J. Castwell Congradulations Castwell - ya made it!
August 30th, 1999

Cheap Reels

Every so often I have it happen; something jars my rather well set bank of fly-fishing ideas. As the years roll on I tend to modify and re-evaluate how I think and feel about; where to fish, when to fish, how to fish, and what to fish with. Mostly there has been a steady progression from worms and grubs to higher forms of bait, i.e. - flies. And when possible, dry flies at that. I'm stuck with it, that's who I am today.

I have been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to acquire far too much gear than was ever needed. Had I been forced to shell out the full retail for most of my goodies, life and my ideas of fly-fishing may indeed have been different; surely they would have been molded by how much some of the toys cost.

Thanks to Mike Croft I realize some are able to attain any brand of their hearts desire and it is only money. Not a big deal, money to some is only a trading commodity. However, to most it is real stuff. Therein comes the horns of the proverbial dilemma. To buy, or not to buy; and which damn one? One side of the brain says, "That's stupid, I'm not ever going to pay that much for one of those. It's just too much money for any use I would get out of it. I would be buying the name and not the product!"

The other side of your 'old bean' says, "I know it is a lot of money, but I will save dough in the long run. It will last forever and I will have the use of one of the best all those years!" Ah yes, the enigma thing has you in it's evil grip. Perhaps I can even make it harder for you by adding one of the little thoughts that assailed me recently. It involves the purchase of a fly reel. Not for me, but for someone who will be fishing with me in a few months.

He has not yet been subjected to the vagaries of the guru at the local fly shop. This makes my job even harder. I could always blame the guru for bad information, not so lucky this time. I'm conscripted to giving advise which will be heeded with all possible effort. So here I am, not even knowing what I want to do when I grow up; neat!

He is young and full of fly-fishing. He dreams the stuff. Some dollars in the bank, but needs to make each one pay it's way. And he needs a fly reel. A salt-water-proof one. Do I recommend he get $600 bucks of high-end fly reel? Would it last a life time and therefore be a great value? Will he give up fly-fishing and therefore make it a lousy choice? Who knows. Are any fly reels truly Salt-Water-Proof? Perhaps. (Please don't call.)

My own temptation is to try to get the features I think I need, and a few of the ones I know I want. And I do have some darn nice reels with lots of features and they do exactly what I want them to do. But here is the clincher.

A few years back I had a chance to go to the beach and pitch a few for some salmon I figured may be paddling around. I had a new fly line I wanted to give some exercise and put it on an old Pflueger Medalist #1494 . The salmon in mind were not big, maybe six pounds, so I didn't need a lot of backing, there was some on it. I had no idea of how much. Now, some of you probably know, this reel has a drag of sorts, does not have a 'rim-control' for palming, and does not have a counter balance opposite the handle. Then again, I bet more fish have been landed on these things than any other reel.

So, what happened? A steelhead, that's what happened. He was out there eating bait and stumbled on my little streamer (Castwell's Marble-head actually) snapped it up and off he went. He had the whole Pacific Ocean to play in and chose to see some real-estate. The contest was not too long but was punctuated with some of the old terror of years past. I did not have a reel that ran silk-smooth. I could feel it vibrate as the mist from the screeching spool fogged my glasses. The drag had been set to only keep the spool from free-wheeling and over-running, not to hold back a mad under-water German shepherd. Any attempt to 'feather' the whizzing blur of handle was met with sharp pains and no perceptible notice by the adversary. It was GREAT FUN! I had a blast!

Thanks to Mike Croft

So, what to do? Buy a Medalist? No, that is not the point. (Darn good reels though.) My point may be this: Have I gotten spoiled by thinking I need a high-tech tool? Am I missing something if I get one? The fun of having to handle a fish without help from a super-technical fly reel? Or, am I missing something if I don't. Like the features I have always wanted in a precision instrument? I don't know. I need to go away someplace and think about this; fishing perhaps. ~ JC

Till next week, remember ...

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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