Fly Fishing with Doug Macnair:
A Product Update
Over the years I’ve had the good fortune to own or fish some high-end reels -- reels that rank among the best the industry has to offer in both beauty and function. Some that come to mind include The Waterworks’ Force, Vintage Winston, Abel, T. Juracsik’s Billy Pate, STH’s Turbine Disk, Sage, Tibor, and J. Ryall. There are others I’m sure; however, my knowledge of these is limited to advertising or reputation, not hands-on experience. Nothing, by the way, substitutes for the opportunity to fish, handle, or play with a reel over an extended period of time.
Recently, I was fortunate enough to spend some quality time with a Charlton lightweight trout reel, Model 8350C. Designed as a “configurable” reel for spools of either 1 to 2-weight or 1 to 5-weight, the little jewel is exactly that, a little jewel. When fitted with the 1 to 2-weight spool, the 8350C transforms itself into a large arbor reel capable of adding increased protection to the finest tippets.
Without a doubt, it is the prettiest little reel I have ever handled. The fit, finish, and polish are the best I’ve ever seen in any fly reel, period! Opening a box containing a reel you have never before seen, is, I think, a very special moment in time – look for a word because your first impression is important. In my case, the word that came to mind was awesome! After spending two weeks with the little reel, my first opinion hasn’t changed one bit; in fact, I like it even better!
Consider these observations: the 8350C is the only reel I have ever handled that has absolutely no play between the spool and frame - absolutely none - believe it or not! The reel is silky smooth throughout its range of functions. It offers an extraordinary “no maintenance” sealed disk carbon drag mechanism, quick change spools with positive lockup, and, of course, a lifetime warranty. And by the way, if you ever get the hankering to fish the salt with ultralight tackle such as a 5-weight, this reel is made for the task. Like I said, the Charlton 8350C is a jewel. Just be sure to choose the proper drive. The 8350C isn’t a reel that converts to either a left or right hand retrieve. Instead, it’s an either or situation. For me that’s a right-handed.
Do you need a reel of this quality? Probably not! If your interest is simply catching bream, trout, smallmouth bass, to name but a few -- many reels of lesser cost will attend to those tasks and bring accolades to their manufacturers. On the other hand, you don’t need a top dollar fly rod to catch these fish, either. But, if you’re like me and have reached that stage in life where your equipment stays inside the house on display as opposed to being stashed in the garage, you may be ready for a quality reel. This is especially true if you happen to have acquired a vintage bamboo or top-ranked graphite for little reason other than your personal enjoyment. In this case, you are candidate for a reel like 8350C, not because you need it, but because you want it. I think you will find yourself picking up the little real just to play with.
In truth, I don’t need the Charlton; I simply want it! Call it pride of ownership. To me, it matters not one whit whether others appreciate the quality of this little reel, I do! Reminds me of that old saw, never cast pearls before swine: Once upon a time we made a wise investment in a couple of pieces of furniture made of rosewood with pillows of lambskin and down fill. (These days the investment would be beyond my means.) One day as our guests were departing, the female of this haute pair looked back at the couch and said, “Isn’t it amazing what they can do with plastic these days?” I said, “No, what amazes me is how they can fill the pillows with cheap chicken feathers and make you believe you’re sitting on down.” Then too, I visiting a friend several years ago who took the opportunity to show me his new couch – then some two months old – resplendent with the price tag still pinned to the top. Little wonder that the old show, People are Funny, lasted for so many years … So much for the nouveau riche.
I am confident the Charlton 8350C is a reel you will take pride in owning. Besides fly fishing, you will find it useful to have in hand when contemplating life, the nature of the universe, or simply watching the fire on a cold winter’s night. And when the season opens, guess the name of the reel that will be your constant companion? As I said, one of these days...
That’s it for this the product update.
© Copyright: Douglas G. Macnair, 2003-2005.