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Dave Magner updates an old favourite and gets his first look at a Quantum Iron spinning reel.

If you’re talking quality spinning reels, it’s probably fair to say that two major players currently hold the lion’s share of the market. That’s perfectly understandable given both Daiwa and Shimano have been part of the Aussie fishing scene for almost as long as I can remember. More importantly, they both have great reputations for producing quality, long lasting reels.

Things are constantly changing however and nowadays anglers have a lot more choice than they ever used to. We’ve seen some of the old guards in Penn, Abu and Jarvis Walker forge new names for themselves in the marketplace. We’ve also seen a lot of completely new brands pop up almost overnight.

Now some of these newcomers are great and offer real value for money. On the other hand, it’s buyer beware, as some are little more than cheap imitations. These bargain buys might look good on your computer screen but they simply aren’t built to handle our local conditions.

With all this going on, the one question most people want answered before forking out their money for a brand of reel they’ve never tried before is how well will it last? Hopefully, that’s something I might be able to shed a little light on here by reviewing my latest purchase and sharing some long term feedback on an old favourite.


Before looking at the reels themselves, it’s probably worth mentioning the company that makes them. Quantum are an American brand that have been one of the main players in the USA for some time now. Over there, I guess it’s fair to say that they are probably best known for their involvement in the largemouth bass fishing industry. As you might imagine, when building fishing tackle for tournament anglers, they produce some very high-end gear and I’ve often caught myself drooling over their tournament baitcasters.

Of course, it’s hard to talk about Quantum without mentioning Kevin VanDam or KVD as he is known. KVD is one of the most successful and best-known bass anglers on the planet and he has fished with Quantum reels throughout his whole career. Having someone like KVD use their gear has undoubtedly helped to lift their profile.


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Two Reels Quantum reels around a decade or so apart. The new Iron looks like it might just match up to the old Catalyst



My first interaction with Quantum came around ten years ago, while looking to buy a new spinning reel. At the time, I wasn’t sure about them but the salesman encouraged me to check out a Quantum Catalyst PT 30. After comparing it to other reels in the same price bracket, I was so impressed by its long list of features that I took the plunge and purchased it.

Ever since, that Catalyst has been my go-to light tackle reel and I’ve probably used it more than any other reel I’ve owned. It’s generally been loaded with a spool full of six-pound braid, which it holds heaps of and that makes it the ideal size for chasing jacks, flatties, bream and the like.

For a relatively small reel, it isn’t afraid to fight out of its weight division and I’ve taken a number of reasonable Barramundi on it. I’ve also taken it on a couple of offshore trips, where I’ve used it to spin up a few light tackle Tuna and Mackerel. While not huge fish, these line burners sure tested the gears and drag washers.

In the fresh, the Catalyst has been permanently attached to the butt of my Lox Yoshi. Together they make an elegant and lethal combination for chasing big bass and I’ve used it in a number of tournaments. I can honestly say that with all that work the Catalyst has never even looked like letting me down. Despite losing a bit of paint from bouncing around in the boat, it’s still going strong.


Having had such a great run out of the Catalyst, when the time came to look for a new light tackle reel, it seemed only logical to have a look at what Quantum are offering these days. That decision to snap one up became a no-brainer when I saw that Dinga had Quantum Irons on sale for less than $90 including a 300m spool of KOR braid. A few clicks of the mouse were all that was needed and my new reel was ordered and on its way. The delivery was typical of the service I’ve experienced from Dinga, with my parcel arriving safely on the doorstep a couple of days later.

Straight out of the box, my first impressions are that the Iron is a quality little reel with a lot of similarities to the old Catalyst. It’s about the same size and weight but is slightly sleeker and with a more modern overall design, featuring weight saving cutouts in the handle and frame.

Its list of features is no less impressive than its predecessors, with six ball bearings, a ceramic drag, titanium bail wire and continuous anti-reverse. All this is packed into an aluminum-bodied reel with tight tolerances and which has been given multi-layered corrosion protection. This is a reassuring factor in a reel that’s going to see a fair bit of saltwater use.

As you can see from the photos here, I haven’t even had the chance to spool it up yet. Still, the fact that it’s almost a like for like replacement of the old Catalyst makes me think it should provide a similar level of reliability. It certainly has the same sort of feel in the hand and is just as smooth to wind.

The drag system with its ceramic washers is silky smooth and has lots of room for adjustment. To my mind having a drag which you’re able to set at just the right pressure is a lot more important in a light tackle reel than how tight you can screw it down.


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Drag with plenty of surface area and ceramic washers, the drag system is smooth and able to be set at just the level you want


While it’s certainly not built like some of the high-end reels, I guess you could say all the indicators are there for longevity. For the price, I just don’t think I could have gotten another brand of reel with so many quality features. Will it last as long as the Catalyst? Who knows, but if I can get a similar run out of it I’ll be extremely happy. Perhaps I’ll get back to you in another decade or so and let you know.


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Quantum hot sauce is used to keep everything running smoothly


Is there anything you would like to add? Share your thoughts below.

Dave Magner

Dave is a keen and experienced lure and fly angler who has travelled and fished right across Australia and New Zealand. He particularly enjoys tournament bass fishing, chasing freshwater species from his kayak and bluewater pelagics from his boat.