Reviewed Reel: Abu Garcia Ora SX
A great spinning reel for the angler that values weight savings and features over absolutely needing an all-metal construction. An excellent value at this price point. Only concern would be for heavy surf fishing.
At Fish.Sleep.Eat., we tend to favor spinning reels from companies with established firms with long storied histories. While not fool-proof, a company that has made fishing gear for decades isn't likely to risk their reputation with bad components just to save a dollar or two in costs. Abu Garcia is an example of a company with a rich history. Founded in Sweeden in 1921, there is enough of a following of the company's tackle that books have been written about the subject. That kind of loyalty only comes with time and delivering a solid product.
The Abu Garcia Orra SX spinning reel is a solid step up in price from the sub-$50 category of gear. How well does the Orra SX live up to the reputation of AG? Read on to find out!
Maybe get a You-Tube Video in here, otherwise another picture.
As we often do with spinning reel reviews here at Fish.Sleep.Eat, we'll start by looking at the ball bearings. Bearings can really impact your enjoyment of a fishing reel, yet the often aren't talked about.
The AB Orra SX seems to take the importance of bearings to heart. Standard on this reel are nine stainless steel alloy bearings. The tradename is HCR - in essence the bearings are designed to resist corrosion much better than normal "pure" stainless steel. I've seen it said that HCR is 10x more resistant - I don't know if that's true or not, but we can say it will hold up better to water or salt attacks than stainless bearings.
The construction is an innovative design. As I said in our Best of 2017 review, I'm surprised more manufacturers haven't started putting this design technique into their mid-range line.
The Orra line uses a two step manufacturing process. To begin, the gearbox is made out of all aluminum. The gearbox needs to be strong and rigid, and this provides those characteristics. This part of manufacturing is similar to how most reels are produced.
What's interesting is the next step of the process. Abu Garcia designs a carbon body around the gear box. I like to call this "mass customization" because each body needs to be molded around and for the gearbox. If it's done right, in theory the body will be in near perfect line with the box leading to a very smooth fishing experience.
This close pairing of the gearbox and body does make it different - and for some, more difficult to service - the reel. I think servicing a reel is something that gets easier with practice - so how hard it is to clean and maintain any reel can depend heavily on your comfort level. In other words, I personally don't have this problem with the reel, but I've seen it brought up in forums. I wanted to make you the reader aware of it.
I think one of the area the Orra SX spinning reel shines is in the ergonomics, or it's "feel". While the following video is a bit promotional in tone, you get a good feel for both how the reel fits in his hand, and how it looks. I can tell you from experience that the reel arm and foot are a comfy fit between my fingers - both when casting and retrieving. I'm not sure if it's the graphite, or just the design - but I can tell you that you notice the reel. That's a good thing - usually I only notice a reel when it's irritating in some manner.
The handle has brought about some controversy on "the internet". I'd like to start by pointing out I like the knob on the handle. To me, the more tactile response I can get to help my hands "see" where they are on the reel, the better. It also fits my hand well.
The complaints seem to center around how solidly the handle fits in the reel. There are complaints that there is some play in the reel handle when retrieving. Like most spinning reels at this price point, you can set up the reel either left or right handed. This means there is a large screw rod that goes through the reel which is tightened by tension back into the reel. As long as I keep the handle screw finger-tight, I haven't had an issue. This goes for EVERY reel I've had as well. I wonder if the complaints come from a one-off defect, or if these anglers aren't used to having to periodically check to tighten the reel handle.
In any case, I personally have had no problem - but once again I wanted to address the issue.
The AB Orra SX has more features than the average reel at this price. We've covered a few (like the braking) previously. I'll cover a couple new ones in this section.
One feature that is particularly nice as you are coming up to speed with spinning reels is the rotor brake design. Have you ever went to cast and halfway through heard the bail close - soon followed by the feel of all your casting force being stopped in the air, and the sound of your lure splashing prematurely? I can tell you I have. It sucks, and it hurts a bit too.
Rotor brake design stops the bail from closing on it's own from the force of your cast. It can't solve the problem of user error causing the bail to shut, but that's what practice is for.
The Rocket line management is a great feature to get more distance on your casts. The idea is to keep your line from spraying out off the reel when casting and instead oscillating in a tighter area. This minimizes contact with the rod and eyelets - which keeps friction down. End result for you - less friction = father distance.
The Rocket spool lip design is added to the Orra SX line to help keep line tangle from forming. We all know that knots and tangles are a danger when fishing with a spinning reel. This line of gear does a good job keeping the snags to a minimum.
The Abu Garcia Orra SX is a great all-around fishing reel. That's one of the reasons we rate it so highly. You obviously need to pair the size of the reel to the type of fishing you will be doing, but there is a reel to go from ultralight fishing up to middle range.
It's easier to list who this reel is for by listing who shouldn't buy it:
This spinning reel is highly suited for:
In the end, all reviews are really trying to do is let you know the value of a product for the money. The Orra SX really is a great value. The bearings are high-quality. The construction is innovative and solid. The line management and braking systems are comparable to those found on other reels above the $100 price.
As of the day this was written, you can get this spinning reel for less than $80. The feature set and quality build make it a bargain up to $100 - at that price, the field becomes more competitive for this level of reel.
If you'd rather spend near $50 and aren't worried about debris getting inside the rod, you can't go wrong with the President spinning reel. Sure the components aren't as high-end as on the Orra but Pflueger is known for quality engineering. It really shows on this dependable, not-flashy inexpensive model.
The Stradic FK is an example of what you can get for around double the price of the Orra SX. If you are willing and able to pay $150+ for a reel, it's a great reel. Seals are added to the all-metal body to keep out water and everything else. Forged gears add to precision and power. The quality of the spinning reel isn't in doubt - it's a matter of how much you want to spend for the additional features. Not everyone has a trust fund, amiright?
The Battle 2 is a sharp-looking reel priced slightly above the Orra SX. The body is all-metal - which does give it a bit more stability. You give up a feature or two and add some weight in return to keep it at this price. A solid choice if you need the extra strength an all-metal body can provide.
The Abu Garcia Orra SX is a solid pick for a spinning reel that you will use for most everything. It is made well and should last a long time if properly cared for. You don't need to be afraid to get it wet - either in the salt or freshwater.
It probably isn't the right reel for you if you are looking to hook into monster fish. It isn't like this reel body will explode if you get into a fish above it's spool size - but that's not who it's made for. Try the Battle II if size might be an issue.