Reel Britannia Anti-Reverse RB1 Fly Reel


There are two kinds of fly reels: the kind you’re used to using and anti-reverse or AR reels.  With normal fly reels, the spool and handle are fused so that when the fish takes line, the handle spins backwards.  On big species like marlin and wahoo, this can generate enough force to break fingers (for real).  Anti-reverse reels add an additional element; in this case a separate face plate for the spool-side of the reel, which is not fused to the spool itself.  Then, through an additional clutch mechanism, the reel is designed so that the handle does not spin when the spool releases line.  As an additional benefit, this means you can place the drag adjustment knob on the same side as the handle, so that you can adjust the drag tension while fighting a fish without flopping the rod from hand to hand.

Traditionally, AR reels have been very very clunky, even when designed by masters like Ted Juracsik:


See what I mean?  Visible gears do not exactly make for an attractive reel (although the Billy Pate above is almost 40 years old and is a true classic in its way).

The designers at Reel Britannia are moonlighting from the offshore oil rig industry.  They clearly know their stuff.  In addition to finding an attractive way to enclose their clutch mechanism, they’ve also engineered a sealed drag which has brakes on both sides of the spool, sort of like how cars are braked, which is intended to decrease wobble at high speeds.  They’ve also made a relatively lightweight reel; specs have not been released yet but it was absolutely lighter than classic AR reels I’ve handled in the past.

Overall an excellent first effort by a British manufacturer.  The reels are actually built in Britain and run (in American dollars) about $800-1000, which is in line with anti-reverse reel costs of yesteryear.

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