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Jan 23rd, 2013
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Zebco the unmentioned elephant in the room #12153777
03/23/17 01:02 AM
03/23/17 01:02 AM
Joined: Apr 2014
Posts: 83
Trinity above Livingston
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texdanm Offline OP
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Trinity above Livingston
Ok, I'm going someplace that nobody else seems to want to go. I've read over and over where people asked for advice on fishing gear that is inexpensive but functional. Inevitably they end up being told to buy Ambassador reels and such.


I've been fishing for 60+ years. I've caught fish with almost every type of set up imaginable. I now own a couple dozen Ambassador reels and another dozen or so Penn reels and to many spinning reels to count but I have to tell you I've probably caught more fish with Zebcos over the many years than any other type or brand.


I've caught bass to nearly 9lbs on a 33 and an 18 pound flathead with one. My best friend when I was a kid used a Zebco 808 to haul in some huge catfish, redfish and a few pretty large sharks. I got my first Ambassador for my 16th birthday. I still fish with it today. Back then the ABU 5000Bs had a clicker on them and make great catfishing reels. Before that I used several old school Shakespeare knuckle busters for bigger cats and Zebco 33s for smaller eating sized cats.


Back then the only spinning reels were Mitchell reels. I'm left handed and they just didn't work for me. For most things the Zebco was my reels of choice. I probably lost a few fish over the years because it didn't have a huge line capacity but it was very few. The drags back then weren't great but that didn't bother me at all. Knuckle buster directo drive reels don't have adrag. If I hooked something that wanted to run hard on the Zebco 33 I flipped the switch and let the handle spin while I fingered the line for a smooth drag.


If someone wants to get into fishing and not spend a fortune there is nothing wrong with starting with a Zebco. The 33 is still a good light duty starter reel. It will handle any eater sized catfish up to 8 or 10 pounds. The 733 will handle catfish up to nearly 20 ponds and an 808 will handle a cat upwards of 30 lbs. It isn't sexy; it isn't something that will last you for a lifetime. All that said though, it is inexpensive and will let you fish. I fish hundreds of times a year. For me the good stuff is the cheaper route. My ABUs are lifetime investments.


I still fish with Zebco 33s. I used to teach fishing at the state park and then take the kids fishing. I used a spin-cast reel just like they did and would catch bass on artificial lures while they mostly perch fished with worms or bass fished with minnows. We caught fish and the pleasure was in the fishing and not the equipment.


Inexpensive doesn't always mean that something is [censored]. I'll tell you I use a lot of inexpensive rods. If you've never tried one the Whupping Stick that Capella's sells is my favorite circle hook rod for fish fry catfish. It is a very soft fiberglass rod that seems to just sneak up on the cats when they move off with a circle hook. It makes me think of the older Ugly Sticks when they were all fiberglass. I picked up three new ones this last Saturday for 20 bucks apiece. 2 7' medium action casting rods and 1 medium action spinning rod.


They are replacing a couple of older Larry Nixon 6' 6” fiberglass spinnerbait rods that I used for circle hooks on smaller cats. I still have ugly sticks on my heavier setups. It is hard to beat an Ugly Stick Tiger for bigger cats.


I take a lot of people fishing. If they are novices they will have a lot more fun fishing with the Zebco 733s on older median light 7' popping rods than fighting a casting reel that they are not used to or trying to learn to cast a spinning rod.I have several of those popping rods from my days fishing for speckled trout on the coast. You can often find them at flea markets and garage sales if you live near the coast.


We need to lighten up. Fishing is about fun and not a style or my stuff is better than yours and cost a fortune sort of thing. Let someone start cheap. If they only fish 3 or 4 days out of the years that stuff will last them a long time if they take any kind of care for it. If they find that they love it then over time they will find ways to move to better gear. I started my kids and grands with zebco 33s so I practice what I preach.


You know that old saying "Some people march to the beat of a different drummer."? I don't listen to a drum at all and have meandered through life instead of marching.
Re: Zebco the unmentioned elephant in the room [Re: texdanm] #12165531
03/30/17 03:14 PM
03/30/17 03:14 PM
Joined: Oct 2016
Posts: 513
South Texas
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Bulletman99 Offline
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As with near everyone here, I too started fishing with Zebco 202s and 33s and there is nothing wrong with that. I caught a 10.2 lb bass from a private pond on a borrowed 202 just a few years ago. So yes they are cheap and they do work. BUT how many of them did I buy and completely wear out before pitching them in the trash when I started Bass fishing---several? I would bet that a 202 or 33 would not last 2 full days bass fishing as I and others do. Would they last fishing for catfish or bluegill--sure! Simply because you do not cast them 2000+- times per day.


