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> > Cheap Reels High Performance???

ObtuseangleAugust 28th, 2007, 9:23 pm
Posts: 6I enjoy reading the postings on this site and thought maybe I could ask for some advice.

I admit I have a tendency to become enamored with shiny things and brand names. Over the winter I must have read one too many books about the character of bamboo rods, and bought a Granger in very good condition with both full length tips. I got it for a song; $130.

Hereís the question that has plagued me for months. The Granger has a slip ring to secure the front of the reel seat, so the foot of the reel has to be either flat or smoothly tapered. Went to Cabelaís and tried different reels for fit. I bought a new Pflueger reel with rim control, but couldnít bring myself to put it on the old Granger when I saw the Made in China sticker on it. I then bought an old Made in the USA Pflueger reel that fits fine. It cost me $20 used. However, because of its design it cannot be palmed. The spool rim is enclosed in the reel frame. The only other modern reels I have found that will fit the reel seat are made by Ross. The nicer Ross reels cost more than I paid for the rod.

You seem like a practical bunch. Would it be wise to stick with the Pflueger reel, or should I put out $200-$300 for a shiny Ross reel with a great drag? Should I put out $50 for a low end Ross reel? Also, the Pfluegers have a drag system controlled by a tiny knob. Is there another way to manually apply drag to a reel like this, maybe by putting my left thumb on the line in the spool?

I suppose this comes down to a personís philosophy on reels. Does it serve a function beyond storing line or not. Iíve never needed a drag while fishing in New Mexico or Colorado, but am moving to Wyoming in a couple years and, hopefully, this will be an issue when I get there. Any advice, or criticism, would be very much appreciated.
GeneAugust 28th, 2007, 9:32 pm
Posts: 107There are a ton of reels on the market under $100 or less that would suit you very well. Don't just look at a Ross (although they make good reels but I believe some of them are made in China too..aren't they?

If you want some classic vestige of a by gone era I would put a used Hardy LRH on the Granger. If it fits it will be pretty classic looking. They don't have the greatest drags but they aren't that bad. You can probably pick one up for $100 to $150 in good shape.

The Hardy would look pretty good on that rod I think but I'm thinking in a kind of historical sense. Your dilemma is what many of us face in fly's what makes the whole damn thing so much fun. Hope this helps you out a bit

tight lines and big trout

SofthackleAugust 29th, 2007, 6:25 am
Site Editor
Wellsville, NY

Posts: 540
If you need to slow down a trout using the Pflueger, you can apply pressure to the spool by placing your finger(s) inside the spool on the line that is wrapped around the drum. This is how "palming" was done back in the day when there was no palming rims on reels. I am assuming the reel you chose was a Medalist. I'd stick with it. It's classic!

"I have the highest respect for the skilled wet-fly fisherman, as he has mastered an art of very great difficulty." Edward R. Hewitt

Flymphs, Soft-hackles and Spiders:
RleePAugust 29th, 2007, 8:43 am
NW PA - Pennsylvania's Glacial Pothole Wonderland

Posts: 398
I have a Pflueger Medalist 1492 I bought new in 1974. I wouldn't have even the first qualm about mounting on any rod I own or might ever own, regardless of the rods cost or lineage. It's a fine, durable, utilitarian piece of equipment.
DavezAugust 29th, 2007, 8:47 am

Posts: 59
thats an easy one... i have an "Ocean City #36" on my wright and mcgill granger.
rim control, flat black and same era.

they are a good pair. ebay has em for $5.00 at times.
ObtuseangleAugust 29th, 2007, 11:03 am
Posts: 6Yes, Softhackle, I have an old Medalist. I kind of like the idea of keeping the outfit all US made.

Sounds like the majority opinion is to stick with simple and reliable.

Thanks for the input. It was helpful.
JOHNWAugust 29th, 2007, 1:39 pm
Chambersburg, PA

Posts: 452
Pfluger= Poor Mans Peerless.
Hadry's are also very classy looking but the Brits tend to be a little heavy handed in the drag department (particulaly the House of Hardy). Bougles are very nice and have extended stantions for increased line capacity.

For my purposes the old orvis Rocky mtn is hard to beat reel and two extra spools all under $100. Of course as soon as a manufaturer finds out I like a product of theirs they go and discontinue it.
"old habits are hard to kill once you have gray in your beard" -Old Red Barn
Shawnny3August 29th, 2007, 3:18 pm
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
I'm curious - how many people on here really care much about their reel? Aside from its durability (or lack thereof), I can't think of anything that's made me particularly like or dislike any reel. When I started out, I had a $30 reel from Cabelas, I think, that was handed down to me after much use. Years later, someone gave me a gift of a nice Redington reel (no idea how much it cost, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't cheap), and it made exactly zero difference in my fishing.

