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.

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September 10, 2008

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Merwin: Plead Your Case, Win A Reel

Here’s another of what should become a great tradition here at The Honest Angler. We’re giving away a brand-new Abu Garcia 6500C3 baitcast reel, the very same one you saw described as “The World’s Best Reel” in an earlier posting.


All you have to do to have a chance at winning is to post a comment telling me why you need this reel. I’ll review the responses and pick a winner. Make your reasons short and sweet or post your life saga...anything goes. I promise my judging will be arbitrary, capricious, and totally unpredictable. The most accurate answer might win. Or the funniest. Maybe even the most pathetic.

The reel is new and unfished. What you won’t get with it is the original box and paperwork because I can’t remember what I did with them. I think this might be an age-related problem, but I’m not sure of that, either.

Anyway, go for it. I’ll pick a winner in a couple of weeks.


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Mr. Merwin,

I really need this reel because I cannot for the life of me think of one thing to get my wife for Christmas. This would be the ideal gift for the woman in my life that "has everthing"!


I don't need it ... already have one. Just want it to give it, with a rod, to a 16-year old that has lusted over mine. Any suggestions for a good matched rod for bigger bass and pike? Haven't shopped for one in awhile.


Douglas...water shot out my nose laughing at that one. Brilliant!


This past summer I had the mispleasure of watching my 14 year old nephew try to fish with a worn old jetty rod his dad used years ago to troll for stripers. The rod had the plastic eye broken out of a guide and it was floating up and down the line. The reel was an ancient, rusty spinner and the line was worn to the point of bailing wire. If I had this reel I would mount it on a quality rod and give it to said nephew for Christmas with proper tackle and a book on knots and rigs. I was gonna get him an outfit anyway, this would let the outfit be even nicer.


I have children.

They use my stuff.

I no longer have stuff.

'Nuff said.


My kids use my stuff.

I no longer have stuff.

'nuff said.


...and sorry 'bout the multiple posts. Apparently I'm about as dumb as a box of goats today.


Who doesn't need this reel??? Actually, I need a reason to buy another rod!


I have a son who loves to go fishing with his dad. What the hell other reason is there for needing another reel?

Lure Larry

I have 6 sons and 5 daughters who all love to fish. Now I have a grandchild on the way. I NEED another reel. (Actually I could use a couple of them.)


I spent all my money on beer and have none left for tackle

Dr. Ralph

Lure Larry I need to send you some of mine. I already have 3 Abu-Garcia baitcasters all of a higher quality than the C-3 so count me out. Anyone with 11 kids NEEDS fishing tackle, lures, line, etc... believe me it cost me a fortune just to keep my 5 kids in tackle.


I am a poor highschool student who makes seven dollars an hour and is only given about ten hours a week. i lose about a sixth of that to insane taxes, am trying to save for college, and cant afford a new reel. On top of that, i have never learned how to use a baitcaster, and because of my afore mentioned monetary problems, have never been able to afford one. this will allow me to expand my fishing knowledge and experiences. Thankfully, one of my rods will accept this reel, so it wont be gathering dust while i save for a rod to use it.

plus, i need another excuse to get my dad to take me to the local lake before it gets too cold.

Alex Pernice the fly rod winner

Im thirteen and love to catfish... And I don't have cash like that for a reel my Rigs are cheap wallmart combos. Spinning reels don't work for flatheads very well. Plus getting hit in the face with a broken rod is not fun when the drag bunches up and wont go out. Plus that is a reel I can fish for everything for.


I have never been very good at making myself seem pitiful, so I will not even attempt it. Especially since some other high school students have already pleaded there so called "cases". I would just like to point out a couple of things. I have yet to learn to use a baitcasting rod. My main spinning outfit just went out, and I am not allowed to have a job during the school year. Thus, I am rendered entirely broke 90% of the year. When I recently begun looking at the purchase of a baitcaser, I realized that to buy a decent outfit, I would have to spend way more than I ever have. I hate to ask my parents for money since they do provide a roof over my head and meals. Right now there is some braided line on the way to my house, but I don't even have a reel to put it on. I just can't justify putting 30lb. braid on an ultra-light rod. I could also use a baitcaster to surf-fish, which as of now, I can only watch others do. This makes every trip to the beach miserable as I want so bad to try it myself. With the bad economy and all, I may not ever be able to fish again unless I get this reel (OK, that's not 100% true).

