Reels, need advice.

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This topic contains 9 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Scotty MacFly 1 year, 4 months ago.

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    Scotty MacFly

    I got an e-mail from the man building my bamboo rod, and the photos are looking good. I especially like the colors of my Scottish Tartan on the butt of the rod in silk thread. The hardware is getting blued now, so it won’t be too much longer until it’s in my hands.

    On that note, since it’s my first bamboo, I was wondering from you all who are more in tune to the art of fishing with boo, what reels do you prefer. I like the Hardy’s, but to keep things in perspective, I can’t afford a Hardy’s reel, and really don’t see a need for a reel that expensive. At least not now. I like the Pflueger Medalist, and it’s in my price range. If any of you have this reel could you please share your opinions with me? Or any opinions on other reels will be appreciated.

    • This topic was modified 1 year, 8 months ago by  Scotty MacFly.


    Find a used Hardy if you want to do a bamboo rod justice. The Medalist belongs on the cheap blue collar rods. I never liked them, and would use a Young reel long before using any Pflueger.


    Dry Fly Guy

    I think the common perception is that bamboo rods should be paired with “classically” styled reels, (or even vintage reels) simply because of the nature and history of the material.

    Speaking for myself, I tend to agree with that perception and typically use a Hardy Perfect, or Bouglé on mine. But that is just a preference. And in reality, I typically prefer “classic” reels even on the most modern rods.

    However… I also have a Hatch Finatic that I absolutely love and use on bamboo rods, and it is anything but “classic”. It is also much lighter and pairs with rods that some of the classic reels (The Perfect for example) feel like a ship’s anchor with.

    So… aside from aesthetics, which is really only personal opinion, you may find that you like a bamboo rod with a little heavier reel than what you typically use with a graphite or ‘glass rod. A lot will likely depend on how the weight of the rod is distributed though. So my advice is to wait until you have the rod in hand before specifically buying a reel for it. Then try what you already have. Get out and cast it. Once you’ve done that, take the line off (removing weight) and try it again with all the line just coiled up by your side/foot. You could even take the whole reel off and put it in your pants pocket. Does the rod feel better or worse? Next reel the line back on and add some additional weight (lead core line, tape on a lead sinker… whatever) and try it again. You’ll pretty quickly decide what weight range you prefer with the rod, and that will narrow down the available choices pretty quickly. Keep in mind the typical fishing distances you plan on using the rod for and cast those distances when doing this. But try shorter and longer distances as well. You may be surprised at what you find.

    Now I will add here that there are those that ascribe to “the lighter the better” philosophy when it comes to reels, and without going into too much detail about it, I’ll just say there is some pretty convincing arguments for it. If nothing else, the fact that it is much easier to “add” weight to a reel than it is to “lose” weight from a reel may convince you to go as light as possible and tweak it from there.

    But in the end… Use what you like (and can afford). Certainly I have strong preferences in reels. But I just don’t believe there is a true right or wrong reel to put on any rod.

    ~ DFG



    I have a simple system to decide on reel weight that’s pretty simple. I load up the line i’ll us on the rod. Hang 3ft of line off the tip and i want it to balance under my thumb. That gives me the best around feel for casting, mending line, holding rod at arms length, or just walking down the trail.

    This will almost always need a classic reel to get the proper balance for bamboo. Since that’s what the classic reels were designed for. You can balance a shorter bamboo rod with a modern reel, but not the longer rods. Personally, I think a modern reel on bamboo is an eyesore unless the modern reel is in the classic reel look. It’s a personal thing with me. I only try to satisfy me, and i’m a picky old fart.



    Please, please don’t put a large-arbor reel on your first bamboo!

    J/K – if a Hardy’s not in the budget, look for a good used Young or Allcock. Older Orvis Battenkills were made by Young. Actually, a click and pawl BFR-era Battenkill would be a pretty good choice too. I’d make one exception to creek’s “No Medalist” recommendation – a USA-made 1492 1/2.


    Scotty MacFly

    Thanks friends, and DFG, your opening line about pairing the rod with a classic style reel is dead on. I think some newer reels may look ok, and probably work well balancing the rod, but not many. I want a heavier reel because where my hand is, it’s the pivot point, just as Creek said, balance it under the thumb. My grandfather taught me that, and it works well.

    I plan on taking the rod with me when shopping for reels, as was also advised by the maker. The Battenkill didn’t fit my nieces slide rings on her rod at all, so I don’t know if it’ll work on mine, but probably not. Shame.

    I just looked at Hardy prices and my goodness! I have more Lamson reels than anything else, and I do like them very much for what it’s worth, and they fit well on my nieces rod, but looked out of place if you know what I mean. You’re right Grsdlnr, no large arbor reels. Shouldn’t be to hard to find an old classic with all the bamboo places around. Even the man building mine has some reels for sale, so maybe I’ll start there along with South Creek in Lyons.


    Scotty MacFly

    O.K. friends, I have been looking at reels, and for right now Hardy is out of my price range, and may continue to be, so if a Hardy is in my future, it’s Gods will for it.

    I did some searching and found a reel built back between 1951 – 1953. It’s a Duncan Briggs. I looked at Amazon and E-bay and saw quite a few photos of these reels for sale at around $35 -$40, and they ball looked as if they had been run over by dump trucks and trains…….except this one I found off another forum. It’s in excellent condition with the original box! It’s older than I am by 12 years.

    I did some research on this company, and it seems they made decent reels and lot’s of them. Why they closed their doors is still a mystery to me, but the reel I purchased is beautiful and has that classic look I want. They made reels also for Wards and South Bend if I remember correctly. Hey, it’s made in the USA, so I’m happy about that by itself.

    I was looking at the Orvis CFO, but the feet on the reel are concaved too much so it won’t allow the sliding band to fit around it. The Duncan has flatter feet, so it shouldn’t be an issue.

    It’s a start, and I know I’ll upgrade after awhile, but for the price of $50 and a reel older than I am in the shape it’s in, I think that’s a pretty good blessing to fish with a reel like that. I received my Cortland Classic Peach yesterday in the mail, so when the reel arrives, I’ll be set……for now.



    Nice score!


    Dark Waters

    Sounds great Scotty, I never heard of them either, looked some up.

    Waiting to hear all about your adventures with your new rod!


    Scotty MacFly

    I ordered a Duncan Briggs fly reel for my bamboo rod. The reel arrived and It is in magnificent shape for a reel as old as it is. The enamel surfacing is unharmed, with a few scratches on the underside of the reel foot.

    The foot is too large for the rod, and in no way am I going to file, grind, cut or anything to this beautiful old American made thing. It goes on the shelf.

    I didn’t know there was a AFFTA standard size chart for reels till last night. I need a narrow, short reel foot that is somewhat flat. Orvis reel feet are the right size, but they have an angle so the slip ring won’t fit over it, and it won’t slip into the cap very well. Cabelas reels work great, but I want something better than big box brand. You understand I’m sure.

    You all pretty much mentioned Hardy, but I found one or two made in G.B.. I’m sure you all are familiar with. They have standard feet and traditional feet as well.

    I would like your opinions on these if you have experience or any knowledge of them. I hear they are reels with very good quality, but I can’t believe everything I read online. You guys have been very helpful to me.

    Never mind. This company is no longer around I guess. My e-mails keep coming back.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 4 months ago by  Scotty MacFly.
    • This reply was modified 1 year, 4 months ago by  Scotty MacFly.
    • This reply was modified 1 year, 4 months ago by  Scotty MacFly.
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