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Pflueger President XT Review

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The Pflueger President XT promises to take the well-respected President lineup to the next level, justifying a price tag that’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 50% higher.

Does it deliver the goods?

If you fish a 30-, 35-, or 40-size spinning reel, I’d say yes.

Faster than you’d expect, the higher gear ratio and excellent aluminum pinion gear deliver outstanding performance. When speed makes the difference between slack and tight lines, that’s something worth paying for, and for a medium-sized reel, these XTs are plenty svelte.

Related: Best Spinning Reels

Pfleuger is a name trusted by many, many anglers, and I’ve met folks on the water that won’t buy anything else.

So when the company announced an improved version of the famous President spinning reel, we had to have a look!

Is the Pflueger President XT everything it’s advertised to be?

Is it worth the extra money?

Let’s find out!

Specifications and performance

pflueger president xt spinning reel review

Available at: Amazon | Bass Pro | FishUSA

Sizes: 20, 25, 30, 35, and 40

Maximum drag: 6 lbs. (20), 8 lbs. (25), 10 lbs. (30), 12 lbs. (35), 14 lbs. (40)

Line capacity: 20 180/4 125/6 100/8

25 200/4 140/6 110/8

30 275/6 190/8 160/10

35 250/8 220/10 160/14

40 320/10 280/14 200/20

Bearings: 7 (20); 10 (25, 30, 35, and 40)

Gear ratio: 5.2: 1 (20 and 25); 6.2:1 (30, 35, and 40)

Weight: 5.6 (20), 6.6 oz. (25), 7.6 oz. (30),9.1 oz. (35), 10.1 oz. (40)

Drag

The very first thing I look at on any reel - of any size and price-point - is the drag.

Essential to protect your line from breakage, a good drag should be predictably smooth with no stops and starts to create sudden overwhelming loads.

The drag on the Pflueger president XT is very good, providing reliably smooth performance at roughly 1/3rd the test strength each reel is designed for. Maximum numbers are modest but well within the range that you’re looking for, with the diminutive 20 offering 6 pounds of drag. Each size steps up by 2 pounds from there, yielding numbers that feel just right for their size.

Pflueger uses the traditional oil felt drag system rather than a carbon fiber disc. That’s almost certainly a nod in the direction of price, and though the drag works really well, longevity will almost certainly be an issue when compared to carbon.

That’s just a fact, but I don’t think it’s a real knock against the XT.

As you’d expect, the drag knob is located on the forward end of the spool.

Gearing

Perhaps the biggest difference between the President and the upgraded XT can be found in the gearing, with the XT sporting an aluminum main shaft and pinion gear. That cuts the weight of these reels by about 15% without compromising their fighting strength.

Given that this lineup is designed as an upgrade, an aluminum shaft makes sense. Much lighter than the steel of the President, the XT offers a winning combination of durability, strength, and light weight.

The pinion gear is precision-machined aluminum, providing a very smooth feel with each crank and plenty of head-turning power.

These excellent materials are available in two gear ratios: 5.2: 1 for the 20 and 25 and 6.2:1 for the 30, 35, and 40.

That leaves the 20 and 25 retrieving no more line than the standard President, which is still no slouch at 20.7 and 22.4 inches per turn, respectively. Neither fast nor slow, that’s a pretty good Goldilocks point for these little performers.

But when you increase the reel size of the XT to the 30, 35, and 40, that larger gear ratio really starts to strut its stuff. 31, 35, and 38 inches per turn, respectively, burn past the standard President line, and these are truly fast spinning reels that allow you to contend with larger, faster fish making a run straight for your boat.

That’s an impressive improvement, and for anglers who feel the need for speed, there’s no question that the XT is worth the extra cash over and above the standard President.

Anti-reverse is instant, yielding excellent hook sets and forcing your fish to take drag immediately.

Spool capacity

Expect the standard Pflueger spools on the President XT, with identical capacities to the President lineup.

Listed in braid diameters by the manufacturer, you won’t find super-capacities available should you elect to spool on some mono or fluorocarbon but rather spool sizes that are well-matched to the overall size of the reel.

The result is industry-standard: nothing to write home about, but nothing to worry about, either.

Casting and retrieving

If there’s an Achilles’ heel on the President XT, it’s issues bearing smoothness (and lubrication).

Loaded with bearings, these reels are smooth as silk on the showroom floor but sometimes start to complain within just a few weeks or months. Lubrication from the factory (or quality control) may be spotty - we can’t say for sure - but too many folks complain about noisy bearings and gritty performance for it to be a fluke.

Most of the reported problems with line catching the spool are probably due to improper spooling by the angler in question (no offense intended!), though there have been a few credible reports in which seasoned fishermen had trouble, switched line types, and kept having issues.

Is that a deal-breaker?

I’m not sure, and a lot would depend on the return policy of the vendor you use.

The XT upgrades the crank and crank knob of the President, offering carbon fiber and rubberized cork. 

Certainly lighter and stronger than the base model, this crank arm is an upgrade most anglers will be willing to pay for, though some people can’t stand the new crank knob.

Final Verdict

The Pflueger President XT promises to take the well-respected President lineup to the next level, justifying a price tag that’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 50% higher.

Does it deliver the goods?

If you fish a 30-, 35-, or 40-size spinning reel, I’d say yes.

Faster than you’d expect, the higher gear ratio and excellent aluminum pinion gear deliver outstanding performance. When speed makes the difference between slack and tight lines, that’s something worth paying for, and for a medium-sized reel, these XTs are plenty svelte.

But if you need a 20- or 25-size spinner, I’m not sure that the usual spool capacity and gear ratio, minus a few ounces, really make a huge difference.

About The Author
Pete D
Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Pete grew up fishing on the Great Lakes. When he’s not out on the water, you can find him reading his favorite books, and spending time with his family.
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