Though I’d love to tell you the reel below is the latest from Orvis inspired by the likes of Johnny Rotten and Joe Strummer, I don’t think they’ve recognized the marketability of punk-inspired reels…yet. Yes, it is an Orvis reel — my old 7/8 Rocky Mountain to be exact — but the zebra finish with red brushed-aluminum spool is pure custom. How did such a thing of beauty come to be? Here’s the scoop.


It started with an email from Robyn Kroell. Robyn owns Liquid Print, which sells water-transfer printing equipment and films. This process of painting, then dipping into the film which sits on top of a basin of water is commonly used to put camo patterns on bows. I asked if she could dip a reel for me and voila, I am now the proud owner of what may be the most obnoxious fly reel ever. I love it.

But the dipping process offers more than just killer custom good looks. The Orvis Rocky Mountain is a freshwater reel, but the coating process now made it pretty corrosion-resistant. It might just become my new favorite bonefish and striper reel. I won’t name names, but most of you are probably familiar with a certain fly reel company that makes some pretty impressive colored and patterned reels. They rock, but they’ll cost ya. To have a reel customized by Robyn’s outfit runs $35 to $50.

So what else can you have dipped? Almost anything that stands still. To have a rifle or shotgun cammoed runs about $165. Stocks and forearms done separately go $50 to $60. They’ll do rods, tackle boxes…whatever. The patterns available are vast, ranging from woods, to camos, to metals and beyond. Visit Robyn’s actual dipping business Phoenix Imaging to get custom work done.

In the meantime, I’ll be on the water with a reel I’m confident Ted Nugent would be proud of – JC