By Gerald Penkler
Abel reels have rightfully earned their reputation as reliably solid and bombproof. Dunk, drop, sand bathe day in and day out and you can still rely on them to stop a drag racer of a fish.
However, as I am sure many have discovered, they have an achilles heel. Ironically it’s cleaning. Or at least if you are not careful. After every session in the salt I carefully rinse all of my gear, rods, reels, used flies etc to remove the salt.
After a day fishing in Praslin, I opened my Abel and gave it the usual rinse off under warm water and put it together again. The next day, to my surprise I had no drag. A quick inspection revealed that somehow I had managed to wash out the two little springs which engage the drag clutch. The achilles heel… two tiny little springs which engage the clutch onto the drag discs.
However, I found an easy hack which restored the function exceptionally well and easily lasted out the week working perfectly. I needed a substitute spring… crease fly foam is high quality closed cell foam. My standard field kit usually contains super glue and thread. Together these work pretty well to get the reel clicking along happily again.
Clip a sliver of foam off from the crease fly and create a small rectangle that fits snugly between the two wire spring supports on the clutch drag. The foam layer needs to extend a bit so that it compresses against the side of the reel housing. Importantly the foam layer should be thin (3 mm) so that the clutch can pivot freely. Secure the foam with some thread wraps and a dab of superglue. I am sure that you could do this with some fine mono, and without superglue instead if necessary.
This field fix takes 5 min and worked superbly. As long as you are hearing a strong clicking as you wind, the clutch is working. Once the clutch and drag is engaged (e.g. a fish tearing over the horizon) the foam is no longer needed to hold it there.
Hopefully you never need to use the hack but if you do, don’t dispair. And remember, Abels were built to be bombproof not pampered and washed… do so with care.