When it concerns quality fly fishing gear, I'm not afraid to invest a few
extra bucks for quality. I'm also intelligent enough to look for
quality at a lower price if it's available. It only makes sense to
shop wisely. If I can conserve a few bucks now, I'll have a few
bucks later for a fishing trip or another piece of valuable fishing
On the flip side, it doesn't make sense to waste money on a perceived bargain,
then discover I would have been much happier to have spent a few extra
bucks for a better piece of equipment that would have performed
better. Some bargains just aren't bargains when we finally get the
opportunity to try them out.
With this mental framework in place, I was skeptical when Redington announced the
introduction of its new, fully machined, aluminum fly reel with a disk
drag for less than 150 of those precious bucks I was talking about.
After all, everyone knows a fully machined fly reel with a smooth disk
drag costs at least $200.00 or more, doesn't it? So, how could
Redington offer the same type of reel for less? There had to be a
Knowing I'm a skeptic at heart, the folks at Redington sent
me a Redington AS5/6B reel to try. They challenged me to
compare the Redington reel to the best reel I own and let them
know how it compared. Fair enough. I hate to do this to such
a nice folks, but they asked for it. I dug out my favorite
Lamson and Ross Gunnison reels for the comparison. Like
I said, they asked for it.
The first test was visual impression. In other words, does the reel look
nice? No perceivable difference there. The black anodized
finish was smooth and flawless. All the lettering was crisp, clear
and easy to read. All the machining was precise and pleasing to the
eye. It's an attractive reel that looks like it should cost much
more than it does.
The second test was drag and retrieve. If you own a Ross Gunnison, don't try
this at home. It isn't pleasant to watch adults cry over wasted
money. The Redington reel was as smooth as the Ross and the Lamson
with the line going out, and maybe just a hair smoother than the Ross
when the line was being retrieved. On all three reels, the drag
could be set to very slight pressure or all the way to
stop-the-reel. At every setting, the drag was smooth.
The third test was noise. Some folks get a kick out of noisy reels and the
crowd they gather when everyone within a half-mile can hear they have a
fish running line out. I'm just the opposite. I hate noisy reels.
Thankfully, since it isn't part of the drag mechanism, the
clicker on a Redington reel can be removed (they supply a tool for that
purpose). That's not the case with the Ross or Lamson reel.
Although the Lamson is a lot quieter than the Ross, it still has a light
click that I could live without. With the clicker removed, the
Redington is absolutely quiet. Of course, if you like the click,
you can leave it in. Then, the reel is at least as loud (annoying
to me) as the Ross Gunnison.
The fourth test was how easy the drag could be switched from left to right
retrieve. In this case, Lamson won. The Lamson drag was
switched by flipping a directional clutch that rides the reel
spindle. That one doesn't require tools. The Ross is one of
the old type reels that requires a manual, screwdriver, nut driver,
tweezers and at least 30 minutes of my valuable fishing time. I'm
told the new Ross reels are as simple as the Lamson. The Redington
reel requires a special tool (supplied, the same tool used to remove the
clicker). The process requires flipping the directional bearing
inside the spool, and took about four minutes to accomplish, counting the
time to read the instructions.
The fifth test was a weight comparison. I used the scientific approach of
holding a reel in each hand and comparing the weight. In this case,
the Redington was slightly heavier than the Ross, which was slightly
heavier than the Lamson. However, I have several other reels in the
same line class that cost more than $200.00 and are noticeably heavier
than the Redington. In all, the Redington AS5/6 reel is light
enough to balance well on my 8ft 4wt Loomis IMX rod. I don't call
that a heavy reel.
I checked the reel for spool wobble and found it tight and solid. All the
other hardware looks stout enough to endure years of hard use. The
drag knob is large enough to withstand heavy hands, but so easy to turn
that a small child shouldn't have any problem adjusting it throughout the
entire range of adjustments. Again, it has all the features of a
reel that costs at least twice as much.
My final impression is that the Redington reel is in the same quality class
as the Ross and Lamson reels I used for the comparison. I give it
an A+ for looks, drag smoothness and quietness. I give it an A- for
how easily the drag can be reversed, and a B+ for weight. Not bad
at all for a reel that costs less than $150.00. In fact, I prefer
it to my Ross.
Redington reels come in large and small arbor configurations. Color choices
are gold and black. Prices vary according to size and arbor style
(the one I tested retails for $135.00).
Redington Tackle Co.
Phone: 1-866-498-7243 or (206)-780-5465
12715 Miller Rd. NE #101
Bainbridge Island, WA 98110