Reel Quality (Cast v. Machined)

IveofIone

Active Member
WFF Supporter
what are you fishing for? And how often?
Mike, I have a couple of Okuma Magnitudes that were sadly discontinued years ago. Those reels had a roller bearing setup in a nylon cage that was both smooth and long lasting. I don't know about the model you have but I suspect that it has a stainless steel spindle and the the bearing surface in the spool is possibly just the cast material itself. Perhaps there is a better bearing surface of some sort. But whichever it is, in all likely hood the bearing surface of the spool is worn rather than the stainless spindle. You could have the spindle diameter checked for wear with a micrometer and if it is good the spools are the culprit. If that's the case, you could buy 3 new spools for around $100 and be back in business. That could buy you another 5 years of heavy use.
 

Salmo_g

Well-Known Member
WFF Supporter
Helpful response. Which reels are you partial to?
I have several Hardy reels. They are all good, but don't have the very best tolerances. The out of production Ross Colorado was modestly priced at $100 to $110, dead simple design, and unsurpassed quality of build and tolerances. I also have a bunch of Sage 500 series reels that were made by Hardy; they are machined, unlike most Hardy reels, and have better, meaning closer, tolerances.
 

Mike22

Active Member
Mike, I have a couple of Okuma Magnitudes that were sadly discontinued years ago. Those reels had a roller bearing setup in a nylon cage that was both smooth and long lasting. I don't know about the model you have but I suspect that it has a stainless steel spindle and the the bearing surface in the spool is possibly just the cast material itself. Perhaps there is a better bearing surface of some sort. But whichever it is, in all likely hood the bearing surface of the spool is worn rather than the stainless spindle. You could have the spindle diameter checked for wear with a micrometer and if it is good the spools are the culprit. If that's the case, you could buy 3 new spools for around $100 and be back in business. That could buy you another 5 years of heavy use.
Thanks for the suggestion, it's likely a combination of both the reel spindle and spools. I can wiggle the stainless steel spindle with some force through my fingers. The spools may have wobbled when they were brand new, and the spindle may have wiggled when the reel was brand new, I never thought to check. Either way, my guess is it has more to do with the reel's build quality than the use it has seen.
 

sportsman

Active Member
This depends on what you want, which you didn't say.5 years and multiple spools on any Okuma is doing great. Wanting to save money and get fishing right away? Listen to Richard and repost in 5 years. Wanting to move up in quality? The sky is the limit, just say that and this post will hit 50 pages with suggestions.
 

Scudley Do Right

Active Member
Mature salmonids, weekly.



I've heard all the arguments for click and pawl reels, and I have both a 1494 Medalist and Battenkill clicker. I like a disc drag to help manage backlash and to keep the spool from over-spinning when I pull line off the reel mid-cast. I understand that I'm not fishing for bonefish every day, but I think adjustable drag is helpful for more than just stopping fast fish.
There are adjustable click pawls also. For example something like an Islander IR or Scientific Angler System One. They may not have the range of adjustability you are looking for though.
 

Mike22

Active Member
This depends on what you want, which you didn't say.5 years and multiple spools on any Okuma is doing great. Wanting to save money and get fishing right away? Listen to Richard and repost in 5 years. Wanting to move up in quality? The sky is the limit, just say that and this post will hit 50 pages with suggestions.
Good question. I don't want 50 pages of "favorite reel" suggestions. I guess my original question was: does reel quality come from construction (cast v. machined), brand, or price? It's likely a combination of the 3, but I was hoping for clarity regarding the construction aspect.
 

Scudley Do Right

Active Member
I would say part of what you pay for is the name and where it was made. I have Abel TRs and a Redington Drift. One cost 4x what the other was but I wouldn't say it's 4x better made.
 

Mike22

Active Member
I would say part of what you pay for is the name and where it was made. I have Abel TRs and a Redington Drift. One cost 4x what the other is but I wouldn't say it's 4x better made.
Right, I agree. I understand that I shouldn't expect perfection from a $50 reel, but I shouldn't have to spend $400 for a clean design and tight tolerances either. I could probably throw a dart at any mid-priced reel and come out fine, but I figured I'd try to learn about the factors involved here first.
 

sportsman

Active Member
Good question. I don't want 50 pages of "favorite reel" suggestions. I guess my original question was: does reel quality come from construction (cast v. machined), brand, or price? It's likely a combination of the 3, but I was hoping for clarity regarding the construction aspect.
1. Machined
2. Brand
3. Price. Competitive market that's no different than any other, except that in a fairly limited market... options are seemingly endless.
 

Scudley Do Right

Active Member
I guess my point was a reel machined in Korea can be every bit as good as one machined in the US, but the US reel is going to cost more. I can't comment on disc drag quality because most of my reels are clickers.
 

_WW_

Geriatric Skagit Swinger
WFF Supporter
Yeah, I’ve fished with WW before and he rarely has that problem.
Fishing for unicorns is rarely productive. But that's no reason to not be prepared.
I guess my original question was: does reel quality come from construction (cast v. machined), brand, or price?
Cast vs machined is misleading. Even reels of cast aluminum have to be machined. Perhaps what you are referencing is stamped metal reels, like the old Pluegers and Bronsons, which I think are kind of rare these days what with all the recent hype about bar stock and aircraft grade aluminum machined reels.


A small amount of drag helps to prevent backlash when that large Runaway Freight Train hits your fly.
I've heard all the arguments for click and pawl reels, and I have both a 1494 Medalist and Battenkill clicker. I like a disc drag to help manage backlash and to keep the spool from over-spinning when I pull line off the reel mid-cast. I understand that I'm not fishing for bonefish every day, but I think adjustable drag is helpful for more than just stopping fast fish.
I can't say I have never had a backlash because I did once when using a vintage reel that would allow you to disengage the pawl. Other than the one time I have never had a problem, ever. But, although I have several Medalists in my collection I have yet to use one, and I can't remember off the top of my head if I've ever used a Battenkill. If so it would have been the Young 'Beaudex' or 'Pridex' version.

The best way to keep your line out of the greasy parts is to use a full frame reel.
 

dustinchromers

Active Member
This may not be the answer you're looking for but I would say pound for pound the old school Ross CLA is the best reel for the money. It can be found used for fair prices easily, they still make spools, and they are almost quite literally free of maintainance. They are machined but not exotic. They are simple, durable, reliable, and affordable.
 

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