Orvis CFO III – 30 Years Apart

Ard

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You're my kinda reel guy them Daz. One of these days I'll wright the Hardy Reels saga and post it on the blog here so I know where it is. I've written it on posts but have no clue where it is now. The thesis covers a guy who bought a lot of reels at or near wholesale prices. Some were used by the guy and redundant sizes were just hoarded. The guy bought the entire Lightweight series then the Marquis series, Then decided that the St. George and St. John reels were cool and even added some pretty minty Perfects. Then something happens and he sells the whole works.....................
 

Sirgrumps

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Pardon my ignorance, but I have never understood the appeal of this reel.
Is it basically nostalgia, or that is was one of the first ”quality” fly reel.
 

sweetandsalt

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Pardon my ignorance, but I have never understood the appeal of this reel.
Is it basically nostalgia, or that is was one of the first ”quality” fly reel.
Understand that when the CFO appeared in the late 1970's there were no trout reels with a drag and "large arbor" as a concept had yet to be realized. The go to fine reel for many a trout angler was a Hardy spring and pawl like Princess or LRH Lightweight. CFO introduced a palming rim and a spring tensioning knob instead of a frame mounted screw, very advanced with intelligent design and handsome looks. A point I make above is beloved CFO went through evolutionary development including the addition of machining rather than casting, anodizing over painting in an attempt to keep its classic popularity in harmony with changing times.

In my case I still fish an early Hardy built CFO on a small rod in small steams where appropriate but even on most of my 4-weight outfits now have large arbor disc drag reels for a varity of good reasons. If I were Orvis, and they don't ask me, I would reintroduce CFO as a machined in America, mid to not too large arbor reel with a stacked carbon drag. I would preserve its conservative aesthetics and original grey color with flat surfaces and charge an arm and a leg for it.
 

Sirgrumps

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Grumps
Just read the earlier comments and that should give you an idea, like a good rod a good reel will always be a good reel; designed by Stan Bogdan and produced by Hardy one cannot get much better than that.
Sorry, but I know nothing about Hardy. I'm assuming, based on the discussions, that they are an older English firm that has been making fly fishing equipment for a long time, like Orvis.

I started fly fishing in the late 70's, as a teenager, and just used Pflueger Medalist, that's what I was told to get and that all I got.
I upgraded to a Battenkill after college, and disc drag based reels, when I started working.

To me, a polymer based, injection molded, click and pawl, large arbor reel (think Redington Zero) is all one needs for most trout and fresh water applications. The reel just holds line and some backing. I mean, when was the last time a freshwater fish got into one's backing? (And I have not experience with monster browns, so I plead ignorance there.)

The need for a modern reel design is only really required in saltwater application because of the nature of the fish and the harsh environment.
 

rsagebrush

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I thought backing was for trim and show. Anyways the Medalist is a fine reel, at least the US made ones. The CFO would not be considered a real modern design. The Redingtons are nice too.
 

sweetandsalt

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Sirgrumps, I too started as a teen with a Medalist and bamboo for that mater. Leaving the salt aside, I fish for trout in creeks on up to full size rivers both east ad west. I do seek out naturally reproducing, wild trout rivers where both rainbow and brown trout may achieve adult sizes. If you open the Review thread below this one about the (modern) Hardy rod and reel outfit, I tested and photographed it on the upper Delaware river in NY. I'm not maintaining I hook one on every foray there but do have the privilege to occasionally hook both species in 20+" sizes and it is commonplace for them to show you your colored string and test its rigging integrity. The same is the case, maybe even more so, on major rivers in Idaho and Montana. I favor a rigidly machined, large arbor reel with capacity for 100 yards of backing with a nice smooth incrementally tunable drag. Yes, I can and have brought big fish to net with simpler, lesser endowed reels, hence my personal and historical interest in this CFO story, but it is my intent to bring trout in as efficiently and quickly as possible for safer release as I don't eat them. I'm a grey beard but I enjoy modern tackle. The CFO was modern when I first used it in the late 70's.
 

rsagebrush

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I've been into my backing numerous times steelheading with CFOIV and a V not a bit of a problem palming a reel if you skilled at it, of course sometimes things go south, that happens on any fish with any reel and I don't believe it takes any longer to subdue the fish either. I feel a drag is well, a crutch and rather a drag, overkill. On any other water for rainbows, browns and cutthroats rarely am I into the backing and I too catch fish over 20 inches occasionally, but not much and of course all my reels have at least 50 yds of backing, but they rarely get past the fly line in any event, if they do you probably lost them anyways, kind of like long casts.
 

hatidua

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"Need" is a topic that I won't touch on in this thread as it gets a bit too far afield of what we are talking about: nobody on this forum "needs" to go fly fishing in the traditional since of the word 'need'. Whether or not you think you need backing, drag, large/small arbor, that's immaterial when discussing a CFO reel in 2021.

