The max drag is plenty strong for trout fishing and we like the shape of the handle’s swell (although it could be a tiny bit bigger for a perfect handle score). Note – you can also opt for a plastic handle, which is also a great shape and more durable in the long run. For example, the Lightspeed had a very wide range of drag, between .25 to 2 pounds (2 full turns), while the Speedster had a narrower range. Seeing how much we like the Orvis Hydros SL II for saltwater, (it’s one of our favorite best buy 8-weight reels), we thought the 5-weight version was going to do equally well in fresh. I like smooth drags that will apply up to around 3 pounds of pressure for larger trout. They are also partnered with Trout Unlimited, the International Federation of Fly Fishers, the International Game Fish Association, and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. Either way, both the Aspen Reels are bulletproof. For the remaining 25% of my fishing, when I’m lucky enough to hook a larger trout I want to get the fish on the reel, and if the fish runs, it will then pull line out controlled by the amount of straight pull drag I set. The arbor is also one of the few ported arbors, (along with the Click and Colorado LT), allowing your backing to dry faster. Turnaround time is generally 2 weeks, and up to 3-4 weeks during the fishing season. Fun to Fish / Got to Have – 20 points available, As with our rod shootouts, we got this category from the original Car and Driver automobile shootouts. Our Address. The 3.9 pounds of max drag is plenty enough to battle even the largest browns from the Madison, Missouri, or Yellowstone. The Behemoth is Redington’s newest, coolest looking reel, boasting the most powerful drag in its class. Use a sealant to keep water from getting through. In our performance chart we used the fully loaded reel weight rather than the naked weight since that’s how they are going to be fished. From $ 150.00 - $ 300.00 . Once the fish is on the reel, you want to try to continue to play the fish from the reel – especially larger fish. 2 lbs. Counterbalance: Good, however counterbalance weight is tall, which may feel like the handle if you weren’t looking down to grab it. Unfortunately the craftsmanship on the Loop Multi wasn’t as good as other die-cast reels. Temple Fork Outfitters – Generally $30 for major repairs, or $0 for minor repairs. Spool Release: Easy to come off however,spool release button is somewhat sticky to pull off, and seems backwards from Hardy or other reels that we are used to. We love the aesthetics of this reel – everyone we’ve shown it to has liked its rugged appearance. If anyone gave me the choice between a free Abel SD and Galvan Rush, I think I’d take the SD in a heartbeat, despite the fact that it didn’t acquire as many points. With larger fish you’ll likely want to palm the spool since the drag only goes to 1.3 pounds. Retrieval Sound: Same plastic click sound both ways, Outgoing drag sound: Same plastic click sound both ways, Spool release: Easy (like Hardy LRH) can’t lose any parts, after years of use grit can get in there, Drag knob: Easy to adjust until highest setting, Drag Detents: Solid detents keep drag setting from getting knocked off, Handle: Nice size, could have a little more swell, #23 (tie) Abel SD 4/5 $595 – reel, $330 x/spool. Spool Release: Easy but Spool cap comes off and can get lost. Everything about it speaks of heirloom quality. Palming a reel as a fish blasts away at a high rate of speed is actually a lot of fun. is suitable for 15-pound tippets, fishing streamers, mindful that drag pressure increases somewhat when you put a big hoop bend in your rod. Extra TF50 spools retail for $119.95. Hatch doesn’t do any porting on their arbors (where the backing sits). Drag Detents: Not great, could be knocked off by accident. The rough drags made it stutter like crazy. fully loaded were a good match for balancing most of today’s lightweight 9 foot 5 weight rods. For others, they see how the reel performs in their guide’s hands, and think that it is going to make them great anglers too, or at least take them to the next level. The Ross CO LT’s handle is a great shape and is made of a material that is supposed to be “grippy” even when wet. The Lamson Guru has become Lamson’s workhorse. The sealed “power matrix drag system” is maintenance free and has no start up inertia. The outgoing sound is unique, loud, and pleasing to the ear – created by a noise specific metal pawl located inside the reel. The 5+ is better for 6 and even 7-weight lines. The bottom-line, if you like to play with your gear (and you’re mechanical by nature) you may enjoy a reel that requires more upkeep. Artist finishes range from $280-$500, like the ones from