There comes a time when you are better off buying a brand new reel
It can be frustrating having a fishing reel that is missing just one or two essential parts. I have several reels in this category. Some fishing reel brands seem to last a very long time. This is partly because they were well designed and made in the first place. However availability of spare parts is an important issue especially with expensive reels.
Recently I received an email from someone in England who was unable to get parts for his Shimano Calcutta CT700. He said his CT700 had siezed up and apparently the part that had malfunctioned was no longer available. He was looking for a second-hand reel from which he could get spare parts – or at least the particular part he needed. This raises an interesting question that I am sure many anglers will have considered from time to time. The question being when is it time to give up on your old reel and buy a new one?
I have several reels for which I can no longer get parts so I could see where the write in England was coming from. The parts that break or wear out in old fishing reels are usually the same parts that always wear out or break in that particular model reel – the weak link so to speak. Even if you could get a second-hand reel for spares, such parts will already be worn – to some extent. You would have to use the repaired reel sparingly so as not to have it break down again. That defeats the purpose your bought it for.
Many will be thinking the parts must be available on the internet somewhere; particularly for the Shimano CT700. It would certainly be worth the effort to give that a go. If you know the part numbers (you can find the numbers on the internet too) you may be able to hunt them down on the internet overseas somewhere. Quite possibly the parts, should you find them, will be cheap to land in New Zealand including postage. After all the world is a much smaller place today. For some brands, notably Abu, there are also sorts of after market kits available over the internet to improve your reel’s performance, as well as a wide range of spare gears and pinions, and other parts. If you are good at pulling things to bits and fixing them this is a good option.
I suggested to the bloke in England that he might be better to buy a brand new reel rather than looking for an old Shimano CT700 for spare parts. I suggested the Penn Squall 15, which we had been discussing on the fishingmag.co.nz forum as a good solid work-horse like replacement at a very reasonable price. The new Penn is a similar size to the Shimano Calcutta CT700, though without the level wind, it is a very tough reel, and will easily out cast that model Shimano. It is only NZ$200.00 brand new.
Another similar size reel in the Abu 7500. You can buy them brand new – even though the model is over 20 years old. There are heaps of parts for the Abu 7500 readily available including the whole drive chain. I often wondered why Penn were so slow to bring out new reel models. Now it makes sense. More new models mean more spare parts are required if older reels are to remain serviceable.
However for more obscure fishing reels finding any sort of spare parts can be next to impossible. The Seascape reel (pictured) was invented by Donald Charlton who first applied for a patent for a revolving drum multiplying reel in 1951. Charlton made these reels until the early 1970’s and was the last surviving maker of multiplying reels in Australia. Later in 1985 Maurice Hager who was a toolmaker, and Don Spencer, a jeweler, purchased the rights to the Seascape business and for a short period began manufacturing Seascape reels again. To read a bit more about the old Seascape reels.
I fished with one of the larger wide spool Seascape models (pictured) for surfcasting back in the 1980s and 1990s. I cannot remember now where I got it. Anyway my old Seascape worked great. It held 450 yards of 20lb mono which is quite a lot of line. It had a high-speed 6:1 ratio and so could skim a ticer across the surface very quickly. The spool was aluminum and the frame looks like stainless steel (I think). The pinion and main gears are brass. The problem with this reel was that the brass pinion gear only had 10 teeth and so would wear out very quickly.
Although the Seascape free-spool reels cast very well, were well made, and did an excellent job, they just didn’t last. I did manage to get a couple of replacement pinion gears many years ago but they didn’t last long before the gears would start to grate horribly. I would love to get that old Seascape going again if I could get a new pinion gear. However it just isn’t worth the effort.
Sadly there comes a time when you are better off just buying a new reel. If you are a salmon angler you will be aware that salmon fishing with its constant casting, and winding, can be tough on reels. By purchasing a second or third free-spool reel you will be able to carry a couple of backups. Should you get a “bird’s nest” you can quickly swap over to another reel. This is a huge advantage, and gives you peace-of-mind. It is a horrible feeling when your only reel breaks down, especially when other anglers are landing salmon, and you don’t have a spare. If your salmon reel is getting a bit rough in the gears try to fix it by all means. But there comes a time when you are better to buy a new reel salmon reel and carry the old one as a backup!