I‘m a liberal leaning outdoorsman attempting to open the minds of right wingers to the idea that libs fish too. Anglers come from all walks of life, left, right, and center. Not everyone who fishes for bass is a redneck fond of Nascar, country music, and religiosity. Expect posts about largemouth bass fishing, techniques, reviews of lures and other products, but not any condemnable conservative rants. I hope to inspire the online angler community to dial down rhetoric which will do more harm than good to our sport.

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Tuesday, October 2, 2007

• H2O Xpress Baitcaster?

There was a reel advertised in the Academy store ad in Sunday's paper. It's described as the H2O Xpress Mettle 10 bearing 6.3:1 ratio low profile baitcaster with a 6 pin breaking system and anti-reverse. It only costs $49. While I tend to stick by the adage "You get what you pay for," this reel might just be what somebody was looking for. You don't need much more than 5 or 6 bearings though. I'm sure some of the 10 are on the handle and grips, not inside the reel where it really counts. It could be a good starter baitcaster for someone though.

Do they have a web site? I can't seem to find anything on them except a link from the Houston Chronicle and the link leads me to an "item not available" page. It seems to be an online version of a similar Academy advertisement. The individual pages on the Academy Sports web site are all we have to go on.

Any thoughts? If you own one, I'd like to hear from you.
Anyone know how much drag power it has?

EDIT 5/27/2008
I went to Academy today and glanced at two H2O reels. The line capacity is printed on the underside of the Mettle and the Manic. The line capacity for those two reels is 12lb/120yd. I know the comments have been good for the most part, but after actually having held them in person, the reels do have a cheap look and feel to them. I welcome visitors who can provide some feedback after using the reels for a few months. I'm sure many others would appreciate it.

H2O Mettle
H2O Maraud
H2O Manic

Academy. "H2O Xpress Mettle." Academy Advertisement Insert, Shreveport Times. 30 September, 2007.


Anonymous said...

I purchased the xpress maraud from Academy with 8 bearings. Only used a few times so far but it is a great reel at this point. Time will tell on how it will hold up. Smooth and cast great. All I know about the company is they are made in Korea.

Anonymous said...

A co-worker bought one and compared it to a Daiwa Coastal low profile reel and he said he loves his. He can out throw the Coastal anyday. SMOOTH too. All I want to know is, "is this a saltwater reel?" He said he pd. $63 !!!
From Academy in Webster,Tx.Is there anything made in the USA now days?? Could they be using 5 cent bearings or the $3.00 ones?? Time will only tell how far these reels go? Good luck..Ed in Texas City,Tx.

BassFishingDem said...

Thanks for the responses. I do wonder how long one of these reels will last. There's no telling how good the bearings are. I'll have to get my hands on one and give it a once over. To put things in perspective, the Shimano Callistos that I've bought for around $40 have done well against a lot of fish and those things don't have many bearings. I'm beginning to think you can never have too many reels.

Anonymous said...

I bought one thursday and went bass fishing friday the first 2 bass I caught where with the H2O and I can say I fell in love with this reel. I could out cast my calcutta and curado by far and for what I paid for this reel I can by 4 to 1. time will tell how long it last but I am going to academy and buying 2 or 3 more just to have.

Anonymous said...

I just can't find a contact to this company, they're making everything now! They've got lures, which i bought, tackle bags and now reels, who are these guys and is it worth it to buy their equipment???

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know the line cap for the Manic or the Mettle?

Anonymous said...

I just bought one from Academy. Haven't been fishing with it yet though. The guy at Academy told me H2O is gonna be their exclusive line of fishing products. Kinda like how Bass Pro Shops has their own. He told me that Daiwa is manufacturing the H2O reel for them. Is it true? I don't know, that's just what he told me.

Anonymous said...

A guy from Academy said that Daiwa is making the H2O reel for them. H2O is supposed to be Academy's exclusive line of fishing products, so he says, kinda like Bass Pro Shops has their own line.

Anonymous said...

Looked at them tonight and they are very smooth. There were 4 models from around $50 to $75. I think they are smoother than the new Quantum Code or the new Max series from Ambassadeur. I had them get the boxes out and all are supposed to have aluminum frames. I prefer that over graphite in baitcasters. It appears Academy is serious about having a quality "house brand". I am already a fan of the Academy cranks. True running out of the box and really sharp hooks. First time I fished one I caught 15 bass in 42-43 degree water. Not bad for a $3.49 crank!

Anonymous said...

