Abu is probably better known in New Zealand for its fishing reels —
they’ve been available here for many years and some of the classic models have
barely changed; a testament to their excellent design and quality componentry.
But ABU also manufacture rods. Most, like this one, are built to a price and
represent good value for money.
The little Abu Garcia Ultra Cast Pro 701SWM is a fast taper, hollow
fibreglass rod in a baitcasting style with a trigger grip. It’s shorter than
most boat fishing rods commonly used in New Zealand today, but as I was to find
out, this is no handicap in most fishing situations.
The rod has a clear, solid fibreglass tip and a meaty-looking butt section.
It’s relatively light (I expect the blank walls are reasonably thin and that the
rod relies on its diameter for its strength) and the short foregrip is smaller
in diameter than many rods I’ve used. The EVA butt (also short) is similar so it
fits into even the smallest of rod holders easily.
This rod was designed as a low cost lure-casting tool, a rod style very
popular across the ditch. Match it to one of a number of ABU overhead or
baitcasting reels loaded with six or eight kilo line and you have a useful
barramundi (or snapper) stopper. Since we don’t have barramundi in New Zealand,
I took the rod snapper fishing.
I fitted my trusty old ABU 6500C3 to the downlocking winch fitting and
threaded the 6kgline through the rod’s eight aluminium oxide guides. I tied a
short length of forty-pound line to the main line with a no-name knot,
uni-knotted a 6/0 hook to the end of that and threaded on a pilchard.
The pilchard was heavy enough to allow a decent sort of cast and I wasted no
time flicking it out into the berley trail behind the boat. Bites were not long
in coming and pretty soon I was muscling a typical Auckland school snapper away
from the reef and towards the boat. The rod made short work of the fish — it’s a
powerful little stick with a surprisingly fast action. Although it was loaded
with six-kilo, I felt it would be equally happy with eight. The next two hours
saw a succession of nice fish coming aboard. One or two were nudging the
four-kilo mark and these were quite a handful in shallow water. The ABU remained
unfazed, proving more than up to the task.
The small diameter grips felt strange at first but I soon got used to them.
They do allow the rod to ‘talk’ to the angler, transmitting every move the fish
makes through the rod to my hands. It also meant that the rod could be stowed in
an Australian-made rod holder I have fitted to my dinghy — one which won’t
accept the thicker butts of many of my usual rods.
Because this rod is designed as a heavy baitcaster, it’s meant to be cast
with one hand. The butt is really too short to comfortably cast two handed,
though two-handed casts are possible. One-handed casting can be a bit of a trick
but once mastered becomes second nature. The ABU combo is light enough to easily
mange one-handed. Once a fish is hooked, the short butt tucks neatly into the
tummy or onto the thigh so the angler can apply some hurt to the