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AVET REELS Old World Precision for New World Anglers; company is new reels sponsor of Tuna Jackpot


BY FRANK BLACZAK
Special to Western Outdoor News

CHATSWORTH ó In today's world, where almost everything we buy is made in some low-cost manufacturing locale offshore, it is refreshing to see something made right here in the good old U.S.A. Better yet, when old world precision craftsmanship meets new world anglers, you have a combination that's hard to beat. "Avet Reels," a U.S. company, owned by two Armenian brothers, Sarkis and Harry Alajajyan, defines that combination.

 

Avet is this year's new Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot reel sponsor. The annual Los Cabos tourney held each November has grown successively each year and is THE EVENT for tuna anglers; drawing contestants from as far away as England.

It would be hard to find a more appropriate sponsor when you consider the Alajajyan brothers' favorite sportfish is tuna. Harry Alajajyan drove that point home when he proudly told the story of nailing a 334-pound forktail on one of his own Avet EXW4/02 reels; a reel by the way, that weighs in at only 47 ounces.

Both Harry and brother Sarkis have a passion for big game fishing. It is one of the reasons Avet Reels have become one of the most demanded big game reels on the market today. For the last six years, saltwater anglers have come to associate the name Avet with high-quality precision manufactured lightweight fishing reels.

Around the Hannibal Bank off the coast of Panama, the high performance reel has spawned the nickname "the winch" for its power and ease of use. Anglers who have used any Avet reel can attest to its "winching power," and can also confirm that the reels are in a class of their own, but few know how the company started.

The Alajajyan family story is inspiring. In the tradition of many immigrant stories, the Avet Reel chronicle starts with the Alajajyan brothers' father, Avetis; the namesake of the company. Avetis made shoes on the sly and struggled to keep the business a secret from the communist government in Armenia.

Although Armenia is a free country now, at that time it was against the law in Armenia to have a private business, only state-owned businesses were sanctioned and no extra income was allowed. The Soviet Armenian government provided housing, medicine and other like needs except for food, clothes and private transportation.

The Alajajyans were living well by Armenian standards of the time; however, they wanted the freedom to grow financially, and Soviet Armenia, with its restrictions was not the place to do it. They made the decision to come to the U.S., although getting from Soviet Armenia to the U.S. was difficult and expensive. Nonetheless, in 1986, the family had successfully reached our shores with only high hopes and very little money to start a new life. Sarkis had $1,500 to his name when the family arrived in LA.

HANNIBAL BANK BLACK ó Sarkis Alajajyan, far left, caught this 850-pound black marlin on Panama's Hannibal Bank with an Avet reel. The Avet reel has acquired the nickname "The Winch" by Panamanian sportfishermen for its power and smoothness. Sarkis was hoping to release the fish; unfortunately it became critically tail-wrapped and was reluctantly brought aboard.

Harry's older brother, Sarkis, had worked as a machinist in Armenia since he was 16 years old. By the time Harry was 14, he was spending is summer break from school working with Sarkis who was teaching him precision machining. Shortly after his arrival in the LA area, Sarkis took a job as a machinist. Meanwhile Harry, who had also learned diamond setting in the old country, found a job as a jeweler downtown.

For two years the brothers worked and saved. Then the machine shop that Sarkis worked in shut down. Sarkis was given severance pay, which he combined with his savings and suggested to Harry they open a machine shop together. Harry agreed, and each put $10,000 into the venture to start a machining business in the San Fernando Valley. They began with two machines, a conventional lathe and a mill.

As with all new manufacturing businesses, their time was split between soliciting work and manufacturing. Working together they lived by their simple rule "If the competition puts in 8 hours, then we will put in 10." Following that ethic, they found contract work in the aerospace industry and for fiber optics companies. Soon the company began flourishing.

In their spare time, Sarkis and Harry went saltwater angling. As soon as they could they bought an 18-foot boat, then a 21 footer, then a 28-foot Mako, and are now looking for a 48-foot sportfisher. Since all their free time was spent on the water using other manufacturers' reels that lacked the performance and quality they desired, the brothers decided to build their own reels in their shop. They liked what they created, and in 2001 Avet Reels was successfully born.