Bullet 20XD
JSRE Modified Merc Promax
Re: Zebco the unmentioned elephant in the room [Re: texdanm] #12165805
03/30/17 05:32 PM
03/30/17 05:32 PM
Joined: Sep 2014
Posts: 1,860
Nacog TX
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crapyetr Offline
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i am a Zebco-matic freak...i luv'm...i have the Platinum 33 that i use the most...and i still have the first Zebco i bought with my very own $$$ when i was 10 yrs old (i'm now 67)...Zebco 89...still works like it did when i bought it...Zebco has come a longggggggg way...


Walk with God...Love is His leash~~~!!!~~~
Re: Zebco the unmentioned elephant in the room [Re: texdanm] #12166210
03/30/17 11:01 PM
03/30/17 11:01 PM
Joined: May 2013
Posts: 8,909
Richardson, Texas
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Indianation65 Offline
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I would not be surprised the base models of Zebcos today, are not quite the same quality of Zebcos most of us used in the 60s, 70s and into the 80s.

My first reels were Zebcos, and so were my childhood buddies. I loved them, and they did help me reel in those bullheads.

I bought my Dad, he's 84, a Zebco Platinum last year. It's great for him. He did not care to learn to use a baitcaster. Heck, it took me long enough to figure them out 2 seasons ago!

Zebco, givin' you 202 memories to last you a lifetime!

...------

Re: Zebco the unmentioned elephant in the room [Re: texdanm] #12166212
03/30/17 11:03 PM
03/30/17 11:03 PM
Joined: May 2013
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Richardson, Texas
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Indianation65 Offline
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I'd like to know if anyone has ever bought and used a Zebco Protege baitcaster...

...------


Re: Zebco the unmentioned elephant in the room [Re: texdanm] #12166228
03/30/17 11:20 PM
03/30/17 11:20 PM
Joined: Sep 2014
Posts: 1,860
Nacog TX
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crapyetr Offline
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Nacog TX
i bought the 33 micro triggerspin for perch fishing and caught a 15 lb flathead...took me awhile to land'm but the drag was set right...also have Zebco 11 & 22...haven't tried the Protege...that's new for 2017...i'm stayin' old school at my age


Walk with God...Love is His leash~~~!!!~~~
Re: Zebco the unmentioned elephant in the room [Re: texdanm] #12171017
04/03/17 03:35 AM
04/03/17 03:35 AM
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Richardson, Texas
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Indianation65 Offline
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Richardson, Texas
This Zebco topic has brought back good memories of my childhood back in North Iowa.

To pay homage, I've decided to get the Zebco Protege baitcast reel. It's around $35.

Why not? I'm hoping for good things!

Addendum: Besides, it's the conditions and the fisherman, not the reel, right!?!

...------

Re: Zebco the unmentioned elephant in the room [Re: texdanm] #12171631
04/03/17 04:14 PM
04/03/17 04:14 PM
Joined: Jul 2012
Posts: 9,985
North Texas - God's Country
Cast Offline
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I have a nice Abu collection but definitely wouldn't mind a few cheap spincast rigs too. Zebco and I go way back.


Cast




I have a short attention spa
Re: Zebco the unmentioned elephant in the room [Re: texdanm] #12187437
04/07/17 10:36 AM
04/07/17 10:36 AM
Joined: Jul 2012
Posts: 765
San Antonio
Rickmb Offline
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San Antonio
202, 404, 33, 733.....I have tried them all. I love a small spincast on an ultralight or light gear in small water. A lot of fun!
The larger reels sit too high on a rod and are top heavy....I don't like the balance.
I wish they had a top quality reel with good balance. I would love one for skipping.


2018 Skeeter ZX250
2018 Yamaha 250 SHO
Re: Zebco the unmentioned elephant in the room [Re: texdanm] #12196153
04/12/17 08:35 PM
04/12/17 08:35 PM
Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 4,537
Willis, TX
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aggiegolfer Offline
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I wouldn't hate on Zebco at all if it wasn't for the existence of products that are about the same price that work a lot better IMO.

