Freeze-resistant reels [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Freeze-resistant reels

11-01-2006, 08:07 AM
I broke an Lamson LP3 when the one-way bearing froze solid (two little fingers on the spool that drop into the bearing just sheared off - Lamson replaced them for free)- that leads me to believe that reels with 1-way bearings are more vulnerable to freezeup than reels with one-way pawls. Also, cork (probably since it is oiled and water resistent) seems to work better than synthetic drag materials. I would also guess that reels with large drag surfgaces would work better than those with steel disks and little caliper-like drag pads.
I've used a Pate Salmon in below-zero weather and been rather amazed how well it avoided freeze-up.
Still, are there reels explicitly designed to work well and remain smooth in freezing temperatures?

11-01-2006, 07:42 PM
I haven't fished in ultra frigid temps but one has to assume that here is another place that a sealed drag can be of benefit - no moisture to freeze up.

You are welcome to try one of my growing collection of working Daniellson reels Josko. I'd be curious to see how they perform as I have not found any circumstances yet where they do not.

11-05-2006, 09:11 AM
I agree with Juro on the sealed drags. I never had any problems using my Lamson Litespeed in below freezing temps.

11-05-2006, 05:03 PM
This is a topic that comes up regularly among Great Lakes steelheaders. The only reel that I know of that was specifically designed to withstand those conditions was, and is, the Solitude reel. It's not particularly well known, but is very popular in the Michigan and Wisconsin area. It even has a handle longer than normal so that heavily gloved hands can use it with ease. They are still available and have been updated some so that they are an even better reel than before.

One-way bearings can freeze just like they can lock up from saltwater unless they are regularly lubed. I agree that the probelm is less likely with a gear and pawl clutch design. However, cork is always a problem in cold weather, especially when wading, as it tends to hydroplane if it gets even remotely wet. One would have to oil the drag on a very regular basis to prevent this. Synthetic drags are less prone to the hydroplaning. Sealed drags make the most sense, but remember that a lot of "sealed" drags are iffy at best and still require some regular maintenance. Most are sealed with O-rings and these do break down over time if ignored. If one spends a lot of time fishing in temperatures well below freezing you need to be just as reliable and regular about reel maintenance as the saltwater guys have learned to be.

11-06-2006, 04:56 PM
I deffinitley agree with Jr. Spey on Cork drags. Ray Schmidt (probably the most experienced guide in the great lakes region) will tell you that he has seen every cork drag reel on the market fail in MI winter steelheading. My favorite real for GL Steelheading is the Hardy Angel, the drag is completely sealed, synthetic and the tolerences are the finest in the industry but they are pricey (over 700). The other high end reel I like is the Sage lge arbor and the Van Stahl shows some promise. In the mid price ranges (200-450) I would look at the Ross Rhythm, New Ross Momentum, Lamson Litespeed. Below 200 The Orvis Battenkill mid-arbor, the teton, and the new Cortland Current are worth a look.

11-06-2006, 07:46 PM
I asked this question on another board and didn't quite get the information I'd hoped for. So . . . it turns out between me and some buddies I had enough reels to try a "freeze test."

Method: 1. fully immerse reel in water for one minute. 2. Store in freezer for one hour. 3. Remove and see how long it took to regain any functionaility, then to return to full functionality (f.f.). Results:

Loomis Venture. THis reel locked up tight, and I was afraid to force anything because I'd heard that someone broke a plastic gear that way. About 90 seconds to f.f.

Harris Solitude. This is "the steelhead reel," but it also locked up tight and was a good minute before returning to ff.

Orvis Battenkill. Ditto

Ross Canyon Big Game. Ditto. Note though that this reel and the Harris do have oversize handle and drag control, making them pretty easy to handle through gloves.

Aurora Cross Creek (simple click-pawl). Someone on another board said that simple click pawl reels (like a Hardy St. John) might be the best solution, and this test somewhat bears this out. I could get this reel partly functional in about ten seconds, and f.f. in about 30.

