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Fly-Fishing Post – IMHO – Post 3C

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Anti-Reverse Fly Reels


This is another subject in the forums that seems to generate a lot of negative comments and I will say inappropriate bias.  The usual theme is “real men do not use anti-reverse reels”. Never-the-less, I have one, evaluate it and see some benefits, as well as issues that I will lay out.

If we truly believe the macho references that real men do not use AR, then maybe they should be using CP reels with no drag or tenkara with no reel at all.
The attitude is silly, decide on need and merits.

What do you gain with Anti-Reverse Reel?

  1. If you are slow to release the spool when the fish takes off, this provides the protection from breaking-off, when the tippet is light to the fish you are fighting.
    1. Q: Is it an advantage when I am using 12# fluorocarbon on a bonefish? A: No.
    2. Q: Is it a real advantage when I am searching for Pike? A: No.
    3. Q: Is it a real advantage when I am using 20# for large Tarpon? A: Yes
  2. The drag control is on the handle side, the “free hand”. This means you can set-change drag in the fight, without much distraction, fumbling et cetera.

What do you lose?

  1. Complexity of design is higher than most, but the manufacturers who build these solutions are at the top end. So complexity is higher than most reels, but I do not believe the actual durability is any less.
    There is a very true principle, more parts, more risk to failure and with this, you could associated AR reels as less reliable. But I believe the practice applied by those making the reels, is to counter with strength, such that durability is that of a Direct-Drive reel.
    As a result, the reel is typically heavier.
    And spool change out is usually a multi-piece affair and requires tools. Not a good thing if you want to change your spools out in the ocean.
  2. As this “only Direct-Direct” fad has been pushed, the number of products has disappeared. A quick survey of what is or was out there:
    1. Abel – discontinued – cork drag, standard arbour, strong but require user maintenance. I did like this reel, but I found the Islander easier to “palm” and it had a large arbour.
    2. Islander – discounted – cork-ruflon drag, large arbour, strong,  and requires some greasing of the drag – which requires tools and disassembly. I found the finish great, easy to use and it was the reel I bought.
    3. Billy Pate – proven with time as a durable solution. I did not buy this, as the reel was difficult to palm and had a standard arbour.  Like the above required tools to change spools (and maintenance?)
    4. Danielsson Control – Dynamic Braking with a sealed drag with a large spool. As I have not handled it, so I offer no more comments.
    5. Henschel – Large arbour sealed focus on saltwater fishing. Another reel I have not touched, so I offer no additional comments.

So this Islander reel has landed me some nice steelhead in winter, and have no qualms about using it, but I think it is best suited for large saltwater fish  or anyplace where the tippet is fine relative to the fish.

An AR reel can provide value, it is a question is this value worth something to you.


Written by raspberryfisher

2017/05/22 at 19:08

Posted in Fly-Fishing

Fly Fishing Reels – Reel Weights – Post 3B

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A survey of actual weights of my reels associated with Streamer Fishing and those associated with Two-Hand Rods. Weights taken with flyline on, but the line head has been pulled off, as if casting or added 20 grams for rear line.

  • Danielsson-Loop 2W with an Airflow MT 7 – 201grams
  • Danielsson-Loop 3W with OPST 350gr – 255grams
  • Nautilus NV-G 8/9 with RIO versatip 9wt – 284grams
  • System 2 89 with Airflo 40+ 9W – 286 grams
  • Danielsson L5W 8twelve with + 20 grams for line – 298grams
  • Waterworks Force 3.5 with RIO Bonefish Quickshooter 9wt – 302grams
  • Islander AR LA 4 +20grams for the line – 328grams
  • Nautilus CCF-X 10 with an Airflo 40+ – 335grams
  • Nautilus 12DD with a Guideline PT Scandi – 363grams
  • Nautilus 12Spey with Skagit 600 – 455 grams

. Nautilus CCF-X2 10 appears to be about 40grams lighter than the X, putting the X2 slightly heavier than the NV-G.

Why did I not list my trout reels? As long, the reels – empty – less than 4oz – I believe you will find it balance, with the exception of high-stick nymphing.  With high-sticking, the answer should not be in a heavy reel, but a butt-weighted rod (custom).

With single streamer or saltwater rods, weight can be an issue, but most reels are fine. Most will gravitate to light side, which is nice, but not critical.

