I realized recently that I had overlooked the fact that I had purchased and used some new SpearGear at the beginning of the Summer of 2011 and hadn't gotten around to posting about it (here or in SpearGear). This article is going to be one that definitely crosses over between SpearViews and SpearGear because of the fact that I do own it but I definitely think it's worthy of a review as well. In the end, SpearViews won the coin toss deciding where I would put the article (especially after I read it and realized it was totally SpearViews content).
Over the past few years reels have gone from being specialty items that only experienced blue water spearfisherman used to very commonplace utilitarian devices that are now found on just about any size speargun. I myself used to think that reels were nothing more than a whole lot more line to deal with or get tangled up with after taking a shot, but after I purchased my first Euro with a pre-installed reel I soon saw the error of my ways.
That particular gun was a departure for me in more ways than one. I had always (and almost singularly) owned Competitor series Riffe spearguns up to that point (with a No-Ka-Oi thrown in for good measure) and I had never even considered a reel as necessary for our particular style of spearfishing. While I loved (and still do) those guns and still own a number of them and while my experience with the Riffe Euro wasn't love at first sight, it was definitely a turning point for me. Not only did I fall in love with the balance of the new gun and the ease with which I could track my quarry through the water, the reel on that gun soon came to be my favorite commodity on my guns.
That first Euro came with the original nylon Sporasub reel that the Euro's could be ordered with (in the pre-NF horizontal reel days) and historically has turned out to be an excellent reel. It has not failed me yet and the huge nylon drag nut is easy to work with or without gloves and in the heat of the moment that usually follows that shot on the big one. The fact is that if it weren't for that very reel, I would have lost my personal best Mutton Snapper that I shot on my first Summer dive of 2010 (see May 22, 2010 - It's about time).
But this new reel is the epitome of form, strength and function. The capacity on the NF reel makes it a little bit of overkill for shallow water reef fishing, but I find myself making excuses to grab the gun with my new reel because it is such a pleasure to use. As I mentioned the capacity is nothing to sneer at. It can hold about 200' of 600# kevlar or dyneema (which happens to be the same as the original vertical Riffe reel that in comparison looks so much larger. The profile of the horizontal reel makes it so that the general tracking characteristics I came to love in the Euro gun are not affected in any large manner. By comparison the vertical reel sits on a vertically mounted brackett that increases the gun's profile considerably and I would imagine also affect the tracking of the gun as well ("I imagine" because I don't have personal experience with that reel).
The drag system is absolutely dreamy. The simplicity of a lever action drag is so effective that I can't imagine why more reels don't have a similar system for their drag. While I love the simplicity of the drag system, I do have one complaint about it, and it's not one of function but rather preference. After mounting the reel on my gun, I noticed that I would have preferred the lever to be on the opposite side. Assuming it would be reversible, I immediately took the reel apart to set it up the way I wanted but alas it was not to be. The lever uses a notch in the reel base that is fixed and therefore you can't flip the lever over to the other side. If I were asked by Jay (Riffe), I would definitely say that it would be a great feature to add. So much so that I have plans to modify the reel so that I can set it up ambidextrously. The modification would be a simple one and when I get around to making it, I will definitely post it here for everyone's education.
The reel spins freely when the drag is released and that makes for short work of reeling in all that line when a big Mackerel or other fast swimmer has unspooled a bunch of line. One other thing that I think would be a nice feature to modify on the reel is the reel knob. While it spins very easily while you're bringing all that line back in, it would be easier to hold on to if it were tabbed or winged making grabbing it firmly between your thumb and index finger much easier when you're tyring to reel in all that line as fast as you can.
All in all this reel has been a worthwhile investment and addition to my arsenal and I look forward to many more successful trips of reeling in that fish that almost got a away! I