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The need for a better reel became evident one summer weekend on one of New Jersey’s lobster wrecks, the Stolt Dagali, a tanker that sank after a collision in 1964 with the Israeli liner Shalom, which limped to port with her passengers. One diver dropped a typical reel, which free-spooled to the bottom at 130 feet/40 meters. In retrieving the line, the divers became snarled in a bird’s nest of line and kicked up enough silt to reduce the viz to zero. After freeing themselves and returning to the boat, they agreed that there had to be a better way to make a reel.
Since their inception, reels have been simple in design. A frame with a tensioning screw is mounted around a spool of line. Although simple, traditional reels can take years of diving to master to avoid the design’s inherent problems with free-spooling, free-falling, back lashing or bird nesting. Learning proper use is worse than just frustrating; it can be deadly. Manta Industries was formed soon after the Stolt Degali incident with a goal of developing a design that would change the way the diving world thinks of reels.
The unibody frame was designed to support the AFS system. Machining the frame from a single piece of 1/4-inch / 6-millimeter aluminum ensures that there are no welds or rivets to loosen and weaken. Also, the wrap around frame fully encloses a gloved hand, lessening the chance of it being dropped. Aluminum alloy 50/52 was chosen for its bending, machining and corrosion-resistant characteristics.
Ultra-high molecular weight plastic was chosen for the reel, despite the difficulty in machining it from a solid bar, because it is one of the toughest materials available. Its impact resistance, even after years of exposure to saltwater and the sun’s ultraviolet rays, make this the perfect material for a dive reel. The “power-lock” notch is an innovative feature of the spool. These notches are cut into the outer circumference of the spool and securely lock the AFS system, making it ideal for search and recovery perimeter sweeps, drift diving and shooting lift bags for emergency ascents. Stainless steel hardware is used throughout the reel for its corrosion resistance.
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