Tackle Bag

I've always said if you're worrying about your gear, you have the wrong gear. Here in the Tackle Bag I'll review some of the equipment I use that I have found adds to my experience on the water. If you need more information on a particular piece of gear, please call me at the shop. You can also sign up for the newsletter at the bottom of the page to get notices about new Tackle Bag posts.

Abel Spey and Switch Reels

Joel La Follette - Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Picture a quiet foggy morning on the river. Just the sound of gurgling water and the light swish of line lifting off as the D loop forms and the cast is made. The fly swings and the line comes tight. Suddenly the peace is broken as the reel screams to life, emitting a sound that is simultaneously  wonderful and annoying. Heads turn as the fish finds another gear, increasing the pitch and volume of the clatter. The urgency of the sound raises both the adrenaline and irritation levels for a hundred yards up and down the river.

The Abel Switch and Spey reels are not for everybody, but they are cool, in an old school kind of way. If you like to keep things simple, this may be the reel for you.

Weighing in at 9.3 (Switch) and 10.3 oz (Spey), the Spey will balance nicely with most rods from 13' to 14', while the Switch is perfect on rods under 12'6". The traditional arbor has plenty of room for the required backing, running line and head needed to match today’s rods. The solid frame allows for the use of mono running lines without the worry of the line slipping off the spool. The “click and pawl” drag is adjustable and offers plenty of resistance when fully engaged. Cap that off with an anodized finish that is second to none and you have a reel that is soon to become a classic. (Note: weights listed are with solid spools. Ported spools are .8 lighter on the Spey model.) With the resurgent popularity of vintage Hardys and other click/pawl reels, these offerings from Abel are perfect for anglers wanting old school meets new.

I’ve fished my copy of the Abel Switch now for three years (a Christmas gift from my lovely wife, Kellie) and it has become one of my favorite reels for two-handed Steelheading. It balances perfectly with the 12’6” 6wt. that sees most of the action these days, as well as any Switch rod I care to attach it to. With a Skagit shooting head system or mid-belly traditional line there is still enough room for 130 yards of 30lb. backing. The lack of a high tech drag system has not been an issue as the spring tension and exposed rim allow for good fish control. The noise, well, you either love it or hate it. Their is no in-between.

Colors add $100
Fish Graphic add $200-800

High quality, Made in the USA.
Simple design, instant classic.
Super anodized finish. Custom colors available.
Balances well with most Spey and Switch rods.
Good capacity.
Looks cool.
Makes a great noise when you hook a fish.

Drag spring weakens over time if not returned to off position after use. (Can be replaced.)
Not a reel to do double duty  (Steelhead/Bonefish.)
Makes a ratcheting racket when you hook a fish.
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