Qualifly Products


The Design of Today's Fly Reels

Joseph BanikComment

Recently I have seen an increase of new fly reel brands on the market. I have looked at a lot of them and found that they are the same reel. They just have different colors or different frame machined designs. There are companies that mass produce reels with basic designs and allow the customer to pick from a menu of colors, drag knob and crank handle designs, and will machine the frame to a sketch that the customer provides. The spool, drag design, reel foot, internal bearing and bushings are the same for all customers. I saw where one brand charged over $350.00 for a reel that another brand was charging only $138.00 for – same reel, different color and LOGO.  These brands have no idea of what it takes to design a high quality reel. They know nothing about tolerances, finish requirements, spool run out, material specs and what kind of bearing to use. If you ask them a question about their reel design they can't answer it or they give you some buzzwords like carbon fiber.


When I decided to design the Maverick I took my time fishing with as many reel brands as I could. I fished with reels from all over the world. I made note of features I liked and disliked. It wasn't just about the how cool it looked, although that is a big factor for marketing. With my wish list in mind I sat down in front of my computer and went to work. It took many hours and a number of concept designs before I came up with something totally different from what everyone else was offering. Not only different but loaded with features that made it stand out from all others. Some of these features can be found in other brands. But you won't find all the features in one reel brand. Sometimes it is just the little things that matter – like sealing the end of the crank handle so sand and dirt won't get in easily.


Here are some of the features that I really liked and incorporated in my design. First thing was a sealed drag system that could be used in fresh water as well as salt water. I sealed the end of the crank handle as well. Anything that rotates should be kept clean in order to function well. Next was the design of the frame. I fished with a reel designed in Norway that had a semi-frame design. I like the idea that it reduces weight and provided access to the spool rim both front and back. If you've ever had a fish running far into your backing and the drag setting wasn’t enough to stop it, you really appreciate the ability to apply a little more drag with your hand. In the heat of the battle doing it by turning the drag knob just doesn’t work. The feel of your hand is the only way to go. I designed the Maverick's frame with a contoured profile to make it very ridged. Unlike the one I fished with, I made the spool rim wider so it would be strong and have the surface area to apply drag when needed. To give this reel perfect balance I moved the drag knob inside the frame. By doing this it move the center of gravity to the center of the spool. It also protects the knob from damage if dropped. The drag is easily adjusted with 2 fingers from the back of the reel. No more inadvertently changing the drag setting. Perfect balance and lightweight design for today's light rods. Every feature, finish, O-ring and bearing used and even the type of machine that would be used to machine the parts was taken into consideration. There is way more to designing a reel than picking items from a menu.