We'll, today we're full on packing dozens of LUNAR fly reels to fulfil the many customer pre-orders we received prior to the Christmas break. If you're one of our wonderful customers who placed an early order - thank you for your patience, they are on their way!
We've had lots of questions regarding how the LUNAR came about - here's the lowdown on how the fly reel evolved:
The LUNAR Story
The remarkable LUNAR AC2 is the result of a design collaboration between bespoke reel maker Alex Kaplun and Swift founder Carl McNeil.
A native to the Ukraine, Alex is a graduate of the Kharkov Aviation Institute where he carried out theoretical and practical research into the dynamics of aircraft landing gear systems and was also involved in research for the soviet space shuttle. Alex has also worked in the old soviet aerospace industry involved in the manufacture of the AN-124 (the second largest aircraft ever built). Kharkov was the major centre of the aerospace industry and Alex has had unrivalled access to aerospace grade materials and technologies.
The LUNAR is an adaptation from a previous Kaplun design - “The Highlander” an early one off bespoke Hubless design machined from Titanuim. McNeil saw this design on Kapluns Megoff website and immediately knew what he wanted his fly reel to look like.
Kaplun was initially reluctant to work on a hubless design primarily due to the cost and engineering challenges presented by the need to incorporate a high quality bearing - the Achillies’ heel of a number of previous Hubless fly reels.
McNeil issued the challenge that if he could solve the bearing issue there would be no reason not to work on this design - Kaplun accepted and work began in 2013.
Although the basic form remained consistent, many iterations of the Hubless reel were drawn, designed and discussed. Being at opposite ends of the globe the tyranny of distance was largely overcome by the internet. Kaplun is not a native English speaker, McNeil had absolutely no understanding of Ukrainian or Russian - and by his own admission has a tendency towards being somewhat dyslexic. Sketches, drawings, many illustrated photographs and numbers became the common language in what became a very entertaining, friendly and effective design collaboration according to McNeil.
While Kaplun worked on the base engineering and core design, McNeil focused on a few small design and functional elements he wanted to see in the eventual design. A full cage frame, the unique three pillar design, no exposed machine heads or screws, an asymmetric click pawl with a very specific sound, and a large exposed rim on the spool suitable for easy palming were all requirements that Kaplun would need to develop drawings for.
Two aspects of the design presented continual and ongoing challenges - the required bearing and, surprisingly, the clicker.
For the bearing McNeil turned to the robotics industry were he found a manufacturer that could produce the required Ultra Thin Section stainless bearing. The bearing used in the LUNAR is very special indeed, 2.5mm x 2.5mm with a 70mm inside diameter. The bearing is a full 4 point contact bearing designed to withstand the substantial out of plane forces inherent in fly reel design.
The bearing used is derived from the robotics sector where “arm” and shoulder joints require strong bearings with sufficient inner diameter to pass cables and hydraulics through. It is the single most expensive component in the LUNAR fly reel.
The clicker was the very last piece of the puzzle to be solved - Almost four years after Alex completed the production drawings (sans clicker) the solution was provided by the eventual manufacturer of the reel.
Initially the reel was to feature a translucent Amber spool turned from PEI (Polyetherimide). PEI is a transparent thermo plastic with weight and strength characteristics superior to Aluminium.
The large arbor spool in translucent amber was reminiscent of a rising full moon according to McNeil, and the project was christened the “Lunar”.
Prototypes of the PEI Amber spool where made, however, the cost of the raw material would make it uneconomic for commercial production, but the name remained.
After Kaplun completed the final drawings McNeil pitched the design around a number of engineers in New Zealand and abroad. It took another three years to find a production company that could produce the LUNAR.
For almost five years during what turned out to be an extremely prolonged and challenging production cycle McNeil had been fishing an early LUNAR prototype handmade by Alex, complete with a PEI spool turned by Alex in his Ukrainian workshop, the reel continues to run on a crude handmade prototype bearing.
You can take a closer look at the LUNAR fly reel HERE >>