So when he picked up the reel later, the grumpy dude was gone and the new dude was quite pleasant.
However, he showed me the set up this morning and they rigged the reel up all wrong. It's one of those cheapy $26 okuma reels with click/pawl drag in only one direction. So when the line goes out there is no drag as it is presently rigged(and backlash central), only drag on the retrieve.
Ah, well... I'll check out Charlie's Fly Box as suggested. Thanks for the tip.