Update - Please scroll down to the end for an important update
The Mystery of the Naughty Captain
This short article is to document one of the weirdest encounters I've had since I started reviewing tackle many years ago. This one is actually meant to be more amusing than informational. Basically it's a small window on some of the stuff I face doing what I'm doing, and a reminder that this world has kinds of insanity that are hard to comprehend. I hope it both gives you a smile as well as nudges you into keeping your eyes open and questioning everyone and everything, since we obviously live in times where integrity is nearing extinction despite our wishful thinking.
A very important and serious warning here; this article contains very strong language and graphic descriptions, so if you're offended by these things stop reading now. Please do not ignore this warning and read then send me complaints. Thank you.
It all started a little more than a year ago, when one of my readers brought to my attention a thread on a popular fishing site about a "USA made" spinning reel that's making its debut. Since I hadn't heard anything about a new entity that has the required infrastructure to build a spinning reel in the US, I was curious to see what was going on
This was the thread. Apparently someone saw claims by a captain "Spyron Alexakis" that he was making a spinning reel in the USA, and he posted this to enquire further. I went to check the source of this claim, and found that this Spyron character was the proprietor of a brand named "Ancient Mariner", and was actively promoting it on his and his brand's Facebook pages. Here are some of the claims he was making
Apparently his reel has more balls than the Stella, which is certainly rubbish, but he is free to claim that.
The reel was being sold at only 35% of the price but will soon go back to the regular price of $699? Sounds unrealistic, but again none of my business.
Now this is something that I DO have a problem with; claims that the reels were USA made.
I took my time investigating the matter, then I wrote a warning post on my news page showing the Ancient Mariner reel...
You can see the Ancient Mariner logo on the rotor....
And next to it I posted a link to Dongguan Haixu Fishing Tackle Co. in China, the actual maker of the reel. As I have explained in the past those OEM manufacturers will print your name or brand on their reels when you place a wholesale order.
A better look at the HM70 from the Chinese website.
I then forgot about it and considered the whole thing over, but Boy O'Boy was I wrong!
In my email
His email address is "Greek Stud" which is kinda funny, but funnier still was the confidence with which he accused me of posting B.S. and challenged me to compare the reels.
Of course I would not take the bait because I knew exactly what would follow since it wasn't my first time engaging people like that. My reply
This reply with the sincere advice was the first and last contact with him, then I just sat back and watched what would turn out to be a soup opera of incompetence and lack of any trace of intelligence or self respect.
The following are all replies that he kept sending to my single email
He said I'm not nice
Nah, I'm too busy clipping my toenails. It takes time you know.
Here comes the legal threats. Now I'm shaking so bad I can't clip my toenails properly.
More legal threats and an apparent goodbye, except it wasn't really a goodbye as more messages kept coming in that epic ramble that began right before 3 am on the morning of June 24th all the way to about 12 pm that same day, mostly incoherent blabbering and threats of legal action and ruin!
Fact of the matter is, I could not care less about all the legal threats because I never go after those people without airtight first hand proofs that my lawyer evaluates first. What our friend did not know was that I had already examined his reel which was readily available to me from within the US, and despite his collusion with Mr. Peter Xiong from Dongguan Haixu Fishing Tackle to block me from getting a blank reel I had managed to get one under both their noses. They simply failed to appreciate my reach in the industry.
Here it is. A blank reel hot from the production line waiting to have whatever name printed on it. I might give it a quick review one day because there is a design feature in it that interests me personally, but that's a story for another time.
Now that he was getting nothing from me, he went on a campaign of ineptness that would've been hilarious if not for the harassment of countless people and the ugly stuff he said and did. I have a vast amount of material that I documented and properly authenticated, but I'll include only a selection of it here as I narrate the events.
The Chinese OEM took down the reel from their website just 1 day after my warning in order to make the link I posted useless, except that I had the page and their dodgy action independently archived and preserved for future reference, just as I did with the rest of the material in this article. Click the following two links, and on the top right corner you can see the URL and the exact time of archiving
23rd of June, all is normal and the reel is there...
