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Are you considering a Van Staal VR150? The only reason there should be any deliberation is that you can’t decide on a size.
The Van Staal VR150 is an absolute military tank, with hints of nuclear submarine, and with Ferrari accents.
The VR series is an awesome piece of fishing engineering. It performs every bit as good as it looks, and it’s built to last a lifetime of the toughest fishing adventures.
I know I sound like an advertiser here instead of a critic, however, credit where credit is due. The VR performs every bit, as well as the manufacturers, boast about.
The Van Staal VR150 will suit the ocean rock angler, the surf angler hunting big fish, and the blue water angler looking for sport with species such as tuna, GT’s, and sailfish.
The VR150 will appeal to anglers looking for a go-to, every session reel that can last a lifetime of hard fishing in the toughest of conditions.
Let’s now get into this Van Staal VR150 Review
Van Staal VR150 Review: Who is it For?
The VR is for the angler who values quality workmanship and materials that ensures longevity at peak performance under tough conditions.
It’s a blue water, near shore, ocean rock, and surf reel. It’s ideal for any applications where casting manners are essential, and huge fish are likely.
It’s a brilliant reel for Kayak anglers hunting big fish. Kayak trips invariably see kit exposed to plenty of saltwater.
The VR is built to handle this. It’s big, but not overly bulky, making it a nice match for big fish kayak anglers.
Ultimately, it’s for the bailess loving surf angler. If you’re sold on the bailess technique, you’re going to love the Van Staal VR150.
- 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: 34”
- Weight: 17 oz
- Drag: 35lb
- Braid: 440 / 30 lb
- Mono: 360 / 12 lb
The VR 150 Crank
The handle and knob are built for hard cranking. It’s not just the ergonomics that encourage you to lay into tough fish, it’s more that the feel is inspirational.
There are 13 bearings delivering a silky-smooth feel, but don’t expect the sort of feel you get from Exist, Stella, or Saltiga.
In terms of the crank, the feel is not as refined as its Japanese competitors.
The crank is kind of stiff. This is a stark contrast to the pursuit of the lightest possible crank on which most manufacturers are focusing these days.
The reason for the heavy crank is the sealing. Seals put extra friction on the shaft, hence a heavy feeling crank.
It’s no big deal, and you’ll adapt. It’s just a bit of a surprise when you first turn the handle.
Van Staal VR150 Drag and Spool Capacity
There are 35 pounds of max drag, that will turn the heads of pretty hefty pelagic species.
In a sense, the drag is probably the biggest let down of the VR. When wound up tight while fighting a hard fish, the carbon fiber drag system is pretty jerky.
I’m surprised at this, and I know it will annoy plenty of anglers investing at this price point. However, there is a solution. It’s not ideal, but a solution, nonetheless.
The capacious spool packs 440 yards of 30 pound. To avoid the jerky drag, just back it off a little. Yep, there’s a long fight in store, however, you avoid the potential for the fish to throw the hooks.
Longer fights are not so great for the fish.
In these days of catch and release, we do our best to shorten the fight to give our opponent every chance to recover to full strength quickly.
Just back of the drag a little until you find a smoother point. It will take a couple of battles to work out the refinements.
Van Staal VR 150 Bailess Option
I can’t see an application where I’d prefer the 150 to be bailess. It comes with the bail arm attached and is supplied with the kit to convert to bailess.
The bail arm on the VR is super-strong. All bail arms should be like this. I’ve no doubt, however, there are plenty of surf anglers who will convert straight away.
- Sealed, Waterproof Performance
- GEAR RATIO 4.8:1
- WEIGHT 16.0 oz
- INE RETRIEVE 34.2" / Turn
Last update on 2021-02-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
The conversion is straight forward, but it’s not something you’re going to do between casts, as the tuna schools just off the port bow.
If you’re transporting it in a backpack without protection across rugged terrain, it’s a handy option to remove it. All bail arms are a weak point.
As they tell me, once you’ve fished a bailess spin reel, you’ll never go back. It’s not my thing, and a technique I’ve never really been into.
It’s a pretty niche option and very few (2?) manufacturers offer the option. Its lack of popularity is a sign that more anglers prefer not to have it than use it.
However, it’s great that the option is there for those who swear by it. Technique aside, I’ve always believed that the bailess option delivers greater durability.
The 150 will handle blue water tuna and sharks from the beach. The strength, rigidity, and beautifully crafted stainless internals are built for ocean monsters.
The 4.8 ratio will be slow for some applications such as casting metal slugs, but brilliant for cranking heavy fish.
It’s fine for retrieving large stick baits and poppers, but you will have to crank hard depending on the chosen techniques.
There’s 35 pounds of fully sealed carbon fiber drag.
It’s certainly powerful enough to slow massive fish, however, technique is required to compensate for the jerky drag as mentioned earlier.
The VR feels incredibly solid under load. The rigid alloy body and alloy spool deliver plenty of confidence.
There’s no power lost to slop, flex, or twist. Coupled with a rod of similar pedigree, you’ll be unstoppable.
The VR150 is a great reel for those anglers who chase a wide range of big fish over several applications.
From the surf to the blue water, the VR is well enough endowed to handle the toughest of fish, conditions, and anglers alike.
In my opinion, the VR is true to its uppity price tag. In many respects, due to its robust construction, the VR is an investment in a lifetime’s fishing.
The jerky drag is a downer, but not a deal-breaker.
While not as refined as the Japanese flagships, it certainly makes up for it in strength and muscle, as well as standout aesthetics.