12S red_DSC0196

For spey rods, especially large line / long rods that are greater than 13′, a heavy reel is a good thing to keep fatigue in the wrist down, as you let your fly fish. This is where the discontinued Nautilus 12Spey shines.  Fortunately, when Nautilus discontinued their true Spey line, I did pick up a spare, so I currently holding onto 3 Nautilus 12Spey and a spare spool, all for long rods.

What is available with similar to Nautilus 12Spey?  Sadly, the answer is little, so you are likely need to revert to the old standby of adding weight to the reel or make other comprises.  Never-the-less here is a sample look of 2017 options, referring to the manufacturers specification for unlined reels:

  • Nautilus 12S  – 13.5oz
    • actual measurement – 14.8 oz
  • Nautilus X2 King (the replacement) – 9.1 oz
  • Nautilus NV Spey – 9.1 oz
  • Danielsson H5D 11fourteen – 272 gr – 9.5 oz
    In alphabetical order …
  • Einarsson Invictus 10-12 – a little light, but very nice modern reel – 11.5 oz
  • Farlex 4″ – traditional, but nice – click-n-pawl – 14 to 16oz
  • Hardy Fortuna  XDS – maybe? – 12.3 to 13.5oz
  • Hardy WideSpool Perfect – click-n-pawl – 11.0 to 11.3oz
  • Hatch 9-12 Finactic – best match, but sealed spool base – 11.1 to 15.6 oz
  • Olsen Disc Drag – traditional and beautiful – 4.0″ – 13oz
  • Olsen Disc Drag – may need tools – 4.25″ – 14.5oz
  • Saracione 4.25″ Salmon – difficult to palm – 13.5oz
  • Tibor GulfStream Pacific – tools required to change – 11-14.5oz
  • Waterworks Speedster HD – plastic clicker – 9.38oz

Fortunately, I am not seeing the need to add another heavy reel into my “tool-kit”, thus requiring to comprise on my requirements.  If I had to, I would start off looking at the Hatch or Einarsson.

The Olsen is a very nice traditional style reel, but expensive with a waiting list that is nearly 2 years. I would not use this reel in the ocean, but then again, a 14+oz reel is for the sole purpose for use on a long spey rod.  The closest it comes to the ocean would be in a delta.


Last comment: I have found manufacturers’ specifications usually optimistic on weights (list them lighter than they are) with more backing capacity than is practical.




Written by raspberryfisher

2017/05/21 at 21:48

Posted in Fly-Fishing

Fly Fishing Reels – IMHO – Post 3

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Streamer Fishing – excluding two hand rods

This is similar to the previous discussion with Bass and Pike, but we add into this fish that are likely to make large runs – whether it is trout in the Bow River or Steelhead in any river. It is the later that introduced me to the need-benefit of fast retrieval, and move my reel hand to the dominate side.

As far as drag, you are often battling the fish, but also the current.  So having a drag that applies a minimum pressure, greater than what you get from a g&p (click and pawl reel), when you pull in or the fish runs will lead to greater success in a faster landing.

The drag will also assist you, when you have to run up or down the bank, to regain ground and the best position to fight.

So in my series of discussing reels, this is the first insistence where having a drag will be a real benefit you.

You should be thinking 100m of backing the minimum, and I prefer 150m. I have heard 200+m, but to date, with two exceptions, I have never had a fish push 200m. The first first (King-Chinook Salmon) basically ran all the way back to the bay and no drag-backing or line would have stopped this fish.  The second, in the same spot as the first, but years later, with Tesla on the rod, made the same run down the rapids, but just before it turn around the final bend it stopped.  Tesla was able to get downstream and resume the fight, and eventually landed her biggest fish todate.

So what are the requirements, at least mine?

  • Drag: Good to have, allowing from 6 to 20lb, with a small start-up inertia for soft takes in winter.
  • Noise: Still do not care.
  • Rate of Retrieve: High rate of retrieve (large arbour) is an absolute, when you have 100m of backing out.  This is where most g&p reels fail.
  • Weight: Never found this an issue with modern reels for single hand stream rods.
  • Problem Free in Harsh Environments: Good to have, as these reels often get pulled to second duty or fished in estuaries, et cetera.
  • User Maintenance: Should be considered, as they can be used for Saltwater.
  • Cross-Functional: Should be considered, as they can be used for Saltwater.
  • Spool Changes: Should always consider one other spool, unless you are using shooting heads exclusively.

