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Okuma Azores Review
In this review of the Okuma Azores, you will begin to hopefully understand why I think that this reel is one of the best deals going for a larger spinner that is designed for offshore use. If you don't have a big budget or don't fish offshore on a regular basis and still want to have a good quality reel without breaking the bank then take a look at the Okuma Azores spinning reel.
This reel is a good all-around choice for everything from trolling, baitcasting, stick baiting, popping and jigging on the reefs. The Azores is available in 5 models from a size 40 up through a 90 and packs a lot of features that you would only expect to find in a reel 2 to 3 times its cost.
Some of the features that I really like are the extremely smooth drag that is provided by the dual force drag system and the dual anti-reverse system that provides a solid hook set every time. This reel is designed for the saltwater and Okuma has put in place several features such as their MSS or mechanical stabilization system that minimizes the possibility of disparate metals inside of the gearbox falling prey to the effects of electrolysis and corrosion.
This reel is designed from the body up to withstand the harsh conditions of saltwater fishing and from what I can tell so far it does an excellent job of just that at a very affordable price starting at just $129.
ALC: Rigid die-cast aluminum body, side plate and rotor – The body, sideplate and rotor are all constructed of solid aluminum so they are very strong and rigid.
DFD: Precision Dual Force Drag System – The precision dual force drag system uses a stack of felt drag washers on top and then under the spool is a carbonite drag washer. When you combine the two of these, you dissipate the drag pressure over multiple washers and in turn spread the heat over several washers making for a smoother drag when under a heavy load.
Drag adjustment – The Azores uses a click drag adjustment for more precise drag setting that allows you to dial down the exact drag you need when you need it.
Oversized spool shaft – The Azores uses an oversized spool shaft and spacer that allows you to put lots of pressure on the drag system and distribute that evenly so you do not overload it. This creates balance and stability as well as durability over the long haul.
6HPB + 1RB corrosion-resistant stainless steel bearings – 6 high performance bearings are combined with one anti-reverse roller bearing to create an extremely smooth retrieve. I would almost put the retrieve at the same level of smoothness as a Shimano reel and for a fraction of the price.
Quick-Set anti-reverse roller bearing plus ratchet system – When you are ready to set the hook on that big pelagic you can not afford to have any play in the reel and that is just what is accomplished with this dual system that comes on all of the models except the Z-40s.
Brass pinion gear – The precision machine cut brass pinion gear is solid and will last for years of heavy use.
Elliptical oscillation system – The use of Okuma’s elliptical oscillation system, means that you will have extremely even line lay when retrieving and you will therefore be able to cast further.
Corrosion resistant – The CRC: Corrosion-Resistant Coating process provides an extra layer of protection for this dedicated saltwater reel.
MSS: Carbon Mechanical Stabilizing System – Prevents to spread of corrosion by separating the aluminum components from the other internal components with their C-40X long strand fiber to create a gasket that will make for a reel that will last a long time.
Machined aluminum spool – The 2-tone anodized spool with LCS lip provides for smooth release with no noticeable wind knots when we were testing. The spool is also knurled so that if you are loading it up with braided line you will not have to back it with mono first.
Machined aluminum handle – The machined aluminum handle is not only super strong but it is also lighter weight than what can be achieved with carbon fiber.
Hydro Block water tight drag seal – The extra sealing here makes for a near water tight seal around the wide drag adjustment knob. We all know that this is one of the major penetration points on a reel where water gets in and ruins your reel.
Features at a Glance
- ALC: Rigid die-cast aluminum body, side plate and rotor
- DFD: Precision Dual Force Drag System
- 6HPB + 1RB corrosion-resistant stainless steel bearings
- Quick-Set anti-reverse roller bearing plus ratchet system
- Precision machine cut brass pinion gear
- CRC: Corrosion-resistant coating process
- HDGII: Corrosion-resistant, high density gearing
- MSS: Carbon Mechanical Stabilizing System
- Machined aluminum, 2-tone anodized spool with LCS lip
- Heavy duty, solid aluminum bail wire.
Okuma has really done an excellent job at delivering a dedicated saltwater spinning reel geared towards the larger species of fish at a very affordable price. This reel is perfect for the angler that might only get out a few times a year and does not want to break the bank but wants a reel that will withstand the harsher elements of saltwater fishing along with the strain that is put on equipment by larger fish.
I also think that the Azores is an excellent choice for a guide that wants a reel that can withstand the abuse from clients and being used on a regular basis. While this reel is not waterproof, it is very water tight and corrosion resistant when you combine the hydro block water tight drag system, high performance ball bearings and the aluminum body, side plate and rotor that are separated from the other internal components with the mechanical stabilizing system.
With gear ratios of 5.8:1 in the Z-40s and the Z-55s and 5.4:1 in the Z-65s, Z80s and the largest of the bunch the Z-90s you will achieve line retrieve rates of 35″ to 46″ respectively with every turn of the handle.
For those of you who want all the details I have provided the chart below.
|MODEL||GEAR RATIO||BEARINGS||WEIGHT (OZ.)||LINE RETRIEVE||MAX DRAG PRESSURE||MONO LINE CAP (yd./lb.)||BRAIDED LINE CAP (yd./lb.)|
One of the things that the Okuma Azores is best known for is the dual force drag system. By combining a stack of felt washers with a secondary carbonite washer under the spool allows for a even dispersal of pressure and creates a very smooth drag. One thing that I have heard suggested and might try myself is to replace the stack of felt washers on the top of the spool with carbonite washers to create an even smoother drag and also add in some durability. I do not think that this is necessary on the smaller Z-40s and Z55s unless you were going after large bull reds or other fish in the 40 lbs+ class but for the larger reel. I think I will try this.
The combination of the felt and carbonite washers will give you a hefty drag of 28 lbs on the Azores Z-40s and will take you up to a whopping 44 lbs on the Azores Z-90s.
- Water tight design
- Smooth retrieve
- Corrosion resistant
- Not fully sealed
I would recommend that you take a look at the Penn Spinfisher VI as this is a reel that has truly stood the test of time and only runs about $25 more than the Okuma Azores. Personally, I would choose the Okuma Azores as it is lighter weight but the Penn Spinfisher VI is a fully sealed reel. Read the full Penn Spinfisher VI review HERE.
Another reel to check out would be the Daiwa BG SW Spinning reel which for a few dollars less is an excellent choice and one of my favorite reels. Read the full Daiwa BG SW Spinning Reel review HERE.
Last but not least would be the Fin Nor Lethal which has excellent drag like the Azores and very good water protection. The Fin Nor reel is also in the same price range as the Okuma Azores. Read the full Fin Nor Lethal review HERE.
If you are looking for a great saltwater reel that that will withstand the harsh elements, large pelagic species and will not cost you your first born child, then I think that you have a winner with the Okuma Azores series of reels. The more I learn and use the Okuma brand the more I am impressed. Okuma seems to kind of get left out of most peoples list when they are shopping for a reel as they are not covered in the press as well as some of the other major brands like Shimano, Diawa and Penn.
For the money, I think you will be hard pressed to find a better reel that has all of these features. I would give the Okuma Azores 4 stars out of 5. The only reason I do not give it 5 stars is that it is not fully sealed.