About a month ago I got a chance to use this reel while fishing on the Bow River. Although I didnít get a chance to test the drag much on the river at that time, I got a chance to get a feel for it. It matched up very nicely with the ECHO3 rod Josh had it paired with. After I left Calgary, actually on the drive home back to Manitoba, I was on the phone trying to track down a reel for myself. Of course, no one in Winnipeg carries the reel yet, so I was forced to order one in. Normally I wouldnít just up and order something but I was quite impressed with the reel.
I received the my new Ion reel within a week of ordering and took it out to the Parklands over the course of May. It has seen some drag screaming rainbows and I have to say, I didnít even have to think about the reel. It says something when you donít have to worry about faulty or inadequate gear. What I really liked about the reel when fighting those big fish is no matter how slow the fish pulls, the drag doesnít jitter. Itís a smooth, constant pressure on your line. Thatís always my biggest test with reels. Iíve had reels in the past that had cork drags where it would stick and would be inconsistent. When fighting big fish you donít want gear that puts unnecessary strain on your hook and tippet.
The frame is something that ECHO calls a ďhybridĒ design. Theyíre cast aluminum and then machined, which gives you the benefits of machined bar stock without the high price. They have stainless steel internal components and are primarily designed for fresh water use. However, according to ECHO, they can be used in the salt providing extra care is taken to clean and lubricate them after each day on the water.
The reel has audible clicks when you reel and when it lets out line. I never used to like this on my reels but after using a few different reels without the clicking, Iíve discovered that they reel the line back up without you knowing. Itís a minor inconvenience but you donít know its doing it because it doesnít click and thereís hardly any resistance on the retrieval. Iíve had in my float tube where a rod Iím not using is tucked along side of me and my leg brushes up against the reel, which unknowingly retrieves line in. Iíve had a couple times where Iíve looked back and the line is so tight that the tip is ready to break. So I had to watch how I placed the reel down beside me.
ECHO has done a good job with the design of the reel as well. The spool is shaped that the line stacks itself fairly well by itself without you having to guide it onto the spool. They also have provided you enough space to fit a lot of backing or ample backing and two-hand spey lines, which are longer and larger than your typical fly lines. This to me suggests that there was a lot of thought put into the design of the reel. Not built just on looks, but built to be a fishermanís best friend on the water.
A pretty unique feature as well is the spool release knob. Unlike the little metal latch on most reels that are a pain when your fingers are numb, ECHO took a different approach. Theyíve added a knob that you loosen a few turns and this releases the spool. You donít have to turn the knob until it comes off completely, just a few turns is sufficient. Then you can slap the new spool in and tighten the knob, and youíre ready to rock again. Itís a very slick system!
The Ion is priced very competitively and has a strong foothold in the $70-100 market. ECHO has offered a high quality reel with great drag, large arbor, that is lightweight and balances nicely on your lighter fly rods. Another great thing, extra spools are reasonably priced as well at $30-40. So you can have one reel and multiple spools with different lines. You can even have one reel that can be used a spey reel and a single hand reel, just by swapping out the spools.
ECHO has offered the Ion in 4 different sizes to handle almost anything in your arsenal:
ECHO Ion 4/5 weight
ECHO Ion 6/7 weight
ECHO Ion 8/10 weight
ECHO Ion 10/12 weight
On the two larger sized reels they also offer an optional oversized drag knob made from solid brass. This knob (sold separately) adds 2.3 oz to the reel weight, helping the reel balance with the longest two-hand rods.
The little things that ECHO has thought of show that the designers of the reel are fishermen too. Each feature has a specific purpose and to have so many well thought out features in a sub-$100 reel is pretty awesome!
Since I ordered my reel, Iíve also ordered a few of the larger sized reels (8/10 weight) to replace my current reels on my heavier setups. Also, I ordered a couple spools for my current 6/7 reel.
I highly recommend this reel to novice and advanced anglers alike. I think the advanced anglers will appreciate some the features that ECHO has included in the Ion.
For more information check out ECHOís website and write-up on the reel.
ECHO Reels : Ion