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  1. #1

    Default Custom Fly Reels

    Hey everyone, I'm an engineering student at Cornell University, I live in Michigan when I'm not at school, and am an avid fly fisherman. I am thinking about ways to come up with money for school and was wondering about the plausibility of making custom machined fly reels. I was thinking incorporating cool designs on the outside of the reel housing (opposite the spool). I could come up with a few standard designs and leave room for custom work per customer request. Would there be interest amongst the fly fishing community here? If I kept prices low and quality high do you think anyone would give them a shot? Let me know what you think.

    Moderators: I'm not advertising any business here I'm just exploring the possibility and doing market research before making an investment. If you feel this crosses the line on the rules, feel free to remove the posting.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Custom Fly Reels

    I think there is always a market for custom tackle...just remember you would need a high end lathe and milling machine for the proper tolerances custom reels deserve.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Lake of the Woods/Rainy River Minnesota Canada border

    Default Re: Custom Fly Reels

    I think it's a great idea. I kind of thought about it a while back myself. If you saw the Fly Fish America that had the "Inside Ross Reels" article (2009 Gear guide), they showed them cutting reels from aluminum blocks with a CNC machine. Anyone can buy a CNC. If you come up with a good drag design that doesn't get you in hot water with somebodys patent, you should be good to go. Maybe figure out a way to anodize designs in the surface like Abel ( may be patented ), or just cool colors. I like the custom cutout idea. Like the rims Jesse James does in rims with his CNC. I think West Coast Choppers did it also in some of them like the Spider Man chopper. Reels have the potential for some cool and creative weight reduction. Actually, some of the spey guys would like a little less reduction. Might be a market there just for the custom weight aspect. I had a hard time getting a reel heavy enough to balance my 15' Meiser.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Central Florida

    Default Re: Custom Fly Reels

    Hi Spencer,

    I am afraid that quality low cost reels are already being made in China and Korea.

    Here is the problem, unless you have a well equipped shop the low cost/high quality will be hard to achieve. If you have to do everything on a lathe and milling machine one at a time you can't produce enough product to make it profitable. If you buy CNC equipment then your cost per unit goes up to pay for the machinery. Even if you could produce a quality low cost product in volume you are then faced with advertising and promoting the product. I just don't see it happening for a college student.

    When it comes to custom reels low cost is relative. Can you make a better reel than Abel's Creek or Trout model. They run in the $250 to $300 range with top notch quality. The Galvan OB is in that same range with equal quality. So if you can't compete with these then how about something cheaper.

    If you drop down a hundred bucks in price then you are competing with Orvis and Cabelas. If you make $100 reels then you competing with Redington and the low end of Cabelas and your cost/profit goes to heck.

    To answer you question, if you could make a low cost quality custom reel would we buy it. I think some would but I don't thing the quantity sold would help you through school. The unknown here is your ability to make the reels your self and how much you would have to charge. With a low cost reel you are competing with China and Korea. With the higher cost reels you will be competing with the US makers that make some of the best reels in the world. If you make a mid-priced reel then you have competition from over seas and the US.

    Now if you are considering designing your own reel and have it made by someone else, then I don't think that will help you through school either. For some reason I think this may be what you are planning. Anything that you might come up with will require some seed money and that may be hard for a college student.

    You are an engineering student so I think your first step is to do a cost/profit analysis. You may be graduated by the time you get that all figured out. Then tell us your features and price and we can tell you if we would buy it.

    One area that I think China and Korea has not figured out is how to make a low cost quality reel that is LITE. If you could offer that combination I think you would have a better chance.


  5. #5

    Default Re: Custom Fly Reels

    Frank, Thanks for the constructive criticism. When I came up with this idea my intention was to offer something unique that would be fun to make and maybe earn some money at the same time. My intention was not to put myself through school on this idea, my wonderful parents have that covered for me. I'm not looking to reinvent the wheel, just to give it some character. Diver Dan mentioned the cutout housing similar to what Jesse James has done with motorcycle wheels, this is what I am going for. I'm just looking to offer a solid fly reel that a costumer could purchase and have it be his own, with none like it, something unique and personal

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    South Texas

    Default Re: Custom Fly Reels

    I think there's a market for what you're after, and I've got a solution for the drag issue- skip it. There's tons of reels out there with great drags, and generally speaking, those trusted the most are expensive reels made by large companies. I'd look into doing custom light trout reels with a really great click drag. For examples, look at Abel's Creek or TR series, or an old Ross Colorado if you can find one to look at.

    For customization ideas, on the housing side you could do a fish design on the top and sides, and the buyers initials on the bottom.

    I'd rather hunt fish than bait deer any day.

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