Abu Garcia Black Max vs Silver Max vs Pro Max: A Comparison

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All three options in the ABU Garcia “Max” baitcaster range are worthy reels for anglers of all skill levels. 

In my opinion, the core attraction of the series is the quality build, features list, and the accessible price points.

The Black is the most affordable and the base model. The Silver covers the mid-price point, and the Pro, as the name implies, is the top model. 

It should be noted, however, that the entire series sits at an entry-level price point.

Depending on the retailer you choose, specials, and runouts, you’ll find roughly $30 difference between the base model and the Pro model.

The Pro Max comes in at well under $90 dollars and the Black is in the mid-’50s. The Silver parts the bookends roughly in the middle.

While the price difference between base and pro is significant in terms of percentage, it’s only an extra 30 odd dollars to purchase the Pro over the Black, and roughly 10 bucks more for the Silver over the Black.

So, here’s the deliberation. Are the extra features on the Silver and the Pro worth the relatively minimal extra coin? Interestingly, it’s only a few extra bucks to find out.

In the following article, we’ll have a look at the similarities and key differences between each model and assess them based on the application.

So, is it the case that unless you’re incredibly frugal and watching your fishing expenditure you should pay the minimal extra coin and go for the Pro? Maybe. But it’s not that simple. Let’s find out why.

Abu Garcia Silver Max vs Black Max vs Pro Max – A Comparison

Cosmetics and Aesthetics

With the exception of color, the three models are identical. ABU has delivered a very slick low profile design that looks like it belongs in a higher price bracket. 

The ‘sports’ styling has proven very popular.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as they say, but it’s fair to state that all three reels will have very broad appeal. My color preference goes to the Black Max with its red spool and handle.

Features and Specifications at a Glance

 Note: Key differences are highlighted in white

Black MaxSilver MaxPro Max
5 stainless steel bearings
Machined aluminum spool
Power Disk drag system
Duragear brass gear
MagTrax brake system
Compact bent handle and star
Recessed reel foot
One-piece graphite frame
Graphite side plates
Braid Capacity yd/lb 140/30
Mono Capacity yd/lb 145/12
Max drag lb18lb | 8.1kg
Weight 7.30 Oz
Ratio 6.4:1
Retrieve 26″ | 66cm

Instant Anti-reverse


5 stainless steel ball bearings + 1 roller bearing
Machined aluminum spool
Power Disk drag system
Duragear brass gear
MagTrax brake system
Compact bent handle and star
Recessed reel foot
One-piece graphite frame
Graphite side plates
Rocket Clutch
Braid Capacity yd/lb 140/30
Mono Capacity yd/lb 145/12
Max drag lb18lb | 8.1kg
Instant Anti-reverse
Ratio 6.4:1
Retrieve 26″ | 66cm

Weight 7.30 Oz


7 stainless steel ball bearings + 1 roller bearing
Machined double anodized aluminum spool
Power Disk drag system
Duragear brass gear
MagTrax brake system
Compact bent handle and star
 Recessed reel foot
One-piece graphite frame
Graphite side plates
Braid Capacity yd/lb 140/30
Mono Capacity yd/lb 145/12
Max drag lb18lb | 8.1kg
Instant Anti-reverse
Ratio 7.1:1
Retrieve 29″ | 74cm

Weight 7.37 Oz

The Basics and Key Similarities

As you can clearly see, there are very few differences between the 3 models. 

Critical factors such as spool and drag capacities, construction, and anchor features such as drag type and gear material are identical.

The drag capacities are certainly generous. The lightweight reels will punch well above their diminutive stature. 

Spooled with 140 yards of 30-pound braid, you could poke each reel a sizable target with expectations of a solid victory.

While robust, this is also a reel that will respond well when rigged light for more refined sports fishing. In this regard, the series offers plenty of inshore versatility.

ABU’s Duragear is a proven stayer. The one-piece graphite frame and side plates limit corrosion and add plenty of strength and twist resistance while keeping things light.

The magnetic braking system Mag Trax is standard across the range. It takes little practice to become proficient and avoid dreaded bird nests.

I quite like this system for learners, and pros will be able to whip out the lightest lures with confidence.

All in all, the shared core features deliver plenty of fishing bang for a tight wallet. In my opinion, this is the great strength of Max baitcasters.

