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A Rolex and Timex do the exact same job at very different price points. The difference? A Timex won't get you laid.

It does depend on the fish. Fish that don't run you to the backing? You don't need to spend the money.

But I've had one of the best big game reels on the market completely crap out on a marlin.

I had another big game reel get destroyed by a massive jack.

I've lost a big permit on a mid priced reel because of the start up friction put too much pressure on the tippet.

I have reels for certain types of fish but don't skimp on ones with great drags, low start up friction, and easy to change drag settings during the fight, which is essential for permit and tarpon.
 

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I built a nice collection by hunting eBay for quality USA made fly reels. I do the same for Japanese made Shimanos...I built most of my shimano collection well before anything was made “offshore”.
 
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Yeah probably for reds and snook, a Pflugger medalist would suffice just fine and you could replace it every few years.

A 20lb jack is going to be a SOB to land on that same reel. Same good for a big bone, albie, etc.
 

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I have an assortment of gear from fairly high end to thrift. I freaking love my Tibor Everglades and plan on adding more of them to my arsenal. Over its life there’s never been a glitch. On some of the cheaper reels, over time the drag has got a little less smooth on others, reels have developed a squeak here and there and in general using them is a little less satisfying because there’s an underlying bit of worry about whether or not I’ll have an issue when it matters, or just annoyance at the issues. The Tibor is older with much more mileage than any of my other reels, still outperforms them and likely still will when I’m dead and my daughter sells it to some jack wagon. I think post like the OP are more about trying to get reassurance of your choice to buy cheap gear.
 

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I'm moderate, fish Tiogas and Orvis mostly. But back a ways I spent a decade with a Cortland Magnum that held up to tarpon, 20 lb+ jacks, Pacific salmon and a lot of big blues without a whimper. Yeah it eventually gave up the ghost, but for a reel under $100 it was a steal.
 

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I’ve always had pretty good reels, Lamson and Ross mostly. Just last week I ordered 2 custom Abel reels. Do I need the strength of an SDS 7/8 to handle the typical redfish I catch? Not at all but the fact of the matter is that I can and I wanted to. The extra cost for the hand painted finish doesn’t make any difference in the quality of the reel and certainly no difference to the fish, but it matters to me. Same thing about me having a custom built skiff made to fit me, to my color specs and options. I can and I wanted to.
 

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I've never shredded a reel, but, I have lost a day Tarpon fishing due to a brand new POS TFO BVK rod that broke in half on a line lift. So the cool warranty didn't help because I forgot my real rod onshore and was glad I had the BVK as a backup which was why I had it in the first place. So TFO rods are cheap until you do the math on the total cost of ownership. Take a day off and you need to figure out how much you make an hour, the time you lost in opportunity cost, and suddenly that is a very expensive rod.
 

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When I started fly fishing I used pretty budget-friendly gear and often made deals for used stuff. It was fine for chasing bass and slot reds (or under) but the first time I tied into a big jack on what I thought was a pretty good Lamson reel I bought off Sierra Trading Post the thing practically blew up when put to the test. Fortunately about that time I was able to afford upgrades to my gear and I didn't hesitate.

These days I make no bones about being a Tibor guy. All of my primary rigs for 6, 8, 10, and 12wts are all Tibor- Backcountry CL-Wide, Everglades, Riptide, and Gulfstream. Eventually I'll get a Pacific for my 15wt to replace the Allen Kraken but I don't have enough chances to use it to justify it to myself right now. And I've upgrade my secondary rigs too. I'm 100% confident I'll be the point of failure in most fish I'm after (I've broken a few rods on tarpon, mainly through my mistakes but it happens with tarpon) and I know those classic Tibor reels are basically bulletproof and with proper care I know they will last almost forever. Personally, I think the only reels made today that are better than these classic Tibor are the Mako lineup but there's a point of diminishing returns, IMHO. In other words, I'm not sure the difference in performance between a similar sized Tibor and Mako would be something I'm good enough to appreciate given the increased price of the Mako over a Tibor.

And I really like the idea that when the time comes my now 10 & 6-year old boys will likely land their first tarpon on the same Tibor Gulfstream I used for my first tarpon.
 

