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Reel Review

Delivering Performance Over Features : Abu Garcia's Silver MAX (continued)


Power: The Silver Max does not come with a grossly oversized gear although its 83 millimeter handle is a little longer than the average 80 millimeters. The reel has decent power, but I wouldn't use it as a dedicated reel for super deep divers. It can handle them intermittently, but lacks the power of a true, deep diving crankbait reel.

To remove the non-handle sideplate locate this bar between the spool and front plate...

Brakes & Casting Range: Abu Garcia has a couple of different braking systems they distribute amongst their reels. Most of their more affordable reels feature their MagTrax magnetic braking system. This is true of the Silver Max. This system is pretty basic with a series of magnets installed in the non-handle sideplate that you can move as a unit, into and away from the spool via a dial on the outside of the reel. The closer the magnets are to the spool, the more brake control you have.

With your thumb or fingers, push that bar towards the handle sideplate.

The only issue with magnetic brakes like this is they are never really fully off so low speed performance in situations like pitching tend not to be as good because the spool is never really "free". Nevertheless, the Silver Max holds up well in both casting and pitching situations with baits down to three eighths of an ounce (3/8 oz) with the sweet spot for pitching maybe a little higher at about half an ounce (1/2oz).

Until you see the end of that bar poke out from the hole just behind the "S" in Silver MAX.

Features: A nice little bonus feature of this reel is a flipping switch of sorts (Abu calls it the Rocket Clutch). It's a tab at the back top of the reel along the non-handle sideplate that pops up when you engage the free spool. Pushing that tab back down with your thumb re-engages the spool, so you can make a pitch or flip while in free spool, and when your bait hits its target, you can reengage the spool with your thumb without having to touch handle with your other hand.


Then, with your free hand, twist the sideplate up, and pull it off.


In the past, with some reels that had a flipping switch, you had to continue holding down the thumb bar to keep the reel in free spool. Once you lifted your thumb, the reel was re-engaged, but this made it a little awkward to pitch and flip, because the hand holding the reel was in a slightly awkward position. Abu Garcia's implementation on the Silver Max reminds me a little of Shimano's former Castaic flipping reel only better because you don't have to slide your thumb to the top of the reel to re-engage the spool, just reach over a little bit to a more natural position still at the back of the reel, click, and you're locked in and ready for a fish to bite.

A look at the reel's bare spool.

Otherwise, the Silver Max may feel like a bare bones reel, but it does have an externally adjustable brake system and one bearing on the levelwind - a lot of higher end reels don't have this. There are no bearings at the handle's knobs (we're assuming this because the knobs are not removable to check), but it does have a micro-click enabled dragstar (spool tension knob does not click). Finally, there is no reel cover, and no vial of oil inside the reel's box.

I was surprised to find a bearing on the levelwind wormgear.

Features Ratings for Abu Garcia Silver Max

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)

Another feature of this reel... see that piece of metal at the top side of the handle sideplate adjacent to the spool?

Design & Ergonomics: The reel does come with a surprising 83 millimeter long handle fitted with standard, yet comfortable rubber knobs. Though it's marginally taller than the Orra SX, you can't really tell when you're fishing this reel - it is very comfortable to palm and its weight of seven point three ounces (7.3oz) is very respectable. Breakdown of the reel is pretty straight forward, though a little annoying considering the four screws that hold the handle sideplate to the frame are all different sizes - this makes reassembly a fraction more tedious than it needs to be.

 It pops up when you depress the thumb bar. Pressing it down re-engages the spool without you having to touch the handle - great for flipping and pitching.

Design & Ergonomics Ratings for Abu Garcia Silver Max

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

The reel's casting brakes are adjustable via the dial on the non-handle sideplate.

Application: The Silver MAX is a good choice in a general purpose reel for those anglers on a budget. It fishes all but the extreme techniques of finesse and big baits perfectly fine and comes with a very good, all purpose retrieve ratio of 6.4:1. It's hard to imagine a retrieve ratio like this used to be considered high speed!

The Silver MAX is a good choice in a general purpose reel for anglers on a budget.

Application Ratings for Abu Garcia Silver Max

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



Abu Garcia Silver Max Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality This is a nice little reel. Just don't expect a high level of refinement out of the box 6.5
Performance A good performing reel 7.2
Price Tough to beat at this price point 9
Features Somewhat bare bones but that flipping switch is a nice addition 6.43
Design (Ergonomics) Comfortable ergonomics with a slightly longer handle than usual 7.0
Application Really good versatility especially considering the low cost of ownership 6.0

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:


+ Good ergonomics - Given this reel's price point, it's difficult to complain about much - fish it!
+ Smooth operation thanks to brass gearing  
+ Competent braking system  
+ Excellent price point  

The Silver Max is a reel with cost conscious consumers in mind, and while it is affordable, it doesn't compromise much on performance.

Conclusion: It's hard to expect very much from a reel sitting at the price point of the Silver Max. Those who want more out of their reel and have the budget to do so are going to bypass this little gem because consumers naturally buy at their budget, not below. The Silver Max is a reel with cost conscious consumers in mind, and while it is affordable, it doesn't compromise much on performance. If frame and sideplate materials, bearing count, a super lightweight spool, and sophisticated braking systems aren't your thing and you just want a reel that will allow you to place your bait where you want and get the fish into the boat, Abu Garcia's Silver Max can fit that bill.


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