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Reel Review

Going Old School with Abu's Ambassadeur C3 4600/01 (continued)


Casting: Where this reel really shines is in the casting department. Abu Garcia uses an old school centrifugal braking system with this reel. It is very much a set and forget type system. When you tie one on and launch it out, your baits sail through the air much further than expected and with such ease. There's even an audible whirring sound when you cast this reel that makes it feel like a poor man's digital cast control. In fact, Zander thought I was testing a new Shimano DC reel when he heard it!

A little more disappointment... in order to get to the centrifugal brakes, you need to disassemble the reel.

The downside to this braking system? You have to disassemble the reel to get to the brakes and adjust their setting. What's more, you have to do this with a flat head screw driver. Abu Garcia does not allow for easy adjustment of the reel's brakes, so you have to anticipate which setting will suit your casting ability and needs prior to hitting the water - unless you enjoy disassembling your reels when you're out fishing. If so, remember to bring a flat head screwdriver.


This task could be made much more convenient if there were a set of knurl headed bolts holding the reel together rather than flathead screws.


One last thing to note with this reel that sort of fits in the casting department is a little idiosyncrasy when engaging this reel in free-spool mode. The thumb bar pushes down easily enough when there is no pressure at the end of the line, but if there is any tension at all, like when your bait is in the hook keeper and the line is tight, that thumb bar will not engage. You need to pull some line out of the reel first, to relieve any tension for that thumb bar to work. If intentional, this is an actual benefit when you're fighting a fish as the risk of you accidentally depressing the thumb bar and putting the reel in free-spool mode is greatly reduced.

The C3 does have a bearing on the levelwind worm gear.

Features: Taking the reel apart to investigate its features is like disassembling a watch. Everything looks an feels so precise inside this reel. On our features checklist, the Ambassadeur C3 4600/01 does not have an externally adjustable brake system, and there is one bearing on the levelwind. The knobs are riveted to the handle which usually indicates no bearings, and neither the dragstar or spool tension knob feature micro-click adjustments.

The vial of oil supplied with the reel has a faulty top that can and does leak into the plastic bag within which it is contained. Ours was practically empty by the time it got to us.

The reel does not come with a cover and while there is a vial of oil in the box, the plastic vial used to contain the oil has a very insecure cap. Abu Garcia knows this and packages that vial in a zip lock bag. Good thing too because our vial of oil was nearly empty with all the oil having leaked out into that bag. Their REVO reels come with a vial of oil that has a secure, screw top lid. Why they don't use this same bottle in these reels is a little puzzling.

Disassembly of this reel reveals very precisely engineered innards.

Features Ratings for Abu Garcia Ambassadeur C3 4600/01

Ext Brake Adjust? (1-2)
Levelwind Bearing (1-2)
Knob Bearings (1-3)
Micro Clicks (1-3)
Reel Cover (1-2)
Oil (1-2)
Rating (= Tot/Pos * 10)

A look at the height this reel sits on the reel seat.

Design & Ergonomics: As we mentioned earlier, this reel is roughly the same diameter in size as that of a Shimano Calcutta 200. It's actually a hair larger. It also fishes bigger because the reel foot is not recessed very far into the body of the reel unlike a Calcutta, so it sits taller on the reel seat making it a little more difficult and uncomfortable to get your hands around. It basically has the ergonomics that turned people away from round reels in the first place.

That depressed top bar does very little to relieve the task of palming this reel.

As I alluded to earlier, the 80 millimeter handle is sufficient, but a longer handle would be nice and the knobs are average in comfort as well - they're just a tad hard. At nine point two ounces (9.2oz), the C3 4600/01 is a bit on the heavy side and while the reel's makeup inside resembles an expensive watch, it takes a bit of determination to get to all its parts. Care needs to be taken when tackling disassembly of this reel for maintenance.

Despite its lack of cranking power, the C3 is great for shallow to medium running crankbaits.

Design & Ergonomics Ratings for Abu Garcia Ambassadeur C3 4600/01

Handle Length (1-5)
Knobs (1-5)
Palming (1-5)
Overall Weight (1-5)
Ease of Breakdown (1-5)
Rating (= Tot/Pos * 10)

Line capacity and lack of any real cranking power limit this reel's versatility.

Application: With its slow-ish retrieve ratio, large size, and precise gearing, this reel is ideal for moving bait applications. Line capacity and lack of any real power kind of precludes it from big bait fishing and it's not very well suited for finesse applications either. It will suffice in other areas beyond that, but again, its strength lies in tossing cranks, spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, and anything else where you want to keep the bait moving and aren't too concerned with how fast.

Abu Garcia's Ambassadeur C3 4600/01 is a vintage reel with a couple of modern updates.

Application Ratings for Abu Garcia Ambassadeur C3 4600/01

Horizontal (1-5)
Vertical (1-5)
Finesse (1-5)
Big Baits (1-5)
Topwater (1-5)
Rating (= Tot/Pos * 10)



Abu Garcia Ambassadeur C3 4600/01 Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Simple, yet elegant and put together very well 9.0
Performance Casting performance is this the C3's real charm 7.6
Price The Ambassadeur series is popular because they are built well and priced right! 8
Features This is an old school, bare bones reel 5.36
Design (Ergonomics) Tough to palm and a little heavy 4.8
Application Really good for moving baits 5.6

Total Score

Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = unbelievable!
For More Details of the updated rating system visit our explanation here


Pluses and Minuses:


+ Really enjoyable reel with which to cast - Tough ergonomics
+ Precision of the reel's assembly inside is a sight to behold - Not enough power for deep diving crank duty
+ Fun, old school feel to the reel  

Conclusion: Were it not for the more systematic and metrics based rating system we have today, Abu Garcia's Ambassadeur C3 4600/01 casting reel would have scored much higher overall than what actually resulted because I really like this not so little reel. I enjoy the latest and greatest in fishing tackle like anyone else, but I have a real soft spot for classic products that perform and are still useful in today's world. The Ambassadeur C3 clings to the status of viability in today's bass fishing world in terms of ergonomics and power, but make one cast with this reel and you'll see it performs right up there with the best of them.

The C3 4601 may not be the fastest or prettiest reel in the tackle shop, but it's difficult to wipe the smile off your face while fishing it


How I would love to see an update of the C3 with a larger main gear, a lower position on the reel seat, and an easy method to pull the reel apart to access the braking system. If Abu Garcia could accomplish that update and keep the C3 in the same price range as it is today, we could very well see a resurgence in round reel advocates. As it stands, those in the know who appreciate this reel's casting ability and can put up with its tough ergonomics and lack of cranking power have a real jewel in their tackle collections. Abu Garcia's Ambassadeur C3 is like driving a fun little beater upper with a manual transmission and worn out clutch - it may not be the fastest or prettiest car on the block, but it's difficult to wipe that smile off our face when you're driving it.


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