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Post 06 May 2021, 08:53 • #76 
Guide
Joined: 12/11/20
Posts: 259
Location: Dallas, TX
Mr. Jesse I am with you on the Ross Colorado LT first version. I got my 3/4 on closeout too for $199. Lightweight, great looking and indestructible thus far.

I have an old model Animas 4/5 that I absolutely love fishing with.

I did add a classic San Miguel to my arsenal recently and I have to say this is a spectacular piece of equipment.

Worst reel wasn’t a fly reel per se but a ridiculous plastic line holder on a Mr. Crappie jigging pole I bought at a grocery store on a trip when I needed something quick to throw over the side of a boat. Line jammed when stripping out the first time I used it. And it broke when I took it apart to try to untangle the spool.


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Post 06 May 2021, 13:03 • #77 
Piscator
Joined: 08/10/05
Posts: 17338
Location: downtown Bulverde, Texas
I bypassed the original Ross Colorado and bought a JAF Sandstone instead - they were on closeout at sierratradingpost.

Image Image

this was actually my first JW Young reel, though I didn't know that at the time.

My buddy Jimbo can't put down his San Miguel - very nice acquisition.


Last edited by bulldog1935 on 07 May 2021, 07:57, edited 2 times in total.

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Post 06 May 2021, 20:15 • #78 
Guide
Joined: 12/11/20
Posts: 259
Location: Dallas, TX
That JAF is a sweet looking reel. I’m a Ross devotee and the original Colorado is a workhorse reel but you totally made the right call.


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Post 07 May 2021, 06:00 • #79 
Piscator
Joined: 08/10/05
Posts: 17338
Location: downtown Bulverde, Texas
I always called my Gunnison the most indestructible, reliable reel that was impossible to love.
But I could have still bought a new Etna reel when I bought the Gunnison - maybe my only reel buy regret ever.


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Post 07 May 2021, 06:43 • #80 
Guide
Joined: 06/30/20
Posts: 139
Bulldog, how many total reels do you have? Over under 100?


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Post 07 May 2021, 07:59 • #81 
Piscator
Joined: 08/10/05
Posts: 17338
Location: downtown Bulverde, Texas
when I bought the Gunnison, it made 3 fly reels for 3 graphite rods.
Same time, gave my first Fulflex A and Orvis 1915 Martin to my nephew.

When I wasn't fishing the Gunnison any more, I sold it with 2 spare spools, and it was happily received, and the karma was free.
Especially with white bass duty, it landed 1000 fish for me.
On this Alaska work trip, self-guiding on the Russian, always miraculous September, it landed 24 rainbows and dollies all about this size.
I was fished out by 2pm.

Image


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Post 07 May 2021, 10:23 • #82 
Guide
Joined: 12/11/20
Posts: 259
Location: Dallas, TX
I do love the reinvented Ross Gunnison. I believe these were created after the merger/acquisition with Abel. Either way, got this one right.


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Post 07 May 2021, 23:07 • #83 
Guide
Joined: 02/02/16
Posts: 179
Location: Georgia
Another big fan of Ross reels here. The older Colorado 1 matches perfectly with my Steffen 7’6” 3/4, but the Gunnison 3 and 4 have become my favorite reels. Both of my Gunnisons are the post-98 versions. As I’m fishing streamers 80-90% of the time these days, I appreciate that the Gunnisons can take a beating and keep on trucking.


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Post 16 May 2021, 13:38 • #84 
Guide
Joined: 09/06/17
Posts: 106
Location: New Hampshire
Interesting, reading all the raves and the pans. I've come to feel that almost every fly reel has its weakness. Does anyone, for instance, have a CFO, pretty as they are, where the adjustable drag still actually works? Ditto a Hardy lightweight or a Beaudex? I've paid big bucks for modern reels where the drag's start-up inertia can lose you a fish; the last two reels I bought started free spooling in my second season of using them, with the "click" burned out. And a lot of the famous modern reels, with big reputations and price tags, are surprisingly heavy, at least when compared to the incredible lightness achieved by modern rod builders.

I've come to the conclusion that the old "the reel is just a place to hold your fly line" mantra, while not quite true, does contain a kernel of wisdom. What I ask of a reel, almost by default, comes down to reliability, simplicity, and, in the some cases, good looks. In that regard, my current favorite is a Pfleuger "Gem", which was their even simpler version of the Medalist; mine was found at a tag sale for $10.

The moral, at least for me, is that the perfect reel doesn't exist (the perfect fly rod does--in many models, vintage and new!), and that we love our favorite fly reels despite their weaknesses. I wish my Medalists had slightly softer clicks; I wish my Heddons were lighter; I wish my Youngs had drags that worked--and yet I love them all, treasure them for all the fish, all the good times, they helped bring me.

