AV Young Reels

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Like you I already have way more reels than I can use but I've always wanted to make them and I have some pretty firm personal ideas on what makes a good reel to use with a bamboo rod on streams. Reels on bamboo rods don't need to be all that light to properly balance the rod because the rod is reasonably heavy compared to graphite rods that super lightweight reels are designed to be used on. Also, the ideal requirements for a reel that will be used on streams and small rivers differ from those used in open water or large rivers with high flows and large trout. In these cases you have more clear water and time to make drag adjustments on the reel if you wish and the fish is more likely to make an extended run for open water rather than duck into the nearest snag. Small stream reels are best if you can respond quickly to a fish making a quick but short lived dive for cover.

For the most part the reels I like for trout fishing are click and pawl style reels with an exposed rim for drag control and a full cage so the leader doesn't slip between the spool and the cage. It should be hard anodised for durability, simple and reliable.

So to list my idea of the perfect reel:

Reliability The reel should work flawlessly and is the main reason I like light duty reels to use a click and pawl mechanism, very basic with little to go wrong with them.

Click and pawl reels do not have very good drag control however, so I decided to not allow adjustment of the tension, it's a complication the reel just doesn't need.

Click and pawl drags are intended to prevent line over runs when stripping and when a fish runs.

Tension control is achieved by palming the spool.

Ability to palm the spool When it comes to click and pawl reels, unless you fish where all the trout are quite large and the rivers are big the drag of the reel should handle a lot of the fish you can expect to catch.

But when a larger fish comes along and you need to control the line, palming the spool either by placing your palm under the spool and applying pressure to the exposed rim or using a thumb or finger on the face of the spool is a fast and easily controlled means of providing all the force needed to control even large trout.

There are no knobs to fiddle with and usually a run for a small to medium sized trout is measured in seconds and yards, if the fish is large it's just more fun with even less time to make tension adjustments on the reel.

Durability There's no good reason that a reel should not last a lifetime by using the right materials and giving some thought to the springs, screws and finish of the reel using good engineering practices.

Things shouldn't rattle loose or just stop working.
Also, the reel should be hard anodised to give the best protection possible.
Hard anodizing is pretty common now. It's more than just coloration, it's a hard, durable surface coating that makes the surface harder than the aluminium base reducing scratching and corrosion.

Simple Simplicity of design is just one of my personal things which not everybody is into. For a reel however it does mean less to get wrong or go wrong and it makes them less expensive to make as well. It should also allow ease of use.
The trick is to define what matters and try to stick to that and no more.

Light but not to the detriment of durability and stiffness A reel needs to be stiff enough to resist torsional forces that occur between the axle and the back of the reel and spool as well as strong enough to have a chance of surviving a fall onto rocks, possibly under the fisherman.
There should also be sufficient holes in the spool to allow line to dry out which also lightens the reel.

Should last a lifetime If you look after a well designed reel, baring accidents the reel should last indefinitely. Anual greasing of the axle and spring and you should have a reel to hand down to your grand kids.

Aesthetically pleasing Trout reels should look good and who wants an ugly looking reel to hand down to your grand kids?

Things to avoid:

Complexity People love complexity, I get that, especially when it comes to fishing tackle yet it's the last thing you should want.

Complex things go wrong at bad times, usually quickly, they also cost more.

Some disk drag reels have easy to access and adjust drag systems and some don't. The best reel I know of in every respect is the Charlton Configurable reel. It's said by many that the Charlton is the best fly reel reel ever made at any price and I have to agree. It's a shame they're no longer made.
It's an amazing design that mixes a high tech drag system and adjustment with absolute simplicity in use but they're expensive.

Having said that, reels for trout can be about as simple as you can make a reel, if that's what you want.

Relies entirely on drag adjustment This relates to the problems of complexity as well as what I do like about an exposed spool rim to allow palming for drag control.

Larger reels that rely entirely on drag controls used on open water seem OK in this regard because you have time and room to make fine adjustments but smaller reels used in small streams depend on you pre setting the drag and hoping you got it right because things are usually over well before you have the chance to adjust the drag once the action starts in small streams.

Excessive weight or bad balance I'm not talking here of balancing the rod and line but the simple physical balance of the reel on the rod in the same way as a hammer either feels balanced in your hand or it doesn't.
A reel can be too light and it can be too heavy.
Somewhere there is a balance to be found and the reel should ideally suit the rod most likely to be used with it.

The expected size of the fish and water defines the rod and line which defines the reel and what type of reel and size to use.

Excessively light A reel can be too light.

If you use a bamboo rod a very light reel *may* not feel well balanced.

Non durable.


All of the above is purely subjective and my personal feelings regarding trout fly reels for use on streams and small to moderate sized rivers.
Wide arbor and wide spool reels are good in the right places but I decided to make these with regular sized spool.

