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Pflueger President XT Review: Is It a Worthy Upgrade?

pflueger president xt spinning reel review
Reviewed by: Pete Danylewycz
Last Updated:

Pflueger President XT Review

pflueger president xt spinning reel review
USAngler Rating: 

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.

The Pflueger President XT reel is an upgraded version of the well-respected President reel, offering improvements in gearing and weight reduction. The reel has a reliable drag system, utilizing an oil felt drag system, though it may not be as long-lasting as carbon fiber drag systems. The major upgrade comes in the form of an aluminum main shaft and pinion gear which significantly reduces the reel's weight by about 15%, without compromising on its strength.

The XT offers two gear ratios, with the higher gear ratio on the 30, 35, and 40 size reels providing a fast line retrieve, which is advantageous when dealing with larger, faster fish. However, the 20 and 25 size reels do not offer much improvement in terms of gear ratio compared to the standard President reel.The reel has standard spool capacities, and while it's smooth initially, there have been some concerns regarding the bearing smoothness and lubrication over time, which may lead to noisy bearings and gritty performance. The upgraded crank and crank knob are lighter and stronger, although the new crank knob may not appeal to everyone.

Overall, the Pflueger President XT reel is a notable upgrade for anglers in need of a faster, medium-sized reel, but may not offer significant advantages in the smaller 20 or 25 size reels.

Pros

  1. Trusted Brand: Pfleuger is a reputable name in the fishing industry, known for delivering reliable products.
  2. Weight Reduction: The use of an aluminum main shaft and pinion gear significantly reduces the reel's weight by about 15%, which can make a difference in handling and fatigue.
  3. Improved Gearing: The XT version offers improved gearing, particularly in the 30, 35, and 40 size reels, which have a higher gear ratio for faster line retrieval - a benefit when dealing with larger, faster fish.
  4. Reliable Drag System: The oil felt drag system is noted for providing smooth performance, essential for protecting the line from breakage.
  5. Upgrade Options: The reel offers upgraded features like a better crank and crank knob compared to the base model, which could enhance the fishing experience.

Cons

  1. Longevity Concerns with Drag System: The traditional oil felt drag system, although functional, may not have the longevity of a carbon fiber drag system.
  2. Bearing Smoothness Issues: There are reported concerns regarding bearing smoothness and lubrication over time, which may affect the reel's performance and necessitate additional maintenance.
  3. Potential Spooling Issues: Some reports of line catching the spool, although this could be due to improper spooling by the user, it might pose a challenge for some anglers.
  4. Limited Improvement in Smaller Reel Sizes: The 20 and 25 size reels do not offer significant improvements in gear ratio, making the upgrade less compelling for anglers in need of smaller reel sizes.
  5. Higher Price Point: The XT comes at a higher price point which may not justify the upgrades for every angler, especially those looking for smaller reel sizes.
  6. Crank Knob Preference: The new crank knob design may not appeal to everyone and could be a matter of personal preference.

Specifications

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)

Analysis and Results

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!

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 Danylewycz
Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Pete grew up fishing on the Great Lakes. Whether he's casting a line in a quiet freshwater stream or battling a monster bass, fishing is his true passion.
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Kevin R. Briggs
Kevin R. Briggs
1 year ago

I absolutely love my Pflueger President XT-40s that I have on my speckled trout and puppy drum rods. I fished a XT-25 today for the first time. It was equally as smooth as the larger model. I will continue to use these reels and with proper maintenance, am hopeful that I will not experience issues with the bearings.

Kevin Horsley
Kevin Horsley
2 years ago

I have two of the 30 size reels on g Loomis rods ,use them for dropshot and tubes, nether makes bearing noise and can out run smallmouth on st.ckair, in two-3 years of owning both, honestly I've lost maybe 3 fish out of 100. I've even landed monster sheep head and a few walleye.Seaguar 6 lb test is what's on em.Worth the Xtra cash and I prefer the cork knobs and carbon fiber handle. Good Article, Good Buy.Ill buy more if needed in future.