Abel TR Reels (2018)


Abel TR fly reel review on TwigwaterHell with it, I’m giving up fly fishing and becoming one of those monks that does Gregorian chants was my first thought when I noticed Abel had quietly dropped the iconic TR reel from their website.

Then I remembered that I have none of the patience required to be a monk, no musical abilities whatsoever and would probably be struck by lightning if I ever entered a church in anything other than chains. I sent Abel VP Jeff Patterson a message asking him what gives.

The short answer was watch this space.

I watched space.

Then forever went by.

Then it went by some more, but possibly slower.

Abel TR fy fishing reel review on Twigwater

Finally, one day I, and a lot of other fans of the TR, noticed a reply from Jeff on Abel’s Facebook page to yet another comment lamenting the loss of the TR. He said a new model was coming and we all went from watching space in a dejected and forlorn manner to watching space with the kind of intent that would even frighten Chuck Norris.

After another very long wait, I finally got a chance to see the new TR’s, in a wide range of sizes and finishes, at the Abel booth at icast 2018 where they won best in show for freshwater reels.

At first glance they’re far more modern than the very very old school and simple TR’s that came before and, I will admit that I had mixed emotions at first. Then I saw one in the brook trout finish.

Abel TR fly reel 2/3 weight review

While I’m not really into the fish finishes normally, this one really stands out for it’s rich, vibrant colours and sheer presence and besides, my favourite fish is the whole trout world is the brook trout, rare as they are here in Australia.

Thankfully the click drag remains and for balance, the simple straight spring and pawl have been moved from frame to spool where both are cleverly recessed. The sound is great.

Abel click drag fly reel TR review

On the back of the reel, only the lower third of the frame is ported leaving lots of realestate for the amazing finish while the front has a complex set of porting creating spidery thin arms leading out to the beautifully smooth, and perfect for palming, rim of the spool.

The spool itself is easily swapped out by unscrewing the large and well knurled center knob.

The outer diameter of the new TR models is a modest 3.06 inches on the 2/3 -weight and 3.29 inches on the 4/5 with both spools being .775 of an inch wide.

New Abel TR fly reel Brook trout finish

These numbers make me very happy because I don’t think there’s anything quite as ridiculous as putting massive, plate sized reels on  2- to 4-weight rods looking for faster line retrieval for trout while throwing away balance and making said trout look even smaller in photos.

In weight, the two models are 4.19 Oz’s and 4.65 Oz’s putting them at the lighter end of trout reels.

In colours, there’s more options than ever with no less than 68 finish options in everything from plain black to the wildest of fish finishes and even flags and I would expect to see some amazing limited editions in the future.

Some tradition is retained in the handle that’s made of laminated wood on this reel, but there are nine other colour options available in anodised aluminium for the more modern or creative amongst you.

Flyfishing reel reviews on Twigwater.com

In build the new TR is a big step away from the original being superbly balanced and lighter with far more complex machining.  As expected, all 21 parts are meticulously made in house at Abel and, like everything else they do, incredibly well screwed together.

I’ll leave everyone else to debate the merits of replacing such a classic and timeless real with an all new, and substantially more modern design, but will say I find the new TR a very beautiful and functional reel worthy of the name.

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