Nov 21, 2012

Abel Spey and Switch Reel Review


I like good fly gear. Although I often go without and make do with whatever I have and find ways to appreciate not always sound mechanics, because - well I got a good deal on it or someone gave it to me. Working for a fly shop is sometimes hard because of the pain involved with passing up all the goodies that people make and send to our shop. I can’t have it all, after-all – or even a fraction of the gear that comes through the shop. Like most people, I have learned to choose my battles and the bummer is, is that I am not victorious quite often enough when it comes to owning something new and cool. But, I can at the least try to savor the drool instead of resenting it and embrace the mere act of wiping it away from the corner of my mouth.

This brings up my latest drool session. The Abel Switch Fly Reel and the Abel Spey Fly Reel. Now the folks at Abel have a strong, long-standing heritage in the world of fly reels. For over 25 years, they have been committed to using the finest grade materials and creating a rich blend of aesthetics and performance. Surely, there are anglers the world over who will never forget that milestone fish that reached the beach with the help of their Abel. Aerospace grade aluminum, precision machining and cork drags like butter, have all helped to keep Abel at the top of the quality fly reel market. However, their latest reel is a bit different. The new Switch and Spey Series serves as a sort of celebration between old and new; traditional and new age; vintage and cutting edge. If you’re looking for a reel that is built with today’s superior technologies but designed around the traditions of yesterday, well, this is the one.  The standard color is black but there are a range of color options.

The spool is available in both solid and ventilated. Here is a look at the solid style.


Abel Switch Solid

Here’s a look at the ventilated switch reel that I got to test out. Nice porting on the front, with a more classic, encased look on the back.


Abel Switch Ventilated Green

True to the flavor of old school European spey reels, the Abel Spey and Switch series comes with an adjustable click-pawl drag design and an exposed spool frame for palming.

Another “classic” attribute is the sound these reels make when reeling in or when line peels out. These things sing! I was expecting the sound to be a bit more, well… new sounding or rather a poor mocking of traditional personality, but this is not the case. It sounds much like an old hardy that’s well-lubed and ready for battle. Perhaps the tone is just a slight bit deeper...

I tried the switch reel out on a couple different rods. It seemed a great match to both - a 12 ½ foot 6 weight spey as well as an 11 ½ foot 7 weight switch. As far as sizing goes, I would like it on 5-8 weight switch rods and 4-6 weight speys. I would likely go with the Abel Spey Reel for 7 weight spey rods and up.  Really the only difference between the spey and the switch reels is the size.  As for backing and fly line capacity, there is plenty of room in each model for adequate backing and thick spey lines.

Here’s where things get interesting… When asked if we wanted to stock any spey and switch reels with the fish-graphic finishes, we just couldn’t resist the “Chrome Steelie” Graphic. It’s a stunner for sure and a pretty appropriate fit for a spey reel. Yes, it cost more (about $200 more) but if you’re after that special reel-of-a-lifetime, here’s your chance.


Abel Switch Chrome Steelhead Graphic

Abel Chrome Steelhead Switch Reel
Abel Chrome Steelhead Spey Reel


There are however many different color and graphic options to choose from that we don’t physically stock. These are specialty orders and may take a little time, but if any of the other options interest you, we’d be happy to hook you up.

Have a good time
Duffy & The Gorge Fly Shop

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