Abu Garcia vs Shimano Reels – Who is the winner?


How do you select between two heavyweights of the fishing reel manufacturing industry? 

Where do you even begin when comparing two brands like Abu Garcia and Shimano? 

It’s all well and good looking at a bunch of articles that compare specific reel models from Abu Garcia vs Shimano, but that doesn’t give you the full picture of what you’re buying into.

Things like resale value, how long reels have lasted for other anglers, what Abu Garcia or Shimano’s customer service is like, or what their warranty or returns policy is. 

Before you go and pull the trigger on potentially spending hundreds of dollars, you want to make sure. 

This article will provide you with all the information you’ll need to make a clear decision between which reel brand to go for – it’s a head-to-head comparison of Abu Garcia vs Shimano.

Looking for a surf reel by these brands? See where they fall in our article judging the top surf reels out now.

Click here for our guide on choosing the top beginner fishing rod and reel – perfect for a gift!

Top Pick

Shimano Stradic

The top mid-range Shimano reel?

Join the tens of thousands of other anglers opting for the Shimano Stradic as their go-to reel of choice.
Excellent performance in a powerful and stable reel.

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Check out our two other comparison articles in this series:

A brief history of Abu Garcia fishing reels 

Abu Garcia was originally founded in Sweden in 1921, in a small town called Svängsta, by a man named Carl August Borgström. 

The company originally manufactured items like watches and other fine-engineered products. Carl August Borgström was a highly skilled engineer, and when WW2 disrupted his usual trade, he turned to making high-quality fishing reels. 

The quality of the reels was recognized with the honor of ‘”Purveyor To The Royal Swedish Court,” a distinction bestowed upon a select group of manufacturers for consistently exceeding its highest standards of quality and craftsmanship’, as the Abu Garcia website states.

So when you purchase an Abu Garcia reel, you know you are accessing a legacy of expert reel engineering and design. 

A brief history of Shimano Fishing reels

Shimano was founded in Japan interestingly in the same year as Abu Garcia was, 1921, originally as a small ironworks which first put the talents of the Founder, Shozaburo Shimano, to work on producing the freewheel found in bicycles. 

At the time, freewheels were a complex piece to manufacture, and advanced technology for the times was needed to produce this detailed piece.

Shimano has been producing some of the finest cycling components for a hundred years.

Over the years, Shimano developed its expertise in designing and innovating advanced gears, bearings, and shafts, and turned its attention to producing some of the best fishing reels in the world in 1970. 

Again, Shimano is a brand that delivers some of the highest-quality fishing gear out there at the moment, so you can be confident most of their products will stand up to the demands of use.

Abu Garcia vs Shimano reels: The top advantages and disadvantages 

Abu Garcia vs Shimano reels on Price 

Shimano reels tend to be a higher price than Abu Garcia but many anglers attest to the brand’s superior design and build quality as the reason why Shimano is generally more expensive. 

Shimano has fishing reels ranging from around $30/40, all the way up to $700+.

Abu Garcia has fishing reels ranging from around $50 up to $500+.

When shopping for a reel the common advice among anglers online is to watch out for the lower end of the price range with Shimano, but that Abu Garcia provides pretty good reels below $100.  

Generally, below $100 features begin to be stripped out and the build quality and durability deteriorate.

The general advice is if you are looking for a decent reel and are fairly serious about actually wanting to land some good fish, then to spend anywhere over $100-150 on a new reel, and to push to $200 if opting for a Shimano reel.

Abu Garcia vs Shimano reels on Resale Value

According to lots of anglers online who have owned Shimano reels in the past, the more expensive models tend to hold their value very well when reselling as a second-hand reel. 

Because they are built so well and the brand carries with it a lot of equity from the manufacturing of some of the top reels in the industry, second hand Shimano reels go like hotcakes. 

If you hop onto any of the fishing forums, you’ll find Shimano reels in hot demand and anglers often trade and sell their gear to access discounted top range reel models like the Stella. 

Top range Abu Garcia reels also are often sold second hand and see demand too. 

Abu Garcia had a bit of a knock to their quality standard with their 3rd Gen Revo model having issues (more later) reported by anglers.

That said, it’s still a sought-after brand of fishing reels for the precision and excellence of reel manufacture.

If you’re looking at a top-range reel as an investment to resell later and upgrade to a new model, you may be better off with a Shimano, although you won’t be far behind with a half-decent Abu Garcia either. 


The durability of Abu Garcia vs Shimano reels

Looking across the various fishing forums online and sourcing information from Abu Garcia and Shimano reel owners, it’s difficult to find many issues reported with Shimano reels. 

