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An Old Build and a New Reel

Colt Johnson

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I think it was the third rod I built which was probably about 3 years ago, a 0wt. Dan Craft 7'10" 6pc, that was somewhat of a benchmark rod for me. At that time I wanted the slowest, deepest bending rod I could possibly get my hands on. This is it. At the time, I called Dan and inquired about a rod that was lighter than the Sage TXL 000wt. He went off on a 20 minute tangent about the impossibilities of the entire concept of a rod that was lighter than a 0wt., which at the time went right over my head. But having built dozens of light line fly rods since having that conversation, I now fully understand what he was trying to highlight.




Before I go any further in that regard, I will say that I fished this rod quite a bit for about a full year following its completion. Then I sold it to a close friend who has had it ever since. Last night I met up with my buddy and we worked out a trade, so the rod is now in my possession again. I special ordered an Abel TR Light reel a few weeks ago from Stillwater Fly Shop. I had my Dan Craft in mind when I ordered the TR Light knowing full well that I would likely keep the TR Light rigged with a 1wt. line most of the time.






Here are the specs on the reel: The diameter is 2.55" It weighs 3.1 oz. empty and it holds approximately 90 yds. of 20# backing with a 1wt. line. I think I have mine spooled with about 65 to 70 yds. of 20# backing and a Sage QDT 1wt. line. The backing creates a fairly large arbor, so line coiling should be minimized, but the reel is quite tiny.





I ordered my reel in matte black (just like the color of the Dan Craft blank). I opted for the zebra wood handle and an ebony insert on the rear hub. I tried to keep all of the features (minus the handle) as "stealthy" as I possibly could. I recall that when I initially built the Dan Craft, my theme was "stealth". I used black anodized hardware, black wraps on the matte black blank, TiCh (titanium colored) snakes and tip top, and the rod as a whole was very stealthy. So pairing this reel with the Dan Craft just felt right.







I took a ton of photos. I happened to receive the Abel TR light in the mail yesterday as well. Here are a few photos as I eagerly pulled the Abel reel from the gold sealed box.





And these are a few photos of the TR Light reel next to its big brother, the largest reel in the TR series, the TR 3 (which is now discontinued).







Here are some photos of the TR Light on a few of my ultralight rods. I was initially very shocked by the smallness of this reel, but it is really growing on me. I was previously accustomed to fishing all large arbor reels with a diameter of 3" or larger, so it was a bit of a shock seeing the proportions of the tiny Abel TR light. But I'm really enjoying the disparity it brings to my ultralight reel lineup.




The reel balanced absolutely perfect on my Kabuto 7033. I haven't tried it yet, but I have a feeling that I could fit a 1/2 DT 3wt. line on this reel without removing any backing. From my experiences changing lines on my Sage 3100 reels, I have noticed that a 1/2 DT 3wt. line uses approximately the same capacity as a full 1wt. Sage QDT line. So I could foresee switching out the line from time to time and using a 1/2 DT 3wt. line so I could pair the Abel TR light with my Kabuto.






And here it is on my Sage TXL-F 2wt. Balance wise, for me, I prefer the 3100 on the TXL-F 2wt. But the TR light is not too bad. I have thought about reducing my older 2wt. Silver label line to about 65' to 70' so that it could be used on the Abel TR light without removing any backing. That way I could potentially rig it up to be used on the TXL-F from time to time. The advantage here is that I would have available LOTS more backing if I opted to REALLY push the TXL-F 2wt. and go after a fish that could significantly get me into my backing. As I stated, earlier, I probably have around 70 yds. of backing on the reel right now. Perhaps this would make a good reel to pair with my TXL-F if I were to chase carp.







Going back to the Dan Craft 0wt. and Dan's comments about the impossibility of producing a rod lighter than a 0wt., I decided to do an ERN of the Dan Craft rod. It took 8 pennies to deflect the Dan Craft rod 1/3 of its' length. I've been trying to pull the Common Cents charts but the webpage seems to be down. I do recall MakoML testing the same (or similar) rod and his result was 6.5 pennies which did not even register on the ERN charts.


By contrast my Sage TXL 0wt. required 20 pennies (which equated to an ERN of 1.92). So you can see that the Dan Craft 0wt. (which only required 8 pennies or in Mako's case 6.5 pennies) is significantly softer and deeper bending than the Sage TXL 0wt. Having tested a number of my rods, I'm fairly certain that what Dan Craft was alluding to was that a rod any lighter than these could not support their own weight....let alone be capable of swinging a fly line and fly through the air. At some point you cannot even make a cast.


Nonetheless, the Dan Craft has its place in my ultralight arsenal once again. The rod can be a lot of fun if there is NO wind. I took it down to my dock this morning and hammered out some 35' to 40' casts using a #14 bead head copper john. The rhythm is slow and the rod does not respond well to being pushed. It's a tad fussy if you don't conform to its timing. But all of that is forgotten when you get a fish on the rod!



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