There may be plenty of good reasons to buy a product made in Viet Nam, China, or Bangladesh. After all, if you want to buy a pair of flip-flops, a knock-around T-shirt, or a pair of underwear, do you really care about where it is manufactured?
If it’s $5 to $7 cheaper, chances are you don’t really give a hoot about quality.
However, when it comes to sporting goods, and in particular fishing reels, there is no question that made in the USA is what you want to have. You want quality, craftsmanship, and a fishing reel that hopefully will last you at least a decade.
After all, a fishing reel made in the USA is worth it, even if you have to pay a few dollars more. The cost will even out drastically over a decade of trouble-free fishing.
If fly fishing is your thing, then Abel should be the first name on your list. Every element of Abel Fly Fishing reels is made and manufactured in their plant in Montrose, Colorado. No exceptions
Abel uses the finest grades of aluminum and stainless steel, and precision manufactures their reels using the same machinery that is used to make medical devices and aerospace products.
Best of all, an Abel Fishing reel comes with a lifetime warranty as long as there is no owner responsible for damage to the reel. And for $40, you can have the product factory serviced. Try to find that kind of warranty or service with a Chinese-made fishing reel.
Another in the line of custom manufactured fly fishing reels, Aspen Reels located in San Marcos, CA started out as a one-man machine shop back in 1946.
Today they have over 16 lathes and four machine centers working diligently to keep up with the orders. Every part is made in the USA, and like Abel, there is a lifetime warranty.
While Abel reels may be considered the gold standard of fly reels, Aspen reels are quite moderate in the price for what you get. And if you purchase one and don’t like it, simply return it for a 100 percent money-back guarantee. However, returns are rare. Just one look at one of these beautiful reels and you know you’ve bought quality.
If either beach surf fishing or out on a boat, if you want to get serious about surf fishing or ocean surfing, Avet has got you covered.
At a price ranging from $220 to around $450, Avet Reels are rugged and affordable and come in a huge variety of colors.
Every Avet Reel is designed, machined, and assembled in their plant in Chatsworth California. In fact, the only part not made in-house are the bearings which are outsourced from several manufacturers in Los Angeles.
Avet reels are very popular for ocean and surf fishing aficionados and are available practically everywhere there is an ocean or inlet.
We do wish that Avet Reels came with a longer warranty than their one year limited warranty, but apparently, there is a significant difference between catching a 10 lb trout and a 400 to 1,000 pound Marlin than snagging a rainbow trout.
One thing we do appreciate is that they offer a rather larger variety of FAQ’s on topics such as serving your reel, replacing the drag, and how to clean your reel after each surf outing.
Avet reels certainly appear to walk the walk, not just talk. And not only do they appear to be quite functional but they look great too.
GRProto Fly Reels
GR Proto Fly Reels ie a Pocatello Idaho, fishing reel and fishing rod company, also going by the name Rugged Creek Fly Fishing, GR Proto believes strongly that once you buy a fishing reel it should give out.
Unfortunately, we have to knock off a few points because on their website there is little information on the warranty provided. We finally found it buried away, and yes, the company offers a lifetime limited warranty.
However, a look at those reels, which start at $175 and go as high as $350 and come in 4, 6, 8, and 10-inch wheels, gives every indication that it a quality product.
And the company, most of who are avid fly fisherman, proudly builds their reels solely within Pocatello.
GR Proto, unlike many companies, has no outside dealers. Their business model is to sell directly to the customer. So if you want one, you’ll have to go to their Rugged Creek Fly Fishing website.
The reels are self-lubricating, have virtually no start-up drag, and are very lightweight yet durable.
Douglas is a company that primarily produces fishing rods, but they do make 18 varieties of fly fishing reels. The cheapest Douglas fly fishing reels go for around $175, while the most expensive one goes for $650.
All Douglas fly fishing reels are handcrafted in upper New York of aircraft-grade aluminum.
Douglas, as you might expect, offers a lifetime limited warranty for the original owners.
Based in Montrose Colorado, Ross Reels produces both fly fishing and saltwater fishing reels.
Because the company does not sell direct but only through dealers, prices are difficult to determine, but at the nation’s largest online retailer, prices range from around $375 to $525
Products sold from an authorized dealer have a limited lifetime warranty and all of Ross Reels are handcrafted in their factory in Montrose.
These are great reels and saltwater fishermen, in particular, seem to love them.
A Few Frequently Asked Questions about Fishing Reels
Naturally, people have questions, and one of the biggest is how do you know whether a fishing reel is made in the USA?
The answer is two-fold. First, you can generally tell by the price. A custom, machined fishing reel may cost the company $50 to $100 or more to make. Therefore if you see a
a fishing reel that costs $17 to $29, you know it was made overseas.
In addition, manufacturers who actually make their fishing reels in the USA need to justify the added cost, so they will tell you outright.
Another question is what to expect from a USA-made fishing reel?
If it’s actually handcrafted in the United States, then generally expect a limited lifetime warranty. The warranty may be limited in that only the original buyer is covered and they may be required to provide proof of a receipt, but as long as you didn’t abuse the equipment, they may have the option of replacing or repairing it.