The battle for ‘best multiplier reel’ shows no sign of a truce this Christmas with a hot new contender from Akios this week – the Akios 656 SCM Shuttle ‘Sportcast’. Check out the pics. She’s a beaut!
First impressions; One-piece, aluminium frame (yum); tiny star drag – that’s a first for me (clever); swept-back, aluminium, paddle handle (reminiscent of the carbon handle on the new Daiwa 7HT Mag ST); great looking (we like the colour scheme); includes
an additional power handle, full-sized star drag & neoprene reel case (tailor your own control settings)
Let’s look at the spec in a bit more detail…
The boring bits first. Standard line capacity of 300 yards of 15lb mono. Gear ratio is 5.3:1 in line with the ABU Ambassadeur heritage. Pretty standard fare for a small beach multiplier or tournament casting reel. Weight is 16.5 ounces.
So, probably the stand out feature of the Akios Shuttle at first glance is that 1-piece CT frame. Looks good in the images. It’s listed as a ‘One Piece Extruded Micro Tolerance Open Cage’. I’m not an expert on machining techniques but I’d say that means that the frame is machined to the correct tolerances from an extruded piece of aluminium – much stronger than cast aluminium. I’m not sure where extrusion sits compared to CNC machining from solid billet (as used in the favoured QTC fishing cages). If you do know, please add your thoughts to the comment box below – we’d love to find out. This one piece cage offers lateral stiffness and limits flex while giving your thumb all the spool access and grip you could need – both resulting in longer, more accurate casts.
The micro star drag wheel is a nice feature that we haven’t seen before. How often do you adjust the star drag in an average UK beach fishing situation? Apart from loosening the drag after each session to extend its life, probably not much. For me, only in the Smoothhound season do I have the requirement to give a fish line. This micro star wheel minimises weight which probably helps the balance of the reel a little bit, but you still do keep the drag adjustment. We like this feature. It seems custom built for UK beach fisherman. If you don’t like it – no problem – Akios supply a full size wheel in the box.
There’s a longer mag adjustment knob. Without actually holding the reel and seeing how this effects the comfort it’s hard to comment on this development. In principle it’s a good thing and perhaps another custom designed innovation for UK anglers and tournament casters.
The 656 SCM Shuttle is listed as having a larger diameter spool spindle. Those of us that are old enough to remember the original Ambassadeur 6500CT Ultracast reels will appreciate this feature. Some of the older ABU reels featured a beefier spool spindle and this was well favoured as it meant less flex of the spool in the frame. It looks like Akios have stayed true to their word in trying to replicate the previous form of the ABU Ambassadeur. Encouraging I’d say. I have fond memories of my black 6500CT.
Combine the extra thickness of the spool spindle, the one piece frame and the brass sideplates and this is starting to feel like a seriously rigid fishing & casting reel. These benefits aren’t solely seen in casting distances either. This extra rigidity will mean improved winding power through the extra torque (I’m talking myself into buying one here! – Editor).
Another nice feature over and above the current ABU design is the larger thumb screws on the right-hand side plate. A throw back to Ambassadeur yesteryear and I can genuinely see why that would be useful on a cold, wintry beach.
The Akios Shuttle features mag braking (as we’ve discussed) as well as centrifugal; there’s a line out alarm; gears are precision machined from brass, or all that extra torque would get you nowhere; and there’s a multi-disc drag system when required.
If I can pick one hole in the spec sheet at all, it would be the inherent 3 Ball Bearing design that we’ve all lived with forever. You simply can’t squeeze in any more bearings in this design (except if you have a level-wind). That said, many a casting tournament has been won with such a design. We don’t know what quality or type of bearings used in the 656 Shuttle but if I do buy one, I think I’ll struggle to resist the temptation of upgrading the bearings to see what distance it unlocks.
All in all we’re really excited by the new Akios Shuttle Sportcast reel. I’ve resisted the urge to purchase any of the barrage of new beach multipliers that have hit the UK market this year – but this is a serious contender. It’s great to see the innovative side of Akios come through as well as the heritage. Has the student finally beaten its master?
The price for the Akios 656 SCM Shuttle is £169.99 – a respectable price for a reel at the top end.
|Fishtec||Free Gift with purchase + 10% Off for Fishtec Members||£3.50||from £152.99||Link|
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