I rarely if ever play a fish off the reel because I have so much more control with my hand. And, yeah, I guess it would be important if you were routinely getting into large fish in open water, but for your average stream fishing, I just don't understand why the reel makes much difference. Does anyone else feel the same way, or can someone educate me as to why the reel is of great importance? I'm open to the possibility that I'm just not using it to its fullest.

Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
SofthackleAugust 29th, 2007, 3:51 pm
Site Editor
Wellsville, NY

Posts: 540
Most fly fisherman would probably agree with you, and there was a time when most fly fisherman though that all the reel did was hold the line. Holding line is only one function. Correctly done, all fish should be played from the reel, which actually gives you more control. It gives line and brings it in, and the drag helps fight fish. It also balances the rod, and I believe is really more important than the rod for control. This is not to say that some less expensive reels don't do the jobs listed. They do.

It is my understanding that if the weight of the reel is correctly balanced to the rod, the outfit should be easily balanced on your extended forefinger at about the middle of the rod grip.

If you find the MAJORITY of fish you are catching are too light or small for the outfit you are using, and you find it way too easy to bring in fish playing them from the reel most of the time, you probably should get something a little lighter, or at the very least, a reel that has a lighter drag setting. I set the drag so it is just enough for a small fish, on its initial take, to pull some line out.

Another way to look at it would be, if the reel brings the smaller fish in easily and quickly, they're in better condition to be released. (less tired.)

With all this said, I'm sure it wouldn't be hard to find someone to disagree with me.


"I have the highest respect for the skilled wet-fly fisherman, as he has mastered an art of very great difficulty." Edward R. Hewitt

Flymphs, Soft-hackles and Spiders:
MartinlfAugust 30th, 2007, 5:32 pm
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3233
JAD, what was that nice reel you showed me? The price sounded great, and I know Okuma has a super drag. Shawn, I try to play all fish off the reel to get ready for that one that needs to be played off the reel. That said, I don't always get the line back on. But IMHO the practice is worth it.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
Shawnny3September 3rd, 2007, 4:09 pm
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
Thanks for the advice, Mark and Louis. Maybe I'll give it a shot the next few times I'm out and see how I feel about it.

A question for you two (and anyone else who cares to chime in): Do you find that you lose fish when trying to get your slack line onto the reel? This task must be completed in the first few seconds of the fight, the most critical few seconds, in my opinion, and I have always felt that trying to do just one more thing at that critical moment is one thing too many. When fishing barbless, I would think that having one hand on the reel rather than managing line would make it very easy to develop the little bit of slack the fish needs to throw the hook.

Not to muddy the conversation too much, but how do people feel about the handedness of their reels? I have heard many experienced fishermen swear that having a right-handed reel is best for right-handers, but I prefer to crank with the left. Actually, it's not that I prefer to crank with the left but that I feel like I have better control of my rod with my right. And again, switching hands on the rod at that critical moment after a fish strikes, especially since the right hand is the one that is trained to hold the rod in the first place, has always struck me as a silly and needless exercise.


Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
SofthackleSeptember 3rd, 2007, 4:55 pm
Site Editor
Wellsville, NY

Posts: 540
Hi Shawn,
I cast with my right hand and reel with my left. I always have. I believe the advantage is, since I'm right handed, and use my right hand more, it is stronger and more sensitive to the rod. Playing fish using your rod in your strongest arm is probably best. I addition if you cast with your right hand and reel with your right hand you MUST transfer the rod to your left hand when the trout you are fighting is at its strongest, foxiest, and most adept point in the insuing struggle. Why switch hands at that point and trust your weakest arm to do the job.

Taking in extra line quickly is also easier if you don't have to switch hands. I simply reel as fast as I can to get any extra line that's out, in on the reel, so I can play the fish. I gently hold the line against the rod with my rod hand till I can get the extra on the reel. This enables me to release a little line if I need to while reeling the extra line in.

I always make sure I have the appropriate amount of backing on the reel, as this will help me wind the line in faster. The newer large and mid arbor reels also assist in doing this.

To go back to the original idea or question, here, for most normal trout fishing, I have a reel that cost me a mere $40. It has a brass disc drag and large arbor, and I have an extra spool for my sinking line. It's not machined from bar stock, but cast aluminum, with a black anodized finish. I've taken many fish with it, some over twenty inches or better, and have yet to have a problem with it. If it falls apart--I've only lost $40, but right now, it's been doing a great job for me.

