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