The abumatics that have a roller bearing (instant anti-reverse) retrieve as smoothly as a cheap spinning reel (HUGE complement for push button stuff), and Daiwa's pushbutton reels are much higher quality (and cost about the same) as some of the cheaper Zebcos.

On underspin reels, the Abumatic is awesome. Hard to find now, but they're almost as smooth to retrieve as a spinning reel (again, huge complement). Most underspin reels are just rough and clunky under any kind of pressure.


I never started with a zebco (I went straight from a pole and line to a Mitchell 308), so I was a snob to start out my fishing career.

Re: Zebco the unmentioned elephant in the room [Re: texdanm] #12262259
05/25/17 02:01 PM
05/25/17 02:01 PM
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Posts: 802
CenTX
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Slow Drifter Offline
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A little off topic. I had a girlfriend whose dad owned a bar and grill at the mouth of the Colorado in Matagorda. The bar closed at 1am and every now and then, if the right cast of characters was there, he'd hold a "character contest." By "character contest," he meant the tournament had to be fished from his dock with a trash can full of character rods he kept under the bar. There was Snoopy, Little Mermaid, Sponge Bob, etc. We'd pass the hat and everyone tossed in $10.00. He provided beer, bait, and burgers, and eventually coffee. The rules were simple. Fish until sunrise, biggest ANYTHING caught on one of the "character rods" won the pot. Some really nice fish were pulled in on those "toys." The contest was once won by a large chunk of barnacle/oyster shell that weighed about 9 pounds. The guy actually got it to the dock and netted it. It was hilarious. I'm pretty sure most of those "character rods" were Zebco. Just thought I'd share a fond memory.

edited to add: Looking back, I think that was his way of saving us all all from DUI's. I didn't think about that back then.

Last edited by Slow Drifter; 05/25/17 02:08 PM.

SD

Re: Zebco the unmentioned elephant in the room [Re: texdanm] #12262662
05/25/17 06:01 PM
05/25/17 06:01 PM
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Richardson, Texas
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Indianation65 Offline
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Sounds fun...makes me want a Zebco and a late-night burger!

...------

Re: Zebco the unmentioned elephant in the room [Re: texdanm] #12266297
05/28/17 06:12 AM
05/28/17 06:12 AM
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Trinity above Livingston
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texdanm Offline OP
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I think that the new 33s are actually better than the ones I had when I was a kid. Bearings instead of plastic bushings and a drag that works pretty well. The platinum is a great buy and I used one to good effect shooting grubs under docks back when I tournament fished. I actually had a custom rod made for a platinum 11 and used it to skip unweighted zoom flukes under over hanging trees. That was wildly effective when fishing from a belly boat! A have a couple of 22s on light action rods for my girls or friends to use when we fish for white bass. I must say they are pretty tough. A friend hung and caught a 22" striper on it
I even went the full trip and got one of those Zebco Omega 3 reels. It is all machined Aluminum body with brass gears, all bearings with a one way on the handle ,an oscillating spool, three ceramic pickup pins, easily replaced spool...I hate it! It seemed to lose its character somewhere along the way and is heavy with a lower line capacity than the regular 33 and for some reason their new feather touch button keeps getting pushed by my palm when I set the hook. Now that is irritating!


You know that old saying "Some people march to the beat of a different drummer."? I don't listen to a drum at all and have meandered through life instead of marching.
Re: Zebco the unmentioned elephant in the room [Re: texdanm] #12269851
05/30/17 08:17 PM
05/30/17 08:17 PM
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The Colony, TX
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texasbass1 Offline
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But you can't catch fish without a $200 reel and $300 dollar rod spooled with $40 fluorocarbon and a $50 crankbait. Everyone knows that. OH and don't forget the $50K+ boat


Pat Leach
USAF MSgt Retired
93 Procraft 180 Pro
16 Mercury 150 4 Stroke
Minn Kota Ulterra 80
Re: Zebco the unmentioned elephant in the room [Re: texdanm] #12269895
05/30/17 08:39 PM
05/30/17 08:39 PM
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Actually the 33 is garbage compared to the way they were built 30-40 years ago, but
so is a lot of things.
Believe it or not, I think the Zebco 404 is the workhorse of the zebco line.
Nothing wrong with a cheap Shakespere

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