Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Hubless Fly Reel

I finally managed to build this reel! I've been toying with the idea for over 3 years now and finally got the design together and cut the parts. When I was first thinking of this reel, there was only one hubless reel that I could find on the market. That company seems to be out of business now but there are a number of others that have started making hubless reels of various flavors since then.

The main ideas behind this reel are simplicity, lite weight and eye appeal. I first thought that I was going to make something with a fancy drag with and a clutch bearing and all the frills that go with that concept. After looking around and getting the general feeling that everyone making reels these days seems to be doing exactly that, I decided to head in the opposite direction all together. This reel has only a simple clicker to keep it from over spooling and a rim for palm dragging. It is 3.5 inches in diameter with a 2.25 inch bore all the way through the center and it weighs in at less than 4.5 oz. which is pretty good for a large arbor reel. I have been fascinated with idea of hubless reels and hubless wheels for a while now and love the minimalist look of the design.

I made every part in the reel except for the screws and the spring plungers used for the clicker. The bearings are all made from Delrin AF which is an acetyl co-polymer impregnated with PTFE fibers. The main parts are all aircraft grade aluminum and the counter weight is titanium (just because...).


The Mad Swede said...

Hey Casey.

As a fellow machinist and flyfisher I have to say it was a real pleasure reading your blog-post about your hubless reel. Absolutely love those designs... And now I want to build my own! =D

So... I don't know how much fishing you do or what kind of fly fishing for that matter. What I know, from reading about your reel, is that you equipped it (the reel) with a Delrin bearing. I really like the idea (lightweight, form stability, resistance and alot of the other attractive mechanical properties) and therefore I have to ask about it's performance in your reel?

How's for example, the noise and vibrations? How does the inertia (which should be much lower than steel bearings) affect the reel?
How about the precsion and tolerances? We regularly machine parts with tolerances around .01-.02mm (1/2540-1/1270 inches) which I figure will do just fine... Had any problems yourself?

Well, I figure I have alot of questions but I'd rather start with these. Wouldn't want to overload, so to say...

I'd really appreciate your thoughts regarding this delrin bearing!


Christian, Sweden

The Mad Swede said...

Hi Casey!

Just read your post about your hubless reel and as a fellow machinist and fly fisher I just gotta say, Me like!! Really love those designs and now, alot thanks to you, I'd like to give it a try and make my own. =D

Anyways... I read you're using a delrin bearing in your reel. How does that work for ya? How's the vibrations and noise? How are the precision and tolerances on these bearings? How's the inertia on these bearings? (should be much lower than in a steel bearing)

Well, I figure I have a bunch of questions but I wouldn't want to overload. =)

I'd really appreciate your thoughts on the matter!


Chris, Sweden

Casey Dodge said...


Thanks for the comments. I really appreciate the feedback.

The bearings are Delrin AF which is a bit different that regular Delrin in that it is impregnated with PTFE fibers that significantly reduce the coefficient or friction (and raise the cost equally). That being said, the Delrin AF machines almost as well as regular delrin but is a little more "squishy". I ended up just machining the bushings to fit after anodization because I didn't spec out a precise ano layer. I would say that they are probably on the order of +.001/-.000. You end up wanting a bit of room there or they want to bind up.

I have not used the reel on the water yet so I reel don't have much to say about performance yet. The reel does run very smoothly and is silent if you back the clickers off. The bearings themselves are tight in the frame and loose on the spool so they do not move at all and therefore add nothing to the inertia of the moving spool. It will be interesting to get this reel out on the water and see how it does. I got it loaded with line last weekend but the rivers here are running very high right now so it will be a month or so before they are really fishable again.

Feel free to ask any questions that you have.


The Mad Swede said...

Hi again and thanks for your reply!

When there is feedback to give I really like doing so. =)

Too bad about the rivers running high. We're experiencing a second (?) spring run-off here at the moment so I guess we're in the same spot when it comes to fishing.

Well, back to the bearings. =) Are these bearings all Delrin AF or have you got any other materials in the balls? (SS, glass, ceramic perhaps?)
I might aswell ask if these are standard bearings that you use? I've been looking at some thin section bearings (60x78x10mm) but they still feel pretty big. I've also been looking at some, well, super thin section bearings from kaydon (3x2,5mm cross-section!!!) but I haven't dared asking them for a price on these little beauties... =S
Another thing that make these 60x78x10mm bearings feel big is what I read about you using two or more bearings. The retainer ring seen on one of your pictures sure looks like it'll take the outside diameter. However, 20mm seems like a whole lot to swallow in the axial direction...

I know it can be a b*"#h to find a suitable bearing so I don't blame you if you want to keep this a secret. =P

Oh, yeah... Almost forgot. Have you got any pre-tensioning done(?) in the reel or will it overspool as soon as you disengage the clicker?


Casey Dodge said...

I am actually using a sleeve bearing with a flange and a thrust bearing so there are no balls or pins. They are super light weight and simple. I also was having a lot of trouble finding bearings that had dimensions that I liked. That's why I ended up making my own.

I did not put in pre-tension in the bearings so it will over-spool if I disengage the clickers.


Chuck said...

Hey, I know this is a very old post, but I was wondering if you would be willing to share your prints for this project? Looks like a very fun project to build!

Casey Dodge said...

Thanks for looking!

I'm not really ready to give out the models for my reel though.

SanFranDiver said...

Any chance you plan to produce a limited run of these reels?

Casey said...

I wasn't planning too but I may be able to be convinced to. If you really want one, leave a comment with your contact info (I won't publish it of coarse) and we can talk.

Casey said...

Diver, I sent you an email but have not gotten a response. Please let me know if you got it or not. Thanks

marc mendez said...

I'm interested in this flyreel.

Casey said...

Marc, I e-mailed you. Let me know if you didn't get my message. Thanks for the interest.