This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

July 2nd, 2001

Those BIG Reels

My thanks to Jim Clarke from the UK for this observation. I will add a bit at the end, enjoy.

Due to many long years in the tackle trade I have resisted the blandishments of tackle catalogues successfully and condescendingly all my life. Not for me the "latest and best ever," not for me the thought, or even the suggestion that "you will catch more fish with . . ." I carry few patterns, relying on established favourites. I have used and found of little or no advantage braided leaders, indicator wool, co-polymer tippets, flies with eyes, flies with wobbling eyes and flies with luminous eyes. I have used the same Hardy Princess reel, with four spare spools, for over thirty years. I manage to get seven or eight years out of my Cortland lines. My one concession to "things modern" is my rod. I bought a set of Sage blanks some seven years ago to replace an ageing Hardy graphite.

HOWEVER . . . I have, since I retired been alarmed by the price of tackle, which I now have to BUY. This has driven me further underground from the temptations of up-to-date tackle . . .UNTIL . . .

Reading a catalogue a few months ago, just to be aware of what I was resisting you understand, I became aware of the pressure being brought to bear on the world's susceptible anglers on behalf of large arbour reels. I even felt the first stirrings of desire. This, however was quickly stifled. Mere fashion! I had after all fished a Hardy St. Aidan for some years, that had a large arbour, no big deal. I once had a Hardy Perfect with silent check, no big deal, it had no future due to lack of capacity for modern lines. Nevertheless the Orvis L.A .Battenkill looked quite sexy, but NO, I was impervious, I didn't need one.

A disc drag was for secretive buggers, or fishing the Florida Keys for bonefish. AND THEN . . .

Fishing happily one day for rainbows I had twenty five yards of line out decide to move along the bank a little. As there were trees alongside, I needed to reel in. I retrieved some five yards of line and stopped to think, (I do that sometimes). It was then that Murphy's Law struck, or rather, a fish took the fly. A fish of reasonable size and unreasonable ferocity had taken a decided fancy to the fly. It was in direct contact with the reel whose effective diameter had been decreased by the missing twenty five yards of line. The inertia proved too much. The leader snapped and so did my self-control. I became cross, just a little. I was saved from progressing further down the road to Trout Rage by a sudden thought. LARGE ARBOUR. One of the advantages claimed for these inventions of the devil was that as line went off the reel the diameter did not decrease appreciably, so avoiding, in theory, the problem I had just experienced.

HOWEVER . . . It had never happened before in quite that way, or had it? There was that fish last year that . . . Three years ago I lost the fish of a lifetime, I console myself, that struck so hard and fast that . . . The thought had taken root.

After a month of alternate "forring" and "againsting" I found myself not only reading catalogues but reading the Web avidly seeking information on Large Arbour reels. I was going to have to buy this one, something I had never had to do before in my lifetime!!!

To cut a long story short, I am now the proud owner of a Battenkill L.A . and find it everything the makers claim for it.

Worringly, I am still poring over the sponsors on Fly Anglers OnLine and manfully resisting a whole new range of things. ~ Jim Clarke
My two cents worth. I do not fish a 'Large-Arbor' reel. We do own one which is only used for fly casting demonstrations (classes) because the line comes off in larger loops instead of watch-spring coils and just works better for that. But I've never fished one.

I suspect I'm too old and set in my ways. For a very, very long time I have made do with the conventional style. The ones with the quarter-inch spindle in the center. I start my backing and fill the reel to the point where a fly line will almost fill the reel. In fact, you may want to do this sometime: Take an empty reel and tie the 'leader' end to the center spindle. Wind on the line and then tie the backing to the butt end of the line and keep winding until you are near the top of the reel. This way you can fill your reel to the very top. No more, no less. The problem now is, you have to reverse the whole darn thing. A bit of a nuisance, but one way to get the exact amount you want on your reel. It in fact, having so much backing acts very much like a large arbor reel.

Over the years I have become used to loosening my drag when a fish gets into my backing. I really lighten it up if he gets way into it. I am sure we all understand that the drag increases as the core size gets smaller. You may get eight inches of line per revolution from a full reel and only get four inches from it when it is way low in the spindle. That means the fish has to spin the spool twice to get the same amount of line at that time. But, I just loosen my drag, and then tighten it up when I get some of the line back under control.

I am use to the ones I have and would probably out of habit, loosen the drag on a large-arbor thing and never see the fish again. There might be times when a LA could be a good thing, like when a fish is out 150 yards and decides he likes you, a lot. Several species will do this, bones, salmon, steelhead just to mention a few. They come back like the little ball from the old wooden paddle. Would a LA reel help? Probably, you would be cranking 7 or 8 inches per turn rather than 4 or 5. It could make a big difference. Most likely, you would just give up and line-strip like crazy.

Am I telling you not to get one? Heck no. If I had one would I use it? Hmmm, I haven't found it necesssary to fish the one I have, but being open minded, sure, at least once. Maybe more than that. I might even get to like it.

In reality, I probably will never know though, I'm happy with the old ones. By the way, I don't use those 'fast-retrieve,' 'multiplier' ones either.

Tight lines, (and, loosen those drags) ~ LadyFisher

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