"Affordable" big, fast fish reels?

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by SilverFly, May 27, 2008.

  1. SilverFly

    SilverFly Active Member

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    Besides needing a quality chinook reel, I need to gear up for a couple of trips in August, one to Belize and an albacore charter. So I'm looking for a sturdy reel with a smooth drag that won't incinerate with an 80# tarpon or a 30# tuna heading for the horizon. I am willing to spend what I need to, but personally I think many fly reels are way over-priced, or priced based on essentially aesthetic details which have little to do with the performance of the reel (stuff I can hopefully afford to care about some day). For that reason I've been looking at the 12wt model Pfloooger trion which is under $200. Generally I've heard good things about the reel with one exception about it's free spooling performance.

    Anyone have "big fish" experience with the Trion or other reasonably priced reels?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. jcalderon

    jcalderon Member

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    Check out the Lamson Konic. Now available in bigger sizes! I have no experience with it in large sizes, but it is under 200 dollars and wears the Lamson name, so you know its gotta be good. If I am not mistaked it uses the same internal drag sytem as the lightspeed and velocity. Just my .02
     
  3. Matt Paluch

    Matt Paluch Active Member

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    It depends on how much an 80# Tarpon is worth to you. If you're willing to risk equipment failure, there are reels with decent drags that MIGHT have an issue. The odds are a lot higher that something mass produced with lesser quality components will fail. Personally, I'd do whatever it takes to get into a machined reel rather than a cast aluminum reel. Galvan and Waterworks would be high on my list for their lower priced reels. The drag systems are proven and you will be able to really tighten down the drag without the fear of bending a spool or smoking the drag. In the end, you'll be happy with a little better quality reel and pictures of some big fish than saving a few bucks and telling stories of the one that got away.
     
  4. nb_ken

    nb_ken Active Member

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  5. Jergens

    Jergens AKA Joe Willauer

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    interesting test, it would be cool to see with more variables controlled.

    i would check out the Bauer Junior Mac, or Mackenzie if you want to spend a little more. The JM is 295 but well worth it. Out of all your reels this seems like it would be the one were your drag would actually matter. I would spend as much as you can afford.
     
  6. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

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    Lee Wulff once caught a sailfish on a Pflueger Medalist 1498 model, so you're right about fly reels generally being over-priced. I think a budget conscious big game salt water reel might be a Tioga 12; less than $200 and unlikely to fail. I'm not a blue water angler, so I have no personal experience to go on. I have a friend who fishes Mexico annually with mostly casting and spinning gear, and he recounts the almost routine failure of fairly expensive reels on yellowfin tuna. He could have invented the concept of FRUGAL, yet he bought an Islander fly reel for fishing there.

    Sg
     
  7. flybill

    flybill Purveyor of fine hackle, wine & cigars!

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    Between the Tioga and the Trion, I would choose the Tioga's since I think the drag is much better. I have a Tioga 10 and a 12 for a couple of my spey rods and I have a couple of Trion's (trout sizes) for my single handers. The Tioga's have a decent drag system, although I know that some people think that they aren't great. However for the price point I think you'll get a very solid reel!

    The Trion's look good, but the drag setting isn't real precise and I end up keeping the drag set very low and palming the reel a lot when I've fought a big trout on the reel. I did catch my biggest Yakima trout recently on my Trion, however I can't imagine that I would want to do the same with a large bluewater fish.

    I bought a Vossler reel recently and like it, but haven't fought anything on the reel yet. Galvin's have always looked good and I considered a Galvin over the Vossler that I bought, but the Galvin was more than I wanted to spend.

    Hopefully you'll get someone who has experience with some of the reels in the action for the type of trip you're planning. Good luck!

    Bill
     
  8. rick matney

    rick matney Active Member

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    Are you guy nuts? Tuna and tarpon. I own almost every saltwater reel made and none of them handle it well. Every brand has failed at one point in time or another. this fall...brand new Tibor gulfstream first hookup of the reel's life and the last one. Small sailfish and a warped spool and smoked drag. Abel super 12 same fate. Ross momentum...get this sheared reel seat from reel. reel body shot down my rod through all my guides and splintered my 12 wt and went into the ocean. all I had left was the reel seat still in the rod (what chunks were left of it) Lamson lightspeed.....bent reel seat on one hook up with a small rooster. all of this was in 4 days of fishing this november. No sails landed 4 broken reel 3 broken rods and 4 hook ups.....do the math! Did catch a ton of roosters though.

