As we get 2015 underway, I wanted to get to know a few more people that are doing some awesome things in the fly fishing industry. I'm hoping to post some interviews with rod builders, reel makers, and hopefully a few artists. If you think there's anyone we should be talking to, drop us a line.
When I first saw what Vince was doing, it immediately caught my interest and I found myself looking forward to seeing more of what he was kicking out of his shop. I've been a sucker for click pawl reels since I first got in to fly fishing and bought my first to pair with my first glass rod. Hardy, Lamson, Orvis, Pflueger, JW Young - all have some great classic reels that look great and balance out glass very well. Vince's reels follow the tradition of the Hardy Perfect reels and he makes each by hand. His new stuff is unique and already proving to be popular within the interwebs. After an exchange of messages and emails he was kind enough to take some time, sit down, answer some questions and shoot some photos for me. Give it a read to learn a bit more and keep your eyes peeled for what he comes up with next.
Tell me a little about yourself…. Where are you from?
Vince Huttley is my name, will answer to pretty much anything though... Reside in tropical Townsville North QLD Australia.
Do you make your living in the fishing/fly fishing industry? If not, what’s your 9-5?
The daily grind, I'm a fitter and turner by trade. I help run a machine/fab shop, which keeps me busy. Quoting, planning, drafting, keeping the apprentices attitudes under control etc, etc. Rod/reel building is something I started as a project for myself, but it's slowly progressing into something more. But I will stress that I'm keeping tight reigns on it as I'm extremely fussy on quality and I won't release any of my work until I know its going to last a lifetime of use. So basically once I'm happy with it, I will start selling more gear.
What got you in to fishing? When did you start fly fishing?
Fishing has always been a big part the family, ever since I was able to walk Dad would take me on trips hunting and fishing. But the fly is something I picked up on my own. Mostly due to a TV show that aired here in Australia called " A River Somewhere" in the late 90's and the saltwater scene that was kicking on pretty hard. My parents bought me a 10wt graphite set up for my 10/11th birthday plus a how to VHS with a few saltwater flies. I cast the shit out of that rod for years! Every once in a while I'd fluke a fish but I just loved bagging out loops. Fishing took a back seat for a few years when I started work, in-between wake boarding, partying and girls or lack of - the fish had to wait. Back into it now for several years and I try to get out to the reef whenever the weather is good for some spearing and bottom bashing. But I definitely need to spend more time with with my Epic 990 out there. An hours drive up the range I have a few good spots chasing sooty grunter on foam hoppers and cicadas with the three and four weights. Plenty of variety here from freshwater, estuaries, saltwater flats, reefs and good blue water to throw in the mix, the closest trout stream is about 1000 miles south though.
I see you’re a rod builder. How did that start and how long have you been doing it?
This is a long and annoying story for me so I will keep it as short as I can. The local tackle stores don't really cater for fly and we are really isolated from the whole fly community here. Pretty much the only decent rods available locally are Sage or G.Loomis which are hellishly over priced and very little range. While both those brands are very reputable, I cannot stand the sight of another boring ass olive green, zero contrast rod. That drove me into searching online and rather than go down the easy sensible path of just buying a rod, I figured I would build my own and have been since, for about 4 years now. With the introduction to glass I think my days of building graphite will be very limited. Glass rods just seem to have more sole in appearance and feel.
How many rods do you build per year? Do you do custom builds to order, or is it only for friends and fishing buddies?
Built several rods for friends and family but I tend to stick to myself locally so and I haven't really chased any work on building customs. I'm in the process of building several Epic 580's and Bandits, and once they are completed I will offer them out for grabs. So I can do it at my own pace then with no deadlines. I don't want to turn this project into a chore.
I know we’ve talked about your reels before, but what inspired you to get in to reel making?
The exact same reason I started building rods - always had a thing for classic designs, plus we had a holiday booked to Canada and California, plus I had the time to whip up a few glass rods and reels to take with me. The gear worked and got solid feedback from the online community. After building the first few it seemed quite feasible to continue building more so I just kept running with it.
How many different reel designs have you created?
As for designs I have 2 different completed reels in use now, a Hardy Perfect inspiration and a Can style of my own design. On paper and in my head I have a drag system that I've been working on that I hope I can scale and fit to pretty much any shape reel I want to make. I've been putting an immense amount of effort into keeping it an original design but still keep it simple - less moving parts, less to go wrong. Once I settle with the design I hope to introduce some heavy hitter saltwater reels.
From start to finish, how long does it take to machine a reel?
All my reels are made manually, no CNC in my workshop yet. So I will do a batch of each component to save on set up time. But a Can style reel, from start to finish, is about 25 hours each. The Perfects are about 35 hours each. Time consuming little buggers for the size of them, as I machine every component except for the balls in the thrust bearing. They are quite satisfying to hold in hand once complete though.
When you look to the future, how do you see reel making fitting in?
In honesty I would love to kick the day job and do this full time. But in reality I will just let it take it's own corse. If the demand is there I will look at going down the CNC path, but most importantly I'm making sure I have fun with it.
What are your favorite things about rod building and reel making?
Having the freedom to create something unique to what is available on the market, plus the buzz of catching fish on something I've built not bought.
If people wanted to learn more about you, your reel making or rod building, how can they?
I mostly run with dirty old Facebook and Instagram or the old fashioned email. One day I hope to get a web page up and going but for now these do job for now.
Instagram - tailor_made_85