Kristal Electric Reels - Information & Reel Selection Guide
Kristal has a large variety of electric reels that are sold in different markets throughout the world. A good portion of the reels sold are labeled as "systems", which means that these reels come with a built-in rod and a gimbal rod holder mount. In the US we commonly call these the Kristal box units.
The box units are by far the simplest electric reels made. These are gear driven reels and all have the spools mounted on the side. Box units that incorporate an overhead boom with a block pulley are known as the Canarie series. These are used commercially in the Caribbean and throughout the Mediterranean. Configurations include bottom fishing and the use of buoys. All of the box units have interchangeable spools.
There are 3 spool options. The spool size numbers refer to the diameter of the spool in millimeters:
Kristal R 200 Spool: This is the standard spool that comes with the reel. The diameter is 200 mm or 8.9 inches. On one of my reels, I have 1350 yards of Jerry Brown 200 LB test and there is still a good 0.75 inches left for a leader:
Kristal R 250 Spool: This is what we call the large composite spool. The diameter is 250 mm or 11.8 inches. This spool can hold circa 1680 yards of 200 LB Test JB line:
Kristal RNA 250 Aluminum Spool holds the same amount of line as the R 250:
Both spool sizes have ample line capacity for most applications. Given the extra 25% diameter on the large spool, the line pickup rate will be faster than that of the R 200. The larger the spool diameter the more line it can pick up per revolution. As spool diameter increases retrieval speed increases and drag decreases, conversely the smaller the spool diameter the slower the retrieval speed and the higher the drag. This is why the set drag on all reels will increase when you let line out. As line leaves the reel the amount of the spool's diameter occupied by the line decreases.
NOTE: The only real way to determine the true line pick up rate of any electric reel is to time the spooling from start to finish. This will give you the average pickup rate, which would be affected by the depth, 800 feet will go faster than 1300 feet, in this example, the spool is fuller when the depth is 800 feet. Line diameter will also play a role. The thinner the diameter the more "fast retrieval time" you will have because the spool will remain fuller longer since a thinner diameter allows for more line capacity on a spool. A manual reel has the variable of angler fatigue, which will affect the total time it takes to spool a reel from start to finish manually, therefore this calculation is not really applicable on a manual reel.
Kristal's gear driven box units are significantly slower than the belt driven 600 series. The most popular box units we sell in the US are the complete fishing systems KF 001 and KF 003. The Kristal XL 75 is a box unit reel that is mounted on a standard #4 butt deep drop rod. All three reels incorporate a star drag and all three share the maximum drag setting of 33 to 38 LBS. The difference between a 001 and a 003 is the motor. The 001 and the XL 75 both have a 621 motor, and the 003 has a 651 motor. Regardless of the motor, all three reels will have drag slippage at the same maximum drag setting. If a fish is pulling over the max drag on any reel, line payout will occur, eventually, that fish is going to get tired and the fight is over.
An interesting feature of the box units is that the electrical function may be used to both lower the bait to the bottom, and to reel in as well. The reels have a three positional switch, UP - OFF - DOWN. The ability to use power to lower the bait and weight, allows these units to be also be used as electric downriggers. I had an XL 75 that I routinely used for that purpose, as well as for catching tilefish off Pompano Beach.
We have a version of the three US market box units that we call the super drag. This is a special order reel that can be ordered with or without programmable features. As far as handles go, the side spool units have an optional handle that can be screwed into the side of the spool, while not spectacular, the handle may be used to pull the line in case of power failure, fighting a fish, not a good idea. These reels do not have anti-reverse. It is important to note that all programmable reels require the variable speed card. The programmable features and variable speed share the card for their functions.
Here is a picture of the super drag programmable box unit in an XL 75 configuration:
Unlike the traditional 001, 003, and XL 75, the super drag reel has a full lockdown drag (terminator setting). The best configuration for the Super Drag reel is the XL 75. The XL 75 is mounted on a traditional deep drop rod, which will allow the use of the higher drags. Our Sceptre Gladiator Black Widow Deep Drop Rod with Seeker XXH 130 LB blank is an ideal choice for the super drag reel. We also have the Kristal Stainless Steel Boom Dredge Rod, which may also be used if this reel is going to be used to pull dredges, this SS dredge rod is now a special order item.
