Fixed-Spool Reels

This is the page for the fixed-spool reels I've owned, used and surprisingly often, passed on. A summary until I've sorted all this out...

I started out in 1974, with an Intrepid Challenger, which served for many years but it 'vanished' during the first degree, so in 2009 bought a nice one just for the heck of it. My second reel, bought in 1979, was the stern-drag Abu Cardinal 40, a fine reel. In the interim, I acquired two cheap second-hand reels, a Cardinal Bronco and a Diawa AG1650CT, both with one spool. These, loaded with 12lb mono, were my 1990s pike fishing reels. Neither was great; the Bronco was an affront to the Cardinal brand and both eventually got sold at Romsey for £1.50 each (I have a pragmatic view of what something is worth, i.e. it's only worth what people will pay and even £5 was too much for those reels, two years running).

In 1990 I literally picked up a Ceratec ML2C - a small fixed spool, nice rear drag and ceramic line roller. This was residing in a patch of long grass on a swim at Jubilee Lake in Thatcham. Despite me placing a card on the lakes' notice board, no-one ever called for it. I used it for the rare occasions that require really light tackle.

In 2005 I moved onto a Shimano Sedona 3000 GTE. I painted the over-shiny chrome with matt green enamel...and later the same year bought a Shimano Nexave 4000R ('01) and two extra spools (which, as of 2020, I still have and use) .

In 2008 I was converted to the Cardinal 44x, a wonderful reel. It had all the nostalgia of the Cardinal 40 but was just better. I enjoyed it so much I bought another and consequently have about eight spare spools. Because of that I got hold of couple of Cardinal 66's for Leviathan fishing...and a year later I found a pair of '66s (metal bale arms).

When, in 2012 I discovered Cardinal 66x's, with their cream-and-brown colour scheme and faster retrieve I was in reel Nirvana. Their line-lay is not quite as good as the '66, so I load spools with a '66. Seldom without them now.

Centre-pin reels are on a different pageBecause I wanted them to be..

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Fixed-Spool Reels  The Intrepid Challenger. A good design, let down by poor materials. My first reel for all that, and I rather liked it. I was given this for the birthday (I think) in Cyprus along with the Marco fishing rod. It was a good reel for its time, including a nice folding handle, double bale-arm springs and a separate line-roller on the bale-arm. It included a slipping clutch mechanism that was embedded into the spools themselves and was set using the decorative 'nut' that also kept the spool on. I didn't even realise it had such until about two years later...

It didn't get used in Cyprus, then heavy use in Anglesey wore a groove in the hard chrome plated line roller. Under the chrome was brass - once the line cut through the chrome, it cut the brass like it was cheese. As one of the bale-arm springs had also gone (I'd 'fixed' it by shortening the spring wire a half-turn and bending a new tag-end on it) I ordered new springs and rollers by post (the only way in the olden days) and fitted them.

I also obtained a second spool, as the received wisdom was that one used 12lb line for sea-fishing and 3lb for coarse. The spools are deep and held an almost impractical amount of 12lb line (best part of 200 yards). For my coarse fishing, such as it was, the spool capacity for 3lb line was gargantuan. With some care I wound thick 30lb mono (reclaimed from a beach-comb find with the salt soaked off), onto one of the spools, perfectly laid, until the spool would hold a little over 100 yards of 3lb Perlon. I then half-hitched off the 30lb, smeared it with epoxy-resin and when it had hardened, removed the tag-end of the nylon flush, with nail clippers, then smeared another coat of epoxy-resin over the lot ICI've always been annoyingly inventive. It's an engineer thing. 'On my deathbed, I will design a better deathbed.' .

The Intrepid Challenger reelThe Intrepid Challenger reel The Intrepid Challenger reelThe Intrepid Challenger reel

It's so close to being far better, it's almost annoying. I used it until around 1978, when the Cardinal 40 came along and although it's not often used now, the clunk of the bale arm snapping over and the gentle ticking of the retrieve, are kind of embedded in the firmware.

