Catching reef fish using Fin_Nor Lethal off Queensland coast

Fin-Nor Lethal Reel Review

Guest writer Nick Philippa shares his thoughts on the Fin-Nor Lethal 100 fishing reel.

Every now and then fishing tackle is released and it far exceeds my expectations. I follow reel reviewer Alan Hawk religiously (, so when he rated the Fin Nor Lethal 100 as the best budget offshore fishing reel he’d reviewed I paid attention (now slightly surpassed by the Quantum Cabo 100/120 PTSE).

So I purchased one about 18 months ago and although this site’s owner Ryan Moody is a field tester for Fin Nor, I’m not endorsed by them or given any benefits, so this review is completely my own opinion based on my experience with the reel.

I raised the idea with Ryan’s wife Karen to write a review as I’ve been pleasantly surprised by this reel and I grab it in favour of much higher priced reels now spending quality time in the rod rack at home.

Fin-Nor Lethal fishing reel review

Fin-Nor Lethal 100 fishing reel

I got the Fin-Nor Lethal 100 reel for about $139 from memory but if you shop around you can definitely find them cheaper on sale. That’s a great price point and initially I purchased it just as a backup/deckie reel and for floating live baits out the back of my boat. Soon after getting it I needed to service my little Stella 8000, which is my usual offshore reef fishing reel, so it stayed at home and the Lethal was used for a few trips in a row.

From the first trip I was impressed by the line capacity and an ultra-smooth and strong drag.

The drag is rated at 20 kg (45 lb) but realistically most fishos don’t need more than about 9 kg or you really start to put your body under some stress during a long fight and raise the chance of pulling the hooks. It does weigh a fair bit more than my Stella but it’s also less than one fifth of the price! If a deckie drops it or bangs it against something I’m not worried. If anyone even touches my Stella I get nervous! And at about $1200 for a new Stella, my wife won’t let me buy another anytime soon, so a reliable cheaper reel is a god send.

On the first trip I was fishing some wonky holes off Cairns, so the first fish with this reel was also my PB saddletail snapper (large mouth nannygai) at 92.5cm and I guess around 12-13kg (not weighted). The reel performed flawlessly so I kept using it solely for several trips as a bait fishing/bottom bashing rod.

Solid Large Mouth Nannygai caught on a wonky hole

The author with a solid Large Mouth Nanny-gai

Second trip and we were out wide of Cairns and got stuck into a big school of long nosed emperor, they can really pull at the larger sizes and we were catching them in the 80cm range so they were puling like mini freight trains. At about 3am that trip my bait got slammed and about ten very tired minutes later a 25kg giant trevally came to the surface, bit rude of him as I had to take a short break. We were also catching more than our fair share of red bass (I can’t seem to get away from them lately!) and chinaman fish.

The following trip we were inundated by sharks around the metre in length, annoying leather skinned streamlined rockets that they are, cranking up the drag to minimise the fight provided no issues and I could easily stop and turn them.

Since then I’ve caught just about everything on this reel from big cod to decent trout and just about everything in between.

Reef fishing using the Fin-Nor Lethal 100 spinning reel

Just can't get away from the Red Bass!

I’ve had the drag locked up on small to medium sharks to try and either land them quickly or snap them off and the reel under a lot pressure has handled perfectly. I have heard of one guy snapping his reel handle on a dogtooth tuna, however Fin Nor replaced it quickly with no issues. I haven’t heard of any other issues at all.

The weight makes this a heavier reel to use during an all-night session but if I can manage it easily most folks won’t have a problem, I hold my combo during the whole session too so I’m not taking any long breaks.

The biggest thing is the price, I’m tempted to get a few more as spare reels on my boat just in case they stop production one day, along with an ultra-smooth and impressive drag and a very good line holding capacity this is a bargain and I highly recommend it.

Good on Fin Nor for giving the Aussie market an affordable quality reel, I personally wish we saw more of that from other manufacturers. One last point is that I always inspect the inside of new reels and unfortunately often not enough grease or oil has been placed on and inside of a reel so a quick service is needed, I’m incredibly surprised to find a reel that didn’t need any attention, it was ready to fish right out of the box.

Great stuff! I absolutely recommend this reel.

Love to hear your reel related comments in the discussion box below.



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For more great fishing content including in depth training on how to find and catch tropical speedsters like barra and threadfin, or finding illusive fish holding gems called Wonky Holes, check out Ryan's online fishing education website FISH SMARTER.

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About The Author

Nick Philippa

Nick Philippa is a fishing writer from North Queensland. Nick has chased a variety of species from fly fishing for trout in Tasmania, to pelagics in the Torres Strait. Nick enjoys reef fishing for various species such as saddletail snapper (large-mouth nannygai), coral trout and spanish mackerel and has a passion for finding new ground on his Garmin sidevu 95sv, including uncharted wrecks, pinnacles, reef bommies and wonky holes. Nick is an experienced lure fisherman and also enjoys fishing freshwater impoundments for barramundi. Nick writes for various Australian fishing magazines covering a range of topics from gear reviews, interviews and knot strength testing. He has recently commenced writing articles for Ryan Moody Fishing and has completed and highly recommends the suite of Ryan Moody's online training courses, Barra Basics, Wonky Holes and Thready Tactics.

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1 Comment

  • Nick P

    Reply Reply August 3, 2017

    Thanks for the reply Luke, sorry to hear about your reel problems, i’ve heard of that happening once before, personally I’ve caught some big fish on mine and really put it through its paces and fortunately haven’t had an issue. For the price I think it’s excellent but for deep dropping if you’re having issues sounds like you might want to choose a different reel possibly? I’ll chat to Ryan as he talks to Fin Nor and see if the issue has been happening a bit and see if they are bringing out a new version. Thanks for your time.

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