Is there such a thing as a good sub $250 reel?

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by IveofIone, Feb 25, 2013.

  1. IveofIone Active Member

    Posts: 3,057
    Ratings: +1,069 / 0
    As a purveyor of cheap reels I have never felt the need to own an expensive reel. I started out with a Pfluger back in the day and then in the 70's moved up to the SA Series 1 reels. I was buying them for around $40 and spools for around $15 as I recall. I had both the 4-5-6- and the 7-8-9 and caught many steelhead up to 17# on the bigger reel. They did just fine and I went to Alaska and caught silvers and pinks on them until my arms drooped, I never had a failure.

    Then when I started stillwater fishing I converted over to a casette system to more easily accomodate a multitude of lines. For over a decade now I have been using the old Orvis Rocky Mountain reels and have about a dozen casettes for them loaded with a variety of lines. They have long been discontinued and casettes are no longer available. They also have an annoying problem of the drag setting slipping or being bumped out of place but as a long time tool and die maker it was an easy problem to remedy. The drags have been really good so far as they are similar to what is in some of the better Orvis reels.

    But last night I was watching a program with Brian Chan catching some nice rainbows in BC on chironomids and using a beautiful reel that made real music when the fish ran. I don't know what kind of reel he was using, I'm sure it was very expensive. I want something similar. I'll budget up to $300 for a reel and spare spool. It won't be as nice as Brian's reel but it should be much nicer than my $75 Orvis Rocky Mountain. What should I be looking at?

  2. rainbow My name is Mark Oberg

    Posts: 1,232
    Renton wa
    Ratings: +78 / 0
    I still use and love evolutions for 6wt and under and lamson velosity's for salmon etc. Find them used, they have a life time warranty's and stand behind them.
  3. Kcahill Active Member

    Posts: 894
    Renton, WA
    Ratings: +262 / 2
    Why not just grab an old made in England Sage or Orvis reel? I use them on anything smaller than a 6 wt, you can pick them up for 100-250 and they never go down in value as long as you dont beat them up.
  4. zen leecher aka bill w born to work, forced to fish

    Posts: 3,151
    Moses Lake, WA
    Ratings: +963 / 1
    Redington's, Scientific Angler 2L series, Lamsons... I use all of them.
  5. Richard Olmstead BigDog

    Posts: 2,486
    Seattle, WA
    Ratings: +786 / 0
    Ive, I think you've found a solution in search of a problem! :)
    Kent Lufkin likes this.
  6. PT Physhicist

    Posts: 3,547
    Edmonds, WA
    Ratings: +717 / 2
  7. Stewart Skunk Happens

    Posts: 950
    Ratings: +48 / 0
    I've got 10+ years on an Orvis Battenkill Barstock III. It was the first "expensive" piece of fly gear I bought. Price-wise it's not terribly spendy and it's still going strong. Other than a chipped up finish, it's as solid as the day I got it.
    Steve Call likes this.
  8. Matthew LeBret Active Member

    Posts: 738
    clarkston, wa
    Ratings: +76 / 0
    English made orvis or sage will be built like a tank and well with in your range
  9. Drifter Active Member

    Posts: 1,629
    Ratings: +638 / 2
    Interesting! I just happen to have a 7-8 SA reel with two extra spools for my 5 and 6 wts. the one I have only weighs around 5 ounces. when I have to go to my "other" lines, and just gave my SA 1 reel to my daughter for her 3 wt.

    My cheap reels that I use are venture 7's (I have two) at 6 ounces they are not bad for my long lake 6 wts. and have a nice drag sound to them and when Guide slapped they will spin forever and pick up more line than any other reel I have found. putting on extra backing for 6 wt. lines makes the 7 more of a mid arbor. at $52 with a teeny two hundred sinking line for one and $70 for the other I surely wont complain.

    I have the Orvis Access 111 reel (very light) which I bought when Orvis did there "buy a reel, get a line for free" last year so it cost me around $80.

    My expensive reel is a nautilus fwx for 5 n 6 wt lines I bought right in the classifieds from this site for $150 and it came with a expert distance line making the reel cost around $100, I figure $50 for the used line!

    As far as new reels that new hardy DD light is one great looking reel. the problem for me is it has the screw on spool not a quick release but it is a super large arbor and just beautiful and "LIGHT"

    The Orvis hydros has a great finish that is almost blinding (if your into bling) If I am going to spend around $300 that reel is going to look like $300 and sing a beautiful "load" tune.

    But of course most will say the ROSS reels are the shit - just to damn ugly for me.

    When you drop below $200 it seems the large arbors get heavy so I think you are on the right track!

    If I had the budget I would have expensive reels I grew up fishing steelhead with little or no drag in the 70's and 80's. And am forced to be a cheap sob.

    If you want sound "loud music" the HARDY PERFECT! you couldn't get any better for MUSIC IMO! When playing fish I not only want to see and feel whats going on but hearing whats going on also has it's draw! My friend just bought the hardy DD lightweight and I can't wait to hear what it sounds like. good luck!
  10. Cedar Active Member

    Posts: 214
    South King
    Ratings: +41 / 0
    I love my Orvis CFO for a small arbor and Access for a mid arbor. Tough to be the customer support. I really like my lamson guru too.
  11. KerryS Ignored Member

    Posts: 6,710
    Sedro Woolley, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +1,749 / 0
  12. Old Man Just an Old Man

    Posts: 21,617
    Dillon, Mt
    Ratings: +1,656 / 0
    I like cheap things. My fly reel on my 3wt cost me $29.95. I bought it five years ago and it is a Martin. I use it every summer. I give it a good grease job before use in the summer time and it does what I ask it to do. Hold my fly line.

