In the last 20 years reels have advanced in leaps and bounds, but the development of closed-faced models had somewhat stagnated. Anglers had to make do with models that have been around for ages ¬ but now, thanks to Abu Garcia, there is a new model on the market.
Launched in September, the Abumatic Premier 706 has already proved very popular and looks set to follow in the footsteps of the legendary 704, which is regarded as the best-selling closed-face reel in Europe.
The latest addition to the line-up is largely based on the 704, but benefits from a few key tweaks ¬ it has a completely new body design, the quality of the components used inside the reel are of a better quality and Abu has reverted to a one-pin design that is more reliable than the double pin offering.
To give the reel a thorough test, I took it out to one of the few ice-free venues in the local area, the Old Nene at March.
With the river running steadily, it would be the perfect venue to test the 706. The reel’s shallow spool was loaded with 100m of 0.18mm line (3.2lb) and a 3BB stick float was secured to the line.
It was pleasing to note that the reel comes with an additional two shallow spools and one deep spool. If you are using lines between 2lb and 4lb, you simply wind on the whole 100m spool ¬ no need to mess around with any backing! You also get one deeper spool if you want to use thicker lines.
Casting was simple. One press of the central button released the line and it was then resting against my finger ready for the float to be flicked out.
The line flew off the reel smoothly thanks to the polished stainless steel winding cup and you could easily reach the spool lip with your finger to feather the line as it reached the desired spot. Its ease of use proved brilliant when casting repeatedly.
As the float trotted down the swim, extra line could be released instantly by pressing the button. Should a bite occur, the slightest touch on the handle was all that was needed to re-engage the pin, putting you in direct contact with the fish.
Abu has made quite a bold move reverting to a single pin design ¬ a move that might be seen as going backwards by some. But I have to say that the pin never missed when picking up the line and even if the line was the wrong side of the pin, there were only a couple of inches of ‘loose’ line until it picked up. I think a second pin would offer very few advantages.
It’s noticeable that the anti-reverse lever has been moved from the spine of the reel to sit on top of the reel handle and I found this far easier to access than most open-faced reels.
The only flaw I could find was with the Synchro drag on the handle of the reel. It isn’t as good as the clutch mechanisms you will find on similar- priced front drag reels, and set on the light side I found it to be a bit hit and miss, with line releasing sometimes and not others. I dare say that with larger fish such as carp, tench, chub and barbel the drag will work perfectly, but with small roach and tiny hooks there wasn’t enough pressure to release the line. That said, by winding the handle a quarter of a turn backwards it decreases the resistance by 50 per cent ¬ handy for those last-minute runs at the net.
I see this as a small stumbling block in what appeared to be an otherwise faultless product and it certainly won’t put me off using one whenever I’m faced with moving water ¬ I’ll just opt to lock the drag up and use the backwind instead.