About the Author:
John Merwin lives in Vermont, where, when he's not tying flies, building lures, or digging up worms with his backhoe, he writes the monthly Fishing Column for Field & Stream magazine.

Powered By:

Recent Comments
Comment Archive
100 reader comments to read and reply to. Click here!

Blog Roll



« Death by Sinker | Main | Hey, Sucker… »

August 08, 2008

This page has been moved to http://www.fieldandstream.com/blogs/honest-angler

If your browser doesn’t redirect you to the new location, please visit The The Honest Angler at its new location: www.fieldandstream.com/blogs/honest-angler.

The World’s Best Reel?

So I happen to think the world’s best fishing reel is the Abu Garcia 6000-series wide-spool baitcaster. No, it’s not a reel for most bass fishing, being a little too big for that. But it’s perfect for everything from steelhead to walleyes (trolling) to big pike and stripers. The same-size reel comes in a variety of styles. The price is right at about $80.00 for a 6500C3 base model; much more for some of the exotic variations in the 6000 International Series.

The reels are easy to take apart, clean, and maintain. There are also a lot of aftermarket parts like special bearings, magnetic controls, and power handles for those who want to customize their own. Some reels are better performers or better made or more elegantly machined, but none to my mind comes close to this combination of value, performance, and versatility.

I wrote much more extensively about this in our August 2008 issue, which you can check for details. Meanwhile, we can also toss it around here: What’s the one best overall fishing reel?


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The World’s Best Reel?:


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Jose Hemanda

Why none other than the Zebco 33, of course!


I fondly remember the Zebco 202. Of course I was seven so anything was cool. I have to agree on the Abu Garcia, my friend recomended one to me and I have always been pleased. This reel is a nice compromise between Wall-Mart specials and super expensive reels.


I agree with the Abu Garcia 6000's. I had borrowed a friend's rod so equipped on a muskie trip last year after I was having issues with the reel on my main rod. I've since purchased four used ones primarily for muskie, trolling, and the occassional lazy day of catfishing.


Hey! I use a 6000 for bass. Am I not supposed to? Are other fishermen laughing at me behind my back? Oh, dear ... why'd ya have to go and give me a complex? Should I go clean out the algae from my old Zebco 33 and use that instead? Maybe I'll tell 'em I'm fishin' for pike.


Looks like I know what to get m'self for Christmas this year!


Glad somebody is showing the Zebcos some love. Push button, tangle free, there's something to be said for simplicity.

(Oh, and FYI, the I tried to subscribe to this blog via the RSS feed in the lower left of the page, but it subscribes me to The Gun Nut instead, looks like a bad link)


Okay, I agree about the Zebcos to a point. Push-button reels certainly have and do enable many people to get into fishing who might not otherwise. But for stepping up to serious gamefish....I don't think so.

troutrageous1, thanks for the tip re RSS feed.....I'll point that out to F&S Mission Control and see if we can get that fixed......

The Royal Coachman

I enjoyed that article John. I plan on purchasing that reel for Party Boat Fluke fishing here in New Jersey.

Richard Smith

Nice reel. However, I have a question: Can you tell us about fishing for trout with ultra-light spinning tackle; with or without flies. I'm interested in what lures to use, how to set up the tackle, how to present to the fish and any other tips that might be helpful.

Blue Ox

I like this reel and plan to buy one soon, but I have a few questions- What is the drag rated at? I'm gonna be lookin to hook up with some big mississippi river catfish, and would like to know what kind of rod would be best paired with said reel for that paticular application.
Lastly, what type of line (braided or mono)& what pound test would you suggest?
Thanks much!


BlueOx -
I'm not sure what the drag is rated at for the ambassadeur series, however the reel should have no difficulty at all man-handling big Mississippi hawgs. I have frequently landed 40-50lb fish with mine, and know of specific instances when they have handled much bigger fish. I like to pair mine with a UglyStik catfish model (shakespeare makes many suitable rods), but there are many custom rod makers including some by a company called Catfish Safari that make excellent rods as well. Try pairing your reel with a 30 or 40 lb mono like Berkley Trilene Big Game, I think you'll like the results.


Blue Ox: I generally agree with bnorth's comments (for which thanks) and add the following:
Abu upgraded the drag washers in those reels a couple of years ago, and you should now be able to get about 23 pounds of drag force--more than ample. Those who have older reels should consider getting new drag washers from the Abu (Pure Fishing) service department.


