Handmade fly reels from a bygone age

How fantastic is this? I’ve been talking to Tim Gelinas, owner of handmade fly reels brand, Farlex Reels, and I’m in the queue for one of his new 4″ raised pillar S-handle reels. In fact I’m at the front of the queue – I’ll be getting reel number 5. I don’t mind admitting, it’s a thing of beauty and I CANNOT WAIT to get my hands on it.

Farlex Reels

In this age of technology and with so many great fly fishing reels on the market, why would I order a handmade reel? I hear you ask.

Well, it’s a good question. I admit I’m a bit of a fishing tackle junky (aren’t we all?) and in the past I’ve paid significant sums of money for high performance reels, made from the latest lightweight materials, sporting innovative designs and featuring seemingly unbreakable disc drags. And don’t get me wrong – I love these reels. For big, hard-fighting fish, they’re indispensable.

Click and pawl reel

But the Farlex S-Handle is a completely different cup of tea. For starters it’s not a drag reel – it’s a traditional ‘click and pawl’ reel (see mechanism pictured above). It would be no use whatsoever for the fast-running, ultra-hard-fighting sea fish like giant trevally, bonefish and tarpon. I know that; but that’s not what I’ll be using this for. I’ll be using it for Atlantic salmon, and, if and when I ever make it over to the West Coast of North America, for steelhead. Secondly it’s hand-made. Aside from saltwater species like those mentioned above, the reality is you don’t need a disc drag to land the majority of fly-caught fish. It’s overkill. No, what you need is a reel that is a pure delight to use. You need a reel you can fall in love with. When fishing for the invariably elusive Atlantic salmon, the reality is that you’ll be spending a lot more time looking at your tackle than you will looking at a fish. In my opinion, you need a reel that will give you joy all by itself. And when you finally find yourself attached to a fish, you need a reel that’s going to make a sound that makes the hairs on your neck stand up.

Steelhead fly fishing

That’s why this reel is for me. While I love all kinds of fishing (I cannot wait for November when I’m heading to Cuba in pursuit of tarpon, bonefish and maybe a permit), I’m an absolute sucker for salmon fishing. And although catching a salmon is an important aspect of salmon fishing (of course!), for me, it’s not the be-all and end-all. I love the fishing itself. I love the surroundings; I love the wading; I love the cool, fresh air. I even love the rain! For me the journey is just as important as the destination.

I genuinely can’t think of anything better than working my way through a pool, practising my casting (and, hopefully, seeing an improvement). It’s hard to describe the satisfaction of covering a pool well, knowing that there wasn’t much you would have done differently could you go back in time and do it again. And, having covered such a pool, the feeling of your line tightening slowly on a fish – feeling that steady thump of a salmon’s tail – is quite unlike any other feeling on this planet. It’s heart stopping.

Listen to the pull on the reel in this video and imagine yourself, waist-deep in clear, fast-running water, hearing that for the first time – a big salmon attached to the end of your line. Magical.

Tim, thank you so much for the reel. As you can probably tell, I’m more than excited. And thank you for sending me this personal video. It may not have taken long to record – especially compared to the time spent making the reel, but it’s a personal touch I’ve literally never seen before. For all the fishing tackle… no, scratch that… For all the ANYTHING I have ordered in the past, I have never before received a personal video message, directly from the maker, showing me what I’ve ordered before it’s despatched. In an increasingly digital world, this kind of straightforward, no-nonsense, what-you-see-is-what-you-get customer service is rare, personal and incredibly special. For me it’s what sums up a Farlex Reel. I’m not ordering the latest sports car – I’m in the queue for a limited edition masterpiece, and I am proud to be in the Farlex club.

Best wishes,

Photographs courtesy of Farlex Reels

[Disclosure: Tim and I came to an agreement on the price of my reel, which included an allotment of advertising space on drowningworms.com. This has no bearing whatsoever on me writing this article. I am a customer like any other and, as agreed with Farlex Reels, I will be writing a genuine review of the S-Handle without bias and without cause to exaggerate. My feelings in the article above are 100% genuine.]

James Green About James Green

James Green loves nothing more than casting a fly in pursuit of salmon, seatrout or, when the opportunity arises, a tailing bonefish, tarpon or permit.