McKellip Brothers Bamboo Rods
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Reel Seat Design

   The cap and ring reel seat that I use on my rods was developed when I was assembling glass and graphite rods for people over thirty years ago. I have always preferred cap and ring wood spacer reel seats over the uplocking or downlocking threaded reel seat arrangement. I prefer the simplicity, as well as the look of the cap and ring. One of the main complaints against the cap and ring seat has always been that the cap and ring was never as secure as the threaded type. My main complaint with it wasn't so much the security issue, because I made sure that I pushed the ring down securely so that it was very snug. My complaint is that when the ring is fully engaging and sliding up the reel foot, it would dig into at least the finish, and in most cases, the wood or cork on the top of the reel seat. It was unsightly on wood, and on cork it can gouge it out rather quickly. It is likely that you have noticed this problem on rods that you either now own or have owned in the past. The other thing that I have objected to with the cap and ring, is that if it was a straight barrel with one diameter, it is necessary to employ a rear grip check made of a variety of materials, (primarily of wood, aluminum or nickel silver).This is done so the ring cannot slide up onto the cork and gouge the handle. Fred Devine used a stepping up arrangement on his wood seats to limit the travel of the ring to eliminate the gouging problem, thereby eliminating the need for a separate rear grip check. There are other makers today using Fred's design today, but it still doesn't solve the problem of the ring marring the finish and wood on wood seats, and digging into cork on the top of the seat when a reel is mounted.

   Sounds like a lot of whining, I know, but bear with me, there is an end to all this. The cap and ring seat that I developed, deals with both of these issues. If you inspect my design, it at once looks not unlike other cap and ring seats, except for the absence of a rear grip check and a slight ascending taper in the wood spacer that begins about two inches up from the butt of the rod, and continues from there until it reaches the cork. The angle used to cut the tapered portion of the spacer, the length of that tapered portion, and the overall length of the spacer, had to be all worked out before it would accomplish what I had set it out to do. What it did accomplish, is all but eliminate the damage to the finish and the wood, as well as the need for the rear grip check. The inner diameter of the ring is smaller than the outer diameter of the wood barrel where it meets the cork. It can only slide up to about a thirty-second of an inch of the cork before it bottoms out at the top end of the wood barrel. This enables me to finish the cork flush with the wood, so that the angle in the top portion of the wood barrel continues right on up the cork, and provides a seamless transition between the wood and cork. This same angle in the top portion of the wood barrel enables me to slide the ring down the reel foot without marring the finish on the opposite, or top side of the reel seat, because it employs, at least on most reel feet, the same angle of incline built into reel feet being manufactured today. I utilize a pocketed butt cap, that of necessity, you have to push the reel into fully and slightly deflect the hood, to seat it fully. The reel has to be fully seated in the cap to enable the ring (which has to be pushed up toward the cork fully), to be able to be slid up the reel foot. Which brings me to the point that none of this would work without the use of a custom made, over sized inner diameter nickel silver sliding band. The design of the tapered portion of the wood barrel necessitates that the ring is over sized, because a standard sized ring wouldn't slide up the incline on the seat far enough to begin sliding up the reel foot. This ring isn't so much larger as to detract from the overall appearance of the reel seat, in fact, most if not all people, don't realize that it is over sized unless I point it out to them. The width of the band has a function too. When fully seated up on the reel foot, (on most reels) the forward-most end of the reel foot isn't visible. You can slide your hand right down to the reel and there isn't any "bump" that you would otherwise feel if using any other type of handle/reel seat arrangement. Other rod makers and customers tell me that I should get this reel seat patented, but I tell them that if anyone wants to make one, be prepared for hair loss treatments. I have had two makers try to duplicate it, and they both gave up. Another succeeded, after I gave him all the measurements and angles, but only after three tries!

Simple looking? Yes. Complicated? Yes. More costly to you? No. Just a design that I was determined to work out to please myself, and I am happy to say, it pleases people who now own one or more of my rods. I don't typically sign my rods, unless someone insists, but have allowed my reel seat itself to be my signature.