Most anglers buy a new ABU 6500 reel from a shop or online store, take it out of the box, load it with line and go fishing. But stop and think for a minute. You don’t walk in to a car showroom, pay for the car then immediately drive it away flat out, do you! You run a brand new car in gently at first, only gradually speeding up as the car frees up and wears in.
Fishing reels are just the same. Some tender loving care initially after purchase means the reel will run smoother, last longer and cast further than a comparable reel straight out of the box that’s abused from the start.
This feature will look at how to initially set up a brand new reel, plus run it in logically with a view to achieving maximum fishing and casting performance, plus a long life. I won’t look at tuning the reel for absolute maximum casting performance as this is a specialised procedure undertaken by specialist anglers and tournament casters, but I’ll maybe look at this, and basic bearing lubrication, in a future blog as a separate issue.
Straight out of the box the first thing to do is to centre the spool. Look at both the left and right-hand side plate, both have a chrome spool float knob in the middle.
Left hand side plate
Right hand side plate
Look at the top edges of each side of the spool in relation to where they sit inside the reel cage. Using the spool float knobs by turning these clockwise to tighten and anti-clockwise to loosen, adjust the spool so that the width of the edges of the spool facing inwards are equal. This centres the spool within the reel cage.
Now turn both right and left spool float knobs just a fraction either way, but equally, until you can feel just a slight “knock” when you wobble the spool sideways. This fraction of movement means the spool is fully free with no restriction, which is how the reel is intended to be used for long range surf casting.
The spool float knobs should not be used to pressurise the ends of the spool spindle to avoid overruns when long range surf casting. Do this and overtime you will wear away the ends of the spool spindle, plus the reel will feel stiff during retrieve. It’s the magnetic or centrifugal brakes, depending on the reel model, that brake the spool during the cast, plus to some extent the thickness of the oil in the bearings.
Look at the left-hand side-plate float knob and there is a shiny smooth arrow etched in to the face of the knob.
Underneath the tensioner knob there is a metal ring with numbers on and a little metal upward facing tag where the 0 is.
Using your finger nail turn the metal ring, via the tag, until the 0 lines up with the smooth metal arrow on the float knob.
The metal ring with the number 0 on is your primary setting marker. Experienced anglers leave this, and the float knobs, permanently set, as they are now, without change, bar for double checking that the spool remains centred before each fishing trip. Should the float knobs get inadvertently moved, then you only need set the left hand float knob back in line with the 0 on the metal ring and readjust the right-hand float knob (if need be) to re centre the spool to achieve that deliberate little “knock” when the spool is rocked side to side.
I’ve used the brand new ABU 6500i TSR multiplier to illustrate the sequence, but this applies to all new and any previous Ambassadeur reels with spool float knobs on each side-plate.
If you buy a reel with a float knob only on the right-hand side plate, such as the current ABU 6500 Powerhandle model, you can still centre the spool. Do this by loosening the float knob until again you can feel that faint “knock” when rocking the spool side to side and this should centre the spool on a brand new reel.
Inside the float knobs there are small copper shims. Its highly unlikely on a new reel, though occasionally may be required on an old well used reel, but these can be adjusted if need be to re centre a spool by adding a shim, or taking one away from inside the float knobs. If again you visually centre the spool, but when adjusting the float knobs to get that faint “knock” in the spool you find it impossible to get that even thickness of spool edge at each side, remove one shim from the fatter edged side of the spool side float knob and replace it in the opposite side float knob, and this should recentralise the spool.
Now the spool is centred, you can load the reel with your chosen line. Do this to within an eighth of an inch of the top of the spool, then add your casting leader.
The running in procedure for a new reel is simple. Firstly set the magnetic brakes to full brakes to fully slow the reel down.
Primarily use the reel for close in fishing, casting no further than 30 to 50-yards for about 50 casts. This gentle use of the reel initially gets the moving metal surfaces, where they touch, such as bearings and gears, wearing in to each other removing any inevitable minute machining scars and burrs left from the manufacturing process. You’ll notice that the reel frees up and becomes slightly faster without adjustment during this running in process, plus noise diminishes during casting and retrieve.
Those of you who can wait that long should now look to make another 50 to 75 casts casting no more than 50 to 75-yards with the brakes freed up by about a third. When this initiation is completed the reel is ready for hard fishing and can be considered truly run in. This is what I do with my own reels prior to fishing them hard, and my reels last many years even with heavy abuse.
It’s proven that reels properly run in as described, just like a new car, feel smoother, are freer running, less noisy and are more durable. It’s well worth the effort!