The Max baitcasters cover a huge range of inshore applications. I’d happily cast flesh baits at canal monsters rigged with mono. I’d also rig light, casting smaller baits at pond-bound crappie.

Of course, the Max baitcasters will be a special for anglers targeting largemouth with lures. 

You’ll have all you need for the average size bass with enough reserve should a trophy fish smash your shad.

For the salties it’s brilliant for the estuaries, rivers, and canals. In the right conditions I’d even cast it into gutters and holes close to the beach.

Where the surf is concerned, there are countless options for great table fish within a 30-foot cast of the water’s edge – well within the capacities of the Max.

Given the versatility of the series, how do you refine your choice and get the ABU Max baitcaster that’s perfect for your needs?

Let’s have a look at the differences in the models. No doubt you’ll find your answers there.

Bearings

We all enjoy a smooth crank. The more bearing’s the better, especially under load. 

If smoothness is your thing, the Pro offers a confidence-inspiring crank with 8 bearings.

The Black has 5, as does the silver but with 1 added roller bearing. Some will argue that there’s little difference in the feel.

On the other hand, plenty of anglers suggest that when loaded up, the difference is quite noticeable.

Bearing’s don’t just offer a smoother crank; they also support other critical componentry working in concert with pinions, handles, and gears restricting unwanted movement.

Significantly reduced friction and movement will likely add years to the working life of your reel.

For my money, the bearing count on the pro is definitely worth the extra few bucks. It’s such a solid but silky smooth feel.

That’s no to say the Black and Silver are clunky, indeed far from it. The 5 bearings in the Silver and Black deliver a very smooth and reliable crank. 

The Pro simply takes it to the next level.

8 bearings at this price point will be a very appealing feature for most anglers. For casual weekend danglers, on the other hand, the difference might be barely noticeable.

Bearings, above all other features, are the components that add the extra dollars to a reel. Their value to the angler is generally reflected in the pricing.

Weight

It’s a difference so has to be mentioned. The Pro, owing to the extra bearings, is .07 of an ounce heavier than its stablemates.

This difference is somewhat less than negligible. In my opinion, such a slight difference is undetectable and should have no impact on your purchase consideration.

For this price point, the Max reels are pretty light, facilitating long sessions of relentless fatigue-free casting. 

Gear Ratios/Retrieve

I don’t have any stats on hand to check, but I’d hazard a guess that many anglers choose the Pro because of its impressive speed.

The difference between 6.4 and 7.1 might not sound like much but the Pro has an extra 3 inches of line lay for every crank.

For anglers employing diverse techniques for varied applications, this speed offers an extra level of versatility. 

Those who flip and pitch rapid-fire, or simply cast rapid-fire, will appreciate the extra speed of the Pro.

It’s worth noting that it’s a lot easier to slow down a retrieve than it is to up the pace. There is a tendency to lose form when we crank too fast.

For most anglers, a 6.4 ratio is more than adequate. In my opinion, the added speed of the Pro offers little persuasion. For others, however, speed it’s what they seek.

For those casting topwater baits, lipless cranks and jerk baits, and also like to fish Texas or Carolina rigs, the extra speed of the Pro makes sense.

The Silver Max Rocket Clutch

The Silver Max has a feature called rocket clutch. The rocket clutch assists rapid one-handed casting. 

With a push of a button the reel free spools. When your lure hits the target depress the button again and the spool engages.

My first thoughts are to label this feature a bit of a gimmick. However, I watch so many anglers flipping and pitching at a rate that makes me exhausted to watch.

Abu Garcia SMAX3 Silver Max Low Profile Baitcast Fishing Reel (Right handed),Black, White
  • One-piece graphite frame
  • 5 stainless steel ball bearings + 1 roller bearing
  • Power Disk drag system
  • Duragear brass gear

Last update on 2021-02-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

For these anglers, I can see the allure of the Rocket clutch. Casting lures at the banks and underneath structure while moving quickly on the current or under electric power is a tough skill to master.

The faster you can do this, the more time you’ll spend in a likely target zone. 

The rapid-fire one hand cast (when mastered) delivers incredible efficiencies, and I can see the Rocket clutch providing generous assistance here.

However, in my opinion, I’d rather go with the faster gear ratio and settle for the established rhythm I’ve already developed with my outfits. 

