A New Custom-Built Dickerson 8014 Guide .....

Lewis Chessman

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I've been thinking of buying a bamboo rod for a while. I already have three old 'boo rods, two were my late uncle's and a hefty Shakespeare I found at a market 20 years ago, but I've never fished them. The Shakey felt too heavy to be enjoyable and my uncle's old rods are bent and a bit beaten up. They hold a great sentimental value and I'd hate to break them. My Uncle Alastair was instrumental in my learning to fly fish as a boy and I liked the idea of buying a usable bit of bamboo, old or new, 'in his memory' so to speak, especially as I've been enjoying slower, softer graphite rods of late.

Last night (after a few drams, I admit) I checked the New Listings on eBay and this had just been posted .....

This is a beautiful new and unused 8 ft split cane fly fishing rod. It has been artisan crafted in Canada and includes the rod bag and a lovely Alpine travel case. It has a Dickerson 8014 guide taper 6/7 wt. It has two tips. The ferrules, stripping guide and reel seat are alloys of nickel silver. The stripping guide is made of amber and the reel seat insert is oil finished amboyna wood. The tip tops and snake guides are chrome steel. The whipping is Pearsall's Naples Jasper silk and the bamboo is finished with spar varnish.
This rod would make a lovely and useful present for a keen fly fisher.
I did a crash course in Dickerson rods courtesy of here and the Classic Rod Forum and decided pretty swiftly that at the Buy It Now price asked I could afford to take a chance.

The rod is now in the post and I am rather excited. :)

I don't yet know the maker's name but the components listed are of good quality and for a little over $50 I may have bought a bargain. I've found one Canadian builder, McKillip, who uses all the fittings mentioned but he doesn't list the 8014 Guide amongst his offerings so ..... until it arrives I'm bursting with anticipation, hence my irresistible urge to share with you all. :teef:

It may be a bean pole, or a beanstalk leading to a 'golden egg', I'll soon know. If it has some quality, an 8 ft 6/7 weight with the Guide's beefy backbone should be great to fish with for sea trout and grilse on spate streams and small rivers here in the (often windy) Hebrides.

I read that it's often used for river drift fishing in N. America. I'd normally look to a longer rod, say 10 to 10 1/2 foot for drifting lochs (the length helps to work the bob on a three fly cast). Am I right in thinking most folk in the Americas would use this for delivering a single streamer?

All being well I'll post some pics when it has arrived. I'll have to dig out my uncle's old Condex reel and see if that marries well. It'd be sweet if I could use it though - it may look like a tart dating a tramp!

If anyone has any thoughts or experience of this model I'd be very interested to read more.
Cheers,
James.

Edit: I've just noticed there's a Bamboo Rod forum! :doh: Maybe a kindly mod might move this there? Thanks.
 
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moucheur2003

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I'm not familiar with the 8014 model in particular, but Dickerson was one of the masters.

In the old days when bamboo was king, the most commonly used lines were heavier than they are today. The line specifications standards were different, but what would today be rated a #4 or #5 would then have been the choice for the very fussiest dry-fly work. The equivalent of a #6 or #7 was probably the most popular all-round trout line, and even #8s were not unthinkable as trout tackle. I can imagine that your model might have been popular as an all-round trout rod for bigger rivers and still water, and versatile enough to also serve for bass, pike, pickerel, and maybe even grilse or smaller salmon.

Certainly it would be a good choice for single streamers, but I think you'll find it's capable of much more. (It's worth remembering, though, that in the bamboo heyday adding weight was not typical.)
 

Lewis Chessman

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Thanks, as always, for your thoughts, moucheur2003. I'll have to try a range of lines when it arrives and the wind drops a little to see what feels best- the remnants of those terrible hurricanes have reached us and it's a wee bitty blustery at the mo.

From what I've read you're spot on - bigger rivers and bass get mentioned a lot along with casting against a good wind. Any salmon ten pounds or over is a big fish in Lewis so I'm sure it'll cope with anything I may meet here.
Hey, I can dream, can't I?

