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  1. #1

    Default Best New 4wt, 5wt, 6wt reels?

    I thought I'd start a thread of actual feedback that may be of value to readers seeking to purchase a new reel in the titled three weight classes.

    For this opinion survey I'd like to focus on 2018, current production, reels that can be purchased new as of today. I'd also like to garner feedback from actual users, rather than, reels of interest that we may be looking to acquire but have not yet done so.

    Not all series/models of reels are a best fit or offering for each individual weight class - so let's separate them into 4wt preference, 5wt preference, etc.

    Lastly, please quantify why you are happy with, chose by comparison, and what your thought process was in the acquisition (need vs want, etc).

    Of particular note: Best is subjective, quality, value, etc. as is cost variance, so let's simply stay open to any reel without drilling down into individual categories of price point, drag style, etc.

    Of particular feedback interest to me personally would be: Ross-- Gunnison, Evo R/LTX, Animas-- Abel SDF, TR, Super Series-- But of course - Hatch, Bauer, Lamson, Nautilus, Sage and others are obviously welcome input as well.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Best New 4wt, 5wt, 6wt reels?

    I'll go first but will likely be a little repetitious as most of these reels have been written about previously. As I always comment, regardless of what we like, often the rod is the chooser of its reel by virtue of balancing weight, capacity and also aesthetics. Not to mention habitat of intended use. As I wish to bring fish to hand as quickly as possible for safe release, I preferer reels with fine tunable micro adjustable and predictable drags except on my smallest stream outfits. And, for trout, I predominately fish #'s 4, 5 & 6.

    My 8 1/2'/#4 Sage ONE spring creek special is matched with a Ross Evo R 4/5 very happily. At the time the R was the only Evo and while still my preference, I like the Evo LTX 5/6 which I have on SKY 9'/#4 almost equally. These new Ross reels are beautiful and meticulously designed and built, perfect aspect ratio proportioned and a smooth, quit joy to fish.

    My current dominant 9'/#5 East or West is NRX. Its current reel is a black Hatch Finatic 4+ which matches its reel seat hardware and again is spot on in gravity neutral balance. Another stacked and sealed drag module design with a captive, failure proof, threaded spool retainer like the Evo R, these have both proven totally reliable.

    For mid sized rivers I've been extoling the virtues of Sage's 8 1/2'/#5 X, a very special fly rod which I actually strongly prefer over its 9' stable mate. Maybe because of it being so feather light (lighter than my 8 1/2'/#4 ONE by a tad), or maybe because of its name, 'X', it sports Nautilus's light but potent Xm..double X.

    Six weight duty is shared by another Loomis NRX and Sage Method. They share a reel too as both favor an IT Gold. They enjoy the privilege of being mounted with Abel's SDF 6/7 in 'raw graphite (Slate) grey'. While not lights out superior to its sibling, Ross Evo R with which it shares some design elements and manufacturing facility in Colorado, it is just one prefect example of what a fly reel can be, truly elegant in every way.

    I am in the market for a new reel in the 5.7/8 oz. class which I will further explore in a month at the Edison Show. Allen Omega, Taylor Revolution and Bauer are three contenders I've identified. While I like US made reels and European ones too I have not problem with western designed and quality built Asian reels. Where I do have issue is with fundamental flaws in design; too much flex, spring loaded spool release and other less reliable systems and particularly in too wide/shallow aspect ratios. There are so many good reels I have zero tolerance for the poor ones.

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  4. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Western Portal Sequoia National Forest / Kern River.

    Default Re: Best New 4wt, 5wt, 6wt reels?

    Quote Originally Posted by sweetandsalt View Post
    Where I do have issue is with fundamental flaws in design; too much flex, spring loaded spool release and other less reliable systems and particularly in too wide/shallow aspect ratios. There are so many good reels I have zero tolerance for the poor ones.
    ...and a Merry Christmas to you too. I bought eight reels this year that would fit into the OP's frame work, but I can see where we're headed.


  5. #4

    Default Re: Best New 4wt, 5wt, 6wt reels?

    Trout Trekker, I'd be interested in the feedback you have on the reels you purchased this year if you wouldn't mind. Thanks!

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Byron Bay...easternmost point of Australia

    Default Re: Best New 4wt, 5wt, 6wt reels?

    OP,of more interest is what species are you targeting? in why would you use an expensive high end reel for small stream fishing when that exercise really only requires a line holder? Over to you...

  7. #6

    Default Re: Best New 4wt, 5wt, 6wt reels?

    Dynaflow, On this side of the pond, particularly in the West, we often target small (20-40' width), medium (40-70' width), and larger water (could be 100-300' + width) (all solely my definitions of water size), which can often hold small, medium, and larger fish and do so on predominantly 4wt, 5wt, and 6wt gear (small streams and high elevation, spring, creeks aside, as most, if like me, approach those with 1-3 wt gear) this instance, although I did not specify, I had trout in mind as these weights most common quarry-definitely not larger salt type usage or greater species of fish. Granted, many may use a 5 or 6wt for warm water species as well, or even light salmon usage....but my intent was to spark a conversation about peoples opinions of the newest reel offerings in those weights with trout in mind. And with that, my intent was to exclude any price categories as a variable...IE: cheaper to most expensive are all eligible for comment as long as they fall into latest reel offerings and are not favorites from the past...again, the intent was to spark reviews from owners of the newest reels (of all price points ) for readers that may be considering a new reel purchase to get real world feedback...realizing that many reels may have already been written about, while other new releases may have only been in market a very short while and have little available feedback from actual owners of the products. Click pawl...fine...super new tech drags...fine....the topic was not meant to be a debate of intended or needed usage, or to garner any recommendations for myself, but rather, to simply obtain input and review of latest reels by actual users for those potentially looking to purchase a new reel, as I was assuming it could be a nice gauge for readers looking to do so.