We came across a few corroborating reports about an issue with the Shimano Symetre model that jars up when it gets wet.

But also plenty of anglers using this reel model in the rain who’ve not had this problem. 

Also, we noticed some issues arising from the line getting caught in the thumb plate of the Curado DC reel when casting. 

Abu Garcia reels seem to encounter a few more issues, but again, the ratio of issues to reels working perfectly fine is probably minimal. 

That said, Abu Garcia’s Revo 3rd Gen reel seems to have had some recurring issues that were found in 1st and 2nd Gen Revo reels that were not addressed in the 3rd Gen. 

Deeper research into the issues flagged by anglers online about the 3rd Gen Revo reels revealed issues with the kick lever not engaging properly with gears, and multiple Revo models needing to be sent back. 

Others mentioned the bigger gearbox is not as comfortable to use, although this is more a personal preference around how you hold or ‘palm’ the reel.

Finally, we saw complaints about backlash with the Revo 3rd Gen – that despite having the mag brakes at maximum, the reel still requires a heavy thumb on the spool to avoid any backlash and a bird’s nest from occurring.

Both brands use extremely tough materials, such as carbon, high-grade steel, and aluminum for the frames, gears, bearings, shafts, and plates.

These reels have been built to withstand frequent use and many saltwater anglers online attest to the ability of reels from both brands to stand up to harsh conditions like saltwater fishing.

How long do Abu Garcia vs Shimano reels last?

Typically Shimano is held up by owners of both Abu Garcia and Shimano reels as out-lasting most other reels. 

Some anglers report owning and using Shimano reels for years without issue, summed up by the following quote:

Shimano gets my vote too. I bought an Abu Revo S when they first came out. That reel crapped out after 2 seasons. I had 3 or 4 Shimanos I bought the season before that lasted another 2 seasons beyond that Revo before they needed any kind of maintenance.

If you’re interested, check out our article on a Shimano vs Daiwa head-to-head comparison.

Abu Garcia vs Shimano: customer service, returns, warranty

Customer service

Abu Garcia’s customer service comes out looking very good after reviewing experiences that owners have had when trying to solve issues with their reels, one angler was particularly happy with their service:

…all of my reels are Abu’s and have never had a problem with Abu’s customer service. they always go above and beyond for me.”

Shimano’s customer service seems to cause some frustration with a few anglers online, who report that the reel they returned for a repair doesn’t show up in Shimano’s system when they enquire about it on the phone and that they have encountered delays in servicing too.

“I sent my broken spooled Curado in a week from yesterday, and they still haven’t even looked at it, nor do they even have it in their system I was told.”


Both Abu Garcia and Shimano offer a 30-day full refund policy on their reels. 


Abu Garcia’s and Shimano’s warranty offering is very similar, but with a slight difference in that Abu charges a warranty processing fee for theirs. 

  • Shimano – 1 year warranty
  • Abu Garcia – 1 year + processing fee (USD$10 at time of writing)

Abu Garcia vs Shimano: reel sizes

Both brands offer a good range of reel sizes across spinning and baitcasting reels, so you should be able to find models from both brands that suit your needs.

Some of the most popular baitcasting reels from Abu Garcia include: 

Click here for our round up of Abu Garcia’s best baitcasting reels

Some of the most popular spinning reels from Abu Garcia include: 

Click here for our round up of Abu Garcia’s best spinning reels

Some of the most popular baitcasting reels from Shimano include: 

Click here for our roundup of Shimano’s best baitcasting reels

Some of the most popular spinning reels from Shimano include: 

Click here for our roundup of Shimano’s best spinning reels

Where are Abu Garcia and Shimano reels made?

Abu Garcia reels all used to be made in Sweden, however, much of the production of their fishing reels now happens in Asia, in countries like South Korea and China. 

The only models that continue to be manufactured in Sweden are some of the Ambassadeur round reel models (C3 and C4 4000-7000).

Shimano reels are currently manufactured mainly in China, Singapore, and Malaysia. 

Abu Garcia v. Shimano reels summary. 

Trying to pull apart whether to select a reel from Abu Garcia or Shimano is a difficult thing to do. 

This article has highlighted some of the similarities and key differences when comparing Abu Garcia vs Shimano. 

Taking a step back and looking at the hours of research we’ve done, it’s pretty close between the two brands of fishing reels, but Shimano probably pips Abu Garcia to the post in our view.

If you get a chance though, go in-store and try some reels out, get a feel for them. 

Happy reel hunting!

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