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Saltwater Fly Reels

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Tom Benson
Posts: 100
Joined: Tue Oct 22, 2013 8:58 pm

Saltwater Fly Reels

#1

Post by Tom Benson » Tue Nov 17, 2020 1:24 pm

Hi Folks .....
Have decided to get more involved with Saltwater Fly Fishing next year ( "Hopefully " )......
So..... Nay problem with Fly Rods ...... (( HT ; 4 ,6,8,10 .)): But ... Reels ?!
Have had a look at ......Nautilus NV et al ....
Advice please
Tom

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sms
Posts: 376
Joined: Thu Jan 10, 2013 7:12 pm
Location: Southern Finland

Re: Saltwater Fly Reels

#2

Post by sms » Tue Nov 17, 2020 8:46 pm

What are your priorities in reels?

I really like Nautilus CCF-X2 1012 after I tossed the original spring and replaced it with cup springs (real drag adjustment) and some foam (for the minimum setting). Hated the infinitydrag’s gazillion revolutions of the drag knob from max to min. Now I have about 1,5-2 revolutions of the drag knob and top end is higher. The dimensions and ergonomics are great.

Danielsson L5W-series is probably the best value for money thou. The downside for me is that they are wide (line stacking more easily if you loose a lot of line and need to reel it back in and don’t focus on guiding it evenly on the spool). Also since it is a full cage reel with 8mm hollow shaft, the spool easily locks to the frame if you need to winch fish brutally in. On the positive it has strong and easily upgradable (with thicker/more cup springs) drag (although if you run it with really high setting for a long time, you will need to replace the ball bearings). Serviceable, so if you can hold a tool, it is nothing too complicated.

I also like Ross Evolution R Salt a lot. I wasn’t so impressed initially, but after using it for albies and when sharked, for sharks before busting then off in Florida, I grade it very high (we killed or damaged with fish fighting at least Redington Behemoth, Hardy Fortuna XDS and Vision XLA. The last one just met its miles after heavy use with thousands of salmon, albies etc. At least Vision Merisuola/XO, Nautilus CCF-X2, Sage 8000pro and Danielsson L5W series reels survived in addition to this Ross). Not too wide a spool. No problem with brutal winching. The drag knob would be much better if it didn’t have open spoke design. More drag than almost anyone needs and if you do, you need to replace the shaft as it is not capable of taking the loads the drag is capable of (I do not know any fly reel with one way bearing that could take the loads the drag is capable of). The spool retaining screw rusts. That is just a visual blemish, but some may think it is worse than what I consider it to be. The sealing isn’t great, but I would consider 99,9% of reels not too well sealed. I believe that in essence (mechanics) this is the same reel as Abel SDS.

For me Mako is closest to a perfect reel for heavy applications. In my case that is YFT and BFT fishing. For lighter applications the reels are a bit too heavy for my liking. The drag adjustment is by far the best I have come across. It is one fine piece of reel engineering. The drag, even thou considered strong, i wanted more and I upgraded my second 9600B so that it went from about 6kg to over 10kg (from backing’s front end loop). Downsides in addition to weight are the cost and that they are not self-serviceable (unless you really know how to or figure the reel out).
I'm here just for the chicks.

-Sakke

Mangrove Cuckoo
Posts: 431
Joined: Tue Jan 29, 2013 7:51 am

Re: Saltwater Fly Reels

#3

Post by Mangrove Cuckoo » Tue Nov 17, 2020 11:18 pm

Like sms said, it depends on your priorities... and your budget.

I can't even afford the magazines that Makos are advertised in, but they look to be the top dog.

Personally, I have found Lamson and Ross reels to be all that I could ask for. The Lamsons balance better on my lighter rods, but the few Ross that I have appear bullet proof. Mind you, I am not a fanatic on maintenance. And, I don't put my reels through the torture that sms does. I mainly fish for tarpon and I do not use much of the drag system... I apply most "drag" via my hands.

A few years back Ross was acquired by the same company as Abel and I do not know what that did to either brand. My Ross reels are all from the days before. I specifically like the ones I have because they have bushings instead of bearings. That is old school I know, but bearings have not worked well for me... salt gets in. While the Lamsons have bearings, they are well sealed.

Nautilus and Sage reels have been complete disasters for me. The former was (might still be?) a local company but I found them to be way too fiddly. It seems I was always having to work on, upgrade or replace stuff. I suspect Sage reels are just Chinese subcontracted machine shop filler to fill pages in their fly rod catalog... but I might be mistaken on that... just a hunch after working on reels for 15 years in a fly shop.

