When Abel Reels announced it was ending production of their original lids, the remaining stock left the counters of airline stores as fishermen waited to see when the Montrose-based manufacturer Colorado would release a replacement. With speed by the end of 2021 and the first reruns of the redesigned lids began to be noticed in trade fairs and around the necks of insiders, generating a lot of noise and discussions about fly shop counters, online forums and comment sections on Instagram. After seeing feedback from the general fly fishing public, we decided we needed to sit down with Mayfly Sales Director Jeff Patterson and their Engineering Director Rob Hauck to discuss Mayfly’s latest and most talked about product.
Flylords: What prompted the redesign of Abel’s iconic pipe?
Jeff: It’s hard to believe, but it’s been over a decade since we introduced the original Abel Nipper. They have enjoyed an incredibly great run. I am grateful to have been part of several innovative product launches since its inception at Abel in 1992. Our products change the perspective of what a next-level design can achieve in this area. This is our mission at Abel and it guides our design philosophy. Our entire team was honored to win the “Best New Access Over $ 50” award at the IFTD 2022 show in March.
Yes, most fishermen generally know about the Abel reel, but not many people are aware that we also introduced the industry’s first processed pliers in the mid-1990s. high quality, is nothing new to us. If it’s not the best, we just will not succeed. We are pleased with how many other brands have tried to make a sucker similar to ours.
Rob: From an engineering standpoint, this was a chance to see the optimization of an already excellent product. Feeling, weight, symmetry, cosmetics and functionality were all on the table. We took years of feedback from the market and made numerous changes that we believe result in a clip that feels perfect on your hands. We took into account many details down to the amount of force to close the nipple, the total opening of the jaw and the angles that make a good jaw cut perfectly.
We then designed the user-sharpening ability, including an eye cleanser that is stronger and more accessible. And of course magnets – who does not love magnets! The rope with anodized processed sliders and color selections complete the whole look. In the “shape follows function” arena, symmetrical design improves overall body quality, accuracy and reliability.
Flylords: How long did the total redesign process take?
Jeff: Over a period of about five + years, while reviewing what we could have initially done to make the former even better. Realistically, we heard what our traders and consumers would have liked to have seen to improve the design. We also have many years of field use that allowed us to learn what was beaten the most in general and what we could do to improve the next version.
Rob: We got a few years of feedback and then turned it into a whole new product. About a year of fine-tuning in CAD (Computer Aided Design) and then months of production engineering is what it took to get to the point we have now. We have also integrated several new tools into our quality department to ensure consistency in the product for which Abel is known.
Flylords: What are your favorite features of the new Nippers?
Jeff: This is a difficult one. My favorite feature is how wonderful it feels in my hand. It looks bigger than our previous nipple, but it seems to me like a strong and precise instrument. It has sharp jaws from the user and a crochet eye cleaner that can be easily replaced if it is somewhat bent.
We also wanted this to be a very “Abel” product and created a Build Your Own Nipper platform where our customers can currently design fifty-four different color schemes. The Nipper body is currently available in three different anodized Type III finishes for added durability, and eighteen different anodized Type II scales to offer that personalization feature. One of the scales available is a hand licensed Grateful Dead Lightning Bolt.
Rob: No surprises from an engineering idiot here – magnets are great and always will be! The multiple benefits of holding one or two flies on the nipple body or hanging it on a metal door frame just for fun. The fact that we could get such a good spring effect is wonderful and will last forever assuming you do not throw it into a volcano. Of course, just looking at the final product in all its colorful fit and finish is quite enjoyable.
Flylords: What design features do you think will most impress fishermen?
Jeff: It’s a lot easier than you might think optically. It is a processed aluminum body with two processed aluminum scales and four magnets. Adding all of this along with the 440C stainless steel jaws, it still weighs less than 1.4 ounces in total.
Rob: It has been mentioned before, but most people I have seen treating the nipple for the first time really appreciate its “feel”. We have done multiple repetitions of light rays that result in the way it stays in your hand. The amount of force to close the nipples is appropriate. One thing that is very wonderful is that the bodies are anodized type III. We have made considerable effort in our in-house processing of the bodies resulting in amazing colorful finishes that will last during those difficult and fast fishing excursions.
Flylords: Tell us a little about the magnetic “springs” you designed for the surrounding Nippers.
Jeff: One of the things we learned from the original sucker is that the central spring that created the return when reopened could become “harvested” when exposed to salt water over time if not rinsed. We understand that not everyone is good at taking care of their equipment, but in a rare case, we will even see a spring that collects too much salt to open or close the suction cup. The reverse design of the magnets we are using eliminates that problem. The added bonus of magnets is that they create a convenient flight dock when out in the water. This is not a big deal when you are manipulating large flies, but very interesting when you are tying in a 22 BWO size or using multiple flying equipment.
Rob: Technically, we are using the strongest permanent magnets we can have on hand. Class N52 nickel-plated magnets NdFeB (Neodymium Iron Boron) result in a large spring opening force in a small, lightweight package that does not corrode or degrade.
Flylords: When can people get their hands on new suckers at their local Abel dealers?
Jeff: The new Abel Nippers will begin shipping from our factory in Colorado by mid-to-late May and will be available through all of our authorized dealers who ordered them last fall. New orders will be subject to a deadline of about 4-6 weeks.
Rob: The sooner the better! It seems like we have been working on this project together for a really long time. We are excited to bring it to market so that our customers can experience it as well.