You've made me remember my first fly rods from the '70s, a Daiwa and an ABU Farflyte in 6 - 8 wts, then considered suitable for all situations from a 4 oz brownie to a 20 lb salmon! And they were, in their own way. :rolleyes:
I saw a Sue Burgess Diamondback Graphite 5 - 8 wt on eBay today. Versatile tool, huh? :D
You've got to hand it to the marketing man who thought, ".... but if we tell them it's only good for one weight ....." :icon_idea $$$$$ :icon_idea

I've rather enjoyed reading a little of Lyle Dickerson's history and of his importance in American rod-building history. One of the most rewarding aspects of our sport is, for me at least, that it takes one into so many different areas of life and to new disciplines. Bamboo is yet another fascinating avenue to wander down.
Where, I wonder, will it lead? :shades:
 

melvynsegal

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I have the same Dickerson taper from blanks obtained from Chris Carlin, a very talented Alaskan bamboo rod maker.The blanks finished out beautifully, and I happily fish it for smallmouth bass near my home in Ottawa, Canada. It has great feel, and will cast about as far as you wish with one haul. For those who enjoy bamboo, it would be a great rod for larger dries, nymphs, and streamers on big Western rivers. ... big careful of the "bamboo bug". It can ruin you!..:)
 

Lewis Chessman

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Ha-ha! Thanks, Melvyn, most encouraging. Honestly, I'm like a kid before Christmas here although I might have bought a pup and I'm in for a crash .....
(In '70 I asked my folks for an Action Man (G.I. Joe) and got an 'Action Buddy', a cheap Chinese copy with immovable limbs and a soft, squeezable head!).
.... Or I might have chanced upon a dream come true!?

Or maybe something in between. ;)

Still, I did grow to love that crappy 'Action Buddy'! We won the war, you know! :thmbup:
 

melvynsegal

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I think you got yourself an Action Man and not an Action Buddy. Worst comes to worse, you'll have another stake for your tomatoes, but I'm optimistic. There are a number of good Canadian makers. Hopefully, you will share the name and send some pics....
 

Lewis Chessman

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I certainly will, Melvyn! It should be here by Saturday. Our trout season has ended but there's a chance I can get to a river before the salmon season ends on the 15th. I might go and cast a bit of hookless fluff if it comes too late, just to feel the action. :)

My hopes are high, to be honest. It's not a blank one would choose to build unknowingly and the components are quality .....

No pressure, but if you might post some photos of your Dickerson too I'd very much appreciate it. :)
 

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Hi Lewis,

I've been away again and just now discovered your thread. I do hope that you've gotten the deal of a lifetime on this :)

By the way, I'll save myself a PM and ask if you would please post the Willie Gunn story into the flies for Spey fishing sub forum as a thread. If you would be so kind I will make it a Sticky atop the list. I found that tale to be perfect, you know the one I am referring to right? "Ma'am I am Willie Gunn", that one :)
 

Lewis Chessman

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Hello, Ard, welcome home! :)
Thanks for the good wishes with the rod. Half of me thinks it's just too good to be true .... It'll probably turn out to be 8 inches long rather than 8 feet! :fishing:

I've posted a thread called 'A Wee Willie Gunn Story ...' in 'Flies and Fly Tying for Spey Fishing' as it seemed an appropriate place - but feel free to move or edit it as you see fit. I added a link to Willie Gunn's obituary from 1996 as there's a rather telling tale about his watching someone fishing down the wrong bank - his bank! I'll say no more here but take it out if you just want the funny bit.

Btw, did you manage to give your W-G's a swim this season? You said you might .....

Cheers,
James.
 

Ard

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I stuck the thread Lewis, thank you. We had a bit of an off season and I answered that by spending a great deal of time getting work accomplished at the cabin so no fish were taken on the Gunn's. There are however at least 4 weeks of fishing left for me and I may give them a go. I do catch fish using very similar patterns tied Northern European style but I shy from orange usually when fishing steelhead. Perhaps if I go heavy on the black and the Peacock herls and sparse on the orange red I'll have more confidence with it.

I'll remember to watch for updates on the rod when it arrives, did you get any form of tracking for it or are we in a wait and see shipping process?
 

