25' is an averagely short cable for stage use. I can't see any reason why you'd need to put a 25' cable on a reel. It would definitely be quicker to coil it by hand. You don't have to free the cable, go and get the reel, lay the cable out, blah blah... Just wrap it properly, throw into a box, move on to next one.
There are some cables that definitely do prefer to be on a reel, and that's any long, small-diameter, flexible cables, which no matter how you coil them, still love to tangle. I used to find these cables handy when we wanted to fly mics and needed an unobtrusive-looking cable. But by long I mean 60' plus.
I don't use that cable any more because of the poor handling. We now use the 5mm double-shielded super broadcast stuff for long thinner cables, because it's much less tangle-prone and copes better with being dragged around a stage and snagging on bits of metalwork.
Only problem is it's really expensive. (£2 or more per metre). But you're using it day in day out, so after a while the cost becomes less of an issue than the useability. No point buying something cheap that you never use because it turns out to be junk... although that's a trap I still fall into from time to time (anyone want a couple of ART line-level transformer isolator boxes?... )
IMO, the ease of transport outweighs any additional wear that using a reel may cause.
I haven't experienced problems with cable memory or cable failure as a result of using a reel. I've been doing it for years. Just to be clear, I am talking about single 25' cables. Multipair cables are a different story...
I can "over-under" with the best of 'em, but I still prefer the reel. I never have tangled cables as a result, and when they are on an orange reel they are less tempting to steal. When you're working in bars and night clubs on a regular basis, inventory control is as important as cable maintenance.
Btw, "throwing" cables beats up the connectors, and it's no problem to hold the reel in one hand and zip off a few cables at once.
Using a reel is personal preference, and I respectfully reject the idea that it's just for the non-professionals or the uninitiated.
Ya, personal preference. You certainly can deploy a reel in a pro situation, use it like a pro and have no probs. It does make the cables harder to steal, too, unless you want to steal all of them at once. My experience is simply that I often run into reels in the environments I described. Doesn't mean they can't be used effectively, but I prefer other methods.
Like you point out, it's really the use and treatment of cables that burns them out, not the storage mode. I throw mine mostly around carpeted stages, avoid crush hazards, and don't crimp or knot them. Since I make them from good components, I can repair them when I have to, which is rarely. Good thing, cause they cost too much retail.
I use extension cord reels commonly found at the hardware store. I love it. It makes schlepping cables around town a lot easier, and I don't really find it any more difficult to setup or strike. On strike, I wrap the loose end around my ankle to give a little resistance and keep the roll tight as I crank them up one at a time.
I have been doing exactly the same thing for around 10 years. I have almost a dozen of those orange reels from the hardware store. I keep all my 25, 30 and 50 foot single and double (5-pin XLR stereo) mic cables on those reels. And I keep other cables (coax for video, speaker cable, etc.) on those same kinds of reels. I make all my own cables and I have never had a failure.
I don't understand any of the purported "objections", especially about setup. It is trivial for even one person working alone to simply un-spool as much cable as necessary since they are plugged into each other. And strike is simply a breeze. MUCH faster than hand-winding. I can lay all the cables out on the stage, plug them into each other and have them ALL spooled up in the time it takes you to hand-wrap 2-3 cables. It is especially valuable when you have a bunch of volunteers "helping".
Furthermore, I can use a damp wash-rag to clean the cables as I spool them up and keep them nice and clean, even after an outdoor event.
I've found cable reels to be handy in a few situations, such as 100ft+ multi-core cable for portable work. On wheels, it makes them easy to move (until the wheels break), pay out and roll up. And if you don't need the entire length, the balance neatly stays on the reel. Some reels even stack.
I've handled millions of feet of cable for TV trucks, from 10' mic - 1000' 19 pair and triax camera cable, and used them several thousand feet away from the truck. Every cable gets hand coiled.
One big problem I have with small portable reels is what to do with them when they're empty.
However, there is one kinda cool motorized coiler on the market for 1/4" (+/-)cable up to 100 ft, Kaltman Cable Coiler. It maps for $110.00
The cable comes off the coiler for storage, so you only need one unit for all your cables. But you still can't throw the cable open because it's not alternated (over-under).
However the Slap Sticks are a novel idea. Until they get absconded.
At last, a motorized cable coiler! A roadie's dream!
I've used motorized cable pullers for long pulls of fiber or data cable in outside plant environments. The big ones are real beasts--we use kevlar strap with a chinese-finger-trap assembly to pull the cable, and there's lots of tension on the rig.
I just have a vision of one of these stage coiler-things somehow going wild and sucking up all the cables onstage, eating mics, guitar pedals, whole guitars.... maybe some roadie's arm...