In 2014, Douglas Outdoors introduced the Argus Fly Reel. The company is based in Upstate NY and have been recently been racking up awards with their fly rods. Last month, I picked up a 3 1/4″ ported-spool model and while I’m a bit late to the Argus party, this reel has a timeless feel to it.
In the hand, the Argus has a solid feel without being bulky. It’s much lighter than it looks . The requisite turn of the handle revealed the unique, deep bellow of the coil-spring click / pawl (listen + look below).
UPDATE 3/16/20: We were able to get in touch with the folks at Douglas to do a “Meet the maker” Q&A.
A solid frame houses a coil-spring and lever click / pawl mechanism (vs a leaf spring). The result is a uniquely deep, loud “howl” when fish run.
The dark gray, matte, Type II anodized finish gives the traditional design a stealthy, modern feel. The marine brass reel foot with “Made in USA” stamp. compliments the reel perfectly. Subtle, precise laser-etched palming texture and branding remind you this isn’t an antique.
Under the hood
The frame-adjustable coil spring and lever design is done with high-quality components and reminds me of a looking into the guts of a high-end mechanical watch.
Here, it’s setup for LH retrieve. For RH retrieve, everything flips over to the left side. Here’s a video of how to do it.
Meet the maker
We shot some questions over to the folks at Douglas and they were kind enough to take the time to respond. Thanks James Pastucha and David Barclay for an inside look at this great click / pawl reel!
Can you tell us more about the design process for the Argus? What inspired you all to make a reel / make it the way you did?
The Argus was designed to be a retro classical looking reel with updated mechanisms. With our other business being a dealer of machine tools, it was a great project to work on with some of our customers and dealers.
With a lot of brands choosing to go with more modern / sealed drags, how did you decide to go click / pawl? Was there a debate about putting a more modern drag in there or more traditional leaf spring setup?
The reel was designed for sound, with the history of the click/pawl being made for guides who wanted to hear if their upstream customers had a fish.
However, there is no better sound than a click/pawl making noise. Whether customer, guide, or just a guy fishing — you can feel the Argus has that sound.
If you could pick, what’s your favorite part of the Argus?
My favorite part of the Argus reel is the internal post so that rivets did not need to be used and the transition from the sharp edge of the outside of frame to the smooth curves of the bridge. That was not easy and if you look at our bridge, the whole bridge is stepped in not just the tip to fit into the spool.
The sound is unique. Was there an effort to have it sound the way it does or was it more of a pleasant surprise when you were done?
The sound was 100% on purpose. We wanted it to be quite noticeable.
The reel has been out for a couple years now. What has the response been?
We’ve had success with a lot of bamboo/glass fishers, as well as pairing it with our Upstream Fly rod series which is a unique rod to have a bamboo/glass feel with modern graphite.
The Rex is the Argus’ big brother for larger species. What’s your response to someone who might think click / pawl is just for smaller species?
We use them on our Spey setups to fish Great Lakes Steelhead. Having a steelhead grab on the swing and hearing that reel sing as the fish runs will change your life. The grooves on the reel really help while palming the reel in cold weather.
Any plans for updates or other reels like the Argus / Rex? (we love them as is)
We are hoping in the near future to run another set of Argus reels with a few minor updates. Unfortunately, we have been so busy on the rod side we have not had time to work on our reels.
Douglas has unlimited ideas and hopefully they will start spilling out in the next few years.
Where to buy
Pick up the Argus from your local fly shop / Douglas dealer.