Handcrafted fly reels of Wayne Petrevan

by Ray Blades | November 15, 2017

Wayne Petrevan

I absolutely love handcrafted tackle, whether it’s bamboo fly rods, reels, hooks, leather fly wallets, or flies. Bespoke goods usually equate with the highest of quality, and that’s what most buyers are looking for. But what draws me to craftsmanship is the ownership of what they do. These are makers that are producing parts of themselves, with hours of thought, revisions, and hard labour. It means something.

Wayne Petrevan

One such person is Wayne Petrevan from Belle River, Ontario and owner of Canadian Fishing Reels.

I ran across one of his first reels back in the early ‘90s, a custom trout reel. Since then, Petrevan has been busy honing his reel-making skills and is specializing in Spey reels, specifically for double-handed rods. These are low production, bench made reels made to order.

He has three base designs: S-handle Spey, raised pillar, and platewind. All models can be ordered in 3 3/4- or 4-inch diameters and inside spool width options are 1 1/8, 1 3/8, or 1 5/8 inches — 1 1/2 inches for the platewind. Standard reels are anodized aluminum frames and spools with black anodized endplates. Pillars are stainless steel and accent pieces are stainless and nickel silver. Frame, plate, foot, handle, line guard, and other design and material options are available. These are all custom-made reels.

One of Petrevan’s latest design and technical forays has seen him produce a “leaded finished,” à la vintage Hardy reels. Most, if not pretty much all quality aluminum reels, custom or mass produced, are anodized, an electrochemical process that coats the reel making it durable and corrosion resistant. Enamel finish or the use of other materials, such as nickel silver, Delrin, and stainless steel, have, and are still, options. Anodizing is a great way to protect a reel. That’s why it’s widely used. But many reel aficionados find the finish very sterile.

Reel manufacturers prior to WWII, most notably Hardy, produced a “leaded finish” to their reels. It derives its name because the flat-grey colouration looks like lead, but it’s actually made from graphite (carbon), as used in pencil “lead.” The finish has a natural wear from use, which gives it character, with an aged patina.

Petrevan has produced a 4-inch, 1912 check, platewind reel, reminiscent of a vintage Hardy wide-spool Perfect, with a “leaded finish.” Arguably, vintage Perfects are the most sought-after reels in the two-handed world that bridge the gap between collector and practical fishing tool. To find one in left-hand retrieve is virtually impossible. But Petrevan has made those desires more attainable with his creations.  

Reels range from $1,300 to $1,800 Canadian, depending on model, materials, and other options. Expect to wait close to a year, from order to completion, for your bench-made reel, but it will be well worth it.

Listen to my podcast interview with Wayne Petrevan:

The reels

Wayne Petrevan

S-handle Spey
Standard Model is direct drive with adjustable disc drag.
Deluxe Model has 2:1 Multiplier drive with adjustable disc drag.

Wayne Petrevan

Raised Pillar
Standard Model is direct drive with adjustable gear and pawl drag.
Deluxe Model is 2:1 multipier drive with adjustable gear and pawl drag.

Wayne Petrevan

Plate Wind
Standard Model: a pillar design with adjustable gear and pawl drag.
Deluxe Model:  fully machined frame, 1912 style adjustable gear and pawl drag.


Custom work
Besides the three base model Spey reels, Petrevan is also open to custom work, like this Hardy Marquis-style reel, with palming rim and click and pawl drag.

Get Ray’s tips to tie better deer-hair flies here.

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  1. Tom Markey wrote: s-ahped handled reels = special interest. Please provide prices.