The Alvey Gets My Vote

by Andrew Simpson

Like all fishing enthusiasts, I tend to OD in the gear department. The way my wife and sailing companion for the last 30 years sees it, my tackle is threatening to take over our 40ft sailboat, Shindig - currently cruising the eastern Mediterranean. She exaggerates, of course, and has little understanding of the addiction that afflicts me, but occasionally I concede that she does have a point.

In the interests of marital harmony – and being a fair-minded sort of fellow – I agreed to review the situation and see if I could lighten the load and liberate the locker space she claims could be better employed.

So I started with the rods - three of them to be precise. But these take up negligible space, being clipped to the hull side in the forward cabin that serves as our guest quarters. Are they a problem? No, she admitted. Out of sight out of mind so far as she was concerned.

Next I turned to the lures and all the swivels, clips, swaging gear and other paraphernalia you need to indulge in this noble pursuit. The largest item was only a miserly 9 inches long and, anyway, all the bits packed into a variety of snap-top plastic boxes which were stowed behind the settee seat backs – awkwardly shaped spaces, in my view fit for nothing else.

Did Chele agree? Yes but with some reluctance.

Then there were the spools of fishing line. Well, here I was on safer, ground since we also carry a considerable quantity of spare rope, there ready to replace any of those lengths that make up our running rigging. By comparison, the mono and braided line was a mere nothing.

‘You’ve forgotten the reels,’ she chided me, as if I would have done such a thing on purpose. Her look said it all. I had to confront this matter head-on.

The truth is that I have five reels on the boat: two fixed spool types for fishing when at anchor, a small Penn multiplier, a larger Penn Senator 6/0 multiplier and an Alvey 825BCV centre-pin reel, both of which I use for trolling when under way.

The Alvey is far and away my favourite. Granted, its 8 inch spool also makes it the bulkiest, but its mechanical simplicity and robust construction singles it out as my first choice at sea. In fact it stays out in all but the vilest weathers, shrugging off everything that the elements can throw at it. In my opinion it’s almost indestructible.

But I should add that its simplicity doesn’t make it a brutish device. There’s very little friction, the retrieve rate is sensational, and the drag control is both sensitive and delightfully easy to adjust. And, unlike the multipliers which are top mounted, the Alvey hangs under the rod which, as a consequence, can have rings instead of potentially troublesome roller guides. All in all, a virtually maintenance free reel on a maintenance free rod – could any sailor ask for more?

And my wife? Well, I happened to mention the albacore we had caught and fed us for a few days (see picture). Chele’s eyes took on a dreamy look.

I do believe I’ve won her over.

Editors note: I'm with you on Alvey fishing reels, Andrew. It's surprising we don't see more of them used here in the UK.

Did you know that Alvey Reels make several side-cast models which are great for surfcasting too? Apparently Jack Alvey made a record cast of over 220 yards with one using a 2oz casting weight.

Another note: Andrew is a highly respected author in the marine world, as you can tell by the quality of his article. Several of his books will be of great interest to boat anglers.
Have a look at them here ...

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Sep 10, 2015
Alvey help please!
by: SilverGirl


I am the proud owner of an Alvey reel, but a novice fisherlady. Catching mackerel seems to be underusing my reel!

We are sailing down to Greece now...any advice as to what lure at what depth to catch something larger would be very welcome...please keep the jargon low!



Jun 29, 2011
Alvey reel
by: Steve Dixon

I've been using an Alvey for years for both boat fishing and beach casting.
Would I swap it for a multiplier or a spinning reel? No way!
Good article.

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