In conclusion, this baitcaster would help me out tremendously as I am broke all the time. So please Mr. Merwin, consider me when it becomes time to make your difficult decision.


because you can never have too many


Alabamahunter...shoulda told me you're an ultra-light guy. One of my winners got some 10-pound braid, but I don't remember who I sent it to. Great plea here though dude. Very heartfelt. If this were my post and contest, you'd be a contender for sure.

Alex Pernice the fly rod winner

What about me?



Whoever you give it to make them promise to take a neighbor kid fishing... maybe that neighbor boy will end up loving fishing as much as we do. Never know...sometimes all it takes is a passion like fishing to keep a kid off drugs.

Blue Ox

Wish I could afford such a fine piece of tackle. All my money is tied up in formula and diapers. The boy is barely a month old, yet the way he gazes and reaches for the (hookless) rat-l-traps & rapalas I hung on his mobile is enough to make any father grin.
I like to think he's smiling at the lures, but he might just be filling his diaper.


I don't fish with baitcast reels (a fly rod or my ugly stick spinning combo all the way), but I am a poor starving college student who could sell the reel on ebay and get money for something I can use. At least I'm honest.


Because without this reel, reading this column is a luxury I can no longer afford.

Michigan Man

I would like to have that new reel because I live for fishing. This reel makes me salivate like a love sick puppy, and this is not pretty.BUT, I do justify it under the circumstances!!


Alls i have is a $60 combo from cabelas thats not holding up too well in my jr tournys. the last one shredded the drag so not its super tight all the time. i need a new set-up i dont have enough money for one


This real would be a great replacement to put on my dad's stainless steel Tru-Temper rod. Then I can retire his old Shakespear 'President' reel. A great way to think about my dad on the next time out fishing with my wife and kids; remembering memories and creating new ones!!!!!


im 13 and i love to bass fish and i cant afford a nice reel like this i would really like this reel and i dont get much chances on getting nice equipment

Don Sypek

I was a Depression Baby who was weaned and whelped on a level wind bait casting reel. When I was knee high to a grasshopper my daddy, who was poor as a church mouse, bought me for Christmas an inexpensive, locally made Horrocks Ibbotson bait casting reel and metallic fishin' pole. Daddy then toted me and my dog around in his old, beat-up pickup and let me fish in any place where he spotted water. He wasn't a fisherman, he was my lifeguard who made sure I didn't drown. While I happily caught suckers, carp, bullheads and sunfish, and my dog hunted everything from frogs to rabbits, daddy would patiently sit alongside me on the bank and sip firewater.

A few years later, as a pre-teenager, I began stashing all the loot I made from my first job, a newspaper boy. I saved my shekels and bought a bicycle so that I didn't always have to depend upon the old man to take me fishing. The very next thing I bought was that new invention just making its debut in that long bygone era of the late 1940s -- a spinning reel. I bought a made-in-France Mitchell 300 that cost about 30 bucks, nearly as much as my bike cost and a King's Ransom for me but well worth it. It was godsend for me because of its ease, distance, accuracy, and near backlash-less features, all of which made my old H-I bait casting reel look like the survival tool of some prehistoric caveman. With these two new and extremely important fishin' tools -- my bicycle and spinning outfit -- I then began catching 'real' fish like trout, bass and pike from 'real' fishing waters everywhere within peddling distance from home. That was over 60 years ago and I never looked back. And I ain't never been back, never again did I ever own a bait casting reel!

I've lived long enough now to have witnessed many changes, many for the better: No longer must I shovel coal into the furnace, I simply turn the thermostat; I've witnessed iceboxes evolve into refrigerators, and better yet; ankle length womenfolks'dresses evolve into above-knee length. But there's one thing I haven't yet personally experienced, only read about it in 'Field & Stream' magazine: The universal claim that a modern baitcast reel, compared to the anitque I owned, is like comparing a Chevy Corvette to a Model T Ford.

