OK so here is the latest list of the best distance casting reels for salmon/surf fishing:
1. Daiwa 7HT
2. Abu Revo Toro NaCl 50 or 60 (spooled with 50lb braid).
3. Akios 555, 656 or 757
3. Daiwa SL30SH and Daiwa SL20SH
4. Penn Mag 525 and the Penn Squall 12 (replacement for Penn Mag 525)
5. Abu 6500 CT Rocket, and Abu 6500 CT mag elite
6. Shimano TSMII C (now a rare beast).
7. Daiwa Ryoga Bay – Recommended by Charles Smith, from [i:2ogbkdrz]The Complete Angler[/i:2ogbkdrz] in Christchurch. I’ll have to try that one.
The advantages of the Abu Ambassadeur 7000 and 7500 are that they are reasonably priced, readily available, reliable, easily serviced, and spare parts are also readily available and inexpensive. As these Abu reels wear you can replace all the moving parts with new parts even on a 20 year old reel. In many small towns around New Zealand, particularly in the South Island, the leading tackle stores will have stocks of Abu worm gears, pawls etc. Whereas they are unlikely to stock parts for any of the others mentioned here; although they could order them for you.
You can also get upgrade dual worm gear bearing kits for older Abu reels. In a standard reel the worm-shaft is supported by stock plastic bushings, the kit replaces these at both ends with ball bearings, which apparently makes the reel way smoother and improves casting distance. Though I have not used one personally with this upgrade.
The Abu Seven Sprint has some weaknesses as outlined above and some parts are now hard to get. Outright casting performance has to be balanced against other considerations such as serviceability if considering buying an older reel.