Abu Garcia D6 6600
Author: Nico Raffo
Retrieve ratio: 6.3:1
Number of ball bearings: 5
Number of roller bearings: 1
Level wind: Disengaging
Left hand retrieve available? No
Line retrieve per handle turn: 29 inches
Line capacity: 12/245
Spool Material: Alum
Approx Retail: $125
Introduced in 2005, the Abu Garcia D6 6600 adds a light, compact, and high-speed round reel to their freshwater line-up. The D6 diverges from the classic Ambassadeur series with several new features. These include the SmartMag brake system, which combines the spool tension with a magnetic brake. The reel's exterior frame was also redesigned. It is lightweight, weighing in at only 9.3oz, and compact without any of the sharp edges you see on the C3/C4 series. The reel features a high-speed 6.3:1 ratio, powered by a vented soft-paddle handle. Other features include 6 bearings, a clicker, and a disengaging level wind.
The reel has some unique features that are well thought out. The first surprise you might notice is that there is no spool tension knob by the reel handle. The reel combines the spool tension and magnetic brake into one adjustable dial on the left sideplate. The dial gives a good range of spool tension for any fishing situation. At maximum the line must be pulled off the reel with some effort. You can easily use this setting to fish bait in free spool without worrying about a fish backlashing the reel.
Another nice feature is a lack of the large screw knobs on the reel handle side for disassembling the reel. I've had these knobs start to loosen up on almost every reel I've owned, regardless of brand, and they can be uncomfortable if you palm your reel. Since you can adjust the magnetic brake on this reel from the outside, you don't need to open the reel up except for maintenance.
Speaking of palming the reel, this is one round reel that is very comfortable to hold in your hand. It feels a lot smaller than other reels with similar line capacity, and is very light weight. It is a perfect size for throwing medium swimbaits on 20-25 lb line while at the same time feeling almost as comfortable to hold as a low profile reel. It's also a great looking reel that matches nicely with any swimbait rod.
Unfortunately the slick features and profile come with some exasperating mechanical bugs. First of all, I was disappointed to find out the maximum drag pressure on the reel is rather weak. If you're fishing for big bass and want a tight enough drag to wrestle a big fish away from heavy cover in a hurry, you'll have to tighten the star drag down so hard it feels like you're going to damage the reel.
I also found the retrieve on the reel is not as smooth as I expected. It's hard to tell if this is due to a fast (6.3:1) gear ratio and a regular (as opposed to power) handle, or if the reel is simply mechanically inefficient. But either way, when reeling in a heavy swimbait it takes a lot of effort to turn the handle, as if there is a lot of friction in the reel. This was only noticeable on medium-large swimbaits, however. On small lures the retrieve felt very smooth.
I also had very occasional mechanical glitches with the reel. For example the reel clicked back into gear at the beginning of the cast a few times. A couple times the clicker got knocked into a half-on limbo stage, where you could hear the clicker going but moving the clicker control on and off didn't work any more. Both times a short cast popped it back into place. Also, after fishing the reel in saltwater for a few days the spool tension dial got so sticky I had to use a pair of pliers to make adjustments.
A final personal annoyance is that you can't overfill the spool. Especially when swimbait fishing I like to put as much line on the spool as possible. This allows for longer casts but also lets you cut off worn pieces of line for a couple days without respooling. On this reel the thumbar is set so close to the spool that the line will rub against it if you fill the spool up too much.
I've owned a lot of Abu Garcia reels over the years and they've always been great workhorse reels, if a bit clunky. When I first handled this reel I had high hopes they hand combined the proven reliability of the Abu Garcia round reel with some clever features and an improved layout. The reel came through wonderfully with the new design and features, but sadly the rock-solid mechanical construction got left behind. If you're looking for a nice reel for light freshwater use, this reel could provide all the features you need. But if you plan on putting your reels to the test with big baits and big fish, I would stick to the old clunkers.