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Aerial (replica) Centrepin from the Fred Crouch Gem Collection - "Jet" Narrow Drum

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Aerial (replica) Centrepin from the Fred Crouch Gem Collection

The "Jet" Narrow Drum Model​

Updated Feb 2016


Introduction :

Having originally reviewed the Platinum Wide Drum Limited Edition reel, I visited the factory and was offered this narrow-drum to review. Obviously, I based the format on the previous one, but changed the content and comment where relevant.

As a user of Aerial Replicas for some 30 or so 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 Match 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, black in colour much as I remember my own Aerial Replicas must have looked all that time ago, some 30 or so years ago in fact. Again I noticed 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 0.6" for this, the narrow drum model. Weight of this model is 285gm.

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 GT85 lubricant for the first test. There was an issue here which is covered at the end of the review, but a quick spin both in the vertical and horizontal positions showed a very slight wobble. This is not unusual, my originals have the same and it in no way affects the action of the reel for fishing.

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 4 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 in my view so this time I did omit it.

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 :

At a price of £175-00 the non-limited 'Jet' reel is probably at about the right price for a spoked, Aerial style, reel of this quality.

Conclusions :

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. The reel is fully guaranteed.

Availabliity - ex-stock, within reason

Orig BFW Score - I'd give a score of 9/10 which might edge upwards in use. I would certainly recommend this reel as well worth considering for anyone who wishes to join the ranks of the c'pin users. Even if not in the same class as the hand-made 'super-pins' very well worth the money for a true-pin Aerial Style reel.


Update - many years on

Having used this reel for 10 years I'd give a score of 10/10 without question. The paint finish (rather than an anodised finish ##) has faired well and has not been a problem as might (suggested by some who asked why no anodise) have been expected. Also, I have chosen to leave the ratchet spring unmodified as its strength is ideal for reasonable flow without rotating whilst legering if left in a rest.

Note that the reels are no longer obtainable from the original 'source' but are still manufactured and assembled by the same people (without any change to build or quality). ## Now all reels are anodised finish.

see http://fredcrouchreels.co.uk

paul (paul4barbus) whiteing

orig 12.10.05

updated Jan 2016
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