I’m going to write this review like we’re gathered around my boat at the boat ramp; we just fished all day and we’re all leaned up against my gunnel and shooting the crap, talking about everything that happened throughout the day. Before you keep reading, try to put yourself into that position.
This reel is something special and when I say that, I don’t say it lightly. So as we go through this comprehensive review together, I think it’s very important to keep an open mind after you discover it will only cost you $80.00.
I am not impressed by price tags and I never will be. If I run across a piece of expensive fishing equipment, I don’t automatically assume it’s the best just because it’s expensive; I can remember many days when I was absolutely broke, fishing with a $40 spinning combo because it was all I could afford. So as the younger folks would say, you can miss me with all of that. I don’t believe all fishing equipment should be expensive.
So here’s the deal: We’ve all been testing a pile of baitcasters for a long time to come up with a list of the best baitcasters of 2023. Between testing both expensive and cheap baitcasters on my end, I kept gravitating back to this particular reel. It has nothing to do with a dumb sales pitch or anything of the sort; this reel kept making its way to the front of my rotation.
After a few weeks, it has become one of my favorite reels I’ve tested in the past several years. Like we just mentioned, it’s not super expensive and the price tag won’t blow you away. But my gosh, I honestly don’t think I have ever used a baitcaster under $100 that has performed this well under so many circumstances.
This isn’t one of those reels you get from blister packaging in the big-box stores and you’re not going to take it out of the box and it feel like a brick in your hand. I think if enough people put their hands on this reel, it will become one of the best sellers of the year. Hang with me for a little bit while I explain that rather bold statement.
I’ve really liked the Flipping Switch
When you engage the Flipping Switch on the Abu Garcia Max STX Casting Reel, it engages the reel immediately after releasing the thumb bar. Personally speaking, I have rarely tested a reel with a feature like this but it was a pretty cool deal.
Granted, it took about 20 or 30 pitches and flips to get used to but once I got the hang of things, I found it to be pretty convenient while I was dinking around shallow cover. I rarely fish in less than six feet of water so I really enjoyed this feature meant for shallow-water power fishermen.
This is where things get a little weird with this reel. At such a low price point, I feel like people will automatically think it’s a cheap reel for beginners. But once you start tossing it around and fishing your favorite lures with it, you’re going to get confused. It’s not a low-end reel no matter what the price point says.
Almost every week, I test reels that cost a bunch of money and I’m telling you, a lot of them aren’t worth the price. The Abu Garcia Max STX Casting Reel, however, operates like a reel more than twice its price. Whether you use it with light fluorocarbon, heavy fluorocarbon, braided line or even monofilament for topwater lures, you’re going to have a good experience with it.
This is one of my favorite reels Abu Garcia has ever put out. I know it sounds weird given its price point but I’m telling you, I’d be totally happy with a front deck-full of these reels for a tournament season.
Great handle knobs
If you’ve read many of my reviews in the past, you’re probably well aware that bright and crazy colors don’t necessarily trip my proverbial trigger. The Abu Garcia Max STX Casting Reel comes with some bright-orange, co-molded knobs that, in all honestly, feel really darn good in your hands. They’re sticky and oversized which means they’re easy to “locate” on quick hooksets when and if your hands are covered in water or fish slime. I guess I can get over the loud colors because it’s such a comfortable reel in my hands.
A sturdy frame goes a long way
The (very) large majority of reels in this price range tend to be flimsy and cheap in your hands. I’m not saying that to be critical or anything but it’s important to know what you’re spending your hard-earned money on. I’ve spent a lot of time testing reels in this price range and they feel like crap, to be honest. It almost feels like you could pull them apart with your bare hands and let’s be honest with each other here—nobody wants that. That’s disrespectful to your hard-earned money.
The machined aluminum spool and one-piece graphite frame are an outstanding addition to this reel. I’d easily pay over $120 for this reel any day of the week due to its frame construction and solid feel in my hands.
If you’re someone wanting to expand your rod-and-reel arsenal without spending a bunch of crazy money on the latest and greatest, I strongly suggest looking at this reel. I get to test some of the nicest stuff on the market and I’d have no problems fishing exclusively with this reel for years to come.
I know… it sounds stupid and crazy to say that about a reel at this price point but I’m telling you, I haven’t found a better budget reel in recent years and honestly, maybe in my entire career.