I found a graphite rod and H2O reel in Lake Lewisville today (hooked the rod)that had been underwater for a few months by the weed and mud onand in the H2O Express Mettle 10bb. I cleaned it up and it has not corroded at all on its all metal bearings and gears. It does have a cheep plastic housing but the inside is solid. The now oiled reel is very smooth and will be added to my quiver as a favorite

Anonymous said...

There has been some issues with handles working themselves loose. But overall they are a really good reel. If your going for the mettle try the manic. Its the same price and smoother than the mettle. Its not about the amount of bearings but the quality of the bearings, and the manic has better bearings than the mettle.

jeff said...

Pinnacle (Silstar) OEM produces most of Diawa's reels. I own several Pinnacles and they strike a very similar resemblance to the H2O series. Traditionally, I am a "you get what you pay for" kind of person, but when you can get to the manufacturer of the "high end" stuff, you can get a very similar product for a third the cost. My 2 cents.

Anonymous said...

I bought a H2O mettle, it was my first baitcaster and I was willing to put some serious money into my pole. After standing there and feeling out the Daiwa's, Abu's, Pfluger etc, I just picked on the H2O because it felt smoother, had more bearings and was the most bang for the buck. Assumed that for the money I was putting into it, it was a quality brand. Then found out it was Academy's brand, but after some of these post and some others on other sites I think I made a great choice. Like someone said before, I think Academy is serious about this. I'm completely satisfied with it and would recommend it.

luckydang23@yahoo.com said...

bought a mettle h20 express this weekend, this is my first time using this type of reel. how do you keep it from untangling? after a few casts I was getting a hang of it, then... whoops, tangled. I would have to say though, very smooth and reels in with ease. if you guys can give me a tip please at luckydang23@yahoo.com

BassFishingDem said...

Luckydang, I sent you a helpful email to get you started. Hope that helps. Welcome to the world of baitcasting. Practice, practice, practice!

luckydang23@yahoo.com said...

thanks for the info bassfishingdem, i usually fish on the jetties of the gulf and usually use dead shrimp, but it seems as though im only catching croakers and hardhead catfish, rarely drums, and im using double hooked leaders. is there any way to catch anything other than the fish that ive been catching?

BassFishingDem said...

If I were you, I'd hit up a local tackle shop and see what they can tell you. Never fished along the Gulf. Should put components in that H2O reel to the test though. Try some topwater plugs or some subsurface plugs. Jigs should do well too. Live shrimp and shad might do some good as well.

Anonymous said...

i've owned to manic's and they cast very well. Are super smooth and i fish almost daily so my tackles subjected to abuse. The reels are A DEAL. Very nice with one exception.. on the manic and the maruad, the handles eventually work themselves loose. I've taken mine back and got another no questions asked. But the handles do come loose

Anonymous said...

I just bought a mettle after talking with the guy at academy and another customer who was buying his 4th 5th and 6th one. they both explained that this is academy's house brand, and highly recommended them. they did tell me that the older versions of the mettle had a screw that caused the handles to come loose, but that has been changed on the newer models. anyway, i brought the reel home and threw a weight on it and started casting. wow! it casts very smoothly, and very easily. the braking system seems to work pretty good cuz i didnt get any birdnests , and im not a pro with baitcasters. going on a fishing trip this weekend, and i have complete confidence in this reel.

Anonymous said...

I purchased an H20 mettle.I have been fishing and guiding for over 30 years.I put this reel on a custom fenwick jig rod that I had made.Went out to the front yard after setting the adjustments.20 yard flip first time right in the open top of a one quart container.Made three more flips and two more in the container.Can't ask for much more than that.Reel feels great drag works very well on the front side of this reel.Only time will tell about how this reel reacts being put under terrific pressure.From what I see I think it will be a keeper and I have been on quantem pro staff for 20 years.

Anonymous said...

i think that the h2o reels come with a wrench or some other tool to tighten the handle when it comes loose. even so, it shouldn't really be coming loose at all. but i think they fixed the problem.

Anonymous said...

I could really use some help. I have a Manic. I really like the real and have had no problems fishing with it. Probably one the better reels I own. The problem is I lost the spool tension knob. It is probably at the bottom of the lake. I have tried to get a replacement part but without any help from AS+O. I am unable to get anyone to help. What can I do now? I really don't want to just put it in the attic with the fly rod. The knob is the knob that sits just under the drag wheel. I think it is composed of a circle knob and a couple of smaller internal parts. If you have suggestions please email me at fstop101@Hotmail.com

BassFishingDem said...

Hopefully someone will come along and post something to help. I would think that after all the problems with loose handles, they'd have a customer support system in place able to handle parts requests.

Surely someone at the store could have been able to point you in the right direction, if not order the part themselves. Of all the things that go missing (stolen) on display models, the cast control knob is probably at the top of the list. I'm fairly certain they've had to order new knobs for display models.

