Re: Beginner Musky Setup
I primarily use Abu Garcia Ambassaduer series reels. Not because they are the best or because they never wear out, but because they are affordable and when they do wear out, I have found Abu's service department accomodating. I have always got parts, or sent reels to be fixed for relatively cheap, and the few reels that have had problems within the reel's warranty period (usually due to my abuse when it comes down to it) has been replaced for free. I use a 6500 series (around $100)for smaller baits, and the 7000 series ($150 or so) for cowgirls, bulldawgs etc. These are matched with appropriately sized Gander Musky Extreme rods which run from around $90 to $120 or so.
I do have a Shimano Curado reel(about $65-70) that is pretty much low end. This thing has surprisingly held up for 6 years or so(longer than anything else) with no repairs. Of course, I tend to have it as my 3rd option on the boat, and primarily throw smaller plastics and topwaters on it. Being rigged on a Bass-Pro (Pete Maina) glass/graphite composite rod, which gives a bit with the heavy braided line, probably has helped the drag life on that one.
I even have one spinning reel (Shimano 4000 or so I think)rigged on a St. Croix rod (gift) for the non-casters that go with me. It has caught a lot of fish; but, the reel handle is bent a bit from one of the hooksets I think.
I would say I am probably one of the "cheap" guys who are into it though. I would love to be able to give you some first-hand info on Revo Toros or Shimano Calcuttas, but they are a bit out of my price range. Of course, if you are just getting into it, maybe spending more on one of these upfront will save $ in the long run. Good luck!
There is always a season!