Why do we not use the reel with levelwider?


shimano CALCUTTA CONQUEST 300 JM-500x500

Reels like Shimano Conquest 300 and Daiwa Ryoga have the levelwider. You don’t need to worry about line management. But we hardly see slow pitch jiggers use them. Why? Why is it that the popular slow pitch reels like Ocea Jigger, Blue Heaven, Torsa, Marfix do not have this wonderful feature?

When selecting your reel to start slow pitch jigging, you may stumble on this.

There are 2 reasons why jigging reels do not have levelwinder.

#1 is that a monster fish can easily break the levelwider or damage your line pretty badly during the fight. You may get a lot of friction on your line by the levelwinder. You should be sensitive about it when you are in the tug of war with a monster on the light line. Especially in the kind of fight style of slow pitch, in which you point the tip down and don’t pump the rod to fight, the spool is where all the tension comes to directly.
The levelwider may have a feature to synchronize with the spool even when the spool is free to drop the jig and when the fish pulls out on your drag. Well, if the friction does not happen in any way, and if you can trust that, you should have no problem with the levelwinder. But I would be sure not to recommend the reels which don’t have this feature. I’ve seen a couple of people breaking the levelwinder in the big fight with the type of reel that doesn’t synchronize while being pulled out on the drag.

#2 is that synchronizing the levelwinder and the spool is an extra function to the reel. It needs more parts and designing in the tiny reel case. You would want the good power, good speed, and good drag in the simplest structure for the maximum and trouble free performance in the reel.
There’s also an issue about sensitivity. When the reel has more parts, it means that more information will be cut off from the angler. Slow pitch anglers pay so much attention to the information that the line provides. Information like the jig movements, the ocean water conditions and the fish movements. These information is picked up by the line and is delivered to you through your rod and your reel. The complex structure in the reel can lose a lot of information on the way.

What would you take all these risks for? So that you can rest your thumb to manage the line while fighting? Come on. Get real.
I tell you, if you fight in tip-down non-pumping slow pitch style, the line management is not that hard. Fish can not run flat-out for a long time, and there’s always time that you have a little margin to manage your line as you reel in. (Maybe not with fish like tuna and marlin. But it’s not the issue about the levelwinder.)

In slow pitch jigging, we compromise a lot of strength of the tackle in order to HOOK the fish. We use light line, light hooks, small rings, and highly-resilient thin (= easy to break) blanks. We have very little margin when it comes to the fish fight. That is why we are so specific about the knots for maximum strength, and specific about fighting application and strategy for the effectiveness.
The levelwider would just be one extra worry that is totally unnecessary for most slow pitch anglers.

7782_lineup1Sato Sensei does sometimes use Ocea Conquest 300. This reel does have the synchronizing feature.
He uses this reel only when he is targeting small bottom fish in the shallow. He does all kinds of tricks. For example, he uplifts fast 3 cranks, drops back down as he counts, and repeats this. He is searching for the difference of the count. If it changes, there’s a hole or a rise, some kind of structure of the bottom, where you are likely to find fish. This is one of his strategies to catch a fish when nobody else is catching. When he does many little things like this, and when he doesn’t expect a big fish, the levelwinder is a convenient tool as you don’t have to worry about the line management. And Ocea Conquest is just one of a dozen reels he brings in on the boat…

  1. Freshcut

    Hi Toto,

    I have gone through your webpage for a couple of days but still cant decide on my purchas3 of a slow pitch set up.

    Set up is mainly going be use in 40m -60m depth on non anchored boat.
    Target fishing 3kg to 10kg.
    Jig range 40g to 120g.

    Set up in mind
    1) Rod :EG PSLJ 603-2
    Reel :Ocea conquest 200HG

    2) Rod : EG PSLJ 603-3
    Reel : Ocea Jigger 1500HG

    Your recommendation is much appreciated.

    Thank You.

    • Totos

      Hi Freshcut.
      If you are free-drifting, your jigs may be too light to stay in vertical. That is hi-speed jigging range, in which you don’t have to be so vertical.
      I would recommend 120g to 200g, or sometimes even heavier.
      603-2 would be too light. 603-3 or 603-4. 603-4 if you want to stay with slow pitch jigging for various conditions. 603-3 if you want to just forget slow pitch and switch to hi-speed jigging in tough conditions. OJ1500HG is a much safer choice.

  2. Faiz Ismail
    Faiz Ismail12-17-2016

    Hi Toto,

    How about the Ocea Conquest 301 HG? any comments on that reel? Jig at 100 meter below waters and 200G Jig is it good?

    • Totos

      Ocea Conquest 301HG is a great reel. Sato-Sensei loves it, in the shallow water for small targets.
      But if you are 100m deep, and not on a controlled drift to keep you vertical, the reel may be too small for you. I would get OJ2000NR-HG.

  3. Logaraj

    Hi toto,
    Can you give me some review on the ocea conquest 200hg? What kind of game is it suitable for? And it does not have the synchro function. I

    • Totos

      Ocea Conquest 300HG will be suitable for slow pitch jigging in the shallow. But 200HG is too small. It’s a good reel. Good for bait fishing, tenya, inchiku, and micro jigging. Any light game.

      • Logaraj

        Thanks totos!! Understood

  4. Abu Hatim Abdul Ghani
    Abu Hatim Abdul Ghani06-12-2018

    hi totos, can Saltiga BJ200SHL use for slow jigging? that reel got levelwinder

    • Totos

      This reel is designed for Tai Rubber, in which you need steady retrieve and do not need torqueful reeling to dance the jig. Retrieves 81cm max per crank. I assume this reel can do slow pitch jigging in the shallow.

      • Abu Hatim Abdul Ghani
        Abu Hatim Abdul Ghani08-01-2018

        ok Totos, so thats mean, not suitable for slow jig deep fishing. is that correct?

        • Totos

          Yes. You can try if you have this kind of reel already.
          But if you are buying one, choose the one without.

  5. Chad Douglas
    Chad Douglas04-08-2020

    Hi Toto,

    I just purchased a ocea jigger 63-5. I’m think thinking of pairing with a Ocea Jigger F custom 3000HG over 2000 for more line.

    Anchoring in over 120 feet of water.

    What size hooks?
    Gram of lure 250?
    What knot works best?
    What is best?
    What leader is best?

    I’ve never fished this style but I can’t get enough of watching the Shimano masters videos even when they are in Japanese.

    My thanks,


    • Totos

      Hi Chad.
      You are anchored… There’s no way to do vertical jigging from an anchored boat.
      Is it your boat? Or are you on a party boat? You should look for a boat which free-drifts at least.
      The whole ocean is moving. Ideally, you should be moving with the current too. But the free-drifting boat is pushed by the wind, and that’s why some boats in the world try different ways to cancel the wind so that the boat can drift with the ocean, which means you stay vertical with the jig.
      You should study more about staying vertical so that you can choose the best boat possible.
      Also reading your questions, I think you should study more about the set-up category too.

      Good luck

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