Academy has contact information on their web site.
Customer Service
Monday through Friday
8:00am to 5:00pm

Give them a call.

I'm not sure what other internal parts you could have lost aside from maybe a spring and a retainer.

Anonymous said...

Academy has the Mettle reel on sale this week in Arkansas at least for 24.99, November 15-21, 2009.

Anonymous said...

I work for Academy sports and outdoors, and we are ever expanding our H2O line. We have a new version of the Manic(the black one) coming back out with a new handle design, similiar to the Mettle. Also we have reintroduced the Method(the green one) and its now the Menace with a 7 to ratio. Found out also the the Menace will be coming out with a 5.3 to one ration in coming weeks. Pam Martin Wells was using in this year's classic. Baitwise H2O has spinnerbaits and jigs coming out.

Anonymous said...

We also have rods out with the H2O name and have heard heresay about coming out with some soft plastics but right now i think its just talk. Tournament choice is also in house brand.

Anonymous said...

I have the h2o manic, i really like the reel. the handle came off while i was fighting a fish and came off (fell overboard) so I have no handle. I have been searching to find a parts list online or even the manufacturer of the reel so i can get a new handle. No online support, no information just blogs. So all I have to say, the reel is great, the handle sucks. Sort of like having a corvette with no wheels, you know its fun to drive you just can't.

Chuck said...

bought the mettle last april (09) and it was instantly one of my fav's and still is. It's weathered now, but still works like a champ. I added some reel butter to it this spring - not that it needed it, but it is still one of my fav's, and easily the best bargain I've bought in years. Got the reel on an im7 rod (off brand, but i like it) at academy last year for $49.99 (regular $79.99) at academy's annual spring classic sale (or whatever it's called). Make sure you handle a few and find one that runs smooth. in my inspection - before buying mine - i ran across one that did not spin well, and another on display was a little rough on reeling in, and also did not spin well. So, just make sure you handle one that's smooth before you just buy one. that's my $0.02. Good luck! you won't be disappointed in the reel.

Anonymous said...

I bought the menace the other day for $75. I used it once a set the hook and the drag striped. I returned it and bought a Diawa tierra and a shimano citica and love them. so save your money and don't buy these reels. Although i have heard the make good rods.

pvh said...

After having used bass pro stuff all my life I switched to the mettle with cast-away 6'6" mh rods this spring and have been nothing short of impressd. Easily outcasts all my other baitcasters, very smooth and can handle many different weight lures and line combinations. Had no prbolems with the handles. I will try the several others soon considering satisfaction thus far!

kwcolv said...

I bought a couple "Mettle"s H2o's from academy for my sons to start out with...heck at $25 on sale, can't even find that deal anywhere. I plan to throw a few times for myself and am anzious to get them on the lake! I will post my reponses a little later.

Anonymous said...

I bought an H2O Express at Academy and used it the next day fishing Trinity Bay. I was initially very pleased with the reel -- smooth casting and great retrieve, but after about 3-4 hours of fishing, the left face plate fell off on its own and I couldn't get it back on the reel. I returned the reel for a refund.

Anonymous said...

I am a Rockport Tx. fishing guide. My wife came home with a H2O Mettle. We had heard a friend talking about the Academy $49.00 reel. I have Curados, Citicas and to many according tomy wife. I took the reel apart. Not bad, I cleaned the bearings, put a drop of my favorite go fast bearing juice. I have had the reel for several months. I have fished with it every day, just to see how long it will last. It will cast like a dream with 1/16 oz. jigs, it will throw a topwater a mile. By the way, I put 140 yds. of 20# braided line. The line amount shown on the reel is for 12" mono. The 20# braid is the same size as 6# mono. Don't worry about the capacity, unless you use mono.
I have caught 8 amd 9lb redfish. In the past few months the trout fishing has been excellent and I have caught every fish on this lowly $49.00 reel. I rinse the outside and wipe it down. I have not taken it apart again since day one. I will soon go to Academy and buy 4 more. When it seems to good to be true, it usually is. I am afraid it wil go up in price. The other two H2O reels seem to be every bi tas smooth. I may step out and buy the $79.00 reel and run it through the paces.
I do not know the manufacturer, but they have built quality reels before.

Anonymous said...

I just returned my 2nd h20 express they both were very smooth and I used them for a few months each they were great for weightless flukes did great if the fish were close to boat both reels drag failed big time on large bass over 60 feet from boat.

Jillian said...

