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If you take a deep dive into the features of the Zebco 808 and 888, you’ll notice there are some differences. While not huge, they’re certainly noteworthy.
If you look at the price difference online, you’ll notice there’s very little between prices – in some cases, less than 10 dollars.
Both reels are designed for the same applications. They’re a larger spincast designed for a larger class of fish or more heavy-duty fishing.
But with so little between the prices, I still find it difficult to understand why you would go for the 808 over the 888.
To confuse things even further, there’s a saltwater version of the 808 that’s considerably more expensive than either of them. But that’s a story for later.
I’m well attuned to the restrictions of budgets. But when the price difference is often little more than a cup of coffee, I find it difficult to reconcile the 808 over the 888.
Let’s look a little closer at both models. With the features of both laid bare, perhaps a loyal reader can convince me of the relevance of the 808.
Zebco is the home of spincast. So, if you’re looking for a quality spincast, any of their 800 series is definitely worth a shot. The question is which one?
Zebco 808 vs 888 Spincast Reel – What Are The Main Differences?
The biggest difference between the two is the bearing counts, anti-reverse, drag capacities, and spool capacities.
There are other differences, but these are the ones that will likely determine which reel you select and for what application.
Both reels use the same drag system, which is pretty smooth, reliable, and predictable. The dial is easy to operate and well-placed in terms of ergonomics.
The difference is in the capacity. The 888 has a whopping 30 pounds of max drag.
This is astonishing for a reel of this size, and I question its necessity based on its likely applications. Whatever the case, it’s nice to have.
The 808 has a max drag of 24 pounds. This is still a very generous amount of drag for a spincast reel.
The bearing count will be the clincher or deal breaker for many spincast enthusiasts..
The 888 has a modest 2+1, whereas the 808 has no bearings, relying on bushes only.
Some will argue that the bushes are more suitable for saltwater applications. I’m afraid I have to disagree.
Bearings not only deliver a smoother crank but also add to the longevity of the reel. They support rotating parts, diminish friction, and therefore mitigate premature wear.
If either reel ingests saltwater, it will require a breakdown and cleaning if you plan on using it for the long term.
For longevity, I consider the 888 to be superior to the 808. Incidentally, the saltwater model only has one bearing. Again, I prefer the support of bearings.
The Zebco 808 has a plastic front cover. The 888s cover is made from stainless steel.
While the stainless cover adds weight, it also enhances aesthetics and durability. I tend to avoid plastic features wherever possible or practical.
If weight reduction is the feature you seek above all, then the plastic cover helps keep the 808 well under the weight of the 888.
Both reels aren’t what you’d call light. In fact, they’re both quite heavy.
The 888 is 19.5 ounces, whereas the 808 is 17.1 ounces – 2.4 ounces lighter owing to the plastic cover and absence of bearings.
With both reels being quite heavy, I’m not sure that saving 2.4 ounces will matter to many spincast fans.
Both reels have the same gear ratio of 2.6 with a retrieve rate of 19 inches. This is a more traditional spincast speed that favors heavier cranking of rapid retrieves.
While I don’t mind crank power of pace, I feel this is where Zebco could have differentiated, offering their fans different speed options.
This is another feature difference I don’t quite understand. The 888 is continuous, whereas the 808 is ‘quick-set’, a Zebco proprietary design.
Both feel great on the strike, with little play to speak of. I don’t particularly appreciate that the continuous has a switch to turn it on and off.
I’m yet to hear one good argument for cranking backward.
The on/off switch is a feature that regularly fails on so many spin reels and should be relegated to history. Just my opinion – I know some anglers like it.
Bait Alert (Clicker)
Both reels have this feature. It has a lot of fans, and I understand why. It’s pretty useful when setting multiple rods.
It’s not a big feature for me, and I’d prefer the weight budget distributed to other performance-based features.
Both models come pre-spooled. This is a feature I could do without. I’ll immediately replace it with my preferred line, like many anglers.
The Zebco 808 has 20 lb mono, and the 888 comes pre-spooled with 25 lb mono. This is a pretty heavy line class, indicating the size of fish the 8 series can tackle.
Spool capacities are quite light-on, as you might expect from a spincast. The 808 holds 145 yards (20lb), whereas the 888 holds 110 yards (25lb).
Zebco 808 Spincast Reel
If money is tight, you don’t need 30 pounds of max drag, and prefer to fish a little lighter; then the 808 might be a good option for you.
The Zebco 808 is a nice feeling reel for the price point. Best of all, you can point it at some pretty hefty fish, salt or fresh, and work it in some pretty gnarly environments.
The 808 is a heavy-duty spincast. The crank is better/smoother than the 0-bearing count might suggest.
It is nice to cast and handles well under load. This reel also looks great in all black. If the bottom line dictates your purchase, then the 808 is a must on your list.
- Lighter than the 888
- Very affordable price point
- No anti-reverse switch
- Great for a larger class of fish
Zebco 888 Spincast Reel
The Zebco 888 is my choice of the 8 series Zebco spincast reels. I like the smoother crank and the support offered by the bearings.
I also like the look, feel, and durability of the stainless cover.
While I know the 30 pounds of max drag is possibly overkill for whatever application I’ll use, it’s nice to know it’s there.
While I’m not likely to spool up with the 25-pound that the reel comes with, I like that I can go down in line class and increase the spool capacity.
For my eye, the 888 is a better-looking reel, and while it’s not a big thing, I will always prefer to fish a rig I like the look of.
The Zebco 888 offers plenty of support for fishing in tough conditions chasing big fish. The extra few dollars it costs makes it a winner over the 808.
- 2+1 bearings
- Stainless cover
- Affordable price point
- Great for heavy-duty applications
Final Notes on the Zebco 808 Versus the 888
With the price point so close between the two the angler has to select the features they prefer the most.
For my money, and applications, I prefer 3 bearings over no bearings. With all variations considered, it’s the bearing count that clinches the deal for me.