Decade Reels

When people ask me why I only fish click / pawl reels, I often respond by drawing parallels to other things I love like mechanical watches, vinyl records / turntables, and manual transmissions. I have a soft spot for simple, traditional things that are crafted by like-minded folks and have a story behind them.

That’s why I’m excited to share this post about Decade Reels along with some words from the maker.

Decade Reels makes a beautiful line of click / pawl reels designed, made and assembled in Oregon, USA. I came across the brand in searches and then again in this issue of This Is Fly. They make a 2.9″ diameter 3/5 WT reel that features beautiful wood inlays on the frame and spool. I was able to pick up a gorgeous black + bamboo model. It just arrived and I can’t wait to get it out on the water.

Brandon Jorgensen started Decade Reels in 2015 and after reaching out to him, he shared some insight into his journey with Decade and what’s next. Be sure to scroll down to learn more about Brandon and his company in our first “Meet the Maker” section.

The Sound

The simple leaf spring click / pawl mechanism is housed in an un-ported frame and rewards the angler with a beautiful, deep sound.

“When the discussion of reels comes up, the most polarizing debate between fly fishermen seems to come down to one thing: the sound!

Depending on which side of this audible argument you may align yourself, you will find that contentious sound of the wedge of spring-tensioned steel clicking along the teeth of a turning gear either grating or euphoric.

To some, it is an unnecessary disruption to an otherwise peaceful moment on the water. To others: a buzzing battle cry that signals success to any human within earshot. To me, the sound of a click-and-pawl reel is the definitive soundtrack to fly fishing.”

– Brandon Jorgensen of Decade Reels, This Is Fly Magazine, Issue 69

The Design

The model we picked up features a glossy black anodized spool and frame houses FSC Certified Bamboo inlays that have been treated to prevent them from wearing under the elements. Take it for a spin.

The bamboo inlay reels are also made in gold and clear (silver) along with a blackened American White Oak version in black, gold, and silver.

Under the Hood

The counterweight on the spool cleverly doubles as the release mechanism. A short slide unlocks the spool from the reel, revealing it’s simple, single-pawl setup that can be flipped to allow RH retrieve (LH shown here).

Meet the Maker

What inspired you to start Decade and how did you land on this design?
“At the time I started Decade  I was working as an Industrial Designer who loved Fly Fishing and I had been wanting to design something that I could use on the water. I was on a trip to the Deschutes in 2015 with a bamboo rod maker friend of mine and I was fishing with one of  his rods . I really loved the natural beauty and strength of the bamboo, and that’s when the idea for what would become the Decade ‘clicked’.

What’s the process for making them? How long does it take to make one?
“Every part of the reel (with the exception of a couple of machine screws)  is custom made here in Oregon,  where we are based.  The Bamboo or Blackened Oak Inlay is the signature piece of the Decade, and there is a lot of work that goes into making this part. It involves a multi-step process that takes several hours to laminate and seal the material, which protects it against sun and water damage. We have developed a way to make the reel waterproof while maintaining the natural look of the Bamboo material.

What’s been your favorite part about running Decade? Least favorite / most challenging?
“The best part by far has been getting these reels into peoples hands who really appreciate them.  It’s a great feeling to provide something that other people really love and that is adding to their fishing experiences.   I’ve also gotten to know a lot of great people since starting Decade. Whether its other people who work in the Fly Fishing industry or other fishermen, everyone has been very supportive and cool.

Most challenging thing so far has been being able to keep up with the demand. We currently have  a 2-3 month lead time on reels, but we are working hard to shorten that.

How can folks get one of these? ,or if you’re in the Portland area you can stop by The Portland Fly Shop to check them out

What’s next for you + Decade? Where do you want to take it
“2020 should be an exciting year for Decade. We’ve had a lot of requests over the last 5 years for a larger reel and we are working on a design for a 6/7wt version- which will of course still be a click/ pawl. Look for that to come out later this year along with a few other surprises.

How to buy

Drop Brandon a line here to discuss what you’re looking for. It’s rare that you get a chance to talk directly to the maker and Brandon is an all around great person with a passion for what he does.