The Billy Pate Drive-Drive Fly Reel is one of the finest ever made. And while you’re free to question that, a boat load of hard core anglers would agree with me. This reel is a slick performer in a rugged, near bulletproof configuration, with a excellent cork drag. In the salt my friend, that’s a winning combination.
Now you may be saying to yourself – hell there is a ton of smooth performing reel out there with excellent drags. Yeah, you’re right. But few if any of them will last like the Pate. Today the trend is toward extremely light-weight reels, boasting ventilated back plates, ventilated fronts, thin construction and skeletonized frames. They are not built to take a beating or last a lifetime. The Pate was. You could depend on it, tide after tide.
The Pate’s durability does come at a cost, however. Rugged things are typically heavy. Its true at least in this case. So if this reel has an Achilles heel it has to do with heft. Fully loaded with line and backing, mine tips the scales at a meaty 12 ounces. (In the photo below look at the thickness of the frame. The reel is made for the long haul.)
Let me tell you a little bit about mine. It is serial number 536 (no letter prefix). I acquired it from my late friend Captain Joe Keegan. It is black & gold and 3.5″ in diameter. This is an early reel, predating what would later be called the “Bonefish” model. I don’t, however, think this particular one comes from the initial run. I hear those reels made were built “spool in cage” and lacked rim control. Mine reel has rim control. Age? I’ll guess its 25 years old, possibly 30.
While the Pate Direct-Drive reel is no longer made, Ted Juracsik does offer the reel in an anti-reverse version. Personally, I don’t care for anti-reverse reels, but if you do and you’re looking for a super dependable time tested reel, this might be your baby.