Lastly all non 6061 aluminium parts are nickel aluminium bronze including the reel foot other than the spool bush which is silicon bronze as it is ball broached into place for permanence as nickel aluminium bronze is not suitable for cold forming.

Email: AV Young avytasmania@gmail.com

Adventures in reel making.

The first reel I designed which you'll see below was the 3" model of a planed series ranging from 3", 3.25" & 3.5".

The finished design of the 3" (70mm) reel.

Exploded diagram of the reel and spool as well as the bill of materals. The more time spent at the design stage the less likely there will be unexpected problems at the manufacture stage.

An un-dimensioned example of a technical drawing used in the workshop to make the componants.
Provided I make the componants exactly as drawn all should be well.

The first component I made was the bronze reel foot which adheres to the AFFTA standard and was turned between centres for best accuracy:

This is the shop drawing used to make the reel foot in the picture. It's based on the AFFTA standard but a standard is just that, you really have to use the standard to develop your own drawing based on it to produce the foot itself while remaining within the standard.
You're quite welcome to use my drawing to make your own foot if you think it would be useful, just click the foot drawing and you'll be taken to another page with better detail.

I decided to make the whole reel including the screws other than the one 2mm screw that holds the handle to the spool, that meant making everything else from Nickel Aluminium Bronze in a variety of lengths and sizes and configurations. My thinking was that I'd have all the bits and pieces ready to go so once I had the aluminium parts finished it could all go together better so the bronze parts were made first:

Threaded pawl stand off.

Slitting the screw driver slot in the stand off.

Slitting the pawls.

Ready for cleaning up.

Cutting the gears. This is an old pic of cutting 20 tooth gears which I originally tried, I now use 40 teeth for a smoother sound and feel.
When the splined shaft has been made it's cut forming 5mm wide gears, these are centre drilled and a rod that will form a bush inside the spool is pressed into the gear.

The gear has been pressed onto the spool bush and it's been drilled out to 8.8mm ready for ball broaching into the spool using a 9mm ball. No part of the spool assembly will be going anywhere after that.
The bush is silicon bronze which can be cold formed which nickel aluminium bronze can't. The axle which this bush revolves around is nickel aluminum bronze and is the harder of the two which is as it should be, the shaft should be the harder material.
These two materials work well together especially as they are well greased in use and will last a life time.
Again, the gear in the pic is a 20 tooth one, I now use 40 teeth.

Turning the cage.

Turning the cage made me pause to think. It has to be turned to be cylindrical, the ends must be square to the cylinder and it has to be slotted in an indexing head. Sounds like another job for between centre turning so I made a jig that is just a shaft with a face that has the same hole pattern as the cage will have when finished and a small shaft the exact dia of the hole that passes through the cage.

Voila! A square ended cylinder perfect to the centre hole ready for transfer to the milling machine.

Slotting the cage.

There's quite a lot of force involved in milling slots even when you take it easy so the lathe dog is gone and the cage still mounted on the turning jig is placed into the index head using a collet.

The slot to receive the reel foot and side slots have been milled and the reel foot screw holes drilled & tapped.

Turning the cage again.

The cage is back to the lathe, this time in reversed jaws as the cage is bored out.

Back to the mill again for drilling and tapping the blind holes for the drag mechenism.

Axle and drag standups in place, all bronze. For appearance the standups don't penetrate the back of the reel.
Note the gear on the spool in this pic has 40 teeth which is what I'm using.

The music wire spring and pawl in place, set for RHW. The end of the axle that engages with the spool latch is also installed, all bearing surfaces greased.

Getting the right tension as well as having different tension for the in and outwind is one of the trickier things to get right, can't really be designed and has to be trial and error, that's why the wire is bent out of shape slightly and the pawl standup was also shifted slightly.
Once I worked this out it was easy to make a wire bending jig to make everything repeatable.

The grease is Timkin bearing grease, it's red and sticky but wont wash off easily.

The reel purrs like a kitten.

Finished prototype reel.

When the spool was being designed having a circle of holes in the inner ridge looked OK but in fact it doesn't look all that nice so the inner circle of holes will be moved out towards the edge next time.
The gap between the spool and cage is too wide, this occured as the result of attempting to remove chatter marks on the cage, it opened out the inside of the cage wider than the spool was designed to fit inside.

All in all, considering it's a prototype I'm happy with the reel.
The click and pawl sounds and feels right and it's a nice reel to use.

It's important that this works flawlessly for a lifetime so it'll be used for all of my fishing for some time to come and once I'm satisfied that all is well with it I'll be offering these for sale in a range of sizes from 3", 3-1/4" & 3-1/2".

The reels for sale will be hard anodized black mainly to resist scratching and corrosion but looks count too, however I expect that in every other respect the design will remain the same. The main screws and reel foot will be made from bronze, the reel cage and spool will be 6061 aluminium.

A brown trout caught on the first outing of my newly made 7' Payne #3/#4 taper and reel, they both work flawlessly.