May 14

The Ross Reel Sale

Ya know, I totally missed this. I’m not sure how that happened. I knew Ross and S.A. were sold to Orvis and I thought it made pretty good sense. Orvis has struggled to convince many anglers that they are an every-man company, suffering from a stodgy image (undeservedly, in my opinion). Another way of looking at their problem would be to say that guys aren’t putting Orvis stickers on their Yeti coolers.

Ross, now Ross is an every-man brand and you actually do see Ross stickers on Yetis every now and again. Ross could bring some of that Yetiness to Orvis and that would seem to be a pretty good pickup.

Then, when I wasn’t paying any attention, Orvis turned around and sold Ross (while keeping S.A.) to the Mayfly group (which also owns Abel).

Ross used to be very strong on the Made in the USA theme and Abel is as well. Ross is mid-market price-wise and Abel is way, way, way at the top. The two do compliment one another, so that is nice, but I’m still scratching my head over the Orvis purchase and then sale of Ross. I guess they didn’t have a plan to keep Ross from the start. You can’t say they gave it a shot in just a few months.

I’ll be interested to see what comes of the Ross brand. I hope it continues to make reels in the US and I hope they reclaim their place on your Yeti.

Apr 13

Thoughts on the Abel Super 7/8n

I was really interested to fish the Abel Super 7/8n on the trip to the Bahamas. Clearly, it is one of the best fly reels in the game. There are passionate fans of this reel and this brand. I had manhandled a few Abels at shows, asked some questions and snapped some pictures, but I had never fished one. So, when Abel got in touch and asked if I’d be interested in a loaner, I jumped at the chance.

In action.

In action.

Let me just be clear on one point here… I would likely never buy this reel because I’m a cheap SOB and this is more of an investment than I’m willing to make. The reel retails for $700, and gets more expensive from there if you add some of the fantastic art they can put on it. The bonefish graphic will run you another $200.


Pretty. And $900

So, getting past the price thing, I talked to a few people who love their Abels and here are some of the thoughts about why an Abel might actually be worth it.

  • The reel is pretty much bulletproof.
  • Cork drag is silky smooth and everything you’d expect in a quality cork drag.
  • Most of the reel is readily accessible. That means if something breaks, you can fix it. If your sealed drag stops working, you are hosed. If your Abel stops working, you can open it up, take it apart and put it back together.
  • It is a reel you are going to have for a decade or two.

The reel fished well. I can’t say landing 6 bonefish is a real test of what the reel can and cannot do, but I can now understand a little bit more about what it is, what it offers and why people love them. My largest fish of the trip was about 6 pounds and a 6 pound bonefish can really put some excitement in your day. This reel sang the praises of that bone… a good sound. It is not a silent reel. There in an inbound and outbound click. If you are taking in or giving out line, there will be some reel music.

Nothing broke. The drag performed flawlessly. I wish I had more fish on it, but that was the trip I was on.

I was a little surprised when I first got the reel to see that it was right hand retrieve. Turns out most of their customers for the 6 and lower reel left, but at the 7/8 level and above, people reel right. Seems if you are a born saltwater guy, you reel with your dominant hand. If you are a trout guy who eventually fishes the salt, you reel with your off/line hand. I fit into the latter group and the odds are fair to good you do too.

The process to change over the reel was a little bit daunting, but when I actually did it, it ended up taking about 7-10 minutes. Pretty easy. Having everything exposed makes it easy and is the reason the reel is easy to repair in the field. I didn’t need to do any repairs, obviously.

The reel was nice… really nice. I wish it wasn’t $700-900, but then I also wish airfare to the Bahamas was $59. I like that the reel is made here in California and at some point I may go down and check out the factory. They tell me if I saw what was involved in making the reels I’d understand the price. I’m actually not very likely to understand the price, or to pay it, but if you want to pay the cost, you will certainly end up with a reel you’ll fish for the rest of your life and be happy with.

Mar 13

The Quiver

Here’s what I’m bringing to the Bahamas… for my “family” vacation.

I’m bringing three fly rods.

I’m bringing one spinning rod (first time for that).

I’m bringing three fly reels.

I’m bringing one spinning reel (thanks Charlie).

The quiver for Spring Break 2013

The quiver for Spring Break 2013

The gear is almost all mine and almost all on the budget side of things, with the major exception of the Abel Super 7/8n. I’m going to fish the TFO and Abel as my go-to set-up here with the 10 for the cuda and the spinning rig for my daughter and wife.

I think the lines on the fly reels are all RIO. Pretty sure the Lamson’s both have RIO Clouser Tropical lines, which have been kind of my standard lines in the salt, but which, as far as I can see, isn’t in the RIO lineup anymore, although maybe it has just been re-branded. The Abel has the new RIO Quickshooter, which I’m interested to try out.

Mar 13

The Abel Super 7-8n – First look

I recently heard from Abel. I had met a couple guys at the Pleasanton show and they followed up, wondering if I’d be interested in getting my hands on an Abel for my upcoming Grand Bahama trip.


The Super 7/8n

The Super 7/8n

I have never fished an Abel. I know people who love them (like, really love them). They are certainly well established as a premier reel maker. As you may know, I think the reel is pretty important. So, it seemed like a good idea to actually fish one. To be clear, this is a loaner. They didn’t give it to me, they loaned it to me, and after I fish it, I’m going to pay the postage to send it back. The reel is more expensive than I’m likely (or known) to go for. The retail price is a cool $700… not a budget guy’s kind of value buy.

First impressions.

The reel is solid. One thing I noticed right away was how narrow it was (0.85″). I asked the Facebook page about this. Eddie says this is good… he says “Benefit, It helps keep the line from piling up and helps with the speed of retrieve.” That’s what they say at the factory too. The “n” in Super 7/8n stands for “narrow.” The idea is that the line piles up faster as you reel.

