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Orvis Battenkill Disc Drag Reel
Orvis Battenkill Disc Drag Reel
Beautiful reel at a great price
Published by mjkirshner
12-18-2016
Author review
Performance
80%80%80%
8
Build Quality
80%80%80%
8
Appearance
90%90%90%
9
Value
100%100%100%
10
Overall
90%90%90%
9
Average 88%
Default Orvis Battenkill Disc Drag Reel

I just got a Loomis Shortstix 8/9 rod, but because it is so short and so light, the reels I had for 8 or 9 wt line all looked too large and made the rod handle-heavy. I have a Ross Flyrise 4 that looked and felt good on the rod, but I was concerned that the drag might not be up to the challenge of saltwater fish. An Orvis Access seemed like it might work, but it has been discontinued and replaced with Battenkill Disc. I read that Orvis upgraded the drag to one based on the new Hydros, supposedly with a maximum drag of 7 lbs, which I understand should be more than enough for light saltwater.

I was concerned about the arbor size, as I only have large arbor reels on my 8 and 9 wt rods, but decided to get the Orvis, since I could return it if I was not happy with it. It arrived a few days ago, and I was very impressed with the appearance. Honestly, I like the design of the Access a little better, but the Battenkill is pretty similar, and the finish is much nicer than I expected. The black nickel gives it a richness that the typical polished or anodized black aluminum just does not have. It has both outgoing and incoming sound, which is not too loud or plastic sounding.

Getting enough backing on the reel along with the 8 wt line was a challenge. I have never used gel spun before, and had read that it could have a tendency to slide on the arbor, preventing it from being reeled in, and that it can cut the coating on the fly line where they are tied together, and can also cut your hands. I avoided those problems by starting with a few yards of dacron on the arbor, then once I had a solid base of dacron, I switched to 100 yds of gel spun, and then back to dacron for another 100 yds. I joined the two types of backing with blood knots, and tested them pretty well. I'm not sure if there are any drawbacks to mixing dacron and gel spun, but it does avoid the problems at both ends. If there is a problem at the middle, I will only discover it if a fish gets that much backing off the reel. I have never had a fish get close to taking 100 yds of backing, especially in the kayak, and I figured that if I ever hook into one that takes the entire line and 100 yds of dacron, and gets to the gel spun, I'll deal with the problem then.

I fished the reel it for the first time yesterday, from a kayak in the Indian River, and landed four Crevalle jacks. They were not huge fish, but large enough to pull the kayak a little and put a heavy bend in the rod, but the reel was not stressed in the least. And I had no trouble reeling in the line on the smaller arbor. All in all, I am really happy with this reel. My other options were considerably more expensive and generally had far less drag. For the money that I spent on this one, I am thrilled with it. That having been said, I got the size IV (7-9) because of the weight, but if weight is not an issue, I'd go with the V (9-11). I guess the Battenkill is designed as a freshwater reel, and to get enough backing for salt, you probably need to move up one size. The beauty of buying Orvis, though, is that if I fish with it a few more times and decide that more backing capacity will outweigh the weight issue (pun sort of intended), I can exchange it with no hassles. I would definitely recommend this reel.
  #1 (permalink)  
By huronfly on 12-18-2016, 09:15 PM
Default Re: Orvis Battenkill Disc Drag Reel

Does this reel have the sound of a click pawl, like the previous model? I have the previous version of the battenkill V and love it. I gotta say, I'm a bit disappointed they would discontinue such an affordable and reliable click pawl... and I'm sure lots of others feel the same. There are enough disk drag reels on the market and some people prefer the simplicity and hand to hand combat of a clicker... I'm sure it is a fine reel but just my opinion I think this may have been the wrong move by orvis.
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  #2 (permalink)  
By el jefe on 12-18-2016, 09:20 PM
Default Re: Orvis Battenkill Disc Drag Reel

Quote:
Originally Posted by huronfly View Post
Does this reel have the sound of a click pawl, like the previous model? I have the previous version of the battenkill V and love it. I gotta say, I'm a bit disappointed they would discontinue such an affordable and reliable click pawl... and I'm sure lots of others feel the same. There are enough disk drag reels on the market and some people prefer the simplicity and hand to hand combat of a clicker... I'm sure it is a fine reel but just my opinion I think this may have been the wrong move by orvis.
Did Orvis discontinue the Battenkill click-and-pawl reel, replacing it with the disc drag model? Or is the disc drag model an addition to the line? The click-and-pawl model is still on Orvis's website, if that means anything.
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  #3 (permalink)  
By jayr on 12-18-2016, 09:31 PM
Default Re: Orvis Battenkill Disc Drag Reel

Quote:
Originally Posted by el jefe View Post
Did Orvis discontinue the Battenkill click-and-pawl reel, replacing it with the disc drag model? Or is the disc drag model an addition to the line? The click-and-pawl model is still on Orvis's website, if that means anything.
No, the click pawl is still available.

The disc drag is in addition to the click pawl.
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  #4 (permalink)  
By mjkirshner on 12-18-2016, 10:08 PM
Default Re: Orvis Battenkill Disc Drag Reel

Quote:
Originally Posted by jayr View Post
No, the click pawl is still available.