In short, looking for a reel that can pickup line quickly, with low startup intro with easy spool changes.

Danielsson-Loop 2W and 3W

These represent my original transition to large arbour 20 years ago, and I believe they were the original (successful) market implementation to large arbour.

Considering that Danielsson continues to support these reels, I have returned to Danielsson. It may be the Swedish sensibility, as illustrated by the interchangeability of old Hasselblads to todays’ actions of Sweden for re-use, Sweden does not abandon the old proven solution.

I will note one idiosyncrasy … most drags have a differential drag – tension reeling in is light, but tension with line going out is high, but the traditional reels from Danielsson have an unformed pressure.

In addition, the drag knob is on the reel hand. I will discuss this in another post.


So how does this measure up against the requirements for single hand rod streamer fishing.

  • Drag: B, as it is easy to palm, but as note it is an uniform directional tension. Also note that startup inertia can be high, if you have tension set high. This prevents, the rating being an A.
  • Noise: Quiet, and I still do not care.
  • Rate of Retrieve: A – requirement for fast retrieve is well met.
  • Weight: B – light, which can be desired if you are swinging a fly a lot.
  • Problem Free in Harsh Environments: B, will withstand salt with the usual daily wash. It is not an A, as I reserve this for sealed drags.
  • User Maintenance: A, never had to do this, but it appears any reasonable replacement repair can be done by the owner.
  • Cross-Functional: B, can be use in salt or two handed rods, if you are looking for a light reel.  In fact, I am using it, as illustrated with OPST heads on small (switch) two handed rods.  It has been a durable reel, but not my first choice for saltwater.
  • Spool Changes: B-, but not an A as you need to remove the large pressure arm to change spools. It is large, so it is difficult to lose, but it does present another risk. Oh yes, you can still get spools from Danielsson!

Alternative is the Danielsson L5W, released years (decade) after the “traditional”, which would be a stronger choice.  Never-the-less, I am using my Swedish sensibility – it is a good reel and use it for what it is good at.

Danielsson L5W


  • Drag: A
  • Noise: Quiet, and I still do not care.
  • Rate of Retrieve: A – requirement for fast retrieve is well met.
  • Weight: B – light for a drag reel, which can be desired if you are swinging a fly a lot.
  • Problem Free in Harsh Environments: A
  • User Maintenance: A, but this is also a new reel for me. Limited time on the water.
  • Cross-Functional: A, can be use in salt or two handed rods, if you are looking for a light reel.  Right now I have no heads on it, but it alternates between salt and spey.
  • Spool Changes: B+, but not an A as it is not quick as you loosen the drag mechanism.

Nautilus CCF-X

This is an illustration of cross-functional use.  I have 2 CCF-x with 3 spools, which is rigged for either saltwater (Bonefish 8wt), Streamer (Airflo 40+ sink-tip 3) as illustrated below or on my light spey rod Meiser 1264s-4.

nautilus 10 2_DSC0224

The associated rating:

  • Drag: A
  • Noise: NR
  • Rate of Retrieve: A – requirement for fast retrieve is well met.
  • Weight: B – medium, not as light as the Danielsson’s above, but this is often not a driving issue affecting selection.
  • Problem Free in Harsh Environments: A
  • User Maintenance: A
  • Cross-Functional: A
  • Spool Changes: D, easy to change but Nautilus seems to fall under the trap of updating their line with new and improved, and forget the old. Finding replacement spools is extremely difficult, and it is for this reason why I will not buy another Nautilus again.
    I have also become aware that Nautilus did not maintain forwards-backwards compatibility, so buying an old spool with testing it, is a substantial risk.

If the last issue is not important, I would continue with the CCF-X2 line, versus the NV-G. Both are nice, but the additional cost of the NV-G for the small weight reduction and lower tension in the drag, cannot be justified to me. I also like the fact you can change from left to right on the X2 without having to return the reel.

These are nice reels, I am sadden by the lack of longterm support. For me, this was a make-break issue, and Nautilus did the break!

