There have been a number of reel thread recently talking about sealed vs non-sealed, click and pawl, etc. We all strive to have gear that is functional and does not fail us when we need it the most. For some of us, reels are not only functional pieces of equipment, but a passion of mechanical engineering and beauty - as evidenced by the "Reel Love:" thread. I personally have invested a lot of money in securing quality tackle, but fished with "lesser" quality reels for years.
At the core of it all, however, is I need a reel to perform when I need it most. So I ask, who here has had a reel actually fail them? You can call out the name of the reel if you care to, but my intent is to not to create a reel bashing thread. I'm just curious if when at the business end of a fight, have you had a reel fail.
I've had two. A Lamson Velocity free spooled on me when the spool disengaged during a steelhead fight. I'm not talking about the spool coming loose, I'm talking about the drag simply going to free spool. It was fixable.
An English Made Battenkill Barstock III drag disengaged and went free spool on me during a significant fish run. I sent it back to Orvis, they repaired it, but the fish was lost and the reel did fail.
Of all the fish I've caught and all the time actually having fish on the reel, I've had two failures. That's it. I'm not excusing any failure, but my rate has been pretty low.
In my years of fly fishing, I have yet to have a reel fail. That being said, I was a very casual angler with low end gear that fished every now and again. Now I've moved on to much nicer gear and fish much more often for much gnarlier game. I have yet to have a reel fail but Im sure it will at some point. I did have a spinning reel one year decide while fighting a trout it was going to stop reeling. After the fish was out I messed with it some then there was a pop and some springs and a little disc thing popped out from behind the spool. Reel went back to reeling, drag still functioned as needed...kept on going. Reel is still in my truck as my never be without fishing stuff rod, it runs on gravel and watr as lube. oil just causes it to spit parts haha.
I've had the plastic escapement ring break in a Ross Rhythm causing a free spool. Not long after I sold all of my Ross reels. It wasn't out of angler or anything, my Ross's served me well over the years but I decided that the plastic parts in the drag were a weak link I didn't want to live with anymore.
My hardy Marquis Salmon 1 failed me on a ~15lb salmon; It fetched up solid as the fish started to run and I mistakenly thought the reel handle had caught on my pfd. Later it happened when I was stripping off line and I discovered there was a loose rivet on a pawl post which caused the spool to jam. I had it fixed and still love the reel. Just one of those things.
Closest Ive had to failure was a "squeaky" Bauer McKenzie. It is my only reel with a cork drag. I hadn't used it in 2years, took it out and it was squeaky. Got home and oiled it and it still squeaked. I called Bauer and they told me to put a lot of their lube on the cork and let it soak in.
I had a Galvan Outback that had the drag adjustment malfunction, it had full lock or virtually no drag, nothing in between. I sent it to Galvan, explained that I had picked it up on EBay and wanted it repaired and would be willing to pay for their service. They sent it back fixed with a note saying no payment required. I called them and explained I didn't want them to fix my reel for free seeing how I had purchased it second hand, but they insisted. Now that is customer service! Since then I have bought a couple different Galvan Torques.
Last year while up in the Wind River Mtns, I dropped an Orvis Battenkill III on a large flat rock, the handle busted completely off. When I got back home I used some super glue on it, its functional as a backup reel, but kind of annoying that the handle no longer rotates.
While in Alaska I used an Orvis Battenkill fly reel for catching salmon, no way the clicker would provide enough drag but I got pretty proficient at palming, but eventually the clicker completely failed, I still used the reel for another three years, but you had to be really careful as it would over-run easily if you weren't careful as there was NO drag.
I have one of the original Lamson Litespeeds that the reel spool no longer seats completely into the reel and when in use the fly line keeps coming out of the opening between the reel and the spool. I need to send that back in but just haven't got around to it.
It's generally accepted that the Berkley Specialist was the worst fly reel ever made but I have to think that those people never had a Cabela's Graphite.
I've owned both and you don't want either.... and now that I think about it, my Martin Classic is no prize for that matter.
But these are all $25 +/- reels.... so what do you expect ?? a Medalist ??
Really good topic of discussion Chi, this should be an interesting read by the time it's finished. Kudos on this one mate
I remember that failure of your BBS and caught a glimpse of that fish. I'd bet somewhere I have a photo of you fishing that hole on that particular occasion.
I've only had one mechanical failure. It was a Cabelas Prestige reel, which was made by Okuma. Similar to the Sierra Series. The caliper froze up and did not engage with the disc, which resulted in a free spool. I tried palming the rim, applied too much pressure and lost the fish when the line snapped. The reel went back to Cabelas and the replacement never had a problem the few times I fished it. It has since moved on and no longer in my possession.
The only other time I had a "failure' was again chasing steel with a Lamson Velocity. The drag never gave me problems but my line got stacked up on one side of the spool and would not take in any more line. Once I figured out what was going on, I released some line, which in turn caused me to lose the fish. I'm chalking that up to my own error, I think the side pressure had something to do with that. But like S&S has professed, I tend to shy away from spools that are too wide and prefer a more narrow spool.
First let me say that I take extremely good care of my equipment. I choose my rods and reels very carefully sometimes spending a fair sum of money. I never take my good fortune for granted by abusing my gear.
That said I have had a couple failures over the years. The first was a Marryat about twenty years ago, it was a model similar to the current CMR. This was a very light, very cool looking reel that had a pretty intricate clutch bearing mechanism. On this little gem, if the most minuscule amount of grit found it's way into the supposedly sealed assembly the reel would completely lock up. This happened twice, after the second time I cleaned it up and traded it off.
The second failure came from a Lamson LP3, the clutch bearing failed and the reel went into free spool. I called Lamson and they sent me a half dozen of the clutch bearing assemblies.
It is late at night for me and perhaps I will get into some tales of poor reels-lost fish tomorrow but lets be cognizant of the obvious: you can't have as many reel models on the market as we do without many of them being JUNK. Every maker wants his own unique design and there are only a handful of proven ones. Parts that can loosen, tolerances that can suck in line or leader, handles that taper INWARD, counterbalances that protrude, drag knobs without detents, spools that flex, cheap bearings, springs, bushings, plastic parts in general, castings made after 1990, stupid aspect ratios, recesses that can entrap water and worse saltwater....I'll think of more endemic flaws tomorrow that infect far more than half the fly reels out there and, bargain prices (or not) notwithstanding, they are JUNK!
One need not buy high-end if budget will not permit, there are several fine mid-priced reels and some reliable inexpensive reels but poor design that causes loss of the fish of a lifetime was no bargain. Be selective, analytically comparative and try and eschew brand-based assumptions.