Ross Reels Evolution R Review
When referring to fly fishing reels, I hear people say too often, 'it's just a line holder.' Well, sure, if you are fishing small streams for small fish, you may not be fishing with 50' of line out or have a fish peel your line to your backing, but your reel is much more than a 'line holder.' It's your line of defense between you and whatever fish you are catching, big or small, it should properly balance that high performance rod you own and it should last longer than a pair of underwear. Many times I have been fishing a stream, no wider than the desk I am writing this on, and had a big brown take my fly. You see, that big brown is wise and he doesn't just roll over and let you drag him in...he runs straight downstream. What then do you do, or more importantly, what will your reel do?
So, Let's talk about no ordinary 'line holder.' Moreover, let's talk about a work of art. It's the Ross Reels Evolution R. The Evolution R is not a replacement to the Evolution LT (new model coming in 2018), it's her big brother! That big brother that is the star quarterback, models on the side and can quote Faulkner. So let's get the details out of the wayFirst, you can't deny it is one of the best looking reels out there. Coming in platinum and matte black, the fully machined aluminum alloy has a geometry that is as functional as it is stylish. The minimalist design allows for a lightweight, yet rigid and durable reel. If you notice, the ultra large arbor is engineered with a taper to allow for increased durability and even winding of line during your retrieve. This is an industry first for a fly reel. Another industry first is the drag design: 'a fully sealed, bonded carbon fluoropolymer and stainless steel interface that delivers smooth power in a lightweight, compact package.' The startup inertia in this drag is virtually nonexistent, meaning it will protect the most delicate of tippet. Where the drag 'knob' normally is, you will find a frame integrated knob that seamlessly integrates into the form of the reel. This design allows for easy adjustments and is particularly helpful while trying to adjust your drag when wearing gloves. You can adjust the drag by 'palming' it. Lastly, the handle is a fully machined canvas phenolic rod. Basically, its sheets of canvas in a resin that is hardened by applying heat and pressure then machined into the shape of the handle. The handle actually gets grippier when wet. Ross makes 4 sizes in the Evolution R lineup and the prices range from $455-$495. Oh yea, every bit of this reel is made in Montrose, CO. In layman's terms, this reel is super light, gorgeous, has a high performance drag that won't get 'gunked up,' is super smooth and it's made in the USA.
Now, how does it fish? I've personally had this reel since it came out in early 2017 and we have carried them in the shop since then, as well. Besides how the reel looks, the first thing you will notice is how lightweight it is and the feel of the reel is just 'different' from any other reel. Remember, different is not bad. Once you give the reel a spin, the real difference is evident . There is a bit of a click you can feel and hear as you retrieve, but it's a different feel from any other reel I have held. Then the drag has a click and 'ping' sound when it is engaged. For the first 10 seconds the Evolution R is in your hands, you won't know what to think about the retrieve. Then it hits you...it feels awesome! It's not a loud drag, but it sounds awesome when a big fish takes your fly and runs to the depths! Everytime I take a guide trip and put this reel into a clients hands, they look back at me and ask about the reel. Once they've fished it, they all love the feel of the Evolution R. This reel has been in my arsenal for a full guide season, and we have landed large fish on tiny tippet that I am convinced wouldn't have been landed on just another 'line holder.' When an inexperienced angler has a fish on and the drag is not adjusted correctly, I can easily make minute adjustments without getting in the way while the angler is fighting the fish. The ultra large arbor allows for a super fast retrieve, which is important when you need to get that line on the reel so you can let the carbon fiber drag do the work. My Evolution R has been thrown around, dropped, abused and neglected, yet has performed, everyday, like it just came off the shelf (All of my guide rods have Ross Reels on them and aside from being high quality, they are guide proof (i.e. bulletproof) and the Evolution R is proving to be the same). It has been fished on small mountain streams and large tailwaters and has performed flawlessly in every situation. With a $450+ price tag, this reel isn't for everyone, but to me, it is worth every penny. If you want a reel that is high quality, high performance and will last you a lifetime, check out the Evolution R. Oh yea, it seems to be able to hold my line and look good doing it.