The Intrepid Challenger was first used on 2nd December 1974 and has been used on at least 14 occasions, the last being the 13th July 2017.

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Fixed-Spool Reels  The Cardinal 40. A step up from the 'Intrepid Challenger'. So that's good.

I acquired four spools and carried 3lb, 6lb, 8lb, 10lb lines for all occasions. It served me faithfully until about 2004 when the gears ground down to a slow crawl. My only real criticism is that the ratchet is loud and sounds hollow, due to the plastic body cover. Around 2016 or so, I thought to try and renovate it, so stripped it down and removed the paint. I now have a pile of gunmetal-colour bits sans paint and will one-day re-assemble it into a gunmetal-grey reel...probably.

Here is the Cardinal 40, with its 'match' spool which, I think, was never used. I did keep three others, 6lb, 8lb, 10lb line, all of which fit nicely on a '44x.

The Cardinal 40The much travelled Cardinal 40, pike, carp, wrasse, flounders, gudgeon and everything else... The Cardinal 40The much travelled Cardinal 40, pike, carp, wrasse, flounders, gudgeon and everything else...

Here's the manual which I kept around for some reason.

The Cardinal 40 manualThe Cardinal 40 manual The Cardinal 40 manualThe Cardinal 40 manual
The Cardinal 40 manualThe Cardinal 40 manual The Cardinal 40 manualThe Cardinal 40 manual

The Cardinal 40 was first used on 17th June 1977 and has been used on at least 76 occasions, the last being the 13th August 2004.

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Fixed-Spool Reels  Shimano Sedona 3000 GTE. A great example of a 'talk the talk' reel. Seemed good, wasn't as robust as one might think and it had so much high chrome on it I was forced to paint some of it matt green. The 'Fighting Drag' was useful. Sold on at Romsey I think...not missed.

Shimano Sedona 3000 GTEShimano Sedona 3000 GTE

The Shimano Sedona 3000 GTE was first used on 22nd August 2005 and was used on at least 12 occasions, the last being the 14th October 2007. It was then sold on.

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Fixed-Spool Reels  The Shimano Nexave 4000R. Excellent reel, simple, rugged, nice grey colour and NOT REALLY SHINY. At least it was once I took the metallic labels off. I retained the useful bits of the otherwise unadorned box.

The Nexave 4000RThe parts The Nexave 4000RThe diagram

The Nexave 4000R ('01) was first used on 13th May 2005 and has been used on at least 53 occasions, the last being the 11th June 2020.

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Fixed-Spool Reels  The Cardinal 44. Like the Cardinal 40, but better. So that's good.

This, to the causal observer, resembled a dark green version of the Cardinal 40, but with several advantages; one was the increased retrieve rate (1:5.1 vs. the '40's 1:4.1, one turn of the handle retrieves 29" of line), a second was that the Cardinal 40's plastic side plate had been replaced by a metal one, which rendered the clutch ratchet about -20 dB quieter...

I used it a few times, but after two '44x's joined my tackle bag, the '44 was quietly sidelined and was eventually Sold to the bloke at the back on at Romsey (c. 2014?) for what I paid for it. For some reason I neglected to sell its booklet at the same time, mainly because I had forgotten I had it, so here it is.

The Cardinal 44Front Cover The Cardinal 44Pages 1 and 2 The Cardinal 44Pages 3 and 4 The Cardinal 44Pages 7 and 8 The Cardinal 44Pages 9 and 10 The Cardinal 44Pages 13 and 14 The Cardinal 44Rear Cover
The Cardinal 44The 'Exploded' View with part numbers (pages 5 and 6) The Cardinal 44The spool capities for the range and lubrication points (pages 11 and 12)

The Cardinal 44 was first used on 8th February 2008 and was used on at least 3 occasions, the last being the 22nd September 2011. It was then sold on.

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Fixed-Spool Reels  The Cardinal 44X. Like the Cardinal 44, but better. So that's good.

