Fin Nor Lethal Review
In this review of the Fin-Nor Lethal spinning reel, I will talk about the features that make it an excellent option for everything from inshore fishing for trout, redfish and snook all the way up to hard fighting species such as the smaller tuna, tarpon, and sailfish.
The Fin-Nor Lethal spinning reel is available in a number of different models, from the LT25 weighing in at 10.3 ounces with a max drag capacity of 19 pounds all the way to the LT100 which weighs in at a hefty 30.8 ounces with 45 pounds of maximum drag.
The Fin-Nor Lethal LT40 weighs in at 12.9 ounces, which is surprising considering it delivers 23 pounds of drag. This model is a testament to Fin-Nor’s effort at getting the weight of their reels down in the smaller sizes.
Traditionally, Fin-Nor has been known for producing heavy reels, so I’m impressed that they’ve managed to keep the weight down in the smaller sizes and still use an all-aluminum body.
What’s interesting about the Fin-Nor Lethal series of spinning reels is that the LT25-LT80 are dramatically different from the largest LT100 which seems to be getting the majority of the press and reviews.
The Bottom Line
- An excellent choice for both inshore and offshore fishing starting at around $100 retail
- Very smooth reel with a great drag system
- High-quality manufacturing, fit and finish similar to much more expensive reels
- Very durable aluminum body and sideplate
The Fin-Nor Lethal is a great budget-friendly spinning reel and is available HERE.
Sealed Drag and Clutch – On the Fin-Nor Lethal spinning reels, you’ll find a simple but effective seal under the drag knob. Additionally, there is a clutch seal beneath the spool.
The clutch seal comes with a washer that’s designed to reduce any friction between the seal itself and the main shaft, which of course has a big impact on the overall smoothness of the reel, especially when it’s under pressure.
The three screws that hold the clutch seal together are noticeably longer than those found in other spinning reels, which is nothing more than an extra precaution to ensure maximum smoothness. The clutch seal itself is thin enough not to be too tight or get in the way but effectively keeps any water out.
Strong aluminum body and side plate – while aluminum isn’t as light as carbon fiber, it does have one significant advantage: strength. As we’ve mentioned, Fin-Nor is slowly gravitating toward making lighter spinning reel models for inshore fishing and even though the Fin-Nor Lethal uses aluminum they have been able to keep the weight down to a respectable level.
I love the attention to detail on this reel such as the use of small washers on the gearbox screws to reduce the possibility of water intrusion.
Aluminum Rotor – the models Fin-Nor Lethal models, LT60, LT80, and LT100 all have an aluminum rotor which does add to the overall weight of the reel but also adds to the strength for your larger species. The smaller LT25, LT30, and LT40 have a plastic composite rotor.
One additional design note to take into account is the use of a closed rotor nut that provides an additional layer of protection keeping water from seeping down around the shaft into the main reel housing.
MegaLock™ infinite anti-reverse clutch – the MegaLock anti-reverse clutch on the Fin-Nor Lethal spinning reels gets top marks for its performance and will get the job done 99% of the time. When fishing the larger fish you want to make sure that there is a second point of failure protection.
Fin-Nor has addressed this issue on the Fin-Nor Lethal LT100 by adding in a secondary stainless steel pawl and ratchet anti-reverse should the clutch slip for any reason, ultimately eliminating the possibility of any backward slipping. This adds a certain level of peace of mind when you have that big tarpon or tuna on the line and you want to make sure that your personal best does not get away.
Gears – The main shaft of the Lethal goes all the way through the gearbox which is essential in reducing the torque when the main gear that is made of brass on the LT100 and of a cast zinc alloy on the smaller models is engaged. The pinion gear is made of stainless steel on the LT100 and showed no signs of wear after having fished this reel of over 50 hours.
On the smaller Lethal models, the pinion gear is made of brass.
MegaDrag™ – the top stack MegaDrag system of the Fin-Nor Lethal is a combination of carbon fiber brake washers sandwiched in-between over-sized stainless steel drag washers. This drag system is designed to provide you with high levels of drag that range from 19 lbs. and 45 lbs. depending on the size of the reel.
In addition to providing you with a high level of drag, the drag has proven to be smooth.
We did notice that on long runs the drag does have a tendency to get pretty warm, some might even say hot which causes the grease to liquify and in several cases, we need to adjust the drag slightly while fighting the fish. With that said the drag is better than many reels that have a price tag of 3-4 times as much.
Changeable Right or Left Hand Retrieve – as with most reels these days the handle can be swapped right or left depending on your preference. This is a screw in handle system for strength and there is a seal where the handle meets the body to protect the gearbox from water intrusion.
The LT100 has a few additional features such as the use of a hex head screw to fasten the handle joint vs a cross pin that is used on the smaller models. Typically, we only see a hex head used on much more expensive reels.
Forged and machined Braid-Ready spool – the machined and forged braid-ready spool is lightweight and is set up to take braid directly. While this is a very convenient feature that I have used on many smaller reels, I am still leaning more towards mono backing after reading a review from Alan Hawk a few years back where he mentioned the added benefit of the mono protecting the spool from water and adding to the life of the spool.
7 Bearings (6 + Clutch) – with seven bearings, or six plus the anti-reverse clutch, the gearbox on the Fin-Nor Lethal spinning reels is built for tough play. All of the bearings are double-shielded stainless steel to make sure they will last for years.