Out of the box the Super 7/8n is Right Hand retrieve. I know some folks are RH retrieve, but do you? I don’t. I am LH retrieve, which seems more common to me. So, I had to make the switch. It was a little comical looking at the directions, as there were a lot of them. After getting some good stick from the guys on Facebook for complaining about this, I went ahead and made the switch. There are a few steps involved, but it is doable. Took about 7 minutes… not bad.

I got to talk on the phone to the folks at Abel and they said that up to their Super 6, they ship the reels as LH retrieve, but they find most of their buyers do RH retrieve when it comes to the Super 7/8 or higher. Turns out if you are a trout guy, or coming from a trout background, you reel with your off hand. If you are born into the salt, you reel with your dominant hand. Clearly, a lot of my readers are like me… coming from the low-sodium stuff, as the tally on Facebook was 27 to 5, for non-dominant hand reeling.

So, now the reel is ready. I have the backing on and I’m just waiting for the RIO Bonefish Quickshooter line that is on its way. I’m looking forward to taking the Bentley of fly reels out on the waters of Grand Bahama.

Looking forward to hearing this reel scream.

Mar 13

Others succeeding, where I have failed

Me: Hey, you guys seem to have some great reels.

Them: Gee, thanks. We feel our reels are pretty awesome. Did you see us attach one to a motorcycle?

Me: (cough) Yeah, that was, um, great. Hey, I am running some reel tests simulating normal wear and tear so someone going to Christmas Island can know they can trust your gear.

Them: Testing… um… so, like, what did you have in mind?

Me: Well, I want to attach one to a high speed drill, a bunch of times, like… a whole bunch of times. Then, I want to drop it in sand and put it back on the drill and then drop it in saltwater and put it back on the drill and basically see if the thing breaks. So, what do you say?

Them: HOLD ON Captain Crazypants. No effing way. Who the hell are you, anyway? Ya know, we test these things ourselves and we don’t want you breaking our stuff and then writing bad stuff about us. Didn’t you see the Tesla review thing? We don’t want to go there buddy. How about we pretend you didn’t mention this. Mkay?

Me: Uh… bummer man… bummer.

Yeah, that’s more or less how most of my Reel Testing efforts went. I had a hard time getting a hold of the gear I needed to actually test.

Here’s the thing though… I wasn’t the only guy thinking about this. The folks at Trident Fly Fishing (this is the link with all their results) put together some tests… with like, science and stuff.

I’m a fan of what these guys pulled off. They even forked out some of their own cash to test some of these reels.

The surprises for me came in the form of two reels… first, that Cheeky did so well, tying for 4th… they are new kids on the block, so it is great to see them place so highly alongside established players. Another reel that tied for 4th was the Sage 1880. The 1880 is a $140 reel. That is some good pricing.

The overall winner was the Hatch 7 Plus, and that is not a real shocker. Those that have fished with that reel seem to have found Hatch religion.

I would have liked to have seen some Nautilus reels in there and Galvan too… but this is a pretty solid set of reels. Well done Trident… well done.

From my ill fated reel testing.

From my ill fated reel testing.

Dec 10

Abel, the Super 8 and Rocketry

I have the reels I need to do the jobs I ask of them for about 95% of my angling.  Still, most of what little news emerges from the fly fishing industry is about gear… so… here’s some recent news.

Abel has revamped their workhorse bonefishing/saltwater reel, the Super 7/8 and it is now the Super 7/8N.

The Super

Now… I’ve never fished an Abel that I’m aware of.  I know there are folks that really like these reels and no doubt these cork-drag demons are tough.  I just can’t get past the price though… $700 for a Super N in a large arbor.  Compare that to the Nautilus NV ($540), the Galvan Torque ($320), Ovis’s Mirage ($425), the Opti from Loop ($560)… the only thing that is up there as company is the Tibor QC ($780 or so).

From their press release…

What do you call a fly reel that’s lighter, faster, has greater backing capacity than its predecessors and was precision engineered like something on a space mission? Answer: The Abel Super 7/8N for 2011, which essentially replaces the two longtime workhorse Super 7 and Super 8 reels.

Not only is it space-aged, but the price is astronomical as well (see the pun there?  did you see it?). I’m going to go out on a limb and say I don’t need my reels to go into space or to be designed as if they were.  Could probably knock a couple hundred off the price if they didn’t field test on the space station.

Abel is content to keep putting out products at the very, very, very top of the price range and it seems they have enough buyers to make the economics work.  Between $700 reels and $275 belt buckles (yes… belt buckles), Abel is doing nothing to support the strained relationship between Cheap and Bonefishing.

One of these won’t be holding up my jeans from Target.

Abel… your stuff is pretty.  The sticker shock is intense.

Aug 10

Bonefish and Tarpon Trust to auction Borski Abel Reel

Artist Tim Borski and Abel Reels have once again stepped up to the plate in support of BTT. They have donated a bonefish special edition reel to BTT for auction. BTT has Reel #2 of 100 (Tim has Reel #1). This special edition reel will be auctioned by BTT in the near future. We expect a nice donation from this reel – the Redfish special edition reel donated by Tim and Abel Reels last year fetched more than $3,000. Stay tuned for details on the auction. If you are interested in bidding on this reel and would like to be updated when an auction is scheduled, please email us at bonefish@mote.org.

via Bonefish & Tarpon Trust.

This reel is not remotely in my price range, but if I had the money floating around and I was going to choose between a new couch or this reel, I’d choose this reel.  The Bonefish and Tarpon Trust is the shiznit… although I’m not cool or urban at all enough to pull of using “shiznit.”