Outwardly, almost identical to the Cardinal 44, but it has an increased retrieve rate, up from 1:5.1 to 1:5.9, which translates into almost a yard (84.5cm or 33") of line for each turn of the handle. Zippy. I have a pair of these, the exact acquisition dates lost in the mists of. The newer of the pair is 750300, the elder 741100. They are used interchangeably and regularly, although I've since 'invested' in aluminium spools after tight 8lb mono line, overlaying 12lb mono backing, crushed a plastic one while playing a medium-sized but energetic carp.

The Cardinal 44X was first used on 5th January 2008 and has been used on at least 96 occasions, the last being the 5th October 2020.

Other Diary and Fettling Entries relevant to the Cardinal 44X.

Fixed-Spool Reels 13th November 2014. Cardinal 44x Spools.

On the previous Saturday at Redditch I had opened the wallet to buy a machined aluminium spool for my Cardinal 44x's from Les @ Classic Vintage Fishing TackleGood service, well worth using if you need Abu bits, among others. I got home and realised I 'needed' another and also a new Cardinal 44 spindle as the tip of one reel's spindle was burred and spools did not quite pull off as they ought. So I ordered those and they arrived only three days later. All sorted.

Fixed-Spool Reels 6th July 2020. The Cardinal 44x. Spools.

So, I thought to myself (after discovering I'd fished with 8lb mainline at Donhead, while for some reason thinking it 6lb) I will load some 6lb line onto a plastic spool, but first fill the holes in the moulding with epoxy to prevent the spool collapsing...I did the deed, two-thirds filled the spool with unfused braid - this, wound on levelly using the EAT'Electric Auger Technology', acts as both backing and as an arbour - and then wound on 100 yards of 6lb Stren...

(While we're on the subject, it used to be the received wisdom that one's reel must carry 200 yards of line, presumably just in case one hooks 'the fish of a lifetime' in a 200 yards across snag-free water. For general fishing this is clearly bunk. While the nagging doubt remains, its function, that is to ensure one buys more line that one needs, is negated by a permanent braid arbour. Most of my '44x and '66x spools have had the same 'braid arbour' for well over a decade.)

...or I nearly did, as the top of the spool, leaving with a 'pop', pinged off the radiator leaving behind a bird's nest of 6lb Stren. Well, dammit. I'm not entirely sure that the two parts of the spool were not made separately, as the break is very clean and it seems to me the surfaces have a film of oil on them. Hm. Be that as it may, I put the bits into a bag (you never know) and proceeded to remove the 20lb braid (previously loaded onto the second ally spool for last December's Wetland piking) and replaced it with said 6lb Stren. So far, so hoopy.

I also wanted to replace the 4lb, still loaded onto the original plastic spool that came with my '40, which had the line capacities of the spool printed on the front face. Damn me, if the new 4lb mono (100 yards) didn't part 'pop' the top off. I wound the line and its backing off onto a spare spool to re-use and ordered (with bad grace) three new alloy ones. Dammit. Perhaps the face of the original one can serve as an ornament, it being no actual use. Additionally annoying is that this spool came with a groove for a chenille, preventing finer monofilament slipping behind the spool, something that only happened with lines of less than 6lb b/s or so.

The plastic, like all plastics, has clearly aged and I take some consolation that any aging of the alloy spools with be considerably slower than the aging process of, for example, myself. Sobering thought. So below, here are the broken ones and the front plate with its line capacities.

Cardinal 44 SpoolsIn an ideal world, this event would have been accompanied by the 'Sproi-oi-oi-oing' noise from any Fred Quimby 'Tom and Jerry' cartoon. Cardinal 44 SpoolsThe latest spool to, barely figuratively, pop its clogs. Cardinal 44 SpoolsThe original, with its capacities; see how regular un-stretched mono has not changed diameter since the late 1970's (300m = 328 yards; 4lb Stren Original has an o/d of 0.2mm, 10lb is 0.3mm)

Fixed-Spool Reels 8th July 2020. The Cardinal 44x. Spools.

