Cortez Reels: Extreme Versatility In The Salt

In the world of big game and tournament saltwater angling, there’s a ton of specialization with regard to rods and reels. For each species and sometimes even each fishing technique, there are unique constructions, gear ratios, anti-reverse and drag systems that optimize success. Day-in and day-out though, the average angler fishing saltwater is neither a big game angler nor a tournament angler. For these anglers, type III anodized machined aluminum frames are simply not necessary, and in a lot of cases, just not practical.

New Cortez CZ-5CS

With custom graphite frame and side plates surrounding an machined aluminum spool and all-star cast of internal components, the Cortez family of saltwater reels covers angler’s needs from the surf line to offshore waters.

For the everyday angler, a bulletproof graphite-framed reel with a workhorse drag system and top quality internal components serves every need they’ll ever have. And, they want to be able to afford a few of them without making withdrawals from their children’s college fund. To serve this very real need of tens of thousands of saltwater anglers, we designed and built the Cortez.

From surf and jetty, to private boat, to charter fishing, to traveling angler, the appeal of the Cortez is universal.

The Nuts and Bolts

Available in three sizes, a 10, 12 and all-new 5 size, Cortez begins with a custom, corrosion-resistant graphite frame and side plates. For the dollar-conscious, this is the number one area of cost difference between the $145 Cortez and the $290 Cedros star drag. Machined aluminum frames are expensive. For fishing 15- to 30-pound monofilament or 50-pound braid, the lines that cover 90-percent of saltwater fishing, Cortez’ graphite frame is light in the hand and a pleasure to cast for extended periods.

Striper on Savage Sand Eel

Northeast anglers will love Cortez for its ability to cast lures like the Savage Sand Eel for stripers and bluefish, while also having the power and capacity to venture offshore.

In the handle-side side plate is the exclusive Okuma Mechanical Stabilization System, or MSS. Where traditional reels use multiple mounts on the inside of the side plate to anchor and align the spool shaft, pinion gear, pinion gear bearing, drive shaft and main gear, the Okuma MSS system integrates all of these mounts into a single hold plate. When under heavy load, the individual parts of the traditional system move independently and can actually apply pressure against one another. With MSS, all components move in concert with one another, maintaining out-of-the-box alignment and greatly reducing wear over the long-term.

Cortez’ drive system leaves nothing to be desired:  Ergo Grip, anodized aluminum handle arm, XL Gearing, dual anti-reverse systems (mechanical and roller bearing) and four stainless steel ball-bearings on the way to the machined aluminum spool.  With regard to the aluminum spool, line capacities are 315 yards of 15-pound for the size 5, 350 yards of 20-pound for the size 10 and 400 yards of 25-pound for the size 12.  Increase all of those numbers substantially for 30- or 50-pound braid.

Louisiana Yellowfin

School tuna, snapper, amberjack, big jacks, they’re all in the wheelhouse of Cortez, whether fishing live bait or vertical jigs.

The drag system is multi-disc Carbonite, outputting 15-pounds of max. drag from the smallest CZ-5-CS and 18-pounds of max. drag from the larger CZ-10CS and CZ-12CS.

What Makes The Difference

Beyond the powerful gear train, generous line capacity and high-speed gearing, what makes Cortez truly a universal saltwater performer is its magnetic cast control system. Dubbed MCS, the system seals the highly-corrosive magnets within their own environment and any chance of corrosion is eliminated. Outfitted with the MCS, the applications for the Cortez expand far beyond simply a bottom fishing or light trolling reel. Cortez becomes a reel that can go anywhere, from the surf line to far offshore.

In the Northeast, Cortez will accompany surf rods and boat rods alike in pursuit of stripers, bluefish, fluke and school tuna. In the mid Atlantic states Cortez will fish drum, dolphin, blackfin and yellowfin tuna, amberjack and so much more. In Florida and the Gulf Coast, myriad snappers, cobia, jacks, assorted tunas and sailfish, whether bait fishing or vertical jigging. Out West, anglers will use Cortez to cast live baits, bottom bounce California halibut, throw surface iron for yellowtail or swim baits for albacore offshore and bottom fish inshore.

With three sizes and  a focus on fluid casting, internal strength and drag power, there’s little Cortez cannot do.

