Rating: Above average good and useful
Prices from US$ 50.- depending on model and location.Update 2010: The product site SmartFisher.com has closed and we can find no references to Roland or his products any more.
The Smart Spooler is one of these things that you didn't know you needed before you got it.
The Spooler is basically a large drum on which you can wind your fly line and backing or spinning line if you are so disposed. It's fitted with shafts and guides to facilitate the usage of an electrical drill and constructed in such a way that it fulfils several purposes. At the same time it's quite well thought out and produced to meet high standards, and even though it is almost entirely made of plastic, the tool feels like it will last a lifetime.
Its designer, the Belgian Roland Henrion, used to be a fishing guide in the Seychelles and during this period he saw many a fish lost due to broken backing and many a reel and line ruined by the harsh salt from the tropical water.
This motivated him to design the Smart Spooler, which was aimed primarily at aiding fly anglers in cleaning their lines and not only by drawing them off and running them through a cloth, but by getting both fly line and backing all off the reel, rinsing both thoroughly in a bucket and/or under the tap and respooling the whole thing before the next day's fishing.
Of course this can be done manually, but by using the Smart Spooler and an electrical drill, the time needed for all the spooling can be drastically reduced. Even without the drill, lines wound by hand with the enclosed handle the Spooler will ensure a job quickly and well done.
I have respooled almost all of my lines and rinsed a lot of backing since I got the tool. It's a breeze to use and everything works as anticipated and all details are there for a purpose.
It comes accompanied by rubber feet and breaking pads that you mount yourself. The instructions are clear and easy to follow on all points.
The base can contain all extras included: handle, line guide and the rubber disc for reels, which makes for easy storing.
I have tried both the manual handle and using a drill. For simple fly line handling the drill might be overdoing it, while it's a blessing when spooling 2-300 yards of backing.
Using the reel disc takes some practise, but once you get the grip press hard seems to be one key respooling onto the reel is equally easy.
The thought of storing the lines on the spools might seem appealing, but I found two drawbacks. The spools are large and voluminous. Wound and bagged lines fill a lot less. And the spare spools are expensive. Acquiring spools for the about half dozen lines I want to change and store during a season would set me back severely. And the thought of a spool for each or just every second of my stored lines makes me shiver. To that I prefer the coiled and bagged line.
I would love to see two changes on the system, one is simple and one is a bit more complex.
First of all the hexaconical shafts on the rubber reel disc and on the main spool itself should be dimensioned so that they fit straight into the 1/4" screw bit adapter that is or can be mounted on most electrical drills. I have a small Bosch IXO rechargeable screwdriver that would be perfect for the task. It has a permanent 1/4" adapter compared to my AEG drill's adjustable adapter.
The shafts will fit a No 8 pipe wrench, which is included in most wrench sets and can be mounted on a drill with and adjustable adapter. Some wrench bits even fit my 1/4" screw bit.
My second wish is somewhat more complex, but also very useful. I would love to be able to take the main spool apart so that I could slide off the spooled line.
A solution could be that it was constructed in such a way that it could be collapsed just a little to decrease its diameter. That would enable me to easily slide off the line after having applied a couple of bits of wire to secure them, ready for storage. The latter solution would facilitate remounting the lines on the spool, and spooling it back on a reel. Such a spool could be supplied as an extra.
Improvements or not, this is an excellent product as it is already. The concept is good and the Smart Spooler is very well made and nicely designed.
The price is not bad, but not really inexpensive either. The prices vary depending on location because of tax rules, and US prices are lower than the European ones.
The basic kit with one spool is about €47.- or close to US$60.- in Europe. Order to the US, and you save 10 dollars.
A spare spool is 22 euros and a kit with an extra spool and all accessories will set you back 75 euros in the US it's 80 dollars for the kit and 23 dollars for the spool.
You used to be able to see videos, instructions on usage, a model for spinning gear and ascessories on the product homepage SmartFisher.com, but this site has disappeared.