Review of ABU Cardinal 174SWi reel

The name ABU Cardinal conjures up quality Swedish engineering from a bygone age. Sadly, ABU no longer produces reels of that vintage, but for £40 you can get one of these…

ABU Cardinal 174SWi reel and spare spool for around £40

Its a nice little reel which comes with a spare spool. Lets take a closer look at the specification…A decent spec

– Gear Ratio 5.1 : 1

– Line capacity 210 yards 10lb or 190m of 0.28mm

– 4 ball bearings

– Instant anti reverse

– Spare graphite spool

– Weight 10.5 oz/298g

–  Stainless steel main shaft

Not a bad set of features, but the thing which attracted me, as a kayak fisherman was that ABU designed this reel for saltwater use – so hopefully it should last a bit longer when used on the kayak.

A quick journey around the reel…

Light graphite body

The graphite body is light and should be resistant to the saltwater environment into which it will almost certainly get the occasional dunking !

Front drag and nice size bale roller

The front drag seemed to be quite smooth…


…and the roller on the bale arm did a good job of trying to eliminate line twist when I loaded it with mono.

LHW or RHW handle

The handle can be switched so that it is either LH or RH wind.

Rear view

Its always good to have a spare spool, but if I was being picky, then it would have been better if it was aluminium rather than graphite.

Graphite spare spool

Exploded parts diagram showing the stainless steel shaft.


I clamped the reel onto a Rovex Gold Integra 6 foot kayak rod – it felt like it went well with this rod. Its slightly bigger than a standard 4000 sized reel I would say. The reel would be suitable for spinning, float fishing and light bottom fishing.

I like the overall look of the reel and it does feel very smooth – but the real USPs of this reel, are its price, and its claimed resistance to saltwater, which if true will make it a great reel for light kayak fishing. Only time will tell, but it does have a good name to live up to !

The reel costs £40 and is available from Veals tackle…