Back in another lifetime, as a passionate match angler, the reel to own was the Mitchell Match. Its rugged construction, fast retrieve and revolutionary “automatic bale arm” set it aside from most other reels on the market at that time. It was also one of the first reels to introduce a shallow spool. With 100 yards of 4lb nylon being more than enough for the match scene, the designer’s realised deep spools were not entirely necessary.
Since those market leading days, Mitchell are back on top I feel, with the Mag-Pro Series. They have re-captured the essence of the old Mitchell Match, by producing a series of reels of the highest quality regarding looks, parts, design and performance.
The superb Mag-Pro Extreme is the flagship of the range and the Mag-Pro Lite looks excellent as a match/feeder reel. However, to suit my purposes, I had a close look at the Mag Premier whilst down at the Pure Fishing stand at the Dublin Angling Show this year. This seemed to have all the benefits of the previously mentioned reels, but at half the price.
I wanted a quality reel with greater and heavier line capacity to target specimen Perch at extreme distance. The Mag Premier looked up to the job, strong, powerful, and with a great front drag system. Lifting the reel for a play, you can feel the quality, the compact design, the smooth drag and the easy bale arm transaction. There is no “clunking” or struggle to re-engage the bale arm, but a smooth turn over as you crank the handle, which gives the pleasing and genuine feel that this reel has been made to the highest standards.
I ordered a pair to team up with the Shakespeare Agility Barbell rods, an Avon style rod I have been using these past two seasons that I find excellent for fishing small dead-baits in search of predatory Perch. Once the reels arrived, I replaced my ancient and tired pair of Abu Cardinals that have served me well. I will find a use for these elsewhere, be sure of that.
Loaded with Nano-fil, I needed to give the new toys a genuine try out, and an invite from friend and fellow Perch-hunter Simon Gibson couldn’t have come at a better time. We targeted one of Simon’s perch haunts, and the Mitchell-Agility combination looked good. Fishing paternoster-rigged dead-baits, with small Rudd on this occasion, there was little to do but sit back and wait for a beep on the bite alarms.
The Mitchell Premier reels cast superb, with the Nano-fil aiding easy distance. The extremely “snaggy” nature of this venue makes lure-fishing difficult, with heavy losses at times. However, with a sunken float paternoster set-up, and weak link to the lead, tackle losses are minimal. This method is fine if you have the mentality to sit and wait for the fish to come to you. Simon opted for the float.
Our first hot-spot only produced small fish, so after a few hours the decision was unanimous and we opted for a move. Simon seemed more confident after the move, and his confidence was justified. His method of float-fishing a dead-bait produced the first decent Perch of the day. With the photo-shoot over and fish carefully released, my alarm “piped up” and any doubts I may have had that the paternoster could be a bad choice were put to rest, as another fine Perch slipped safely into the landing net.
These weren’t of the specimen size we were after, but what angler can be disappointed at the sight of a defiant Perch with attitude, dorsal fin in attack mode! Truly a stunning species to target and a welcome change from the winter piking. As glorious and addictive as Pike angling may be, I always symbolise the sight of a large and colourful Perch as the transaction from winter into Spring and the wealth of coarse fish that closely follow into summer.
The Mitchells performed faultlessly, as I knew they would, but one trip surely isn’t enough. There are still quite a few opportunities left to find a specimen Perch to pose for a photograph with the new toys. Before the water temperature rises and the Tench start calling, there is still room to find a specimen “stripey”.