Over the years, their two machines have grown to 30. Among them are state-of-the-art multi-axes computer-controlled precision manufacturing units that include robotic CNC (computer numerically controlled) machines all housed in their now 20,000-square-foot facility.

MADE IN THE USA ó Sarkis, left, and Harry Alajajyan named Avet Reels after their father Avetis. Here, they proudly display some of their reels at their shop in Chatsworth. Both are avid anglers. In 2002, they introduced a revolutionary line of saltwater reels that appear destined to transform the conventional reel market.

In January of 2002, Avet introduced a revolutionary line of saltwater reels that appear destined to transform the conventional reel market. Big game saltwater anglers have praised the reels for their ability to allow effortless operation under very demanding conditions. To create this kind of performance, Avet utilizes spur gearing in lower ratios models and a unique gear system (similar to a transmission) in high-speed retrieval models.

Superior quality control is accomplished by ensuring every reel is assembled by hand and is manufactured from the raw material to the final product in their Chatsworth shop; no parts are machined by outside vendors. Since every reel is machined to extremely tight tolerances, all parts are absolutely identical and interchangeable. Even anodizing is held to extreme tolerances. This meticulous precision manufacturing insures that even if a part is changed decades from now, the reel will still have the same tight fit it had when it was new.

Not all high-end reels are made this same way. Harry points out that competitive brands will often contract out the cutting of their one-piece frames or other parts. After the cutting, these parts are then returned for grinding or polishing; consequently the tolerances on these reels can be larger and frequently a replacement will not fit well.

Avet's one-piece reel frames, as well as their spools and side plates, are all machined from billet 6061-T6 aircraft aluminum stock. Avet reels have astonishing strength and corrosion resistance built into their design.

The Avet gearing system allows for a lighter, smaller gear case; making it a much better match for today's lightweight rods.

Eight stainless steel ball bearings give the reel remarkable smoothness and increased casting distance and free spool. An oversized carbon fiber drag system, combined with stainless drag plates, gives Avet reels something that no other lever drag reel has; an ultra smooth drag with the ability to free spool at a full drag setting.

STATE-OF-THE-ART ó Avet Reels' computer controlled machines create high precision that are setting the standard among many saltwater anglers. All Avet reels are manufactured under one roof to ensure quality control.

Also Avet Reels uses high quality rubber seals protect all the ball bearings; consequently, the entire reel could be submerged in saltwater without later having to tear down the entire reel for cleaning. Consequently, all an angler has to do is dunk the reel in a bucket of fresh water to wash the salt off. Harry stressed that, "that Avet is the only reel on the market that anglers can do this to and the reel will still maintain its smoothness."

Avet promotes itself as the "Home of the 100+Drag Reel," with good reason. Avet offers more level-drag two-speed reels than any other manufacturer, and their "Quad Brake" reels provide four large rotating brake pads.

The large carbon-fiber drags offer trouble-free performance and provide three to four times more drag surface when compared to other leading compatible size reels. The larger reels offer double drag systems that are combined with titanium brakes to take you anywhere you want to go on the water.

Another nice feature is that only three side plate screws need to be removed for disassembly, making it a easy to maintain and service them. Unlike many other reels, you are not plagued with parts falling all over the place when you break them down. Simply remove the side plate, lift the spool out, and you have all the access you need.

Avet reels are created from the best of old world European craftsmanship and new world computer-controlled precision manufacturing. What makes Avet reels truly unique is the high-quality equipment anglers receive for their hard-earned money.

In an age where high price does not necessarily deliver high quality, Avet's meticulously manufactured reels stand out with very competitive pricing, starting at around $175 and topping out at just under $1,000. These lightweight reels run from 14 ounces for their smallest to 79 ounces for the largest, and that one will have you prepared for just about anything you might encounter.

The Alajajyan brothers are justifiably enjoying the recognition they are receiving for creating what many people feel is the finest reel in the world. Still, you can't help but get the sense that it is using their own product on the water that is the brothers' real passion (pun intended). Like most of us who own boats, we keep saying, "I gotta get a bigger boat." Both Sarkis and Harry are no different; they are "chomping at the bit" to purchase a large sportfisher that they can comfortably use for long-range fishing.

QUALITY CONTROL and careful inspection of every part is the culture at Avet Reels. Pictured above is Gegetsik Toramanyan, hand assembling an Avet reel in the company's 20,000-square-foot facility. The company has combined old-world craftsmanship with modern precision machining.