Ross Reels Evolution R
The Evolution R is the culmination of our engineers’ and machinists’ artistic and technical prowess. It features a fully sealed carbon fiber drag with an industry-best power-to-weight ratio. Encased in a super lightweight frame, all models are less than 4.5oz. The innovative shape of the ultra-large arbor spool is engineered to force the even winding of the line across the face of the spool as it is retrieved - something never before seen in a fly reel.
I've been fishing this reel since it came out April 2017, and it is unlike any reel I've ever fished. The drag is super smooth and the large arbor allows for a super fast retrieve...not to mention, this thing is gorgeous! - Jeff Dean Owner WRFS
Ok, guys and girls. It's that time of year again when local anglers are trying to catch those elusive big browns. You've seen all of the hero shots of big 'ol browns and you probably want a piece of the action as well. Hell, we all do! Do you know why these fish are being caught this time of year? Well, I'll try to help to explain why these fish are all of a sudden catchable and the do's and don'ts during this time of year.
First off, brown trout spawn during the Fall. Once the weather starts to cool off in October, these fish are instinctively programmed to run upstream. This run means the trout need to be in great shape to be prepared to spawn. This makes brown trout hungrier and more aggressive during the Fall. On streams, browns will come out of the deep holes they were hiding in all year and head towards shallower water. This is also true on the tailwaters of the Watauga and South Holston. These fish will emerge from the lakes or from the lower deep holes and head upstream. They are looking for gravel beds with small, pea sized gravel that has the proper amount of sunlight, has the right amount of oxygen and is at the right temperature. Small sized gravel is best, so the female can clean the gravel by fanning her tail and create a crease on the surface to lay her eggs. This cleaned out area of the streambed is called a redd. (Bass fishermen will call them beds, but you will usually hear them referred to as redds when it comes to trout.) So, once the female has laid her eggs, the male comes by and fertilizes the eggs almost simultaneously. Next the female will cover the eggs with the cleaned gravel. This helps to protect the eggs while also allowing for the proper amount of oxygenated water. Once, the eggs are laid, fertilized and covered, the female will generally leave the redd. The male will then stick around and protect the redd for a period of time.
So, what's all of this mean to me? It sounds like a great time to be fishing? Yes, it is a great time to be fishing. Big browns have come out from the depths and are now visible, aggressive and hungry. Well, the spawn puts these fish in a very stressful situation. They are in the open, shallower water and they are trying to reproduce. All of the other predators (fish and insects) in the stream are eagerly awaiting to feast on these tasty brown trout eggs and the reproducing browns are feverishly trying to protect their eggs from all of these predators. If these eggs are actually able to be fertilized and have the proper environment to flourish, the small fish (fry) they produce are easy prey for other fish. There may be thousands of eggs on each redd, but the odds of these eggs turning into adult fish are very slim. Now here come the anglers trying to pluck them off of their redds.
This can be a delicate subject for many anglers, but you don't have to stop fishing. One thing to particularly look out for are the cleaned out areas on the streambed, or redds (see pic below). Please try to avoid damaging these areas. Go around them and leave them be. If you are dead set on fishing for that big fish that is planted on the redd, at least try not to damage the redd and be particularly careful with these fish. If it is a female, she may still have eggs in her so grab her with one hand on the tail and the other cradling her under the pectoral fins. Try to keep them in the water as much as possible and if you really need that hero shot, do it quickly. Spawning fish will need to eat, so these fish can be particularly easy to catch since they are usually visible and they will stay put on that redd at all costs. Leaving the redd, leaves the eggs susceptible to other predators and a fisherman wading through a redd can damage thousands of eggs.
You can still fish all of the same rivers without specifically targeting a reproducing fish. Plenty of big fish are moving around the river and not sitting on a redd. It's not illegal to target spawning fish and most of your friends will 'like' your Instagram post of that big brown. It's your decision to fish it or not. Just be informed of the consequences.