Warren Tippet’s exclusive reel conversions are the dog’s doodas in the eyes of top tournament casters and serious anglers alike. Iain Graham went to see the master at work in Wales.
In the world of reel modification, or reel bling, there’s only one Warren Tippet. His endeavours are works of engineering art with the power to make bruisers of men go quite weak at the knees. Wozza’s reputation for innovation and design is well earned, and I must confess to being the proud owner of more than one spanking Wozza piece myself.
Wozza is no stranger to recognition having starred in a ‘Ready Brek’ advert aged 8. Many breakfasts later, he now works at Keens Tackle & Guns, Aberkenfig, South Wales, where he is the resident custom rod builder and reel blinger.
I had chance to pop in and see him recently and caught him in the act of pimping a Chrome Abu 6500CT Rocket. The customer wanted a centre mag conversion to be matched with a custom chromed QTC one piece frame; these are crafted from a solid billet of aircraft specification aluminium to produce a stronger, more rigid frame than a the standard. A popular combination, the end result is striking creation.
With skilful dexterity the Abu reel was stripped down to naked component pieces in seconds. The existing frame, ratchet and braking mechanisms were immediately consigned to the spares bin. This was a man who knew his reels inside out without any need to refer to ‘schematic diagrams’ which come close swear words in this world.
The end-float cap was removed from the non-drive endplate and drilled out to receive a custom-made centre mag unit. This controls two powerful Neodium magnets mounted on a plate adjusted by the new centre knob. Once affixed, the unit is retained in place with a screw through the endplate. This endplate was then mated with its new chromed QTC frame… a match made in reel-fiddler’s heaven.
The next step was a new smaller, lighter paddle-style handle to replace the bulky power handle, and a spanking Abu gold Pro Rocket spool shod with a pair of ABEC 5 ceramic hybrid bearings for good measure. Finally, the drive end plate was screwed on and a thing of beauty complete. I wanted it badly, but this one had a home elsewhere.
Custom made parts
Something setting Warren apart from others specialising in reel conversions is that he doesn’t cast competitively, yet he possesses a deep appreciation of the intricacies of reel performance dynamics. His skills are honed over many years of tinkering and testament to them is stood by the fact his reels have already been used to cast over 300 yards in competition. All his bespoke parts are hand-machined on site in Keens to exacting tolerances; quite literally custom made rather than some quick cobble of available bits.
The featured reel is a top end piece coming in at a cool £190. Little of the original Abu remains however, and this reel was a ‘no expenses spared’ job optimised for a very particular casting customer. Warren does however do several options of modification which the average angler will find more appealing. These very affordable options range from £25 to £30 to suit specific requirements, or if you are the brave sort a DIY kit with instructions can be purchased.
I accept that reel conversions are not for everyone, or even strictly necessary in broad fishing terms. In my experience however, recent various off-the-shelf magnetic cast control reels are inclined to suffer too much from ‘on-off’ braking. I therefore put my casting faith in a custom mag job. If considering extra casting control, a reel service, or you are just an afflicted tackle tart in the market for a pimped reel, a phone call to Warren ‘Wozza’ Tippet sorts it.
Keens also undertake custom rod building, rod rebuilds, rod repairs, and a wide range of general reel servicing and repairs. They also carry a comprehensive range of spare parts for all the top brands.
Keens Tackle & Guns, 117/119 Bridgend Road, Aberkenfig, Bridgend CF32 9AP
For Reel Service & Rod Building enquiries send Warren an Email
QTC – Quality Tournament Conversion by POD Engineering
POD Manufacturing, Unit 3, Rear of 42-60 Ethelbert Road, Margate, Kent CT9 1SB
Tel: 01843 230003