Revive - A Quarterly Fly Fishing Journal - Page 174

Built in the Heart of Fly Fishing Country

Bozeman, Montana serves as an epicenter of fly fishing. The fly rod and reel are the avenue by which you travel to your ‘heart’ of fly fishing. And so, although our tag line is “Built in the Heart of Fly Fishing”, we believe that the heart of fly fishing is wherever you find solace on the water. Bozeman became our proving ground on hallowed ground that has been fished by legends – living and gone. It started with prototype reels into the hands of skilled fishermen and women throughout Montana. Our team’s “athletes” are some of the state’s premier guides. These are men and women who have the skill to maneuver boats, the personality to entertain, the drive to read the water, the entomology to know the bugs, the love of fishing, the critical attention to detail with their equipment and the days on the water that influence our designs.

Form and function

Designing and building a new reel is more than the auto cad program and the CNC machining equipment used to transform aluminum into functional hardware. There are personalities that manage the computers and design details that are influenced by individuals. What began as a working model, quickly took on the reality that this was to be a cherished product. We often receive feedback about how sleek and sexy our reels look – moreso than the team had imagined. Sure, we took inputs from the famed designs of the past, but we also sought to create a look and feel our own. Our reels had to have a beautiful form, but also work better!

Early on in the process, we collaborated with the University of Montana to develop a reel testing machine. Electric motors, reel and rod mounts, computer interfaces and controllers were pieced together so that we could test various drag configurations. The machine looked a bit Rube Goldberg, but produced startling results that gave us data. We now had numbers and graphs that were used to fine-tune the design and lead the team forward.

We settled on just under 2 square inches of Rulon J as our drag material. It is sandwiched between stainless washers and the transfer washer allowing an (almost) single turn adjustment of the drag tension. It produces a minimal amount of start-up inertia almost ensuring that your reel works seamlessly with your rod to protect those tiny tippets. The drag is sealed to keep out the problematic environment and the Rulon is impervious to heat and humidity meaning that it works just as well in summer as in Montana’s ice-rimmed spring creeks.