Hence, I'm curious as a cat and would be mighty obliged to be able to try this super duper Abu Garcia 6500C3 baitcast reel and compare it to my first, last, and only baitcast reel from over a half century ago. But I do have one teenie weenie reservation: What if I conclude that during all those many yesteryears I missed some mighty fine fishing experiences by not owning one? Reckon I'll then have no other recourse than to resort to my late daddy's favorite avocation -- guzzling firewater -- to drown my sorrow.

But maybe there's another reason why I'd like to get my hands on this newer reel. Maybe I'd like to rig it up on my very first fishin' pole -- that Horrocks Ibbotson metallic rod which, together with my first reel, I still immensely cherish as a nostalgic remembrance -- to discover if I can set my sundial back to more that a half dozen decades ago. Maybe I can rekindle and recapture some of the joyous memories of those long past, but happy, years of Izaak Walton'in adventures in my youth. And maybe with this hefty reel I might even land some hefty fish, some of those elusive lunkers who umpteen years ago got off the hook Scot-free.

I've survived to the nominally allotted biblical time of Three Score and Ten, so it would be doggone delightful to return to boyhood and boyland, if but for one fleeting and magical moment, on that same river bank next Spring and once more do what I once did with sorta'the same of what I once used.

My reason ... because just down the road apiece I might suddenly have to leave.


I have all my money tied up in flyfishing and sure would like to try a baitcaster in the Rockies for a change. Plus it would make the locals ask questions and wonder about my sanity.


I'd like to take my nephew to Canada on a fall fishing trip. He's not been raised in a fishin' family so he has no equipment at all. I'm planning on wrapping a rod for him- this reel would be a perfect first reel for him and would last a lifetime.


To make it short, like you asked, I'll make a list:

1. I am 14 yrs old.
2. I fish for catfish, walleye ,and northern pike.
3. My wallet is very empty.
4. I've read F&S since I was 9.


While the reel should really go to either a kid, or someone teaching a kid to fish, here's my totally self-serving reason. I've spent more months than I care to remember in the crap-hole sands of Iraq thinking about fishing and how sweet it would be when I would get back home. But somehow, I still haven't been able to catch redfish and it couldn't possibly be anything other than the wrong gear. This reel will certainly improve my fishing and make my remaining time state-side memorable.

Sue  Ewing

I Would love this reel for my husband because,i caught a magnificent walleye because he spent all his time rigging up my line and very little on his own line. I have one pole and he always makes sure mine is ready. he takes me and his two dogs out every time he goes fishing, we always distract him, but he never goes without us. please understand this man really needs and deserves this reel, and it would take thepressure off of me, thankyou, sue

brittany spaniel  sam

woof! i am so attached to my owner, he always takes me out fishing. i am a little uncertain of the water, but he takes care of me and my needs, i tried to eat his last fish, i felt really bad, he cant fish with me but he take me along anyhow.. please help him to catch the big one.. sam

Starlight's Anu Uplandbird Supertamp

It was late sunday afternoon on the lake, we were fishing. the fish were begining to bite. it was warm, we were all together, mom, dad, sam and i, sam and i are dogs. dad was ready to carch teh big one, it was warm, i could not take the heat anymore, i dove in and paddled, it seemed like forever, but it was only seconds.. but enough time to chase away the big one, but what a rush it was for me, i scared them, needless to say, help him to catch the big one in spite of me.

Blue Ox

Ok here it is:
I did receive some pretty heavy braided line from JC the other day. Already have a good rod. I'm just in need of a good, solid reel to put it on, them hawgs in the mississippi are calling to me...

I am 16 and stuck at boarding school, I would really appreciate this reel, I don't have any baitcasters and this would be great. I live in MD and need something bigger to handle the cats and the bucketmouths by me. Thank-you for this opportunity.

Dr. Ralph

There is but one undeniable and inalienable truth... this reel belongs to me. My first experience with Ambassadeur was an old 1960's Red 5000. It may be the finest reel I have ever owned. Adjustment knobs on each side and you can dial that puppy in to drop any weight lure any distance. It simply says ABU, and it still works.

