Hi folks. I'm new to the forums, and I'm looking forward to learning a lot. I did some catfishing when I was younger, but never very seriously. Now that I'm getting back into it, I'd like to gear myself up a little better. It's not often that I spend $100+ on a reel, so I'm trying to make the most informed decision I can here. I'm looking for a baitcaster that is up to the task of tackling some big cats, though what I will typically be handling something more in the 20-25lb range at the high end (there are some much bigger out there, but I don't typically run into them - it'd just be nice to not get worked over if I do). I normally fish rivers (nothing huge) and lakes, bank mostly. Here are some of the primary features I'm looking for: It needs to be smooth casting. I'm still working on my baitcaster chops. I need to be able to get good distance with it. I'll probably be using an 8' MH action rod, though I could go 8.5 to 9'. I'd like to have a bait alert, but this is not a deal-breaker by any means. I prefer a centrifugal breaking system. I'm willing to sacrifice just a bit of cranking power for retrieval speed, but not too much. I've been considering the following reels, though I am certainly open to other suggestions: Abu Garcia 6500CP Catfish Pro Rocket Abu Garcia 6500TCCF "Green Cat" Various Penn reels. I'm not sure I'm ok with the lower gear ratios, though. Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated.