Here’s one for you reel aficionados. DAM Quick Corporation of West Germany (Remember Germany was split?) came out with their Champion casting reel series in the early 70s in order to compete with ABU/Garcia’s Ambassadeur series of reels. The reels were made with the standard German craftsmanship – tough to the bone and very dependable.
The Champion reels, models 700, 700B, 800 and 800B, were so much like the Ambassadeur 4000- and 5000-series reels that it was rumored that certain parts could be interchanged between the two. I never tried so I can’t vouch for that.
The nice thing about the Champion series is they cost about half the price of a comparable Ambassadeur but held up to the pressures of continuous fishing just as well as the Swedish counterpart.
There were a couple of drawbacks, though, one of which led them to discontinue the series because anglers quit buying the reels. Anyone care to guess what it was?
The first drawback to the reel, as I saw it, was it had no support bar across the backside of the reel. See Figure 2. This may seem trivial but for those of you who haven’t fished a reel like this, you don’t know how tiresome it becomes for your thumb over the course of a day. That little support bar on most reels of the day actually allowed you to rest your thumb as you were making a cast. It also allowed for better thumb control on the spool.
That was a problem for some people but what became the nail in the coffin was this next design flaw. Look at Figure 3. Can you tell me “What’s Wrong With This Picture?” Let me state that the design problem wasn’t a problem until bass boats started coming with casting decks and anglers strapped their rods to the deck. Was that a good enough hint?
Okay, time for the answer.
The design flaw that killed the Champion series reels was the placement of the freespool button. If you look at Figure 3, you can see the button was placed nearly on top of the reel. What’s the big problem with this, you might ask.
Well, when an angler would strap his rods down to the deck, a lot of the time the freespool button would depress, putting the reel in freespool. Then as the angler drove the boat down the lake, sometimes the bait would fly out of the boat and result in one of a few different scenarios. The first was the line would be ripped from the reel, leaving the angler with nothing or two; the bait would hit the water and create a bird’s nest of biblical proportions. Lastly, on the extreme occasion, the lure would hit the water, all the line would fly off and then the force from the sudden stop of line going out would yank the rod out of the boat. None of these situations resulted in a good day on the water.
It’s really sad because the reel was made solid and cost less than the comparable Ambassadeur. I would have thought DAM Quick would have seen this and changed the design in order to gain a bit of the market share. I guess it was just easier for them to cancel the entire series than make a couple of design changes.
So, how many of you out there had a Champion Series reel?