It was the night before the final charter to Farquhar when Ryan Hammond reached into his tackle bag.
“You want to see something cool?”
I wasn’t expecting a prototype reel, I can tell you that much. It was a long way from completion, but I could see where it was going, and more importantly why it was going there.
Saltwater Fly fishing today isn’t what it was in Flip and Billys day. There is a new breed of angler happier on foot than on the bow of a skiff. I’m one of those beach sprinters, and in a genuine cry for help in a forum showed how new school this fishing is.
“I need a reel that I can drop in the sand, wash it off and that has enough drag to stop a fish dead in its tracks- HELP!”
This completely confused most of the forumers. “What are you doing?” “Why?” (a lot of those). So I had to paint the picture for the crowd.
“Im walking down the beach on an island, Im carrying two rods (its quicker) when I spot a GT. It only in range for a second, so I drop the one reel and sprint to get the shot.”
This confused the group even more.
“Why do you carry two rods?”
“Ya, Why two rods? A nine weight can do everything”
“Why don’t you carry a stripping basket, and first put that nicely on the sand?”
“Whats a GT?”
Ok never mind I thought, not the right place to ask that question. I ended up buying a sealed drag reel. Which is really good at getting sand stuck in between the frame and spool and now stays at home. Looks awesome though.
The prototype I was shown that night became the Wade series of reels (which is being released in August). The tag line is “reels built for water” and a better pedigree of designers you will not find. This is a group of men that travels the world and tests countless products to destruction. Better yet, they get to see clients products tested to destruction.
That week in Farquhar cost our group three reels (two of which are the sealed drag variety that cost the angler the fish of his life, and around 1800 dollars the week before- or should I say, 1800plus). I was lucky to get away with two drag bearings and a reel handle. I’m a full-fledged Tibor mechanic by now though, so I’m used to that. My Tibor is my Land Rover, you’ve got to be a good mechanic to own it if you fish like me.
You can tie a reel to a motorcycle, test start up inertia in a lab, dunk it in water with table salt, whatever. Testing a reel in a lab is like testing a car on a dyno.
Fish for a week in the tropics on foot. Spend all day sopping wet submerged with your reel, climb some coral, dive in some holes after bumpies, sleep in the sand waiting for clouds to pass and retire for the evening having forgotten to wash them off. Then wake up in the morning and connect to a Giant Trevally. That’s a test. After that week see how much the drag sound or colour of anodizing still matters to you. You’ll go for the AK47, not the M17. I think we finally have our AK47 boys.