NEW Spinning Reel Breakdown: 13 Fishing AL13 Reel Review

Have you seen the NEW 13 Fishing AL13 Spinning Reel yet?

This reel has flown under the radar so I wanted to bring its features to light and break it down in today’s review!

It was revealed at last year’s iCast event and hit the market at the beginning of this year.

There is a WHOLE LOT going on in this reel that I can’t wait to show you!!!

13 Fishing AL13 Reel Review [VIDEO]

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A lot of people aren’t talking about this reel and it made me wonder why.

We won’t be going over the specs of this reel (you can find those on the back of the box or on the Fish Strong shop page for this product).

Instead, we’ll get into the details and get under the hood to talk about the inner workings of this reel.

I met with Matt Baldwin, the Product Director for 13 Fishing, to talk about the aluminum construction of this reel in depth.

Also, we talked about the seals as well as the importance of the line roller.

Should this be the next inshore spinning reel in your arsenal?

Let’s find out!!

Overview & Body Construction

The AL13 is available in a few different sizes from 2.0 to 6.0.

For all intents and purposes, the sizes are very close to 2500 size all the way up to 6000 size.

This is generally speaking as the sizes are intrinsic to 13 Fishing but the 3.0 is similar to a 3000-size spinning reel.

The AL13 is an all-aluminum-bodied reel.

Other companies will say “aluminum construction” which means the body, spool, and handle are aluminum.

That is standard for the most part BUT 13 Fishing went a step further.

In addition to the parts I just mentioned, the rotor, bail wire, and bail armature – everything is aluminum.

Why does this matter?

This is designed to be a kick-it-around reel for captains, those that beat up their gear, or if you fish around heavy structure and run the risk of dropping it or dinging it on hard surfaces.

Aluminum is strong to withstand these elements and rigid enough to pull in big fish.

Most rotors are made using a composite-plastic material.

The fact that this reel has a metal rotor for under $200 is extremely unique.

Anglers that want aluminum everything in a reel have likely spent hundreds more on a reel of this build.

Cool-Stop Drag System

Traditionally, drag systems have been made using either felt or carbon fiber and sometimes cork.

In the case of the AL13, they used what they refer to as “Cool-Stop”.

This is a polymer material that is unique to the brand.

They found that, unlike carbon fiber, polymer maintains its integrity much longer under heat and pressure.

Traditional carbon fiber is etched and the discs are flat.

So the discs get stacked and pressure is applied from the top of the spool creating the drag.

Over time, that carbon fiber etching, will wear down from the center outwards.

Moreover, the polymer discs are beveled in shape.

They are stacked in such a way that when pressure is applied, the pressure will dissipate outward and slope downward.

This prevents the heat from concentrating in the center of the disc and disperses it evenly outward.

In turn, this extends the life of the discs and helps maintain their shape over time.

As a result, the drag will be smoother and cooler when under immense pressure.


Anglers commonly want to know how well a reel is sealed and where those seals are located.

I was able to identify SIX different seals on the AL13.

I believe there are seven in total, however, I did not fully tear down the entire reel.

The seals are at the handle entry point, a seal on the cap opposite the handle, a seal on the top of the locking nut above the rotor, the fourth seal is just beneath the rotor, and the fifth seal is arguably the most important and that protects the pinion gear.

This reel is effectively stacked and water will have a difficult time getting down the main shaft and into the main gears.

13 Fishing placed these seals in such a way that when you turn the handle, you don’t feel much resistance at all.

A lot of times in other spinning reels, you sacrifice smoothness for the sake of sealing.

Line Roller

The last piece I want to discuss is also what I believe to be the most overlooked on any spinning reel.

That is the line roller.

Most line rollers are made using a stainless material and are often coated in gold or silver.

In the case of the AL13 and a couple of other reels from 13 Fishing, it is a full ceramic line roller.

Why is that important?

A lot of the coatings used on other reels can wear down over time being exposed to the elements.

When the coating starts to wear down on the line roller, it’s going to corrode and impact your mainline.