The main shaft travels through the length of the spool and ends inside the internal support, located at the end of the gearbox. There are two bearings which support the spool and this reduces the torque and contributed to the very smooth drag of the Lethal. The reel handle and main gear are supported by additional shielded bearings.
MegaShield™ Corrosion Protection – All of the Lethal models have the MegaShield corrosion protection system to make sure that they are protected to the highest level possible against, water intrusion and the buildup of salt and other harmful substances that are known to break a reel down over time.
I have to say I am very impressed with the amount of water protection that gone into this inexpensive reel.
Features at a Glance
- Sealed Drag and Clutch
- Strong aluminum body and side plate
- Aluminum Rotor
- MegaLock™ infinite anti-reverse clutch
- Stainless Steel and Brass Gearing
- Changeable Right or Left Hand Retrieve
- Forged and machined Braid-Ready spool
- 7 Bearings (6 + Clutch) Double Sealed
- MagShield Corrosion Protection
As you can see in the table below, the Fin-Nor Lethal comes in a wide range of sizes that allow it to be used for everything from inshore fishing for your smaller species such as trout and snapper to the highly coveted LT100 for targeting offshore species such as cobia, tuna, dolphin and sailfish.
I have also taken the Lethal out for some grouper fishing with a jigging rod and was very happy with its performance.
The Fin-Nor Lethal is just a very well built reel that has many features you would expect to find in a reel 2-3 times the price. While this is not a waterproof reel it is very well sealed at every point of possible water entry from the drag, the clutch, the handles all the way down to the body screws.
When looking at this reel in comparison to other reels that are much more expensive such as the Shimano Saragosa SW, Shimano Twin Power SW or the Penn Slammer III, you have a drag system that is better, waterproofing that is similar and overall construction with a full metal body that is nearly equal and in some cases such as the drag is superior.
For those of you who want all the details I have provided the chart below.
|Model||Mono Cap (yds/lb)||Braid Cap (yds/lb)||Bearings||Max Drag (lbs)||Gear ratio||Line Retrieve (in)||Weight (oz)|
For the field testing, I ran two separate configurations. The first was an LT25 paired with a 7′ St. Croix Mojo Inshore. With the water finally starting to warm up, we got after some trout and redfish in the Navarre sound.
I was able to land about half a dozen smaller trout and a few redfish just under slot.
Overall I was very pleased with the overall performance of the reel. The line lay seems to be very even. I had spooled the reel with 150 yds of 20lb Suffix 832. I had read on a few other posts that people had some minor issues with line lay especially with these thinner 0.009″ lines but that was not my experience.
The drag on the reel never really got much of a severe workout but what it did get it handled very well and was smooth from start to finish.
The second configuration I fished was the LT80 paired with a 6’6″ Penn Rampage Jig Spinning rod that I had laying around. I spooled the reel with just under 300 yds of 65lb Power Pro and we headed out to the wrecks to see what we could find.
I wanted to try this configuration for everything from jigging for grouper to casting to passing Cobia, Kings and Barracuda. As luck would have it, we had an awesome day and got our limit of grouper including these two guys and a 65″ King.
Both the grouper and the kings gave the LT80 a great work out. As you can see I was able to land these fish no problem and the drag performed flawlessly.
The large handle made it easy for me to crank on these fish and get them back to the boat.
I have to say that I am very impressed with the Fin-Nor Lethal in both sizes, especially for the price. I look forward to getting an LT100 and putting it up against some tuna and if I am lucky a tarpon this spring.
- Overall Quality of Manufacturing
- Superior Drag System
- Bail can be a bit tricky in certain positions
- Some reported uneven line lay with narrow braided lines
The first spinning reel to compare the Fin-Nor Lethal with is the Quantum Cabo PTse. While the Quantum Cabo CSP40PTSE model has a higher maximum drag than the Fin-Nor Lethal 40, you will end up paying almost twice as much for this reel.
The same goes for the larger 100 sizes where the Cabo offers more drag but at a larger investment. Overall the two reels offer similar features when it comes to seals and manufacturing quality. Read the full Quantum Cabo PTse review HERE.
Next up I would have you take a look at the Shimano Saragosa SW one of my favorite mid-sized saltwater reels. The features are similar in the mid-sizes models up to the 1000 which is similar to the LT100.
When I say similar I mean in terms of features, the drag is less on the Shimano and the price point is 2.5 times as much. Read the full Shimano Saragosa SW review HERE.
The last would be the Penn Spinfisher VI which is the closest in terms of price and features. Both reels are similar in terms of weight on the smaller models but when you get above the Penn 6500 the Fin-Nor is considerably lighter weight.
Looking at the drag there is no competition, the Fin-Nor wins with that drag again. I also have to say that I think the manufacturing quality on the Fin-Nor is superior to the Penn. Read the full Penn Spinfisher VI review HERE.
After spending some time with the Fin-Nor Lethal in several sizes I have to say I think I might have found a new favorite reel in what I would classify as a lightweight but not ultra lightweight range fo reels.
The overall quality for the price is near impossible to beat and the drag system is superior to even reels that are 5x the price.
If I had a choice to buy one $400 reel or 3-4 of these I would have to go with the latter as I really think that they stack up to those much higher quality reels.
I’ll be getting an LT100 and doing a full review on it later in the season when we go chasing Tuna and Tarpon.