Abu 507 Mk2 (mk 2) closed face reel

Skridlov

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I've now had 2 sessions using my new 507 Mk 2 (mk2). I'm conflicted about it because in many ways it's just as much of a Curate's Egg as all of its siblings I've used. On the good side it has a conventional drag system, with the setting wheel under the body - they seem to move this function around from time to time - and it sets quite sensitively. The single hand line release is one of the main things I like about closed face reels, although I have more to say about that later. The bad stuff is the same old same old.

For me, one of the most important attributes of a float fishing reel is that it casts well; of course centre-pin enthusiasts will beg to differ on that. It falls down on casting in comparison to almost any FS reel with correctly loaded line. First time out I used 4 lb mono. Not too bad but inadequate for large Tench in proximity to lilies. Second time I used 6lb line: hopeless - in fact the thing sounded as rough as an old Mitchell. Later I realised part of the reason for this. There are at least a couple of reasons why casting with these things is so erratic - I found it ridiculously difficult to cast consistently in both distance and accuracy. First, the line release often fools you into thinking that the line capture pin (back to a single pin after years of having two pins) has been released when it hasn't; cue thrashing the water in front of your feet with a float. The ridiculously wobbly line release button at the front of the reel is about as non-positive as could be. Nothing "Mk 2 (mk 2)" about that.

But there's a more fundamental problem I believe. As the spool itself reciprocates, the gap between the back edge of the spool and the back edge of the rotating line pickup rotor assembly varies constantly, exposing different parts of the line. So each time you cast, depending on how the line has settled on the spool itself, and where the spool is currently sitting, it's totally random just which part of the spooled line is showing and so which part of the spool the first loops are coming off. No wonder that the casting is so inconsistent - the initial friction varies unpredictably. Until someone does a complete re-design of how a closed face reel functions we're stuck with this problem, IMO.

When I was changing back from the almost unusable 6lb spool of line to the 4 lb I noticed something that was contributing (perhaps?) to the horrible performance with the thicker line. The pipe-cleaners that surround both rims were not fitted to the spool I'd put the 6 lb line on! I'd assumed the pack of them which came with the reel were advance spare parts! No, the company was just too bl00dy lazy to fit them. And now, taking another look at the reel I notice that the 4 lb spool actually has chips out of the outer rim. I'm pretty sure that these weren't there when I first filled it. So how did they get there? I also note that the line lay is extremely uneven, with less line at both extremities of the spool. Now I deliberately slightly under-filled the 4 lb spool (from experience) but that looks odd.

I really wanted to love this reel. I put up with the faults of the previous versions I had until they drove me nuts and I abandoned them. But even when it's working "properly" this feels like a cheap FS reel with no ball bearings. High friction and slightly rough. The casting problems are really infuriating. I persisted all day with the reel and despite the horrible handling characteristics over the course of the session landed about a dozen Bream up to about 7lb on it. I'll try to post a couple of snaps to illustrate the above.

Given that many people are happy to pay hundreds for a centrepin, I'd have thought an intelligently designed closed face reel that addresses the problems these things have always had would have a decent market. At least one would sell, anyway....
Roy
 

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rd115

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These things intrigued me as a youngster, I longed to own a 507 MKII Gold Max when they were in shops but couldn't afford one (think I was 10 or 11 at the time)

If I were to get in to river trotting eventually, which one would be the one to have for nostalgias sake? And aren't there people out there who modify these things to sort out the quirks? 🤔
 

PearTree

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If I were to get in to river trotting eventually, which one would be the one to have for nostalgias sake? And aren't there people out there who modify these things to sort out the quirks? 🤔
501, 506 or 507 from original 500 series. Only for nostalgia as you say though, most anglers on the river match circuit ditched closed face reels decades ago.

Dave Plowman modifies 507's I believe, but they are not cheap.
 

