If you have, oh, $24,000 or $25,000 and some free time, I’d like you to spend a few months testing reels. Sound good? Great. Here’s what I’m looking for. The world of gear is… well… full… it is full of makers and brands and marketing hype and really, really short on objective comparisons. If you were to take all the bonefish-ready reels out there right now, I count 69, the price-tag would come to $23,264 (before taxes). There are reels under $50 and there are reels over $800 and the only thing you have to guide you in purchasing is name-recognition and brand reputation… which, in my mind comes down to marketing. What kind of performance do you actually get from the $800 reel? What kind of risk are you running with that $150 reel?
I wish Consumer Reports would pick this up and run with it, but I doubt that will happen. I wish Fly Fishing in Salt Waters or Fly Fisherman would do this, but that’s equally unlikely.
Here are some tests to put these reels through…
- Drops – That 3 foot drop off a table would be good to see tested.
- Sand – How does it work if you drop it in the sand, just for a second.
- Salt – Well… there is a lot out there and it is generally bad for gear.
- Big game pulls – If the thing breaks on a 10 pound bone… that would be good to know ahead of time.
- Heat – Sitting in the sun… heating up… might be bad for some reels, I’d guess.
- Smoothness of the drag – speaks for itself, really.
- start-up inertia – this gets talked about a lot… I’m not sure how that is measured though.
I want to see this done. I do wonder if gear makers would actually want their gear tested in some kind of objective way. What if the $200 reel and the $700 reel are identical in terms of performance and durability? Maybe the gap is huge. Maybe it would be really clear. Maybe the winners would be clear and the cork vs. carbon fiber debate could be settled. Of course, Middle East peace could break out too.
Field testing is just never going to do it. A week or a month or a season with a reel doesn’t really tell you anything because you have no real comparison… what you did in that week or month or year didn’t happen to the other 68… you didn’t put them through the same things.
So… if you find an extra, oh, $25K sitting around… let me know.
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