When Steve Abel started building fly reels, they were some of the finest fly reels ever built. They were well machined and had some of the best drags in the business. This was proven by the countless world records that can be attributed to Abel reels. Fast forward to today. The world of reels has changed. The best reels are the market are made by the likes of Nautilus and Hatch and cork is no longer the best drag material.   Enter the Abel SD fly reel. It's the first departure from tradition in over 20 years. This innovative reel has been tested and re-tested. Finally in July 2014, Abel unveiled to the world an entirely new, sealed drag fly reel. Needless to say, we were excited to get our hands on it and test it.   5-Weight Reel Shootout Full Results


5.5 ounces.  A little heavy for a trout reel.



  The SD's drag tested at 2.2 lbs, which, while not best in class, is above our 2lb threshold for how much drag we'd like to see. What we really liked about the SD's drag is that it had very little startup inertia - .16lbs. An Abel with a smooth drag? We like that.



Perfect. It reminds me of a cross between a Ross and a Tibor.


If there's one real complaint we had with the SD is that they built a modern reel, but put a mid-arbor spool on it (it only pulls in line at 6.3 inches per turn). When I switched back to my Lamson Vanquish after fishing with this reel, the retrieval rate was noticeably better. The reel does feature a quick change spool, which is also somewhat of a shift for Abel.


There were few clear category winners in this test. The Galvan Torque's drag was fantastic, but not sealed. In the look and feel category, there was one unequivocal winner: the Abel SD. It's incredibly well machined and the anodizing was gorgeous. Of course you've got all the custom options that Abel is known for, like a brown trout drag knob. It's got a comfortable, machined, handle as well.

The Drop

Above Average. The finish on the Abel is first rate. It resists scratching especially well. Unfortunately, it divoted a litte more than we'd like. No Damage.


$20 plus shipping and handling.   Price: $550



  The SD finished in the middle of the pack, a fact that really saddens us. There's no reel that we loved as much as the Abel SD. Sure, it's expensive, practically a mid-arbor, and has 1/4 of the drag of the Galvan Torque, but it's very easy to overlook these shortcomings when you're fishing with it. In virtually every subjective category, the SD is perfect. This is one reel that's worth checking out before you decide on your next trout reel.   Help us review more reels.  Shop now!


  • Best looking reel in the test
  • One of the sounding reels in the test
  • Lots of options


  • Heavier than we'd like
  • Expensive
  • Slow-ish retrieve