When I started steelhead fishing in the late 90’s I was bought-and-sold by the fly fishing industry’s marketing machine. It was and still is in many ways a machine that offers a message of image and not one of user experience. The message of the image was you need brand X, Y and Z and you will be successful. What that message/image over-markets is that somehow brand is the experience; nothing could be further from the truth.
I was able to discover through experience the nuance and tactile nature one will never get through the marketing machine. When I started fishing for Steelhead and Salmon I was using single handed fly rods much as I had done in my trout fishing days. It didn’t take long to become frustrated while casting sinktips and weighted flies; as typical trees and brush were often in the way. I was introduced to Spey/Doubled hand rods, at first, I was resistant to the change but it didn’t take long to realize that I could make long cast with restricted room and I could fish for days on end without the fatigue of casting a single hand rod.
Just like transitioning from a single hand rod to a Spey/Double handed rod there was a learning curve on the reels. What is marketed for Steelhead and Salmon are large reels most often with drags whether cork, composite or other; they are usually overkill. It took me some time to realize that drags, when set too tight, often popped the fish instantly or over the course of a battle, or to light and the reel would free spool resulting in a mess. What I found was the drag needed to be just tight enough to prevent the reel from free spooling on a hot running fish. In the process of this experience I was introduced to Hardy gear-and-pawl(GP) reels and immensely enjoyed the tactile experience, the noise the reel made on a hot running fish really added to the experience. Also, it became obvious that the GP reels were adequate to prevent free spool. Secondarily, most modern reels are large arbor and typically 5” in diameter, I find these larger diameter reels to be a bit annoying during certain cast like the double spey and snake roll as they create some undesirable axial pendulum action to the cast. My preference is a more compact wider reel that minimizes the effect.
I now own many Hardy reels, such as: the Perfect, Bougle, Marquis and JLH Salmon. These GP’s can all be palmed or rim controlled with fingertips in one way or another. I do prefer my GP reels to my drag reels. I do own a few S-Handled reels that I occasionally use but I find these S-Handled reels annoying in that one must just get your hand out of the way, no rim control. In all I prefer the platewind reels over the rim style Marquis or JLH Salmon. The platewind reels can still be controlled with fingertip pressure on the spool, should one want to add more drag I find it infinitely dynamic. One of my complaints about GP reels is that they check both on the payout and retrieve all of this experience led me to developing my own reel design.
What I set out to do was develop a reel that matched the nuances of my experiences (e.g. a tactile experience that combined as many senses together as possible sight, sound and touch can be combined in a reel). What I now offer is a reel in platewind and S-handle that can be ordered to suit a users preference. My preference is the Multiplier Gear & Pawl MGP with a 1-way outgoing check. However, I recognized that others would prefer a traditional 2-way check either in direct drive 1-1 or MGP. Currently, I make several reel models in 3 3/4" and 4" raised pillar design either in Multiplier and a 1-1 direct drive. Both models can be ordered in two possible configurations, a 1-way outgoing check/click only “a silent windup” and a 2-way check/click.
These reels were designed here in the Pacific Northwest by me, I do contract the CNC machining of the parts to my specification and do some in-house machining depending upon the reel the customer orders. I hand assemble each reel myself to match the specifications of each user.