Final word on the reels
I put in a solid week fishing with the 2650 and can see for sure why I loved it so. It would be easy to write this model off as wimpy and lacking features but for light fishing – what a beauty. For sure it lacks the centrifugal and magnetic spool braking systems making it a more difficult reel to cast. Even for me, the first few casts had me sharpening up my backlash removal skills but I was soon laying them out consistently 100′. I matched it up with a 5′ Shakespeare light action rod. The combination was incredibly light, even compared to my next lightest Shimano outfit. The retrieve is slow – low, low gear ratio and tiny spool which makes it unsuitable for buzzing over grass and as light as the whole outfit is – not really well suited for fishing over top of grass in any way. But for fishing small top water lures or slow sinking worms, perfect. It doesn’t have an anti-reverse feature which means that for worm fishing, you don’t have to overtly disengage the spool to let a fish run. That’s a nice feature (actually a lack of a feature) when a fish hits the worm early and hard because you can instantly create some slack. With the normal spool disengagement system, you can lose a fish when the line tightens prematurely before you can hit the button. I’ll probably put it away for a while since the fish are still way back in the grass and this rig is definitely not suited for hauling them through the bushes.
Now to the 4500C. I think I mentioned that I was having some trouble with the spool engaging/disengaging reliably. I could get it to work at times and then it would fail to engage. After about a dozen assemble/dissamble cycles with no clean solution, I gave up and took it to my reel guy in Daytona. I was convinced that a main gear was worn – even though I couldn’t see it. I did have a little nag on my mind that it was still gribby in one particular area that I was nervous about taking apart. I remembered from many total reel breakdowns, that one area in particular was loaded with little, tiny, teeny weenie, spring loaded parts. In my prime I could take down even that area and put it back together easily. I also know that I don’t see as well as I did and thatmy fingers don’t work nearly as well on little parts. I cleaned around that area, dunked it liberally in WD 40, and made it look clean to the casual observer. Still, I would have felt better to have really got in there and scrubbed it down. So I wasn’t too surprised when the repair guy called and said the reel was fixed and that all it needed was a good cleaning in the disengagement mechanism. That was kind of embarrassing since I told the guy that I’d cleaned it and pinpointed the gear I thought was a problem. I went over to Daytona to pick up the reel. The guy cranked over the reel a few times and it worked just fine. He was telling me how it just needed cleaning while I cranked a few times. After half a dozen successful engagements it slipped and missed a half a crank. It then did that a few times and the guy told me that was normal since this reel was not a double engagement do dah. Meaning it could take a full turn of the handle rather than half a turn. Hmmmmmmm. That’s BS – same gears as in my 5000’s. Then it hung up for a couple of full turns and in a few more cranks it was back to the same problem I had experienced – just wouldn’t engage the spool. He said, â€œwell I guess it’s those springs or the gearâ€ and vowed to fix it properly. We left the reel there and I told Nancy that I felt vindicated and relieved that my cleaning skills were not at fault. She thought I was a bit wacko since I was happy that the reel was still not working. Not really – I would have felt really great if he had fixed it properly and found a hard fault. But finding it to be my inability to clean it was a hard pill to swallow. I guess I need my reputation/self confidence more than I need the reel. They called again while I was in the hospital and we didn’t get around to it until right after Labor Day. It checked out fine at the tackle shop so on to the lake.
How does it fish? I had never fished with this model before and my initial expectation was that the light weight , centrifugal braking and narrow spool would make it a great reel. And the star drag would make it better suited for some of the heavy water I fish. I also figured I wouldn’t like the slow retrieve from the factory installed gear ratio and the small, two knob handle. I always modified my reels for both these deficiencies but doubt seriously any of those secondary market parts would be available today. There’s a possibility I could break down one of my 5000C’s to rob the parts but that’s a long shot. Anyway, I got the reel and entered the flight test phase. Smoooooooth! Casts like a dream. I hooked up a 4â€ senko on a 2/0 hook – so it was a nominally light terminal rig. The bearings clearly make it superior to the 2650. It is heavier than I’d ideally have and I do hate the dual knob handle but without a doubt it’s the smoothest of the Ambassadeur series for me. I’m confident I can drop down lure size into the 3/16 oz range and still cast well. I like the narrow spool better than the 5000D so between the two, it’s a toss-up which I like best. If I were designing, I’d take the 4500, drop the star drag so it would approach the light weight and feature set of the 2650 but with the bearings of the 5000’s. And comparing them with the modern Shimano’s – I like the thumb bar spool release of the Shimano’s and know the modern reels are more forgiving in terms of casts but I enjoy the round reels and will mix up useage in the future.