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  9. #7

    Default Re: Best New 4wt, 5wt, 6wt reels?

    And, dynaflow, you have read enough of my reel rantings to know that fishing for large, wild trout with room to run, I like scaled down versions of the same reels you and I fish the flats with. For similar reasons too. Sure, I'm pleased to fish with a 'line holder' CFO on a tiny brook but want a rim and a drag on the Henry's Fork...gotta land those leaping hard running bows before the pelicans get um.

    And trout trekker, I'm not setting up some hyper critical put-down-the-Waterworks thing here. I'm even seriously considering one of your Bauer's for my Igniter despite the star drag knob being on the 'wrong' side.

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  11. #8

    Default Re: Best New 4wt, 5wt, 6wt reels?

    Big fan of the Ross Evo R- in fact, I favor it over my Hatch 4+ to a small degree- mostly for the larger arbor and faster line pick up.

    The reel that continues to impress me- and that I feel represents a good value for the money, as well as making a design statement which marks new ground as far as I know- the the Nautilus XM. I picked this reel up for a song, and each time I fish it, I end up being struck by it's light weight and utter smoothness. You do feel the lack of frame frequently- and that seems to put some people off, judging by how often I see them for sale "barely used"- but this is only during non-fishing situations. While fishing, the design actually lends itself to easier palming- though the smooth drag renders this optional, of course. All three reels mentioned have excellent light drag control as well- a necessity in a trout reel.

    Sent from my SM-N960U using Tapatalk

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  13. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Isle of Lewis, UK.

    Default Re: Best New 4wt, 5wt, 6wt reels?

    I'll stick my neck out a little here, as I have a #2/3 model Wychwood River & Stream, not a #4/5 as per the thread. However, it's an interesting enough reel to add here and, I read, the #4/5 is equipped with a stronger drag than the #2/3 (which I've found stops overruns fine, fish under 1 lb being played by hand anyway).
    Also, I don't know how widely available Wychwood tackle is in the State, if at all? To my mind, amongst UK companies, Wychwood rates with Snowbee in producing decent, well thought out and executed tackle for the middle market. On its release it was the lightest fly reel in the world, the #2/3 weighing in at just 1 oz (50g), the #4/5 at 1 1/4 oz (58g) and retailed around the 120 mark (c. $160), including a leather/sheepshear/canvas pouch when released in 2012. It's still selling at that price but a currently falling pound will help American buyers if interested in something a bit different ....

    There are two primary attractions to the R&S reels for me. One is the light weight, as mentioned. This has been partially achieved by greatly reducing the spindle length and making the spool's recess 'inverted egg-shaped' to maintain stability despite the shortened centre pin. A highly ported bar stock aluminium spool and skeletal cage keep the weight minimal.
    The whole doesn't feel flimsy or delicate and mine, in Gunsmoke, has performed well and remains unscathed by normal use.

    My second reason for buying was largely aesthetic, for its 'steampunk' looks. This site has 4 photos of a silver model to give an idea if you're not familiar. They now also produce a black model, too. I appreciate that this slightly weird fusion of old and new styles won't appeal to all. It does to me but I've always been a bit left field in tastes.

    Is it amongst the best 4/5/6 weights? I really don't have the experience to say but, for its quality and style it must be a contender in the mid-priced reel range. I'm certainly happy with mine.

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  15. Default Re: Best New 4wt, 5wt, 6wt reels?

    Here is my $.02 based on my personal experience with some of the reels referenced in the original post.

    Ross-Evo-R- had a 5/6 on a 9’5wt Radian. It was nice, but I didn’t like how light it was-yes I like heavier reels. I also wasn’t a fan of the drag wheel/knob, so I unloaded it. That said I really want to check out the Evolution LTX.

    Hatch-4+ Finatic Gen 2. Really like it a lot and have it paired to my 9’ 4wt BIIIx. I like how well built it is. It is solid, has a great, smooth drag, and seems to me to be dimensionally correct width : diameter. Cannot go wrong with this reel based on my experiences with it. I believe it can be equally matched to a 9’ 4 or 5 wt rod.

    Lamson Micra 3- I think it’s a decent reel, but not terrific. Very light, and for my use as a reel matched to my Sage XP 6wt. with a floating Streamer line it’s great. Got it at a discount and think it fits the bill.

    Abel-These are my favorite reels. I ordered the SDF sight unseen early in the year in the 4/5 and I’m debating whether to keep it or not. It’s incredibly well made and definitely overkill for a 4 or 5 wt reel. I bought it to match with my 8 1/2 foot 5wt BIIT. I’ve never even mounted it to this or any rod. My issue with it is that seems too wide for the not so wide diameter of the reel. It feels a little ‘off’. I honestly prefer my SD (gen 1 version) Abels despite the improvements in the SDF including larger drag knob, reduced weight and captured spool release nut. To each his own.

    Abel Super 5/6 (new 2017 release) is by far my favorite trout reel. While it is a bruiser by today’s standards at ~6.3 oz, it’s dimensionally perfect- to me. Narrow spool with a ‘tallish’ feel. I love it. It’s matched up to my Radian 9’ 5wt and replaced my previously mentioned Evo-R. This reel looks, feels, and sounds amazing. I still own several older Abel Super N series reels but this is the new favorite.

    There are more good reels on the market today than I own rods to mate them with. I still like my old Abel TRs, Abel Creeks my Galvans, Hardy, and others.

    Hopefully this helped with the research...
    Last edited by tln1313; 12-23-2018 at 09:19 PM. Reason: Edit typeos

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