24th of June, same URL, the reel is now gone.
When you claim that your reel is US made and has nothing to do with China, you shouldn't go and have the Chinese OEM remove the reel immediately from their site since this way you prove your link to them. Not a very bright chap, is he? Additionally here we see a disturbing act where the Chinese manufacturer -or at least its representative- was happy to help the guy by taking down the reel, something I have seen done previously by another OEM when I did a similar investigation a few years ago. Not by any means a condemnation of all Chinese manufacturers, but seemingly morality is not an issue for at least a few of them. The reels remained off the OEM's site for a few months before they put them back up again and they are there now.
His initial story following my warning
He claimed that the Chinese stole his design and copied it! Imagine that; instead of copying the latest Saltiga or Stella or even Okuma, the sneaky Chinese OEM had his sight on poor Mr. Spyron Alexakis, the independent designer and builder of reels in the USA, and through a massive hacking operation got the blueprints from his IPhone and copied the reel. Remember this one very well.
He then staged a video where he showed the reel's guts while parts were scattered around to give an impression that he hand builds them indeed. Watch
But in a sad continuation of incompetency, the reel in the video shows finish damage on the side cover due to wrong tools being used to remove it.
Here it is. The side cover requires a special 4-lug socket to remove, but the dude -who supposedly builds the reels- didn't have the correct tool so he apparently used regular pliers causing that extensive damage.
This is the correct socket, just to help with his future staged videos
The lack of knowledge of the reels he supposedly makes was not only limited to this, as he had previously posted the following
These are the shafts of the reels, which he calls "cams" while proclaiming that he's just done "carving" them. Seemingly he forgot to mention that he hardened the "cams" as well after carving them, since the threads of the shafts show the telling signs of hardening.
The nickname "Greek Stud" and the image he's projecting of the though craftsman who hand carves steel parts are just small pieces in the inflated ego of that person. Further research brought up things like these
He's the "master" when it comes to working on spinners, using wrong tools and damaging them notwithstanding.
He's also one of the finest fishermen walking the earth, and his greatness goes beyond his reels into fixing the mistakes of other companies too. Makes me wonder if he should've gone for the more fitting "Greek God" alias instead of being merely a "stud".
He had plans to "build" surf reels too, but being the perfectionist he is, he wouldn't do it because he couldn't get American seals for his all-American surf reel. I have to say he has first grade work ethics
Anyway, since the first video didn't help his cause very much, he made other ones to prove the reel was US made. I complied a couple of them here
There you go; a lovely well oiled lathe, and a machinist who's not Chinese. How did I ever doubt that meticulous operation?
At that point he probably realised that he was digging himself deeper and not helping his cause, so he apparently sat long and thought deeply before finally figuring out the winning tactic;
He publicly challenged me to a fist fight where he was going to "take my ass out", along with a photo where he tried to look scary. You know that someone is trying hard when they do that pose with arms crossed and pressed against each other to make them look big, except that in our naive friend's case he only managed to push some soft fat out. How about that methodology to prove that your reel is US made? Anyway, I've seen him in family photos next to female family members (which I won't post out of respect for them), and seeing how some of the ladies were actually taller and bigger than him makes me believe that he's a small dude whose constant self aggrandising and that pathetic attempt to appear violent and dangerous are symptoms of "Small Man Syndrome" and various inferiority complexes. Please people, don't ever be like that sad guy. I mean seriously, don't.
The legendary meltdown continued. Here is a selection of what followed, aided and cheered on by his pals
He's from Queens, must be a hardened street fighter!
That was for someone who criticised the way he was going about it. For those who don't know, a "rim job" is an obscure sexual act where someone licks the anus of another to stimulate them, and sometimes a game is played where one tries to guess what the other ate for breakfast by the taste of the faecal residues in the other's sphincter. Makes me wonder about the kind of videos that dude watches when he retires to his bed at night and the tissues come out. Those poor Chinese hackers must have seen some traumatising stuff as they went through his storage in search of the reel's blueprints!!
If that doesn't prove the reels are US made, what else does?
