Ross F1 Reel Review

April 18, 2011

in Andros South, Gear

Ross F1 Reel Review

We like it.

Back in September we ran an introductory post with information about Ross’s new F1 reel – with video straight from the show floor at IFTD.  Brad Befus gave us all kinds of detail about the design of the F1, and that was awesome…but last month we got to fish one on the flats of South Andros, so today we’re back with our on-the-water impressions of the F1.

Construction

It’s light.   Most of the week we fished the #4 F1 (currently the biggest one) on a Sage 790-4 Xi3.  The rig balanced perfectly with the Xi3, which is a pretty light rod, especially in the 7 weight.

It’s super stiff. Ross says that the carbon fiber spool support makes the reel rigid.  We don’t know what makes it rigid, but yeah…it’s really hard to flex this thing.  This matters when you’re dealing with strong, hot fish like the bonefish on South Andros – you don’t want your reel flexing when you’re cranking hard on a big fish.

We like the machined foot. The reel foot isn’t screwed on – it’s machined from the same chunk of metal as the frame.  This might seem like a silly technical detail, but it’s a pretty big deal actually.  We’ve seen multiple guests’ reel frames come unscrewed from the reel foot in the middle of a battle, and it’s not pretty, at all.

The handle is mounted way on the outer edge of the spool. This isn’t incredibly significant, other than the fact that it has a large arbor to start with.  It feels ‘really large arbor’ – each crank of the handle covers quite a lot of ground.

Drag Performance

The engagement is super smooth. It takes just a smooth, easy pull to start line coming off the reel.  That doesn’t matter so much on South Andros where 15 pound tippet is common – but it’s definitely something to consider if you’re considering a smaller size F1 for fishing in 6x-Land.

Drag performance was extremely consistent. Whether it was dry or dunked underwater (yes, we dunk reels when testing them because we think it’s hilarious that some fly reels perform different when they’re wet…really?), tight drag or loose drag, beginning or end of the week, we could tell pretty much no difference in the performance of the drag.  No, a week at a fishing lodge doesn’t say much about how this reel is going to perform in a year (we’ll let you know in a year), but lots of drags change over the course of the conditions we just ran through, and the F1 didn’t.

We like the linear drag adjustment. Ross talks about the 56:1 mechanical advantage in the drag adjustment, and we’re not quite sure what that means.  We do know that uniform turns of the drag knob resulted in uniform changes to the drag, which translates to “when we had to crank down on a big fish, turning the knob did what we thought it would”.

Conclusion

Pretty simple – we loved the Ross F1, and couldn’t come up with any issues at all with its design or performance.  It’s a great looking, light, solid, high performance reel that we’d love to reach for any time we’re headed out on the flats.

In the larger sizes, it’s priced in the same ballpark as other comparable (mostly saltwater) reels – $525 for the #4 we tested.  In the smaller sizes, it looks more expensive compared to the other options out there – $475 for the #2 that matches your 5 weight.  It’s an incredible reel – in the smaller sizes you’ll just have to decide how much you want to spend.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Doug Hackett August 7, 2011 at 4:03 pm

I have the F1 and all the same opinions, love it until the plastic clicker gear broke. Yes thats right plastic gear on a $600 dollar reel, how could such an awesome reel have one cheap part atttatched. Waiting to hear back from ross, do not plan on sending for repairs every 3 times i use it.

Steve June 26, 2012 at 9:17 am

This is happening to multiple F1 users. Mine also failed. Can’t believe Ross constructed that out of plastic. This will be a BIG recurring issue.

Andrew Perring January 12, 2013 at 12:54 am

Ross F1

I was hoping you could email me your thoughts

Here in New Zealand a new distributor has taken on Ross Reels. I am the first to buy the F1 4. Today I put the reel to its first test on my new 8wt. The drag pressure from the reel seemed to work well with the rod on kingfish. But at full drag I can still pull line from the reel by hand while there is nice pressure it isnt what I would call to difficult. The reel is manufactured as having a infinate drag so I therefore assumed I would be able to lock the reel up tight.

I am off to Argentina to chase dorado so want to make sure the reel is doing what it should. Not being able to find this out localially I am hoping to get your feedback on just how much drag I can expect from this reel. Your reviews seems very straight up.

Thanks in advance Andrew Perring

andrew January 15, 2013 at 2:29 pm

Hi Andrew, thanks very much for stopping by!

I just cranked the drag on my F1 to its maximum setting, and while I’d call it ‘very stout’ I could certainly pull line off the reel. On the other hand, I don’t think own I reel that I can’t pull line off of, and that maximum setting is heavier than any I’d use fishing.

I’ve also never fished for dorado in Argentina though…

Regardless have a great trip.

Andrew Perring June 20, 2013 at 4:49 pm

Hi Steve

Back from catching some very impressive Dorado. Dialed up to its max the drag on the Ross F1 trurned out to be very capable in its fish stopping abilities. To a point I was applying to much stopping power my 30lb leaders couldnt handle it. I ended up dialing back the pressure. In conclusion the drag of the F1 teamed with a 8 wt will provide more than enough smooth stopping power for even the worlds most powerful freash water fish.

On the down side the handle fitting could do with some improvements. Held together with a 50cent screw that required a bit of fiddling to fix. Had I lost that 50cent screw in the remote areas I was fishing I would have had to spend $20000 to fly back to my retailer to get it sorted.
Ross you have a suburb product dont drop the ball with cheap screws and plastic clickers

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