August 25th, 2003

The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
This is where our readers tell their stories . . .

The Perfect Fly Reel
By Pete Hiatt

In the beginning, there was the pole and line. Soon after, the spinable wooden line holder came into being. That same line holder now is made from better materials and has a drag system. The world of rods has advanced to your choice of the perfect Old World designs of classic materials with masterful workmanship or space age materials with perfect Modulus of Elasticity, connections, finishes, ergo dynamic grip shapes, etc. The world of lines has advanced from twisted cotton to the silk of the rich to computer designed tapers with the most advanced interior weaves and exterior super plastics with every desired feature imaginable.

Then there are the reels. Sigh. Still line holders. Better materials, yes. Fine drags, yes. But still just line holders. Now for baitfish like 20" trout, they are fine. For the one-run fish, they are fine. But for serious fishing, the serious advances thus far have been in spinning and bait casting reels. It is time for a fine fly reel for serious fishing.

My fishing of choice is for salmon and steelhead. These fish sometimes CHEAT. They sometimes rush at you. Now a large 1:1 fly reel of say 4" diameter will bring in one foot per wind. It ain't enough. One must have two feet per wind, or the salmon simply eat you up. With barbless hook requirements in some fisheries, you be fat outta luck, fella. I am sure the 19th Century was a fine time, but it is OVER. We HAVE the fine workmanship and space age materials. We have fine drag designs. What we NEED is a MULTIPLIER! A three-inch diameter with a 3:1 multiplier, or a 4" diameter with a 2:1 multiplier would give us the two feet per wind. I favor the 4 inch which is a good size for a significant sized fish. The less multiplication required, the stronger the gear system can be. It would match well with the 8 wt or better rod for these larger fish. With the line thickness being a factor, the optimum diameter would be about 4 3/16" -4 ". The ergo dynamics of features for big fish reels is well known. Handle shapes, extension from rods, etc are all known factors. We simply need the multiplier in conjunction with the other fine features which are already out there.

What is available now? Well, there is a special run of 500 this year of the 1930 designed Hardy 1.7:1 multiplier. Unfortunately, It is $2250. The Martin Mod 72 is also out there for about $45 and does the job of two feet per wind, but is just a bit weak for continued service on big fish. Abel is in the design phase with a multiplier, but it isn't here yet.

The right multiplier will run the table with present competition and probably bring in many more people to fly fishing who now see the present system as quaint but Victorian in engineering. Until the right reel is available, they will stick to more advanced forms of fishing. The right multiplier will revolutionize fly fishing. There are some novel ideas out there coming into fruition like the new Marryat reel drag system and others. Who will take the next big challenge of the new Century? ~ Pete (Whopper Bubba)


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