I would suggest staying with brands that are reels first, not catalog filler.
"Technique is the proof of your seriousness"

Wallace Stevens

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sms
Posts: 376
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Location: Southern Finland

Re: Saltwater Fly Reels

#4

Post by sms » Wed Nov 18, 2020 6:53 pm

Mangrove Cuckoo wrote:
Tue Nov 17, 2020 11:18 pm
While the Lamsons have bearings, they are well sealed.
They absolutely are not. They have O-ring mating with rotating shaft. O-rings are great gaskets, but they are not too good when used as a rotary seal.

I had three reels with me in Florida: Danielsson L5W 8twelve (lip seal), Sage 8010pro (O-ring) and Ross Evolution R Salt 9/10 (not really sealed as there is plastic, probably PTFE against stainless, but design look like they do not actually even touch as the clicker spring is pushing them apart). All of them had water in them when I opened them afterwards. Sage was the biggest problem as it is not self serviceable, but I have since opened and cleaned it properly and tweaked it a bit so I get more top end even thou drag washers are a bit worn (which made the adjustment's top end hit a wall). the Sage is very good reel (made in Korea btw like Hardy's SW reels), but I do not think they make as good a reel anymore. I picked up mine with a really good price as I did the Ross Evo R Salt. Paid less in total than either's RRP alone.

My two Makos are the only reels I have come across that have not had water inside after hard use. I use them from a boat, but still pressure variation and temperature variation from airplane cargo space in 10km to tropics in sea level have exposed them to possibility of getting water in. Of course they are also soaked when getting the saltwater off and getting the stiff PVC lines to absorb water and become a bit softer (ie Rio Leviathan in colder temps works great this way).

I also had Nautilus CCF10 in the past. Butter smooth drag. But it had O-ring sealing on the shaft. The drag housing was not possible to open and overhaul in case of water intrusion. It did get some water in and then it was far from smooth. The solution would have been to send the reel to Nautilus or buy a new drag unit. The thing is that it would have not solved anything as it would have repeated. So I let it dry, greased the O-ring and sold it. As good/as bad as new. NV has the same handicap, you cannot open it (or you can, but you need the kind of special tools I was not prepared to make/get to open the CCF). I bought the CCF-X2 knowing the reel how it is as a friend of mine got one earlier. Light, great proportions for my liking, serviceable internals and terrible drag adjustment to which I had figured the basic improvement to. When I received it, opened, measured the dimensions and ordered possible upgrade parts. Upgrade parts came and found a perfect combination and it is brilliant now. I will upgrade my friend's reel next week as he also hates the infinadjust of the drag.

I like sealed reels that I can overhaul by myself. Nowadays that applies to all reels I am using in the salt. So far Mako has been the only one not needing it. My ultimate reel would be basically Mako but with a bit more top end drag and lighter.

All reels in SW use need maintenance. You have stainless screws in aluminium and a solution (saltwater) that conducts electricity. That equals corrosion unless countermeasures are taken (threads sealed and/or corrosion inhibitor is used and so forth).

As I see it there are two ways. If you have time to maintain a bit at home and then care less on the water, go with sealed, but serviceable reel like Nautilus CCF-X2, Ross Evo R Salt/Abel SDS, Colton Terrapin, Orvis Mirage (at least the older model), Tibor Signature etc. Except for Nautilus and Tibor all these share the same base design (as does the Sage that I have).

Or go with the open design, pay a bit more attention to it on the water and then they are a bit easier to maintain at home. These are basic draw bar designs like Abel, Tibor, Islander and so forth.
I'm here just for the chicks.

-Sakke

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johnnybg
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Location: Denmark

Re: Saltwater Fly Reels

#5

Post by johnnybg » Wed Nov 18, 2020 8:35 pm

I have to agree with Sakke on the WW Lamson. The reels are in my opinion a clear case of "the emperor’s new clothes" where fashion wins over quality and durability. They do look good, but the mechanical design is hopeless and so is the combination of metals inside the drag system which clearly shows the designer's lack of knowledge in regards to the galvanic reaction chart.

I had to manufacture a small tool to take my reel(s) apart every time after a trip where a reel was submerged for only a few seconds in the saltwater (which always resulted in saltwater ingress into drag system / bearing house).

The older Force, Vanquish, Litespeed, Speedster models, etc. all had a replaceable cassette/bearing house. However, that unfortunately changed with the latest Force (SLII) reel, when it entered the market 2-3 years back. There's no replaceable bearing house anymore on the SLII and when (not if) the corrosion sets in it will now attack the reel frame itself, because the reel frame and bearing house is made from one piece of machined aluminum. The poor choice of a copper springs and stainless steel spacers which are in contact with the aluminum reel frame inside the drag will accelerate corrosion because of the galvanic reaction chart. This will protect the spacers and the springs and will corrode the reel instead

Furthermore, the edges and angles on the frame are so sharp that no surface treatment (including anodising) will stick in the long run. Sharp metal edges have to be rounded for a durable surface treatment.

