Written on: 29/06/2013
I can't resist a bit of tasteful bling sometimes, and when I saw this Mitchell reel I thought it looked the business. However, as I discovered, looks can be deceptive.
So, as I know that Mitchell had a bit of a reputation for making high quality reels that just go on for years, this is what I did, but it seems that they (Mitchell) have been cutting corners in the quality department since the 1970's & 80's. I was a bit disappointed when I got this out of the box when I saw a "made in China" label on the rod mount foot. However, still bowled over by its looks, I dismissed this. At first (when just playing with my new toy), it seemed fine, but by the time I had put new line on both of the spools (note one is plastic), it had started to kind of click when winding (in either direction, and regardless of whether the drag was lose or tight, and the anti-reverse was on). I couldn't work out what it was. I deliberated on whether to return it or not (was I being fussy - its only 40 quid, vs. really not good enough for a 40 quid reel, especially when used alongside my old (quieter!!) reels). being the eternal engineer, I decided that as its guaranteed for a couple of years, that I would persevere with it (I could always get it fixed at a later date if it got worse) and in the meantime, strip it and grease it etc and see if I could ID the issue. Took it too bits. First findings - not a lot of grease in it! Put my decent Silkoline Red in it (lots) and made sure all was good. Put it all back together - still making a rattle especially when turned slowly. This time I took the bail arm to bits (that was a mistake as I didn't take enough care when identifying how the return spring was located!!) This did however, reveal the problem - there is a lead balance weight beneath the bail arm cover (plastic cover held on with 2 screws). This weight was just rattling about loose! Utter poop! I fixed it by Araldite'ing the weight in place - sorted! After I eventually re-greased everything, and worked out how it went back together, and reassembled it, it was sweet as a nut, and as it should have been when it left the factory. But should (could?) the average buyer have to do this before first use? definitely: NO.
Overall, this is a good looking reel, and does have 8 ball bearings, but the engineering leaves a lot to be desired (especially the fact that as per the review above, there is too much play in the winder assembly which I think is because the bearings are made to steam engine tolerances). This doesn't makes you feel that you have bought a quality item, and the feel of some of the (plastic) parts leaves you feeling a bit let down being honest. Having done a bit of research on the issue, I now find that the angling fraternity seem to be of the opinion that Mitchell (probably once the best reel manufacturer), has gone decidedly downhill and are manufacturing (or getting China to!) in a form-over-function approach, and to be honest, it shows. I think that his is a bit sad, but probably just a sign of the times.
On a final note, as I needed 2 reels, and that even though my Mitchell Avocet Gold 3 4000 is now sweet(er) I would do what nearly all other anglers that are regular fishermen and women!) do - buy a Shimano (for me, a Catana 4000 FB FB), and whilst I haven't got it yet, I am advised that they are streaks ahead of nearly all other manufacturers, and interestingly, is made in Japan (as far as I know). I will post my findings!
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