comparison of automatic fly reels used to store throw line
I know many of you use automatic fly fishing reels to keep your throw line tidy in the tree tops. I recently purchased two different models on Ebay and thought a head to head comparison might be helpful here. I’m also hoping that by posting here, other auto reel users will chime in with your experiences so I can learn more, too.
I bought a Shakespeare Silent Tru-art Number 1837 model GB for $10 plus $6 shipping...
...and a Pflueger Superex automatic reel for $12 plus $8 shipping. I’m assuming my Pflueger is a model 775 based on comparing pictures on eBay, but there is no model number stamped on mine and the recoil lever is configured slightly differently than those marked “Model 775” (see pictures below). The outside diameter of my Pflueger is 9 centimeters, and the height between the top and bottom plate available for the throw line is 17mm.
Both reels use a simple coiled spring and a 2-sprocket gear system to wind in the line when a lever is pushed. The user can add or decrease spring tension at any time to help wind the line up or relieve extra tension. That generally isn’t required, though, once the reel is loaded unless you are using a very small diameter line.
Both reels were made in the USA of all metal parts and are remarkably sturdy. Both wind the line back in smoothly and quickly, and both can be disassembled to almost individual components. The Shakespeare's base, bobbin, and spring housing separate with the removal of just the bottom screw.
This is a plus if in-field repair is needed, but that is not likely given the simple mechanism and sturdy construction. The Pflueger has more screws to undo, but that might be an advantage if parts ever need to be replaced or you want to give the reel a thorough cleaning.
The Shakespeare weighs 10 ounces (without line) and holds 42 feet of 2.2mm Zing-it. Doing the math, I assume I could fit ~53 feet of 1.75mm throw line or ~66 feet of 1.4mm Fling-it on the reel. The bobbin the throw line coils up on is aluminum and very slippery and I couldn’t find a good knot capable of cinching the throw line on. That’s not a huge deal – eventually the line catches and winds up, but not before wasting a good portion of the spring tension. What I resorted to was drilling a small hole through the top of the barrel, threading a piece of fly line through the hole and tying a double fisherman’s stopper knot on the back side. Then I used a double sheet bend to attach the throwline to the ~3 inch fly line leader.
The Pflueger weighs 8 and 3/4 ounces empty, but only holds 24 feet of 2.2mm Zing-it (or ~30 feet 1.75mm line, or ~38 feet of 1.4mm Fling-It). The bobbin of the Pflueger has a notch in it to attach the line, but it is too small to accommodate throw line so I used a fly line leader and double sheet bend to attach the throw line.
One advantage of the Pflueger is that it has a line guide that helps when pulling out and winding in the line.
One small disadvantage of the Pflueger is that when adding spring tension, the reel makes a clicking sound. Since the Pfluegers were manufactured before the Shakespeares, I imagine that Shakespeare emphasized the "silent"-ness of their reel because fly fishers didn't like the ratcheting click of the Pflueger.
As an aside, Nickfrom WI has a nice YouTube video of how he uses his Pflueger superex 775 auto reel. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xn6ATuhP ... ature=plcp
So what reel do I plan to use in the canopy? The extra capacity of the Shakespeare is the deciding factor for me, although I have to admit I wish the Pflueger was bigger because I like the look and feel of it better. I have some 1.75mm Fling-It on order and hope to be able to get 50+ feet of it on the Shakespeare.
Other automatic reels that I don't have personal experience with include:
1) The “Miracle” from Kalamazoo Tackle Company. The Miracle was actually manufactured by Shakespeare (see http://antiquefishingreels.info/FAQbrands.htm
) and looks to be almost identical to the Shakespeare Silent Tru-art. (Shakespeare’s company headquarters is Kalamazoo, MI). The “Miracle” is mentioned in Richard Preston’s book, "Wild Trees – A Story of Passion and Daring", as Steve Sillett’s preferred auto reel.
2) There was an upstate NY manufacturer of reels known as Horrocks-Ibbotson (or simply H-I) that made auto reels as well. The H-I reels seem to be pretty rare and beat up when they do appear on Ebay.
3) Pflueger made a model 755 which looks comparable to the Shakespeare Silent Tru-art, but appears to have a smaller line capacity.
I saw one hint that Pflueger made a large capacity version of the Superex auto reel known as the model 778, but I have only seen it mentioned here: http://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/5837077
4) Pflueger still manufactures an auto reel (model 1195) that sells for about $30. You can see one here: http://www.amazon.com/Pflueger-1195X-Au ... B0000ATUNA