Richard Smith: I really enjoy ultralight spinning and have for a long time. I'll try to remember to do a blog posting on that topic later this week. If you jump into the comments section of that post, I may be able to answer some of your questions, so stay tuned...

Brian T

I'm still using a 25yr-old 7000 reel on a 9' Eagle Claw rod. Would never dream of trading up or down.


I'll agree on the Abu Garcia part of it. The one reel I like even more than the 2 6500's I have. Is the 5500. Same reel but I feel that the 6500 is to big of a reel for my muskie fishing, I have 3 maybe 4 of these in the boat. I even converted some of my 5500's to clickers. When any body ever asks what reels to get I always tell them Abu Garcia for Casting, Mitchell (300) or Shimano for spinning. Just my opinion.

Bill G

Now were talkin...I use a 5000D Abu Garcia for trolling. I've used it for downrigging and for pulling cowbells for trout. Would'nt trade it. Also my first spinning reel was a Mitchell 300 I found on the banks of Brush Creek in Colorado in the 1950s. I still have two other Mitchell 300s in service today. I like the old stuff.


I think the Zebco is very overrated, as it is fine for kids, but it wears out quick when you use it a lot or are serious about fishing. I don't know how many spool pins I've busted off of them. I'll stick to my Pinnacle VS65 and Pinnacle Metal. lol


P.S. My main quarry for the VS, since it is a baitcaster, is catfish. The drag is great and it is really smooth. I pair it with a Cabela's King Kat 8-ft E-Glass rod. Works awesome!


Lots of good comments in this series....good going!

Mr. R. Coachman: Thanks for the kind word. You'll enjoy that reel for fluke. I use some 6500s a lot in saltwater. Don't forget to gently rinse yours with fresh water after a trip.

Al and BillG: I use 5000s, too, which are essentially the same reel with a narrower spool and frame. How did you do the clicker conversion? By using a 6500 sideplate (which has a clicker) on a 5500 reel? Just curious....


Mr. R. Coachman asked about the clicker Conversion. Yes I bought a 6500 plate and swapped it out. It's probably cheaper in the long run to just purchase the 6500. I did it for the sake of having a custom 5500.


Thanks for posting that explanation. I really love hearing about that kind of ingenuity!

Dr. Ralph

I love the 6000 series. You can troll or cast or use it for anything, and they're indestructable with miles of line. I use Fireline I think it's 30/12 and you can pull up stumps. My favorite is a 6500 C4 (the blue one). My kids want a spinning reel for everything, or a Zebco 33! Ambassaduer, Shimano Stradic or Zebco 33 are the ones that work in every field at a reasonaable price.

Just found this site even though I have a link to Heavey's site and your face is on it...

Dr. Ralph

Really I'm an Abu-Garcia fanatic... it all started about 40 years ago when I had run out of patience with Zebco (cheap), didn't like the Mitchell's, and my Johnson Century was great for everything and my favorite until I was introduced to Chautauqua County Muskellunge. Then some old old man I had never met but had been watching me fish every day from the crack of dawn on paddled up to me in a wooden row boat after seeing me lose yet another Muskie and said here's a present. Keep it forever. It was a red 4 screw Ambassaduer 5000 and I still have it. This man may have been GOD himself. I never looked back and buy nearly every product Abu-Garcia produces. I still like my Eon as a bass reel, but the Blue 6500 is always with me. The super line has made it cast farther and I never lose a lure...

Brian in California

There once was a man from South Cali,
Who loved to be out on the sea.
Wind in the hair, and rod in the hand,
Fishin’ all day with his Abu Garci’.
Now a big halibut hooked at the bottom,
Will need to be dragged from the deep.
The Sandies and Kelpies take patience,
But none can beat the Abu Garci’.
This man took a trip to the island,
Looking for the home guard Yellows.
By the time they were on bite, he felt undergunned,
From the comments on his reel by ‘is fellows.
But he hooked him a nice size fighter,
And it ran and it dove and it jumped.
After 30 minutes of battle, the big fish was boated,
And he looked down at his Abu Garci’.
He knew they had slayed some nice trophies,
With never a so much as a twitch.
He felt bad for letting his buddies,
Make him question using the reel on this trip.
Looking down at the reel he was holding,
He spoke above a whisper just barely,
You’re a better reel than I deserve Abu Garci’.

Brian in California

Sorry, the above was meant for the win-a-reel contest. Re-posting over there now...