The disc drag is in addition to the click pawl.
Correct. The Access replaced a previous disc drag Battenkill. Now they "re-replaced" the Access with the Battenkill Disc but the Battenkill click/pawl is still made. I have never seen the Battenkill click/pawl, but the sound on the Battenkill Disc is very much like the Access was. Personally, I think they should have retained the Access model but just upgraded the drag, in part to avoid this kind of confusion. I'm not sure why they would want to have two different versions of the Battenkill, while eliminating the Access. Maybe the Battenkill was a more popular model and this gives buyers the option of a stronger sealed drag in a reel with the Battenkill name.

I agree that for freshwater, the click/pawl is a more attractive choice, but it would not be strong enough for saltwater. I imagine they felt that adding a saltwater option to the Battenkill line would be a good plan. Maybe so. I'm me, and they are Orvis, so I guess I will defer to their judgment.
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  #5 (permalink)  
By huronfly on 12-18-2016, 10:30 PM
Default Re: Orvis Battenkill Disc Drag Reel

Quote:
Originally Posted by jayr View Post
No, the click pawl is still available.

The disc drag is in addition to the click pawl.
Ahhh ok, that's good. My bad, I shouldn't have jumped to conclusions.
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  #6 (permalink)  
By mjkirshner on 12-18-2016, 11:13 PM
Default Re: Orvis Battenkill Disc Drag Reel

Quote:
Originally Posted by huronfly View Post
Ahhh ok, that's good. My bad, I shouldn't have jumped to conclusions.
There's that thing about when you assume...
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  #7 (permalink)  
By jayr on 12-19-2016, 05:34 AM
Default Re: Orvis Battenkill Disc Drag Reel

Quote:
Originally Posted by mjkirshner View Post
Correct. The Access replaced a previous disc drag Battenkill. Now they "re-replaced" the Access with the Battenkill Disc but the Battenkill click/pawl is still made. I have never seen the Battenkill click/pawl, but the sound on the Battenkill Disc is very much like the Access was. Personally, I think they should have retained the Access model but just upgraded the drag, in part to avoid this kind of confusion. I'm not sure why they would want to have two different versions of the Battenkill, while eliminating the Access. Maybe the Battenkill was a more popular model and this gives buyers the option of a stronger sealed drag in a reel with the Battenkill name.

I agree that for freshwater, the click/pawl is a more attractive choice, but it would not be strong enough for saltwater. I imagine they felt that adding a saltwater option to the Battenkill line would be a good plan. Maybe so. I'm me, and they are Orvis, so I guess I will defer to their judgment.

Years back when the Battenkill as made in England, there were two models. One was a click pawl and the other was the disc drag model. Both were great little bullet proof reels and looked almost identical from the outside, looking at the spool side. On the back, they differed in the drag knob and internally. I have both models and they are very rugged reels. My belief is they wanted to harken back to those model names as they are still very popular models.
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  #8 (permalink)  
By moucheur2003 on 12-19-2016, 07:39 AM
Default Re: Orvis Battenkill Disc Drag Reel

Another differeince is that the clicker Battenkill has a small arbor, whereas the new disc Battenkill has a mid-arbor. I am especially impressed with the way Orvis designers managed to preserve "classic" styling in a mid-arbor reel with a cutting-edge sealed drag.
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  #9 (permalink)  
By mjkirshner on 12-19-2016, 11:25 AM
Default Re: Orvis Battenkill Disc Drag Reel

Quote:
Originally Posted by jayr View Post
Years back when the Battenkill as made in England, there were two models. One was a click pawl and the other was the disc drag model. Both were great little bullet proof reels and looked almost identical from the outside, looking at the spool side. On the back, they differed in the drag knob and internally. I have both models and they are very rugged reels. My belief is they wanted to harken back to those model names as they are still very popular models.
One of the reasons I got the Battenkill is for the durability. I have a Lamson Guru that balances the rod well, but Yellowstone Angler commented that Lamsons are easily dented. This new reel is for use from my kayak, possibly in areas with rocks, riprap and mangrove roots, and it may get dropped, banged around or otherwise beaten up, and needs to be durable. Yellowstone commented in their 2016 5-weight shootout that the Access was very durable, and rated it better than the Hydros overall. They said the Hydros had an amazing drag but it was overkill for a 5-weight. I put all of that together, and concluded that the Battenkill Disc probably had the durability of the Access with a drag similar to the Hydros, which may be overkill for a 5 but not for an 8/9.

Quote:
Originally Posted by moucheur2003 View Post
Another differeince is that the clicker Battenkill has a small arbor, whereas the new disc Battenkill has a mid-arbor. I am especially impressed with the way Orvis designers managed to preserve "classic" styling in a mid-arbor reel with a cutting-edge sealed drag.
My thinking as well. The Battenkill is several ounces lighter than the Hydros, with a smaller diameter that fit the Shortstix better, so the mid-arbor seemed perfect. I think Lamson's contemporary designs make for some of the most attractive reels on the market, and I have a couple of them, but I wanted a more classic look on this particular rod. I have an 8' Grey's 4-wt with a vintage English-made Orvis Clearwater click/pawl reel, and I wanted to mimic the look of that setup in this 8/9, while still getting a sealed drag that can handle saltwater fish. This reel does that.
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