Mike Ladle


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Tackle and Tactics.

THINK LIKE A FISH Part 39 Reels.

Having written about lines I thought that it might be worth a few words about reels. Essentially I only use two types - a fixed spool and a fly reel - although I still have multipliers for the odd occasion when I go boat fishing these days. There are two main aspects of interest when it comes to picking yourself a reel (apart from the price!). Firstly, whether it will do the job you want it to do (hold enough line of the right breaking strain, cast lures/baits of the weight that you need to use, give line to hooked fish without spinning out of control or jamming up solid). Secondly, whether it will tolerate salt water (this seems to worry a lot of people and the tackle manufacturers make great play of it in their adverts).

Let's take the fly reel first. I've only had a few of these in my fishing lifetime, all of them were cheap (20?), trout-size, ones with just a two-way ratchet and no other drag. All of them were used in the harshest possible conditions - often splashed with salt water, used to play many fish of three to six pounds and given very little attention. Like all my reels they were left attached to the rods for most of their lives and propped up in the corner of the room that I am sitting in now when not in use. Normally the mechanism was stuffed with Vaseline to give it a bit of lubrication and protection but otherwise nothing! Rarely did the reels let me down in any way. Over a few years the anodised coating tends to chip and scratch and the reel acquires a white powdery coating of aluminium salts. This has little effect on the functioning of the reel. So, there is probably no need to lash out on expensive fly reels if you just want to try catching a few bass and mullet on the fly. If you are going to the tropics to fly fish for permit, snook, bonefish, tarpon and the like, it may be worth investing a bit more in the reel. Not only is warm salt water very corrosive but you may need a drag and a fair amount of backing to give you a chance of landing fish. However, by far the worst enemy of the reel, wherever you fish, is half-an-hour in a closed bag, box or car boot.

My main fixed spool reels these days are two Shimano 6010 baitrunners - I think that you can still get them for about 70. To be frank I rarely use the baitrunner facility even when I'm after carp and I'd be just as happy without it. The reels are about the right size for my spinning rod (not too heavy or bulky) and the spools hold far more line than I ever need. The clutch seems to be pretty reliable, the roller seems to put up with braided line, the bale arm mechanism is OK (I always flick it over with my hand after casting anyway - this makes sure I tidy the braid on the spool before retrieving). As with the fly reel the fixed spools often get, more or less, dunked in the sea. To counter the effects of salt water I am fairly liberal with the 3 in 1 oil on all the moving parts (once every month or two). Again the reels stay on the rods almost all the time (except when I go on holiday). After years of use they are both working well and show no real signs of corrosion. By having two the same, if one packs in I can use it as spares for its mate. Before the Shimanos I used to use ABU Cardinal 77's and they were also pretty reliable. I changed makes when they altered the design of the reels.

If you have any comments or questions about fish, methods, tactics or 'what have you.' get in touch with me by sending an E-MAIL to - docladle@hotmail.com


Think like a fish.


My current fly reel.

This reel was given to me by my son Richard when my previous one was on its last legs.

Mullet caught on the fly using Richard's reel.

Being dumped on a pile of rotting seaweed is about the least abuse that this reel can expect.

Shimano 6010.

This spool is loaded with 30lb Whiplash.  Another advantage of sticking to the same type of reel is the fact that the spools are interchangeable.

A bass caught by plugging using the 6010.

The braid on this spool was given to me by my pal Dave and has been well used.

Reel storage.

This is how my reels spend most of their time.

Spinning in Ireland 1997.

This reel was fairly new then but is still doing good service.


The manufacturers would say that this reel is neither for salt water nor for spinning but it copes well with both.  This was the only real bit of corrosion I could find after six years