Skridlov

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These things intrigued me as a youngster, I longed to own a 507 MKII Gold Max when they were in shops but couldn't afford one (think I was 10 or 11 at the time)

If I were to get in to river trotting eventually, which one would be the one to have for nostalgias sake? And aren't there people out there who modify these things to sort out the quirks? 🤔
If you look closely at the pic of the pile of reels, there's a Gold Max "match" Mk2 (Mk 1). It lacks only one part of the line capture/release mechanism. Unfortunately parts for this reel are next to completely unavailable. TheBay has some parts and at least one completely stripped chassis. Clearly the parts are worth more than a complete but non-functioning reel. I'm familiar with this situation having restored hundreds of mechanical watches - you can usually find a part but often at crazy prices.
That reel omits the non-return function - goodness knows why! How hard is it to disengage a switch? - assuming there's any good reason to disable anti-reverse on a reel with a tendency to trap line behind the spool. Bonkers.
 

SeanB

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I have a few of the older models and as much as I love them I find the 1044 the best. Can't comment on the newer models as I haven't used them.
 

MarkW

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Back in about 2004 I wrote an article about closed-face reels on Fishing Magic, detailing the shortcomings and how they might be fixed. Some years later a senior design engineer who'd worked for Mitchell got in touch - he'd retired from Mitchell - and we tried to design a reel that would have good line lay - standard closed face reels have only the simplest system - as well as improve other matters but we found the reel became so big and heavy the whole thing was a realisation that you couldn't have a truly great closed face reel without a lot of compromises, which is where we're still at, and why Mitchell Matches, despite their noise, are actually as close to perfect as you'll get for one-handed casting, perfect line lay and the line coming off the spool the best way for trotting/feathering.
 

PearTree

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Mitchell Matches are still popular with some of the lads on my local river circuit. I could never get on with them so once I stopped using my Abu 501's and 506 IIRC I briefly used the Ryobi Mastermatch before switching to the Daiwa 1657's which I've used ever since. As MW has alluded to an open faced reel with an automatic bail arm makes things so much easier and more efficient when you are constantly running a float through a swim.
 

trotter2

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Never was a fan of those mitchell matches tried it a few times back in the 80s and gave up, it stayed in its box until I eventually sold it. The original Abu 500s are still used to this day by match lads fishing the river in the North East.
 

Skridlov

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Mitchell Matches are still popular with some of the lads on my local river circuit. I could never get on with them so once I stopped using my Abu 501's and 506 IIRC I briefly used the Ryobi Mastermatch before switching to the Daiwa 1657's which I've used ever since. As MW has alluded to an open faced reel with an automatic bail arm makes things so much easier and more efficient when you are constantly running a float through a swim.
There are a few Daiwa 1657's on TheBay. As someone who is endlessly trying to find a perfect float reel, I'd appreciate your saying how these, er match up...
Also having used many Mitchells - and still owning a few, including an original Prince like the first I ever had - what's so good about the Match? My abiding memories of all old Mitchells is of clanking, grinding, bail arm problems and line behind the spool.
 

PearTree

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Horses for courses I guess, like many things in angling.

My memories of the Mitchell Match are the same as yours but some very good anglers still use them to good effect. I have also heard plenty of negative comments about the Daiwa 1657 as well but they also still have their fans, Dave Roberts being one of them. I managed to buy two new ones to add to my 4 existing ones a couple of years ago from Tony Troth and he told me that they were still very popular on the Midlands river circuit. The only thing to watch with them is that the bail roller needs to be glued up or they can be prone to very bad line twist.
 

Skridlov

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Horses for courses I guess, like many things in angling.

My memories of the Mitchell Match are the same as yours but some very good anglers still use them to good effect. I have also heard plenty of negative comments about the Daiwa 1657 as well but they also still have their fans, Dave Roberts being one of them. I managed to buy two new ones to add to my 4 existing ones a couple of years ago from Tony Troth and he told me that they were still very popular on the Midlands river circuit. The only thing to watch with them is that the bail roller needs to be glued up or they can be prone to very bad line twist.
I just bid on one on TheBay. Could you please clarify what you mean about gluing up the roller? It needs to be glued up or it tends to glue up?
 

PearTree

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It needs to be glued up with a drop of superglue so it doesn't rotate and cause line twist.
 

Reuben

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Horses for courses I guess, like many things in angling.

