Reel Seats and Inserts

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This topic contains 13 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  rianstarr 2 years, 7 months ago.

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    Dry Fly Guy

    Fly fishermen generally seem to have a particular reel seat that they love and/or one they hate.  Dual Sliding bands seem to be one that don’t often get a lot of love, while the down locking cap and ring seems to be a favorite with many.  Especially with the bamboo and fiberglass crowds.

    I too have my preferences, and I assume you have yours, but what I’m really curious about is how that plays in with the insert.  I’ve done a fair amount of woodworking (fine furniture like grandfather clocks, highboys, credenzas, chairs, etc.) so the figured wood inserts always catch my eye.  In fact, some of them I find to be absolutely gorgeous, and I can’t say that I get overly excited about cork.  So a nice wood spacer is where I always tend to lean, irregardless of the reel seat hardware style.

    But if I’m honest with myself, the reel seat that was the easiest to use, and that functioned as well or better than anything else I’ve owned, was the one on an old Orvis Superfine (graphite) rod I had.  What was it?  Dual sliding bands over nothing but cork.

    With this seat, reels were easy to put on and easy to take off, but they never came loose in use.  I was very apprehensive about this at first, and had a hard time believing that would be the case.  But it was, and I saw the light and became a believer.  An added benefit of this type of seat is the fact that  you can easily adjust where you want the reel to be mounted.  The rings can be utilized at any point along it and they don’t rely on a cap or a hood as a fixed point to start with.  If the reel is a little heavy, just mount it closer to the grip.  A little light, mount it closer to the butt.  If balancing a rod is important to you, this seat provides options the others simply don’t.

    A dual sliding band over cork may actually be my favorite reel seat, even though aesthetically I usually don’t prefer it, and it seems to be the reel seat most scorned by others.  The sad fact is, I don’t even own a rod that has one, and it’s pretty hard to even find a rod made these days that does.

    My only real complaint with this kind of seat is the “impression” the bands eventually leave in the cork.  To alleviate that issue, I may just have to try a dual sliding band over a nice wood insert that has a cork filler.  That may prove to be the best of both worlds.  The aesthetics of wood with the functionality of cork and sliding bands.  Never had one like it, but they certainly make sense to me.

    What about you?  Do you have a favorite type of reel seat and insert?  If so, why?

    ~ DFG

    p.s.  For the record, I’ve used dual sliders on rods up to a six weight and never had an issue with them holding a reel securely.


    Eric Peper

    Yup. Most of my bamboo have uplock slide bands with burled wood spacers. My most recent (a Doug Daniel quad) has an absolutely exquisite piece of amboyna for a spacer.

    I’ve never had a slippage problem with these seat, while I have with downlocks — I think there’s probably something sloppy in the way I allow the heel of my hand to slide down and inadvertently move the locking ring. I have several rods with uplocking screwlock seats (my second favorite), but between the two, I find the screwlock fussier than need be.

    Then there are the two Grangers. :-) One (W&M Champion 8642) a downlock slide band, the other (Goodwin Special 8040) the patented uplock screwlock. Neither is terribly attractive, but both serve to identify the year of manufacture.




    I’m a big fan of downlocking with drop-dead gorgeous wood. I would even swap out reels if I had to in order to balance a rod. I never got along well with slide bands, but I can see how they would work well on cork. And with some builds (like the new Barclay rods) the cork inserts look pretty nice. Still, I need a material contrast between the seat and grip. I’m just a fussy guy and I like what I like.

    I really prefer the downlocking style because with the uplocking style on my newer Winstons, I find the line often coils under the butt of the seat and snags as I’m casting. That doesn’t seem to happen with a downlocking seat. Plus, I simply prefer the aesthetics of a downlocking design.

    I’m about a week away from taking delivery of a Morgan glass rod being built by Shane Gray, and it will have an amboyna insert. I’m trying to find a similar piece of wood to use as a handle for a net I’ll be making within the month so I can have a ‘matching set’. But larger pieces of amboyna burl are pretty hard to obtain.




