AM Investment Strategies
AMS Spring 2023

Getting Reel: Fly Fishing Meets 3D Printing in Ongoing Design Project

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reel3If you know anyone who likes to fish, you also probably know they are a little obsessive (in a good way). Fly fishing has an even more obsessive following, and when you have tried it yourself you begin to understand why. Since Robert Redford made the film A River Runs Through It about this laid-back sport, America has been awash in fly fishing enthusiasm.  The romantic simplicity of the sport inspires one to reflect on some of the essential elements of life: this includes a perfected 3D printed fly fishing reel!

It’s you, the water, the fish, the rod — and the reel. If the fish aren’t biting, you probably also have lots of time to think about how to improve your overall fly fishing experience. This appears to be the case for Michael Hackney, who began his 3D printed design for his ideal fly fishing reel design in 2012 and is now finally releasing his results for the rest of us to see two years later.

Hackney began his reel design project with some essential criteria in mind, including: it had to be entirely 3D printed with no extra hardware or screws allowed; it must have a nice design; part count should be low and parts simple enough for most 3D printers to print; it should be printable in PLA; it could use glue and have a click check; and it must fit modern fly fishing seats. Oh, and there’s one more essential criterion: it must catch an endless amount of fish that were all “this big”!

 

Apparently, fitting all these criteria is a tall order because it took Hackney two years to complete and publicize his design. His first prototype was developed within a year, and although he received recognition for it in the 3D printing press, there were some problems. For example, the reel’s foot wouldn’t fit into a reel seat without mechanical modifications, and the reel’s spool needed reaming to fit the spindle because it was printed in two pieces.

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In his new version, the reel has a click check and improved foot compatible with seat hardware and attached to the frame. It also looks better. Hackney discovered that printing on plain printer paper left a matte finish. (He also experimented with PEI, a new print surface, that leaves a glossy matte finish as well.) He made the reel’s internal fill pattern design exposed to incorporate it into the design, and he reports much experimentation was required to print strong parts with exposed infill.

After over a year of trial and error, Hackney decided he would make his design available for 3D printing and testing — and he received much feedback. This resulted in a final design (see below) that 3D printing and/or fly fishing aficionados can look forward to testing out in the near future.  Are you a fly fisher? Let us know if you think this design would make your day at the water any better over at the 3D Printed Fly Fishing Reel forum thread at 3DPB.com.-entire-reel-exploded-and-labeled

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