Tackle review - Allen Fly Fishing XL 5/6 Fly Reel
Forum Manager Frank Whiton gives us his views on this fly reel from Allen Fly Fishing that seems to already have a strong following amongst forum members to see if they are justified.
I am sitting here at my desk looking at an Allen Fly Fishing XL 5/6 reel. The members of the North American Fly Fishing Forum that have this reel are praising it highly. I talked to Justin, the owner of Allen Fly Fishing, and he sent me a reel to take a look at. As soon as I removed it from the box there was no doubt that this was a quality built reel. It was light in hand and just felt solid. I could see right off why people were so high on this reel.
The first thing I did was weigh the reel and it comes in at 4.2 oz. on my postal scale. To me that is about the ideal weight for a 5/6 reel. Not so light to be flimsy but heavy enough to balance your rod and have longevity. The design is an open back style with three legs feeding out from the center of the frame. There are lightening holes drilled into the legs that add to the looks of the frame. It is a basic skeleton style frame and the foot is screwed to the frame. The shaft and housing for the brake is stainless steel. The stainless does contain some level of carbon and I would keep it protected. Some paste wax on the brake housing and a little grease on the shaft will keep things in order.
The spool has the same holes as the frame drilled around the perimeter. I tested the spool balance and it is well balanced. There is a very nice counter balance and the handle is some type of plastic. Both the handle and counter balance are fastened to the frame with screws. I did notice that all of the screws used on the reel are bright colored. My preference would have been blued or darken screw heads to better match the color of the reel. To remove the spool from the frame you have to unscrew a cap that screws onto the shaft end. This is a very positive way to fasten the spool to the frame. In fact it is much more positive attachment method than a lever or push button used on many reels. The cap is retained on the spool when it is unscrewed so you don’t have to worry about losing or dropping it if you change spools while fishing.
With the frame and spool together I see the tolerance between them is very high. There are no high or low spots in the spool rim. You won’t have to ever worry about getting your fly line caught between the frame and the spool. The knurling on the drag control is very well done with flat diamonds. It looks good and gives a good grip. The flat diamonds are much more comfortable on your fingers than some drag control knobs with sharp diamonds. The drag control knob and the spool removal cap are high gloss and give a nice contrast to the semi-gloss of the rest of the reel.
The drag from low to high is just a little more than three quarters of a turn. The low end of the adjustment still has a slight amount of drag. Probably just about right to keep the spool from over travel when you pull line off. The maximum drag setting is not locked down but it is more than adequate for a reel of this size. The drag knob is a good size for operating with out looking.
Over all this is a heck of a lot of reel for the asking price. It is made on CNC equipment from bar-stock aluminum and stainless steel. The finish is some type of electro-plating and looks great. Allen Fly Fishing advises that the finish is adequate for fresh and saltwater fishing. It has no incoming click which I really appreciate. The outgoing click is soft and pleasant, very nice. Other features include 2+1 BB, 1:1 gear ratio, exposed palming rim and easy right to left hand change over. The XL reel also comes in a 3/4 and a 7/8 Model. Soon there will also be a XL 9/10.
This is a top notch reel from overseas and I don’t think anyone will be disappointed. It may be the best reel available at this price point. This reel and others are available from Allen Fly Fishing at http://www.allenflyfishing.com/ . You need to keep checking Allen Fly Fishing for specials and other new products.
Frank E. Whiton
Manager, North American Fly Fishing Forum.
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