The Swedish company Abu are synonymous with long-range casting multipliers. The original Abu 6000, though initially designed for salmon spinning on the bigger Norwegian and Scandinavian rivers, was soon noticed by UK surfcasters in the 1960’s and quickly modified to suit their needs. Over the coming decades the reels have evolved further to encompass not just long-range fishing, but also national and international tournament casting. In fact, Abu 6500’s in various forms remains the backbone of all tournament casting reels and hold a multitude of long-distance records. The Abu Garcia 6500i TSR is a reel built specifically for long-range fishing but is based on its heritage of unmatched tournament casting ability.
The Abu 6000 series has been one of the most copied reels in history. That is a direct indictment and a worthy accolade of its performance, ability and design.
Let’s put one rumour to bed here and now…the Abu Garcia 6500i TSR is not made in China, it is made in Sweden with most of the parts machined in Sweden too.
What’s striking about the reel is the one-piece aluminium reel frame. This is machined directly from a single block and offers multiple advantages. Obviously, a one-piece frame cannot contort under heavy casting pressures and helps keep the spool fully centred for maximum freedom and casting distance. The reel foot on the frame is also part of the one-piece construction but has been machined to position the reel lower on the rod when the reel is in the reel seat. This low centre of gravity helps the caster get the thumb fully over the reel spool for maximum grip when power casting. To further aid this, the frame is also cut to give the thumb full access to the spool, again for maximum grip.
The Abu Garcia 6500i TSR spool is forged and machined aluminium for lightness and strength. The lighter a spool is, the easier it is to control and brake during the cast aiding the reels ability to reach its maximum distance. The spool runs on a central spindle and is totally free to turn when in free spool mode other than the casters choice of braking.
Something many angers do not understand is the tensioning cap housed in the middle of the left-hand side-plate. If you look at this, underneath it is a numbered ring. If you undo this tensioning cap a little, also the cap on the right-hand side-plate, now tighten these gradually and independently until the spool is dead centre in the reel frame and the spool spindle ends are only just gripped. Next loosen slightly the left-hand tensioning cap until the spool spins totally freely. If you’ve centred the spool correctly this cap loosening will be minimal. Look on the top of the tensioning cap and you’ll see a clearly marked V shape. Rotate the numbered ring until the 0 aligns with the arrow. This is now your default free spool setting. You know by the alignment of the 0 and the tensioning cap arrow that the spool is exactly centred and can rotate freely.
The gears are stainless-steel. Hooking big fish, such as rays or big cod at long range, or match anglers retrieving three fish at once at speed, sees gears come under massive pressure, especially the pinion gear, but the addition of the stainless gears on the Abu Garcia 6500I TSR virtually eliminates the chance of the gears stripping under the heaviest of loads. Stainless gears can feel naturally harsh during the retrieve, but the TSR is smoother than most and the addition of the stainless gears is a big plus. The gear ratio is 5.3:1. This is more than fast enough for everyday fishing, especially over cleaner ground.
The reel also incorporates two ceramic hybrid stainless steel ball-bearings designed to give total freedom during the cast, but also to smooth out the retrieve under heavy load.
The drag system is a multiple washer Carbon Matrix Drag, which is smooth and gives line easily on demand.
The Abu Garcia 6500i TSR features an instantly adjustable magnetic brake housed on the rear rim of the left-hand side-plate. This is a simple back and forth slide bar. Slide it away from you and braking is reduced. Slide it back towards you and braking is increased. It’s simple but is a very effective and a pretty accurate means of positive and negative braking when fishing and needing instant adjustment to combat changing weather conditions. It has to be said though, that the sliding bar can get sand underneath it from time to time, but this is easily removed. The reel also has a secondary centrifugal brake system inside the right-hand side-plate using brake blocks. More experienced casters set up the brake blocks as their main brake system, then fine adjust using the magnetic brake for the best of both worlds.
The handle is a long-crank type and counterbalanced. The handle grip is large enough to be comfy and gives good grip in cold and wet conditions. Also featured is a dual anti-reverse system, plus the reel has a line out alarm which can be engaged when the angler wants to have the reel locked in free spool, but be able to give line when a fish picks up the bait and swims off. This is audible as the ratchet gear will sound as line is taken off the spool.
One other point worth mentioning, the reel is relatively easy to maintain with minimum tools. Access through the right side-plate to the main gears is via three finger tight extended screws, with just a small screw driver needed to remove the left side-plate. The spool can be accessed easily and re lubrication of the working parts is pretty simple and straightforward. This is a worthy advantage as fast running, high performance multipliers regularly used for long distance casting and fishing need to be fully maintained to perform to their best.
The Abu Garcia 6500i TSR has a line capacity is around 275-yards of 0.35mm or 15lb line. Ideal for all clean ground fishing situations.
The reel finish is the silver aluminium frame, with purple spool and side-plates. This certainly makes the reel distinctive and stand out on the shelves. Colour is important to some anglers and it wouldn’t be everyone’s choice, but many like it and most tend to buy the reel for its performance with looks just a secondary factor.
Fishing & Casting Ability
The Abu Garcia 6500I TSR is a superb, lightweight, compact, reliable fishing reel designed for fishing at ultra-long-range over clean sand and maybe mixed rough ground. 15lb mainline and a 60lb shock leader is the ideal set up over sand, but anglers looking for absolute maximum range over clean ground will load with just 12lb line to gain extra yards. If you’re fishing mixed ground, then the reel easily handles and has the capacity, to be loaded with 18lb line. Bass anglers also like this reel when fishing with 12lb line and 3oz leads in the surf at long range. This makes it a versatile reel to fish with.
It’s easy to set up to suit your personal casting style and to instantly adjust as weather and sea conditions change. The simple sliding magnetic brake being as simple as you can get.
Without doubt, straight out of the box, the reel is capable of incredible casting distances in the right hands. There are very few reels that can actually match it, straight off the shelf, for out and out distance, and as a clean to mixed ground fishing reel it has the gearing and all the performance required to make it a top performer.
- One-piece aluminium frame with low centre of gravity
- Forged and machined aluminium spool
- Stainless steel gears
- Gear ratio 5.3:1
- Magtrax brake system
- Ceramic hybrid stainless-steel ball-bearings
- Dual anti-reverse system
- Line out alarm
- Elongated counter-balanced reel handle
- Line capacity approximately 275yds 0.35mm 15lb mono
The ABU 6500i TSR multiplier achieves exactly what it set out to do, to produce an off-the-shelf reel for the more experienced angler that gives instant high-performance casting and fishing without the need for expensive and specialist modification. The low-profile one-piece reel cage offers huge gains in strength over the now outdated fixed crossbars that could so easily distort under load. The stainless-steel gears add huge retrieve power that suits both the pleasure and match angler adding greatly to the reels versatility and putting it head and shoulders above the less expensive 6500 variants with standard gearing. The ABU Ambassadeur 6500i TSR proudly sits at the top of the Ambassadeur range, and rightly so!