Sunday, May 29

The Modified Pflueger Medalist.

Seemed like a good idea at the
time, which was rather late.
Sulphur time is upon us. but I still can barely catch a fish, thank Jebus I don't fish for food or I'd starve.

Probably lose more weight, though. I suppose you find the good side of things when you can. That's probably why, when fishing through the park this evening and having my fly brutally ignored by every riser I put in front of, I didn't mind. Seems a nice group of churchies decided to spontaneously erupt into gospel for me, and provided a lovely serenade to my failure.

S'OK, though. Still had one of the nicest evenings I'd ever had. Beats the bad amateur rock bands I've fished through listening to, which was different but annoying. Its not that I'm a gospel fan, but really, its a great way to really accent the pleasure. I made sure to thank them, and they were kind enough to give me another song.

Being brutally skunked in the middle of an awesome hatch is pretty humiliating, though. So, I decided to get crafty, tie up a hair mouse and then go fishing in the same park (willfully breakin' the law!) at 2am. It was stupid, and fruitless, but what the hell, gotta try it once. Guess the music was the only blessing I was gonna receive that day, eh?

Less mouse, more Medalist. Go!
So, if its not obvious to anyone who's read this, I like to stand out. I also like to do things Ye Olde Way, with a real interest in proving to people that yesterday's junk is still good enough, and you don't need titanium alloy mega arbor reels with ceramic water cooled inline offset caliper 23 surface drags on rods constructed from boron-kevlar fiber that are as light as a gnat and propel triangular ribbed tactical strategic combat-ready line at light speeds. That meant  embracing the humble Pflueger Medalist.

 So, a throw away line in a Lefty Kreh book and some spare time was all the inspiration I needed to make a statement.

Not my picture.
I think it was Presenting the Fly in which he talked about cutting the frame away and using your fingers to press the spool for a drag. I thought that was pretty cool, and filed it away until a pair of pictures turned up on the Internet of an old reel done this way.  Now I had a visual representation of what Lefty was talking about, and frankly, it was awesome to behold. It was one of those things, you know, that just seems so elegantly simple in concept that you're not entirely sure why no one had thought of it before, and why it didn't seem to be codifed into proper reel manufacture. Ingenuity at its finest.
Also not my picture.

I'm just jingoistic enough to call it "American ingenuity," but willing to acknowledge that someone else may have come up with it first. Fuck 'em in the neck, though, coz hacking shit up to make it cooler is as American as apple pie, fuckers. Happy Memorial Day, bitches. Ergo, America probably did it first.

Anyways, after finding that picture, I'd been thinking about cutting up a Medalist for sometime. However, like most things in my life, I back burnered it and proceded on with general slackwittery and laziness. Fast forward a year or so, 'til a post on the Fiberglass Fly Rod forum kicked it back to the forefront.

Revision 1.
So, one cold night in November, out came the Dremel tool and I got crafty.

About 1"x1.5" came out of the back of the reel, just enough to clamp two fingers into the reel. Based on the only images I'd found, it seemed to be about the right size to get two fingers in there, which matched the only pictures I'd found of this modification. Somehow it didn't seem right, and I figure in hindsight the reel in the first photo is a 1494.5, versus the larger 1495. Anyways, it looked good, but I'd been told that the properly done version utilized a leather finger pad so you wouldn't tear your fingers up. A request for more was put out, and new pictures surfaced.
Old school.

This reel was different, the big boy of the Medalist line up, a 1498. The poster was kind enough to show a photo of the inside and outside, which gave me an idea for the size and use of the leather pad, but more importantly a better idea for the size of the finger hole. Now, the 1494 is significantly smaller than the 1498 (the 1495 fits the middle, there was also a 1496 that's the same diameter of the 1498, but only 13/16" wide). Suddenly, its obvious that the finger porting was much bigger, on the 1498 it looked like it would be ideal for four fingers or the entire heel of the palm.

No sir, not my picture.

So, back to the Dremel I went. I opened up the hole big enough and in the same pattern as the 1498, it was asthetically more pleasing and also seemed to be a functional increase. In addition to being easier to drop all four fingers of my hand onto the reel (and effectively being able to clamp drag down to full stop if required), if I chose to flip it around and use it as intended for RHW, it would be easy to apply the heel of my palm to the brake, as well.

Not my picture.
This poster showed the leather pad installed from both sides, too, which was enough to get me moving on the next piece. I wanted to make my version a little cleaner of an install, so a trip to the craft store gave me a little pad of leather. I cut out a paper template, then cut it from the leather so I could pass around the inner workings. The other place I differed is descriptions and my visual model showed the pad as epoxied into place, and I wanted the ability to remove it without (further) damage to the reel. Rather that epoxy the pad in, I opted to use embroidery floss (later wire) to lash it to the frame.

Post cut, pre pad.
There was only one final touch needed from the old school methodolgy, counterweight. I'd read about a few ways of doing it, from epoxying nuts to installing Hardy counterweights on the spool. Having a sense of style, and a lack of Hardy reels for parts, I wanted to do something different. Fortunately, the same trip to the craft store yielded an awesome find in the charm bracelet section. A quick hit with the dremel, and some melted lead solder in the back, and I had my counterweight.

So, that's the transformation of a modern antique into the 1950s equivilent of high tech big game reel. I find myself using this reel for just about every thing I can, and I'm waiting for a chance to prove its mettle against the latest and greatest of the modern age. While its a little wobblier than a tight, new reel, I'm pretty sure that it'll take whatever I need it to. Plans include taking it steelhead fishing, as well as carping. It was the reel I chose for my (failed) snook adventure to the salt, and its the one that'll go on my striper trip this year.

Compare and contrast.
Inner workings.
There's not a gamefish alive that hasn't been caught on a Medalist, fuck it if you think you need that high tech shit, still. The way I think about it, if the equipment fails me, the story'll be that much more interesting rather than just muscling in a hog because you out-teched it. Meh.

Or, so says the man who doesn't actually get challenged by said hogs. Heh.

I edied this on  June 16th to add a few more pictures. While coming up with a leather finger brake that didn't involve cutting up a fine 1963-66 era 1498, I stumbled across another Lefty Kreh book, Flyfishing in Saltwater, this one with pictures of a modified Medalist inside.

1 comment:

  1. Like the counterweight. Somewhere Richard Dean Anderson is smiling.