Baitstick Score

The Abu Garcia Max X.. is a newer product offering from one of the older brands in the fishing market. With a commonly found price point in stores and online of just under $40 the Max X is a relatively inexpensive reel and one that offers decent performance and flexibility for different types of fishing. But like with almost anything, you get what you pay for. The Max X gets the job done and is a good option for beginners or for anglers who just want something good enough to get the job done. For the angler who keeps maintains and cleans gear and who doesn’t fish too often this reel should last years. But the components and materials used for this reel make it a product that otherwise may not last long with the test of time with heavy use.

Baitstick Pros:

It’s a straight forward reel and value for the money “out of the box.” It has good line control, smooth retrieve, easy to adjust drag, and right or left hand retrieve options.

For under $40 the Max X is a sensible purchase for an entry level freshwater angler or as a backup reel for a more advanced angler.

Baitstick Cons:

With four bearings driving the movement of the reel there is less there to make the reel last over the long term.

The heavy use of graphite in the body and rotor is noteworthy but strangely does not seem to genuinely lighten the overall weight of the reel as one might expect and also leaves open a question of whether the reel is built to last the test of time.

While the design team behind this reel are clearly making an effort to have this reel visually stand out, it nonetheless is not the most visually appealing reel to look at. Beauty doesn’t catch fish but if you are unsure about it early on then it will probably still make you wonder later on.

Looks aside, experienced anglers might care more about the lack of active anti-reverse capability on the Max X. But at less than $40 this may be one of those trade-offs.


Overall, the Max X will get the job done. It’s an economy reel and should not be looked at to deliver more than that. Still, for the money the Max X will definitely get new and experienced anglers out on the water and in a position to catch some fish. This is what it’s all about when all is said and done. But depending on the amount of usage and handling of the reel, for less than $40 an angler should not be surprised if this reel does not stand up as one might expect with a bigger investment made elsewhere in the Abu Garcia product family or in competing reels.

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Line Capacity* (lbs)2/190 – 10/210
Gear Ratio*4.8:1 – 5.8:1
Weight* (oz)6.2 – 12.9
Number of Bearings4
Additional FeaturesGraphite body and rotor
Aluminum spool
3 ball bearings + 1 roller bearing
*Depending on Model

Unpacking the ABU GARCIA MAX X

In evaluating the Max X, Baitstick started by following a similar experience as any typical angler would find in getting a look at the reel for the first time. Starting with the product packaging and retail box, Baitstick found with the Max X purchased undiscounted at retail that it came with a parts manual and one small sheet of paper with directions for the consumer to visit the Abu Garcia website for warranty info and a complete operating manual. The retail packaging for the Max X came with no reel oil, no spare spool, and no reel bag or case.

The retail packaging itself was a fairly standard cardboard box with nothing inside the box to secure the reel during shipping. Baitstick found the reel simply floating around the box in a clear plastic bag. Given the product is manufactured in China there are a lot of miles to travel and for the product to get tossed around inside its packaging.

Once out of the box there are fairly standard steps for getting the Max X ready for the next fishing trip. In addition to tightening the reel handle, anglers will need to check and tighten the drag knob as needed.

Field Testing the MAX X

When Baitstick took the Max X out for testing in the field, the Max X performed well and showed favorable results for an economy spinning reel. In terms of casting performance assessment, the Max X showed good line control with long and short range casts, though some distance may have been affected by friction from the spool lip design.

Using 6-10lb this reel can cover a wide range of medium duty freshwater fishing scenarios and would be ideal for panfish, trout, walleye, and bass. Baitstick tested the Max X with 8lb mono and found moderate performance with casting distance. Still, the Max X struggled to push line comfortably past 40 yards with an average size lure. The results were adequate enough and acceptable for a reel in this price range.

The reel showed it held plenty of line capacity. Abu Garcia touts a slow oscillation feature of the Max X reel providing even line lay with all types of line. In testing the product, Baitstick was able to confirm that there were no noticeable line issues with the Max X.

Less clear was Abu Garcia’s claim of the Max X having “Instant Anti-Reverse” capability. During testing it was not clear there is any particular indication of active anti-reverse capability. There is no apparent switch and no clear instructions printed on or supplied in the retail box regarding this capability. Despite being mentioned on the website, anti-reverse capability is not listed as a feature on the retail box.