Lewis Chessman

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It was posted on Monday and tracking simply says, ''In transit''. It might well arrive tomorrow lunchtime. The camera is charged and ready and if the weather's decent I might try to get arty down at the little River Dell estuary.

Like you I've had an off season. I picked up a groin strain back in June which kept me off work and the river for the rest of the season. Also, my estate has a new owner and I doubt I'll be needed there next year so my Spey days may be at an end. It's a great shame as I've enjoyed the people and the place immensely these past four years. Also, I had high hopes of hooking a 10 lb plus sea trout this summer but the injury put paid to that. However, I did catch my biggest salmon to date, a 22 lber, back in early June. Hell of a good first run but pretty dogged after that, as bigger fish can be. Still, happy to have joined 'The Twenty Club'. :thumbsupu

Going sparsely on the orange might help, especially if your water is clear. I rather like an orange fly (for Atlantic salmon) when the water is stained with peat though, to be fair, Cascades and Flamethrowers catch a lot of fish here in all conditions. It's not a colour I rush to for the sea trout, however, so maybe they and steelheads have similar tastes? :)
Hope the cabin's getting comfy! All the best,
James.
 

Lewis Chessman

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Le Canne Canadien - Il Est Arrivé!

At last! It's here and .....
Well, every silver lining has a cloud ....

First, the rod tube: A handsome, worn-suede effect Alpine travel case. In good overall condition but the thin, plastic screw thread is breaking away from the body. No biggy.




And here's the rod. I had to use flash and that has given the whippings an opaque sheen, not visible under natural light (honest! :) ):
The Reel Seat and Amboyna Wood Insert.


Cork, Keeper Ring and Intermediate Tyings.


The ''Amber'' Stripping Ring. Agate, I think. I hope!

What looks like air bubbles in the varnish (top whipping) is a consequence of the flash & macro lens, I think, as it looks fine in the hand with my 2X specs on.

The Female Ferrule.


The Male Ferrule, Top 1.


The Tip, Top 1.

This last intermediate wrap is the least tidy of all, but bear in mind that I used a macro lens. In the flesh it looks fine to my old eyes!

The Tip, Top 2.


Aye, there's the little rain cloud peeing on my party!
I had a think and messaged the seller saying that although one tip arrived broken I was happy enough with what I've received at the price paid. I am. I then asked if she had any further information about it as there is no indication of the maker on the rod, the bag or the case.

The wind here is currently 33 - 49 mph so I didn't visit the river, just the garden with a 6 wt and a seven wt on a Tioga 10 L.A. and an STH Turbine Pop 2 respectively. Both reels proved too large in the foot and fell to the grass a few times but in between bending down to pick it up I managed a few casts in the gale, wind to my back.

The 7 wt. handled well once I'd slowed my stroke, very sweetly, in fact. Overheading 45 ft was easy though I'm sure some of that was the breeze carrying the line for me. On the other hand, the force of the wind killed the back cast somewhat. All in all, I reckon that in calmer conditions the 7 will work nicely.

I then tried the 6 wt line which was at still greater disadvantage in the hoolie. I'll try again in better conditions but it definitely felt too light.

By the time I got back inside the seller had responded suggesting that the couriers had mishandled the package and broken the tip. I doubt it but I don't care. I've got a lovely rod for very little money, after all, and the break is at the very tip of the rod. Even I could glue a new top ring on if needs ever must.
She also informed my that the rod was bought for her late brother-in-law whilst in Victoria, B.C. but never used. I've searched for Victoria-based builders but found nothing yet. Nor can I find much about Alpine travel cases beyond a single forum reference from 2013 and a Facebook page, but I don't visit that site myself.

All in all I'm very pleased, just not ecstatic, understandably. It's an Action Man, not an Action Buddy, alright, but one of his arms is broken! :p

Now, I wonder if anyone can help with a reel suggestion as (not surprisingly) the Tioga 10 L.A. reel foot seems too large, as does the STH, a 5/6 wt reel.
Ideally, I need a 7 wt reel which can hold at least 150 yds of 20 lb backing but has a small foot. I was happier with the balance when the heavier Tioga was attached so perhaps something vintage would suit rather than a modern ultra-light model. Budget? No more that £100/$150.