As to the CFO, I'm a late adopter, -far later than most here. Prior to owning a CFO reel I'd had many of the currently available modern reels from all of the makers that need not be listed, -essentially every fly reel maker that makes their reels in the USA. I even owned a CFO III for a day several years ago and chose to return it as it was so small as to seem like a keychain toy to me (I had recently switched from 100% saltwater fishing to 50/50 salt/fresh).

Then, fast-forward a few years and a friend and I did the WY Cutthroat Slam one week last summer. After getting several of the four fish we stopped in the Orvis shop in Jackson to get a little local info and I noticed a CFO on the shelf, a reel I thought had been discontinued (it had). I asked the sales person if they had chosen to reintroduce that reel and he errantly said yes. In figuring they'd been re-released I filed that info in my head and went on my merry way.

The following week when I was home I called a contact at Orvis to verify the re-release of the CFO. I fear I may have put that salesperson in hot water as they said they had definitely not put that reel back into the lineup. I thanked them and hung up the phone (ok, I pressed the end-call button, nobody "hangs up" anymore :rolleyes:).

The problem, was that I'd ordered a CFO III three or four years ago via a friend that was the manager of an Orvis store and upon receiving it I was shocked at how tiny it was (hey, I was mounting Tibor Gulfstreams & Pacific's as my daily reels most of the year...), so it was hard to think in terms of "I got that reel three years ago for half off and now I'll have to cough up full retail for it". Anyhow, I'm a visual sort and that reel, to me, looks like a fly reel.

I'm not really impressed with air-venting fins on my reels (Charlton 8550 Offshore, -have owned half of a dozen of them), or the various reels now that are desperately trying to gain marketshare by imitating the latest Italian supercar. I actually want a reel that looks.....like a generic round reel with repetitive porting on it, if ported at all.

In the past eight months I've acquired five of the Abel-built CFO reels. Did I 'need' them? -that's a silly question on a forum where we discuss graphite sticks that cost as much as a used car!
 

Nonno

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I began fly fishing in the early 70s, I was 31. My first reel was a classic looking Ambassador 156 with a disc brake looking drag and a spring that made a clicking when line was going out, totally silent on retrieve. In 1979 I stumbled on a used Scientific Anglers System 6 with a spare spool in a small shop in Boise Idaho. I was hooked. It was a Hardy Marquis with a SA label. I didn't get any other gear until quit sailing and started fly fishing again. I bought 4wt outfit from LL Bean, a Double LL. The reel was a nice looking disc drag wide arbor model, but I just could not enjoy using it. 3 maybe 4 years ago I was perusing the Orvis fly gear and saw the CFO! Bummer, it was out of stock, but I could be notified when it was back in stock. A few months went by then I received an email from a shop in Oregon who had one of the model IIIs. I did not hesitate. That is by far my favorite reel. Music when a fish makes a run.
 

moucheur2003

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If I were Orvis, and they don't ask me, I would reintroduce CFO as a machined in America, mid to not too large arbor reel with a stacked carbon drag. I would preserve its conservative aesthetics and original grey color with flat surfaces and charge an arm and a leg for it.
They did revive the original Bogdan-designed spring-and-pawl models in an Abel-built USA version for a few years, but only in the I, II, and III sizes. Fitting a mid arbor spool with Bogdan's classic spool face over an updated disc drag could be exquisite in the old sizes IV and V!
 

desmobob

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Those older CFOs are just wonderful. I have a 123 in the olive/brass version, a III (+ 3 extra spools) and a IV disc (+ 2 extra spools). There's just something about them...
 

sweetandsalt

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I've been greatly enjoying this thread. My CFO III is one of my favorite reels and indeed, to my mind, the epitome of classic fly reel styling.

Yours is an early one...I can tell from the longer lever on the spool release. Do you have a screw on the back mounting the spindle?
 

LePetomane

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I never owned a CFO. When Orvis announced that they were re-introducing it and having Abel make it I thought that it would be one to buy. I never followed up on it.
 
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