Sunday, March 20

Pointless gear reviews: Vivarelli Semi-Automatic reel.

Why'd I buy this? Coz you don't have one.
Man, I love dumb shit. I don't mean dumb as in not smart, but as in... Dumb shit. OK. Not smart. 


Not only that, but I'm into reels. They're just cool. Machined steel, assorted clicky bits, gears and all sorts of fancy stuff.

Man, I eat that up. 

So, when I stumbled on a pair of Franco Vivarelli automatic reels for sale by the Feathered Hook, I knew I needed to own one. These are exceedingly uncommon in the US, and unusual as Hell. So, I bought the Newstar.

There aren't many reviews on this thing out there, and after giving it some serious use, I think I'm ready to opine.

Look Ma, no handle.
First off, hard stats. I own the Goldstar 6. The reel is 5.4oz, and supposedly 100 yards of backing with a 5WFF line. The standard arbour is about 2.75" and about .75" wide. Its all anodized aluminum, except the action lever, which appears to be space age polymer.  Dan Bailey is the sole US importer, and it'll set you back an unreasonable $560. Yeah, no shit. The plastic graphite version weighs 3.6oz, holds an extra 20 yards of backing, and costs $260, which would totally be worth it if it was metal.

So, how's it work? Line exits the bottom through a pair of roller pins that act as a line guide. Pull the line, against the drag, and out it comes. It is not a melodious, pleasing drag sound. Its kind of clanky.  You would be correct, I would be the sort of snot to consider that to be a legitimate gripe about a reel. What can I say, √¶sthetics is a legit part of this, and sound is important. It sounds much better, however, when you retrieve line in. Well, better, as defined as "different." There ain't nothin' else out there what sounds quite like this.

Knee bone's connected, all that sort of thing.
Now, here's the deal.. On a traditional automatic reel of yore, like a Pflueger 1195x, when you pull the line out it sets a tension spring, like a watch. You pull its handle, and the spring unwinds and pulls the line in. Or something. Who cares, I didn't buy one of those. I bought this coz it was a screaming deal and I like wacky shit. 

Pull the lever and you turn a spinning gear. Gear has a one way clutch inside, spins spool. Spool has gear that engages clutch when reversed, drag. It spins all the line up, but there's no spring to rewind so it'll slow down progressively. This means, I hope, no smashed tiptops.  

C'mon, its cool.
Anyways, pull the lever and presto.

So, the thing is... you got no handle. I don't like that. Just seems unnatural. So, instead what you've got is this lever. Its ambidextrous which is cool, I guess? No handle. You can only retract with the lever, though, and somehow just doesn''t seem right when you first pick it up. On the other hand, its fun as hell to zing it all up with a squeeze or two. 

They say you can fight fish on the reel effectvely, I guess just squeezing the lever? I just don't see it. Not on my size fish, which wouldn't exactly be hero shot worthy. I tried twice, both times seemed sort of ineffective and not exactly favourable to fish or reel. Whatever, I don't ever retrieve to the reel any other time, either. Its got a drag, feels wierd and clunky. Might be why I don't think its feasable to retrieve on the reel. Its adjustable, but requires a tool. I haven't bothered to investigate. I just sort of always retrieve with the hand, and zip it up when I get a pool at my feet. Zing, and all. Its pretty cool.

I picked this because the rod looks
good backlit. 
So, the handle thing? I don't miss it, yet. I might if I ever have a fish of note, though. Good thing I probably won't. Its fun to use, though, zing and all that. You tend to keep your line better, and I seem to walk on it less. You do always retrieve the line when you get a fish, its easy to do, but the fighting would be mostly with your hand. 

The big failure, I get line tangles around the handle thing. Makes zinging line up kinda hard. Also, the drag feels weird and clunky, I think I'm repeating myself. I also had it go all not cool once. It was icing out, and it hit the water so I don't know what caused it. Also, dude, that was like a 2-3 months ago, so I'm not actually sure what happened. Hell, I might be making this up, but I know I sure as hell don't dunk it in the sand anymore.
When I first started using it, I hated it. I've got to say that its definatly grown on me some. Its made a home on the end of my new regular rod, an 7'9" fiberglass that it balances perfectly, so that makes use a little more interesting than the last few rods I tried it on. As I said, fighting fish off the reel appears to be an exercise in piscine abuse and akin to actual fishing masturbation, that is alot of playing by yourself and wondering if there's any payout in the end or if you just go blind. Rather than that, when I hook a fish, I give the lever a good spin or two to bring up all slack, and cause the line in my left, line, hand to go taunt. I'll just continue to bring in more as I need to, and play it back out through my fingers, if need be as well. I'll continue to use it through the year, and hopefully I'll be able to hook into a fish that requires the reel to fight it so I can see how that works, but I suspect it'll be sort of lame. That said, its good when you're on the move, and you don't expect to hook into any monsters. I bet it'd be even more useful for someone in a boat, though, for keeping the line out of everything.

So, is it worth it? No. Its fun to use, buit an expensive novelty, that I don't think serves any distinct purpose that turning a spool on a regular reel can't do almost as effectively.  Its different, interesting, novel as all Hell, but frankly too expensive at the price most people can buy it at. If you've got excess disposable income, and you just need to be one of a kind, this'll do it. Otherwise, hold out hope you find a deal you can't say no to. What, me? No. At the price I paid, its a novelty I'll keep. It is fun to zing up line, and you get great looks when you tell people you fish an automatic reel in 2011. 

1 comment:

  1. I own the Goldstar and several other semi automatic fly reels. Spain Italy and Switzerland all make these high end reels. strip bass northern pike and big carp are just a few of the fish I've landed with these reels. I just purchased the Peux Folgor. I plan to test it this spring. I will post my findings on "The Great Lakes of NYC" blog. Currently there are photos on the site "Trout Predator".