But if anyone knows the perfect reel, I'll be glad to change my mind!


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Post 16 May 2021, 15:27 • #85 
Guide
Joined: 06/19/14
Posts: 100
Location: Columbia, MO
My favorite reels are the Orvis Battenkill, made in England. I have several; some click and pawl and some disc. They look good on every rod and they always work.



As far as my least favorite; I have a Fenwick 567 and the same reel rebranded as Cabela's. They are really loud.

Thanks,
steve


Last edited by spm1 on 16 May 2021, 16:45, edited 1 time in total.

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Post 16 May 2021, 16:05 • #86 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 02/19/08
Posts: 2449
Location: Seattle, WA
I've gone through a lot of dogs in the past. Not a comprehensive list but here's the ones I remember:
Union Hardware 7169
Ocean City 36
Eagle Claw 1010
South Bend Finalist 1122
Pfleuger Sal-King
J. C. Higgins 311-3116

My favorites include:
Martin MG3, MG3SS
JAF Magnesium
Horrocks-Ibbotson Stuart Single Action


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Post 16 May 2021, 19:18 • #87 
Guide
Joined: 07/14/15
Posts: 102
Location: CA-QC
Best reel? Too many I like, mostly pflueger, young and hardy. Worst reel? Easily the Weber Kalahatch....looks great, but freespool only. In my experience.


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Post 20 May 2021, 09:33 • #88 
Sport
Joined: 12/31/10
Posts: 86
Location: Maryland
I remember Hardy Lightweights for under $30.


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Post 20 May 2021, 09:44 • #89 
Piscator
Joined: 08/10/05
Posts: 17338
Location: downtown Bulverde, Texas
When a house cost $8000


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Post 20 May 2021, 10:29 • #90 
Sport
Joined: 05/13/18
Posts: 31
Location: US-KS
I agree with you on the Pflueger Medalist


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Post 20 May 2021, 11:34 • #91 
Sport
Joined: 12/31/10
Posts: 86
Location: Maryland
I'm not that old, Ron. But late 60s pricing.

When I was a kid growing (1950s) up my grandfather was building 1 or 2 houses a year on a piece of land he bought for that purpose. Three BR, full basement and carport for just under $25k. It was in Northern Virginia, DC suburbs, so property and home prices were probably higher than in many parts of the country.

My first cane rod was an Orvis Midge, 7 1/2 2/2 (1968) with a list price of $135.

But prices have changed. :)

I was always attracted to reels, and cannot say I have really had a "worst" one.

I bought a number of Hardy and Young made reels, all quality items.

I got one of the unmarked pre-production batch of CFOs, and, 50 years later, it is still a favorite, along with my JLHs.

My Walker TR2 is a nice one. It cost me a week's take home pay and a six month wait.

I am sure that many here have similar and better stories.

My first reel was a Medalist 1494 for under $10.


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Post 06 Jun 2021, 01:14 • #92 
Sport
Joined: 03/14/19
Posts: 66
Location: Scotland
Loved this thread, though as a newbie am not familiar with many mentioned.( also I am in Scotland so never seen or heard of many US reels). I guess a big factor is what your fishing for and where you fish. I rarely fish for or catch anything beyond a couple of lbs in weight and therefore my drag requirements are not extreme! Cost definitely is a factor however and I could never see myself in a position to buy very top end or new reels. I like good value, reasonably well made reels based on simple and proven designs. I like traditional looking reels with user friendly simple designs and versatility. So in my world Shakespeare/Noris, Young designed reels like Beaulite and Condex are up there- affordable, dependable, robust, simple and look good. Also fond of Daiwa reels - 720 , SF 706, Wilderness and one or two other Hardy clones by Roddy etc. Only Hardy’s I have are vintage Viscounts and Gem all of which I like and have found perfectly good to fish with. My workhorse reels are BFR Rimfly’s 95, 75, 55 - simple , reliable, replaceable. These might just be the best value reel ever for my needs. Worst reel I ever came across were those all plastic Shakespeare Alpha’s with the white plastic clicker. That said I used them for salt water fishing at one time with no corrosion worries! Each to their own of course and great thread!


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Post 06 Jun 2021, 08:15 • #93 
New Member
Joined: 11/05/18
Posts: 18
Location: Friuli, Italy
I have a thing for Hardy Marquises, they are light, you can palm them and they have a great line guard.



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Post 06 Jun 2021, 08:32 • #94 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 09/18/09
Posts: 5056
Location: Washington DC Region
I've stayed quiet on this topic because I haven't seen a best reel or worst reel, and a bad reel doesn't get the chance to mess me up fishing, because I always take one of my good reels.

