Fly Reel Build

FreeflyFreefly Posts: 15 Greenhorn
I'm not a fly fisherman yet, but I've always been interested in giving it a try. I then got distracted by all the unique reels out there and thought it would be more fun to build a reel. So after some consulting with my brother (he actually fly fishes) I came up with a design for 5/6 wt 3.5" reel. It doesn't have clicker in this design, but a one-way bearing driving a disc drag. Most of the components are 6061 aluminum with stainless bearings and stainless hardware. It's a work in progress so no final weight yet. Actually I expect this first reel just to be a proof of concept that will get butchered a few times to work out the bugs. Enough talk, time for some pictures...

FlyReel2.jpg

FlyReel1.jpg

FlyReel3.jpg

FlyReel4.jpg

FlyReel6.jpg

FlyReel5.jpg

If anyone else out there has built a reel before, give a shout. I'm interested in learning any tricks or hearing about experiences. Thanks!
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Replies

  • acesoveracesover Posts: 550 Officer
    Wow, heck of a project, look forward to seeing the finished reel!
    FYIWFG
  • sparse greysparse grey Posts: 1,743 Captain
    Serious looking stuff. Well done & good luck.
    Ron Conner Release the fish, keep the memories. Once a Knight is enough.
  • irishff727irishff727 Posts: 939 Officer
    Awesome wish I had that kind if skill, ability or patience

    Time enjoyed wasted usually means I've been fishing
    time enjoyed wasted is not wasted time
  • saltybumsaltybum Posts: 1,547 Captain
    If you need some field testers, let us know. Be happy to put one of the prototypes to work for you.
    Keep the progress photos coming!
  • JohnnyTsuJohnnyTsu Posts: 133 Deckhand
    Awesome!!
  • DowntownNashDowntownNash Posts: 182 Officer
    Interested in making a few to sell?
    signature.png
  • FreeflyFreefly Posts: 15 Greenhorn
    Thanks! I'll keep the updates coming. Since this project is in the development phase I expect to correct many issues before it's comparable in quality to commercially produced reels. I honestly can't say when I'd be comfortable with the quality before I'd sell one. The last thing I'd want to do is sell a product that doesn't meet a customer's expectations and has growing pains to be worked out still. So far I have about $50 in materials and about 30 hours of labor into it. The machining time can really be reduced with some custom fixtures and spread loading the machine setup time across a run of multiple reels, but again that's production optimization. I'm still working on design optimization.
  • LeeHLeeH Posts: 121 Officer
    You know most Flyfishermen just get hung up on tying flys :rotflmao

    Nice looking work, I don't get to see much old school style drafting or machine work anymore, CADD and CAM took alot of fun out of my life.
  • Permit RatPermit Rat Posts: 2,282 Officer
    I am assuming this will be a direct drive reel? If I am correct, then one comment......I see you ventilated the inside spool cheek. Fine. But if the holes are too big and/or the edges are not rounded sufficiently, it will cause pain and blisters on the thumb of the angler who is trying to apply additional pressure on a big fish, like a tarpon. That said, I have no idea of the size of the reel and the issue is not so critical in (say) a 7 or 8 wt.

    Personally, I prefer the inside of my spools to be solid. The weight you saved by making those holes, will probably not add up to 1/8 oz. in saved weight. With solid spools, problems with pain and blisters become non-existant. Some argue that the holes facillitate the flushing out of sand and debris that may get in there. My come-back is that if the holes weren't there, then not so much sand and debris would get in. Again, this is only for the inside cheek of the spool.

    Looks like the beginnings of a helluva reel, though. Bulletproof, judging by the wall thickness of your frame. Also love the diameter of the spool shaft. Kudos.
    .......Rick
  • FreeflyFreefly Posts: 15 Greenhorn
    Lots of good things I really didn't consider. Thanks for the insight. Yes it will be direct drive. My brother mentioned his technique for assisting the drag was to apply palm pressure on the outer lip of the spool, so I designed with that in mind. I'm assuming your method is to pinch the spool cheek and frame with your thumb and index finger to add drag, correct? If that's the case do you prefer a smaller knob to prevent interference when doing that? I could definitely design future spools to have an ergonomic groove on the cheek. The frame is mainly 0.125" thick in most features but is 0.063" in some areas for rotating clearances.

    I've been working on the mounting foot, but encountered the need to make some mandrels and fixtures to properly hold the workpiece for various machining operations. This really is a learn-as-I-go process. I'd love to have CAM and CNC tools at my disposal, but I just use my equipment for hobby work 90% of the time and can't afford the fancy stuff. I'll try to post some more pics hopefully this weekend.
  • Carl BlackledgeCarl Blackledge Posts: 674 Officer
    Sir,

    Have you ever looked at any other reels? That bearing your using looks more like a wheel bearing then something that works in a reel. Why not tear an ABEL apart get a better ideal what it is your trying to make. So far that reel looks like something from mars, and would weight a ton. my 2 cents.

