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While the baitcasting world continues its race to increase gear ratios—with speeds up to 10:1 available—the spinning world lags behind. That’s why Abu Garcia’s Revo Rocket spinning reels are such a welcome addition to my arsenal. Its 7.6:1 gear ratio is 20 percent faster than most of the other reels in Abu’s Revo lineup.
The speed helps with fishing efficiency, but historically when engineers add speed something has to give. Often the tradeoff is not worth it. Over the course of several months I tested the Rocket, in a variety of conditions, on largemouth and smallmouth bass, to see if in this case, the speed comes without tradeoffs.
Abu Garcia Revo Rocket Specs and Features
- Three Models: SP20, SP30, SP40
- All models sub-8 ounces
- 7.6:1 gear ratio
- Interchangeable left/right handle
- Nine stainless steel bearings plus one roller bearing
- Asymmetrical body shape
- Aluminum frame
- Oversized gear system
Testing the Abu Garcia Revo Rocket Spinning Reel in the Field
The first thing I noticed when I took the RKT reels out of the box was the “race car red” coloration. They even look blazing fast. They also look somewhat like the company’s premium Zenon models, which cost over $500 apiece, more than twice as much as the RKT.
The size 30 RKT weighs in at a light 7.6 ounces, which a generation ago would have been unthinkable. It’s right on par with the Shimano Stella (7.4 ounces) and Daiwa Certate (7.4 ounces) at more than $200 cheaper than the Daiwa and $600 cheaper than the Stella.
I’m all for stripping away weight where possible, but not at the expense of strength or function. On some past reels where manufacturers have tried similar strategies, the result has been all sorts of sharp edges and nooks and crannies that catch both line and fingers in awkward ways. That defeats the purpose. Also, if you get tired by a day of casting a reasonably light spinning outfit, you need to go back to the gym. Still, I have to admit to being wowed when pulling this reel out of the package. It balanced well with a number of medium-light to medium-heavy rods already in my possession and I was anxious to get it out on the water.
I tried it with various line combinations, including 8-pound test fluorocarbon, 10-pound test copolymer, and both 10- and 15-pound test braided main lines with fluorocarbon leaders of various lengths and strengths. The largest fish I landed on this setup was a 5-pound largemouth that ate my Senko under a boat house.
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What the Abu Garcia RKT SP Spinning Reel Does Best
The 7.6:1 gear ratio is a sweet spot for a wide range of techniques. Most of the spinning applications I utilize are presentations where the rod does most of the lure manipulation—dropshots, wacky worms, Ned Rigs. The goal is to get the lure out there into the strike zone, see if there’s a willing taker, and then get it back in for another cast. Obviously, in that case faster is better. When I fished with OL’s gear editor, Scott Einsmann, I had a bedding bass swipe at a soft plastic stick bait and mess up the rig. I got it back into the boat quickly, rerigged, and had the lure back in the sweet spot while the bass was still hot and bothered. Would I have been able to do that with a 6.2:1 reel? Possibly, but there’s no guarantee. The additional speed is a time-saver.
Obviously, it helps even more when you have a lot of line out, like dropshotting in 40 feet of water or making long casts with a shakey head on gently sloping points. If you’re making a lot of casts in a day, the cumulative savings should produce more fish over the course of a year—it’s not always discernible how many, but the savings exists. Furthermore, when a hard-charging fish comes directly at the boat, it enables the angler to make up ground quickly and keep the line taut, which prevents lost fish.
I’ve found that the fastest baitcasting reels—those in the 8:1 to 10:1 range—are simply too speedy for moving baits like spinnerbaits or crankbaits. But, 7.6:1 is still in a sweet spot where it can be used for those techniques. Just be careful not to overwork them. I’d be likely to use something slower in the cold weather months, when fish tend to be more lethargic.
With all of that speed, historically something has to give, usually cranking power or drag efficiency, but I winched decent-sized bass out from the deepest depths of boathouses, around pilings, and through brush without any slippage. Despite being light, this reel feels solid. Abu didn’t cut corners—the bail opens and closes securely, the handle has no wobble, and the spool oscillates cleanly on the retrieve.
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Where the Abu Garcia Revo Rocket Spinning Reel Can Improve
The only problem I had with this reel was probably one of user error.
When the spool is fully extended away from the body, there is a substantial gap. When using limp braided main line on several occasions I must’ve left too much slack after a cast or during a choppy retrieve. The braid got wrapped around the area underneath the spool, and when I kept reeling, suddenly it was caught under there. It took a little bit of surgery to get it free.
It never happened while I had a fish on the line, but if it did it could have been tragic.
Other than that, the only potential drawbacks come down to usage. If you’re looking for a fast reel for northern pike, salmon, or muskies, the Size 40 may not be big enough to handle them. Even if the drag is smooth enough, the spool may not hold enough heavy line.
To be completely honest, this reel is more than I would have spent on a spinning reel 10 years ago (even adjusting for inflation). While I haven’t renounced any “Bubba” techniques, I nevertheless found that I have a spinning rod and reel in my hands more and more. Now this reel is exactly in the sweet spot of what I’m willing to spend. Pressured fish and various vertical presentations demand that. This is one that I gravitate to. Even after getting pounded through rough boat rides and dropped in the drink, it keeps performing. Furthermore, I’m an impatient guy. I want that lure in the strike zone all the time, and any edge that I can get is welcomed.
Just as Abu Garcia introduced the first Rockets (I believe they were 7.9:1) in the baitcasting arena, eventually getting up to a 10:1 speed demon, with this reel they’ve pushed the entire spinning genre forward. It’s hard to measure how much time a 7.6:1 reel saves you over a “standard” 6.2:1 model. Is it 10 casts a day? Is it 20? If the latter, and you use this reel half the day for 100 days a year, that’s an extra thousand casts in a season.
Those extra thousand casts (or however many you calculate for your particular circumstances) wouldn’t be worth it if the reel in question had major shortcomings: If it was substantially heavier, had a worse drag system, or felt sloppy on that fast retrieve. This reel has none of those problems while simultaneously conferring all of the benefits of their best models. It may not be as light as the Zenon, but it’s still as light as you need, and just a little bit more than their MGX model, which costs nearly twice as much. If you’re concerned with efficiency in your spinning gear, this rocket’s red glare is a valuable addition.