Borski, Prosek, DeYoung, Larko, or the Grateful Dead series. $400. The balance point or fulcrum was 1 1/8 inches below the top of the cork grip, which is about where the center of my thumbnail rests when I grip the rod in the middle of the handle, putting my palm in the middle of the cork handle swell. The drag knob is very easy to adjust and it has the best detents of any reel in the test. If you pick a standard custom color you will be looking at a $75 upgrade. And the reel itself weighs only 2.8 ounces! The reel’s foot is ported as well to help lighten things. With one whack on the edge of the spool, the spool revolves about 4-5 rotations, which is unique for a reel that makes sound while reeling in. The one thing we really don’t care for on the LRH is the tiny, straight handle. The Ross Evolution R Salt is a flagship saltwater reel series from Ross. The drag knob is easy enough to turn, but it doesn’t have any drag detents and on the lower drag settings the knob can be accidentally bumped, knocking off the desired drag setting. The machining style is unique and is one of the most attractive reels we have seen. Every single reel in the shootout was satisfactory for me in this light; simply as a line storage device. If you ever hear your Abel cork drag “squeaking” it’s letting you know it needs some neatsfoot oil desperately. This is never easy to fix, even in the shop, much less on the stream. What hurt it the most was its poor range of drag adjustment between .25 and 2 pounds. Sage Spectrum LT Fly Reel has a high-performance drag system on an ultra light rigid frame. Smoothness of Drag at 1 lb. $400. Opting for this reel depends on what you are looking for in a reel; for many having a classic looking reel on a classy rod just “looks the part” even if it doesn’t wind line in at 8.5” per rotation or weigh under 3 ounces. It’s hard enough not to lose these screws in the shop much less on the river, so the SC lost points accordingly. Spool Release: Spool release – TOTAL PAIN – can lose nut, drag knob; inconvenient to remove the spool in the shop much less on stream. The range of drag adjustment wasn’t very good either; it seemed there wasn’t much difference between no drag and full drag. Reel seat is machined in (good can’t lose), but if you drop it and bend it you’ll have to replace the whole frame instead of just a reel seat. In general we like spools that are between 1-1.5 inches. Then we peeled off the line and got figures on the range of drag adjustment, smoothness, start up inertia, and max. $145.00 to $225.00. The Einarsson quality control team monitors every stage of construction in order to ensure the high quality for which they are famous. Same resistance when reeling in or going out – not adjustable so you’ll have to “finger palm” it, Drag may not be light enough for 7-8X users. While Lamson doesn’t offer an HD Speedster in a size 2 yet, we hope they will. The Islander LX is an amazing reel. Solely in gray. We also like how the full frame design offers the LRH more rigidity and durability if dropped. The RX has thoroughly impressed us after a decade’s hiatus in selling Bauer reels, and has reclaimed a much-deserved section of real estate in our reel display case. We have a couple of ideas for this. Price- 10 points availableThis is pretty simple. Due to the difficulty of spool removal no extra spools are offered. If the cap you unscrew comes completely off you must be careful not to lose it. Start up inertia refers to the initial amount of drag experienced when pulling line off the reel. Reels that utilize cork drag systems like Tibor, the Abel Super series, and the Islander require a little more TLC. We’re curious about the longevity of the plastic clicker, but if it does wear out at least it would be a cheap replacement. #9 Lamson Speedster $299.95 – reel, $140.95 x/spool. Overall Diameter in InchesThis measurement reflects how wide the reel is from one side of the frame to the other. Fully loaded it weighs 8.9 ounces; the second heaviest reel in the shootout after the Tibor Signature 5/6. Like an Alfa Spider, Greys faded out of the mainstream and into the fond memory of enthusiasts. – 9.2 pounds, Range of drag: Good but not as good as most in the .25-2 lb. Don’t let the price slow you down. The Sage 4250 could use a little wider range of drag adjustment. Overall, we were very impressed with the Sage Click 4/5/6. From $ 289.99 - $ 299.99 . Machined in Boise, Idaho the Guru comes in two standard colors: silver or black. The Argus comes only in Charcoal Gray. Sealey is known nationally & internationally as a leading brand & supplier of professional tools and workshop equipment I think you could drop this reel 100 times and never see the frame budge. We like this reel