Concept 13 fishing

Concept 13 fishing DEFAULT

Every now and again a company comes along that does things differently. They cast away the tried and true and do it their way. Their swagger exudes confidence, their products cut new ground and they seem to align themselves with like-minded people and dreamers. Personally speaking, I put 13 Fishing in that category.

A few weeks ago I finally got my hands on the new 13 Fishing Concept A Casting Reel to run through the wringer. As impressed as I’ve been by their rods, I had high expectations for this reel—and as it turns out, I wasn’t let down.

Lightweight, but a definite workhorse

Finding heavy duty casting reels isn’t too entirely difficult, but finding one that blends ergonomics and weightlessness can prove to be a challenge. While many tough reels are bulky and tiring to use, the 13 Fishing Concept A Casting Reel is an absolute pleasure to fish with for days on end.

It only weighs 6.7 ounces and the model I tested features an 8.1:1 gear ratio. I’ve been using it for pitching and flipping and it’s been an absolute monster. It eats up line quickly and efficiently, allowing you to get big bass out and away from thick cover in a hurry.

This reel also has a 22 pound Bulldog Drag System that, when cinched down, will not slip or release any line whatsoever at any point throughout the day. It doesn’t matter if you stick a 6-pounder in a thick brush pile or accidentally set the hook on an infamous “tree bassâ€â€”there is absolutely no give in this drag system. I’ve wrapped the line around my hand and pulled until the line almost cut me and still cannot make the drag slip. This is a huge plus, especially for shallow water anglers that fancy huge hooksets.

Great handle and paddles

Over time, you’ll find some low profile casting reels that may actually be a little too low profile. The handle will be small and difficult to locate at times without looking and the miniature paddles will make it hard to control unruly fish. This isn’t the case with the Concept A Casting Reel.

13 Fishing designed this reel with an oversized handle that gives you the definite upper-hand when fighting big fish. If you get surprised by a bite, it’s easy to locate the handle without any fumbling or wasted time. I’ve also been very impressed by the compressed cork paddles on the handle. Some anglers worry about the durability and longevity of cork, but I have personally made thousands and thousands of pitches with it and it looks the exact same as the day I took it out of the box. No color fading, no cracking and no separation to speak of.

You’ll also notice a very handy rubberized insert on the thumb bar. If you’ve just handled a fish or you’re fishing in inclement weather, this insert eliminates all slipping and helps you engage the thumb bar very easily.

Extremely smooth

For a reel that retails at $169.99, the Concept A is remarkably smooth and performs like some reels double its price. It has six ball bearings, three being anti-corrosion and three being stainless steel, with a super smooth roller bearing that allows for ridiculous casting distance and very smooth retrieval, even when it’s under a big load.

The chassis of this reel is made from very lightweight aluminum, but it has proven to be durable in every situation I’ve put it in. I’ve dropped it and banged it around in my truck and boat without any loss of structural or mechanical integrity.

I’ve also been pretty blown away by its Arrowhead line guide system. Basically, this system automatically levels the spool on the cast and retrieve, which facilitates flawless line management throughout its operation. Whether you flip it, pitch it or cast it, the line rests evenly on the spool each time—no lumps, tangles or knots.

If you’re in the market for a new bass fishing reel, I definitely suggest checking out the 13 Fishing Concept A Casting Reel. It’s lightweight, strong, ergonomic and super smooth—I don’t know what else you could ask for in a quality fishing reel.

The 13 Fishing Concept A Casting Reel will be available at in mid-March, but you can go ahead and preorder yours today.



Drag: When this review was originally published last week, our Sweet Drag Performance results showed a max drag value for this reel in the neighborhood of seven pounds. 13 Fishing took immediate exception to our tests and respectfully asked us to run the tests again, because in their own tests, max drag values have been consistently higher. They also suggested we compare our results with the Concept C reel currently under review because the drag stacks for these two reels are identical.

