Mako 9600B Fly Reel Review
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Mako is new to Trident and new to our shootouts, but they've been making top-notch saltwater reels for some time. In fact, they are the legacy of Jack Charlton and his eponymous reels. Mako has always been that reel. The one that people talk about but few have actually seen or touched. That has started to change with some new management at the helm and some top-notch new pros on staff. But with that kind of legacy, it should come as no surprise then that the 9600B tied for FIRST PLACE in our Big Game Fly Reel Shootout.
The 9600B is really the sweetheart in the Mako lineup. The 9500 is way too much for an 8-weight and the 9700 is too big for all but the most intense bluewater anglers. But the 9600 is dialed for tarpon and GT anglers. And for this shootout.
15 ounces. That's about 50% more than the Hatch Iconic.
Drag is one of the Mako's top selling points. Its single-turn drag tops out at a very respectable 14.9 lbs - and while you might be thinking that this isn't really that much, the drag knob is so easy to turn that you can access 100% of this drag. That puts the Mako in 3rd place for Effective Drag. The drag is also fairly linear with a half turn yielding 4.6lbs and when you back off all the way, you're at .6lbs of drag. No free spooling here.
While I personally prefer 2 or so turns, there are some arguments that can be made for single-turn drags and they are certainly better than having too many turns.
Drag Test Graphs
The Mako sounds great! It's got a nice click on the incoming and definitely a differentiated outgoing sound. So many reels get this wrong, but they didn't. She'll sing when that GT takes off.
Spool & Retrieval Rate
The Mako also picks up line really fast. Fill it up with 326 yards of 30lb Dacron backing and you'll get over 12 inches per turn. It's near the top of the heap in terms of both capacity and retrieve. While it's not the skinniest, the difference between the Hardy Fortuna and the Mako is only 1/10th of an inch in width. Well done.
Looks & Ergonomics
Mako's look great! They come in a range of colors, but not so many that you need an encyclopedia. The handle is also very good - as one might expect - and is the perfect size for the big game angler. The drag "knob" is a bit of a puzzler though. On the one hand, it's quite easy to turn and requires little to no force. But on the other hand, it's not that different from the knob on the Evolution R Salt and it's just not that easy to grab.
It also provides little-to-no tactile feedback so there's really no way of knowing where you are in the drag spectrum when you turn it. Some world record types have gotten around this by painting drag force on the reel. I'm not sure I'd want to be looking at the side of my reel while fighting a trophy fish... but there's proof that it works!
Finish and durability
While we didn't test durability this time around, all Mako's have a type 3 anodize which makes them much tougher than reels with a type 2 anodize.
Lifetime to the original owner + $0.
The Mako 9600B is essentially the perfect big-game saltwater reel. It does everything exceptionally well.... but it's 50% (5 ounces) heavier than most of the other reels in this test. If they made a lightweight version of this reel, it would be the hands-down winner. As it stands, it's still spectacular, but I find myself hesitating to recommend this for any situation where blind casting is going to be happening. If you're fishing in the Gold Cup, though, this is your reel.
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- Excellent drag
- Fast line pickup
- Sounds great