    I only use downlocking so I can use lighter reels, and get the balance I want. I’m not fussy about what wood is used as long as it has good figure.

    I absolutely hate any sort of ring. I want the reel screwed down tight.



    I prefer up locking, it just seems to balance better for me and feels “right.” I also prefer screws, like Creek said, I want that thing screwed in. I do have both sliding bands and down locking screws though, and tolerate both. What’s under it is less important because I’m watching my fly. Most quality seats look nice, and I mostly have nickel silver hardware around it.



    I prefer uplocking seats, most of my custom glass rods have downlockers. Go figure. Slide bands are OK with a cork insert. Dual slide bands ought to be ashamed of themselves.



    For versatility, it’s hard to beat dual sliding bands over a beautiful wood insert, but the rings and insert must be perfectly designed or it will drive you to distraction. Of this type, Mario Wojnicki’s version is the best I’ve seen. The rings are swaged perfectly and the insert is slightly ovalizes on the bottom to stabalize the reel foot.

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 9 months ago by  Duff.
    • This reply was modified 4 years, 9 months ago by  Duff.
    • This reply was modified 4 years, 9 months ago by  Duff.
    • This reply was modified 4 years, 9 months ago by  Duff.


    When I started this sport in the mid 1960s, one would search long and hard to find an uplocking reel seat.Every builder had a downlocking screw seat, many of them quite attractive.Dual rings over cork and cap (fitted or not) and ring over cork or wood were also found on some models.

    I have owned and used rods with all of these.

    The way I see it is as follows:

    Dual rings over cork: The lightest. The only disadvantage being that of the reel rotating under usage. As the grip/seat is usually quite small, line snagging is not the problem it is with uplocking seats.

    Butt cap and sliding ring: Available as fitted cap (Garrison style
    or unfitted. I find the fitted over cork to be quite satisfactory, and it is my favorite. The unfitted with wood insert ( can be quite attractive, and I have rods of this type.

    Downlocking: Quite attractive and very secure.

    Uplocking: I have had several rods with uplocking reel seats. All but one have gone to other homes rather rapidly. The sole exception is custom Hexagraph that Walton built for me. It is going to get converted to butt cap and sliding ring over cork. The butt end of the seat has a talent for snarling a loop of line that I find quite irritating. I cannot/will not buy most standard rods because they come with uplocking seats.

    All metal seats on trout rods are inappropriate, in my opinion.



    Just using traditional seating that is made of teak wood.




    I suppose those would be mighty handy when the fish aren’t rising.


    Scotty MacFly

    To me, for some reason or another, I always seem to look at the reel seat first. They just pop out at me. The Scott Radian and Orvis Helios 2 are beautiful wooden seats. It’s like that “oooh, shiny” moment to me. The only rod I have with slide bands is my Scott F2, and it has a cork handle. At first I was questioning it, but after the first day with it, I must say I have no complaints. But what I will say is not every reel will fit in those bands so you have to mix & match. My boo rod will have bands, and I will have to buy a reel that will fit it, and the spacer will be English Walnut. So bands on wood will be new to me, but I am told I have nothing to worry about.

    I really don’t care if it’s bands ( though I like tradition when it comes to fishing ) or up or down locking. As long as my reel stays on, I’m happy.

    I must admit, the Scott A4 rods have the ugliest reel seats I have ever seen, but they hold my reels.



    Your CGR has slide bands too.


    Scotty MacFly

    That’s right! I’m not used to having it yet since I only officially used it once. I’ll be in Lyons tomorrow picking up a reel for a different rod, and the S. Saint Vrain is right there, hmmmmm.

    I need a 3wt. I bet that would be a blast. Naw, I’ll stick with my 3wt Scott.



    Is there any specified reel seats that is for sale or just an ordinary seats. Check this one there are few seats been offered.

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