I don't have much knowledge of the WWL Cobalt reel but i know it features a sealed drag system much different from the other reels of the same brand.

I've attached some photos of a Force SLII and an older Force ULA.
Attachments
2020-11-18 21.40.46-Photo - Google Photos.png
Force ULA (with replaceable black casette)
2020-11-18 21.22.51-Photo - Google Photos.png
Force SLII
2020-11-18 21.22.51-Photo - Google Photos.png (482.7 KiB) Viewed 461 times
2020-11-18 21.22.45-Photo - Google Photos.png
Force SLII
2020-11-18 21.22.45-Photo - Google Photos.png (564.08 KiB) Viewed 461 times
2020-11-18 21.22.33-Photo - Google Photos.png
Force SLII

Mangrove Cuckoo
Posts: 431
Joined: Tue Jan 29, 2013 7:51 am

Re: Saltwater Fly Reels

#6

Post by Mangrove Cuckoo » Wed Nov 18, 2020 9:03 pm

It is a shame to hear that the Lamsons have become inferior. Mine are quite a few generations old, and I was a bit perplexed when it seemed like they kept coming out with new versions every other year. I guess the "improvements" were more about profit than functionality.

I guess I should just stay with what I got as they have been bullet and water-proof.

Just goes to show that sometimes older is better. :p
"Technique is the proof of your seriousness"

Wallace Stevens

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sms
Posts: 376
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Location: Southern Finland

Re: Saltwater Fly Reels

#7

Post by sms » Wed Nov 18, 2020 10:08 pm

It is nothing new. WW-Lamsons have been leaking since they introduced sealed reels. 15 years ago for example the Litespeeds were leaking and the one way clutch rusted making the reel jam. Same with ULA. There is an O-ring close to the mouth of the drag housing (in the part you screw off if you want to get to the drag). The shaft fixed to the spool goes through the o-ring. It is not a good seal.

When spool is not rotating these seals hold. But they are not good rotary seals. Hense, there has been quite a lot of problems with WW-Lamsons. Especially so before they switched to stainless one way clutches that are not so sensitive to leaks.
I'm here just for the chicks.

-Sakke

George C
Posts: 44
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2018 7:30 am

Re: Saltwater Fly Reels

#8

Post by George C » Wed Nov 18, 2020 11:57 pm

I'd suggest checking out the Sage Spectrum LT 7/8. It is moderately priced (and widely available with a free flyline on the big auction site). It's not going to stop a tuna or GT but for bonefish, stripers, bonito and medium sized false albacore it works fine and is significantly lighter than most of the higher end overbuilt stuff. I am neither fastidious nor gentle on my equipment and the reel has held up fine through two seasons of use so far. I will say that I don't intentionally submerge my reels (although certainly they get occasional inadvertent dunkings).

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Paul Arden
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Re: Saltwater Fly Reels

#9

Post by Paul Arden » Thu Nov 19, 2020 12:10 am

Wow should I buy a mako reel or a new bicycle? For those prices they had better be good! Would I find them indestructible?

I’ll see if Ashly would like to buy me set for Christmas. Maybe if I mention it’s my 50th birthday as well? :p

Cheers, Paul
It's an exploration; bring a flyrod.

Flycasting Definitions

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sms
Posts: 376
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Location: Southern Finland

Re: Saltwater Fly Reels

#10

Post by sms » Thu Nov 19, 2020 8:27 am

Makos were not that much more expensive than other top end reels in 2008 when I bought mine.
Size; $ for single color/multi color/type III
9500; $695/770/795
9550; $795/870/895
9600B; $1090/1090/1090
9700B; $1695/1695/1695

So, the prices have increased a lot, especially for the smaller ones if you look at relative price change and the lowest price options have been taken out (difference was in 9500 and 9550 thou, the bigger ones had flat pricing). Stealth was $200 extra.

I had a great bit of luck with mine.
Jack initially sent a wrong reel (9600B glossy type III with RH winding, I ordered 9600B stealth type III with LH winding). As there was not enough time before my honeymoon Costa Rica trip to produce the correct reel, he suggested that I send the reel back, he switches it to LH and I get to keep it. Then he sends the correct one when it is finished. That we did. I respect and appreciate the way he handled the case, not trying to strike any deal. He did what he thought was best for me and it truly was - exceeded my expectations. He was really a straight up guy and a gentleman.

Paul, nothing is indestructible. And not all Makos have been perfect either.

Before Tom tells us what he prefers or thinks to prefer, I am not going to recommend any specific reel.
I'm here just for the chicks.

-Sakke

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