Then I bought a couple of 1980's 5500's and was severely disappointed. Still I stayed a company man mainly because of my mom's Swedish heritage and tried most of the Cardinal spinning reels knowing full well more than likely none of the parts had ever seen Sweden. I have a Cardinal Tournament 500 with about six ball bearings and it's still up and running after massive abuse from my children and half the neighborhood for 10 years.

I had to get the C-4 the first time I saw it. Blue with twice the bearings of the Red. Bought the 6500 series and it is my go to reel. It can do anything. After that I bought an Eon which I love.

I have never owned the Silver C-3 but I can assure you it will be used by no less than seven people as all the teenagers in the neighborhood consider any tackle in my garage community property as long as they bring it back.

The Royal Coachman

What better use of this reel than to catch a 10 pound door mat Fluke out of the Jersey bite! I'm up to the challenge if you give me this reel!

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’.

Scott in Ohio

A reel “needs assessment” in the spirit of Dr. Seuss

Looked on the web, John, to check in and see-ya;
And read of your contest for the Abu Garcia.

You’re hosting a contest for a 6500C reel.
“The combination of value and performance” really makes it a steal !

“It’s perfect for everything from steelhead to … stripers.”
That’s good news, since a screaming drag makes me nervous and hyper.

Great Lakes lunkers require a wide-spool bait-caster.
This I know, since past use of my Zebco ended up in disaster.

“The reels are quite easy…to clean and maintain.”
They stand up to saltwater, mayonnaise, and hard rain!

A Scandinavian virgin, the reel’s “new and un-fished.”
It’s un-greased,
it’s un-spooled,
it’s un-slimed.
- Just like I wished.

You claim John, “the price is right at about 80-dollars.”
With the state of the market that’s still too much to “swaller”.

Dear, Dear Mr. Merwin, please sent it to me.
While the price may be fair……I’d prefer it for free!


That's it! That's the reel I dreamed about the other night. I had gone fishing with my pals and they all pulled out these expensive rod and reels and I was too ashamed to pull out my Zebco 202. The fish started biting pretty good and I just had to give it a try. I reached down and pulled the rod out from under the seat where I had hidden it and to my surprise, there was your reel on my rod. The only difference was it was pre-spooled and ready to go! I brushed a tear from my eye and before I could make the first cast, the other guys reeled in their lines in honor of the first line wetting on this masterpiece. I drew back and let it fly. Just as the bait hit the water an enormous eruption occurred. I jerked back and set the hook and the fight was on! The water shifted and boiled around the presence of the struggling monster before it ever came to the surface. The guys all scrambled to find a net and one even offered to jump in and help push it towards the boat! After a long struggle the fish had worn me down pretty good and puled me in. As much as I hated to turn loose of that reel, I had to make a choice, turn loose and live or hang on and hope there wasn't another fish of that size in the water with me. I tried to climb back in the boat but my pals wouldn't let me in without the reel. I had to ride back to the dock hanging from the bow. I lost my fishing buddies and I lost the best reel I had ever fished within a dream. I woke up a miserable wretch and even yhough I've never told them the dream, I have been to ashamed of my actions to ask them out on a fishing trip. Please restore the reel of my dreams to me so that I can once again enjoy the sportsman comeradery with my pals. I am laid off right now and broke. Even if I had money my wife wouldn't let me buy a fishing reel. My dog ate my other reels or my kids lost them, whichever sounds more pathetic to you.
PS If I win, could you throw in a matching rod since the fish I dreamed up took my other one?

jerry k

i need it because who dosent want the worlds best reel?

Scott in Ohio

With the most recent rain across northern Ohio my 13 year old son suggested that the steel are probably beginning to run up the Erie tribs. And I noted that the local tackle stores are bombing out this years fishing line. What o what shall I spool it on?

Jon M

I am going to be fishing in a tournament where I will be taking a kid that is battling cancer. One that I was apart of when I was a kid (leukemia survivor myself). Just bought a rod and looking for a baitcasting reel to go with it. Thanks.


For all the newcomers...Jon M included...just letting you know the contest ended. Merwin has already picked a winner. Stay tuned for more contests.