Wait! Maybe the Chinese didn't steal his design after all. He now says that he sold them his design because they are "too stupid" to make a reel. I wonder how the very "helpful" Peter Xiong feels now...
And of course you know you're dealing with an industrialist of the highest order when you see stuff like these.
These are only some of the crazy stuff he said, and I have others that I won't post because they are incredibly homophobic and disgustingly racist towards Asian people, in addition of course to the defamatory claims that I'm working for big companies to attack small businesses, which my lawyer almost cried begging me to let him have on a no-win no-fee basis. I can still do it and cause him great financial losses, but that's just not me.
Back to the wacky stuff, he later posted another "scary" photo
Had to censor it because I won't show nipples on my site... Well, not man-nipples anyway!
More meltdown, this time mentioning his friends who are ready to help him hunt me down and for some unknown reason shove bail wires up my butt. The idiot doesn't know that this would ruin the wires' curvature and prevent the bails from fully closing when he installs them back, in addition to the reels smelling foul of course.
Speaking of his friends
One is aching to start slapping me around.
Another seems to be alluding to his familiarity with a biker gang whose members were apparently ready to join the hunt, and our dude seemingly replies that he is in that crowd as well. A very interesting study of human psych here. He previously said that he was born in Queens N.Y., and now his alleged connections to biker gangs come up. People subconsciously think that what scares them will automatically scare others, so when they say things such as I'm from XXXX neighbourhood or I know YYYY people they actually project their own fear from people who live in XXXX neighbourhood or the YYYY people. Even when I was a kid I've always found that to be quite idiotic. Why would you walk up to me and tell me that you are from a certain area? Is everyone who lives there genetically mutated to be a super scary breed who for example does the one legged kick from Karate Kid movie as a second nature? Again, learn from those clowns, and don't ever be like that.
Another pal of his offers his services for when things go down. By the way, his friends are largely fake accounts that constantly post begging him to sell them reels and give testimonies that his reels outperform Saltigas and Stellas.
A quick example
Mr. Robert James (sounds very real) who once said that he has two reels that were great...
Obviously forgets what he previously said as he announces a month later that he's just received his first Ancient Mariner reel and is stunned by it.
And here they pile up to snatch them like kids on hot cookies, and our dude has to calm them down.
And of course being the sophisticated intellect that he is, pictures like this were posted in between events, here being reposted by one of his buddies.
He then descended into paranoia accusing people of being my friends, as well as doubling down on his claims that his reels are fully American made from American parts, and interestingly claims that even the bearings which he doesn't produce himself are American made. The amount of naivety in this statement made me pause for a moment and wonder if that whole thing was just a big social experiment of some sort, because no one can be this ignorant of basic facts. Not even that gem of a man.
You gotta love how he thinks that serial numbers are put on some reels to make them look serious. He has no clue what serial numbers are for, and doesn't understand their use to link certain reels to specific inventory and spare parts' batches as well as regional identification, things that have zero relevance to his reel. I can only imagine the awkward looks he got when he asked the OEM to start putting "serial numbers" on the reels. As for the "Made in USA", that was never going to happen for two reasons; first it's not "stamped" as that puppet thinks, rather it has to be integrated into mould at the spinning reel's foot which is prohibitively expensive for the OEM. Second, the manufacturer knows very well that something like that would get them into serious trouble with US customs and the Federal Trade Commission, assuming that somehow the Chinese officials let it slide. The amount of stupidity that man possesses is enough to turn all past winners of the Nobel prize in physics into salivating morons, with some stupidity still left at the end. Needless to say that neither promised action ever happened.
More of his buddies making very convincing arguments, as he announces the practically suicidal move of going to a fishing site to attack me there. Unlike the cheerleaders on his pages, open fishing sites expose him to actual scrutiny and criticism by the fishing public, and they are not doing this for my sake, rather they looked at what I presented and became convinced that it was facts. Needless to say that he was brutalised over there; people put on their detective hats and tore his stories to shreds, he lost his composure and contradicted himself, then ended up being kicked out after he made threats to the site's owner and members.
