It is safe to say that I have a mild obsession with fishing reels, and coincidentally also with ebay. Anyhow I recently bought a reel for next to nothing that I had never heard of before, just to see what it was. It is labeled as an "Argus" baitcasting reel and it looked like an abu garcia clone. It came in today and I had a fun time disassembling it and comparing it to my other reels. It looked almost identical to an ABU Ambassaduer 6000 but as soon as I picked it up I knew that it was no where near the quality. Weighed a lot less and everything wiggled a little bit too much. The drag felt about the same but everything else was obviously of much less quality. There were no bearings that I could find, and the reel felt different reeling, but it had a good clicker and I have no reason to believe it won't work excellent as a light duty catfishing reel, if I ever even use it.
I did some digging and tried to find more out about it but information is few and far between. I did find out that it is made in china and assembled in the Oregon to the specifications of the W.W. Griggs company. They recently went out of business and when they were in business they specialized in spinning and fly rods that they sold under the name W.W. Griggs or as local house brands. The reel that I got was new/old stock that still had a $20 sale price tag on it dated 07/00. Pretty neat little reel for the price and an interesting thing to research.
I also purchased an "Acadia" reel last year. It was a surprisingly high quality bait caster that was put out by a Texas company. The little information that I could find was that they were of comparable quality to reels twice their price range and they had excellent costumer service.
I don't really buy these reels to use, I just like the story behind them. I am curious to know if there are any other small companies around that do a half way decent job of providing budget rods and reels.