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Are the non sealed, cork drag reels...

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...going the way of dinosaurs? Seems like fewer companies are making them, and the ones that are (Abel, Tibor) are also jumping in the sealed drag market...I do own one sealed drag reel (Nautilus NV) and like it a lot...but I also like the more 'traditional' (not sure if they're truly traditional) non sealed cork drags, including Abels, Islanders, Tibors, the old Fin-nor reels, etc....are we looking at a time in the fairly near future where these reels  will no longer exist (or more accurately, produced)?

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Don't know why they need to be sealed. I've been using my Tibors in the surf and from shore for a loonnngggg time without issue. More of a marketing gimmick than an actual need (same with spinning reels).

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It IS a marketing issue.  And - we are demanding it.  Just spoke to people at Galvan.  They now have a sealed drag.  Had to do it because of customer demand. They see no benefit - but had to do it.

My feeling is that I want to see what is happening with drag and service it myself.

That being said - I do own some Nautilus' and Danielssons.  I do tear-down the Danielssons every few years for a look-see.  I have not opened the Nautilus' though.

 

I regularly inspect and service my Bauer MX5's

Herb

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Don't know why they need to be sealed. I've been using my Tibors in the surf and from shore for a loonnngggg time without issue. More of a marketing gimmick than an actual need (same with spinning reels).

 

More than agree with you Drew,

 

Most conventional spring & pawl reels are more than suitable and serviceable, even when used in the surf, when simple routine cleaning & maintenance is adhered to.   Heck, even some that don't get serviced stand up for a long time.    Nice thing about the conventional spring & pawl drag systems is that you can discover a potential problem before it becomes a problem on the water with an occasional inspection.   With sealed drag reels it's not so easy to see if you're approaching failure mode and usually when they do fail you have no fore warning.  Even with 10X magnification you can't tell what's going on inside one of those one way clutch bearings, and then again, who even tries to disassemble their "sealed" drag for inspection for fear of rendering it unsealed if re-assembled incorrectly.

 

Additionally,  engineered materials used in drags, like carbon fiber, Delrin & Rulon, (some with Teflon impregnation), make great alternatives to cork, are more common and easier to source, and easier to incorporate into manufacture than cork.  Finding quality cork for rod grips is near impossible these days and I suspect the reel manufacturers who use cork in drags must have limited resources for good cork as well.

 

That said I suspect the OP is correct that the conventional spring pawl reels days are numbered, except for those who favor the "classics",  as those that manufacture these types of reels won't be able to overcome the hype in advertising, (save for us old timers),  that suggests you haven't purchased the best unless you're buying a reel with a "sealed" drag.

 

HT

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I have tons of sealed drag reels and I love them no maintenance other than rinsing off salt after use. I had a tibor and just sold it. Now I'm down to an Abel and an Islander. I know I'm selling the Abel but I may keep the Islander. I understand wanting to see what went wrong but I always bring a backup just in case. Although I've never had a fly reel fail. Sealed or not sealed both have held up to my torture. In the sand I'll take a sealed drag all day.

 

You guys never get grinding when fishing tibor in the surf? My buddy every time he goes fishing in surf has to take his reel apart. It could be operator error my islander is fine in the surf.

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I have tons of sealed drag reels and I love them no maintenance other than rinsing off salt after use. I had a tibor and just sold it. Now I'm down to an Abel and an Islander. I know I'm selling the Abel but I may keep the Islander. I understand wanting to see what went wrong but I always bring a backup just in case. Although I've never had a fly reel fail. Sealed or not sealed both have held up to my torture. In the sand I'll take a sealed drag all day.

 

You guys never get grinding when fishing tibor in the surf? My buddy every time he goes fishing in surf has to take his reel apart. It could be operator error my islander is fine in the surf.

What islander do you have?

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I also feel a lot of younger guys didn't grow up fishing legendary reels like spinfishers and tibors so they don't regard the standard or the best of the best back then as something relevant to what they are seeing in videos and high profile guides use in the fly fishing videos.

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Abel cork drags on Super 8's are poor in that sand gets in the porting and knocks out the tiny dogs they disengage and the reel goes into  free spool. I have also had the cork lift and go lumpy on my Super 8. On a NE beach with a bit of wind the reel can get knocked out in very short order time wise. Back ups are of no use when I have made a very long walk away from my car. The drag was also variable when it got wet. Draw bar  cork drags I sometimes wonder if they got made that way because it was an easy machining job to do. Other cork drag reels maybe fine I can only speak about my Abel. In a boat fishing scenario it might be a good reel but on a  sand beach it is not. It is built like a tank but has this vulnerable rather key Achilles heel.

 

I could like sealed drags if they could be guaranteed 100% sealed. Or if they are easy enough to be User serviceable with simple tools. The sea is a very demanding environment for gear like reels so I expect probs even with sealed drags.

 

Mike

Edited by Mike Oliver

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All true. I do see sealed drag reals as a natural progression of improvement. The Pates and Fin Nors were much better built versions of the fly reels of their time. Then the large arbor design was applied to the now ubiquitous machined reel, but it is still pulling the spool against a single braking surface. Now, the sealed drag seems to get its inspiration from the spinning and conventional world using multiple drag surfaces and squeezing the drag stack. I'd be happy with any of them, but I like the idea of anti reverse bearings and super duper NASA space plastic drag washers.

 

If I found a great deal on a anti reverse dog, cork washer, expose to saltwater, reel like Islander, Tibor and Abel, then I'd jump all over it and use it with full confidence.

Edited by Pauleye

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It IS a marketing issue.  And - we are demanding it.  Just spoke to people at Galvan.  They now have a sealed drag.  Had to do it because of customer demand. They see no benefit - but had to do it.....

 

I regularly inspect and service my Bauer MX5's

Herb

Exactly, Herb.  I just bought a Galvan T10 last summer and used it for albies this fall and love it.  It has a great drag and it does not bother me in the least that it is not sealed.  I like the T10 so much I am getting a T8 for the 2016 season.  I saw that Galvan now has a sealed drag reel, but it costs $100 more and I see no need for it.  I'm getting the "regular" T8.

 

I do have a couple Lamsons with sealed drags and they work well too, but the sealed drag was not a selling point with me--their light weight was.

 

And I love my older Bauer M5's too.

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I have an Old Florida and a Billy Pate direct drive, both with cork drags, they work fine for the fishing I do. But when I fish the surf, I use a Lamson Guru, works great!  Also have a few Nautilus reels I use for both Fresh and Flats fishing, never had a problem with any of the reels except the Old Florida, which was my own fault and was fixed by the Nautilus folks.

Of all the reels mentioned, I don't think there is a bad one in the bunch.

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I think that the cork drags are becoming more and more rare, but they work perfectly well, and in some cases are superior to a sealed drag. If you are boat fishing, I don't know why the regular cork drag or any other unsealed drag is such a bad thing.  If you are surf fishing, I do see some advantages to a sealed drag, especially if you are fishing in and around the sand.

 

Me, I personally am not convinced that any sealed drag will hold up for a lifetime of abuse in the surf, but I've had good luck with my Van Staal CVEX. Too bad they don't make that one anymore. I guess my next reel will also be sealed.

 

I'm not a big fan of 4 pc rods either, but this is the world we are living in. 

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