Burke, I ran into Frank Catino at a suite-and-tie fishing function in NYC a couple years back and was surprised he wasn't an older man! The history of the draw-bar reel is an interesting one that I hope to write about at some point while many of the inovators are still alive. For the angler that likes to maintain his gear, the field-stripable, few-moving-parts draw-bar is still the way to go.
Hardyreels, They are NOT all favoites for me. I love many rods and lines but the reels often annoy me. Things like poor aspect ratio (I dislike too wide spools which are increaingly common), drags that are not linear and stable within their adjustable range (and how many are?), ANY resistance in the reel-in direction (some top-priced and highly lauded reels are guilty of this flaw), shake, flex, un-harmonious or too loud sounds, clunkyness, propensity for sucking tippets between spool and frame, screws that loosen and reel feet that are not universal in mating to reel seats and many more things that I can't think of right now (but will occure to me after I post).
It is my view that the reason there are such a huge number of reel brands - and I am not even counting the plethera of spinning reel drag-based, hub-drag reels produced by the boat-load in Asia - is that nobody has gotten it completely right. Sure, a 1970 - early 80's Bogdan-designed, Hardy-built CFO IV is a sweet and handsome #5 reel on the Beaverkill but a 20" rainbow on the Fork might kill itself trying to be brought to net against that reel in the hands of anyone but a pro. It's hard to knock the elegance of an Able Super but, like all dog-actuated draw-bars, its mass shakes as the dogs rock in the gear teeth...and, on trout sizes, the drag is not fine tunable enough because of the spacing of the detents and rate of the coil spring. Ari't Hart is a genius concocting far out reels in his home shop...but don't ever try to dissasemble one! I could go on but as long as good fly fishers continue to strive toward building better fly reels, I'll keep trying them...I have a new one on order right now.
Interesting stuff. Aspect ratio was a problem with some of the earlier large arbor Hardy's I felt. The Angel and the Gem both suffer from this in certain sizes. Resistance reeling in, interesting considring when Andy Mills designed the Fortuna this was something he requested. He did not like reels winding during the cast which was an issue with a lot of large arbor reels.
As far as getting it right, I think the Hardy Bougle Mk IV or Winston Perfect by Hardy are about as close as you'll get on a freshwater trout reel. The ball bearing start up, the double pawl drag, and the tight tolerances are a dream on a fine trout rod. I've landed some huge AK Rainbows on Click and Pawl reels, not to even mention Salmon on the bigger stuff. I don't like disc drags in trout reels, especially when fishing light tippets. It's my experience that if the drag is set light enough for a 6-8X tippet it will overrun on a hot fish.
As far as big water SW reels I don't do it enough. I just picked up Bauer and I'm gonna try the Rogue on carp this year. I use old Hardy St Johns and Bougles on Salmon and Steelhead. The Lamson Vanquish intrigues me, I'm not into the ultra modern look, but it looks like a keeper.
This whole concept of the reel winding or anything else is new to me. We had a member who was having this problem with a reel recently. He reported that the reel would wind up all the line he was going to shoot while he was false casting........... I went strait from Pflueger Medalist's to The Hardy Lightweight series reels in the 70's and none of those reels did anything they weren't supposed to. Since becoming a Hardy user the only other reels that have seen significant use from me were CFO spring & pawl, Battenkill S&P, and some Orvis Odyssey series reels. No problems with any of those either.
If you would like to try a large arbor reel that I have had excellent service from on literally hundreds of big fish I would point you toward the discontinued Hardy Viscount LA Disc reels. I have 2 in 7/8 size (one for a back up) and have put the reel I use through the course since 2005 without a hitch. Every now and then there will be one available on eBay and they came in 5/6 - 7/8 - and a bigger one I think it was rated 10 /12 or something of that order. Great reels for catching fish and I mean fish that run.
Sadly, I just found out that Jack Charlton passed away this past June. He was a craftsman among craftsmen and a pure genius at designing and making reels with all of the qualities mentioned so far in this thread. After a long while not making reels Jack and company started producing reels again but with modern designs and updates. Simply put, that man made true works of highly functional art. He will be missed in the industry.
Jackster, With all the reels I have, one I have never owned (but have fished a friend's) is the original Charlton like yours...a brilliant and seminal reel!
Burke and Hardy, I too went from my original Medalists to long aspired to Hardys. My first was an early 70's LRH Lightweight which was long beloved. My personal largest Atlantic, a bright 22lb. hen who took a Nighthawk, I caught using an SA System branded Marquis. I still use a well-worn CFO on my small stream outfit and think your Cascapedia is a beautiful reel. Yes Burke, early Hardy large arbor reels, going back to the loud, wide 80's Prince and ending with the facinating Angel, suffered from poor aspect ratios (in my opinion). The Watrerworks Vanquish, which I have never even handled much less fished, I think is very cool looking (in a very modern way, Hardyreels) but, for me, all their products suffer from the too wide too shallow thing...great for fast pick up, less so for intuitive even retrieval. I would not dream of arguing with Andy Mill and the new Hardy FortunaX he helped develop is remarkably facinating and I was privilaged to fish the also new Hardy Ultralite DD trout reel all this past season and, as they point out importantly, it is a dramaticly large arbored but NARROW spooled design...I like it!
Of course, my entry to this thread was based on my saltwater flats reels where smooth potent drags are truly important. I am an ardent trout fisher too who long felt that saltwater-style drags systems had little place on trout streams. With some caveats, I have changed my mind. I believe that even skilled palmers of a smooth rim can land larger freshwater gamefish incrimentally faster with a drag supplimented by your hand and therefore release a valuable fish in greener condition. The caveat is that the reel must posses an infinitly fine-tunable, minimal inertal start-up design. I used to chide my Hardy Perfect-loving partner that, when fishing a big river like the Delaware, Henrys Fork or Missouri around Craig, that not only could I (and evreyone else) hear his reel scream HARDY from one side of the river to the other but big wild trout were taking too much line from him. A few season's back he reluctantly bought an Ari't Hart reel and grudgingly allowed that he quickly got used to its purring little "personal" click and that, yes, he brought big boys to net a bit quicker (he still loves his old Perfect with agat line ring though).
I am happy to have this forum as an opportunity to espouse my personal opinions, developed over years of fishing widly varied habitats, and share discussions with other well-opinioned and experienced fly fishers. One of the beautiful things about fly fishing is that there is little that is "right or wrong" and that aesthetics can and often does trump technology.
When Jon Bauer first came out with his reels I fished one on the Henrys Fork and it was that experience that turned my thinking towards the virtues of haveing an efective drag on a trout reel.
MP's Abel Crek is just beautiful! And Jackster, that close up of the machined spokes on the Charlton with such polish and laquer-like finish is mind boggling. I just got a new reel yesterday (which I'll report on after I have fished it). It is elaboretly carved, curved and ported by computerized lath (in America) but machine marks are evident...nothing like that Charlton's polish.