I read an article today in the most recent May issue of Trout & Salmon that one of the most important purchases of any fly-fisher is the quality of the reel they will use, if you buy the right one it will last you a lifetime much like the Patek Philippe watch advert that states that, ‘You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation’. This also applies to coarse fishing for those that buy a Chris Lythe, Edward Barder or Allcock’s Aerial or any other hand-made centrepin.
Over the years I have collected many reels, each has a purpose and each was a considered purchase, new or second-hand they have been cherished and will be handed down to the next generation to be fished with and some have already been fished with by young Tales.
Most of my reels are lightweight Hardy reels, some LRH Lightweight, Marquis, Viscount 130 and 140, Ultralite and Ultralite Disc plus a couple of Farlow’s early 60’s versions of the Hardy Princess, this being labled by Farlow’s as the Serpent at 3.5 inch light alloy spool reel with line guard and adjustable tensioner good for sea-trout fishing with a #7 line.
A good second-hand Hardy LRH Lightweight Reel, boxed with papers will set you back about £120, £60-80 unboxed on eBay and spools £20. A Farlow’s 3 inch equilvelent you may pick up for £45 or an Orvis Battenkill reel for £50. Online action sites are a source to find second had reels, some are in good condition but you’ll probably find there is not much in it to buy from a vintage tackle dealer and at auction a Hardy LRH Lightweight, Princess or St Aiden will probably be yours when the hammer knocks at £70.
What I have come to realise is that a good quality reel becomes an extension of the family, a dependable friend and keepsake. Whilst rods change rapidly and have done with the advance in composite technology reels have come on but a vintage reel is still sought after. It was my wife that questioned as to why I owned so many, three in her mind was more than enough and one for light rivers, one for sea-trout and one for salmon with the understanding that I may need a couple of spools for different lines – however, on looking in my trout bag it was noted that I had several of the same reel, these being my favourite the Hardy LRH Lightweight a reel I have used for every season and most outings.
One reel I would like is the Hardy Featherweight only to marry to a 7ft #4 rod I will use this year for small chalk stream fishing for trout or for fishing for roach, chub and dace on some backwaters of the Thames when the season gets underway in a few months. I did witness last year a huge rise one evening on the Thames where dace and other silver fish were taking storm flies from the surface film.
Your choice of rods may change but a good quality dependable ‘cotton reel as my wife refers to’ will last you and your children a lifetime.