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  1. Default The Finest Reels you can Ill Afford NOT to buy

    Fly Fishing with Doug Macnair:
    A Product Update©
    The Finest Fly Reels you can Ill Afford
    Not to Buy – “The 100 Series”

    Doug Macnair

    I’ll bet you’ve never read an article that began with a title like this. I’ll also bet that few of us can think of much, if anything, we can ill afford not to buy … that is, unless you are a dedicated fisher of flies who stumbles across a new gadget. Most of you familiar with my work know that I am not given to making outlandish statements. For me to make such a statement means something special has come along … and indeed it has!

    Up front, I’m going to give you the secret codes that subsequently will be required to open the site of the 100 Series. You may select any one of the following: 101 Reel; 102 Reel; 103 Reel; 104 Reel. Why could these codes be important? Suppose I told you that a few dollars from your pocket could buy a beautiful fly reel fabricated from machined aircraft grade aluminum anodized in a highly polished silver finish. Suppose I told you that the reel is equipped an outstanding central disc drag that is one of the smoothest that I’ve ever had the pleasure to fish. For a novel change, the reel’s spool actually attaches to the reel by a big knurled knob that quickly screws the spool to the frame – no stupid little spring or lever that’s apt to get lost during the cleaning process. All of these reels are equipped with 2 precision ball bearings and a single clutch roller bearing. (For those of you without a calculator, that adds up to three. As you will see, these reels are nicely vented to minimize weight and lend themselves to easy maintenance.

    O.K., I’ve baited you long enough … It’s time for pictures. These first two show you a generic view of how these reels appear in any of the available four sizes. Pretty? You bet! The only reel I’ve seen that I thought was prettier was the Charlton I reported on a couple of years ago. By the way, the 100’s smooth performance is very much like the Charlton.

    The third photo[1] of the drag and ball bearing will give you an idea as to why. These reels are quality throughout, beautifully machined and polished, and fitted to extremely close tolerances. While I profess no expertise in mechanical things, these reels feel, look and act like reels costing hundreds of dollars more. Ask yourself this question: how many quality fly reels do you own that are equipped with three ball bearings?

    The four reels featured range in size from the 101, perfect for 3/4-weight lines; to the 102, best for 5/6-weight lines; the 103, designed for 7/8-weight lines; culminating in the newly arrive 104 for line weights 9/10. To give you an idea of their light-weight, consider the 101 weighs 140 grams, the weight of a 5-weight line under the AFTMA standards; the 102 weighs in at 170 grains, very close to the AFTMA standard for a 6-weight, 160 grains; the 103 tallies 226 grains, very close to the weight of an AFTMA 8-weight line, 210 grains. I think that’s quite an accomplishment! As of today, I am pleased to announce the “100 Series” is available in various colors to include black (B), gold (G), and gunmetal (GM).

    So who do we attribute this marketing miracle to? The name is Angler’s Roost Enterprises, A.R.E. for short. It turns out that John W. Kuehn, the President of A.R.E. has had a longstanding passion to make quality fly fishing equipment available to dedicated fly fishers at a price that doesn’t wreck the family’s checkbook.

    Little question that John is succeeding in his quest: The little 101 depicted in this article cost me $49.98 at auction on eBay. Think about that for a moment – $49.98! After opening the box, I couldn’t help feeling a little guilty … sort of like I had stolen it. John operates an eBay store and every week loads the auction with choice items that you can bid on. On eBay, his name (seller ID) is bobo00700. To find John’s shop on eBay, go to eBay’s main page and enter the magic code I gave at the beginning. Simply enter any of the following in the search window: 101 Reel; 102 Reel; 103 Reel; 104 Reel. Press <enter>. When the window opens, cursor down until you see “#101, 102, 103, or 104 Machined Aluminum Fly Reel,” and you’re there!

    Anglers Roost also sells directly at what John calls a “sell now” retail price. Email John at or call (716) 565-9838. His address is A.R.E., 5820 Main Street, Suite 502, Williamsville, NY 14221.

    Most of you probably think this is the perfect place to end the article. And while you would be right, I am going to continue for a bit longer. You see, John is also into both rod and reel design. In fact, it’s John’s rods that first attracted me … browsing around his eBay auction site I noticed an ad for a little 6.5-ft., IM-6 fly rod, offered at auction for $59.95. After reading the write-up, I bid and won the little rod. When it arrived, I rigged it and hurried outside … after a few casts, I loved it! Then, sad to say, the little rod snapped beneath the wrapping of the second guide … I sort of figured that was it. On a fluke, I called A.R.E. and spoke to John who immediately told me to return the rod for replacement. In short, I did and he did. Seems A.R.E. backs their products with a 5-year warranty against defects. The little rod remains one of my favorites.

