Tested – Pflueger Arbor 40 Spin Reel

THESE stubby little reefs feature interesting design concepts that go a long way towards minimizing the tangle problems associated with braided lines. The extra wide spool is combined with a short oscillation stroke to help prevent those annoying loops that magically appear in your braid, causing massive tangles and often resulting in major (and expensive) surgery with scissors or a knife. The extra large spool makes these reels look a bit different – sort of fat and top heavy – but they are in fact extremely innovative and well designed.

I used a pre-production test model of the Arbor 40 extensively over a three-month period. It proved to be an outstanding reel which rapidly became my first choice for inshore snapper-on-plastics work. Teamed with a quality Pflueger Supreme PFLS-SP661M 6’6” 4-8kg rod, the little Arbor is a well balanced, light and deceptively powerful reel. I used it lure and bait fishing for snapper, trevally, flathead, rat kings, sambos and tailor in my local waters around Jervis Bay and found it a solid performer. It’s ideal for lure fishing – especially soft plastics – where you do a lot of casting and repetitive jigging. Jigging and casting can cause “wind knots” and loops in your braid. The Arbor’s wide spool certainly seemed to negate the looping problems I – and no doubt all of you – have experienced from time to time. In all the time I used the reel, I don’t recall having one single tangle.

Maintenance involved a gentle fresh water rinse and a light spray with Inox – after three solid months of saltwater use, there are no visible signs of corrosion. The reel features what Pflueger calls a “hybrid aluminium body system”. This combines an aluminium reel stem with a graphite frame and aluminium sideplate. The result is a light – but quite strong – reel. As a final test I took it to SA for the snapper session detailed in March issue. Teamed with a five-piece 4-6kg Nitro travel rod, the reel subdued multiple 10kg plus reds. I fished it as hard as

I could, deliberately maxing out the drag and gearing system to see what it could take. It performed faultlessly. I gave that little reel a serious flogging on some really big fish – it handled the pressure admirably. I noted no flex in the reel’s body or stem, even under serious load. It performed as well as the much more expensive reels we were also using. The drag in particular was really impressive. In my view, it is an $800 drag, not a $200 drag. In two days the modestly sized Arbor caught more big – and I mean BIG – snapper than most reels would catch in two lifetimes.

The test reel came loaded with 20lb SpiderWire Code Red, a line I’d never previously come across but now really like. It’s a limpish braid that knots well and is very easy to use. Check it out if you’re interested in a decent braid that casts nicely and is very strong.

For less than 200 bucks, the Pflueger Arbor 40 (a smaller 30 model is also available and a larger 50 is in development) is an exceptional reel. I don’t often rave on about test reels too much – but this is a special – and very reasonably priced – piece of kit. Very highly recommended! Check out all the specs at or take a look at one in your local tackle shop. Plueger has also advised that a specialist “Arbor rod”, designed to work with the reel’s spool design to maximise casting, could soon be available. Stay tuned for that.

By Jim Harnwell

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