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My Abel Fly Reels

There are a lot of great high end fly reels out there and my top pick are Abels. I don’t claim that Abel Fly Reels are better than Islanders, or Tibors, etc. just that I use and love them. I’ve been using Abels for over 20 years now.

I don’t own any large arbor reels of any type. I do like them, although they weight a bit more, and I may invest in some when I start pursuing bonefish and tarpon and offshore species more frequently (like when the kids grow up), or then again, I may not. There #1 advantage is that you can retrieve, i.e. wind line up, faster. This can certainly be an advantage with fish that make multiple long runs.

The first Abel I bought was an Abel #2, now known as the Big Game Standard Arbor #2 reel. It holds a 7 weight line and 300 yards of 20 pound backing, an 8 weight line with 275 yards of 20 pound backing, and a 9 weight line with a bit over 200 yards of backing.

I used it primarily for bonefish and striped bass. Eventually I bought a spare spool so I could switch lines easily, for example from a #8 floater to a #9 floater when it was very windy or a #7 floater when there was little wind. When fishing in my home waters (New Hampshire and Maine) I usually had a 9 weight intermediate line and 9 weight fast sinking line on the two spools. Eventually I bought the rest of the reel, so I had two complete Abel 2s, which made switching lines far faster that when I had to swap spools on the reel. This was especially true when fly fishing in the surf at night!

And eventually I bought another #2 so I had three of them. At home I’m have a floater, an intermediate, and a fast sinking line usually. When fishing elsewhere, for example out of a skiff in the keys, I could have three rods rigged and ready, for example 7, 8, and 9 weight.

Somewhere along the line I also bought am Abel #3, which is a much bigger reel. It holds a 10 weight line and 275 yards of 30 pound backing and an 11 weight line with 250 yards of 30 pound backing. I initially used it for tarpon on an 11 weight rod and then switched to a 10 weight rod. I also used it a lot for general offshore fishing, like small tuna, sharks, amberjacks, trevally and more.

No surprise, I now own two Abel #3s. They currently have an intermediate line and a fast sinking Teeny line on them, and I use them on my 10 weight when chasing striped bass in bigger water or when it’s very windy.

I don’t fish much freshwater compared to salt, but a #2 Abel is great for bigger trout on say a 6 weight rod. I don’t use it for trout at home, but it’s been great out West and in New Zealand!

So I’ve got 5 Abels, three #2s and two #3s. These cover most of my saltwater and some freshwater fishing too. And of course I’ve got a few other reels too, like a Lamson, a Billy Pate, System 2, and more . . .

Abel Fly Reels are widely available, and I bought my first from a local fly shop I loved (no longer in business).

You may be able to find them locally, or you can find all the models of Abel Fly Reels at  RiverBum,  a well established and trustworthy Fly Fishing Shop.