Even two-handed, I feel I can be fast enough to get the most from a passing target zone. 

Which Abu Garcia Reel Would I Choose?

For me, selecting the Max Pro is a relatively simple choice. Believe me, that’s rare. I can deliberate for months on a reel choice…and that’s when I’m being decisive.

The bearing count is a winner for me. I get a super smooth, confidence-inspiring crank that comes into its own when I’m wrestling a target beyond the recommended size specifications on the packet.

This solid feel is also appreciated when I’m tackling a lighter class of fish. There’s a level of refinement that’s apparent when cranking a small, dangerously lightweight lure.

I admire the skills of the rapid-fire anglers flipping and pitching along a riverbank. Their fluid motion is always impressive. I rarely fish this way however, so the Rocket Clutch is not an important feature.

I think the budget-driven Black Max is a classy offering from ABU. 

If it were my only option I’d be as happy as the proverbial pig in mud, casting whatever at whoever all day long. It’s such a nice baitcaster.

Fortunately, my fishing budget allows for the few extra bucks for the better bearing count.

For me, It’s the Max Pro.

Abu Garcia PMAX3 Pro Max Low-Profile Baitcast Fishing Reel
  • One piece graphite frame and graphite site plates
  • 7 stainless steel ball bearings + 1 roller bearing
  • Clear Tip design delivers added responsiveness and strength
  • Duragear brass gear

Last update on 2021-02-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

A Note on Budget Fishing Reels 

I think it’s worth noting that the Max series sits firmly in the budget class of baitcaster reels. Ultimately, you get what you pay for.

While I believe the Max series offers value for money, value for money can be quite subjective.

For example, if a reel of 50 to 80 dollars lasts me a couple of seasons of extensive use, I’d be feeling as though I’d done pretty well. 

I’m hard on my equipment, often neglect maintenance, and frequently forget to clean my gear. I expect, based on my behavior, that I’ll not get much working life from my budget-driven kit.

Many recreational anglers and occasional weekend warriors will purchase reels from this price category with inflated expectations. 

If you leave it in its box, it’ll last forever. But when used as intended, it will likely have an expiry date.

When this expiry date arrives will be up to you. Your applications, and your care and maintenance routine will all impact longevity.

Use your max to tackle 25 pound Red Drum and you’re going to reduce its working life. 

Drop it on the deck or the rocks, and it’ll fail much sooner. Submerge it regularly and it’ll die quickly.

The Max series is affordable for a reason. Obviously, the componentry has to match the price point.

Concession and compromise are made at the point of manufacture to ensure anglers have access to an affordable product. This compromise impacts performance over time.

So long as anglers recognize entry-level kit has limitations, I’m confident you’ll be very happy with your Pro, Silver, or Black Max. Thousands of anglers are.

The bonus is that many anglers, myself included, have reels purchased for less than 50 bucks still working well 2 decades hence. Chances are, your Max will too.

Conclusion

I often lament when I see a reel series where stablemates have only subtle differences. And I must conclude that there’s little between these three reels.

The cynic in me believes that the model differences are based on corporate marketing imperatives such as shelf presence and perceived depth of selection within a series.

Could they just forgo the Silver and add the Rocket Clutch to the Pro? Two reels hardly count for a reel ‘series’ though.

I’m sure some will like the rocket clutch on the Silver. I’ve no doubt plenty will like the added bearings and speed contained in the PRO.

I’m also certain there’s plenty of tight fishing budgets out there who will appreciate the low price of a quality ABU baitcaster.

I’m a fan of a lot of ABU products, and these baitcasters are no exception. It’s a credit to the fishing icon that they deliver quality kit to the most restricted budget.

I would argue, however, that feature consolidation would be more appreciated by their loyal fans.

Cynicism aside, the ABU Garcia Max baitcasters will enhance your reel arsenal. Black, Silver, or Pro, these are worthy reels with excellent inshore versatility.

I feel the only anglers who will deliberate are those that want the Rocket Clutch, but who also recognize the benefits of speed and extra bearings. 

For those anglers, it may be a tough call.

Whatever the case, you can’t really go wrong. Whichever Max you choose to add to your go-to baitcaster arsenal, you’re going to get plenty of great fishing and serious value for money.

I’m definitely getting a Pro. What’s your ABU Max choice?

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