Aspen Reels are Made in the USA for anglers looking for performance and value.
by: Mike Stevens 5/18/2012
As you thumb through the reel section of a fly fishing catalog, you may notice a little symbol that says “Made in the USA” next to those reels along with a little American flag. You will also notice that these primo reels are going to cost you at least as much as a weekend’s worth of lodging in Vegas, and on the higher end, pushing four figures. Lifetime-quality fly reels that were American made just weren’t a practical option for anglers not looking to miss a couple car payments to afford.
Well, those days are over.
I noticed a tiny ad for Aspen Reels in Fly Fisherman magazine about a year ago, and when I saw the “Made in the USA” notation, I (like I always do) made the decision to check them out online. Knowing what I know about other American-made fly reels, I expected to see a collection of sparkling reels in a variety of colors with designs engraved into it that look more like something better suited to be displayed in a glass case than brought out on to the water for serious fishing. What I discovered was a reel made out of top-quality materials that while understated in appearance, it looked like it was built like a tank.
I made a point to visit these guys at the Fred Hall Show in Del Mar so I could get my hands on one, and when I did, I went straight for the smallest one, being a Sierra trout guy and all. I was right about it being built like a tank, but it was also very light and well-built. I found out that they are not only made in the USA, but made in California, and not only made in California, but made in a family-run shop a couple miles away from my house in San Marcos (North San Diego). I am not going to rattle off what kind of space-aged aircraft-quality materials Aspen Reels are made out of and list off all the features and benefits, you can go to their website for that. I will tell you that these reels fit into the “lifetime investment” category and I haven’t got to the best part yet, which is the price. You can get one of these bad boys for around $200, but keep an eye on their site. I have seen the price drop a good chunk lower than that for a limited amount of time.
So if you are a serious fly fisherman, or even a beginner who knows they are going to be doing this for a while, you really should check out these reels. If you are one of those guys only concerned with looking like a decked-out pretty boy in an Orvis catalog and need a blingy reel that looks like it should be hanging on a chain around a rap star’s neck, don’t bother. But if you are looking for a workhorse of a reel that you won’t be afraid to toss down on a muddy bank without flinching, then an Aspen reel is for you.