Product Reviews

Robert Venneri Reel Seats

Robert Venneri Reel Seats

by Al Campbell

One of the nice things about being an outdoor writer is having the opportunity to do product reviews on some great products. Product reviews can also be a source of great frustration to a writer if the product being reviewed isn't very functional or isn't very nice to look at. Nobody wants a bad review for the product they developed, but any honest writer won't give a good review to a bad product.

So, what do we do with those products that just don't measure up to the standards good flyfishing products should achieve? We package them up and send them back with suggestions for improvements. That's why you rarely see a product review here that isn't at least somewhat positive about the product being presented.

Likewise, when I have the opportunity to review a product that just blows my socks off, I pass on the praise for that product in more ways than a review. If you know me or have joined me in the rod building chat on Thursday nights, you know which rod company has a product that I feel is the nicest product on the market. Quite simply, it amazed me, and I gladly tell others about it because I believe it's a great product.

The product I'm reviewing today is another one of those products that blew my socks off. In 27 years of custom rod building, I've never seen a prettier reel seat than the reel seats Robert Venneri sent for my review. Considering the fact that I've attended many major flyfishing shows, that's saying a lot.

Venneri Reel Seat

Robert Venneri's custom reel seats are a work of art. The wood burls he uses are rich in color and texture. I like to describe burls of this caliber as having deep character. The photo doesn't do the quality of the wood and nickel silver components justice; no photo could. It takes human eyes and human hands to appreciate the quality of this workmanship.

Each piece of nickel silver hardware is cut and crafted with the fine details of hand crafted jewelry, rather than the stamped-out models seen on many factory reel seats. Each piece of hardware fits precisely to the wood; no slop, no slip, no gaps. They are a testimony to custom craftsmanship and an artist's hands.

Ok, ok, so the wood is beautiful, the hardware is beautiful, things fit together nicely, it probably costs a pretty penny too, right? Not exactly; if you buy one of the nicer factory reel seats, you'll pay $60 to $100 or more for the pleasure, but the most expensive reel seat in Robert's catalog is just $55, and neither of the reel seats pictured here is that expensive. At 35 and 45 bucks, I'd call these reel seats inexpensive, considering the quality, beauty and craftsmanship. You'd pay twice that much for a reel seat approaching this quality from any of the major manufacturers, and you wouldn't get anything as nice as the reel seats Robert produces.

If you're looking for a beautiful reel seat to grace that new fly rod you're building, visit Robert's web page before you shell out the bucks for anyone's reel seat. I'll bet you spend your dollars with him. After all, a quality custom fly rod deserves a quality custom reel seat like one from Robert Venneri.

For a look at more of Robert's products, visit his web site or, e-mail him, or call him at 1-845-246-5882. You'll see, his is custom Catskill craftsmanship at its best.

~Al Campbell

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