This is the post by the site owner stating why he kicked him out and quoting several of Spyron's emails to him, and I'm posting it because one of the threats he made sounded very similar to an email I had received a little earlier
Don't know who sent it, but the sender is making a point signing "BIG John" in yet another pathetic projection of his own fear of big people, and he tries to make this threat sound real and immanent. The problem with cowards is that they don't understand that some people can't be scared off. All I need to know is that I am doing the right thing, then nothing on earth is going to stop me. I don't look for headaches and certainly could have done without all the annoyance and threats, but I knew that I could be using my humble means to protect my fellow fishermen, therefore I was never going to hold back or quit no matter how threatening it becomes. Take it from me, nothing feels safer than putting your head on the pillow at night knowing that you've acted consistent with your ethical code, even if you had all the maniacs of the world after you.
As he went on that insane rampage of insults and threats he apparently got into new clashes and made a few enemies
Here he is calling someone on FB Messenger and harassing him for some reason. Profanity was censored by the person under attack who posted it, not by me.
Also apparently his threats didn't sit well with others who don't have my thick skin
Spyron posted this email which he received from someone, and I don't know what Mr. Alexakis said or did to initiate this response, but the person sure sounded very angry
And suddenly the though bodybuilding bike-gang-banger who comes from the mean streets of Queens pees his pants and says he's going to the police if anyone comes near him. I felt kinda sad reading this. The guy was dishing it out and making all sorts of violent threats, then when someone finally snapped the Greek Stud instantly develops ovarian cramps and says that he's "going to tell".
That encounter seemingly had a profound effect as he quickly tuned things down and made no more threats or tough guy antics, and instead took the role of the underdog who's being victimised by yours truly whom he calls the Roger Ebert of fishing, something I completely reject because that ninny gave "Mulholland Drive" 4 stars!! I mean seriously Roger? Other than the heavenly boobies of the ethereal Naomi Watts there was NOTHING remotely good about that film, and you give it 4 stars!! But I digress....
The claims about the reel's origin disappeared shortly afterwards from both his page and Ancient Mariner's page, then....
Fast forward almost a year, the game is over, he finally admits that his reels are not US made and says that there aren't even any American made bearings, then he displays some surprising knowledge of Chinese contractors down to the exact cost of another brand's reels. Of course it goes to show how ridiculous his initial claims of having nothing to do with China were, since he clearly knows minute details about the inner workings of the Chinese tackle trade.
This pretty much concludes this journey. Why exactly he didn't spare everyone the headache and drop it when I initially warned him remains a mystery to me. This didn't have to become such a drama, but he chose to make it so for reasons beyond me. Over the years attempts at similar feats were made, but those behind them only needed to know that I was watching to drop it quietly and go about their lives, but unfortunately (or fortunately) not this time. The incompetence of that guy is of the scale of legends that poets immortalise in timeless works of art. Just like Helen of Troy is forever known as "The Face That Launched a Thousand Ships", this guy should be engraved in the memories of future generations for "The Ineptness that causes Brain Hemorrhage", because he almost gave me one. I'm not a poet, but I have a Photoshop which I will use to make sure this saga never parishes into the annals of history. I'm sending Spyron to join the other Greek Gods, with his precious reel, and hopefully he won't try to sell it to them as 100% made in Mount Olympus, down to the bearings!
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October, 20th, 2016
Update - 31 October 2017: Spyron Alexakis, the owner of Ancient Mariner, reached out to me with his sincere apologies to anyone who was hurt in any way because of his past actions. I asked if he was willing to give refunds to anyone who bought the spinning reels when they were falsely advertised as being USA made, and he agreed. If you are one of these people, please reach out to him and you'll get your full money back without any loss on your side, not on shipping nor on anything else. Let me know if you face any difficulties. With him stepping up like that and making amends, I hope he will be given a second chance and judged based on what he does from now onward. My mission has always been to protect my fellow fishos and nothing else, and now that you'll get your money back, and I have his promise that the company will never engage in any misleading advertising again, I am happy to post this update with my best wishes to him.