The excellent alloy ones arrived on Tuesday from the reliable Les @ Classic Vintage Fishing TackleGood service, well worth using if you need Abu bits, among others, so I carried out the usual modifications. That is; I round off the lip of the spool and drill a 0.8mm hole in the rim, line for the poking through of. There was then a flurry of spooling up, which is made somewhat simpler with the AET'Electric Auger Technology' and an extra (plastic) spool. I now have 4lb, 6lb, 8lb, 10lb and 30lb braid, none of which should randomly explode. Probably.

My renewed interest in these fine little reels prompted a drag upgrade, fitting up to date carbon washers, which will help a smidge. The old ones are a little long in the tooth anyhow. This was instructive, one of the reels had clearly been fettled by self, the grease I use present in appropriate blobs. The second clearly had not, which surprised me a bit. I assume it wasn't broken so I didn't fix it (I admit this 'doesn't really sound like me'). Once I'd dismantled the drag knob and removed the drag-washer stack, I found two pieces of an old circlip/locking washer used to retain the connecting shaft to the main shaft. These bits of hard steel left by some previous fettler, were loose inside the reel, so that was a lucky escape. There was evidence of corrosion, so I cleaned up the parts I'd removed and roughly re-greased the reel, making a note to buy circlip pliers and to strip and completely clean this one when the nights draw in...

Nothing to see there mind. I did clean the mud off the reels, but, eh.

Cardinal 44 SpoolsCool black and very very shiny... Cardinal 44 Spools'All of the line strengths'. It will be nice to get back to taking less gear and more making it up as I go along.

I just realised Abu advertised the 44X as retrieving 84.5 cm of line per handle turn, and the 66X as 83cm...that doesn't seem right...hm.

Fixed-Spool Reels 17th July 2020. The Cardinal 44X and 66X Retrieve Rates.

Abu advertised the '66X as retrieving 83cm per turn of the handle. "Ho", I thought as I listened to day two of the Second Test, "I wonder how this compares with the '44X?" I searched for the advertised figure of the '44X...which did not seem immediately available. I found a reference to 'almost a yard'. Hm.

So, using the quoted figure of 'line length per handle turn' for the '44 (73cm), I divided by its gear ratio (5.1) then multiplied by the gear ratio of the '44X (5.9). So for the 44X this is: (73/5.1)*5.9 = 84.5cm.

To validate this cacluation, I used the numbers for the '66 (1:3.3 and 53cm) and '66X (1:5.2 and 83cm): (53/3.3)*5.2 = 83.5cm. Close enough.

...But this means the '44X has a faster retrieve than the '66X. This is certainly counter-intuitive and a cynical view might be that this is why the number was not overtly advertised.

A pinch of measurement is worth a pound of pontification, so I measured it. I put a rod butt on the window-sill, stuck two blocks of solder on it, put the reel(s) in the seat and used a 2oz weight. I set the weight just on the floor with the handle(s) vertical, turned the handle(s) exactly once and measured the distance from the floor to the weight. It is tricky to be absolutely precise, vagaries of line lay and so on, so I took five measurements for each reel and averaged them. Both reels' spools were evenly filled to within 3mm of the lip.

Cardinal 66X retrieve (average 5 readings):   75.2cm
Cardinal 44X retrieve (average 5 readings):   76.5cm

'Surprise'.

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Fixed-Spool Reels  The Cardinal 66, one brace of. The bigger brother of the Cardinal 44 and I was very pleased to nab a couple from the Bay of Fleas, plus one spare spool.

The Cardinal 66 was first used on 1st May 2008 and has been used on at least 72 occasions, the last being the 16th September 2013.

Other Diary and Fettling Entries relevant to the Cardinal 66.

Fixed-Spool Reels 29th August 2011. Spools, three off. Spare spools are a must for the thinking anotherangler. I like to have about my person three line strengths at least and ideally, six. This is why I'm pleased to have nabbed three metal spools in their iconic red plastic cases.

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Fixed-Spool Reels  The Cardinal 55. An iconic reel. Which I didn't like much, either the feel of it or the way it worked. Many folk do though, so quite easily Sold to the bloke at the back at Romsey Tackle Fair less than a year after I bought it, at the same price.

The Cardinal 55 was used at least once on 10th May 2011 and was then sold on.

