The classic reel is a work of art

The classic reel is a work of art

The classic reel is a work of art. Fly fishing brings man closer to nature and the fly reel matched to a right rod brings balance to the equation. It is this philosophy that give birth to IWANA, a company dedicated to bring the classic reels back to the river where they truly belong.

The story starts by a stream. A beautiful mountain stream in Japan where fly fishers from all over will come on pilgrimage to catch the beautiful iwana, a trout species native to Japan. The slow flowing water brings life together and also set the meeting for two like-minded fly fishers: Liu Shaojie, a fly reel designer and builder, and Wang Liang, a passionate fly fisher whose first love is to travel and fish the world.

Fishing together brought us closer and soon our passion took us to the next level:designing and building classic reels. But the path was not an easy one, we faced doubts from well-meaning friends and associates.


“ Why classic reel?”

“No one uses classic reels now.”

“ Classic reels are for collection.”

“Modern reels are better than classic reels.”

“They are heavy and lack stopping power.”

The classic reel is the most notable part of the fly fishing gear. The beauty of the classic reel is in its simple design. The braking system is minimalist, requiring the fly fisher to be fully engaged in controlling the fish, immersing in the experience and be one with nature. Many believe that only a classic reel can recreated this experience.

Unfortunately, the golden age of classic reels have almost come to pass. With the advancement of technology and industrialization, modern and sophisticated reels are hitting the fly shops at an ever increasing rate. More and more brands are joining this race to capture the fly fishing market, where the new and shiny are more attractive and hi-tech material and state of the art design are the main selling points. Classic reels are slowly but surely going down the path into oblivion.

Another factor that contributes to the demise of the classic reels is the number of professional classic reel makers. Many of the old masters do not have apprentices who have the passion to take up and continue this art form. Many of those who are still active are doing it as a hobby. While quality can be assured, the same can’t be said about the consistency of production. The process of buying one of these classic reels is not easy. These master craftsman are few and far in between, and language is another barrier. It is not hard to understand why a handcrafted fly reel is a big investment. Not many would be willing to spend a small fortune on a reel and use it on the river.

IWANA pays more attention to the stability of production and quality. We respect benchmade but not obsessed with 100% hand-made. Being the innovator in the classic reel design and manufacturing, we determine to bring the new and the old together, a fusion of sorts that will bring out the best of both worlds. The classic true and tested design, coupled with modern materials and advance CNC tooling system, IWANA has successfully achieved high degree of consistency and accuracy while maintaining top level of craftmanship. The marriage of high tech tools and excellent craftmanship equates to the reduction of cost and time, making the IWANA range of classic reels affordable.

We are also building our network, ensuring sales and service are readily available to happy owners all over the world. The R and D team are constantly working to improve and innovate new designs to match the needs of the modern fly fishers while staying true to its classic designs. You can fish IWANA reels with confidence and have the peace of mind that all parts are readily available.

IWANA is dedicated to bring the classic reels back to the river. A well designed reel will only come to life doing what is it designed to do: that is to catch fish and bring a smile to the fly fisher.