However, both brothers have learned that when you turn your fishing hobby into a tackle business, you will spend more time running your business than actually fishing. Nonetheless, they say they would not have it any other way.

"We take great pride in the quality and performance of our reels, and although we love to fish, our first priority is to make what we believe is the best reel on the market," said Harry. During a tour he gave of the factory, it was hard not to believe him as a beautiful 28-foot fully rigged Mako sat in the corner of the shop waiting for its turn on the water.

Both Sarkis and Harry have fished since childhood on the freshwater rivers in Armenia and in the salt of the Black Sea. They explained that carp fishing is very popular in Europe and that catfish there grow to 600 pounds, however their freshwater quarry was usually trout.

Once the brothers settled in Southern California they actively began saltwater fishing locally. Since then, they have taken numerous big game fish caught in Mexico, Panama, and other great sportfishing locales. Getting them to talk about fishing is as easy as using their unique reels, the likeable angling entrepreneurs are always open to discuss fishing adventures and share pictures of trips.

The talk of tuna fishing brings big smiles from both of them. Last January, Avet Reels sponsored an 18-day tuna trip on the sportfisher Independence. During the voyage, 23 anglers caught limits of giant yellowfin tuna with 82 of them over 200 pounds. and created a new long-range record. Of all their favorite locations to fish, they agree that fishing in Mexico is their favorite pastime, making them an ideal sponsor for the Los Cabos event.

These guys definitely have saltwater in their blood and love to chase tuna, dorado, wahoo, and marlin. When pressed about which species is clearly the favored, the answer came back "any tuna over 334-lbs, harkening back to Harry's Hannibal Bank catch. As to who is the better fisherman? "Whoever gets lucky," they said. The two brothers work together not only at the factory where Harry concentrates on design development and Sarkis on manufacturing, but also apparently on fishing trips as well. One example of such teamwork was when the brothers were fishing at Hannibal Bank and Sarkis hooked a large blue marlin. He handed off the fish to Harry. They were using a 45 ounces. Avet EXW4/02 with 80-pound line. Harry eventually brought the fish to the boat where their skipper estimated the size of the fish (using the length and girth method) at 1,174 pounds.

 

Sarkis explained that they had radioed the mother ship with the information on the marlin's size to inquire about a potential world record. They were informed that the world's record was 1,300-pounds, so they released the fish. Later they found out that the skipper who had given them the information thought they were using heavier line, and in fact, the fish would have been a world record catch for that line class. Sarkis was philosophical about the whole thing; he said they both would rather have the fish still swimming than to have taken it.

Another experience on the same Hannibal Bank involved a potential record tuna that Harry hooked. This time it was on an EX40 (narrow spool) reel loaded with 60-pound line. After fighting the fish for 4 hours and 15 minutes, Harry passed off the fish to his brother who fought the fish for another hour and a quarter, after which he handed it off to the skipper for another half-hour before the fish broke off. It was then the Avet reel acquired the nickname "the winch" in Panama waters. Clearly, these guys are as tenacious about going after quality fish as they are about manufacturing quality reels.

Avet reels are offered in a durable "Type-2" anodizing and are available in silver, gold, metallic gray, and navy blue finishes. Left-handed models are only available in silver. The reels also come standard with a rod clamp that attaches even when the spool is full of line. They all have a 1-year full warrantee that includes pads. Avet also makes their own line of exclusively formulated lube and highly recommends it for their reels.

What is in the future for Avet Reels? What can anglers look forward to seeing? We will have a chance to see just that at year's ICAST Expo where they will be introducing a new "SX two-speed," and what they are calling a "Big 80" for marlin fishing. They are also working on designs or star-drag reels as well as freshwater reels.

When asked if they are considering spinning reels, they said it is one of the things they will explore, but their first priority is to protect the reputation of the present line of reels by not moving too fast with new product development. They explained that anything they bring to the market it would be well thought-out.

Considering their success and humble beginnings, I asked if they had any sage advice for someone thinking about entering the tackle manufacturing business? Their advice was to believe in what you are doing, put in more productive hours than your competitor, do what you enjoy most, and stay focused. That sounds like good advice for any business.