Merwin: Turn Your Reel Into a Distance Machine

I mentioned a while ago that I was tweaking or "super-tuning" some of my Abu Garcia casting reels with aftermarket parts for better performance. This brought some questions, not least of all why I'd do that in the first place.

As one answer, here's a short video of North Carolina competition caster Tommy Farmer making an incredible 816-foot cast with souped-up surf gear.

Yes, that distance is real. Not in my wildest dreams can I cast that far, of course. Not even with the 150-gram (5 ounce) competition-style casting sinker most commonly used in trying for distance records. But many such records have been set with common 6500-series Abu baitcasters--the same as you might use for pike, muskies, steelhead, or stripers.

These are good, fairly inexpensive reels right out of the box, but cleaned, re-lubed, and with the addition of upgraded ball bearings and magnetic cast controls they become real distance contenders. The tweaks are fun to fool around with for anyone who knows a wrench from a wildebeest, and not all that expensive.

A couple of sources for parts are the Hatteras Jack tackle shop in North Carolina, and also a place called Cast Away Lakes in Ohio. Parts diagrams for most Abu reels are widely available online, and while you're at it, you'll probably find upgrade options for some Shimano and Daiwa reels, as well. Good luck!