The drag stack inside the Concept A retains a nice level of consistent performance.

Looking back at our data, the Concept C reel we have, tested much closer to manufacturer spec, so we pulled the review until we could validate our original findings. Retesting the same Concept A reel, we were unable to achieve a max drag setting much different than our original findings.

Given the drag stacks between the Concept A and Concept C reels are the same, we surmised there must be something wrong with the reel we have at the lab. After communicating this to 13 Fishing, they offered to send us a brand new Concept A reel for another round of tests, but we decided to instead order one off the shelf from our friends over at TackleWarehouse.  This way, we could be sure we received an off the shelf retail product and remove any doubt that the manufacturer cherry picked a product in their existing inventory.

Indeed, after receiving the new Concept A reel overnight from Tackle Warehouse, spooling it up, and strapping it up to the Machine, we found the drag tests to be much closer to manufacturer specification. 13 Fishing specifies the Concept A reel with a Max Drag of 23 pounds. We were able to achieve 19.3 pounds of pressure tightening the drag as far as we could manage with just one hand.

Side by side on the Machine, the new Concept A we received from Tackle Warehouse delivered a max drag value of 19.3lbs. when tightened with one hand

If absolute maximum drag pressure is important to you, we�ve no doubt the 23 pounds of pressure advertised by 13 fishing is achievable given stronger fingers, or if you were to use two hands to tighten the drag star as far as it would go. But as we�ve stated in countless reviews since leveraging The Machine to measure drag, what�s more important to us is how smooth and consistent the drag performs and in all our tests, the Concept A�s drag has performed relatively smooth and consistent - except when in absolute lockdown, a characteristic that is consistent with the majority of reels we test.

Power: Despite its fast gear ratio, I don't feel this reel lacks in the power department. I still prefer a slower gear ratio for throwing things like deep-diving cranks, but I was pleasantly surprised at how the Concept A handled big spinnerbaits and crankbaits. From cranking to punching, this reel doesn't have any problem getting the job done.

Casting Range: The Concept A is simply a pleasure to cast and pitch. It's a very mild-mannered reel that is capable of throwing a variety of different lure weights. I have been able to cast weights as small as 1/8 ounce (along with a small plastic worm) while using 20-pound braid, but that was about the bottom of the comfortable range for me. When going for the longest distance the reel also performed admirably. 

Brakes: There are many aspects of the Concept-A reel that I'm fond of, but something I would like to see change is the braking system. Other than the spool tension knob located by the handle, the reel uses a centrifugal �Concept Braking System� that gives the angler six different settings. The main problem I have with this system is simply a matter of it being inconvenient to use. The side plate must be removed first by flipping a switch on the bottom of the frame, which in turn allows you to easily wiggle it off.

Unfortunately, the plate is not hinged to the frame at all so it's easy to drop if you aren't being careful. With the side plate removed, the brake dial is revealed. To alter the settings, you must turn either the dial or a tiny metal tab onto the desired brake setting number. Not only can the absence of any external brake control be annoying, but the ease of actually adjusting the dial may frustrate some folks.

Next Section: Design and Ergonomics

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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.

Contents (Jump To)


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.

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

ModelRetrieveRetrieve (in)Lince CapacityMax Drag (lbs)Gear RatioWeightBearings
A5.3-RHRight2112/100225.3:16.8(3AC+3SS) + 1RB
A6.6-LHLeft26.112/100226.6:16.8(3AC+3SS) + 1RB
A6.6-RHRight26.112/100226.6:16.8(3AC+3SS) + 1RB
A7.3-LHLeft28.912/100227.3:16.8(3AC+3SS) + 1RB
A7.3-RHRight28.912/100227.3:16.8(3AC+3SS) + 1RB
A8.1-LHLeft3212/100228.1:16.8(3AC+3SS) + 1RB
A8.1-RHRight3212/100228.1:16.8(3AC+3SS) + 1RB

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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