    I bought two fly reels from Allen Fly Fishing at cost. Got one free. The free one works just as good as the ones you have to pay for. The most I ever paid for on a fly reel was 100 bucks. It is a Adventure 5. When I bought it , it was called an Adventure 5 and now they are called Venture. I guess they didn't like the Ad on the front
    Brookie_Hunter likes this.
  13. scottybs Active Member

    Posts: 459
    Bellingham, WA and IGH, MN
    Ratings: +77 / 0
    I'm a tightwad but I like quality! Buy reels on clearance.
    constructeur likes this.
  14. Salmo_g Active Member

    Posts: 7,476
    Your City ,State
    Ratings: +1,619 / 0

    Ignore all the suggestions except from Kcahill and Matthew Lebret. First and foremost, if it's the reel song that you're after, forget disc drag reels. Think spring and pawl. Anybody recommending a disc drag reel for something as simple as trout fishing is unqualified to be making recommendations. Spring and pawl reels will play and land any fucking trout on the planet, and that goes for steelhead as well. Not to go off track, but the most desireable spring and pawl reels are discontinued, with the possible exception of Hardy lightweight series and Marquis.

    You can try fly shops, but you'll probably have to go on line. Look for old Orvis CFOs and Sage 500 series, both made by Hardy. I just picked up a Sage 504 and 505; they are perfect trout sized reels for line weights 3 - 6. Another discontinued sleeper is the Ross Colorado that was offered for only a few years. They were dirt cheap when closed out, and when I see them now they are about what the went for retail, $100 - $115. Use the heavier of the two check springs and tweak it to get the tension just right. Those Ross Colorados are better made than the Hardy lightweights, but they lack the classic snob appeal. Similarly, the Sage 500s were made by Hardy and are actually better quality than the comparable Hardy reels in terms of tolerance, milled bar stock instead of cast, and anodized instead of painted.

    I don't know what Brian Chan is using, but I'd be surprised if it weren't made by Hardy.

    TwistedChimp likes this.
  15. Nathan B Love em and Leave em

    Posts: 118
    Ratings: +108 / 0
    I agree with Salmo_g in regards to the spring and pawl. There are two reasons you should use this type of reel/drag. 1) To prevent over spooling 2) To let other fisherman know you have a fish on.

    Abel still makes one hell of a click and pawl reel they call the Creek Series. AC1 is designed for 2-3 wt rods while the AC2 (Abel Creek 2) is designed more for the 4-5 wt rods.
  16. Robert Engleheart Robert

    Posts: 1,147
    Lemoore, CA
    Ratings: +112 / 0
    I'm one who believe a reel is the last priority for your average trout to 20". That said, I have several Lamson Radius, a discontinued mid arbor that I've seen reselling at around $100 (what I paid on close-out). Same drag and stellar service as their $400 and more reels. My experience with the old Sage & CFO is those who have nice, well kept ones want a premium for them, and spare spools are limited availability. I have Lamson Velocity V4 and Bauer MZ4s for my steelhead and switch rods, but that's another price category.
    I recently got a big discount on a 4 weight Redington CT rod and Drift reel, I believe they are about $100 MSRP, click-pawl drag and lifetime warranty. Innards look similar to the Red Truck reel linked by Kerry, but they are machined vs. cast.
    PT referred a link to a Bauer Jr.Mac; make sure spare spools are available. Bauer is excellent for service but some of the closeouts are no longer supported (for parts, their service is always excellent).
  17. GAT Active Member

    Posts: 4,009
    Willamette Valley, OR
    Ratings: +2,592 / 0
    I've never fished up there but I've heard that it is not suggested you use a click/pawl "singing reel" when fishing in bear country for salmon in Alaska. Word has it that the grizzles are attracted by the sound and equate it to a free salmon. ... with the humans and their obnoxious fly reels running the other direction. :eek:
    Jim Wallace likes this.
  18. Lugan Joe Streamer

    Posts: 2,382
    Beautiful View, WA
    Ratings: +763 / 2
    A new Able TR or Creek series click-pawl is all the reel any trout fisherman needs, and are right around $250 new, but used are around $200 in excellent shape. I love 'em.
  19. Matthew LeBret Active Member

    Posts: 738
    clarkston, wa
    Ratings: +76 / 0
    What size reel are you looking for?
  20. formerguide Active Member

    Posts: 314
    Bonney Lake, WA
    Ratings: +756 / 0
    Almost any freshwater reel made today by a worthy manufacturer is overbuilt. And, as a rule, you can't build a saltwater reel tough enough. If it's trout and other salmonids in fw, then really take your pick of any reel that meets your budget and your aesthetic tastes. Lamson has been mentioned and immediately came to mind, same for Ross, Bauer, used Abels, hell, Cabelas and Bass Pro offer up some decent looking reels.
    All of my salty reels for flats and big game are Abels and Tibors. Drawbar cork drags are bullet proof, simple in design, and almost nothing can go wrong with them, as opposed to sealed drag systems that may be smoother, but then you can have bearing issues, and if anything goes awry inside a sealed system then you're boned...


    Brookie_Hunter likes this.