After spending a lot of time researching and weighing all the various options for a light weight reel to suit my 2wt rod, I decided to go with a Cortland Retro 1.
I have used it now for a couple of outings and landed a couple of 12in browns who let me test the drag a little. I have had zero issues with it and find it perfect on my 2wt rod. Here is a comparison between the other 'light' reels I currently have in my quiver.
All 4 reels are machined from Aluminum & are exceptional in their finishes. All 4 complement a light rod very well.
The Ross has a central drag knob, while the CFO and the Cortland have their drag knobs near the reel foot. The Orvis BBS has the drag knob near the base of the reel. I did not see any major pros / cons of the location of the drag knob. I typically set the drag prior to casting & leave it there. There have been a few times when the line has wrapped around the drag knob of my Orvis BBS. This has been a rare occurrence & likely due to the fault of the caster!
The Cortland Retro has a click & pawl drag while the rest have disc drags. The Cortland drag components are all steel and very well machined. The Pawls are nicely thick and fit well onto their mounting pins. The Ross has Delrin discs while the two Orvis reels have brass components in their drag systems. I have yet to face any issues with either the Delrin or Brass based systems in the type of fishing I use these reels for.
Here are some dimensional details -
Cortland Retro 1
- For 2 /3 / 4 weight lines. Dia = 2.87" / Width = 1.01" / Spool inner width = 0.62in. Foot width = 0.5" / Foot length = 2.39"
- For 2/3/4 weight lines. Dia = 2.89" / Width = 1.1" / Spool inner width = 0.55in. Foot width = 0.52" / Foot length = 2.42"
Orvis BBS II
- For 3/4/5 weight lines. Dia = 2.8" / Width = 1.1" / Spool inner width = 0.67in. Foot width = 0.52" / Foot length = 2.49"
Ross Cimarron 1
- For 3/4/5 weight lines. Dia = 2.95" / Width = 1.18" / Spool inner width = 0.78in. Foot width = 0.52" / Foot length = 2.4"
My ratings (best to worst)
: Cortland -> Orvis CFO 123 -> Orvis BBS II -> Ross Cimarron 1
: Orvis CFO 123 -> Cortland -> Orvis BBS II -> Ross Cimarron 1
Fit of the spool onto the reel frame
: Orvis CFO 123 -> Cortland -> Ross Cimarron 1 -> Orvis BBS II. I have fiddle more with the BBS II everytime I remove & re-install the spool onto the frame. The Orvis CFO 123 is like closing the door on my BMW M3..it feels like it was carved from one block of metal & fit is supremely satisfying from a mechanical engineering standpoint.
I am planning to use the Retro with my 2wt rod which has the uplocking reel seat and it fits perfectly. However, on my Orvis Superfine 4 wt, it does not fit very well. I believe the issue lies in the mis-match in the curvatures of the cortland reel foot and the Superfine's reel seat (which uses a sliding band). Here are a couple of pics of the reels on the Superfine. At present I use the Orvis CFO, which fits it like a glove.
In closing, if you are in the market for a new
click and pawl reel to complement your Bamboo or light weight rod, the Cortland Retro would be a great option. However, if you have the budget, a used Orvis CFO (British made) or a Hardy flyweight or a Abel Trout light could be a great option.
I hope this helps others who might be on the lookout for a traditional looking light weight fly reel. If you require any other details, send me a PM.