In assessing the Max X drag system, Baitstick found the reel to have a drag that was relatively smooth and easy to adjust and fine tune. The drag functioned properly under different line pressure and was easy to reach with the traditional adjustment knob on top of spool

In general, testing showed the Max X to be a comfortable reel that operates smoothly and quietly out of the box for a 4 bearing reel. The reel will continue to be evaluated and tracked for durability and performance over time.

Comparison to Other Sub-$100 Abu Garcia Reels

The decision to buy the Max X largely comes down to price and the trade-offs that can be made with the rest of the Abu Garcia spin reels priced below $100, including the Max STX, Max PRO, and Elite MAX. In terms of what all of the four reels share there are a few common features. All of the Abu Garcia reels priced are not only priced less than $100, but they also all share the same graphite body and rotor material construction. All four spinning reels also share the same one year guarantee.

The Max X, Max STX, and Max PRO all share similar gear ranges of 5.2:1 – 5.8:1, depending on which model is purchased for each reel. However, the Elite MAX offers gearing in the range of 5.2:1 – 6.2:1. The Elite MAX also has a monofilament line capacity in the range of 6/225 – 12/250 depending on the specific model purchased, while the Max X, Max STX, and Max PRO all share similar monofilament line capacity of 2/190 – 10/210, depending on the model chosen.

Max X shares less with its peers in the area of number of bearings, weight, max drag, and recovery per turn. And it’s in these differences that anglers looking for affordability may want to pay closer attention to the trade-offs being made. One of the more significant trade-offs with the lowest priced reel is in the number of reel bearings. The Max X comes with a total of 4 bearings, while the Max STX comes with 6 bearings, and the Max PRO and Elite Max have 7 bearings included in the reel design. As the number of bearings can have an impact on the length of casts, ease of reeling, and overall performance when a big fish is on the line.

While the Max X does offer a broader range of total weight options depending on the model selected, specifically 6.2 – 12.9 ounces depending on the model selected. The Max STX and Max PRO range from 6.4 – 9.8 ounces depending on the model, while the Elite Max ranges from 8.5 – 13.3 ounces.

The Max offers max drag poundage ranging from 6.4 – 20lbs, while the Max STX and Max PRO range from 6.4 – 14 pounds depending on the model. The Elite Max offers a max drag in the range of 14 – 18 pounds depending on the specific model selected.

Recovery per turn is another area of slight difference between the Abu Garcia reels below $100. The Max X offers anglers recovery per turn of 20.5 – 30” depending on the model selected. The Max STX and Max PRO have recovery per turn ranging from 20.5 - 29” depending on the model. The Elite Max offers recovery per turn in the range of 28.2 – 38” depending on the model

New ModelNoYesYesNo
Body MaterialGraphiteGraphiteGraphiteGraphite
Roto MaterialGraphiteGraphiteGraphiteGraphite
Gears5.2:1 – 5.8:15.2:1 – 5.8:15.2:1 – 5.8:15.2:1 – 6.2:1
MONO/LINE CAPACITY2/190 – 10/2102/190 – 10/2102/190 – 10/2106/225 – 12 /250
Weight* (oz)6.2 – 12.96.4 – 9.86.4 – 9.88.5 – 13.3
Max Drag*6.4 – 206.4 – 146.4 – 1414 - 18
Recovery per turn*20.5 – 30”20.5 – 29”20.5 – 29”28.2 – 38”
Warranty1 Year Limited1 Year Limited1 Year Limited1 Year Limited
The Takeaway

The Max X gets a good review - performing well under standard tests. The Max X is a fair value for the price. For the angler who keeps, maintains and cleans gear and who doesn’t fish too often this reel should last a couple of years. It’s less clear if the Max X would stand up as long to heavy use and handling. Durability overall remains to be seen and given the Max X’s recent release is something that will need to be monitored.

The Max X is priced to be a reel of choice for beginner anglers as well as more experienced anglers looking to add to their arsenal. The sub-$40 price for the reel puts it at the low end of Abu Garcia’s family of spin reels. But the reel is an effort to bring advanced functionality down to an affordable price for everyday anglers but to make sure that the reel is not overly complicated or promising more than it can deliver as priced.

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