Although I’m the youngest guy at Wired2Fish, I’m fairly old-school when it comes to bass fishing equipment. I make a concerted effort to keep everything as simple as possible because having expensive gear is not required to catch lots of big bass. Just a few years ago, I was a college angler with very little money to spend on the “latest and greatest” tackle; so I have a big interest in affordable fishing gear.
I’ve been using the Abu Garcia Silver Max Casting Reel for the better part of a year. It’s priced at $59.99 and performs much like many reels in the $125 to $150 price range.
Excellent cast control
You’ll run across a lot of budget-friendly bass fishing reels that look good but perform poorly. Some companies like to reel you in (no pun intended) with cosmetics while skimping on the internal design elements that dictate on-the-water performance.
The Abu Garcia Silver Max casts surprisingly well for a reel of its price point. I’ve tested it with weightless soft plastics and lightweight balsa lures and, to be honest, have been incredibly impressed by how well it performs.
The MagTrax brake system allows for quick, spur-of-the-moment braking adjustments without the removal of any side plates. If you’re casting a light lure and decide to switch things up to a heavier jig or Texas rig, a few clicks of the external brake control allow you to spend less time fooling with your reel and more time making accurate casts.
I also haven’t noticed any screeching or squealing when making long casts with this reel. These sounds are often found in budget fishing reels and are usually indicative of serious bearing issues, but the Silver Max is very quiet during operation. I haven’t cleaned this reel since the day I got it and it’s still casting just as flawlessly as ever.
Whether you like to make short pitches and flips, skip jigs underneath docks or bomb crankbaits across open-water structure, this reel is up to the task.
The feel of a more expensive reel
I’ve used a lot of reels in this price range that are flat-out uncomfortable to fish with. They sit too high off of your reel seat and, for lack of a better explanation, they feel clunky. If you’ve tinkered with reels at this price point, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
Fortunately, the Silver Max is very ergonomic. If you were to close your eyes and let me put it into your hands, you’d likely mistake it for a much more expensive reel. Its streamlined, low-profile design molds to your hand quite well and allows for a sturdy grip, especially when fishing in close-combat situations.
While it’s not as lightweight as some other reels, the 7.3-ounce Silver Max is a slick-feeling reel for the $59.99 price point. The one-piece graphite frame and side plates are sturdy and hold up to abuse without any issues.
While I don’t often use the drag of casting reels—I tighten the drag to its maximum setting and use the thumb bar to manually release line—I spent a considerable amount of time testing the Silver Max’s drag. I understand that not everyone uses my method, so I wanted to make sure I covered the bases for all angers.
When fighting fish, this reel dispenses line very smoothly. It doesn’t surge very much, which has led to very few lost fish when they make strong runs at the side of the boat. Again, it performed similarly to many of the more expensive reels I’ve tested this year.
If you like to lock down your drag when pitching and flipping—which I recommend doing—you’ll have a hard time pulling any line when wrenching on big bass in heavy cover. You’re able to set the hook hard and get direct energy transfer to the fish.
This is a darn good reel, even if you ignore the ridiculously reasonable price tag. It’s comfortable and easy to palm, it casts well and its drag can hold its own against particularly big bass. If you’re looking to add a few more reels to your collection, this is an excellent place to start. I have and will continue to tournament fish with the Silver Max.