Years ago, I used ABU Cardinals for a while - as in the green ones with a stern drag knob. Today's Cardinal has the same name, but it's a very different beast, which I'm hoping will double up as a reel for lure fishing for pike once I get bored with bass.
First impressions out of the box are it's a nice little reel, smooth but with that chunky ABU build that seduced plenty of pike anglers away from Mitchells before Shimano took the specimen world by storm with its first incarnations of the Baitrunner.
It comes with two machined brass spools, one deep, one shallow. I've loaded the latter with 20lbs Spiderwire Easy Braid, which I got 300yds of for £19.99 from Veals. The shallow spool takes around 100 yards of it after backing it with some 15lbs Amnesia I had lying around.
I can't see me losing that many lures by sacrificing strength for much finer diameter that should enable me to chuck them out a bit further than the 50lbs Powerpro I've been using.
I was quite looking forward to fishing with the ABU after resuming my bass fishing career with a pair of 12-year-old Baitrunners borrowed off my drain rods. You get a lot of reel for £70 these days.
Its makers claim the Cardinal is "all water-protected". I don't bother with the wash your stuff every time you use it in the sea business, so this should help ensure its survival.
The bail arm snaps shut with a positive clack and the roller, um, rolls like it's meant to. The clutch on these is meant to be nice and smooth, but mine will be screwed up solid as I prefer back-winding when I need to give a fish some line.
The handle's robust and has a pair of generous-sized grips which feel like duplon. These grips are my one gripe, as they clack against the body of the handle as you retrieve, although it's the reassuring clack of metal on metal.
It might be built like the proverbial Volvo, but the makers are Chinese, not Swedish. And ABU is now a division of Pure Fishing, which in turn is a US-based subsidiary of something called the Jarden Corporation. The fact most of our kit now originates in the Far East is part and parcel of fishing these days.
+++Wow, wow, wow - what a great reel to fish with... I gave it a try off the beach tonight, loaded up with new braid, and it's a delight to use. After a few gentle chucks to check the line wasn't going to pull any nasties on me, I started giving it a bit more welly.
No tangles, despite fishing into a stiff-ish head wind. The line lay looks spot-on, the roller runs nicely as you retrieve and the reel feels as smooth as a Swiss watch. The grips sit comfortably between your thumb and forefinger. Chunky and easy to grip, even with wet hands.
++++This has lovely reel written all over it, after a few brief sea fishing sessions. I've given it no TLC whatsoever when I've returned from a trip, yet the roller's still going nicely and the braid's lying perfectly despite chucking different lures into a head wind.
I like the metal spools as well - not the usual one decent spool, one plastic spare which now seems to be par for the course when you actually get a spare spool with a reel these days.
What a lovely bit of kit. By the time I start pike fishing again, these will be on most of my lure rods.