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Reel Review

Worth a Spin - The Abumatic 170 (continued)

Retrieve: Unlike the Zebco 33 spincast reels with their double sided handle mimicking a baitcasting reel, the Abumatic 170 has a one sided handle like a traditional spinning reel. Once you start turning the handle, you can feel and hear the internal machinations of the reel working to pull the line in and wrap it around the spool. Spincast reels in general, are not the most refined pieces of machinery and the Abumatic 170 does little to dispel that stereotype.

A look inside reveals spinning reel mechanics.

Power: The Abumatic 170 is good with general duty applications like spinnerbaits, shallow to medium running crankbaits, soft plastics, soaking bait, etc.. It's not a powerhouse reel you're going to rely upon to grind deep diving crankbaits, so to expect anything like that out of this reel is a bit unreasonable.

The handle and dragstar are not interchangeable left to right.

Drag: The innovation that peaked my interest with this reel is probably my favorite feature. I found the drag wheel on the Zebco 33 a little difficult to adjust so was curious as to how the drag star on the Abumatic 170 would perform out on the water. It was a little odd to me, that the star was in front of the handle and not behind it, but I really liked the fact it's a ratcheted adjustment - especially given its placement.

The very deep, and short spool of the Abumatic 170.

Actual drag performance of the Abumatic 170 is just okay. Because the line is coming off over the edge of the spool instead of inline, you can feel the line rotating around that edge as it peels off, so it's not very smooth. But again, expectations are not very high for a reel like this.

Simple on the outside, complicated on the inside.

Design & Ergonomics: I commented earlier about the placement of the thumb bar and how I found myself gripping the rod further back than I typically like during a cast. This same hand placement makes things a little easier after the cast when it's time to switch hands. Because my right hand is complete free of the reel, I can re-grasp the combo with my left hand without my hands fumbling over each other. It's a very small detail but the type of thing we like to point out.

The dragstar has to go in front of the handle else the rotor will interfere with its operation.

Additionally, with regard to the dragstar placement, it kind of has to be in front of the handle instead of behind it because if the positions were reversed, the top of the reel would interfere with operation of the drag star. It'd be nice if the handle were interchangeable left to right, but with the dragstar design, you take way this flexibility. I do like how this reel is less bulky than the Zebco 33.

The Abumatic 170 comes prespooled with 12lb Trilene XL.

Price & Applications: We already touched upon applications for which this reel might be best suited and priced at $49, it's a viable option for some light duty, general purpose work if you're hip to the spincast movement.

One last look.


Abu Garcia Abumatic 170 Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality A nice little reel all things considered 7
Performance You have to understand its limitations 6
Price Getting into the enthusiast range for a spincast reel but still only $49 8
Features External drag adjustment 7
Design (Ergonomics) Fair, and much less bulky than a traditional spincast 6
Application Good for light duty multi-purpose applications 7

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:


+ Less bulky overall design - No left hand retrieve option
+ Dragstar drag adjustment  
+ Pre-spooled with 12lb Trilene XL  

If you're in the market for a less bulky alternative, and like the idea of a clicking dragstar, the Abumatic 170 is certainly worth a, pardon the pun, spin.

Conclusion: The Abumatic 170 with its less bulky design and clicking drag star adjustment attempts to deliver casting reel features to a product with spinning reel mechanics. Actually, that's the purpose behind all spincast reels, the Abumatic 170 just carries it a small step further. These hybrid reels certainly have their place as is witnessed by their widespread availability. They're simple to operate (as long as you're not me) and really fun to cast. They're just not as refined as a traditional spinning or casting reel. If you're in the market for a less bulky alternative, and like the idea of a clicking dragstar, the Abumatic 170 is certainly worth a, pardon the pun, spin.










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