    Check out albrights and sea level flyfishing. these are the best of the cheapest but don't expect to come back with anything no matter what the reel......unless it's no landed fish
     
  9. Les Johnson

    Les Johnson Les Johnson

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    I wouldn't suggest that you lump a big chinook salmon reel together with a reel used for tarpon, dorado, sailfish, tuna and other warm water critters that are incredibly fast and tough -- and big.
    You can always fish a reel "down" to handle smaller or lesser fish but can rarely fish a reel "up" to handle the mean-as-hell critters in the above list. During more than twenty-five years of fishing southern saltwater, often a couple of times each season I've seen a whole lot of reels get blown up under the pressure of a screaming dorado or sailfish. These were reels that would have been fine for a chinook salmon.
    I have never experienced a reel giving up during my years in the big salt of Baja or Florida. My reels have been: Fin Nor, Fenwick World Class both of which I still own and use but are no longer manufactured. For the past ten or more years I have used Islander reels, which are a testiment to high quality and stout design. More recently I've added the TFO 375s or the TFO Terry Hayden which are also tough as hell. These reels have proven to be more than a match for all the above gamefsih. I have friends who use Billy Pate, Tibor and Abel reels, all of which are also bulletproof. There are others as well but I've not used them.
    Your best bet is to purchase the best quality big reel that you can afford that is recommended for the biggest and meanest quarry you will be casting to. This reel will hold up nicely for big chinook salmon either offshore or in the eestuaries. Furthermore, if you purchase the very best reel that you can afford, it is going to become increasingly economical as the years go by because you won't have to replace it or repair it repeatedly.
    Finally, there are some very good reels in the $130 to $250 range that will give you years of service with good care (Orvis Mid Arbor is a good example of an economy priced reel that will handle fish up to 50 pounds, or so). At the next level, over $300 to $600 , you will own a reel that will, after years of very hard use, be passed on to your oldest child. So, take your time and look them over closely. There are a lot of excllent reels out there.
    Cheers,
    Les Johnson
     
  10. Matt Paluch

    Matt Paluch Active Member

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    That's gotta be some kind of record. I haven't seen that many reels blow up in that short a period of time in over a decade of work in the industry. At least it sounds like you had good back up reels on hand.
     
  11. Charlie S

    Charlie S Confrimed Reprobate

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    I echo the choice above for the Albright Tempest reels. Check their website for some good deals on them:

    http://www.sealevelflyfish.com/reels_SeaLevelTempest.html

    I've landed some really big fish with these reels and doubt you could blow one apart as the intrepid angler above seems to have done.
     
  12. Hooker

    Hooker Banned or Parked

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    so you are going to spend all the money to go on these trips and sacrifice your ability to actually land a fish?
    I too, like Rick, have seen a lot of reels blow up. Nautilus, Ross, Able, Tibor... a lot of big names that have failed for me in the past. That being said, there is no question that they are worth the investment to me to feel comfortable that my gear will hold up to the test of a big, hot fish. I am not going to spend thousands of dollars to go all the way to Belize and have my gear fail on my only chance.
    Buy a good reel, with a warranty, use it and turn around and sell it. You should be able to get most of your money back.
     
  13. Jerry Metcalf

    Jerry Metcalf FishyJere

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    A couple of thought from my experience (Sails, Marlin, Dorado, Roosters, Tuna).

    It is unwise to go cheap on the reel. I have smoked drags and siezed up arbors on dorado alone. Personally, I went to Abel and have had no problems since. You can get them at some discount on eBay and they really last forever with reasonable care. I have taken nearly everything on an Abel #3. The bigger ones are nicer but a #3 is the best all around for the price. In the winter, I use it on my spey rod.

    For rods, only use those with lifetime guarantees. They are especially vulnerable with the tropical fish. Dorado and tuna have a nasty habit of going under the boat. Just one touch of the rod againt the boat and it is toast. They don't like to bend at sharp angles.

    Jerry
     
  14. Denny

    Denny Active Member

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    iagree

    All of these are great. The TFO reels, particularly the Hayden line, are stout pieces of equipment and up to the tasks initially described. The Hayden 2 or 3 are sturdy. The early versions of the TFO 425 had some frame flex issues, but I understand that has been corrected; that reel is a great value. Islanders are beautiful reels, and performance- and quality-wise, on par with Abel, etc.

    For 'budget' reels, the SeaLevel (formerly Albright) Tempest reels are also a great value. Not knocking the Teton or Lamson mentioned earlier, but I prefer the Tempest over these.

    Don't forget that these reels all cross-dress well as big spey reels. The spools for the Tempest are relatively affordable, too, as well as easy to change.

    If you're looking for a true big game reel, the Trion isn't in the same league as nearly all the reels mentioned so far.

    Dan Blanton says something to the effect of "buy the best you can afford and get the crying over once". There will be some serious crying if you purchase a Trion or Medalist, spend gobs of money to go on your trip, blow the reel out early in the trip, and the rest of your trip turns in to a tourist excursion.;)
     
  15. herl

    herl Member

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    I agree, these are great reels at a low price. Used to be made by albright but Sea Level ffishing bought the rights when albright decided to discontinue them. The reel is called the tempest. I have 2. Have not used them on 'real' saltwater fish yet, but have heard they stand up to it as good as the best (which, as you've heard is still not 100%).

    Eric