Behind the All-New Abel ROVE with Mayfly CEO Craig Baker

"This reel is for the angler who wants to ROVE around and to see the world."

ROVE: /rōv/ – travel constantly without a fixed destination; wander.


Built to fish anywhere and everywhere, the ROVE series of reels was created to give anglers the ultimate peace of mind on the water regardless of conditions or location.  The field-serviceable, proven Abel cork drag system along with the simplified design approach from our engineering team make this the reel that even guides in Seychelles will trust in their arsenal.

This is not your delicate, ultralight, classically elegant reel for alpine meadow fishing. This is your ultra-tough, ultra-reliable, high capacity, beat-me-up adventure reel that will go where you want to go without feeling a need to have a backup reel in your limited carry-on space.  

We caught up with Mayfly Outdoors CEO, Craig Baker, to learn more about the ROVE and why you need one for your next off-the-grid fly fishing adventure!

Flylords: When designing the ROVE, what were the main features from previous Abel designs that inspired it?

Craig: With this reel, we really wanted to achieve a timeless bulletproof drag system that no one had to question or worry about. So, we stuck to what we knew and utilized the Super Series cork drag system. In fact, we tried to take that system to the modern age by incorporating new materials meant to replace the cork. All in all, we tested about 10 different materials, and so far we haven’t found one that outperforms cork. Cork is honestly a miracle material. It performs extremely well, everybody’s used to it, it’s easy to replace, maintain and repair in the field, and most folks already know what needs to be done to maintain it.

We also wanted to incorporate something that modernized the product that made it feel new. We thought that dichotomy and irony of “old-fashioned” drag technology, but with some improvements like better springs, stronger components, and a new-age design. Not only that, but we wanted to create a system that covered a bevy of fly fishing applications. This reel is meant to do everything from slinging streamers in Colorado to casting at permit in Belize, and everything in between. So, that’s where our fully-caged, beefy frames and stout spools came into play. 

Photo from Alpharetta Outfitters, courtesy of Abel Reels.

Flylords: Tell us a little bit about the materials that make up the ROVE. How do their components help them stand above other cork-drag reels on the market?

Craig: For one, we have three different classes of aluminum for different components of the reel. We’ve got Aircraft Grade 6061, T6 aluminum in the frame and spool. and then type 7075 in the drag plate to allow for more drag pressure than was possible previously. 

We’ve also developed an in-house anodizing process, Type 3 to be specific. It was developed for high corrosion and high wear environments, enabling it to perform at much lower temperatures. Ultimately, it’s what the end consumer needs to know is, it’s tougher and more durable than Type 2 anodizing.

Flylords: So, what about its construction makes it the best?

Craig: So in my opinion, the highest design is accomplishing something with the fewest amount of parts and components, meaning there’s less to go wrong. We took inspiration from the TR and VAYA, they’re two very simple reels. And in our minds, the best design is the one with the fewest components and the least amount that can go wrong.

Flylords: Why was this reel made, other than to make something new? What question is this reel here to answer?

Craig: This reel is for the angler who wants to go anywhere in the world, fish any species.  It’s got the capacity to fish two-hand rods, to fish saltwater, and for trout and trout spey. This is for the angler who wants to ROVE around and to see the world.

There’s a reason it’s called ROVE. Rove’s definition is to wander aimlessly without direction. Don’t we all wish that we were flying around the world, taking this ROVE to new destinations and species?

Flylords: How much of this reel is made in the USA?

Craig: Every single part of it is designed here and created here in Colorado and California.  We control the materials, the process, and the ultimate design. We can design it for our own manufacturing so that there’s synergy all the way through the system. Ultimately, higher quality is what it results. For me as the consumer, the most important thing is I get something that’s unique. It doesn’t look like anyone else’s reel. It doesn’t perform like anyone else’s reel, and it matches the way we want to fish.

Andrea Larko’s Permit ROVE on a flats mission during prototyping.

Flylords: How many hours and how many hands go into manufacturing a ROVE reel?

Craig: Oh boy, that’s a good one. The whole design process takes thousands of hours between design, development, testing, validation, field testing, revisions, and prototyping.

To answer your question about people, there are probably between 18 and 20 individual people that will touch every ROVE, depending on the level of complexity and the graphics.

The Abel ROVE starts at $750 and is offered in sizes 5/7, 7/9, 9/11, and 11/12+ WT.

You can build your custom ROVE on AbelReels.com!

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