"Sometimes, you just need to go downstairs and waggle a rod..." - Scott Hanson

"Write what you know. If you don't know, make it up..." - Scott Hanson

"A dude can't live on just two fly rods alone..." - Scott Hanson

Man, I have some deep thoughts...

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

How Many Reels?

By the end of this blog post I may wish I hadn't posed this question, but for some reason it is stuck in my mind, so I am going to ask it... How many reels is enough? I won't ask the same question about rods, because we all know that there is no limit to the amount of rods one needs. Fly rods are the coolest and most important tool that man has ever invented, and my goal is to own all of them at some point. But reels are different. Sure they serve a purpose, but they are pretty much interchangeable, at least within a line size. So do you need a different reel to match each rod you own? I don't think so, but how many is enough?

When I first started in this crazy sport of fly fishing, back when I was around the age of ten, I had exactly one rod, an awful broomstick of a pole that was purchased at the anti-fly shop known as Fleet Farm, and exactly one reel, an equally awful Medalist clone that had a hard time keeping its spool in place whilst being turned. If I remember correctly, the line that came with this "combo" was a white level line, and may or may not have been a match to the line weight of the rod. It's a miracle I remained interested in the sport...

Thankfully, soon after that I saved up enough money to buy myself my first "good" fly rod, a Cortland GRF1000 8' 5/6wt. Compared to my initial rod, the Cortland was as smooth as silk. To go with my new rod, I also purchased a new reel, a Scientific Angler System One 4-5-6 reel, which I still own. The knob doesn't turn very well any more, which is the only reason I haven't sold it. I wouldn't want to sell somebody a defective reel. So it sits on top of my gear armoire, not being used.

For several years, that was my gear. One rod and one reel. And it was all I needed, until I got interested in bass fishing, and went back to Fleet Farm to get a Berkley Grayfite 8' 8wt rod. It wasn't great, but it was fine for the limited amount of bass fishing I did. I saved up some more money and bought another Scientific Angler reel, this time a 7-8-9 System One.

For the next 10 years, that was my gear. And it did fine, although to be honest, I wasn't as crazy about fly fishing during that timeframe as I am now.  If you can believe it, there were a few years that I didn't fish at all. I was into other things. In my mid-20s, that changed, and the fly fishing bug bit hard again, and I haven't gotten over that bite yet. If you know of some kind of ointment that helps with the itch, please keep that to yourself...

I soon got a nice Orvis 3wt rod and reel set, and that was followed by an even nicer (more expensive) Sage 5wt rod. Well, I couldn't be expected to fish an expensive rod with a cheap reel, could I? Of course not, so I got a nice Lamson reel to pair with it. Over the next few years, rods were added to my quiver at a steady rate, but my stash of reels stayed about the same. I did get an extra spool for both the Orvis and Lamson reels, but that was about it. And my old S.A. 7-8-9 reel worked just fine, even with the newer St. Croix 8 weight rod I acquired.

Lately though, I have become a real gear junkie. I think it helps me feel connected to the sport even though I don't fish as much as I used to. I get great enjoyment out of buying rods and reels, trying them out to see what I like and don't like, keeping some and moving the rest on to other fisherpeople. Because of that I now have almost as many reels as rods. But why? Why do I have so many reels? The rods are what does all the work. right?. Reels pretty much just hold the line, don't they? So why do I have so many? And how do I decide which ones I should keep? Should I use expensive reels because of their reputation and aura? Should I use cheap reels because they are cheap? If I choose that option, should I spend all my extra money on more rods, or should I go buy some groceries so my kids can eat? This is too many questions. I told you I would probably regret ever starting this post...


  1. Hi Scott! I found your blog via the bloggers page on Facebook. I too have turned into a gear junkie. My weaknesses are old Wright & Mcgill fiberglass fly rods and catalogs and old Orvis click/pawl reels. That's what I fish with and I love it. I'm happy to say I'll be following along and have also added The Riffle to my blog list. Cheers

  2. Awesome! Thanks Howard! I have owned some W&M glass rods, but don't have any now. When you say old Orvis reels, do you mean like CFO's or older ones like the Battenkills made by Young? As you will see if you read more of my posts, I like glass rods (old & new) and new reels, except for Hardy and Hardy clones...

  3. Scott, I have one CFO and every Battenkill made. Of course I'm only interested in the old (60s and 70s. Young, BFR, Hardy. I love them all.