But there are things that just put a reel into the "bad" category.
  • Finicky drag. If the drag changes without you adjusting it, it's bad. Freespooling is the ultimate problem
  • Overly delicate reels. I am going to drop a reel or bang it on a rock at some point. Battle scars are fine, but it still has to work.
  • reels that are prone to getting the leader stuck behind the reel, or out in front of the reel. Since this only happens in storage, I'm less worried about it if it is easy to get the spool off to fix it.

some examples are,

the Ocean City 76. The drag can be stronger than many other vintage reels, The felt pad disk drag works well, but the adjustment causes problems. Tightening and loosening the drag will back out the screw and you end up with freespooling. It also is a prone to getting the leader stuck between the spool and the cage, and the spool is a bit difficult to get off. I like them in concept, but I don't have time to fiddle with them.

Martin Tuna Tin reels. The stamped frame models. Even for cheap reels, they loose on the durability point. A dig will set them out of true and they start scraping. And though I haven't had a line on one recently, I also remember fighting with stuck leaders on them.

As for the best reels are ones you don't have to think about. The Ross (and now Abel) sealed disk models just work. Low maintenance (keep them clean). They will get battle scars but they keep working. When you tighten the drag, it stays tight, It is quick to adjust and they can be dialed back for low startup inertia. I fish plenty of other reels, Young, Medalist, Marryat, Abel big game, Daiwa hardy clones, but if I am going on a trip and need a single reel, it is usually a Ross Gunnison or San Miguel, J Ryall, or for bigger waters the Cork Drag Abel Big game (though I am in the market for a Ross Evolution R Salt to replace this).

I don't know if my rambling has helped anyone else, but it has certainly helped me understand my preferences.


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Post 06 Jun 2021, 10:00 • #95 
Piscator
Joined: 08/10/05
Posts: 17338
Location: downtown Bulverde, Texas
I don't get the desire for disc drags - and no, I don't want an explanation.

Breaking free from disc drag isolation is what sent me here originally.


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Post 06 Jun 2021, 15:15 • #96 
Guide
Joined: 11/23/17
Posts: 226
Location: Lehigh Valley, PA
Upon learning of too good to be true on-line pricing for the Hardy Duchess reel, I purchased it in 3” and 3-1/4” sizes. These reels have served me well as I transitioned to fiberglass rods, mostly four and five weight rods in trout service. I use these reels to mock up my builds for test casting blanks. They seem to balance my rods well, sometimes in down locking position, sometimes in up locking position.

On stream the reels function well, with a nice consistent drag that has never caused a break-off during sudden runs. So I’d have to call it my best reel currently. I like the Duchess enough that I recently acquired a spare spool for the 3” reel and when available will likely purchase one for the 3-1/4” version.

On the other hand, the seam between the spool and the reel body is a tippet magnet. Following time on stream I usually reel my leader completely onto my spool, and most attempts to get ahold of the end of my tippet by rotating the spool result in my tippet getting caught up in the reel’s gears. Not fun, so I now remove the spool and unwind a few feet of the leader. The spool is then mounted with the leader at 6:00. Followed that I pull off the rest of the leader and a foot of line. The floating line is then doubled back so I can feed it out through the line guard (unless I forget...). Then, I can proceed with feeding line out through the guides.

So Best reel while fishing, Worst reel to get set up for fishing.

Jeff


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Post 07 Jun 2021, 11:35 • #97 
Guide
Joined: 06/30/20
Posts: 139
Bulldog, same here all the way around. Once I realized the doors that opened with click pawls there is no reason to look back.


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Post 07 Jun 2021, 15:47 • #98 
Guide
Joined: 11/23/14
Posts: 182
Location: US-TX
I'm sort of a never met a fly rod I didn't like kind of guy. Not quite so much with reels. Worst reel, for a while, was a beloved mid 90's era Ross Colorado 1. If it happened to get dunked it would free spool in both directions. A fly shop guy saved the day by fitting it with a more stout spring from his drawer of what he called his "Frankenstein reels". Later Ross happily sent a new upgraded spring and pawl set free of charge. Also, years later they sent a new reel foot to replace the bent one after a friend dropped it. Kudos for their customer service. In the get what what you pay for department I bought a Cortland Vista for my 8 wt for around $60. First big salmon I hooked fried the drag.
The nod for favorite would go to the Ross Vexsis 2. They don't get much love and I don't think they were in production very long but I happened into a river in Utah that seemingly held nothing but large, tail walking Browns a couple times with a 5 wt and the truck stopping drag was flawless and easily adjusted. And I think they look cool for a modern reel.
Rick


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Post 07 Jun 2021, 16:07 • #99 
Master Guide
Joined: 01/21/12
Posts: 388
Location: US-NY
bulldog1935 wrote:
I don't get the desire for disc drags - and no, I don't want an explanation.

Breaking free from disc drag isolation is what sent me here originally.


I don’t always agree with you (not that it matters), but on this I agree 100 percent.


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