so much that it is now part of our “Best Buy” packages, including the 4-weight, 5-weight, 6-weight outfits, 7-weight, and 8-weight outfits. Rarely do people use reel cases when fishing, even in drift boats. Last but not least, the Behemoth is a little on the heavy side. What does count, are the unique and stylish Behemoth looks. One thing’s for sure – this reel is durable! Hatch reels are made in San Diego, California from the highest-grade aluminum bar stock available. Ross Reels are manufactured right up the road in Montrose, Colorado, by folks who fish the same rivers as we do. 2020 marks the return of Greys to the United States. Extra 5/6 spools retail for $59.95. Handle: Excellent rose wood handle with good flare – these can break over time if water gets in them and expands them or they are put away wet. Redington – Generally $15, (including shipping). The click reels generally rated a 9 or 10. The reel looks and feels fantastic! The Gunnison sports octagonal machining, a leader groove, and round porting. It has terrific drag detents that prohibit the drag knob from getting knocked off the desired setting. Turn it halfway and you’ll get about 25% of the total drag. Drags with zero start up inertia result in a smoother, more controlled fight. We have even come to like the smell of an Abel (from Abel’s blue reel grease). Loop Multi reels are die-cast in South Korea and come only in black. Here’s another classic reel that has caught a lot of fish over the years. In the process we would rip some line off the reel and judge the drag sound. The main thing that held it back from the podium was its weight. Extra 325 LA spools retail for $110. The handle is well designed, with a good size and a portion of it carved out for a more comfortable grip. Galvan Fly Reels Brookie Spare Spool. Reel seat has rivets instead of screws (shouldn’t loosen) like old reel seats? The spool removal cap can get lost, so be sure you are mindful of this when removing the spool in the field. When applying more pressure to the line, be sure to do this smoothly, as big fish hate jerky sensations on their end of the line. Darn Tough socks are guaranteed for life and made in the USA. It also scored very high in durability, warranty, maintenance free, smoothness of drag, and drag sound, which really can be considered a 10 as well. Weight in Ounces Using our a digital scale that reads to .001 oz. $300. That being said, we feel a few things could be done to make the Finatic even better. Note however, that maximum drag is almost meaningless on these 5/6 weight trout reels. Details of Abel’s color options can be found in our write up of the Abel Super 4N earlier. The range of drag adjustment is reasonable and the max drag is plenty strong. Tiny bit of suction to get spool off, Drag knob: Unique cut out – easy to twist but somewhat odd shape, Drag Detents: Excellent drag detents keep drag setting from getting knocked off, Range of Drag – Not great (at least between .25 – 2 pounds), Handle: Nice shape and size (good swell), Feels a bit heavy (due to heavy drag mechanism, same one used on bigger Hydros SLII’s), A lighter reel with less drag power would be better, #22 (tie) TFO BVK II $249.95 – reel, $149.95 x/spool. Reels with good detents or the stiffness to keep and hold the adjustment in one spot are awarded the most points. Balance is a matter of personal preference, but we like the balance point high up on the grip, about where your thumb would rest. Aside from being heavy, it is wide and bulky and doesn’t look like it belongs on your 5-weight. The Abel Super 4N is also going to require more maintenance than other reels. The main reason to shell out the extra dough for an Abel Super 4N is that it’s extremely durable. This fly is intricately tied with a variety of techniques that are easy to learn and fun to use in a variety of other streamer patterns. If you want the better drag, go with the Lightspeed. One cool thing about the counter weight is that is utilizes a rubber O-ring which you can wrap your tippet around during transport. Our question to both Redington and Ross is WHY? When you get a big fish on the reel, you want the drag to be as smooth as possible. Extra 325 spools retail for $195. Protecting the world’s fishing grounds is of the utmost importance to the founder, Steingrimur (Stenni) Einarsson and the rest of the Einarsson crew. The SC (Stream Creek) is just that, and is a reel that only certain anglers will appreciate. It will, however, fit 245 yards of 20 pound backing and is probably the best reel here with which to land a tarpon. Smaller drag knobs were more difficult to adjust, as were drags knobs that were more difficult to turn (e.g., Lamson Guru). If you are looking for an inexpensive reel