White Sea Bass

Delivering 18-pounds of max drag from the size 10 and 12, Cortez puts the brakes on structure-oriented fish like this beautiful white sea bass.

Team Rezkill Wins Islamorada Dolphin Tournament!

Conditions were downright ugly for the Islamorada Dolphin Tournament, which took place on June 4th and 5th, but not unfishable. Capt. Luis M Perez, Ryan Smith, Audie Lim Sang, Mike Walker and Ray Ragolta pulled off the dock Saturday morning with a full load of goggle eyes.

Team Rezkill 36' Contender

Team Rezkill's fishing platform is a 36' Contender with triple Yamaha 300's.

The plan for the tournament, run-and-gun using feeding birds to locate the dolphin that were pushing up bait from below. “Run” might be an overstatement, as 10-12 foot seas made the going slow and the visibility challenging. The rig of choice: size 65 Cedros baitfeeder spinning reels loaded with Sunline 40-pound mono. 60-pound leaders, looped via Bimini Twist and finished with 8/0 Gamakatsu offset hooks.  Live goggle eyes were cast to schools, baitfeeder released to allow the bait to swim freely, then wait for the take.  Allowing plenty of time to eat the bait, with a turn of the reel handle the baitfeeding function is ceased and the drag system engaged.  A straightforward approach, and in calmer conditions, a ton of fun.

Dolphin at gaff

Big seas made for few photos and interesting conditions for locating solid fish.

Thirty miles Southeast of Islamorada, the birds became plentiful, as did the fish. The problem…small fish. Loads of 5- to 8-pound models. A dime a dozen. The kind of fish that make for a fun day, but not a tournament win. In the Islamorada Dolphin Tournament, teams are allowed to weigh just 2 fish a day, with the top three fish creating the final team weight (if a team weighs 4, the smallest is dropped). Quantity in this case is of little value, it’s quality and locating good fish on each day that wins.

Taking a beating at every turn only to find ongoing numbers of small fish, Team Rezkill changed the plan mid-morning. Instead of looking for the next school in hopes of scoring a quick big fish, they chose to sit on a large school in hopes of working a larger fish from below the more aggressive bailers. The tactic produced a standout 9-pound fish in fairly short order. Sticking with the approach then yielded the first really solid fish, an 18-pound cow, but no more from the school.  Rezkill is forced to go back on the hunt.

Whale Shark

A visit from a whale shark is taken as a good omen and always a welcomed sight.

Now getting late, the next batch of birds has just two fish beneath it. One beautiful bull that takes 2 baits but spits them both, and a 20-pound cow that finishes Rezkill’s day one total weight of roughly 38-pounds.

Day two is no nicer than day one, although Rezkill’s 38-pounds has them in second place behind a weight of 42-pounds.  In the running, motivation is as high as the seas.

Fishing is tough.  Again lots of small fish, but no quality.  The day becomes a long grind and finally after 3pm, the bow is pointed for the marina.  Still working for fish on the way in, a very thin weed line shows off the starboard side. With no fish on board and a never-give-up attitude, two baits are set to slow troll the edge of the weeds on Cedros CLD-20 lever drag reels, custom rods and the same line/leader setups.

Team Rezkill and Tournament Big Fish

Team Rezkill with the both the tournament's big fish and the one that put them into first place.

Not 30 minutes into the trolling effort a 17-pound cow awakens a clicker.  Now with one worthy fish on the boat, the visions of a second place finish are growing stronger.  Short on time, new baits are slid out the back and it takes less than 10 minutes for a 27-pound bull, the big fish of the tournament, to inhale the bait.  Bottom of the ninth, two outs and Rezkill jacks one out of the yard.

In baseball the game would be complete, but in sport fishing you have to make the dock. With less than an hour and a half to make weigh-in and still over 20 miles out, Rezkill had to press the 36′ Contender and triple Yamaha 300’s through the still relentless 10- to 12-footers.  Victory often comes with a bit of a price.

The last minute 27-pounder sealed up first place honors paying $6,000 and the tournament’s big fish honors, worth another $1,000.  Bragging rights until 2012, however, are “priceless”.

Congratulations to Team Rezkill from all of us at Okuma!