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Reel Review


A Reel for Those Who Like to Cast Fast, but Retrieve Slow : The Revo5 Winch


Date: 6/2/23
Tackle Type: Reel
Manufacturer: Abu Garcia
Reviewer: Cal

Total Score: 8.17 - GREAT

The obsession in today's society with instant gratification is quickly eroding our collective patience. Movies or TV series that don't grab you right away become, at best, fodder for distracted viewing. Food that takes over ten minutes to make it to your table, or over an hour to your front door, are two star reviews waiting to happen. The need for speed has infiltrated bass fishing to the point where true, low gear ratio casting reels are an endangered product. One manufacturer, however, recognizes the need of a lure to sometimes take its time and savor its journey back to the boat rather than the express bullet train around the lake. For those of us who like to take it slow, Abu Garcia makes the Winch, and today, we take a closer look at the '23 platform.


Abu Garcia Revo5 Winch Specifications

Line Capacity - Rated 12/180
Line Capacity - Spool Volume 17.5 cm3
Retrieve Ratio
Inches Per Turn (IPT) - calculated
7.5 - 28
Weight 7.7 oz
Spool Weight 18 g
Handle Length 95 mm
Bearings 8+1
Bearings per Knob 1 bearing, 1 bushing
Levelwind Bearings 2 bearings
Rated Max Drag ~25lbs
Origin Made in Korea
MSRP $229.95


Impressions: With each passing revision, one of the Revo platforms I look forward to getting re-acquainted with the most is the Winch. While the battle for who can build a small, low profile caster that can pull in the most line with each crank of the handle endures, I continue to covet the slow, plodding, long game reels like the Winch. This is mostly because I'm terrible at adjusting my cadence on a consistent basis with baits that swim beneath the surface. If I can't see it, I'm stuck on automatic, so if I'm using a reel that's too fast for the application, I'll waste countless hours wondering why I'm not getting bit. For me, matching the right retrieve ratio to each application is a way of bass fishing life and just as critical, if not a bit more than selecting the right rod. When it's time to go slow, the Winch has been one of my favorites over the years.


Introducing Abu Garcia's Revo5 Winch.


For Gen 5, the Winch takes on what was once the SX's black and red color scheme. The reel's handle is a nice, long (95mm), swept aluminum piece with oversized, rubberized knobs. The reel's new asymmetrical frame makes the Winch feel small and while it has always been the same size and shape as its Revo siblings, for some reason this new shape feels out of place for the Winch. Probably just takes some time to get familiar. In sticking with tradition, the Winch comes with a deeper spool than the other Revos (~15% more capacity) to better accommodate thicker diameter lines.

The Winch's spool (left) has 15% more capacity than a standard Revo's (right)

Real World Tests: Having fished this platform since Revo's second generation, I'm pretty familiar with the Winch's capabilities as a deep cranking reel. For Gen 5, I decided to present the Winch with a bigger challenge - literally. These days when seeking a reel with a low rate of retrieve, I'm usually fishing big topwater wakes. With that in mind, I loaded my Revo5 Winch with my favorite line combination for big baits and that's hollow braid plus leader. In this specific case, PowerPro Hollow Ace in 40lb (~85yds) and a leader of 40lb Sunline Saltimate Nylon Leader.

Mounted on one of my latest builds...

From there, I matched the Winch up with a new wrap, my recently completed Phenix Titan TJXL710H-B. This is a saltwater blank designed for long fall jigging presentations made popular in Japan. The TJXL710H-B is the heaviest power of four blanks in this specific application and features a thin diameter blank with a lot of power. Many big bait anglers in the know down in Southern California are using these blanks as the foundation of their swimbait rod arsenal.

... a Phenix Rods Titan TJXL710H-B

I ordered a blank or two on order to try for myself and as a build project over the winter. I trimmed the blank down to 7'-6" in length to better fit the small rod locker on my boat. With ratings that do not correspond to freshwater techniques, I'm on a path of discovery with this blank with regards to how heavy of a bait I can throw, but I was told the TJX710H-B is a stick capable of launching baits like Roman Made's Mother (~11.3oz) with little to no difficulty.

Spooled with hollow braid and a 40lb leader

Casting: Previous generation Revo Winch reels were equipped with Abu Garcia's Infini brakes - a dual brake system featuring both centrifugal and magnetic brakes. For Revo5, Abu Garcia leans into their more dynamic IVCB-6, centrifugal only, brakes. I found the previous braking system a bit overkill never really using the magnetic half of the brakes. IVCB-6 feels more free during a cast with a faster startup allowing better casting distance with less effort. However, lean into your cast too much, and either more pressure from your thumb or a quick adjustment to the spool tension knob prior to your cast is needed to control overruns. In either case, with these brakes, it's all about being smooth and efficient in your wind up and follow through.

The Winch is outfitted with Abu Garcia's IVCB-6 brake system

The plus side is with that faster startup on the spool, opens up a lower end combined lure weight of about a quarter of an ounce. That means you can more easily cast small cranks to compliment an arsenal of larger lure profiles making the Winch a more well rounded reel. For me, with the pairing of this reel on my TJX710H-B build, what I had interest in was the other end of the spectrum. Baits like my Illude/Lunker Fighter 2 and 3 piece Zombie XL Rats, my DRT Ghost, and my GanCraft Jointed Claw 303 baits all weigh in the neighborhood of nine to nine and a half ounces (9-9.5oz) or so, and are what I had in mind for this particular combo.

Launching a Roman Made Mother with the new combo

Traditionalists will probably be aghast at the thought of using such a small reel with such huge baits because there's a tendency to think you need to match the size of your reel with the size of your bait. I don't know from where this line of thought originated, but really, the only concern for me is line capacity. When you make a cast, your reel is in freespool so there is little to no stress on the reel. When you click the reel over and are working your bait, there's no more stress on your reel using big baits than there is fishing a vibrating jig or medium depth crankbait. If anything, there are deep diving cranks that put more pressure on your reel. The true victim of stress during the cast and retrieve with any bait is the fishing rod, so as long as I can get fifty or sixty yards of line on my reel, I'm good to go.

Brake adjustments are handled via this dial on the non-handle sideplate

This is why I use a braid to leader strategy with my big bait reels. I can get more braid on my reel than I can a thick nylon monofilament or fluorocarbon, and then I just install a leader to take care of shock absorption and resistance to abrasion. With hollow braid, there's virtually no connection knot to worry about which makes the line strategy all the more appealing. As mentioned earlier, I was able to get about 85 yards of 40lb Hollow Ace onto the Winch. When paired with my TJX710H-B build, the combo handled launching all manner of baits, including that list of 9+ ouncers, wonderfully. Thanks to the IVCB-6, I did not need much force at all in my back swing to fire the baits where I wanted them to go. I'd then crawl the baits back to my position giving them plenty of time to marinate in the strike zone.

The Winch is equipped with 8 bearings plus the roller bearing

Retrieve: Locked in at one gear ratio, the Winch's raison d'etre is that slow, plodding 5.4:1 retrieve. Not every angler has the need or the patience to use such a slow reel anymore, which is why they are an endangered product line. However, I certainly have an appreciation for it because it gives my baits more time in the fishes' faces. The Winch's retrieve is delivered with very solid, smooth performance all aided by the reel's 95mm handle and comfortable, oversized, PVC knobs. If I have one area of criticism, it is that the Winch's knobs are supported by one bearing and one bushing, not two bearings. This is something that is easily upgraded aftermarket, but not something I usually bother with anymore. That is, unless I intend to use the reel beyond its testing period which is a distinct possibility with the Winch.

The handle is a generous 95mm from center of knob to center of knob

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