Buying an ABU 6500 was actually more difficult than I thought it would be. Usually, I get my fishing tackle one of two ways:
1. Sometimes, companies send Anglers' Net items for review.
2. I go out and buy whatever it is I want and tell the wife that it was sent to me for review.
Well, after 10 years of running Anglers' Net and not so much as a press release from Pure Fishing, it was obvious that number 2 was the only option and a little white lie to the wife was on the cards!
When I buy fishing tackle, I usually ring a few friends and see what they recommend. This is where the difficulty arose....I phoned a few people and asked which of the many variations of the modern ABU 6500 reels I should get. The response was almost the same from everyone; “No idea, mate. I've had mine 15 years (or more!).” You can't really get a better testament to build quality than that, especially when you consider that one of the respondents freely admitted to never rinsing his reels and often leaving them outside for lengthy periods!
There was only one option available to me, and that was to ring somebody in the trade.
I spoke to an old friend of mine, Mike Thrussell Jnr. Mike is the son of Mike Thrussell Snr., a well respected angling journalist/author and the name behind WorldSeaFishing.com. I told Mike that I wanted a 6500 and that I needed it mainly for beach fishing around East Anglia, where the ground is pretty clean. My main criteria was that I wanted one that would maximise my casting, which isn't that great, whilst giving me hassle-free fishing. The last thing I wanted was bird's nest after bird's nest at night, on a freezing cold beach. So, unsurprisingly, Mike suggested the most expensive one in the range. Having seen versions of the 6500 for as little as £50, he had some selling to do before he got any card details from me!
There are a number of reels that would have fitted the bill, to be honest. A few of my mates have Penn 525 Mags, and they seem extremely competent reels. The main reasons I wanted Abu's were that I use 7000's for boat fishing (and even a 5500 for bass fishing) and know they're good reels. Also, my late father used to use them and I have fond memories of them. In fact, I'm amazed that it has taken me this long to buy a pair, considering that I own quite a collection of other reels!
Suffice to say, the price tag of the Abu 6500 C3 CT Mag Hi-Speed needed some justifying, so Mike explained to me that they ticked all the boxes that I'd suggested and that, over time, they'd more than repay me and I'd always be wishing I'd bought them if I went for a 'lesser' model. In hindsight, he was right. Not only that, but a quick search on Ebay revealed that you couldn't pick these reels up much cheaper second hand. I dare say a dedicated Ebayer could pick them up occasionally, but not two in quick succession. My mind was made up.
The reels arrived the next day, along with some line and other bits that I just happened to 'need', and I set about putting some line on. I'd been advised to put a small 'bump' of line on one side of the spool first, then a matching 'bump' on the other side and then one in the middle, before filling the gaps in between and then spooling as usual. Apparently, this helps to balance the spool on any multiplier. I have no idea if it works, but sometimes it's no good asking people for advice and then not following it.
I was itching to get out and try the reels, but the tides were all wrong and there weren't any good reports coming in. Obviously, I totally ignored all of that and went fishing anyway! A more sensible person would have probably found a field and gone there in the daylight, just to get used to casting their new reel. I'm not all that sensible, so chose a beach, in the dark. In winter.
As far as I can work out, the 6500 Hi-Speed has a pretty complicated braking system, consisting of a mechanical brake, centrifugal brakes and magnetic brakes. I've read around the subject and have a very basic knowledge of how they work but, to be honest, I don't actually care all that much – I'm an angler, not an engineer. It would seem that the mechanical and centrifugal brakes stop bird's nests at the initial point of casting and as the bait hits the water, whilst the magnetic brakes look after things in mid-flight.
Again, I did as I was told and set the mag brake to full to begin with, whilst slackening off the mechanical/centrifugal brake a bit. It was just starting to get dark as I tied on a weight, just to give it a quick flick in order to get some tension in the new line, and cast.
CRIKEY! I thought I'd cracked off! The lead went a lot further than I expected and the reel ran so smoothly that I was certain something was wrong. But no, the weight hit the water, I applied a bit of thumb pressure and everything was as expected. I couldn't believe the difference a top-of-the-range reel made. Okay, you need a basic knowledge of casting to get a bait out there, but couple with my Daiwa rod, the new ABU 6500 put a lot of yards onto my basic cast!
I made one more cast and then set the rod up with a baited rig and cast again. Okay, not as far as with just a weight on, obviously, but better than I'd expected. The process was repeated with my other reel.
To say I was overjoyed with these reels would be an understatement. Casting was smooth and the fast retrieve rate meant that my weight was back on the beach in no time at all. Everything about the reels was uncomplicated, which is exactly what I'd wanted. The only thing I did find odd, at first, was just how quiet they run. I expected to hear a bit of noise!
All I needed now was a fish.
And, as if by magic, two plump codling obliged in quick succession, one on each rod. I couldn't believe my luck! Although not huge, these fish were nudging the 4lb mark, so it wasn't a case of just dragging them in. They actually fought back a bit! The reels gave me no bother. I'd set the clutches quite loose, anyway, a throwback to when I hadn't sorted a reel out on a boat one day and a big bass smashed me to pieces. Nowadays, I pay a bit more attention to preparation.
To write a good review, I'm told that you should find a couple of negative things to say about the product. At this stage, I'm struggling. These reels are better at being reels than I am at being an angler – in fact, the only 'negative' thing I can think of is that it's taking me a bit of time to trust them. I learnt to cast over 25 years ago, using cheap Penn reels and then Mitchell 602AP multipliers, which, whilst good reels in their time, needed a bit of tender care during the cast and taught me to become an expert at untangling fishing line. I still find my thumb straying towards the spool when casting my new Abu's, and it's going to take a certain amount of discipline to be able to let them really fly. That's probably not a bad thing, as it will give me time to work on my casting style, as I'm not the smoothest!
You can buy a new Abu 6500 C3 CT Mag Hi-Speed reel for around the £120 mark. As with any tackle on the internet, you could probably shave a quid or two off on any
given day. However, in these uncertain times, it helps to support a shop that's given you good service over the years, which is why I was happy to buy from the World Sea Fishing tackle shop. Not only do I know they'll look after me if anything does ever go wrong, but I also know that my purchase will go a little way to keeping their excellent sea fishing site running.
Elton Murphy, January 2008