Skip to main content

Godfrey Classic Reel Design

The central issue of reel design is achieving good line capacity for modern floating lines while maintaining the artistic aspects of the most renowned classic reels. Designing classic style reels that meet all of our criteria is rather challenging. To that end, over the past 20 years I have been working on marrying modern materials and finishes with new drag mechanisms to produce esthetically pleasing reels that are also very durable and maintainable.

The early reel designs utilized heavy gauge brass and nickel silver for handle arms and other fitting because high quality aluminum was not available. Other heavy parts included the famous hard rubber side plates. These plates were necessarily thick and heavy. Spools were "bell shaped" to allow for the drag mechanism and were made of heavy nickel silver or thick crude aluminum alloy. The spool shape reduced line capacity, but was necessary to allow room for the click or drag mechanism. These reels "balanced" the old style long, heavy rod, but tended to corrode quickly and even the best formulations of hard rubber tended to crack especially if the reel was fished very much.

The obvious first step is to use tempered aluminum for reel sides. Not only is it lighter and stronger, but it opens up opportunity for new drag system design. The hard rubber or "Ebonite" as it was called will crack if continually stressed by the spring mechanism. The original Vom Hofe design made up for this tenancy by first utilizing thick reel side plates, and most importantly, using a single central leaf spring to balance and greatly limit the stress on the sides. Godfrey reels employ black hard-coat 6061 aluminum. The hard coat is hand polished for a gloss finish. This "flying pan" coating is nearly as hard as diamond so it is scratch-proof and does not become dull or discolor like some plastics and hard rubber. Both the Godfrey click and pawl and the drum drag systems are only possible using the aluminum sides.

Utilizing new materials, Godfrey reels are lighter weight and have greater line capacity of any of the classic style reels. Esthetically, these new reels possess a narrow profile and are certainly stronger than similar old classic reels. The spool is specially designed to maximize line capacity. It is fitted to the frame to present an overall slim profile thus more line can be put on a smaller size reel.

Reliability is paramount in reel design. Godfrey drum drag systems are perfected and have been in use for 20 years in salmon and trout reels fished around the world over. This mechanism uses dry cork to eliminate any startup"bump" when line is first pulled from the reel. The tough, heavy duty adjustable clic pawl design has proven to be extremely reliable and has been fished for the past five years from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego.

Easy reel maintenance is very important. The self lubricating bearing system used in all Godfrey reels utilizes an oil reservoir inside the central hardened stainless steel spindle shaft. The bearings themselves are specially designed for toughness and long life. The click and pawl reels feature a single lubrication point easily accessed on the rear side plate - oil cap. If the reel rims become nicked and scratched, simply buff out the mark to make the reel clean as new. Making an old beat-up Godfrey reel new again is a matter of buffing nickel silver rims and maybe fittings rather than replacing parts!

Finally for the ease of use and enjoyment on the river: Easy take down is important for lubrication and changing spools. In the typical classic style reel, screws were occasionally lost or marred in the process of take down and of course the process was very tedious and time consuming. Godfrey classic style reels are unique in the single screw take down design which permits easy access to the spool and internal mechanism.


© 2006 - 2017 West Slope Fly. All rights reserved.