Just one more thing .... I've never used a down-locking ring before and really didn't want to push it down hard over the foot for fear of damaging the seat insert. Might I just be being too gentle or should it snug up easily?

As ever, my thanks for your thoughts,
James.
 

Ard

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Re: Le Canne Canadien - Il Est Arrivé!

Looks fine for the money Lewis!

I'd be leaning toward a St. John if you want the capacity stated, I would think the foot should fit but if you have access to any vintage Hardy reels better to try some first before ordering a reel. I have no clue to the maker but it looks well done enough to me. The stripper does look like agate from here. I have many down locking seats including a slid ring like yours. The trick is to wiggle the reel a bit as you gently snug the ring onto the front of the foot. It is a bit surprising to see a seven weight with sliding ring, most over a five are screw fittings. It may be of Asian origin given the tube and choice of reel seat fittings. Some of the makers believe that the presence of a sliding ring seat gives the aura of quality more so than threaded hardware.

Not really a cane rod expert here my friend just someone who has a few and has admired them for some 50 years. I'd say you did quite well, that tip top is no challenge, you may want to find some winding silk that will match up though. Easier said than done usually when we don't know the origin of the rod. One must wrap some thread onto a thin dowel then treat that thread wrap with spar varnish to produce the color change and find the level of translucency of the original windings. Sounds hard but once you test a couple you get a sharp feel for what you should be shopping for. I'd have a look at built rods which have similar looking threads and then contact the companies / builders and politely ask what the thread is on those rods.

Congratulations on finding an affordable cane rod :)

[Edit] James ??? :confused:

You got me on that one, perhaps I'll still call you Lewis ;)
 

Lewis Chessman

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Hello, Ard, thanks for the virtual handshake! :)

No need to enquire about the thread - in the eBay description the seller states, "The whipping is Pearsall's Naples Jasper silk and the bamboo is finished with spar varnish." (see the op).
One of the things which attracted me (other than the beautiful insert, I'm a sucker for a pretty bit of wood) was how in-depth the description was, as if there was paperwork - but apparently not. Yet she was specific about Victoria and so much else. Fwiw, it was the only item the seller had listed. How, I wonder, did she know to say, ''Dickerson taper''? :confused:
It may well be Asian, I'm not sure at all. My feeling is that it may be by a Canadian hobbyist.

One thing I noticed but not visible in the pics is that the insert is not just a straight, level piece, but tapers on the bottom side only to widen at the cork, preventing the reel ring from sliding up and damaging the handle. It's a nice touch. Do all ring-style inserts do that? I can take a pic if I'm not clear.

I quite agree, though, a 7 wt reel seat has always been a screw affair in my experience but I believe the style is true to the original Dickerson rods. I've read in the past of newer reels not fitting older rods and maybe this is another instance.

A Hardy, huh? I've always shied away from Marquises, Princesses and such royalist-named reels. I know Hardy are quality but I'm not a monarchist. It's just a British class thing with me. :rolleyes: But I guess a St. John isn't too 'Establishment' ..... :D

Oh! 'Lewis Chessman' is simply my user name - I like chess and I live on the Island of Lewis where the wonderful Lewis Chessmen were found ..... but, yeah, I'm really a James. :)
 

moucheur2003

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A Hardy, huh? I've always shied away from Marquises, Princesses and such royalist-named reels. I know Hardy are quality but I'm not a monarchist.
LOL! Scots wha hae, for a' that.

What you need then is a vintage Sharpe's of Aberdeen. Maybe this one:

Sharpes Of Aberdeen “The Gordon” 31/2” Fly Reel Used | eBay

Can't tell you whether the reel foot would fit, though.