there are two obvious choices: the Ross Eddy, (which is heavy but has a very strong drag), or the Redington Zero (which is insanely light but has almost no drag). Ease of drag adjustment and range of drag adjustment suffered because there is no drag adjustment – what you see is what you get. The drag system has a crazy 30 pounds of drag pressure. Is the whole package deal worth the expensive price tag. Here is a reel that I thought might have made a podium finish. Bozeman Reels are machined in Bozeman Montana out of the highest quality aircraft aluminum. Maximum drag on the Tibor Tailwater was only .75 pounds, so you’ll definitely need to palm this reel when playing larger fish. Hours. For most trout reels,you are going to set the drag in one position and not change it. An old toothbrush works well for this. Historically it is one of the most coveted reels we know. of straight pull drag. Although the RX reels are more expensive than others, for each reel sold, Bauer donates 10% to conservation and fish restoration. Sage Spectrum LT Spool. The Sage 4250 is a solid reel for the money. (10 revolutions)!? But if you tend to fall into the clumsy category, or often fish rip rap banks or other risky spots where you are likely to fall, plan to spend more money to send your reel in for repair every now and then. At first glance the Loop Evotec G4 LW 5/8 is too big for a 5-weight reel. Aspen Reels believe that a fly-fishing reel should be simple, strong, affordable, and made in the USA. Spool release: Quick and easy and the latch can’t get lost, (unless entire fixture comes off. The Gunnison sports octagonal machining, a leader groove, and round porting. They have very little spin, so slapping the face of the spool to reel up line quickly won’t get you anywhere with an Abel SD. Today most of the reels on the market have much larger arbors than the older classic reels like the Hardy LRH or the Pflueger Medalist. Slightly bigger (and better) than the handle on the Abel SD 4/5, Feels a tad heavy (due to heavy sealed drag), Excellent machining and quality feel, second to none on color option, #25 (tie) Lamson Force 1 $499 – reel, $219.95 x/spool. It is one of the lightest large arbor fly reels in its class and ideally suited to those that enjoy the challenge of fishing with ultra light tackle. While 40 yards is starting to push the limits on how little backing we feel comfortable with, we figured with click reels 40 yards is acceptable. Ultimately what you believe is what really matters. You can decide for yourself if a smaller (and lighter) reel is better for your needs, or if a larger reel with more backing capacity is best for the style of fishing you enjoy. We like the design of the reel foot incorporated into the reel frame, since we’ve had other reel feet come off the reel due to loose screws over time. Once the drag is set, you don’t want it to get accidentally knocked off its setting by rubbing against your clothing, or that log you crawled over to get to the stream. The two things that hurt the Loop Classic 46 the most were the price and the difficulty in removing the spool. Although Lamson may claim their reels all utilize the same drag, we found them to be different. To my way of thinking, most of these new reels need to produce more click sound than they do. . Extra 5/6 spools retail for $45. Had the handle been a tad larger it would have gotten a perfect 20 here as well. It takes a while to get used how large this reel looks on a 5-weight rod, but it grows on you. The drag system has a crazy 30 pounds of drag pressure. Ross’ new porting is a large reason for the reel’s lightweight design. This helps with backing capacity but also makes it easy to reel up your line without micromanaging it (to make sure the line doesn’t all end up in the same spot, which could jam if not reeled on evenly). Nautilus “X” (XM 4/5) $275.00 – reel, $145 x/spool. One thing we wish the BVK had was a wider range of drag, and we know from experience this reel isn’t nearly as durable over the years as others. $187.00 to $200.00. and they will send it back to you duly customized free of charge in about a week’s time. For click reels like the Hardy, Orvis, and Tibor, you should also lubricate the clickers and gear with good grease. TROUT SPEY Full Frame. For the 5/6 weight reels, these categories are the ones that we felt are the most important; so we are giving them double points. Another thing JG noticed fishing his Tibor in the middle of winter is that when the temperature is below freezing the cork drag can develop a thin layer of ice, causing the reel to free spool with no drag pressure (even though the drag dial should be engaging the drag). They are not nearly as durable as some reels. ~ The Colorado