I've been bass fishing for 25+ years, decided to pick up fly fishing this summer and I'm thoroughly enjoying it. Mostly fishing tailwaters and will also be fishing some wild streams in southern Missouri.
I have a couple of 5 wt rods - a Scott that is a loaner and a BPS rod.
I'm looking to buy a reel, something that will serve me well for years to come. I've done some searching on my own but haven't seen much in comparisons or what reel is better than another or why. I've seen many good comments about the Lamson Konic, although I'm not opposed to spending more than that.
Do I want a reel with a high tech drag system or one with a simple one?
Do I want a reel with a plain finish, a durable finish, or something custom?
Does it matter if the reel is made in the USA?
How important is customer service after the sale?
Will the company be around tomorrow?
How much am I willing to spend?
Drag system - Disk drags offer a wide range of settings from free spool to super high resistance. Some drags add minimal weight to the reel. Some add a lot. Click and pawl drags offer just enough resistance to prevent the reel from overrunning from a pissy fish. These drags add minimal weight to the reel.
Finish - Some are plain. Some are more durable. Some are custom for those who want something special.
Origin - Where the reel is made is important to some. Some don't care.
Customer service - Many reel companies will service your reel years down the road for a small service fee. Some charge for just shipping. Some charge for parts and shipping.
Longevity of the company - Reel companies have come and gone. It is nice to know if a reel company will be around for any service years down the road.
Cost? - That's up to the consumer. Some buy an inexpensive reel because it is just a line holder. Some buy expensive reels because they like the most high tech features or something totally custom.
Beeing a reel manufacturer myself I get this question a lot. Also having a small store (very, very small) to supply myself and my friends with fly fishing tackle that is hard to get in my town (Icelandic fishing village), I get many beginners coming to ask about tackle for beginners.
I took the view very early in this business to be honest. So I say to most people starting out in fly fishing not to buy my reel. My reel are high quality reel and, to be honest, more expensive than many other reels.
So I tell people that are starting out to spend their money on the rod, line and flies before they invest in an expensive reel. When they have falling in love with the sport and found out for theselves what their preferences are. What kind of fish they will fish for and figured out the hard way, what their preferences are in terms of tackle that fit them... then they can come to my to check out my reels. I am certain they will like my reels, and if they are in the market for a high quality reel in that price range, I hope I will get a fair chance.
Well, that was the longest speach I have ever written to explain why people should not buy my reel
I have a Lamson Konic, and like it. It's certainly a nice reel. I've found that most reels are up for the job (Especially when used in freshwater) . I fish with my Lamson Konic often, but feel equally at home with a Pflueger Medalists, Martins, and just about anything else I have tried.
Most of it just comes down to a personnel choice, and what you want out of your reel. I found that I most enjoy reels that allow me to run the drag on a very low setting, and fight the fish by palming the rim (There are lots of reels in many price ranges that would allow me to do this). I don't think anybody really needs anything more than a Medalist could provide.
Some people like to drive a Porsche, others are fine with a Kia. Both cars will generally perform the job they were designed to do. The Lamson Konic was my most expensive fly reel, and my only regret in it's purchase, is that it is more reel than I needed.
Just to give you some other inexpensive alternatives to Allen & Co's reels (which I don't have any experience with but obviously have a lot of Member support), take a look at Orvis Battenkill Bar Stock (BBS) reels. They are a quality-machined reel, very light, hard to beat on price, and there's no one better on standing behind their products nor been in the business longer (at least in the U.S.). I think for size 5-6 (maybe even 7) sized rods and lines, the reel's function is primarily to hold line, but the BBS reels I have with their click & pawl drags do a great job and compare favorably with the many Hardy Marquis click-&-pawl reels I have, both in quality of workmanship as well as drag function.
In sum, for the 5-weight you're looking for, I wouldn't drop a lot of bucks. It'll primarily be used for storing line, and once you're more into the sport, you'll know whether you want to put more bucks into your reel. But right now, there are a lot of things that take higher priority for your dollars.
If you are having a good time and plan to continue in this sport, you should buy the best gear you can afford. Three reasons: 1. You will never regret having high quality tackle because it won't let you down when you need it most. 2. It probably comes with a lifetime warranty and a manufacturer who will stand behind it. 3. If you ever decide to get out of the sport, you can probably sell it for a good price as it will hold its value longer.
If you are looking at the Konic, and say you can afford a little (or a lot more), check out the Guru and the Litespeed. They are both fully machined reels. The Litespeed is incredibly light and is made for tailwater fishing with light rods and leader.
I have not fished the Allen reels, but went to the website after reading this thread and I have to say that they would fit my definition of quality tackle at a great price. I might pick one up for my 6 weight. I like the look, the drag, and the company attitude. That doesn't mean I don't love my Ross and Lamsons, but I am very willing to give something new a try.
I agree you should check out the Allen reels, but FYI - The Orvis Barstock reels are currently on sale. BBS reels are fully machined with a great warranty - I have a couple of them on lightweight rods (3wt & 5wt).