Student is reely flying the flag

Shaun Benzon (right) and Tim Brown show off their reel.
Shaun Benzon (right) and Tim Brown show off their reel.

A Lancaster University student has turned his hobby into a business by launching the only fishing reel designed and made in Britain.

Shaun Benzon’s Reel Britannia fly reel took a year to design and is registered as unique.

It is being stocked by UK retailers from this month, with plans to expand into the US.

The Fly Reel Company Limited unites the engineering skills of PhD student and keen fisherman Shaun with the business acumen of Tim Brown, who owns a fishing tackle shop.

Before starting university, Shaun worked part-time in Tim’s shop The Brown Trout in Harrogate.

The pair first discussed the lack of a British manufactured fly reel two years ago.

Shaun, 22, of River Street, Lancaster, said: “We saw a gap in the market for British made reels because everyone we spoke to said they would love to buy British, but instead the reels were being made in China.

“We spent a year developing this and we tried about two dozen different materials and designs.”

They asked experienced anglers what the perfect reel would be and carefully calibrated the reel to meet consumer needs.

The prototype was manufactured by Claro Precision Engineering in Knaresborough and the reel pouch is handstitched in Harrogate.

Shaun received help in developing the reel from university professor Malcolm Joyce and Peter Jones, a machinist and technician from the engineering department.

Headded: “Peter was also a keen fisherman which helped and he was brilliant in helping us create test rigs which led to the prototype.

“It was great to be able to use the university facilities because otherwise I don’t know how we could have done it.

“The feedback has been fantastic and we have given these reels to anglers in Florida and Scotland who are very pleased.”