LT set the bar for lightweight click pawl reels, and our new Colorado takes it to the next level. We applaud their efforts to give back! Sage Spectrum LT 3/4 Fly Reel $375.00. Do be careful not to lose the drag knob (which is also the spool release knob) as it has to come off in order to remove the spool. Otherwise, maintenance free is the easiest way to go…, Spool to Frame Tolerances – 10 points available. We suspect the Guru Series II is Lamson’s best selling reel, we know it has been for us anyway – and for good reason – it is a great value. Sage Click 3/4/5 Fly Reel $290.00. A smooth fight allows the angler to reel a fish in more quickly, which gets the fish back to the stream unharmed – something Bauer cares about deeply. While the visual effects of these harsh moves can be stunning, the result is often a lost fish. There’s a rubber O-ring on the counter weight, which serves as a tippet-storing device when you are aren’t using the reel. That and the Animas’ spruced up looks. And some reels are better looking than others. Machined reel seat – can never come loose, might get dented if dropped however, which means replacing a new frame instead of reel seat. The Redington Zero is die-cast in South Korea. While Lamson says the reason for the full-caged HD is to capture line without failure (especially thin diameter running lines), we feel the full frame version would help the Speedster’s strength and durability. Ross stands by their motto “made on the water” and their location in Colorado ensures optimal field testing. Retrieval Sound: Excellent “purr” sound retrieve, Outgoing drag sound: Pleasing but more muted sound going out, Counterbalance: Perfect balance, excellent machining, Spool Release: Release cap stays on, machined grooves give it good grip, easy to turn, Drag Detents: None – you can definitely knock off setting by accident, Range of Drag: Weak to medium drag – going to have to palm this one with larger fish, Max Drag: Too weak, you’ll have to palm this reel – .75 pounds, Handle: is nice size but could swell out more, Top notch sound, craftsmanship, quality machining. When compared to other reels in its price category, (like Bass Pro, Okuma, or Cabela’s) the Eddy is clearly the way to go. It comes in two standard colors: Black and Sand. Below you’ll find our finishing order as well as my comments. It has a very large arbor and the reel spins reasonably well, making it capable of rapid line retrieval. Before we jump into the on-the-water portion of the review, let's talk about the Ross Evolution LTX's features and what's changed between the LT and the LTX. The Cimarron II 5/6 is exactly like the 4/5, just a little larger and stronger. The Abel SD 5/6 is identical to the 4/5, just a little bigger with more backing capacity. Material defects and workmanship are under warranty for a period of 5 years from the date of purchase, replacement/repair at no charge including shipping. Drag Knob: Easy to turn, but can come off, Drag Detents: No detents and drag knob isn’t stiff enough; you can knock the drag setting off accidentally, Handle: sweet wooden handle – could be longer with a bit more swell at the end, Kind of heavy for size, but feels durable, Cool Cork Drag system, intricate parts, very well made, #29 (tie) Aspen 350 LA $250 – reel, $120 x/spool, Here’s another reel that we thought would finish higher. Black is the standard color, however Loop now offers black or silver frames and spool colors in blue, green, orange, black or silver. The thoughtfulness and style of Ross reels are evident in the Gunnison. While our hats go off to Ross for coming up with something new, we wish the old Fly Start reels were still available. It looks fantastic when matched with classy graphite, fiberglass, and bamboo rods. The Sage Clickis the newest addition to Sage’s reel family. If the fish happens to follow the fly all the way to the shore and eats it close to the bank the Cheeky Boost would be my number one pick to spin up the 50 feet of line as quickly as possible. SPECTRUM LT Lightweight Features. Spool Release: Spool cap is actually the drag cap – comes off (careful as it could be lost) but at least it’s a cork drag with a quick-change system. doesn’t have a very strong drag, and the range of drag adjustment is also relatively narrow. What this does is allow you to fine-tune your drag to get it exactly where you want it. Regardless of your budget, we have a … All reels include a neoprene Sage reel pouch. At least the clicker keeps the reel from free spooling, the rest of the drag is going to be left up to the angler. Originally one of our samples reels had an issue with some of the bearings falling out. In our chart on Objective Observations, you will see that we list our