"I have the highest respect for the skilled wet-fly fisherman, as he has mastered an art of very great difficulty." Edward R. Hewitt

Flymphs, Soft-hackles and Spiders:
JOHNWSeptember 3rd, 2007, 6:54 pm
Chambersburg, PA

Posts: 452
I try to get every fish to the reel unless, of course, it is small enought that I've just litterally ripped it out of the water. My preferred method it to set the hook then get the line to the fish tight. pinching the line against the cork. The next step is to simply slap the rim of the spool and gather the excess between my fingers and reel. It takes a little practice but I have lost very few fish at that point in the fight as you can keep a tight line.
"old habits are hard to kill once you have gray in your beard" -Old Red Barn
JADSeptember 3rd, 2007, 8:32 pm
Alexandria Pa

Posts: 362

Sorry about the delay been away from board.I bought two of the new Okuma SLV large arbor reels this year, 46.00 a peace.The 4-5weight weighs in at 3.5 oz.,been using them all summer ---Hard to beat for the money.
I also own three Plueger President large arbor reels, their around $120.and weigh 6 oz and I think their from bar stock.I think the Plueger is a better reel if weight or money are not an issue.
Quote-- ( Not to muddy the conversation too much, but how do people feel about the handedness of their reels? I have heard many experienced fishermen swear that having a right-handed reel is best for right-handers, but I prefer to crank with the left. Actually, it's not that I prefer to crank with the left but that I feel like I have better control of my rod with my right.)

My reels are all set up for left hand If I hook a fish I usually let the fish take most of the slack line out to the reel,then I wind the fish in. Another thing to think about, if your nymphing (High Sticking) if you have to much slack you might want to wind up a little line and thats hard to do if the reel is on the right and your right handed.

Have a good night.

JaD---just another John

They fasten red (crimson red) wool around a hook, and fix onto the wool two feathers which grow under a cockís wattles, and which in colour are like wax.
Radcliffe's Fishing from the Earliest Times,
GeneSeptember 3rd, 2007, 9:22 pm
Posts: 107Gentlemen:

First the idea of having a reel on the same side as you cast with is a bit of traditional nonsense at best. Why would you want to put the rod in your weak hand and arm (especially with a big fish) which puts you at a disadvantage in a number of ways. The reason for this is that early fly reels were not reversible in terms of drag and line retrieval. (by the way I have one of those Okumas...nice reel for the money...very good).

As far as playing the fish off the reel versus by hand it's up to you but you'll lose more fish especially with large fish with light tippets and small flies. I can usually tell if anglers know how to fish spring creeks properly by the way they handle the line when they get a fish on. I've watched too many folks just try and play the fish by hand and lose them or snap the tippet. I seldom say anything unless they ask what they are doing wrong. Fine drags on fine reels were meant for streams like the Letort, Falling Springs, Big Spring etc. Why? Because the fish are "green." Which means you have a large fish on a short line that will maneuver quickly the weight shifts come so quickly that the fish has advantage. By playing the fish off the reel you are able to control the situation because you have a steady pressure on the fish especially with small flies which don't have much of a bite. When Falling Spring was in hey day in the 70's you would learn very quickly that to land a 25 inch rainbow or brown on 7x tippet and 24 trico required you to play that fish off the reel and make sure your drag was set properly.

You can try this experiment for yourself. Take about 18 inches of 7x and tie it to something solid. Now pull or jerk it. Notice how easy it snaps. Now try the same thing with about 80 or 90 inches of it. You have some elastic advantage. When you hook a big fish that may only be a few feet in front you are stressing the rod leader and tippet much more than if you hooked that fish 40 feet away. You have no chance to let the rod bend and absorb the shock sometimes when you are so close to these big fish. IN fact before the advent of the super leader material which basically happened in the last 15 to 20 years. We use to use clear sewing thread tippet that we bought in kmart etc. This stuff probably miked out around 6x (whatever 6x was back then). We would use about 40 to 50 inches of this stuff for the tippet. We also used bamboo rods which were much more forgiving with such stuff than modern day graphites. This stuff had a great elasticity and I once landed a 26 inch brown on Big Spring on a 26 midge. I doubt if I could have ever landed such fish by trying to play it by hand. The excessive long tippet was the only way to land these big fish which were right in front of you. We would just fish the leader and the the long tippet absorbed that first run which where almost everyone lost their fish.

I see this in clients I guide all of the time. It takes some getting use to but if you play the fish off the reel you land more fish as far as I am concerned. The time you need a fine drag is usually in such a situation. In big water with big fish are actually easier to land in my estimation than 5 pound trout that you hook right in front of you.

