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The Van Staal VR125 Spin Reel is ideally suited to surf and boat fishing, It’s also a brilliant option for kayak anglers chasing a larger class of fish.
I also like it for chasing a larger class of fish from sea walls and rock walls.
The key feature of the VR series is the construction factor. The Van Staal VR is built to last a lifetime. That’s not just a marketing tag, it’s true.
Van Staal can take on the harshest of conditions, tackling the toughest of fish, even in the hands of the most aggressive careless anglers. It achieves this and delivers on the manufacturer’s promise.
Having said that, I can’t attest to it lasting a lifetime, however, it clearly has ALL the ingredients of a reel built with old school staying power.
It’s designed to do it with strength, rigidity, and versatility in its DNA. Van Staal has made some compromises to achieve this bulletproof, special forces style fishing reel.
Let’s now get into this Van Staal VR125 review.
Van Staal VR125 Review: Who is it Suited For?
Do you like chasing big black drum from your kayak? Perhaps you take them around bridge pylons. Do you use live baits or big dead baits like larger crabs? The VR125 is for you.
It’s also for surf anglers hunting a larger class of fish. You get all the power and performance, without the bulk that surf anglers go for when casting at surf monsters.
I like it for rock and surf fishing when you’re going to get wet.
It’s ideal for big bluefish, big stripy, and others, but you have the benefits of plenty of reserve power should you hook up really big.
If you chase a larger class of fish from locations where sand and saltwater immersion is almost assured, the Van Staal VR125 is definitely for you.
The Van Staal VR125 Crank
The first thing you will notice is that the crank on the VR125 is particularly tight.
This is a significant contrast to what you might be used to as most manufacturers are working to develop the lightest crank possible.
The VR is sealed to within an inch of its life. Pinion sealing etc will restrict the freedom of the crank, however, this is not a hurdle and easy to adapt to.
There are 13 bearings supporting all aspects of gear and pinion rotation. It’s definitely a super-smooth crank, regardless of its tight feel.
The Drag and Spool Capacity
You will also notice that the drag is not as smooth as the Japanese reel models from a similar price point.
This might annoy a few of you but it’s not something that can’t be dealt with via backing off a little.
There’s plenty of spool on the Van Staal VR 125. You have 400 yards of 20 pound at your disposal to subdue a hefty opponent.
The Bailess Option
The VR125 comes with the bail arm intact. It also comes with the conversion kit to go bailess.
There’s plenty of surf anglers that love the bailess option. There are benefits, particularly with the durability aspect, and for those that enjoy the technique.
However, the bail arm of the VR series is incredibly robust and can be handled easily.
- Waterproof, durable performance
- Light weight
- Fast retrieve rates
- High line capacity
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It’s one of the best there is. I’m inclined to keep the bail arm on as it avoids the need for any changes in your technique.
For me, the best feature of the bailess option is for transport through rugged and rough terrain.
Bail arms are a traditional weak point, particularly for impact damage in transport.
It’s not really a rapid change thing, however. Given the bail arm is excellent, I’d be inclined to leave it on.
I’m not a fan of fishing bailess. But there are plenty of anglers who insist that once you are used to it, you never go back.
The theory is that fewer movements create a more efficient cast. The jury is still out for me. But it’s cool to have the option.
Specification and Features of the VR125
The construction and construction materials are the features that set the VR125 apart from other brands. The fully machined 6061 aluminum body and fully sealed body and spool set the pace.
Couple this with the stainless-steel spiral-bevel gear system and you have a phenomenally robust package, with a unique and striking aesthetic.
It’s all-metal, mostly alloy, incredibly rigid yet not overly heavy or imposing.
It’s the materials and seals that allow you to bury it in a sandy slurry, pull it out and tackle sharks without even cleaning it.
Most Japanese super-reels don’t really have this capacity.
- Fully machined 6061 aluminum body
- Fully sealed body and spool design
- Stainless steel spiral-bevel gear system
- Includes bail-less kit.
- Bearings: 13
- Ratio: 4.8
- Retrieve: 32”
- Weight: 16.6 oz
- Drag: 35lb
- Braid: 400 / 20 lb
- Mono: 340 / 10 lb
Everything about the Van Staal VR125 is about power and stability. Some might feel the 4.8 ratio a little slow. Perhaps for ripping metal slugs, yes.
However, there’s so much power for wrestling belligerent monsters, you can forgive the lack of speed.
There’s a whopping 35 pounds of carbon drag. While it’s not the smoothest on the market, this is the sort of power that can turn yellowfin.
I’d not target sizable yellowfin with the 125, but should one take a liking to a modest stickbait, you may be in with a chance.
While pricey, the VR125 does a better job of earning its price tag than a lot of other manufacturers.
The main reason is that the VR is one heck of a powerful, robust, and reliable reel that may well last a lifetime.
Materials and construction are second to none. This is a beautifully crafted reel. While it doesn’t have the refined feel of many of its Japanese competitors, the VR is not about that.
It was designed to be deployed from the trenches amidst a hail of bullets and artillery, while in a hurricane and earthquake. Yet still, catch fish.
Hyperbole aside, the VR125 is a classy reel that will suit the adventuring angler, who demands their kit is up to the rigors of rugged terrain, full hammer-and-tong anglers, and aggressive fish.
This is a reel for all anglers with the extra budget. However, if you chase a larger class of fish from the rocks, surf, or your kayak, the VR125 should sit high on your list for consideration.