Over the past couple of weeks I've took my new Kingpin reel for (no pun intended) a spin. The reel is made by K.W Engineering of Poole, England and it's the latest pin to be offered here in Steelhead Alley. To the hardcore pinning crowd Kingpin was formly known as Arnold Kingpin. During the past winter, I was lucky to see the first prototypes at Erie Outfitters and I was very impressed with the reels and the work put into to them.
There have been several upgrades of the reels from the previous model such as the clicker being placed on the bottom and having a lower profile. Instead of grease bearings, the company uses oiled stainless steel ABEC 5 bearings as oiled bearings tend to perform better in colder weather. The reels also come in a variety of colors such as black, blue, red, and platinum and with a combination of colors.
Kingpin reels has two models - Series I and Series II. Both are 4"4/8" and weight slightly over 9ozs. The Series I reels are the most sensitive and lightest of the two. The reels have the distinctive "wagon wheel" spokes and the Series II reels have the circular holes. Both models come in fully and semi ported and the reason behind fully and semi ported are the degrees of sensitivity and flows. Fully ported reels are better suited for slower flows and semi ported for faster flows. For extra sensitivity and very low start up, the Series I fully ported is considered the best model. For lower sensitivity and faster flows, the Series II semi ported is the best choice. Personally, I don't like super sensitive reels with extreme low start up as I find they spin too fast in faster flows. Plus, I like a heavier reel because it balances extra long rods better. Those were the reasons why I bought the Series II semi ported reel.
The series II reel has the more classic look and some have compared it to the Mykiss reel in appearance. The biggest selling point for me, were the handles as they're set farther in. I prefer to use the tips of my fingers on the spool as a drag. The clicker has a lower profile and sturdier than my Bob James. The sealed bearing housing another feature that sold me as it makes getting any dirt or grit inside almost impossible, perfect as I'm a clumsy oaf. Being a customer that spends a shitload of money at the shop, I had first dibs on the reels.
For the past several weeks, I've been down on the Vermillion and Rocky trying the reel on the local channel cats and carp. The rivers were very low, slow and the flow depended on the surge from the lake. Several times the river would start flowing upstream and 20 minutes later the river would drop 8". During the times when the water drained back downstream, the reel started up fairly easily. It balanced well with my G Loomis GLX and I'm eagerly waiting for fall to try it out.
The Kingpin reels are not cheap and they start off at $442.00 for semi ported and $500.00 for fully ported. The reels come with a small hand wrench that removes the sealed bearing housing and an extra rear nut. After carefully reviewing other reels in that price class, the Kingpin had those extra features that I was looking for and I finally found the reel that I always wanted. I really believe they've produced the perfect Great Lakes centerpin.