My vanity Nautilus NV-G

nautilus nvg_DSC0201

Next Post – some reference weights


Written by raspberryfisher

2017/05/21 at 21:10

Posted in Fly-Fishing

Fly-Fishing Reels IMHO – Post 2

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Consideration for Bass and Pike

In continuation of my assessment of needs and reels, I move to the next use – big freshwater fish – Smallmouth and Pike – from a single hand rod.

I find both fish can put good pressure on, can run into deep cover in a short distance away, but never run long.  Given the waters I fish, sinking heads are not a major need, but throwing large wind-resistance flies a distance is.  So the emphasis in on graphite rods with front loaded lines, such as Airflo’s 40+.

And what rods do I use:

  • Goto – GL Loomis GL3 9′ 7wt 4pc – no longer made and after 20 years of fishing, it shows it ages, but keeps fishing well.
  • Scott Meridan 9′ 8wt 4pc. This was my backup rod for bonefish, but it is a great rod, such that I now have two for Judy and I.
  • Winston BL5 9′ 9wt, 5pc.

There are other rods that could be used …

  • TVO BVK 9′ 8wt 4pc – another rod made for bonefish.
  • Scott ARC 10′ 7wt 4pc – a great single hand rod for smaller spey/wets flies

Given this, what am I looking for, in terms of requirements.

  • Drag: Yes, something that will help to put the brakes on quickly as the bass or pike to turns to hide under the trees, rocks, et cetera. Palming is not as important as with Steelhead, but nice.
  • Noise: As with all reels, I do not care.
  • Rate of Retrieve: I have gotten into the backing, but rarely, so rapid retrieval is not important.
  • Weight: I have never found this an issue with s a standard reel, so little consideration has or needs to be given to this.
  • Problem Free in Harsh Conditions: Place and seasons for these fish eliminate this stress factor. The reels do get wet, so I do not want the drag to fail if it gets wet.
  • User Maintenance: No specific issue, but not looking for complex maintenance.
  • Cross-Functional: Be nice, as a cross-over into Spey for Steelhead-Salmonand Bonefish.
  • Replacement Parts and Spool Changes: As with cross-functional, would be nice.

In short, looking for a simple drag and the ability to interchange spools.

My first real fishing was for Smallmouth and Pike, and my first reel failures came here too – g&p (also known as click & pawl).  So the fly-shop that recommended the reel, no longer gets my business, and I move to a durable reel – the Scientific Angler System 2.

SA System 2

This was the everyone’s drag reel – durable, reliable, good drag, easy spool change out, reasonable cost, et cetera. After 3M sold the company to Orvis, the product line has been dropped, but these are reels that I have been using for 20+ years.


So how does it stack up against the requirements:

  • Drag: A – Good range, easily to set and reliable.
  • Noise: NR
  • Rate of Retrieve: C
  • Weight: C
  • Problems in Harsh Environment: B – with care, you can use this in the salt.
  • User Maintenance: A – after 20+ years of use I can says it does not fail.
  • Cross-Functional: C – there are better choices for other species, but can support.
  • Replacement Spools: C – if there were still in production this would be an A, but there are enough reels are there, you can find old spools out there,. I also have never had an issue with backwards-forwards compatiability.

Not sexy, but functional, reliable, durable and strong! Great value.

And would I recommend the Hardy Princess for this fishery? The answer is no, as it does not have the drag required.

Are there are other of my reels suitable for this fishery? The answer is yes, but these reels have a high rate of retrieve that is a nice to have, but not an absolute requirement for bass and pike. A quick look, but I will be saying more, when I discuss Steelhead-Salmon reels.

Given the System 2 is no longer available, I would now recommend Danielsson.

Danielsson-Loop 2W and 3W

These are the reels I acquired nearly 20 years ago, after steelhead nearly ran away from me and I struggled keeping up. So I move to a rapid retrieve reel. It is not a convenient drag, in sense the pressure in-out is uniform, but it is easy to palm.

The relationship between the original seller (Loop) and manufacturer (Danielsson) dissolved in unkind terms many years ago, but Danielsson has emerged with a product line with great pricing and support for products made 20 years ago.

Right now, these reels are lined for my two Scott ARC’s rods (7 and 9wt) with multi-tip lines and OPST lines for my single hand spey rods – James Green Fiberglass. In effect, these are my classical streamer reels for single hand (or switch) rods – whether it is for bass, trout or small stream steelhead.


