Fly Rod Reel Seats!
Your source for flyfishing and flycraft resources since 1975.
Uplocking Vs. Downlocking Reel Seats
When it comes to fly rods, there are basically only two types of seats: uplocking and downlocking.
Uplocking are the most common. Uplocking simply means that the locking nut turns "towards the grip" to lock in the reel. Downlocking meas that the locking nut turns "towards the butt" to lock in the reel. These photos will help:
We don't know why, but downlocking aren't as popular as they used to be. I like the way they look and frankly, the reel is less likely to slip on a downlocking seat. Up against a cigar grip, it'll look terrific . . . and classy!
There are also reel seats with slide rings instead of locking nuts that screw, and may also be uplocking or downlocking. These tend to be for lighter weights and are popular with builders of bamboo rods. On these, pressure holds on the reel amazingly well. The one shown (right) has a cork insert, but these are available with a wide variety of wood inserts as well.
Flush Mount Vs. Recessed
Some of the reel seats have a part that 'fits into' the cork grip. In this case, you'll need a cork grip with a recess that matches it (unless you want to carve it out yourself, which we do not recommend until you have built a couple of rods). This need not be some big mystery, but is just something to keep in mind when you're making your decisions and ordering rod building components. You can always call us to make sure the grip and reel seat match up nicely.
Flush mount seats simply butt up against the cork. There is no need to worry about buying a cork grip with a recess, as most without a recess will work nicely.
The different names of the seats, like A5, U-20, A8, RA8 and so on, have different meanings for different manufacturers. While there are some terms you'll find are more universal than others, you're best to ignore these designations altogether.
Our best advice is to determine the seat you want by the style you want, and then match up the right size for the weight. In other words, say you're building a 5 weight and you know you want the reel seat to have a wood insert because you like the way it looks. You won't need a big seat for the 5 weight, just something 3 1/2 - 4" long. If you're building a 9 weight to fish in saltwater, your reel will be bigger so you'll probably want a seat that's closer to 4" or more long, and a bit thicker too.
We strongly encourage you to be creative and to choose components that appeal to you visually. You can always call or email us to make sure it'll fit together ok or that it makes sense.
This is where you can choose from many available woods, like walnut, maple, cocobola and so on. We're pretty specific about which inserts fit with which reel seats in our catalog and online, but don't hesitate to contact us to make sure it all fits together the way you expect. Also, your rod blank has to fit into your wood insert, so there are size considerations here too.
Most reel seat these days are made from aluminum. This is because the material is strong, light, corrosive resistant and inexpensive. Also, aluminum can be anodized with many different colors or plated with different metals, like TiCh (called titanium). Also, these may be with or without a wooden inserts to give your rod a classic look.
But if you're fishing saltwater, we'll probably talk you out of putting on an expensive nickel silver seat with a gunstock walnut insert, because the saltwater will just eat it up and it'll look ugly after extended use. Here, we'd advise you to use solid aluminum or a seat of other material tha'll stand up to the salt.
Some builders and many high end fly rods use solid nickel silver (or nickel silver plating on brass) for their reel seats. These are also common on most older bamboo fly rods. These are beautiful and about as classy as it gets, but nickel silver does have its drawbacks. For one thing, it's expensive and second, it's much heavier than aluminum too. We know that a nickel silver seat will be cherished and admired for many years.
Fighting grips can be detachable, like you see here or permanent. Some builders use smaller Fixed Fighting Butts on rods of 5 and 6 weights. They usually only 1 - 1 1/2" long. They look nice, but I think they get in the way more often than not. And frankly, you really don't need one when fighting a 22" brown trout.
If you decide to use one of these, make sure that it'll fit into the reel seat you choose and that the color of the hardware matches. Once again, we're just a phone call away if you need help.
This isn't really as complicated as it seems, but we just want to make sure you pay attention to these details if choosing your own components. If you purchase a kit from us, you can be certain that all the parts will fit appropriately.