Nautilus unveiled its lightest reel to date, the X-Series ($275 to $395), a machined, large-arbor with a strong “X” shaped housing designer Kristen Mustad says makes the entire unit incredibly strong and better protects the spool. The reel also features Mustad’s new SCF-X drag comprised of a sealed Teflon and carbon fiber disc and oversized knob for easy adjustments.
Though the series hit the market in late 2014, Allen Fly Fishing’s Omega XLA ($575 to $675) reel series steadily grew in popularity through 2015, likely because of its sealed 5-disc carbon drag system. Available in a variety of heavyweight models (7-weight through 15-weight) and several color combinations, the Omega is unquestionably Allen’s new flagship reel for fighting big fish.
The Ampere is part of Scientific Anglers’s reenergized (pun intended) reel lineup. With three models to select from, the base model is a die-cast workhorse in either a 5-weight($90) or 8-weight ($100) version. The Ampere Electron is a machined reel available in 4-weight ($165), 6-weight ($175), and 8-weight ($185) sizes. The cream of the crop is the Ampere Voltage, a machined-aluminum large arbor reel with a clean, sleek look available in 4-weight ($205), 6-weight ($215), 8-weight ($225), and 10-weight ($235) sizes.
Redington is also making waves from a design perspective with the Behemoth ($110 to $130). The company says the deep-V spool design allows for greater backing capacity. The reel’s light weight and little to no tolerance between the spool and housing gives this die-cast model the look and feel of a completely machined large arbor. It even comes with what Redington is calling “the most powerful drag in its class.”
Sage made some cosmetic upgrades to its popular CLICK ($260 to $300) reels. The upgraded versions are still machined from aluminum, but have an arbor the company says is 40 percent larger than previous models, both for better capacity and retrieval speed.
While it was the new Nautilus reel that took home top honors as best new fly reel in the fresh- and saltwater categories at last year’s annual fishing tackle trade show, the return of an old classic, the Pflueger Medalist ($120 to $140), also had people talking. Many anglers remember learning to fly fish on older versions of this reel, but when manufacturing relocated overseas decades ago, quality control suffered and production stopped. Now, with new owners and a new approach to products and customers, Pflueger upgraded the Medalist’s materials and assembly, but kept what we all liked about these reels the most – a loud drag.
Pflueger’s sister company, Hardy, also unveiled an updated addition to its popular reel lineup, the Ultralite CA DD ($275 to $420). Machined from aluminum, the enclosed drag is Hardy’s proprietary carbon fiber design. The reels are available in freshwater and saltwater sizes, with a black or titanium finish.
For anglers looking for a machined reel at a die-cast reel price, L.L. Bean created the Double L ($130 to $150)– a large arbor, machined aluminum reel with a sealed carbon drag and interchangeable retrieve direction available in three sizes; 3/4-weight, 5/6-weight, and 7/8-weight.
Similarly, Orvis redesigned and renamed its Hydros reel to the Hydros SL ($200 to $260). According to the company, the new models have a new arbor design that results in a 12 percent line-retrieval increase, a stronger drag system, and no start-up inertia, which means the drag engages fluidly and doesn’t start-and-stop according to the whims of a running fish.
While Tibor doesn’t have any new reel designs to debut in 2016, the company did say it will have some new hub colors – neon pink, sunset orange, and royal blue – which when combined with contrasting housing colors, allow anglers to replicate things like their favorite sports team color. It’s also changing the spool port pattern to a design that looks more dynamic and is lighter.