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Lefty Kreh told me that up until the late 1980's, most world records were caught using a Pflueger Medalist.
That may have been due to their availability. Also, any serious saltwater guy using those Medalists would upgrade them. I forget the guy's name but there was a guy in Florida who made hand-machined replacement spools and upgraded some drag parts. Guys also used a small grinder and cut out a little window in the frame where they placed a piece of leather or shammy as an additional brake where you'd apply pressure to the spool with your thumb (@texasag07 did this on one of his vintage Medalists). So these weren't exactly stock reels.

Additionally, I'm a little surprised Lefty would say that because I seem to recall one of Fin-Nor's marketing points was that their fly reels were responsible for most world records beginning with their early-60's "wedding cake" models up really until Ted Jurascik introduced his "Billy Pate" reels in the 70's. I could be wrong though.
 
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I have plenty of high priced reels, but my first foray into salt was with a piscifun sword reel. Years later, it's still in service as my beach snook reel. I rinse it, put it away wet, and used it almost every day of the summer last year. It's still smooth, solid, and I caught a fish over 40 inches last year in a situation where I had to apply a lot of pressure. I do love not having to care if it blows up, gets sand in it, etc. It's a non-issue at the price.
 

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I've never shredded a reel, but, I have lost a day Tarpon fishing due to a brand new POS TFO BVK rod that broke in half on a line lift. So the cool warranty didn't help because I forgot my real rod onshore and was glad I had the BVK as a backup which was why I had it in the first place. So TFO rods are cheap until you do the math on the total cost of ownership. Take a day off and you need to figure out how much you make an hour, the time you lost in opportunity cost, and suddenly that is a very expensive rod.
Love it. A buddy of mine got a TFO as a spare. Decided to use it one day last month. I didn't tell him my thoughts on TFO rods. Well that is until he broke it on a little 7# redfish. Then I told him my TFO sad tales. Like you I told him yeah they have a great warranty but they break way too easy. They do cast and fish just fine but well I don't trust them. So I changed the name of that spot on my GPS in his honor. Its now a standing joke for us.

The spot is now named POSTFO......POS TFO.....LOL
 

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Love it. A buddy of mine got a TFO as a spare. Decided to use it one day last month. I didn't tell him my thoughts on TFO rods. Well that is until he broke it on a little 7# redfish. Then I told him my TFO sad tales. Like you I told him yeah they have a great warranty but they break way too easy. They do cast and fish just fine but well I don't trust them. So I changed the name of that spot on my GPS in his honor. Its now a standing joke for us.

The spot is now named POSTFO......POS TFO.....LOL
BAHAHAHAHA Epic. Are you on the Florida Saltwater Flyfishing Group on FB?? You need to post this. All the TFO guides, Captains, etc always posting how great they are in goose-step.
 

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I’ve always had pretty good reels, Lamson and Ross mostly. Just last week I ordered 2 custom Abel reels. Do I need the strength of an SDS 7/8 to handle the typical redfish I catch? Not at all but the fact of the matter is that I can and I wanted to. The extra cost for the hand painted finish doesn’t make any difference in the quality of the reel and certainly no difference to the fish, but it matters to me. Same thing about me having a custom built skiff made to fit me, to my color specs and options. I can and I wanted to.
Well said, I bet those reel me and skiff also perform very well.
 

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That may have been due to their availability. Also, any serious saltwater guy using those Medalists would upgrade them. I forget the guy's name but there was a guy in Florida who made hand-machined replacement spools and upgraded some drag parts. Guys also used a small grinder and cut out a little window in the frame where they placed a piece of leather or shammy as an additional brake where you'd apply pressure to the spool with your thumb (@texasag07 did this on one of his vintage Medalists). So these weren't exactly stock reels.

Additionally, I'm a little surprised Lefty would say that because I seem to recall one of Fin-Nor's marketing points was that their fly reels were responsible for most world records beginning with their early-60's "wedding cake" models up really until Ted Jurascik introduced his "Billy Pate" reels in the 70's. I could be wrong though.
I'm sure it was due to mass production & the availability of the Medalist. I think Pflueger got a patent on the Medalist in 1930. Lefty was always a big fan of doing more with less and convincing people to spend as little as possible to get into the game. I remember seeing a couple of those old customized Medalists at the Big Pine Flea Market back in the 1980s.

I think Fin-Nor came out with the Wedding Cake in 1967 and then soon after, Capt. Mac introduced the Seamaster.
 
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