Stillwater DX 7/8 fly reel
£29.99 at www.fishingmegastore.com
If you’re looking for a die-cast reel at a very good price then this is definitely one to look at. The Stillwater DX reel comes in two sizes, a 7/8 and a 5/6 and both cost just £29.99 with spare spools available at £14.99.
I had the 7/8 model to review and while it is a large arbor design it is a smaller, more compact reel than many others on the market. It has a matt black finish and a distinctive metallic red spindle that houses the disc drag components.
The reel is an open face design and both the cage and spool have been ventilated to keep weight down, but without compromising its overall integrity and strength. To remove the spool from the cage is a simple pull and push fit, no levers to depress or knobs to turn, making it quick and easy.
The spool has a lovely concave profile so the line sits well on the spool. The disc drag mechanism is all housed in a sealed unit, which will stop any grit or dirt from getting in. It is operated by a large, easily adjusted three-spoke knob on the back of the reel cage.
For a reel of this price the drag is extremely efficient and sensitive on the different settings. It has an audible click on the ‘line out’ and ‘line in’ functions. The stated capacity of the reel is a WF8 line plus 150 yards of 20lb backing which is a little optimistic.
A standard WF7 line with 100 yards of 20lb is easily achievable, and if a WF8 was going on I would use a micro or gel-core backing which would enable you to get sufficient on. It comes with a drawstring cloth bag.
VERDICT: A brilliant price for a very efficient workhorse of a reel.
Tom Regula customised rods
While a mass-produced fly rod will obviously do its job, you may be looking for something a bit different, something that is unique to you. A ‘bespoke’ fly rod will be an object of desire; just yours and no one else will have it. It can be custom-built to your own exact specifications and requirements.
It could even become a family heirloom to hand down to your family. Intrigued? Then check out the website of Tom Regula who has 30 years experience of making custom-built rods built on quality blanks to exacting standards. He will build you a rod on a top-of-the-range blank from manufacturers such as Sage, Orvis, G Loomis, Thomas and Thomas, and RL Winston.
He will also assist in picking the appropriate model for your own specific needs. You can be as involved in the whole rod building process as you like so you end up with the rod that’s perfect for your needs.
The rod that Tom sent me as an example of his work is built on a Sage Z-Axis 9ft 6in 7wt blank and features a bespoke rod handle and reel seat. It comes with a rod bag and rod tube and the cost for this particular rod is £750 plus p&p.
The handle is a stunning piece of craftsmanship and I’ve certainly never seen anything quite like it before. It marries quality beechwood inserts with high grade Portuguese cork which not only looks beautiful, but also allows you to feel the way the blank works, registering even the softest of takes.
This is because the wooden inserts, which are in touch with the carbon fibre blank, are denser than cork, giving this added sensitivity. Even though this rod wasn’t customised for me, the handle was a perfect fit, my thumb and the heel of my hand sitting on the beechwood inserts while my forefingers wrapped around the cork sections giving the perfect grip.
It is one of the smoothest, most comfortable rod handles I’ve come across, and provided an excellent grip even when wet. The reel seat with its beechwood insert is self centering and is a single ring uplocking design that has been handcrafted from a solid bar of bronze.
Tom obviously has a real fine eye for detail, and he uses top quality materials including aged wood.
VERDICT: This is a beautiful rod and while the wood/cork handle does make for a heavier outfit, it really wasn’t noticeable at all when I was fishing. Quality craftsmanship in a rod that’s truly unique.