The Kristal 600 Series is a line of Kristal Reels that was developed for the US Market. These are the most popular reels Kristal sells not only in the US, but in Australia, New Zealand, Christmas Island, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Marianas. I have several customers who routinely deep drop in these areas of the Pacific. The Marianas is home to the Mariana's Trench.
As of 2015, the 600 series reels now incorporate a progressive push button ratchet lever drag system. The drag knob is used to tighten or loosen the drag curve, A tighter curve means a more exponential increase in drag each time the lever is pushed up one click, and a looser curve means that the drag curve is less exponential and each click increases the drag by a smaller amount. This allows the angler more control over the drag setting and since it is a ratchet drag, the lever stays in place throughout the battle.
List of 600 Series Reels:
Kristal XL 601: The 601 is again now the smallest reel in the 600 series. We consider the 601 a kite reel, although there are many who use the 601 for light deep drop applications. I think the 601 works best as a kite reel. I do not recommend it for any type of deep drop. We never know what is going to eat that bait, and a 601 is just not the reel to use for big fish.
New Kristal XL 601-M in BMC Metalic Black Color : The 601-M has a manual override handle, which means that the reel can be used 100% in electrical mode, manual mode, or what we call power assist, which is both manual and electric at the same time. The manual handle does give this reel an advantage. On a big fish, you will be able to fight it. Also, this reel is much lighter so it is easy to move around the boat with, and can be used in stand up fashion.
Both the Kristal XL 601 & 601 M have composite spools. This means NO MONOFILAMENT line! The 601 can easily hold 550 yds of Jerry Brown 80 lb test solid spectra.This will fill the reel to the max, allowing for maximum speed when it is used as a kite reel.
Kristal XL 605 : The 605 is identical to the 601 with the exception of variable speed control. Contrary to popular belief, variable speed will not provide a higher retrieval speed, both the 601s and the 605s have the same maximum speed, the variable speed just allows the user to decrease the speed for a slower retrieval.
Kristal XL 605-M: Same identical reel as a 605, but with a manual override handle.
Kristal XL 621 : The XL 621 is the standard deep drop reel. It is by far our most popular reel for deep drop bottom fishing applications. A few years ago we updated the motors of the 600 series. Our new motor really packs a punch. Coupled with the 90 LB Max Drag setting of the 621, this reel can lift 75 LBS of dead weight off the floor without batting an eyelash. Nothing in this reel's price range compares with regards to overall power and performance. All the 600 series reels from the 621 and up have aluminum spools Since they all come with standard aluminum spools, we no longer use the suffix A to indicate an aluminum spool, the old 621 A is now just a 621. The composite spool is non-existent as of 2010. This reel can be used with spectra braid, or with monofilament for those who use it to pull dredges.
The XL 621 is available with a manual override handle, the XL 621 M. The 621 M coupled with our new integrated level wind is a truly outstanding reel, and a personal favorite. Not only does it have the pulling power, but together with the handle and the level wind, several of my customers are using it for daytime swordfishing, as well as deep drop. The 621 with handle and the level wind is the XL 621 M LW new BMC Metallic Blue . M for a manual handle, and LW for level wind. You can't buy a more powerful reel than a 621 M LW without spending a considerable amount of money. It is by far the best value out there, vastly superior performance, and versatility. When compared to many of the reels that are currently on the market, the 621 M LW is way ahead of the pack.
The Kristal XL 625 DM LW replaced the old XL 611. The XL 625 is identical in power to the XL 621, except that it has a variable speed control, and it is built on an XL 651 body, which is referred to as a WIDE spool. The XL 625 is also available in an XL 625 M LW model, as well as an XL 625 DM LW with fully programmable functions, Auto Stop, Line Counter, and Auto Jigging. This reel also has a manual override handle and an integrated level wind. The D or SD refers to the programming features, the M manual handle, and LW for level wind.
The next step up from the XL 621 models is the Kristal XL 651, yet another traditional Kristal Deep Drop reel. LIke the XL 621, the 651 also got a makeover, including a new motor, progressive drag, optional programmable features, manual handle, and a built-in level wind.