I quite agree, though, a 7 wt reel seat has always been a screw affair in my experience but I believe the style is true to the original Dickerson rods.
I'm not a Dickerson expert but I don't think so. Bill "Streamer" Abrams is a bamboo rodsmith here in New England who specializes in Dickerson and Edwards replicas, and I believe his Dickerson screw-lock reel seats are authentic reproductions of the original. Here are his:

Lyle Dickerson tapered copies — Housatonic Rods
 

Lewis Chessman

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Ha-ha! I've got to be careful or we'll wander down the wrong road .... but in fact, I'm an Englishman! I grew up in Scotland, though, and have always loved the Highlands and Islands - and that uncanny ability many Scots have to make all men equal. ;)

A wee tale from the riverbank I heard this year:

Alan, the Beat Gillie, had been looking after six gentlemen all week. Five had caught several fish but one had drawn a blank. Eventually he plucked up the courage to ask Allan why his friends had all done well but he hadn't.

"That's because ya cannae fush, Sir." came the dry reply. :eek:

Hey, he said, 'Sir', so what could the man do? :icon_twis

Edit: Yes, a Sharpes might suit ..... :)

---------- Post added at 09:30 PM ---------- Previous post was at 08:29 PM ----------

I'm not a Dickerson expert but I don't think so. Bill "Streamer" Abrams is a bamboo rodsmith here in New England who specializes in Dickerson and Edwards replicas, and I believe his Dickerson screw-lock reel seats are authentic reproductions of the original. Here are his:

Lyle Dickerson tapered copies — Housatonic Rods
Having had a look again I think you are right. Those ring seats I've seen have all been on custom rods.
Interestingly, Mark McKellip of Mitchigan, who builds some Dickerson tapers writes about his ring seats swelling towards the cork as mine does, that's probably where I got the idea from. But all original images I'm seeing are screw-down. Thanks!
 

Ard

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Of course you know I meant no disparagement with the remark about possible Asian roots I trust. I was just typing some thoughts, I do think it's a fine rod regardless of maker and at the cost it borders on fabulous! The Hardy's, just a year ago I changed my username from Hardyreels to my first name here. I was a minor collector of sorts in the past century but sold all but the few that have been used for years.
 

Lewis Chessman

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No worries, Ard, I agree, there are many skilled craftsmen in Asia as well as in the West and it may well be so. It's just this curious thing that the seller knows so much about the rod's construction - but not the maker! - which makes it rather enigmatic. I must admit, though, I am disappointed to find one tip broken. It must have been in the packing, not in transit, as it was well protected in the bag and a bit of bubblewrap inside the tube. Hey, ho. That's eBay. Last year I picked up a Burkheimer 7' 6 3 wt which arrived with the tip ring separated from the blank. An easy fix but ..... you never really know what's coming through the post, do you?
Frustratingly, our season ends tomorrow and it's still a roaring gale out there so I doubt I'll give it a proper trial until next year.
Plenty of time to find the right reel, then. :)

I was hesitant to mention my daft aversion to Hardy gear as I knew you had/have a fondness for them. I know I'm cutting my nose to spite my face and that they are quality reels - but it's the snobby marketing ethos I dislike. Happily there are many alternatives, particularly U.S.A. made reels from small, independent companies. I'd rather have an E-Type than a Silver Shadow, if you catch my drift? :)
 

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Here's how the Hardy thing went; back in early 1979 I told a friend who operated a sporting goods business I intended to buy an Orvis Far & Fine graphite rod............... He reached under the counter and produced a Hardy Featherweight reel saying that a quality rod like that should have a quality reel. My knowledge of Hardy up to that time was limited to ads I'd seen in Fly Fisherman Magazine. I had never handled one at that point. Now the store this fellow ran was not the type who attracted high end fly fishers but rather hunting enthusiasts and bench shooters, so the reel had languished beneath the counter unseen for several years at the time. He offered me the reel for $65.00 and threw in 2 extra spools for 20 dollars each. I took them.

