Product Reviews

Redington Reel

Redington AS5/6B Reel

by Al Campbell

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 gear.

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 catch somewhere.

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.

Redington AS5/6B Reel

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). ~Al Campbell

Redington Tackle Co.
Phone: 1-866-498-7243 or (206)-780-5465
12715 Miller Rd. NE #101
Bainbridge Island, WA 98110

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