Given durability, value and great support, my last purchase reel was a Danielsson L5W.

If future reels are required, I am likely to continue with Danielsson.


I also have Nautilus reels.  When I started looking for a spey reel, I was looking for a reel heavier than my 2W and 3W, that could be easily palmed and with a sealed no-maintenance drag.  After a little handing and playing, I went with the Nautilus CCF line (started with a 12S), as it could be palmed, had low start-up interia, et cetera.

These reels have serve me well, and even have a “vanity Orange NV-G”. After using the CCF and NV-G, if I had a recommendation between the 2 reels, I would pick the updated CCF-2, as the switchable rotation on the CCF-2 is a nice and I cannot justify the cost increase for the slightly lighter reel and lower start-up inertia on the NV-G (as the CCF series is good enough).

Anyway, I have a stable of Nautilus and hope to be using them 20 years from now.

Will I buy another Nautilus?  Probably not, as they seem to dump their old products, and no longer support spools for these old products (and “compatiable” spools are hard to find used given their minor updates where back forwards-backwards compatiabe).

Combined with the push for reels that are “too light” for spey and this lack of willingness to provide support for previous reels is why I move to Dannielsson.

Nautilus CF 10 m4_DSC0240

nautilus nvg_DSC0201

Next post — reels for streamers, in single head rods.


Written by raspberryfisher

2017/05/20 at 22:42

Posted in Fly-Fishing

Fly Fishing Reels – IMHO – Post 1B

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Consideration for Silk Lines

In my last post I made a reference to an open spool base should be consider if you are using silk lines, so the line can “breathe”.  Yes, you should remove silk lines at the end of the day and dry them, but sometimes, not all plans happen, plus you still have moisture trapped in the backing.

This assume you can let function dominate tradition.

To visually demonstrate samples of an open spool base, I present the following manufacturer’s images.


Nautilus is just one example of a reel suited for silk (sealed drag), with what I suspect 40% of the spool base to be open.

Another would be the Ross Colorado LT with a metal clicker (never had this reel in my hand, but I would investigate it as a possible reel in my bag if my focus was on silk lines), with what I suspect is an open base 80+%!  At weights under 3oz, these will work on any trout rod.

ross-colorado lt-2

And though the previous choices appear to be solid, I would likely purchase the the 3.2oz Danielsson Nymph given the positive experience with Danielsson reels and the knowledge they have supported their products for decades.


If fishing with silk, I would also suggest, 20-30 yds of backing – no more – to allow the line to breathe and given silk lines are fine, you can down size if you want.

And these images are from the manufacturer, and though I see no copyright notice, it should be recognized as their images.


Written by raspberryfisher

2017/05/20 at 04:46

Posted in Fly-Fishing

Fly Fishing Reels – IMHO – Post 1

with one comment

Wow – I seen a lot of emotional opinions on a few forum recently and as a result misinformation on fly-fishing reels, particularly those defending their choice of using traditional gear-pawl (g&p) (also called click and pawl) reels such as the old Hardy’s.

I think the charm with fishing the old reels, is just that, the charm with using old traditional reels, especially reels made with serious personal craftsmanship with agate guides et cetera, are just fine.  The often cited reason, is some like the loud sound they generate when line goes out.

I also like charm to – I will use traditional spey flies versus intruders or a wet-fly versus modern nymphing techniques – as I enjoy these techniques more.  So this is a function of preference and what I get joy from, but I will not argue that Czech nymphing is less efficient a upstream spider.

Nothing wrong with a g&p reel, but I have had issue with the false claims (facts) that been used on some forums and the lack of consideration of requirements (and weighing these requirements). I have made my counters, but rather than continue – month after month – post my thoughts here, plus provide greater details and supporting information.