    Carl
  • fish_stixfish_stix Posts: 1,234 Officer
    Good grief CB! You don't start out on a project like this with a finished product. Absolutely nothing wrong with the beginning machine work. I'd bet the finished reel he comes up with will be a jewel. Abels weren't built in a day either and had many hiccups along the way!
  • irishff727irishff727 Posts: 939 Officer
    fish_stix wrote: »
    Good grief CB! You don't start out on a project like this with a finished product. Absolutely nothing wrong with the beginning machine work. I'd bet the finished reel he comes up with will be a jewel. Abels weren't built in a day either and had many hiccups along the way!

    X2

    Time enjoyed wasted usually means I've been fishing
    time enjoyed wasted is not wasted time
  • nicknick Posts: 4,396 Captain
    I don't fly fish but that's bad***
  • acesoveracesover Posts: 550 Officer
    irishff727 wrote: »
    X2

    Time enjoyed wasted usually means I've been fishing
    X3
    FYIWFG
  • saltybumsaltybum Posts: 1,547 Captain
    Reminds me of people who critique a painting before it's done.
    I offer them the brush and say "Here, Take over". The usual reply. . . "Oh I can't paint".

    Freefly, I live right across the bridge and will be happy to field test it when it's ready.
  • Permit RatPermit Rat Posts: 2,282 Officer
    Freefly wrote: »
    Lots of good things I really didn't consider. Thanks for the insight. Yes it will be direct drive. My brother mentioned his technique for assisting the drag was to apply palm pressure on the outer lip of the spool, so I designed with that in mind. I'm assuming your method is to pinch the spool cheek and frame with your thumb and index finger to add drag, correct? If that's the case do you prefer a smaller knob to prevent interference when doing that? I could definitely design future spools to have an ergonomic groove on the cheek. The frame is mainly 0.125" thick in most features but is 0.063" in some areas for rotating clearances.

    I've been working on the mounting foot, but encountered the need to make some mandrels and fixtures to properly hold the workpiece for various machining operations. This really is a learn-as-I-go process. I'd love to have CAM and CNC tools at my disposal, but I just use my equipment for hobby work 90% of the time and can't afford the fancy stuff. I'll try to post some more pics hopefully this weekend.


    I never liked palming, but again, that is just me. My method (and many do this) is to hold the reel flat in your right hand (handle UP, so as not to hit anything) Then just curl your thumb up and over the outside edge of the frame, until it makes contact with the spool cheek. I think this is a much more stable approach and with practice, you can do this while holding the rod over your head, if need be. I used to have a photo, showing this, but I think it is long gone...lost a few computers ago, in fact.

    Handle length is of little consequence, so long as it is not too short or long. You can get an idea from another mfgr's handle. Long ago, when almost all fly reels were RH retrieve, it was said that the reason was, so that the fly line did not catch on the handle during the cast. Well, I use RH retrieve, simply because that is how I "grew up," but I have fished with plenty of fishermen using LH retrieve reels and I have never seen a problem.

    Down the road, your biggest problem, will be matching the weight of the counterbalance, to that of the handle....AND positioning it in the EXACT proper position, opposite the handle. I don't know if a CNC machine can do this, or even what the big mfgrs use. But the makers with "ultra smooth" reels, have it down pat.
    .......Rick
  • FreeflyFreefly Posts: 15 Greenhorn
    Haha, I've had quite a few volunteers for testing. I should give my little brother a lesson in technical writing and have him draft some Acceptance Test Procedures for the reel. Give him some practical english experience and add to the proof of concept.

    I've looked at a couple reels (Ross, Nautilus, G-Loomis) and noticed some used a plain bronze bearing and other used the one way bearing for supporting radial loads (not all one-way bearings are designed for radial loading and may not engage when reversed). I decided to used a stainless ball bearing (0.5" ID 1.125" OD x 0.25" wide) as the main supporting bearing. Sure it looks stout, but it doesn't have a significant amount of mass. I'm also using a one-way bearing, but it was only designed to engage the drag disc. It very well may be able support the spool, but that would be a poor design assumption. Anyone can reverse engineer things (look at the Chinese military hardware and Iran's new drone), but I'd rather blaze my own path and learn the reason behind a design from my own experience.

    Good point on the spool balance. The rotational mass balance of the spool shouldn't be too difficult. I work as an engineer with turbomachinery and frequently deal with this issue. I will likely create the knob and weigh it, then create the counterbalance to match the knob's mass. To get the components located polar opposite of each other, I'll use the rotary table (seen in pic with the spool being milled). I should be able to get the locations within a tolerance of +/-0.002" radial distance and +/-0.1 degrees polar. I may need to make a test rig to inspect the balance of the spool assembled...that may take some creativity.

