I have owned lots of different abel reels over the years. There are a couple of things that I have noticed about the reels. The drag system is not a sealed drag system. Because of this, dirt or rocks can make their way into the reel and tear up the cork, or cause grooves to form on the back side of the spool. At times I have notices free spooling to occur because the reel was submerged under-water. I am not a big fan of the ported models. Too hard to keep dirt from entering the reel, and sometimes it makes the real too light to balance well with my spey rods.
Now looking at all the reels on the market, Abel is still considered on of the best when it comes down to quality. I personally use Charlton and Nautilus reels for spey fishing.
I love them. I use the 4.5 N for my longest thickest lines. You do have to maintain the cork with a drop of Neatsfoot oil from time to time or you will encounter the problems the people who don't like Abel complain about. If you maintain it, it is a wonderful reel that works flawlessly in tropical, or frozen conditions. If we were talking heavy duty saltwater fishing instead of spey, I would recommend it over almost any other reel on the market, except maybe the tibor.
I do have to say that now that the Danielsson and Loop prices have come down so low, and you are using it only for salmon, I might get the Danielsson instead.
If we were talking heavy duty saltwater fishing instead of spey, I would recommend it over almost any other reel on the market, except maybe the tibor.
I would put Danielsson HD models against any other reels when comes to saltwater fishing.
HD9-13 is in my opinion the best Tarpon reel on the market regardless the price.
The HD drag is sealed, super smooth and "can even stop a train".
The drag knob resistance is very small and constant from 0 to 300 degree.
I enjoy the Abel 4.5N and Super 12 reels on the larger spey rods.
We have some saltwater FF who never clean or lub their Abel reels. One friend used his for three years without maintenance,,,,when it finally made some strange noises,,,,he had two leaders wound up between the spool and frame and green growth all over the reel internals,,,,it looked like a Navy sub coming back from a 3 year tour in the warm pacific. Some soap and a scrub brush,,,,lubed the drag disc and it worked like new again.
if maintained properly will not hydroplane. It is easy to bump the drag adjustment by rubbing it on clothing and sudeenly you have no drag. In really cold conditions, I have had mine freeze, but am not sure if it was the drag or ice somewhere else.
Any sealed drag system will eventually fail in the salt water environment,,,,and then the reel is corroded and fails.
Try to open Danielsson reel and see what kind of protection (sealed system) I am talking about.
Just washing occasionally Danielsson reel ( not drag) with a fresh water is sufficient to maintain the reel.
You should see HD reel drag system after four seasons of very intensive salt-water fishing. Like a new, no leaks perfect!!!
Saying that a sealed system will eventually fail in a saltwater environment is just not true. I've used Loop/Danielsson, Charlton, Van Staal, and even a few others with a sealed system in saltwater for years with very minimal maintenance and they have yet to have a single hiccup. Comments like that always sound like wishful thinking from someone owning a open system drag reel who wants to believe it is superior to a sealed system. Frankly, if the maintenance is done religiously on the open system they should be equally reliable. In that case neither system has a clear advantage. However, if you're not disciplined enough to do that maintenance on a regular basis (which is only a few times a year depending upon how often and how or where the reel is used) a sealed system has a clear advantage.
If you are skeptical of cork drags lamson makes fine conical drags and you won't spend the extra money for the Abel name. They are sealed and maintenance free. I use lamson or tibor for my rods. If I had to chose a cork drag, I'd go with tibor. That's me though. Charlton are the best, but hard to find and have actually appreciated in value.
Although you asked for a comparison of Danielsson to Abel, I'll post my Tibor vs. Danielsson experience because I believe it is applicable.
The Danielsson is superior to any open cork drag. Its advantages over the Tibor open cork drags I fish currently when the Danielssons are on other rods:
1. The Danielsson drag control has hard minimum and maximum stops. Of interest to us anadramous fishers is the minimum stop, because it allows one to go immediately to a light drag, no overrun setting. There is no need to tug the line to check drag. By comparison, each of my Tibors has a different physical position of the drag knob to achieve the right minimum drag, which requires a line pull to verify, and that position changes as the lubrication diminishes through days of fishing.
2. Danielsson reel maintenance is far less than required by Tibors, which require a thorough cork/spool interface relube every week of fishing, if one wants the smooth as silk, no stutter, very light drag the Tibor is capable of delivering. My first Loop/Danielsson has reuired zero maintenance in three years I have fished it.
3. Danielsson spool changes are easy, with no loose parts, a feature with wihich Tibor has recently become competitive after introducing the Quick Change spool.
I think Abels are extemely high quality reels. You can't go wrong with the workmanship and reliability. They are one of the most dependable reels ever made. Their only drawback is they are expensive and a little heavy.
Cork is a fine drag material. Perhaps a bit overkill for trout and steelhead but nonetheless the abel drag has stood the test of time so I don't think you would have anything to worry about.
Pick one up used and try it for yourself. If you don't like it then sell it, if you get a really good deal on one you might not only get your money back you might even be able to make a few bucks. Worst case scenario you're out a 20 for shipping.
Spey sized Abel X-stream reels can be had on discount direct from Abel's website. I expect these less expensive versions function quite comparably to Abel's full-monty models, as well as Tibor's shortcomings listed by Bob Pauli
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