For my annual trip tarpon fishing in Boca Grande, Florida this year, I brought a new reel -- the Abel SDS 11/12 wt.
Why a new reel? And why an Abel? A few reasons.
First, I like supporting an 100% Made in the USA product. Simple as that. But the good news story from Abel goes further. They have donated 10% of sales to conservation causes, and so have raised a lot of money for issues that matter to fly fishermen. And, they have a foundation that supports women in fly fishing -- much like Orvis's fantastic 50/50 initiative. How can you not want to support a company like that?
But you can't land a tarpon on good vibes alone. It's got to perform, and perform well.
The Abel SDS 11/12 handled a 80 or so lbs tarpon flawlessly. I was impressed. A few of the things I like about this reel include:
The incredibly strong stacked drag system
The usability of the knobs, including the ported reel knob and the feedback and design on the drag knob
And just how damn good it looks.
According to the Abel specs, this will take 250 yards of 30# backing with a 12 wt line -- something I found to be true in rigging this up before the trip. This is due to the 4.5" spool diameter. It's big, but not beefy, due to all of the porting, which makes the reel almost airy light.