Aerial Centrepin from the Fred Crouch Gem Collection
The Platinum Wide Drum Limited Edition
The Platinum Wide Drum Limited Edition
updated Feb 2016
I received this reel recently to test and review on behalf of BFW. As a user of Aerial Replicas for some 30 years, and also having an engineering background, I was interested how this new model would compare with the original replicas, also tied in 'somehow' with Fred. It is worth stating at this point that the first replicas were pretty much accurate 'copies' of an Allcocks Aerial model (there were many) apart from the ratchet knob which was clearly chosen, I believe, to identify these reels as replicas and, of course, the content of the circular label.
This, a true-pin, presented in a polished box, and with a Certificate of Authenticity, numbered and signed by Fred Crouch. I was suprised that it was the Platinum model which was sent, akin to a natural anodised finish and not the easiest of the colours to produce with a consistent colour. Although the finish was, almost as expected, not perfect I did notice that the other components were obviously of different material than the old versions, and showing that the materials were selected with care by an engineer. Also, the back plate didn't have the original replica's 'dimpled' finish, which was produced as a casting, but a smooth finish likely produced by turning.
Materials used are bar stock aluminium for the main body; nickel silver for the hub, spokes and the main fittings; stainless steel for the spindle, ratchet, gear and pawl; chrome on brass for the reel seat (feet) and nickel on brass for the handle cup washers
Sizes are approximately 4.1/2" overall diameter, with a spool diameter of 3.3/4" and a spool width of 1.1/8" for this, the wide drum. Weight of this model is 310gm.
I never spin a reel straight from the box, so the first thing I did was to remove the 'drum', such that I could clean the spindle, adjust the drag and the centre screw to my liking, and lubricate with GT80 for the first test. A quick spin both in the vertical and horizontal positions showed a slight wobble. This is not unusual, my originals have the same and it in no way affects the action of the reel for fishing, but here accentuated by both the bright finish showing reflections and optical movement that a dark one would mute, and also by the fact of it being a wide drum.
The reel spins freely and, using a test format that I have seen used elsewhere, I attached some line and measured that the drum would begin to rotate with the adition of 7 BB shot (I must admit that this test method does not seem to be so easy in practice as it sounds in theory, so I am not sure how valid it really is). The drum is reasonably lightweight so it would be well suited to trotting with medium to heavy floats, allowing the speed to be controlled by the flow. I'm sure that someone who regularly trots with lighter tackle would also find this reel suitable, but it is not a test that I carry out, especially in the context of use for barbel fishing. A test for how long it spins is of no value so I wouldn't normally include it, but since some like this figure, for whatever their reasons, it averaged 75 secs (with the GT85 lubricant).
As I use a c'pin reel exclusively when barbelling, mainly legering, I prefer that the reel's rotation is less than free, so I cleaned the pin and internals, and re-lubricated this time with 3-in-1 oil. The drag mechanism adjustment worked as expected, but still a poor substitute for an educated thumb.
The ratchet however was, to my ears, horrendous - not in any way a fault I must stress, but so loud that a certain barbel angler, Mr.T of TV fame, would be proud. If it were mine I'd adjust the spring but that's my choice. The mechanism is of course simply reversible, such that left-handed users can alter the action to suit.
There are handles well suited to retrieving barbel, and with no knurling on the rim, well suited to retrieving errrr.... no barbel, by batting the rim if that's your style. The absence of knurling also has the advantage of allowing casting off-the-side.
The reel feet are slightly longer than my originals but will be an advantage if using sliding reel fittings, and certainly ideal for Fuji DPS reel seats even if cut down as mine are.
The reel performed well using the Wallis cast, the inertia being low enough to allow the casting action to set the drum revolving smoothly.
Value for money :
It is my choice, but I would not pay extra for a reel just because it is a limited edition, also to have a wooden presentation box which would be of no value to me. I have no desire to own things as an investment, although with wonderful hindsight I might have wished I'd started a collection at the right time years ago.
At a price of Â£260-00 I find that these limited edition reels are only going to be attractive to a minority, obvious really, and because of that I will not attempt to put a value for money rating, that is for an individual to judge.
Performance - very good, and I wasn't disappointed.
Manufacture - basically this reel is very nicely made although it is not going to be in the class of a "hand-made" one, but it is after all only about half the price. My only slight criticism would be that the finish is not as consistent and even as I would have liked to see for a brand new reel, although as I said initially, this colour is probably not the best choice in this respect. But I am equally sure that when used for a while, this would be forgotten as a minor point - my own reels show much sign of use (not abuse) and that is somehow satisfying. Having now seen the range of colours which were fine even if not to my liking, this inconsistency does not seem such a problem after all - it is under the light on the test bench that these things are scrutinised to a high degree.
The manufacture of the reel was very good for a reel at this price, and carries a full guarantee.
Availabliity - ex-stock, within reason
BFW Score - As a reel to be used I would give a score of 9/10 which might edge upwards in use. As said previously, as a limited edition model I'll not give a rating, and leave that for an individual to judge.
Based purely on the Jet model's updated review it is highly likely that this reel also would receive a favourable upgrade to 10/10
Update - 15 months on
I have not owned nor used this reel during the 15 month period since the original review, but based purely on the Jet model's updated review it is highly likely that this reel also would receive a favourable upgrade to 10/10
Note that the reels are no longer available.
paul (paul4barbus) whiteing
updated Feb 2016