So there's my diatribe for what it's worth.

tight lines and I shall fish soon and perhaps the lady of the water will smile upon me.

JADSeptember 4th, 2007, 6:12 pm
Alexandria Pa

Posts: 362

Hi Gene
About the old days, I still use Bamboo and yes sewing thread.
Louis has now got me using Enrico Puglisi Leader(Power Full)good stuff.

Tight Lines


They fasten red (crimson red) wool around a hook, and fix onto the wool two feathers which grow under a cockís wattles, and which in colour are like wax.
Radcliffe's Fishing from the Earliest Times,
JMarcusSeptember 4th, 2007, 11:32 pm
Bellingham, WA

Posts: 7
One thing I didn't see mentioned here: How big are the fish you are likely to catch? Under a "certain size" there's really no need for a drag. That "certain size" will vary with the person and their experience. Also, there is a point at which one does need at least a palming rim. I think that the old Medalists' drag is sufficient to make up for the lack of a palming rim, though. In one of Gary LaFontaines' books he mentioned that he didn't buy expensive or hi-tech reels. His favorite was a japanese reel that could be purchased for years for just a few bucks. I mostly agree. For years I thought that there was no real need for a decent drag in fresh water. A king salmon of about 40 lbs. in the Vedder (B.C.) set me straight on that one a few years ago. He shot out of the pool down an about 50 yd. chute, into the next pool and gone while I scrambled through the pool, stumbled along between the alders and the chute (about a 3" path)trying to pursue him. I was, of course, spooled in short order. He somehow left my fly hooked to a rock and it took me forever to wind in all my line. The point is: while trying to do all those things at once, my "free" hand couldn't control the reel and it probably would have been ineffectual at it anyway. So now I have reels with real drags on my 7, 8 & 10 wt. rods. Mentioning being spooled brings up another point. Most of the reels I use now are medium to large arbor. I prefer to spend more time fishing and less time reeling. The P. Medalist, by the way, is one of the earlier, mid-arbor fly reels. Check it out. For 2 through 4 wt. rods my favorite reel is a little plastic/carbon-fiber cutie that weighs almost nothing and has a working drag that isn't bad! Not that I wanted a drag--it just came with one. They cost me $20.00 or less. so cheap that it's pointless to try to buy spools for them--just buy another reel. I think I have half a dozen. Trying to get a little fish "on the reel" is often just a waste of time and wears out the fish. My rule of thumb is: If the fish can take up all the slack, then it's "on the reel." If not--like I said. I have to say as well, that these machined, hi-tech reels just seem pointless to me if one is pursuing anything that isn't 1. BIG; 2. Fast and wild; 3. living in very warm waters way to the south of here, and, in most cases, salty. I've always used cast reels and haven't had a single fishing failure that had anything to do with whether it was cast or machined. I must say, however, that I do admire the aesthetics of some of those expensive beauties. Then I remember where I'll be using it and what for...

I hope this is helpful. Remember: "It's about the fish!"

J. Marcus
J Marcus
GeneSeptember 5th, 2007, 9:06 am
Posts: 107Marcus:

When you play a fish off the reel you don't necessarily have to allow him to run much; the line is pinched between the rod handle and the reel and you add pressure if your leader can afford it. We aren't talking about a 9 inch fish here. However, 14 inch trout in a spring creek on 7x tippet will definitely show you what I'm talking about especially if they head for a cress bed or under log. Playing the fish off the reel allows you to land a fish quicker especially on a small fly and an extremely light tippet. Spring creek trout are extremely powerful fish for their size for some reason. Perhaps it's the cold water or the fact that the fish are so close to the angler. On a stream like the Letort you can't really chase the fish. You either turn the fish and apply proper pressure or the fish is lost.

tight lines and nymphs in your head and nymphs in your bed

Shawnny3September 5th, 2007, 2:25 pm
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
Thank you, guys, for your insights. A lot to think about, to be sure.

Nice closing line on that last one, Gene.

Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
McjamesSeptember 10th, 2007, 1:58 pm
Cortland Manor, NY

Posts: 139
Gene -- I have a Pflueger Medalist, and while its true you can't palm the spool, the spool is flush with the fixed steel rim and I can put my thumb halfway on the edge of the spool and the rim for an effective drag. You have to watch the handle doesn't catch your thumb, but it works.

In addition to the $20 Pflueger I have two Shakespeare reels from like 1980... I dont even know the model. They look alot like the Pflueger but they are maroon. They are identical and I bought them on Ebay for 10 bucks. I use one for parts. So to answer your question Shawn, I do not really care what reel I am using!!
I am haunted by waters

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