Lamson Litespeed. This reel was partly functional in 5-10 seconds and returned to f.f. in about 30. Problem: the drag knob and the handle both seem undersized and def. not for fishing with gloves.

Tibor Everglades. Believe me, I thought twice before outting this heirloom-quality reel in the freezer! But it came back to part functionality almost immediately and f.f. within 15-20 seconds. I was really surprised by this, since I thought this cork-drag reel was maybe designed with the tropics in mind. But it was the best performer for me.

So . . . there it is for what it's worth. Your results may vary!

11-07-2006, 05:18 AM
Tibor's are great reels. You get what you pay for. FishHawk

11-07-2006, 06:45 AM
The Tibor/Billy Pates are the best of the cork drag reels and seem to out perform the Ables in cold weather. One quick word of warning , the Tibor must still be properly lubed to berform in cold weather and I've seen them fail a couple of times. I still prefer the synthetic drags for cold weather. I'll try that test on my Angel when I get back home.. Good take on the Lamsons, I've always liked their drags but thought they badly needed handle upgrades.

11-07-2006, 09:29 AM
the more I read the more I like my HD and LW's from their originators

handles might be short for mittens though... but then again if normal fishing gloves aren't enough it's time to go bonefishing or chasin' poon in the tropics IMHO :smokin:

Jim Miller
11-07-2006, 10:35 AM
I fish 3 reels
Tibor everglades
Lamson (older)
Orvis Mach

All have performed well w/ little freeze up.
Try not to submerse the reel! :tsk_tsk:

The other problem is when the wet line is put back on the reel and it then freezes. It's at that point that you get a screamer steelie on ..... and the line does not come off the spool smoothly ...... snap!!!!! :whoa:

Then there is always the guides freezing up.....
Ah the pleasures of winter steelheading! :Eyecrazy:

11-10-2006, 08:58 AM
I have been using reels made by Danielsson AB ( HD and LW) for near 4 years fishing in Alaska, Europe or Lake Ontario tributaries. They are flawless!!!!! and very durable.


11-13-2006, 10:13 PM
Well I just tried my Hardy Angel with the "finger freeze test". The Results:

I felt a slight bit of resistance and then the reel functioned literally instantly! This included the drag which worked flawlessly as soon as I pulled the reel out of the freezer! This confirms my suspicions that allthough it is not cheap their NO BETTER performing reel for cold weather.

11-14-2006, 03:01 PM
how does the tibor outperform the abel personal preference or something else :confused:

11-15-2006, 07:56 AM
Can anyone give me a solid argument why Tibor or Abel, with open drag, should be a better reel then Danielsson reels like HD or LW?

The HD or LW has sealed, extremely reliable drag and both models ( LW, HD) have passed over the time every possible test in fresh and salt water environment .
Finally, when Danielsson started to sell directly form the factory, the price dropped from
$780 for HD model to $430, which is 200-300 less then Tibor.

11-15-2006, 04:49 PM
I'm an abel man. I bought a new super 8 on ebay last week for 350.00 with paperwork. :smokin: Retail is 675.00 what a deal.

I've tried the disk drag reels and they seem to lock up on every piece of dirt salt or grit you lay them in. It might just be me. I don't like to dip my reels in water to clean every 30 minutes.

I'm not saying abel is better than tibor or Danielsson or vise verse. I just like to collect and use abel reels. Made in the good ole USA.

And if you look you can buy them reasonably. I've never looked for the others.

11-15-2006, 06:38 PM
I donít dip my reels deliberately into water, but when wading, casting or fighting a fish for many days in very remote and rugged territory, I have a hard time to avoid keeping my reel dry or protected from dust.

Danielsson reels donít collect the dirt on drag carbon disks, because the drag chamber is 100% sealed !They way the chamber is sealed is amazingly simple and extremely effective. Every part in the reels has been designed with Swedish precision.