You usually find lighter ring seats on rods that take smaller, lighter reels -- say, for line sizes 3 or 4 -- that aren't as likely to shake loose when you wave them around. Typically you see heavier-duty locking seats on rods designed for heavier reels. Your rod builder might have been thinking the dainty ring seat looked more elegant, but without giving much consideration to its actual function.Having had a look again I think you are right. Those ring seats I've seen have all been on custom rods.
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A few years ago, when Jim Murphy was trying to reinvigorate the moribund Hardy marketing effort here in the US, he told me that the quality of Korean metallurgy was so much better than in the US or Britain that they actually could offer a better product for a lower price. The reason was that so much less Korean barstock had to be rejected due to imperfections. The milling and assembly processes were the same anywhere, and labor costs were not significantly cheaper (which surprised me to hear). They kept the manufacturing of only the most elite models in the UK, because for those models the higher price they could get for the British provenance supported the higher cost of finding quality materials in Britain. They did, however, continue to make the very hard alloy click-check teeth in Britain and ship them to Korea for assembly, because the alloys they could get in Korea were not as durable.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 Hell, British industry is often backward and outdated and South Korea may well turn out a better product than we can with their new plant.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.