My memories of the Mitchell Match are the same as yours but some very good anglers still use them to good effect. I have also heard plenty of negative comments about the Daiwa 1657 as well but they also still have their fans, Dave Roberts being one of them. I managed to buy two new ones to add to my 4 existing ones a couple of years ago from Tony Troth and he told me that they were still very popular on the Midlands river circuit. The only thing to watch with them is that the bail roller needs to be glued up or they can be prone to very bad line twist.
I used 1657DMs for all my float fishing on the Trent in the 90s. I always thought they were great for me because the reel stem was short enough for me to get my index finger on the spool when trotting. I did glue the roller too & never had any issues with line twist. Great shallow spools too.
 

alsur

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After taking up stick float fishing again I've ditched my 506 which was my real of choice and gone over to a normal fixed spool, the only disadvantage I can see is the odd bounced fish when engaging bail arm, it certainly casts better and line comes off spool smoother.
 

Skridlov

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I used the new 507 again yesterday - this time on a fast flowing tidal river (Arun). I hade re-spooled the 4lb line, removing it first and taping the spool to decrease the depth and therefore filling it a little more. Also I was using a "Chubber" (?) small float carrying 3 SSG shot so casting wasn't an issue. Under these circumstances the reel was almost a pleasure to use. It still had a tendency for the line release to fail occasionally unless I made sure there was a distinct click. The jelly-like operation of the release button is ridiculous - I can see no reason why it would have been designed like this.

It's been years since I regularly fished the Arun. It hasn't got any easier - even on a small tide.

I'm waiting for the "near mint" Daiwa 1657DM to arrive. I'm very puzzled as to why it would be beneficial to glue up the line roller. Looking around I found a number of forums where the issue is discussed and to say the least there's no consensus on this. Just thinking it through I'm unable to imagine how a line roller - at least one that works freely - would have any impact on line twist. However some users have obviously determined that it impacts this reel. Odd. I can recall old Mitchells where the line was sawing through the bail arm...
 

PearTree

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It's a mystery to me why it happens as well and I've been using them for decades. I had a problem with one of my reels last season. I'd sent three off to Daiwa for servicing but I had horrendous line twist using one of them after they came back. When I checked it the screw on the line roller hadn't been tightened up properly and it was loose.

Very odd indeed. I've done a lot of saltwater top water fishing over the years and the first thing I service on my reels after a trip is the line roller and the bearings it sits on !
 

alsur

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I used the new 507 again yesterday - this time on a fast flowing tidal river (Arun). I hade re-spooled the 4lb line, removing it first and taping the spool to decrease the depth and therefore filling it a little more. Also I was using a "Chubber" (?) small float carrying 3 SSG shot so casting wasn't an issue. Under these circumstances the reel was almost a pleasure to use. It still had a tendency for the line release to fail occasionally unless I made sure there was a distinct click. The jelly-like operation of the release button is ridiculous - I can see no reason why it would have been designed like this.

It's been years since I regularly fished the Arun. It hasn't got any easier - even on a small tide.

I'm waiting for the "near mint" Daiwa 1657DM to arrive. I'm very puzzled as to why it would be beneficial to glue up the line roller. Looking around I found a number of forums where the issue is discussed and to say the least there's no consensus on this. Just thinking it through I'm unable to imagine how a line roller - at least one that works freely - would have any impact on line twist. However some users have obviously determined that it impacts this reel. Odd. I can recall old Mitchells where the line was sawing through the bail arm...
How hard is button to push on my original 506 it's quite hard (last time I used if after years of not using it it made my finger ache) but it always disengages.
 

MarkW

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When the Daiwa 1657DM came out I had about four Mitchell Matches and I spotted that the Daiwa had a simple line lay like the ABU closed face reels so I passed on buying one. I've long thought the Matches could be improved, not sure how - better bearings and gears maybe - but despite their noisiness still prefer them to any other reel for trotting with fine lines. I've got quite a few, about a dozen that work plus three parts reels. The very early Matches didn't have a roller in the bale and that did groove; only had one later one get a groove. I bought the uprated 840 Match circa 1980 but didn't get on with it but got one very cheaply about three years ago and slowly fettling it as a superb stillwater waggler reel.
 

Nicky Dodds

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The old standard dish profile of bale arm rollers that actually moved was thought to promote the line to climb up each side under retrieval. This is how the line twist was generated. Gluing the roller was thought to add a little more friction into the equation and reduce twist to some extent. Later rollers have grooves or quite severe tapers to stop the climbing.
 
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