-ARB bearings with the dual shields to ensure that nothing gets inside your bearings and slows you down. There isn’t much that this reel doesn’t offer.

If you are looking for a reel that maximizes comfort and usability without sacrificing strength and that does not break the bank then the Shimano Tekota A Levelwind is the right choice.

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Shimano Tekota A Levelwind 500 / 600
Author Rating
51star1star1star1star1star

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