Originally Posted by silver creek
My opinion is that fly reels are basically the same except for two features - appearance and drag. Appearance or the look of the reel is a personal preference but drag performance can be measured.
For trout reels, I submit that the most important feature of the drag is the percent start up momentum. That is the percentage above the drag setting that it takes to get the drag to release the line. For example, if the drag is set right at 5 lbs of tension, and the start up momentum was 10%, it would take 5.5 lbs of pull before the drag released line and then the drag would keep releasing line at the set 5 lbs.
Fly Fish America did a test of trout reels back in the 1990s and the lowest and most consistent drag was the Ross San Miguel. Its start up momentum was less than 5% and if I remember correctly it was about 2 - 3 %. No other reel was even close. Some reels had start up momentums of 25%. So my vote goes to the San Miguel. I happen to own several of them and for a trout reel, I have not found a reel that compares. BTW it is also anodized so it can be used in salt water, although I don't know who would.
The only negative is that it was made before large arbor reels became the standard. For me, it is still the reel to beat. Ross just couldn't sell enough of them. The cost was too high.
I'm going to expose my ignorance, but have to ask why such a low start up inertia is even valued in fly fishing? Yea its a nice thing to have, and shows a inherent quality in engineering........ but please explain how it helps me catch fish. I fail to understand this commonly accepted correspondence. Many fly reels that are used to pursue fish of this size are not going to snap even the lightest tippets regardless of price. This very well might be the opinion of a in-experienced angler, but I tend to think the market has sold many of us on a theory that does not have a practical purpose.
I first entered into this hobby equipped with a lamson low inertia drag reel. The only day I have ever needed it was the same day I talked to the sales guy I purchased it from.