Reels man, what do they even do? Hold line and look pretty? Well, not exactly. I’ve had my fair share of reels that suddenly lock up while I am fighting a fish. You can only have that stupid small handle screw falling so many times. Plus, I think fundamentally, fly fisherman crave the best of the best gear. It is why we drool over the thousand dollar rods, spend hundreds on top end lines, and, of course, purchase reels that our wives chastise us about. However, a few years back, I was lucky enough to trick my wife into thinking a good reel was a necessity for my happiness and purchased a Ross F1 reel for myself. I had, of course, waited for a big sale to come before this purchase, I didn’t want to be stabbed when the wife looked at the credit card statement. On mail day I was giddy with excitement as I peeled back the layers of packaging. In front of me stood this beautiful and slick reel ready for years of abuse on the water.
Though many days were spent using this beautifully polished, silver and red reel, all good things must come to an end. After a few seasons of smashing it off rocks, leaving it half submerged in stinky water, and never once doing the proper maintenance, my Ross Reel was on its last legs. I contacted Ross directly and explained the issues I was having with my F1. They insisted I send the reel down to Colorado for them to examine. After a week or so, I received an email back from a kind woman explaining to me that my reel would be warrantied and I was entitled to a new reel. As the F1 was a top of the line reel, I was offered to choose between any reel I would like from the Ross line up. I, of course, picked the most expensive one available to me, the Ross Evolution R. All that was required of me was to pay a replacement fee of $72 and I was set.
Upon receiving my brand spanking new Ross Evolution R, I immediately noticed how unbelievably beautiful it was. I went with the same silver finish I had with my prior F1, but this reel had no other colors that went along with it. Found within the box was some extra stickers that my mini fridge is now adorned with. When taking the reel out of the box, I quickly noticed how light the reel felt in my hand. It felt almost half as heavy as the F1 but just as robust and durable. Secondly, I noticed the very large drag adjustment disc. According to Ross, this is meant to be used as a way to palm the drag system instead of fines-singly turning a small dial. Another differentiating feature of this reel is that when removing the spool you will be required to turn a small dial a bunch of rotations to access it. I found this quite annoying, as my previous reel had an auto-eject button that popped off the reel quickly and easily. Continuing with the drag system, it has a very sensitive adjustment range, meaning an angler can really dial in the drag that they want for that particular water source they are fishing. Another interesting point would be the canvas handle grip, which Ross claims to have used to lower the weight even further. I mean, to me it did not feel as strong typical wood or aluminum materials, but so far it has held up just fine. Plus, it looks kinda cool.
Alright, so lets get down to it. Should you buy this reel? Well, shall we go over the pros and cons? Yep, here we go:
Weight – This reel is seriously light! I couldn’t believe how little this reel weighed when I picked it up. Compared to the F1, the Evolution R barely affected by rod balance. The F1 made my rod feel very bottom heavy. This meant my arm became fatigued quickly having to cast with a heavier reel below my casing arm.
Sealed Drag – Because the Evolution R is a sealed drag system, it means you will get less gunk inside of it. Furthermore, sealed drag reel systems allow you to take it on salt water and not have it get destroyed.
Large Arbor Drag System – At first, I was really skeptical about this giant wheel looking thing on the side of this reel. In all honesty, I didn’t even know it was the drag system at first. However, when you’re fighting a big fish it is so nice being able to quickly adjust your reel with the palm of your hand.
Durability – Yup, I’ve dropped it. A bunch. Don’t see any dents or scratches, she still looks like the day I got her. Time will tell how she does in the long run, but for now, I am impressed.
Warranty – Seriously. Ross Reels out did themselves when I was dealing with their warranty. They got back to me right away and kept me in the know the whole way of the process. It was effortless on my part, and living in Canada didn’t affect the process one bit.
Price – $455 USD is a painful price to pay for a reel. However, if you’ve been fly fishing for a while you probably need the best gear out there. This reel is worth it, pay for what you get!
Spool Release System – I’m not sold on the fact I need to unscrew this odd cap to get my spool off. What happens if I lose it? I’m boned. I much prefer a quick release system.
Lack of Color Choice – I think this might be nit-picking but you can only get this reel in certain colors. Lame. I’ve seen what Ross has done with their Animas reels, adding different colors for the spool release cap. Would be nice to have a chance to make a more unique set up.
Well, should you buy this reel? Duh! The Ross Evolution R is one of the best reels on the market. I would stack it up against reels of much higher cost any time, any day. However, the reel does come at a hefty price of its own. If you have the money, do yourself and drop a few bills on this beautiful reel. You won’t be disappointed!