Another reel that should be thrown in with the names above are the Bauer reels, they have some of the smoothest drags I have used. Some don't like the star wheel adjustment being on same side as the handle, but to me that is minor and only on some of their reels. The M's and MSL's and MZ's have very smooth drags.
And the Bauer Rogues have rear drag adjustment like most Fly reels. I rep Bauer, and I'll say this much John will not compromise in the quality department, no Rulon, only stainless bearings, and all machined deep anodized components. They are well engineered reels, and while they aren't large aspect ratio reels, they aren't wide spools. John made some of the earliest high end large arbor reels. By todays standards they are probably a mid-arbor, but they were radical at the time.
---------- Post added at 10:02 AM ---------- Previous post was at 09:58 AM ----------
Originally Posted by royalcoach
Well ..... I got my Speedster 2 today,,, what a beautiful little machine.
It will go on my 5wt Z-Axis.
Its all S&S's fault ... you talked me out of a Litespeed ... for now anyways.
Also got a Galvan Rush 4 today as well... another sweet reel.
This one will see duty on my 4wt Sage SLT.
Still shopping for a 3wt reel..... thinking Galvan Brookie or Torque ... or maybe the Nautilus FWX.
My Cortland Pro Cast mid-arbors and Okumas will be saved as back-ups or give-aways I guess.
My last big purchase of the winter looks to be a 490-4 Sage One
Gonna be eating ramen noodles and peanut butter sammiches for awhile....
Gonna have to cut back on the Woodfords too
Cortland has made a few good reels in it's history. The Current/Sterling were a great mid-priced ($150) large arbor machined reel. I sold hundreds of those and never had a return. The Retro reels were a great value in C & P, and the old magnum was a great entry level SW reel. But the Pro Cast was strictly a combo grade entry level reel, you're wise to step up on your Sages.
I own 8 Lamson reels including 3 LPs, 2 Radius, 3 Velocity from size 2 to size 4. I also own about 12 other reels. Pfluegers from the late 70's all the way through the latest high end reels. Anything less then about 15" trout is brought by hand (not on the reel) so to my way of thinking this discussion is not even interesting until you get into the size 6wt type reels. I've caught a million (slight exaggeration) kings, cohos and steelhead with Lamson reels and never had an issue with how the line winds on. Single hand and two hand. Seems to me that there are reasons to be suspicious of Lamson reels but how the line winds on is not one of them. I love the Lamson reels when saltwater striper fishing due to their light weight and good drag. When you spend 5 or 6 hours casting 50, 60 , 70' casts the weight starts to matter.
Unless you are fishing for BF tuna or sharks or Marlin (and such) any of the reels mentioned in the previous posts work. Pick the one you like and enjoy it. That makes more sense to me then trying to convince someone that their reel sucks.
I just bought a Litespeed Hard Allox II, size 3. I am aware of the problems with barreling as I own some other Lamson reels. Given how light they are, I've begun buying a size up from the rod size I use it for. The little bit of extra weight helps to better balance the rod. I come from the camp that believes fly reels have gotten too light in many cases. The size 3 I just bought will go on a 5wt rod. This means there is extra space on the spool and fixes all problems. Given that I caught it on close out new for only $165.00, I'm pretty darn happy!
I wonder if the redesigned spool on the Litespeed Series IV might help eliminate the line tumbling problem a few people seem to have.
The backing is now channeled into the curved arbor which seems like it might help.
The Hard Alox (Type III) anodizing process Lamson uses is tougher than any finish on any reel that I'm aware of. The only reels I'm aware of to use Type III were Charlton Reels. I can attest to the durability of Type III. My first Litespeeds had easily marred finishes so the move to Type III is genius. Most reels not painted have a Type II , or decorative anodizing which takes color more readily but is thinner and less durable. Type II is generally less than .001" thick where the Type III can be up to .003" thick with half of that being into the aluminum itself.