The XL 655 is the variable speed version of the XL 651. The Kristal XL 655 is available in a plain no frills XL 655, or an XL 655 D (SD) M LW in BMC Metallic Blue , which is a fully programmable, variable speed, electric reel with manual handle and integrated level wind. We also are able to special order a variation of the XL 655, an XL 655 D, which is a programmable XL 655, no handle, and no level wind, and the Kristal XL 655 D LW , which has a level wind. This configuration is popular with anglers who want to use the reel exclusively to pull dredges. A level wind is debatable on a dredge reel, keep in mind that most dredges are at best 150 feet behind the boat so a level wind is not really an absolute must have, unless they want to have the versatility to use the reel for something other than pulling dredges. A handle always comes in handy particularly when you want to make small adjustments to fine-tune the location of where you want the auto stop feature to stop the dredge. Personally, I believe the handle is a must-have, more on this later. The XL 651 & 655s all have a maximum drag of 120 LBS.
Kristal XF 655: The XF, short for "Xtreme Fishing" is the most powerful reel in the Kristal line. This reel is available in 3 configurations, and these are as follows:
XF 655: no frills, just variable speed.
Kristal XF 655 M LW: Totally awesome choice for both catching swordfish, and pulling dredges.
Kristal XF 655 Broadbill: This is the mac daddy reel, has variable speed, manual override handle, level wind, and fully programmable.
The XF models have maximum drag capability of 150 LBS. These are the largest reels, larger bodies, largest line capacity, and the most pulling power of any reel. The XFs can pull the heaviest triple tiered dredges. An XF can hold a custom spool size of 2800 yds of 65 LB Jerry Brown solid braid, or 2500 yds of spliceable Jerry Brown 100 LB Hollow Core , which has a thinner diameter than the Jerry Brown 80 LB hollow core braid.
Selecting a Reel
First and foremost it is important to know that the features of variable speed, manual handle, integrated level wind, and programmable features CANNOT be added to any reel. If you want any of these features you must buy a reel that has them.
Selecting Line for an Electric Reel:
When it comes to deep dropping applications, hollow core Spectra braided line is by far the absolute best option. The advantage of hollow core is that it can be spliced. Say you lost 207 yards of your Jerry Brown 130 LB hollow core on a drop, instead of doing without the 207 yards, or using a line to line knot, you can splice 207 yards on to the line that you have left on the reel. I used 207 yards because I am able to get custom spools from Jerry Brown Line One in any yardage. There is never a need to buy more line than what you need.
The most frequent call that I get from customers, past and present are from those who want to add a handle. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that is not possible The number one reason for not wanting a handle is from those who believe the handle will get in the way when the reel is being used as dredge puller. The handle option is roughly an additional $150 at the time of initial investment. The good news is the handle portion can be removed, and if for some reason, like many others, you realize that you do want a handle, it can always be screwed back on. This is the only feature that can be removed and put back on at a later date. If you buy the reel without a handle, you will never have a handle on that reel, it simply is not possible. The M models have a totally different design configuration. Level winds and programmable features cannot be removed, you can choose not to use the programmable features, but you do not have the option to not use the level wind, or add one at a later date.
For my personal taste, point of view, and style of fishing, I believe a handle is imperative, and these are the reasons why:
A. If for some reason you lose power, you can always reel the line back in. I don't feel I have to mention this, but if you lose an amount of braid of 600 yds or more, that loss will more than paid the extra $150 for the handle option.
B. When using an electric reel to catch tuna, swordfish, and game fish that sound. The handle and the ability to use it in a power assist mode is of great value. While all quality electric reels are powerful, there is no electric reel that is going to pull in a large tuna or swordfish from the depths and auto stop when it gets to your boat. The fact is, you will have to fight that fish and the handle is a must have in such situations. When using solely electric power to reel in, the maneuvering of the boat to obtain the proper angles and gain line is a must. Big fish do crazy things when they are green and hooked. Much like a 2-speed reel, you never miss it until you need it, a handle falls along those lines, and a good option to have even though you may not use it with any degree of frequency. The handle also comes in handy when it's time to boat the fish, at an extra $150, it's a no-brainer.
I thank all of you for visiting BlueMarlinChronicles. As always, if you have any questions about any of the reels or equipment I sell or want to discuss options, I am always available. You may reach me via email, or phone. I look forward to answering your questions and providing you with any additional information you need.