Redington GD (Gear Drag) and Redington AL reels
Size tested 7/8
According to Redington the GD is…
“an ideal saltwater/freshwater reel because it's so light and so stable”
For several years, friends and I have been bothering the salmon of Vancouver Island's beaches with 7 weights. In this time we have taken along various reels, the majority of them not up to the job.
Last year I went armed with Redington's (now discontinued) AL series reels and 30lb backing. The reels were good – very good, but suffered from the well-documented problem of grit getting into the reel and seizing up. They were also fairly heavy for their size. This can become a problem when thrashing the waters to foam for hours on end, interspersed (quite regularly) with the odd 10lb Coho in full Torpedo mode.
The drag, when new, on the AL series was very good. However, it suffered if not cared for. The plate behind the drag and the main bearing in front of it needed regular attention if used in the salt. If oil got onto the drag plate, the drag got very jerky and tight. There was also the problem that the drag was only factory adjustable and had to be sent back once the drag became too loose/tight to use. This happened to one of the reels I had.
A casual stop in at a local tackle shop on the Island, provided some very good reasons to trade in the AL's for the new GD reels. Coming in at 2/3rds the weight, with half as many parts and a very nice design, it simply had to become my next set of reels.
The AL reels went into retirement, with their new owners somewhere in Scotland, and the GD's graced my reel pouches. I usually buy two bodies and a few spare spools and the second hand price of the AL's covered this nicely.
Weighing in at 5.59 Oz, the reel is light and easy to use. The drag is taken care of by a small set of disks, geared to the main drive shaft. This is in turn, controlled by a small knob on the reverse side of the reel. I prefer the drag control on the back plate since I've had bruised knuckles from trying to adjust spool-side drags in mid-fight.
Backing requirements are fine, with the reels holding 150 meters of Leeda Sea Dacron line (my backing of choice) and a full WF fly line, filling the reel to just over capacity. I leave it this way because when I'm fighting fish, it's usually at 20 meters plus and so the reel is as full as practically possible when the fight is underway. 100 meters is probably a more sensible fill for most occasions.
Site BiteRemember this is Saltwater fly: feel free to question Carl on the Board - Paul :-)
The proof of the pudding… this year I had over 170 Coho up to 18lbs in a little less than two weeks. A fair old test for any drag system, I'm sure you'll agree!
The first and only thing to go wrong was the plastic clickers melting due to the ferocity of the runs of these outrageous fish. The first two 'Bigguns' and the clickers were history. Not a big problem as the reel comes with a backup clicker on the drag itself. I like quiet reels anyway!
Later in the week, two very large and overenthusiastic fish one after the other, with no rest for the reel, had copious amounts of smoke coming from the drag. Cool!! A quick dip into the sea and the reels was functioning perfectly. I deliberately didn't rinse the reels or oil them to check how long it took for them to seize up. It took 8 ½ days precisely. Two spots of oil on the backing plate and they were back to their former performance.
With the AL reels, one had to take care when feeding the line back onto the spool during a fight (the very high arbour to spool depth meant the reel would jam if the line was wound in one place). This was not a problem with the GD's; the line finds its own way onto the far more regular shaped spool - one less thing to worry about when fighting the fish of a lifetime.
The downside? Well, only one minor point. When we were fishing in float tubes, the drag would inconveniently change settings if the knob rubbed on the tube whilst stripping the fly back. Given the option, I would like to see a click check on the drag knob to keep it where it is supposed to be even after being knocked. There were no signs of corrosion on the reels despite being regularly submersed in salt water for two weeks.
All in all it's a very good reel and it'll take some persuading for me to trade them in. The quick release spools worked faultlessly and grit could be washed from the reel with a quick submersion. Saying that, I won't be using it for blue fin tuna or sharks. The fish we were taking were just about the right size for this reel to handle. Bonefish would be a breeze. For something a little bigger, I'd consider the traditional center position for the drag.
The Redington GD reel Carl reviewed costs £110 and is available through this site.
Carl Hutchinson (email@example.com) engineer and entrepreneur, has flyfished more countries than anyone else alive, owns three passports and lives out of Berlin ("because of the women"). He has a completely unique understanding as to the limitations of the motorcar or even what one is. He owns Corporate Flyrods and has worked out how to get 40 hours out of the normal 24 and still go fishing.