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Fixed-Spool Reels  The Cardinal 66X.

I have used and delighted in my Cardinal '66's for some time and imagine my delight on finding out there's an 'X' version. Today I won one; a '66X in brown/cream finish, excellent condition, mechanically perfect , foot stamped 'Product of Sweden no. 770301'. Now I want another one...

The schematic for the 66X (and 77X)The schematic for the 66X (and 77X)

The Cardinal 66x was first used on 10th March 2008 and has been used on at least 132 occasions, the last being the 19th October 2020.

Other Diary and Fettling Entries relevant to the Cardinal 66x.

Fixed-Spool Reels 6th November 2011. Cardinal 66x. Now I have two. No. '780501' joins the tackle bag.

I changed the drag washers in both the '66x's for carbon-fibre ones, which has helped and re-profiled the lips of the spools. This was achieved by putting the spool on a spare spindle, putting the spindle in an electric screwdriver and then using a file to round the lip off, then used a flat jewellers file to 'draw' the bare metal to a smooth finishing and then used fine wire-wool to polish it to a shine. This adds 10% to casting range.

Fixed-Spool Reels 24th October 2018. Spools. I'd planned to fish, fixated on autumn leaves and gentle carping, but the waters that offer this are closed, reasonable precautions after a local KHV outbreak. I muse on 'the list', ponder Dairy Farm, then for no good reason decide, possibly a decision back-stopped by tomorrow's ground-works on The PondsPete's Ponds., to strip and clean my '66X's.Abu Cardinal 66X

It is my habit to place a label on the back of the spools inscribed with the line's b/s and installation date. None of the six (6lb/8lb/10lb/12lb/14lb/17lb) were newer than January 2016. Ah. The 12lb was dated 2014. Huh.

I strip miles of line, line, cut it into 3" pieces, then clean the spools with nail-varnish remover. I carefully hone a bradawl to an excessive sharpness and inscribe the lines' breaking strains on the back of the spools. I take the opportunity to re-polish the rims with fine wire wool, a job accomplished with the assistance of a spare Cardinal 66 spindle and an electric screwdriver.

The three lightest lines' spools have a braid 'arbour'. This is easier to come by than a genuine arbour, plus if I ever hook Leviathan on a 200 yard wide water, I'll be in good shape. The lay of the braid is so poor I strip them by hand then re-lay them (electric screwdriver again) to level them up. I refill all the spools using the same method and using a permanent black marker-pen, write the date on the back on the spools. There. Good for another 2 years.

Some remedial servicing; they are of course very fine reels, but I've noted some play in the bale-arms and the spool itself has play along the axis of the spindle, caused (inside the reel) by play in the arm from the driving gear to the spindle. I shimmed the drive arm at the drive-gear end with three 0.1mm × M4 washers and replace the circlip with a new one. I eye up the spindle clip for another day. This keeps the drive arm from skewing and reduces the play along the spindle's axis by about half. I then shim the bale arm, 0.2mm × 12mm × M6 on the line-roller side and 0.1mm × 12mm × M6 on the other. This is so that the gap between the plastic and the spool casing isn't 'just the right size' for line to get trapped behind. Everything cleaned and re-greased for good luck.

With the anti-reverse off the reels are now virtually silent. One final thing, which has bugged me for some time, is the excessive flash of the handles and the bale-arm screws. I carefully (after first removing them from the reel) rubbed them with fine emery until the flash was reduced to a gun-metal like finish, a little less gaudy.

Not bad for over 30 years old.

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Fixed-Spool Reels  The Cardinal 33. Yesterday at the Redditch Tackle Fair I bought a Cardinal 33 which I've been after for some time. I then nabbed an ally spare spool from Classic Vintage Fishing Tackle while I was there.

It's not unlike it's larger brothers. It's a fine little reel even if its use will be limited to those places where the fish are small and casting a long way is not required and possibly with shorter rods than the norm.

The Cardinal 33 was first used on 2nd September 2017 and has been used on at least 5 occasions, the last being the 29th September 2020.

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