The braid you’re fishing with is making constant contact with the line roller.

The fact that 13 Fishing uses a ceramic line roller means it will maintain its integrity indefinitely.

It won’t chip or crack and this is something I feel is overlooked by reel manufacturers as well as anglers.

Let’s Address The Cons

In truth, the AL13 is NOT a lightweight reel.

It is not a finesse spinning reel but that is not really what it was designed to be.

It is heavier than other aluminum reels on the market.

If you’re looking for an aluminum-bodied reel and you want that rigidity, these reels are on the heavier side.

The other thing to consider is that these reels are very new (only 6 months out on the market).

I’ve only been fishing with my personal AL13 for 6 months which is too short of a time to make a final determination.

At the one-year mark, I will put together another review video to talk more about the AL13 after 12 months of use.

In the meantime, have you heard of this fishing reel yet?

Have you used the AL13 Spinning Reel?

Please let me know your thoughts and if you have used this reel, please go ahead and leave a comment below!!

For Insider Members as well, we are offering FREE line and we’ll spool it up for you beforehand on all saltwater reels so you can hit the water immediately.

Not only that, we’ll also ship it to you FREE of charge.

Simply add a reel to your cart and follow the steps from there and we’ll have your reel ready for action!!

Please let me know if you have any questions down in the comments section!!

➡ Get the 13 Fishing AL13 Spinning Reel

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Ronald Peedin
4 months ago

looks great.

Pat Ogletree
4 months ago

Great breakdown on the reel, good to know they didn’t just go with the same ole same ole when it came to sealing this reel. Enjoying mine so far!

Wayne Turnacliff
4 months ago

Thanks for the review, will be interested in your update in another 6 months.

Jeffrey Blythe
4 months ago

Justin excellent review i have a 13 fishing concept z this is the third year using it and it is awesome.Does the al 13 have the saltwater coating like the concept z has.

Jeffrey Blythe
4 months ago
Reply to  Justin Ritchey

ocean armor 2

4 months ago

Thanks for telling the price early in the presentation…. $185.00.. Way beyond my range.

William Ripa
4 months ago

Justin excellent review….can’t wait for the icast ones …..what kind of rod do you have your AL married to ?

Luke Simonds
4 months ago

Great review Justin!

Dave Fichter
4 months ago

As always, a good, clear video breaking down the product.

But it isn’t clear how well this reel is sealed as compared to say the Penn Spinfisher and above in which this reel’s price point puts it. Yes it has 6 (or 7) seals, but do they work as effectively as Penn’s which have an IPX 5/6 rating?

I’m not saying it’s a bad reel by any stretch. I don’t own one nor have I used one, but before I spend $180+ on a reel like this, I’d spend that on a tried and true reel like the Spinfisher.

But I suppose the competition has to start somewhere and there are some good features that may result in other manufacturers – like Penn – adopting them for the benefit of everyone.

Dave Fichter
4 months ago
Reply to  Justin Ritchey

Thanks for the reply. Why do you prefer the AL13 over the Penn, specifically? Weight? Looks? Smoothness?

As to the expense of getting the IPX rating, as you note, it costs money for a manufacturer to get that, and in my experience companies don’t spend money for no reason, so I’m inclined to believe there is some additional protection built into the Penn reels to warrant that investment. That said, I’d love to see a “torture test” done on them and any other reels that you think are sealed in a comparable fashion to actually see if there is any difference.

And lastly, perhaps Penn’s biggest claim to fame is their ruggedness, proven over decades. I’ll be curious to see how the AL13 stands up in that regard over time.

In any case, we all have our preferences, and fortunately we can often satisfy them with the variety of offerings out there. And I appreciate your hands on expertise and knowledge of the products you review, and that counts for a lot.

Thanks again!

Larry Banach
4 months ago

Thanks Justin for a great unbiased review! I’m a Penn guy myself, but I do like some of the features this reel has. Might just have to try one!

Werner Boeer
4 months ago

Let’s wait and see what one year of fishing shows us. Nothing like actual on the water usage to show the durability of a product.


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