tested weight, the manufacturer’s claimed weight, and also the weight of the reel fully loaded with backing, line, and a leader. The R Salt is designed for maximum performance and durability in a saltwater environment. A few things held it back from a top finish. We have also seen Lamson reels that have seen a lot of use become even more difficult to remove the spool, and this can be frustrating. Surprisingly enough, they are often right. Another nice touch is the name plate (which sits adjacent to the reel’s foot). If you are comfortable with having only 20-30 yards of backing on your reel, then you can often go down one reel size. The TFO BVK reels are precision machined in South Korea from bar stock aluminum. Today, Ross fly reels are manufactured in Colorado. Black is the standard color, however Loop now offers black or silver frames and spool colors in blue, green, orange, black or silver. The spool is easy to remove and the metal on metal clicker sounds pleasantly loud. $149.95 $221.25 . Retrieval Sound: Muted rubber on metal sound, Outgoing drag sound: Sounds a tiny bit louder going out, Spool Release: No Spool cap, No quick change – 4 tiny screws to get the spool off, a major project in the shop, much less out on the stream. Aspen Reels – $0 (including repair costs and return shipping). Outgoing drag sound: Slight muted sound going out. The Colorado LT set the bar for lightweight click pawl reels. The Eddy actually outscored the Rapid in a few categories, including spool to frame tolerance, drag detents, and drag sound. At $99.95 we think Lamson did a great job at making a reel that not only performs well, but is inexpensive. $150.00 . The Pflueger Medalist is fully machined in South Korea from heavy-duty aluminum. With its sealed drag the Access Mid-Arbor is virtually maintenance free, though oiling the spindle from time to time will help. All and all the RX is a very well thought out reel with purpose and elegance; lightweight, durable, and ready to perform. But several of the click style reels were like this, including the Orvis Battenkill, Redington Zero, and Bozeman SC 325. So if you are using heavy tippets, you are going to want a reel with a smooth drag. In trout fishing with these 5/6 weight reels, often you are stripping in small trout and releasing them without ever getting them “on the reel”. Like the Cimarron II reels, one flick of the wrist will send the Animas spinning (and retrieving line like crazy). Sage – Generally $25, (includes shipping). For example if I was streamer fishing and made a long cast, by the time I stripped the line in I might have 50 feet or more of line at my feet. Lamson – Generally $20, (including shipping). We used 20 lb. Both Nautilus and Galvan use high-tech self-lubricating plastic bushings that allow for near frictionless rotation and never need lubricating. Obviously the reels that enabled us to do this quickly and easily were awarded the best scores. For an extra $100 you may choose from several custom colors; Blue, Green, Orange, Pink, Red, Purple, or Violet. Perhaps the problem was that Fly Rise was too good, and started to compete with Ross’ higher end reels. – 15+ pounds!?? Start Up InertiaStart up inertia is the initial drag resistance you feel when you start to pull line off the reel. Spin: Surprisingly good for a “loud” reel (1.5-2 revs)? Many of the trout reels we tested have bronze bushings that need to be oiled now and then to keep them performing perfectly. In general, good detents are a lot better than none at all. The Cheeky’s range of drag adjustment held it back from the top, as it did in our “fun to fish/got to have” category. The 5/6 will easily take 150 yards of 20 pound with a 5-weight line, where the 4/5 will only take 85 yards. Here’s what we got: Although the larger arbor reels should have reeled in faster, we found by slapping the face of the Evolution we could retrieve line even faster than reeling. Had the 5 Plus been somewhat less expensive it could have easily made a podium finish. The C.F.O is a great reel that brings 140 years of tradition to the table. It will certainly last a lifetime…. While the Cheeky brand certainly appeals to a younger crowd, (with the two tone look and ski industry like marketing), I think older anglers would appreciate these reels if they give them a try. Keeping the drag knob is a true “ spinning ” type reels like Speedster! Series only comes in sage click vs ross colorado lt arbor sizes, large or Mid arbor simply observing the gap between spool and are... End reels ( unless entire fixture comes off quickly, can render your reel when are. Towards some new flies, your next fishing trip, or clear, and shipping ) score to. 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