Abu Garcia Reels Used to Be Good
By Craig Sandell ©
2016

I am always looking for a new reel to field test. Last season I field tested the Abu Garcia 5600 C4. The reel turned out to be a disappointment.

After only 3 weeks of hard work, the reel became a "screamer" and took on the characteristics of an old style coffee grinder.

This year a friend of mine brought the Ambassador Beast to my attention. After looking at it, I decided that it had all of the ear marks of another disappointing product from Abu Garcia. Sure, it has a pretty fish picture on the side plate and the write up makes all the usual promotional claims. A closer look, however, shows that, unlike recent products, this reel has returned to a free spool plunger design from the 1990's and abandoned the thumb bar.

Why is this important? Aside from the fact that the thumb bar makes for easier casting, the thumb plunger mechanism has a history of failure…not to mention being a menace to your thumb.


The major problem with the family of reels is its longevity. That is to say that the reel (those manufactured in the 1990's) has a useable life of perhaps two years. A particular annoyance is the propensity of the reels to exhibit a "free spool" failure with heavy use.

5500guts.JPG (12719 bytes)The failure is directly related to the plunger mechanism used to 'arm' the free spool for casting. The illustration shown here will provide you some perspective. The spring arrowed in red is the key to the whole mechanism. When the free spool plunger is depressed, this spring is stretched placing tension on the internal mechanism. When you turn your reel handle to begin your retrieve, this spring contracts placing the free spool plunger in its original position. Without this spring, the free spool plunger will not 'pop up' when you begin your retrieve. Unfortunately, this spring is made of very cheap material. The persistent amount of expansion & contraction of the spring results in fatigue of the material. Heavy use will result in failure of the free spool mechanism usually at the most inopportune time.


It is unlikely that Abu Garcia has re-engineered the thumb plunger mechanism to resolve the problem. It is more likely that they are re-cycling an old design to cut costs and then re-packaging it.

[Old Wine In A New Bottle]

For my part, I will continue to use the 6600 SSc3 reels that have proven themselves sturdy and reliable. I send them off to Mat’s Reel Repair during the off season for cleaning and lubing.

This year I am having #5 bearings installed…they make a hell of a difference in reel performance..

Tight Lines