False Claims Examples:

  • Disc Reels are subject to failure!  I fish now mostly disc-reels, and the two failures I have had where g&p reels – freezing up and the springs gave way!  In the former, it was cold (below freezing (steelhead conditions)) and in the later, the stress of the fish (smallmouth bass) fight caused the spring-pawl to give resulting in a free-spool.I have had no failures with a disc-reel to date, and if this is true, why does not g&p reels dominate the harshest fishing conditions available – saltwater fishing.So before I woud accept this claim, give me some substantial statistics that can be validated.
  • g&p is like a manual transmission in a car versus a disc reel is an automatic, with the implication is that manual car will provide you better performance.  This is used to justify the more complex handling in spool control a g&p reel, but this metaphor fails in that a manual transmission provides better performance, which is not true in this reel comparison.
    .I think a more accurate comparison would be a Triumph TR6 versus BMW M5 with paddle shifting option.  (Sidebar, I think I would prefer the old top cruising of a TR6, if I could afford keeping it maintained, than fast driving of the M5. Though, I am more likely to buy a Subaru that can get me into the backroads and hold my fishing rods).

So after fishing in fresh and salt-water, from trout to steelhead to bonefish, I have collected my fair share of rods and reels.  It is with this experience, and my engineering-analytical training, I present my opinions on reels.

First you need to start off with the requirements, and please recognize the importance of any requirement is dependent upon the application.

Drag – During the fight, I apply drag by the use of palming, this is where you use you hand (palm typically) to cup and provide resistance on the spool. You adjust the resistance in the fight by the pressure applied by hand on the spool at the moment.  The pressure is a function of how you interpret the situation at hand.

I do not recommend you adjust the resistance when the fish is on. Typically the adjustment is on the wrong side, time consuming and is a distraction from fighting the fish. The tools to land the fish is the rod and how you apply pressure – whether you are running up-down the bank to pulling high or to the side, et cetera.  The change in pressure from moment to moment is done by the palm that is “instanteous”. There is no single answer-technique, but the reel drag is not a critical component to fighting and landing the fish.

So the main purpose of the drag on a reel is to prevent the line to free-spool (no tangles), as line is pulled out.  The actual reel drag resistance should resemble the tippet, so if I am using a 6x tippet for trout the resistance is just light enough to prevent line to free-spool, but if I have a 12lb leader for a bonefish, it is set higher to hinder the fish.

If I was going after large saltwater fish where I am expecting a 20 minute fight, I might be wanting a drag that I can adjust in the fight.  I will make some more notes on this, when I review my Islander Anti-Reverse Reel.

Most modern reels provide for easy effective palming.

All g&p reels I have seen and used to date have an outer reel casing that prevents palming, and the answer to this from the traditionalist, get a reel with an opposing side plate and use your finger on the far side to apply pressure. This does work (this is where the manual transmission metaphor is misused) and you do adapt to it.  Otherwise the “saged” wisdom is you just hang on for dear-life.

I have sold off my g&p reels for where I believe I need to adjust pressure in the fight – salmon and steelhead fishing – as I prefer palming the reel – versus appling pressure with finger tips.   (in other words – tried it, not the best answer for me).

Now debunk a myth for sealed drag reels – no, a drag reel will not prevent you from being spooled (where a fish run is so long, and he-she takes it all).  Prevention of being spooled is a function of the length of backing, the river-flats, your fighting techniques and the fish.

There are other considerations to – some reels have poor (high) startup interia, which can result in a break-off and the range of drag settings available to you – but maybe this will be a post for another season.

Noise – Do you want loud audible feedback when the line is going out. Some g&p reels are loud, and people appreciate this feedback (Judy does).  Myself, I am using the pressure on the rod in one hand and the reel with the other hand on the reel to change what is done next.

Some really like the sound of g&p reels – ok!   I really do not care and if anything, prefer it low noise, so this is NOT a requirement for me.

Rate of Retrieve – For fish that make long runs, being able to recover line quickly will help you with landing the fish.

My first four steelhead (landed 2, broke off one at the net) were on g&p reels, and I learnt on that occasion speed of retrieval is important. Sealed drag reels were not readily available (if at all), and I moved to a large arbour reel – initially Danielsson-Loop 2W and 3W reel.

Though, I have had a recent return to a g&p reel for steelhead fishing to see if I was missing anything, I made a decision to keep to large arbour reels for steelhead, salmon and bonefish.

Weight – Do I want to balance the rod and reel for comfort in fishing.  Yes, specifically when I doing high rod techniques (french leader) or two-handed fishing.

The current trend in the machined sealed drag reels is to make them lighter, and for me, often too light for two-handed trods. This is not a trend that I am fond with.

Problem Free in Harsh Conditions – Salt and Freezing Conditions

Here sealed drag reels exceed!  Salt, sand and ice water are enemies for many g&p reels, and some dragged reels to!

