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.
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.
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”.
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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