When it comes to the best fishing reels for catfish and similar fish species, very few reel manufacturers can beat Abu Garcia. Their Catfish Special spinning reels come in both 6500 and 7000 models.
But you may wonder how these catfish reels are different and which reel is the best one for you. This article aims to take a closer look at each spinning reel and pinpoint how they differ so you can make an informed purchase decision.
All About Abu Garcia’s Catfish Special
Released in 2015, the Catfish Special reel quickly became one of Abu Garcia’s top reels specifically made for catfish fishing. These reels offer some of the highest quality reel components in the market, with stainless steel ball bearings in a 2:1 and 3:1 system depending on the model, and a reliable drag system.
The centrifugal brake system is made with 6 pins to provide high levels of controlled casting when dealing with hard-pulling catfish on the other end of the line. The line winding system provides a smooth retrieve and reliable line lay at a consistent speed while also offering a comfortable bent power handle and power knob to give you full control.
For anglers specifically targeting bottom-dwelling large and strong fish, such as catfish, Abu Garcia has put their Catfish Special reel to the test, and it has come through each test with flying colors.
What Are the Differences Between the Abu Garcia Catfish Special 6500 and 7000?
Both reels are somewhat similar in size, with the 7000 model being slightly bulky than the more streamlined 6500. This could also be due to the fact that the 6500 has a push release while the larger 7000 has an extended bent handle style.
The Catfish Special 6500 weighs roughly 12 ounces, with the 7000 model coming in at almost twice that weight. Many anglers have stated that while the 7000 is heavier, it feels less durable than the lighter-weight 6500 model.
This discrepancy could be due to the manufacturing locations as well, with most of the 6500 models being made in Sweden while the 7000 models are made in China. However, every angler I heard from said that the 7000 can stand up to a lot of abuse from big fish.
For braided line capacity at 30-pound test weight, the Abu Garcia 6500 model can hold up to 310 yards of line, while the larger spool of the 7000 model can hold up to 515 yards of the same line.
At a 50-pound test braided line, the Abu Garcia 6500 model can hold 220 yards, while the much larger 7000 spool can handle up to 360 yards.
Both of these Abu Garcia Catfish Special reels include a centrifugal braking system and star drag with carbon matrix-proven components; however, the 6500 has a max drag of 15 pounds, while the 7000 can provide 20 pounds of max drag to haul in big catfish.
Both of these Abu Garcia reels feature custom color schemes and unique package designs to make them stand out as genuine Abu Garcia fishing products.
In the case of the Abu Garcia Catfish Special 6500 model catfish reel, you will find a gear ratio of 5.3:1 with 3 ball bearings and 1 roller bearing, all made from stainless steel.
In the Catfish Special 7000 wider variation model, you will find a 4.1:1 gear ratio with 2 ball bearings and 1 roller bearing, again all made from stainless steel, to help you keep tight lines when hauling in big cats.
The price range for each of these reels will vary depending on stock supply and time of year, as well as any in-store or online discounts you can find.
In general, the 6500 will run around $170.00, while the 7000 can reach $199.00 on the Abu Garcia website, though they often have discounts on each reel to make them up to $50 cheaper.
You can also find these reels at a number of Abu Garcia retailers and other online sources such as Amazon, eBay, and more.
Which Should I Choose: 6500 or 7000?
I have heard from several anglers that have owned and used both the Catfish Special 6500 and the Catfish Special 7000, and they have offered some good insight into which reel might be the best choice for you and your specific fishing situation.
If you are doing standard catfish fishing, the 6500 is a great all-around casting package that is smaller in your hand and has a comfortable and smooth feel. Most anglers I heard from loved that the 6500 has a convenient clicker-type power release which is easily accessible while fighting a catfish on the line or when switching out your bait.
The 7000 is larger and more able to handle larger catfish. So if you plan on targeting flatheads or blues, the higher drag weight and overall more robust build of the Catfish Special 7000 would be a better option.
However, most anglers will notice that with the Catfish Special 7000 model, you throw a slow cast and are unable to cast at a max distance like you can with the 6500 unless you are using a heavy bait and tackle setup.
When cleaning your stock reels and tackle for the season, every angler that has both the 6500 and 7000 models said that cleaning the 7000 model was much more time-consuming. There are many more gears and working parts in this model, which all need a bit of TLC when it comes to cleaning or regular maintenance, such as greasing or oiling.
If you are looking for pure brute strength and beefier components, the 7000 is about double the size and weight of the 6500 model. All of the gearing components are much thicker and made to stand up to more abuse from large and aggressive catfish.
In short, for anglers that just plan on doing general catfish fishing and not targeting the especially big cats, the Abu Garcia Catfish Special 6500 will be a perfect choice with a smooth line release and the power to haul in decent-sized catches.
If you are an angler that will be using heavy tackle for large blue cats or flatheads, the Abu Garcia Catfish Special 7000 will have the power needed to stand up to the task; however, you won’t be able to get the same casting distance from this stock reel even with the added power.