User Maintenance – specifically, cleaning and line drying.  This is where the newer design reels exceed, but not all!

Cross-Function – can I set it up for trout, pike, bass, steelhead and saltwater? Slight nod to the new reels, as they are provide other features that can transfer to other fishing.

Is it easy to change a spool, or do I need tools and fear losing parts in the boat or on the bank.

Replacement Parts and Spool Changes in the Field – Some manufacturers change designs so frequently, getting an additional spool 3 years later is difficult and near impossible. It is nicer to change out a spool, than buy a new reel for every rod or application.

And can I change that reel in a moving boat, with cold fingers on a bank, et cetera, without tools!

Other – There are other considerations, but lets go through my critical review of the reels I use today, relative to the requirements.  I will not comment on the reels that I have walked away from, unless I have something positive to say.

Trout Reels – Traditional Fishing – I generally look to availability of spare spools that is easily changed out in the field as the primary requirement. This is in recognition that I have a large collection of rods for trout -from 2 to 6wt – in bamboo, graphite and fiberglass, and yet we only will line up 4 rods at any time for Judy and I. So having 4 reels, with spools for other setups, provides for the streamside flexibility we use.  So moving from floating to nymph to … becomes a simple change of spool rather than managing  large collection of reels.

We will also carry spools for on the bank changes.

The other elements of drag, rate of retrieval, operation in harsh conditions, et cetera are not major requirements for trout fishing. I rarely fish a trout river that support a 100′ run before I have likely lost the fish in rocks, trees, et cetera, so backing and rate of retrieval is not important – exception is when I am streamer fishing, but I cover this later.

And far as weight, a bare (no backing or line) weight of 4oz which usually do well, and the vast majority of trout reels fit within this restriction.

If you were fishing primarily with silk lines, you would want an open spool reel, such as the Nautilus FeatherWeight or a Ross Colorado LT, to allow for maximum air around the line, when it is on the reel.  But placing a new machined reel on with a “traditional” silk line on what is likely a traditional bamboo rod would require courage to allow function trump tradition.

If I was starting from scratch – assuming the reels are still in production – I would only buy the g&p Hardy Princesss or Lightweight LRH for all my single hand trout rods – from 2wt to 5wt.  Yes, I find the Hardy Princess is balanced on my 2wt 6′ rods, maybe not the lightest, but balanced (read LiteSpeed review).

Now Hardy makes many similar reels in smaller sizes, so if you want a light rod setup, you can use a smaller and similar reel, with less backing.

Lamson Waterworks LiteSpeed 1.5

Nice light reel, and if you are looking and needing a light reel, this and the old Waterworks Purist are excellent choices (I sold my Purist). I suspect with time, the plastic clicker will harden and facture.

This reel with backing and line weighs 4.7oz, versus the 5.7oz of the Hardy Princess. The difference is not substantial, but it is noticeable on a rod. Never-the-less, both reels balance on my shortest trout light rods, but this lighter reel is a nice thing, more than an absolute.  The key criteria is not being light, but balanced.

As noted though, any reel under 4oz empty should balance well on any typical trout rod.

waterworks_DSC0210Other comments, as it relates to traditional trout fishing (excluding long streamer fishing):

  • Drag:  B – Adjusting drag is ok, but I never need to do it. You can palm it.
  • Rate of Retrieve: A: Pickup is good and consistent, as it is a large arbour wide spool
  • Weight: A
  • Operation in Harsh Environment: C
  • User Maintenance-Cleaning: C, does not have an open spool base.
    • Plastic clicker is the expected weak link with age.
  • Cross-Functional Use: NR – it is just a trout reel.
  • Spool Availability: D, as Lamson updates their product line frequently. Change out is not as simple as with other reels to.

Lamson-Waterworks today is producing a Mark IV version that illustrates do not expect replacement spools to be available next year – as you do not know when they will refresh the product and break support, but they will.  The new design has one improvement that I see – an open spool base. Not as substantial as in other reels, but open never-the-less.

If you choose to buy a Waterworks reel, add in your budget for another spool or 2 to be purchase within the same season.

Scientific Anglers – System 2

These were the every-person reel. Durable, reliable, strong, and made for years. These were the benchmark for modern trout reels for everyone, but sadly gone, with the product line now focus on machined large arbour reels.