Later that year I bought the Orvis and to my delight the reel gave excellent balance to the rod once loaded with a #5 line. It took another 15 years before I purchased a Bamboo rod but by then had the acquaintance of a vintage tackle collector who sold me a Princess in rather spotless condition for 150 dollars. My how things had changed cost wise in a slight 15 years huh? After the Princess came aboard I seemed to blunder into various Hardy reels that were sitting in shops with no one clamoring to purchase them. By this time Galvan and countless others had began offering a wide range of reels with drags and old school Hardy's were non gratis in my neck of the woods. So, I bought reels whenever I could, when I had more reels than I could justify I bought rods for some of them. I had a few Perfects, the entire Lightweight line and almost all the Marquis series also. Some I had several of like St. Aidan's and St. Andrew models. Now that I think on it I had 2 of nearly every of their trout reels with many remaining boxed and unused, all were purchased at value level costs.

The big sell off. Sometime around 2007 Hardy announced that they intended to open production facilities in South Korea and that got the attention of the fishing world. For the first time in many years Hardy became the buzz among fly fishermen across America. Even though my collection had reached a point where I really didn't know what to do with any more I had developed a habit of placing reels (Hardy's) on an eBay watch list so I knew what the value was at for them. Every now and then I would still buy one even though I had over 35 reels at the time. It was through eBay that I learned of the move to South Korea, One day I logged onto my account to look at reels and the price market had exploded. Listings stated that these were "British Made" Hardy reels and not "Cheap Korean reels" The prices people were bidding reels up to was mind boggling!

I became an eBay seller when I realized I was sitting on thousands of dollars worth of Hardy reels that I had bought for low prices, some were sold to me at cost by fly shops because they had been gathering dust for years. I really forget what the total take was but do recall some highlights. Highlights like selling some Featherweights and LRH Lightweights for 375 - 400 dollars. Two of my St. Andrew's fetched 1100 dollars and the St. Aidans went high also. Perfects were, well they were Perfect because they went high too. All told I may have quadrupled my investment and perhaps even more but I hadn't kept records of what each one had cost.

The same was true for any Hardy manufactured Orvis CFO model and as luck would have it I was sitting on 8 of them with some being the Screw Back types. They went really high also and had been obtained at 60% of retail when I had bought them years ago.

I retained my original Featherweight, the Princess and one St. Andrew and one CFO IV, all others were liquidated.

When I joined this forum ten years back it was my first experience with the need for a screen name and at the time 'Hardyreels' seemed appropriate. Am I an expert, no but I know a little about the models I collected and those I used often :)

That's that.
 

Lewis Chessman

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Thanks for taking the time, Ard, an interesting story. I had to smile at this:

So, I bought reels whenever I could, when I had more reels than I could justify I bought rods for some of them.
Ach, man, it's a sickness, I tells ya! Where are the charities and counseling services to help us in the dark depths of our depravity? Certainly not here on the forum - we're just a family of enablers! :wavetowel
Glad to hear that you happened to end up on the House of Hardy Pension Scheme, though!

There is no denying the quality of Hardy merchandise and they've led the field in the UK for decades. So, I'm a little surprised that they weren't as popular in the States as here. Price point has been a big factor here - avid low/middle incomers might aspire to a Hardy, the wealthy once-a-year angler would buy them because ''that's what you want''. Their reputation goes before them and I must see three Hardy's to one of any other on the rods of my well-healed guests.

Perhaps shipping costs and taxes pushed up the Stateside costs far, far beyond the pocket of your average blue collar American fisherman? Parts & servicing worries? Poor marketing? Drag v. C&P? Whatever it is, I don't see much about Hardy rods on NAFF, either.

I'm quite open-minded about quality from the Far East, Ard. Hell, British industry is often backward and outdated and South Korea may well turn out a better product than we can with their new plant. Why not? Beyond that ..... it's politics.

As for small company American reels, I'm only just beginning to learn about them, really, having bought Fly Logic (beautiful), Tiogas and STH (Argy, I know but still New World) over the past 18 months. Many companies never sold here so I'm usually getting holiday buys brought back and left in a draw for years - condition tends to be very good but they are scarce. I'm hoping a J. Ryall will pop up on eBay at a good price one day, for instance. I really enjoy the window shopping, tbh. See a reel, research it (gawd bless the 'net!), learn a little more .... Always more to learn!

So ..... when you're not fishing a Hardy reel, what might you choose instead?
 
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