    I made some progress on the mounting foot last night. Next I'll get the foot mounting features done on the frame and make the drag knob. Should have some more pics ready by Monday.
  • acesoveracesover Posts: 550 Officer
    Very interesting thread, it gives insight to something I thought was a pretty simple piece of equipment. Never thought so much went into a fly reel.
    FYIWFG
  • PermitchaserPermitchaser Posts: 871 Officer
    tight work ,you got know your ***** to do that.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • Permit RatPermit Rat Posts: 2,282 Officer
    Freefly, the strongest reel foot-to-reel mounting connection that I have ever seen, was on the original John Emery reels. The thing was actually keyed. You slide the foot onto the reel sideways, until 2 screw holes line up. Apply screws.

    John gave me an extra foot, before he died, but the danged thing was not drilled and I do not know if it is even possible to line up new holes.
    .......Rick
  • Bill@NSBBill@NSB Posts: 207 Officer
    Very interesting thread. Please keep us updated. I like the keyed foot idea. I had an old penn fly reel that had one screw strip when I tightened it.
  • irishff727irishff727 Posts: 939 Officer
    I can't wait to see the finished product. Shoot I may even commission you to make me one lol

    Time enjoyed wasted usually means I've been fishing
    time enjoyed wasted is not wasted time
  • FreeflyFreefly Posts: 15 Greenhorn
    Never would've thought about the keyed fit idea. Thanks for the heads-up! Right now I'm planning on using two #8 screws to secure the foot to the frame.

    So this is the latest progress; roughed out the profile of the foot on the mill, then had to make a mandrel to hold the foot in the lathe.

    FlyReel7.jpg

    Then set the taper attachment to 8 degrees per an AFTMA reel foot drawing I found online.

    FlyReel9.jpg

    I also finished milling the frame and mocked it up with it sitting on foot. I haven't milled the radiused contour in the foot so it's sitting pretty high in these pics. I also messed up with trying to mill the upper and lower frame ears that cover the spool and act as the attachment point for the foot. They aren't exactly 180 degrees opposite of each other. I'll need to work on a better setup for milling these features. Here's a pic of the parts thus far.

    FlyReel10.jpg

    Here's the retrieve side mocked up.

    FlyReel12.jpg

    Here's the frame side mocked up. I still need to make the drag adjustment knob.

    FlyReel11.jpg
  • irishff727irishff727 Posts: 939 Officer
    Looks sweet man. Can't wait for the finished product

    Time enjoyed wasted usually means I've been fishing
    time enjoyed wasted is not wasted time
  • tarawatarawa Posts: 144 Officer
    Great work. You should also post this on the reel making forum.
    www.reelsmithing.com
    Life Is For Service
  • clampmanclampman Posts: 130 Officer
    That's an ambitious project and a nice looking job. Congradulations.

    One thought about mounting the reel foot if you have not yet drilled for it is that you may want to offset it towards the frame side so the reel will hang plumb when the rod is loosely held in the hand. The frame side will likely be quite a bit heavier than the spool side.

    The Tibor Gulfstream, for instance, is way heavier on the frame side, so they have offset the reel foot towards that side. The spool edge to reel foot edge is 0.840". The spool edge to frame edge is 0.440" a difference of better than 3/8".

    There is another advantage, for me, to that setup besides just balancing the reel that I didn't realize for quite a while.

    That reel is called upon to crank in lots of backing that needs to be wound onto the spool relatively level. With conventional gear (right-hand), the line can be pushed to the right with the thumb and pushed back left with the index finger.

    With fly gear and a big fish on, this technique doesn't work well for me at all, so I use my index and middle finger and it is much easier with this technique to push the line to the spool side than pull it to the frame side.

    So the Tibor offset reel foot makes this way easier. Just a thought if you make yourself a big reel.

    Cheers,
    Jim
  • irishff727irishff727 Posts: 939 Officer
    Any more pics ?

    Time enjoyed wasted usually means I've been fishing
    time enjoyed wasted is not wasted time
  • FreeflyFreefly Posts: 15 Greenhorn
    I've made some progress but not much. Just made the spool knob and the drag knob. The drag knob is way too big, I need to figure out a better design to slim it down. I'll try to get some more pics later this week. Gonna try to finish the spool counterweight tonight. Also waiting on some hardware from McMaster Carr.
  • FreeflyFreefly Posts: 15 Greenhorn
    Hacked out some more work on my reel: finished mounting foot, made spool knob & counterweight, and made two different drag knobs. They're a bit bulky, so I'd like to make them more slim. I need to make the attachment holes for the spool & hub and install stainless screws next. The drag system has some pretty good friction and seems to modulate across a decent range. I'm probably just gonna treat it with Alodine 1201 for now, but may look into anodizing future reels down the road.

    FlyReel13.jpg

    FlyReel14.jpg

    FlyReel15.jpg
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