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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.

Ugly.

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

Work is currently progressing with production reels so if you're interested in knowing more please drop me a line to ask for deatils.

Email: AV Young avytasmania@gmail.com



Finished prototype reel.


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 2.75", 3", 3-1/4" & 3-1/2".

The reels for sale will be type III hard anodized (MIL-A-8625, Type III),in a matt green/brown colour that is particular to type III anodizing to which no colour has been applied. Most fly reels are anodized typ II.

Type III hard anodizing makes the surface about as hard as tool steel. That's not to say it improves the mechanical properties of the aluminium, if you drop it from high enough or fall on it you'll still ding or crush the reel but the surface is permanently hardened and it wont wear off, ever!

The reason most reels are NOT Type III hard anodized is that as a process it's more expensive than typ II and it complicates the manufacturing process slightly. Also the only two colours that are practical are black or the natural green/brown particular to type III.
Because Type III is about as hard as tool steel machining after anodizing is something to be avoided if possible. You need to take it into account with threaded holes which can't easily be re cut after anodizing has added a slight build up from the process and if you want any other colour than black or green/brown you're out of luck.

I've decided not to dye these reels black for two reasons.
One, it basically shows what type of anodising it is just by looking at it which you can't do if it was black.
Two, adding a colour affects the depth the anodizing penetrates the aluminium. I want the best protection possible and that's the main reason it's uncoloured.

Most reels have type II anodizing which is very good also but not as durable nor as hard. The production process is easier, the costs are lower and the colour possibilities are almost endless.
Some reels are only type I anodised which amounts to nothing more than mild protection and simple colouration.

So, these will never be the most complicated nor lightest reels you'll ever see. I don't want them to be, but they'll be dependable, robust trout reels designed for stream and river fishing mainly with an eye to bamboo rods.


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