Looks like a great site. I am a rank amateur looking to move up from, (don't laugh) Zebcos. (In fact, I still have the first rod & reel I ever bought, a Zebco 202 that I picked up about 1965 or so and fished the heck out of it for about 10 years. It still works as well as it ever did and I think that's saying something. It's old enough to have metal gears. What's a trip is that it cost me $10 and the same rod and Z202 reel deal is still $10 today! Can you believe that?!) Anyway, though I drug in many a crappie, bream & catfish, I still call myself an amateur because I never really learned how to fish. And I haven't fished much at all in the past 40 years. But, I have boys now and am trying to get back to it and saw these on coupon sale and got one for 22.95 I think it was. It seems to be defective however. I adjusted the drop as instructed but, every attempt at casting and the reel keeps going unwinding and tangling the line. I opened it to try and adjust those little brakes but, they're so loose, one fell off (had the dickens of a time finding it!) and they won't stay at the out position at all. It seems to me that they should to provide some friction against the inside of the reel there. is that right? If so, I think that's my problem. Any replies and input would be welcome, especially if I am wrong about those brakes! I reckon to take this one back to the store first chance I get. I'm infatuated enough with it however to exchange it and try again. Sorry for being so long winded.

BassFishingDem said...

Jillian, it looks as though you just need to spend some time familiarizing yourself with baitcasters, much like a previous commenter on this particular post. Practice, practice, practice.

I don't actually own one of these H2O baitcasters. I am not familiar with the specific internal components of the H2O reels, so I can't comment too much on the brakes you are adjusting on the inside. From a beginner's standpoint, it's best to start with brakes turned on, only loosening things up gradually until you get the cast you want without the mess.

The brakes sound just as finicky as a Shimano reel, so I'd start with all the internal brakes in the On position. I don't know if H2O reels need pairs of those internal brakes on together or one at a time. Loosen the cast control knob as the instructions said, allowing a lure to drop to the ground. Then, if I were you, I'd tighten up that knob just a little bit and work your way up.

Learning to use a baitcaster isn't easy at first. It just takes practice.

There's a link in the sidebar for setting up a baitcaster. It might be a good place to start. Good luck!

Jillian said...

I ain't a "Jillian! I'm a Jim! I logged in on Google and I must have been tied to my wife's account.
That said, I follow you about needing practice. While I don't have a lake in my back yard, I have a plenty big enough yard to practice casting in.

I looked up that link and my system is balanced. This "H20 Mettle" reel has a "centrifugal brake pin" set up. And looking at the illustration, I still believe it to be defective. The illustration shows two pins up. The factory setting was three pins up. (actually, "up" seems to more accurately describe the location of the little plastic caps- brake pads?). But, in my reel, set a pin "up (or 'out' and tilt the reel and the little plastic part just slides back down the pin. Basically, I only have one plastic "brake"(?) that will stay fixed in the outward position. As I noted in my original post, when I had the drum out of the reel body, one of the plastic brakes just fell off it's pin.

Defective or is that how it's supposed to work?!

BassFishingDem said...


Some pins do come off, like inside a Shimano baitcaster. Those brake collars slide right off, although it does take a little bit of extra pressure. In your case, since it was so easy, you may be right. Could be defective.

I'm going to assume that, although you only mention a few brake collars, the reel has six collars in total. I'd be inclined to start with all six engaged to slow down the spool. Once you get the hang of how fast that spool moves, you can begin to let off on the brakes. In a matter of minutes, you should have it pegged. No joke.

That's assuming those brake collars aren't messed up. If one just fell off without you doing anything, I'd take that reel back to see if you can exchange it for another...and check the pins before you leave the store.

I still recommend the Shimano Callisto for those who want to learn, but don't want to break the bank. Even the Caius looks good in that regard, as do some of the low end Abu Garcia Max reels. Maybe you can get store credit instead and put the $$ toward another brand of reel.

I mean, I did say in my post that these reels did not seem to have a very solid feel to them. Hope you can get your hands on a good one. Baitcasters are wonderful once you get the hang of them.

Anonymous said...

I purchased two of the Mettle models a year ago. I use them in fresh and salt water and they are great. I have had no issues with them. Here is the best part. I paid $29 each last year. Guess what, they are on sale again at Academy on line. Just ordered three for under $100

Anonymous said...

Can't get parts for these reels .Suggest if something goes wrong take it back to the store and get replacement .Bearings that support spool wore out on mine took it back and they replaced it .

Casey Watkins said...

I bougt two mettle for $20 apiece two years ago and have loved them. I have actually bought three more since then. I am an avid tournament fisherman and these reels have held up just as well if not better than some of the $200-$300 reels i have. Well worth the price. Buy one i promise you will be very pleased!!!