Monday, February 25, 2013

The Best Semi Automatic fly reels

I'm doing an update on the information I posted a few years ago about Semi Automatic fly reels.
There is a great deal of interest in these reels.  The reels are still not fully understood.
Most anglers think that they are the same reels popular about thirty years ago but these new reels do not
have a large spring inside.   They have drag adjustments and removable spools.  In addition to their
ability to hold heavy fly lines; there is more room for backing. I'm posting this new report so that anglers can see what is available.

I have used semi automatic fly reels for about ten years.  I have never lost a fish because I use a
semi automatic fly reel.  They do work.  Part of the reason for writing this second article is that I still
see reports stating that there are deficiencies in semi automatic fly reels.  I've had fly shop personnel claim
that the Thinkfish Bold is made with plastic.  The unknowing claim that these reels simply can not
deal with big powerful fish.  However, my blog shows just the opposite in ponds, lakes and rivers.
The semi automatic fly reels are efficient and well made reels which hold adequate backing.

Fly fishers have more reason to take a serious look at semi automatic fly reels.  They are not bulky
 or heavy.  Many competitive anglers use the semi automatic fly reel because they allow for fish to be played from the reel; which is important when dealing with  fish like carp or bass.  Hand striping in a fish has it's limits.  Most semi automatic fly reels revolve four to five times each time the lever is squeezed.  That means you have an advantage when you bring in a fish; whether you have a large arbor reel or not.

Classically trained fly fisher feel that they will loose the "feel" of fishing by putting the fish on the reel
but the semi automatic gives you the option of being able to do both.  This reel allows the fly fisher to play and net the fish using just your two hands.

The innovative semi-automatic BOLD reel by Thinkfish offers ultra fast pick up of loose line singlehandedly, without interrupting the fishing action. Ideal for all trout fishing - either chasing rising fish on a lake, or moving fast along the river bank.   Made in Spain.
  • Large Arbour capacity up to AFTMA 7 weight line
  • Hyper-ventilation allowing lines to dry quickly
  • Fast and functional feed-out system
  • Polished carbon steel line guide
  • Mixed cone multi-disc drag system

The ATP 37 reels are available in 2 sizes to fly fish up to the line weights 2 - 5 and 5 - 7.   The 7-level drag adjustment is on the outside of the spool and can be easily adjusted at any time. The lever for fast line intake is anatomically shaped and is space-saving retractable. Each reel comes with an easily replaceable spare spool. One spool is a large arbor -  capacity: WF7F + 100yds. (#20) Backing .
The ATP 37 alum  is  precision machined from anticorodial aluminum bar and comes with an extra spool and a leather case. Cost: approx $600.00 . The ATP 37 comes in an all graphite model which is affordable at about $150.00 and can be purchased online. The ATP 37 has a lifetime warranty.  Made in Italy.

The Franco Vivarelli  Goldstar is precision machined entirely from anticorodial aluminum bar.  The polishing
and subsequent, anodizing guarantees resistance to corrosion.  Just one pull of the lever with your casting hand will pick up your slack line.  Mechanical parts are manufactured from stainless steel, brass, and aluminum alloy.   Completely anodized for guaranteed corrosion strength even in salt water. Line capacity up to WF 8F+ 100 m. micro backing  Weight 162 g.   Made in Italy.

The mid-arbor FULGOR fly reel by Peux is highly regarded in Europe as the best semi-automatic fly reel because it reaches perfection. The lever operation in the front brings an amazing retrieval speed to pick up the slack line (one squeeze brings back over 2 metres of line), while as an option it is possible to still have a conventional handle located on the spool allowing you to play a fish like usual. But it’s not only this that makes the reel so special, there is the precision of its mechanism with a sound that inspires quality, and a smooth and progressive teflon drag system. The FULGOR fly reel’s design is purely functional, turned in the highest grade of aluminium making it light, scratch and shock resistant. This combination of elements makes for a brilliant reel and trying it is like discovering for the very first time the drive of a luxury car.

Semi automatic carbon fibre reel. Mechanical parts manufactured from stainless steel and bronze. Push button releases the spool. The Franco Vivarelli reel in carbon fiber, the great classic of the collection. Extremely light and perfectly balanced. Acting on the rod attachment, it is possible to regulate the position of the lever in base of the grip.  Line capacity up to WF 6F Weight 103 g.   Made in Italy.

Rear view of the ATP 37 alum.

Rear view of the Goldstar

Rear view of the Fulgor

Rear view of the Carbon fiber

Front view of the semi automatic fly reels

I've taken carp and pike with four of the five reels shown; so they are sturdy.  I even used
the Goldstar to catch a striped bass (30+ inches).  The Fugor has taken salmon.

Bold showing the drag adjustment


  1. That was great Bill!

    I did some math as I thought they may be heavy. Well, most are heavier than a typical reel but not much. Just over 5 oz. seemed a usual amount. I see the advantages, nice.


  2. Thanks Greg. I've been working on this for a while. First I had to get the Fulgor. After getting all the reels together, I took the photos about two months ago. The writing was slow because most have never tried these reels but everyone believes they know about semi automatic fly reels. I wanted to give my opinion about the reels based on my many years experience. I hope that I've been able to show how these are not "automatic fly reels".

  3. I just saw your article on semi automatic reels. Are you still around writing. I’d like some advice on these reels. Thx. Craig B.