Fly Reel Review
By Jeroen Schoondergang for Eat, Sleep, Fish
Solitude Fly Reel – handcrafted, beautiful and affordable…
Opinions about the ideal fly reel for the Low Countries vary from a simple line storage device to a high tech piece of art with a drag to stop a train on the run. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. The drag on your fly reel of choice should be in good working order. Not because you will need it to stop any of the fish you are likely to hook over here, but mostly because a faulty drag can cause a reel to freeze.
Another mark of a quality reel is very low tolerance between spool and frame. The frame should be tough enough not to bend when dropped and the reel should have a good anodising finish to avoid corrosion and scratching.
Fly reels that meet these requirements, are often the product of reelmakers with a near obsessive passion for their craft. Jonathan Knapp of the Solitude reel company, probably fits this description.
The sense of precision with which Knapp and his colleagues construct and assemble the Solitude reels, suggests that we are dealing with a priceless piece of engineering. It comes as a great surprise that the Solitude reels are actually very affordable, even with the costs of ordering one overseas taken in consideration. The reel becomes an even better bargain if you order spools with different arbor-widths, that are available for the Solitude 4 and 5. I use a large arbor Solitude 4 on my seven weight and have the standard arbor spool filled with a copious amount of backing and a WF9 line.
The Solitude is a well-constructed fly reel. It has an excellent drag which will be of great help on fishing trips abroad, when tangling with tropical flats or ocean dwelling denizens.
The finish is flawless. Solitudes are protected by high quality anodizing and while anodizing, Knapp and colleagues haven’t forgotten to give the inside of the reel, including the drag housing a once over. The handle on the Solitude 3 and upwards is available in two sizes to accommodate skinny and big fingers.
After a winter of trying out the reels, I can only find one flaw: the reels aren’t (yet) available in The Netherlands. However, Solitue offers a fast and reliable service for overseas buyers. Ordering a reel directly from the manufacturer is certainly worth considering.
Eat, Sleep, Fish a not for profit fly fishing ezine bringing you fly fishing adventures from the U.K. and further afield.