Ross F1 Reel Review

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.


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”.


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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  1. Doug Hackett says

    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.

  2. Steve says

    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.

  3. Andrew Perring says

    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

  4. andrew says

    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.

  5. Andrew Perring says

    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

  6. Andrew Perring says

    Hi Steve.
    Well the Ross f1 packed in within the first season. I only fish with this reel on specific occasions so it doesn’t take any type of hard wear or abuse.
    The drag gave out completely and like so many experience the clicker also stopped working. With a number of strange noises coming from the reel I finially sent it back to Ross reels.
    I now have the reel back and it is working better than ever. The reels drag is a level up on what it had been. Makes me wonder how many of these Ross reels are arriving out of the box and not performing to their full potential.
    My decision on weather this reel is a lemon or all it is made out to be is pending. I have a chance to catch bone fish in hawaii coming up.
    But i will be taking another reel with me on international trips as my confidence has taken a bit of a hit with the Ross brand.
    Ross did a slick job on getting this reel from one side of the globe and back with a big improvement on performance.
    But there is a big butt about this reel il let you know how it holds out.
    Thanks Andrew

  7. andrew says

    Hi Steve

    Another year and another offshore adventure using the Ross F1
    I hadn’t used the F1 since it was repaired last trip. This year it performed well on the Bone Fish at Christmas Island. However the drag has once again packed up. At full drag the reel makes a humming sound when pulling line. At a guess I would say the sealed drag has taken in water.
    At fish fighting pressure that sound is not noticeable so I would guess the problem started when I started fishing with the reel on this trip

    I think it fair to say the reel is a dud. Hopefully Ross replace it this time as I am over taking a dud reel to off shore locations when I need 100% reliability. I am also over the off shore shipping expenses involved sending this reel in after each use.

    So fair to say this reel is a dud. Will I get this dud reel repaired under warranty or well Ross send a replacement so I can do a review on a fully functional Ross F1. I will keep you posted after the next trip.

    But at this stage the Hatch 11Plus and the Lamson light speed are doing the job trouble free. I just like the weight of the Ross it is so light it would drake a poor sinker.

    Thanks Andrew Perring


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