Favorite Fishing stormed the rod market a few years back and has held its own against even the most established brands. Now, the company is diving into the reel market with the launch of their new baitcasting lineup this past fall – with the Favorite Soleus XCS leading the charge.
I got my hands on one and took it for a spin to see what the buzz is all about.
As soon as you take this reel out of the box, you’ll notice it has a look of its own. The pointed top above the level wind sports the Favorite “F” logo and gives the reel a look unlike most on the market. While I may not be the biggest fan of the design, if you have big hands, the logo makes for the perfect spot for your thumb to rest on when holding the reel.
From there, the Soleus XCS has what most come to expect from reels priced above $100: a spool tension knob, side plate adjustment for centrifugal braking and a larger drag star for easy adjustments when fighting a fish.
Another neat little feature of the Soleus XCS is the dial in the middle of the reel handle that you can adjust to tell you what type of line (braid, fluorocarbon or monofilament) and what pound test you have spooled up. While I didn’t use the feature in testing, down the road, if I were to pick up a few more of these reels, I could totally see how it may be a handy feature to have.
Internally, the reel rocks a 10+1 bearing system, so it’s built to be buttery smooth, and the two high-speed bearings on the spool help the reel cast a mile. It also has 20 pounds of drag, which makes it a potential workhorse for heavy-cover applications.
One of my favorite things about this reel is that it comes with a 105-millimeter handle, which is substantially longer than most standard reel handles. The two big EVA foam knobs on the handle make it a pleasure to reel all day long.
The bonus of having a longer reel handle is that you can get more leverage when retrieving – whether it’s horsing a fish out of cover or winding a big crankbait. If you’ve never fished with a reel handle over 100 millimeters, it truly does make it effortless to reel your lures back in and helps provide more power to pull fish out of cover. In other words, the fact that this reel comes standard with a big handle is a huge plus in my book.
I put this reel through a variety of different on-the-water scenarios, and it passed with flying colors every time. Skipping docks with a jig, winding a big Colorado-blade spinnerbait in dirty water, cranking deep-diving crankbaits, bombing topwaters around and almost anything in between – from power-fishing to pitching and flipping – was great. The Soleus XCS is one bad dude when you spool it up with some heavier fluorocarbon or braid.
Heavier is better
Through my testing, the one downside I did find with the reel is that it doesn’t cast lightweight baits very well. Smaller balsa poppers, 1/4-ounce spinnerbaits or unweighted Texas-rigged flukes were just a few of the lighter options I tried to cast around but could never get the reel dialed to get the distance I’d like – no matter what I had on for line size. But, again, this reel to me wouldn’t be one I’d reach for in “finesse” situations with a baitcaster.
Backed for life
In a world filled with limited one-year warranties, Favorite backs this reel 100 percent. That’s why they offer a lifetime warranty. Yup, you read that correctly. Lifetime. With a money-back guarantee. I fully expect support like that for a reel that costs over $300, so it’s really impressive to me that with a price tag of $179.99, Favorite will stand behind their product like that.
There’s no doubt in my mind that if you love to fish heavy cover or prefer to cast and wind, you should add a Soleus XCS to your lineup. It’s a lightweight reel with tons of drag power and a super comfortable handle to reel with. Throw in the lifetime warranty and it’s almost a no-brainer decision to try one – especially when you consider the abuse a reel goes through in power-fishing situations or flipping heavy cover.
Sure, the fact it doesn’t cast small baits well is technically a knock on the reel, but that isn’t its strong suit. The Soleus XCS is a workhorse, and if that’s what you need in your lineup, give it a look.
Company: Favorite Fishing
Series: Soleus XCS
Available gear ratios: 6.6:1, 7.3:1, 8.1:1
Ball bearings: 10+1
Weight: 6.4 ounces
Warranty: lifetime warranty