Abel VAYA 5/6 Fly Reel Review
Updated: Mar 31
Abel has been busy. Their TR series was introduced not too long ago, they already have the revamped Super Series and SDS/SDF reels which are all still quite fresh, so what could there possibly be room for in the Abel product lineup? The new VAYA series, that's what! I have to admit, I was totally caught off-guard when seeing these reels on social media for the first time. I had zero intel on their arrival and wasn't expecting an all-new reel series to slide into the existing array of products so soon.
Tested Reel Size: 5/6
Advertised Weight: 5.45 ounces
Diameter: 3.62 inches
Spool Width: .976 inches
Arbor Diameter: 2.27 inches
Backing Capacity: WF5F /100; WF6F / 80
Tested Max Drag: Approx 3 pounds
Spool Release: No Tools Needed (pull apart)
Colors: Gloss Black or MANY Custom Options
Reel Pouch Included: Yes
R/L Interchangeable: Yes
Spare Spool Available: Yes; $371.25
Tested Reel Price: $495.00 (reel and spool prices are the same for all VAYA models)
Slotting right in between the TR and Super Series reels, the VAYA series kind of looks like a combination of all existing Abel reels with some added unique flair. At first, I thought these might be more of a trout-specific series, but Abel does plainly indicate these are capable of light saltwater pursuits as well. Compared to a 5/6 SDF model, our 5/6 VAYA tester had very similar design specs; it weighed .03 ounces more, had a .01" larger diameter spool, and had a slightly narrower spool width at .976" compared to 1.120".
The frame is ported in such a way to provide rigidity and light weight, yet it still offers a decently-sized solid area to really showcase any of Abel's awesome custom colors should you go that route. Speaking of which, our test reel was finished in the new "Northern Lights" option. Does that look stunning or what? Abel recently introduced a whole bunch of brand-new color schemes, so you'll definitely want to go have a look on their website.
On the inside of the frame, none of that added surface area goes to waste. Just like on the TR series, here you'll find CNC-milled flies that really add to the sophistication and artistry of the reel. The types of flies vary depending on reel model; my 5/6 tester features a hopper and streamer.
The design and pawl placement allows the VAYA to get away with having no external counterweight that you'd commonly see on most reels. Whether it was done on purpose or that's just how it came out, the two pawl screws are clearly visible through the open portions of the frame, as seen in a couple previous pics. While it gives the reel more of a mechanized, raw look from the rear, I suspect this might be a love it or hate it design feature.
Our VAYA was crafted with typical Abel quality and precision. It's a gorgeous reel and the machining is top-notch!
The drag of our 5/6 VAYA ramped up smoothly at all settings and was quite consistent as line came off the spool. Comprised of a 5-disc carbon/stainless drag stack, you can adjust tension with a large rear drag knob. The knob turns with a modest firmness and has detents that are quite muted/dull throughout the range. While the knob stops cold at minimum drag, maximum drag requires you to twist with added force to eek out the last few clicks. I measured maximum drag at around 3-pounds of pressure. Going from minimum to maximum drag takes about two turns of the knob.
Retrieve speed is good thanks to the large arbor. Since there's no slop in the handle or frame/spool connection, there's a very solid feeling while cranking the handle. This reel came with the optional machined-aluminum handle which has a great taper and texture to grab onto. My personal Abel SDF also has the optional aluminum handle and I highly recommend it for both looks and comfort. This reel clicks on both the incoming and outgoing and offers fairly good acoustics.
When it comes time for spool removal, it simply pulls apart from the frame with a stout tug.
VAYA is spanish for "GO" and this might be a reel you'll want to go check out if you are looking for an Abel but can't quite digest the price of their higher-end offerings. Each reel is finished in the standard gloss black color, but of course being Abel there's no shortage of custom options available for a varying added cost. I really liked how our tester looked aboard my custom EDGE 5-weight rod, and the combo was a perfect match for typical beach snook sight-fishing here locally. Available in 4/5, 5/6, and 6/7 sizes, each reel comes paired up with a protective reel pouch.
Get your Abel VAYA at