Quote Originally Posted by Nigel Passmore View Post
Here is my reel history for fishing with double handers for salmon:

1979 - 1992 - Shakespeare Super Condex and Beaulite. I had Tweed Autumn salmon to 19lbs on these with no noticeable difficulty. Only the Beaulite had any form of adjustable click and pawl drag but to be honest it didn't seem to make much difference.

1992 - 2000 - Leeda Magnum 200D - I'd started to use disc drags on my trout reels and appreciated the flexibility and control they gave you so I wanted the same for my salmon and this was what I could afford. The largest salmon I landed using one of these was 29lbs again from the Tweed. I don't think having an expensive reel would have made one jot of difference to that particular fight, but hear me out.

2000 - 2003 - Leeda System 2 1213 - fantastic reels (and the choice of the ultra fastidious Francis Grant) which I bought when the Magnum drag systems fell to bits - they are okay when they work but don't have longevity. I sold the System 2s on to my friends and many of the reels are still in action today

2003 - Present - Abel Super Series 12 for the 10/11 and Sage 3500 D for the 8/9 lines. The main reason I have these is for salt water game fishing where you won't survive long with a Trion. They are both disc drags but one is unsealed cork Abel and the other is sealed Sage. I only chose the Abels because at the time Sage hadn't bought out the 3600 D which you needed for 10/11 spey lines. I also, which surprises people, retain one Leeda Magnum 140 D which holds a DT10 Wet Cel 2 which I use very occasionally if I am spring fishing a small river which is not very often (but may change).

So I have a reasonable amount of experience at the top and bottom end, but not in the middle range, because where I have seen most problems and faults with salmon reels is in the 150-400 bracket.

Some observations:
  1. I never get bored salmon fishing with salt water game grade reels. They make such a beautiful sound and they have never, ever let me down. However, are they a requirement for UK salmon fishing? I can only think of a couple of occasions when their Tarpon taming powers have been necessary. That was with twenty pounders on the Lower Tay and Lower Tweed in big water. The ability of an Abel to bring a biggish fish to a halt with three steady clicks of the drag nob is one of the subtlest pleasures in salmon fishing but not a regular requirement. However, I also fish in Norway and I've fished the Yokanga. There you are more likely to meet a big fish in, as one poster noted, much faster water. I personally wouldn't want to fish these places without my Abels and I've landed them to 31lbs using these reels and very glad for their drag properties.
  2. So in answer to the OP's original question, it'll be once in a blue moon you need Abel stopping power in the UK and I'd suggest highly unlikely outside the Scottish Big 4. If I was starting today only fishing for UK salmon knowing what I know now I'd try to find good second hand System 2s or I would also buy the Trion going back to my Shakespearean roots?
  3. However, there is no denying the pleasure a top end reel is to fish with. Also I think it is highly unlikely I'll ever buy a reel for salmon fishing again. So for cost comparison purposes you need to make a relative not absolute judgement. One maintained Abel will last a lifetime and be cheaper than 3 or 4 mid-range reels which may not. If you go down this route don't half way house it with mid range reels go for something you could take out on the Cuban Flats. I can only speak first hand about Abels (but not the slightly revamped one they have just issued) and Sage's. However, I know a lot of people who have equally trouble free fishing with Tibor, Nautilus, Ross etc. One point to note. There is a lot more range in the drag tension of an Abel compared to the Sage 3500D (which goes from light to dead stop in 1-4 on a dial that goes to 10) but there is more cleaning and lubricating required of an Abel and almost none with a sealed drag.

I hope this helps with your thought process, and you find the right answer for yourself.


Welcome back to the forum Nigel!