    A.R.E also has a 7-piece traveler plus several others. His “sell now” price for these IM-6 rods is a bargain in anyone’s market, $89.00. All are of John’s design... It follows that there should be a few lines to go along with the rods … and there are: choose either 4 or 5-weight floater in both weight forward and double-taper or the 6 and 8-weight floaters soon to arrive. I must confess that I’ve been throwing the WF-5-F for the “sell now” price of $19.95. It’s hard, if not impossible to tell the difference between the A.R.E. line and others costing $50.00 to $65.00.

    The article, however, is not about rods; it’s about reels – and more than that, a man called John Kuehn and his dream of affordable goodies for us nutty fly fishers. Years ago, almost back to the time of the Druids and Stonehenge, the reel of reels was considered by most to be the Julius Vom Hofe. A clicker-drag reel, it was then and remains now, one tough reel. In its heyday the Vom Hofe was state-of-the-art. Of course, as time passed enter John, his design concepts, and the Vom Hofe was updated and made better than it was originally. Long gone are the Bakelite side walls replaced by space-age nylon. These Vom Hofe re-productions are available form A.R.E. at a “sell now” price of around 100 bucks. Take a look:

    One of the things John has done is to add a nylon buffer to the end of the axle. Tighten the knurled axle nut and you increase the drag placed on the reel by the clicker. Be assured -- this is a very strong reel with the strongest clicker I’ve yet encountered. Designed for 7-weight lines, if this clicker-drag won’t slow the run of a steelhead, I’ll turn in my Dewey badge. There are two other models in the wings – one 2.25 inch diameter and the other with a 2.75 inch diameter. Fishing either of these smaller Vom Hofes with 3 to 5-weight lines ought to be a hoot. Scheduled to arrive before Christmas, what a neat gift it would make for your favorite fly fisher. For a little Nostalgia, it’s hard to beat John’s reproduction of the classic Vom Hofe.

    Like Pooh waiting to refill his honey pot, it’s hard to wait for the next additions to the A.R.E. line.
    - 30 –

    © Copyright: Douglas G. Macnair, 2007.

    [1] All photographs used in this article are through the courtesy of A.R.E.

  2. Default Re: The Finest Reels you can Ill Afford NOT to buy

    Doug is right on with this review ! I just picked up a #102 (5/6) on the auction and have been messing around with it a bit. This is a very smooth reel with a nice drag. It seems very well made and is certainly good value for the money. I intend to put it thru some rigorous use very shortly.

    A few nits to pick :
    1) The easy change from left hand retrieve to right hand is B.S. It involves unfastening one of those devilish little snap rings which will definitely go flying to parts unknown once you put the pressure to it. Better do it inside a box if you don't happen to have a supply of snap rings that size handy. Definitely don't try it at stream side !

    2) It would be helpful if the instructions told you how much backing it held !

    3) Instructions are also silent on lubrication/maintenance

    4) Mine is silent on the issue of a Warranty.

    Doug is putting out some great advice though - this reel is a winner.


  3. Default Re: The Finest Reels you can Ill Afford NOT to buy

    I can't find anything on these on the web. Where should I be looking, or with what search phrases?

  4. Default Re: The Finest Reels you can Ill Afford NOT to buy

    They are available on ebay auctions. Anglers Roost Enterprises is the seller and the code they trade under is "bobo 00700". Go to flyfishing and search for "reel 101" or "reel #102" or whichever size you're interested in.

  5. #5

    Default Re: The Finest Reels you can Ill Afford NOT to buy

    I have one of the 102 reels and find it to be of good quality. It is smooth quite and has a controlable drag. The reel is machined from aluminum, not cast. I showed it to the local Bass Pro fly dept MGR and he went to ebay and bought two. They are a bargain, however it is not like buying a packaged reel from the local shop. Instructions are vague and the warranty? But I have spoken with John and he seems to be a good businessman.

  6. Default Re: The Finest Reels you can Ill Afford NOT to buy

    I just bought one of these reels from ebay after reading the reviews on this site (I am eagerly awaiting its arrival). I was hoping those who have bought the reel could provide others with information that apparently is missing from the instructions. For example how much backing the reel can hold (I am interested in the #102), proper lubrication and maintenance ect. Thanks

  7. Default Re: The Finest Reels you can Ill Afford NOT to buy

    Depending on your line of choice, the 102 will hold about 100 yards of 20# backing ... as for salt water maintenance, I use a rinse (if really dirty), canned air to remove water, WD-40 and a tad of Quantum's Red Sauce.

    If you want to take it down all the way, be careful of the C-clamp. Use as box to insure you don't send it to never-never land.


  8. Default Re: The Finest Reels you can Ill Afford NOT to buy

    I just received my 102, today. Yes, while any instructions are all but nonexistent and no mention of any warranty, it is still a very very nice reel. I am so excited to get out in the yard and start casting. How will I make it until my big trip next year???

  9. Default Re: The Finest Reels you can Ill Afford NOT to buy


    Had trouble logging the photos, so if you don't mind, let's try it this way... the first 4 are of the 100 series to include the drag. The 5th and 6th shot is of the Julius Vom Hofe.

  10. Default Re: The Finest Reels you can Ill Afford NOT to buy

    Are they basically silent when reeling?

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