As illustrated, the smaller 56L house my trout lines, and use the larger reels for smallmouth bass, pike and will take it as a backup for saltwater – despite its poor rate of retrieve.

  • Drag: A, though palming is okay.
  • Rate of Retrieve: C.
  • Weight: C
  • Operation in Harsh Conditions: B+ and Durable
  • User Maintenance and Cleaning: B
  • Cross-Functional Use: NR – but given it was part of a larger family, it deserves a B.
  • Spool Availability: A for decades, until 3M stopped production. Now a C, when you look to EBay.

Do not buy the replacement Concept 2.

Hardy Princess

This has been my goto for the past decade for trout reels.  I am concern that Hardy will – like 3M (now Orvis) Scientific Angler – abandon this line (they have signal they are), but as they have made these reels for decades, finding a used reel will not be a challenge.

There are rumours, SA will move production back from Korea to England, but I see the supply chain empty of reels as I write this blog, hence my cautionary note.


  • Drag: C, The simple adjustment is useless but as it prevents line slip, it gets a pass.
  • Rate of Retrieve: C
  • Weight: B – Given it size, it is light.
  • Operation in Harsh Conditions: C
  • Maintenance and Cleaning: C
  • Cross-Functional Use: NR, but it is just a trout reel
  • Spool Availability: Gets an “A”, as it has been a product on the market for decades and SA has shown in the past it will maintain this product line when they move production facilities. If they have obsolete this product, I would degrade my rating to B (versus a D), given there is and will be many old reels and spools available.

All those C and 1 A, indicates this Hardy Reel is not a stellar reel in itself, but as it does all jobs needed and with its amble supply, makes this reel my winner.

In closing on trout reels, the reel is not a critical tool in your need to catch and land fish. The emphasis should be on hunting and presentation, which is a function of rod-line and skill.  In support of this, you are better to put your money in rod and lines, not reels. (unless this is your fancy). Find a reel that is under 4oz (empty) that has an abundance of spools that you can acquire with time.

Anyway, this is a long post, and I will defer the remaining reviews for my next posts/


Written by raspberryfisher

2017/05/20 at 00:09

Posted in Fly-Fishing

Veevus 14/0, if not Danville Threadmaster

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As reported earlier, I have been slowly transitioning to Veevus thread as my replacement for the discontinued Gudebrod for trout flies, but have wondered what thread “size” is right (for Veevus).

While cleaning up my area, I noticed I had 3 similar pink threads – Danville 6/0, Veevus 10/0 and 14/0.  Thinking what would be a good practical test, I settle on a trout fly that demands fine and strong thread – a small Kaufmann Stimulator – tied on a size 16 TMC 2312.  Bulky thread makes a clean head difficult, while a weak thread will break when you tie in the deer hair wings.  It is a fly that demands good thread control, with a thread that is fine and strong, but lays flat so as not to cut the deer hair.

Now – for me – this is a demanding fly, and I need to be warmed up – to do this fly well, id est the old adage applies – the first hundred are practice.  It is this reason that I referencing a video showing a good tie, than  picture of some poor test flies I did.

But in the end, my test results were:

  • Veevus 10/0 – strong, but created a bulky head – not accepted.
  • Veevus 14/0 – strong enough and created a fine head – acceptable.
  • Danville 6/0 – strong enough and created the finest head – preferred.

This is a great fly, and it has served me well, but I find it spins on the cast and after some time results in a twisted leader. With experience, I have developed a preference for a dry fly that sits into the film, so I rarely tie this fly on.

If I am not using a stimulator, what I have replaced it with?  I start off with the Oliver Edwards’ Caddis from his book – Raffia Wings with a dubbing-deer hair body mix – as a diving Caddis.

Caddis 5 DSC_7220

I forget where I picked this pattern up, but its similarities to the Stimulator are high.

ys 5 DWW_4522

And then there are Roman’s Ballon Caddis.

Balloon Caddis_1850

So deer hair is prominent in all flies here, but if there is another recommendation – but admittedly one I have not used – I would suggest the CDC Bubble Caddis is worth the effort it tie and experiment with.


Written by raspberryfisher

2017/05/15 at 03:28

Posted in Dry Flies, Fly-Tying