Frequently Asked Questions


We have recently added some YouTube videos to demonstrate key functions of the SST reels. Please take a moment to watch them.

 Q. How does the Smart Shift know when to shift gears?
A. The patented Smart Shift™ transmission is driven on the high gear side with a friction clutch, much like the drag system in the reel. When a fighting fish pulls hard enough against the spool to overcome the friction exerted by the high gear clutch, the mechanism allows the reel to disengage from the high gear and engage the low gear drive. When the resistance level against the high gear clutch decreases, the clutch regains its friction hold on the high gear and speeds up the reel. A perfect balance for saltwater fishing reels. All you have to do is turn the handle! These two YouTube videos demonstrate how the reel knows when to shift.


Q. Can I regulate when the Smart Shift reel shifts gears?
A. Yes! The shift point, or amount of resistance required to cause the Tiburon Smart Shift™ transmission to shift gears, can be regulated by the angler to suit his personal taste or to meet the demands of the situation. Changing the shift point is done with the star wheel located on the right side of the reel and can be accomplished while you are fighting a fish. Back it off to stay in low gear longer, or roll it forward to maintain high gear advantage. Even though the star wheel looks like a drag setting device, it does not have any effect on the drag setting of the reel. Smart Shift™ reels are lever drag reels that have a preset knob and drag lever to control the amount of drag placed on the line and spool. The smartest baitcasting reel around.

Q. How well does the Tiburon SST free-spool?
A. Very, very well! Please watch this quick YouTube video to see.

Q. What is the Lug and Plug system?
A. The Tiburon lug and plug system is something that we developed as part of our Topless Reel Frame conversion kit program. Many anglers who use baitcasting reels primarily for casting and live bait fishing, as opposed to trolling, prefer to have open top, or topless reel frames. The open top gives the angler better spool control when casting or working a live bait. Harness lugs on an open top reel can sometimes interfere with the line as it's coming off of the spool during a cast. To accommodate both the angler who wants to use a harness with a topless framed reel, and the angler who does not, we offer a stainless steel plug that can be installed in the reel frame to replace the lugs if one chooses not to use them.

Q. What is the significance of knowing line retrieval rates?
A. The rotational speed of a reel spool is determined by the gear ratio. Some bait casting reels are very fast with a high gear ratio like, for instance, 6:1 (6 to 1). What this means is that a 6:1 gear ratio causes the spool to turn 6 revolutions to every single revolution of the reel handle. In a reel with a 3:1 ratio, the spool will make 3 complete revolutions to every single revolution of the reel handle.  Even though gear ratios are important to know and understand, they are only part of the equation. The measure of the speed of a fishing reel is determined not by how fast the spool is turning, but by how fast it can pull line through the water – the line retrieval rate. The retrieval rate is the product of two factors: spool speed and spool diameter. A reel with a high gear ratio and a small spool diameter will not necessarily retrieve line as fast, or pull a jig as fast, as a reel with a slower gear ratio and a larger spool diameter. An example of this would be to compare a reel with a 6:1 gear ratio and a 2" diameter spool to a reel with a 5:1 gear ratio and a 3" diameter spool. In this case, the "faster" 6:1 ratio reel will retrieve about 37" of line for every turn of the reel handle. The "slower" 5:1 reel, however, will retrieve approximately 47" of line for every turn of the handle! In terms of how fast these two reels can pick up line, the "slower" 5:1 reel is actually about 27% faster than the 6:1 reel. Don't be fooled by gear ratios – they're only a small part of the overall performance of your reel.

Q. Are Smart Shift reels too complicated to be serviced by a novice?
A. Absolutely not! Smart Shift reels and Quick Change reels were created under the guidelines of the KISS method of design - Keep It Simple Stupid! We designed our big game reels to be simple to use and simple to maintain. The simpler the design, the more dependable the product. Changing drags or spools is a snap and can be done by anyone who has basic mechanical skills.  

Q. What is hard anodize?
A. Anodize, or anodization, is a process commonly used to protect the external finishes of aluminum parts by causing aluminum oxide to form on the surfaces. Unlike a plated finish like chrome or zinc, anodize does not involve the bonding of two different types of materials. Hard Anodize is a process used commercially to build up an extra thick and extra hard layer of aluminum oxide on the part for maximum scratch and corrosion protection. At Tiburon Engineering, we use the hard anodize finish on reel parts that frequently come in contact with other metal parts like reel bases and reel clamps. We also use hard anodize to protect our spools, lever arms and other parts that are subject to excess wear and prolonged exposure to salt water. The Smart Shift™ is a true saltwater reel.

Q. What is a billet reel?
A. Fishing reel parts, in general, are made with many different materials and processes. Plastic, graphite, brass, steel, aluminum and zinc are just some of the materials one may find in the construction of a saltwater fishing reel. Many reels on today's market are stamped or cast out of materials that aren't very strong or durable. At Tiburon Engineering, all of our Smart-Shift and Quick Change reels are machined from solid forged bars of aluminum, bronze and stainless steel materials. Solid forged and extruded bars of metal materials are commonly referred to as billets. Castings and stampings are arguably cheaper to manufacture, however, they do not provide the same rigidity and strength of billet formed parts. In short, you get what you pay for.

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