Gear Review: Orvis Hydros SL Reel

For the past six months, I’ve been fishing with the new Orvis Hydros SL reel. It has become my favorite reel.

I generally don’t overly invest in a reel, but it has been truly eye-opening to fish with it. A few reasons:

  • A fully-sealed drag-clutch system. That means no maintenance, and if I have to fiddle with tangles at the end of the fly rod, I don’t have to go to the bank. I just put the reel in the water. For you salt fans, this would be a great feature, too.
  • Feels solid. It’s not a heavy reel, but when you change the drag setting or reel in, it just acts and sounds like a well-engineered piece of machinery. Very smooth when you reel in. Almost sexy. There, I said it.
  • Extra-large arbor. That allows for a faster retrieve. That comes in handy when a big fish is pausing to catch its breath and I can quickly use a side retrieve to get it closer to me before it surges again.
  • The sound of its drag system. This is an aesthetic thing, but I like how the reel sounds when a fish pulls. I have one reel that makes no noise. Another reel has that ol’ school click and pawl sound, which annoys me after a bit. The Hydros SL emits a very satisfying, resonant and soft click.

I expect the reel will go on sale as we get closer to the holidays. It’s a great reel. My go-to one now.


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