Van Staal VR200 Spinning Reel Review

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The VR200 is the largest of the Van Staal VR series. While it’s a big reel, it’s not nearly as heavy as it looks. 

With a huge spool and massive drag power, the VR200 delivers access to some of the biggest fish available.

Primarily, the big 200 is the dream reel for the big fish surf angler. 

Submerged in the salty stuff and rammed full of sandy slurry, you can exacerbate the 200 from a deep sandy, salty hole and cast a big live bait to the last line of breakers, hook up, and win the battle.

Advertised to last a lifetime of hardcore fishing, the VR200 has the craftsmanship and componentry to live up to the manufacturer’s marketing promise.

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To be honest, I believe the VR200 is for every spin angler with a passion for big fish. 

Yep, it’s well outside the budget of many anglers, but it’s genuinely a spin reel to aspire to, hence the aspirational price point.

Of course, it’s a must-have for the big fish surf angler. Particularly the bailess enthusiast. It’s also a must-have for the rock angler. 

The robust construction ensures your VR will withstand the inevitable knocks, scrapes, and impacts that are so common when landing fishing from tricky rocky points, platforms, and drop-offs.

My biggest tip, however, is for big fish kayak anglers. Kayak hunters invariably submerge, not only their entire kit but themselves also. 

The VR is built to handle regular, extended dunking and live to fight on as if straight out of the box.

The VR will also handle plenty of saltwater, burial in mud, and being rammed with sandy slurry

Dig it up from its sandy grave, wash it in the surf, and cast. You’ll be able to do this for a lifetime.

While the bulk of anglers will balk at the hefty price tag, discerning anglers will recognize that this is an investment in good fishing. 

With considered general maintenance, you’ll hand it on to your children, so they can treat it as roughly as you did.

Features and Specifications

  • 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:           40”
  • Weight:             16.8 oz
  • Drag:                 40lb
  • Braid:                500 / 40 lb
  • Mono:               400 / 15 lb

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

The Crank

Those who haven’t touched a VR before will immediately be surprised by a heavy crank. 

With every manufacturer going out of their way to make the lightest crank possible, the VR has clearly gone in the other direction, favoring watertight sealing over a light crank.

The tight sealing adds friction to the main gear. This delivers a heavier feeling crank. 

Once you are used to it, this is not a problem at all. There are 13 bearings inside making every turn of the handle feel velvety smooth and solid as a rock.

The handle and oversize knob are built for aggressive cranking. Of course, the all-alloy body is both strong and rigid. 

This ensures every turn delivers all the power to the battle. Nothing is lost in slop or twist.

Drag and Spool Capacity

40 pounds of carbon fiber drag and a spool capacity of 500 pounds of 40-pound braid, gives you an idea of the fish you’ll be chasing.

Bluewater hunters will target tuna, wahoo, GT’s sailfish, and the like. Rockhoppers will be chasing the same. It’s an awesome land-based game reel. 

For the surf angler, the 200 has all the required ingredients for tackling sharks.

Van Staal VR Series Spinning Reels
  • Waterproof, durable performance
  • Light weight
  • Fast retrieve rates
  • High line capacity

Last update on 2021-02-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The incredibly generous spool size is also great for casting prodigious distances. It might take you a little while to match a rod to extract peak performance, rig considered.

Take the time to match the rod. Interestingly, while the VR is a go-anywhere do-anything reel, performance benefits with the appropriate length, action, and guides.

I’d like to be more specific about this, but I chose a rod on ‘feel’ with a pretty loose idea of the application and likely rig. 

I think I got lucky. I’ve heard plenty of reports of surf anglers, in particular, working hard to find the perfect pole to match their 200.

The drag is perhaps the only feature of the VR that might disappoint. While its strength is phenomenal, it gets very jerky under heavy load.

Check out this video below, it provides a pretty good example of this.

Mitigating this jerky action is achieved by backing off a little. With experimentation, you’ll find a happy place, if a longer battle.

The Bailess Option

You’ll unbox your 200 with the bail arm intact. There is a conversion kit that comes with it, for those who enjoy the bailess option. 

I’m not a great fan of fishing bailess. I’m not alone either. Relatively speaking, bailess is pretty niche. Those who do fish bailess are predominantly surf anglers, and they swear by it. 

It takes a little technique development to become proficient, but they tell me, once you’ve got it down, you’ll never go back.

Interestingly, while the bailess option is a feature, Van Staal has still developed one of the most robust bail arms on the market. Personally, I’d leave it intact.

There is an argument that a bailess spin reel is less inclined to damage, as the bail arm is probably the most exposed and fragile component on a reel. 

Removing it certainly prevents damaging it. Especially while in transit.

As the VR is all about being bulletproof, the bailess option is appropriate. I’d leave it on, however. Personal preference.


The 200 is geared for cranking heavy, belligerent fish. At 4.8, it’s reasonably slow, but with every turn pulling back 40 inches of line, it’s quick enough to rip metal slugs – if a little exhausting after several casts.

Every component works toward directing the power to the business end of a battle. 

Rigidity ensures gears remain in perfect mesh. Not a Newton Meter of torque is lost to poor mesh, flex, twist, or slop. This is a great feature of the VR.

During the battle, you feel the stability provided by the 13 bearings. With an oversized handle and knob, the ergonomics lend to some heavy cranking against some heavy fish.

Those who cast big live baits from the ocean rocks or beach will find the VR200 is the perfect spin reel for the job.

Van Staal VR Series Spinning Reels
  • Waterproof, durable performance
  • Light weight
  • Fast retrieve rates
  • High line capacity

Last update on 2021-02-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Verdict

The VR200 earns its top-shelf price tag. While the drag performance is a little disappointing, it’s by no means a deal-breaker. 

And its overall performance, and its endurance, in particular, ensures the VR will be considered a classic reel, if a little niche.

Craftsmanship and componentry are second to none. It might not feel as refined as its Japanese competitors, but nor should it. It’s built like a tank.

Don’t think for a moment that it’s all grunt however when I say tank, I mean space-age tank, machined from quality alloys.

While I don’t expect you will all go out and buy one, I have to say, that beyond a doubt, the VR200 will enhance the scope and capacity of even the most extensive and diverse spin reel arsenal. 

While not perfect, it is still a beautiful piece of engineering.

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