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Discussion Starter #1
I may have the opportunity to do some saltwater fly fishing this spring and would be taking shots at tarpon and permit again.  The last time I did this, my reel hiccuped at the worst possible time...about 25 yards into the screaming run of the first, and last, permit I hooked on a 2-day trip.  The reel, an Orvis Battenkill Disc 8/9, almost went swimming when that happened.  I don't want to blow the chance at another permit, or a tarpon, or another big 'cuda because of a bad reel, so I'd like to hear what you people think of a few reels.

Here's what I'm interested in.

Backing capacity w/WF9F > 200 yds of 30-lb dacron or gel-spun 30-lb (250 or so is better)
Reel price < $150 (I know, I know, that's cheap for a fly reel, but I've got other stuff to buy too!)
Large or mid-arbor design
Reasonably priced spare spools - I need to buy 2 so that I can load one with WF9F, one with WF9I, and one with WF9S.

Reels I've considered are the following:
Okuma Integrity 8/9 - backing capacity is questionable, and there've been some questions about the reliability of the drag
Cabelas CSR 4 - good backing capacity...anyone know anything about the drag quality?
Orvis Battenkill Mid-Arbor V - good backing capacity, but the reel and spools start to get pricey

Thanks for your help!
 

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Orvis is having a sale right now on thier Large Arbor and Battenkill barstock reels, where they will throw in an extra spool free.

Large Arbor V (7-9 wt)= $229

Barstock V (9-12 wt)= $129

Both will handle the amount of backing you are looking for. A great deal IMHO. Though I do not like the drag knob location on the LA and Bar Stock. I like the location on the Mid Arbor better. Offer does not apply on mid arbor reels. Go figure. The mid arbor is still a great price at $129 without the added spool.
 

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I have the Orvis large arbor in a 5 weight and have only good things to say about it. I also have a nine weight Redington that came new as a combo for about $220. Sounding like a broken record but I used it for stripers up to 30 lbs when I lived in TN. You could buy that and have a back-up in case one of those poons breaks your rod. Figure in that you'll have to change the line though, the stuff that came on the reel casts like wet yarn. I have an Orivs Wonderline designed for salmon fishing on mine now and casts like a dream... a very good dream.
 

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Given your price limitations, options might be limited....

a reel that can withstand REPEATED long runs has to be built pretty tough...so choose them carefully.  for that price range i would go with a Scientific Angler System 2 8/9...for permit and smaller tarpon.  dont throw at a 200 lber with this reel, you might be undergunned. ;)

in the past i have not been impressed with some of the less expensive saltwater reels, they just dont have drags that can handle repeated abuse---in my opinion.  fresh water is one thing, but large game saltewater reels have to be built like tanks if you plan on fishing with it for awhile....so be careful when you pick--- it would suck to have your gear fail you when you need it the most.
 

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Warmwater salt flyfishing is an expensive sport. If you've already seen what sub-par gear does under stress, why not get a reel that will do the job? You probably already know what you really want . . .so follow Ebay religously, check a bunch of online classifieds and wait for a great deal ($250-350) on a kick-ass reel! Then you're set. There are ways around needing all the extra spools . . .Trey Combs describes a setup in his bluewater fly fishing book that uses a loop-to-loop system tied with loops big enough to go around the entire spool and a line winder to quickly pull off lines. This allows quick changes on one spool.

My .02

TP
 

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I agree with troutpocket in regards to using sub-par gear. The initial cost might set you back some at first, but in the long run good quality gear with last a very long time. I still have a Ross reel that was broken because of my carlessness and was shipped a new replacement.

Plus are the reels you're considering saltwater compatible?

Just a thought
 

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yeah, i didnt want to say it, but im of the same opinion and agree with what was said...sub standard gear only ensures you end up buying a replacement at a later date and is never worth it.  try to save money elsewhere, but not in your reel.  put the money down now and you wont have to do it again...saltwater fish (especially big ones) can be hard on gear, and you dont want to be caught short....especially if you put that much effort into going down there and arranging the trip. 

of the lower end reels, im not sure which ones are approved for salt water...the SA2 is, but im not sure about the others mentioned....

my advice is go buy a Ross...they arent as expensive as an Islander or Tibor, and in a 9 weight you can always turn it around and use it for bass or pike, so it might be a justified purchase   ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for the advice, folks. I've been doing flyfishing in warmwater for about 22 years and I know that it can get expensive to buy gear (that's one of the reasons I have more conventional gear than fly fishing gear). Most of that time was spent fishing for bluefish, small tuna (similar to the false albacore on the East coast), small to midsized yellowtail (amberjacks) and assorted estuarine fish in Australia, and surfperch, bay bass, Pacific halibut and stripers on the California coast. In defense of my current reel, (and its predecessor), the only major problem I've had was that one permit. What happened was that a loop of line got caught between the spool and the reel, just for an instant, but that's all it took. I assume that the System 2s, or even the Mid-Arbor wouldn't have that problem.

I'd like to be able to buy one of the more expensive reels but I'be got to stay within the budget envelope (if the trip works, I'll have pushed the envelope to the limits already), so that's not an option right now. I'll take a look at the SA System 2s, because that's what the guide recommended while we sat there thinking about the permit that could have been.

Here's another question for you. Would you go with a traditional design reel, or a large arbor reel. Obviously, thousands of fish have been taken on the traditional (small arbor) reels, but most of the manufacturers have started leaning towards the large arbor. I've used both, and I have to admit that the large arbor on my Okuma Integrity 7/8 comes in handy when a big carp flips a u-turn and charges back at you after having ripped all of your flyline and a goodly amount of backing off the reel. The drags I've seen on the large arbor reels seem to have larger surfaces, which is always a good thing, but some of the smaller reels must have good drags too, right?

Anyway, thanks again for the input...I'll have to think about this as I work on getting this trip set-up.
 

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I went ahead and bought the new Mach V reel from Orvis...WOW!!! That reel is worth every cent and its still affordable in comparison to their specific saltwater model the Vortex.
 

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For salt definately buy the best you can afford. Bu, for $150 a Teton will hold up really well and spare spools are inexpensive. They are discounted on eBay for new models. Their large arbor isn't a true LA as it is the same width as the std arbor. I've used Tetons on all 5 species of King salmon, Snook, etc.

Old Florida make great reels too (www.nautilusreels.com) with their std arbor a tad over $200. A really good reel.

And for only ~$250 the Bauer JM is a steal - a true large arbor with a massive cork drag system (www.bauerflyreel.com). These are great reels that hold up with reels twice their price. Its also light which helps casting heavy gear into the wind all day.

All these reels will serve you well. I don't know what size tarpon you're chasing but you'll be undergunned if you hook into a biggie....same with a large permit. Being in a boat can help.

Large Arbor is the way to go as long as it is a real large arbor (meaning wider reel) - picking up 150 yards of line with a LA is so much easier!

Hope this helps.
 

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FishDr said:
Here's another question for you.  Would you go with a traditional design reel, or a large arbor reel.  Obviously, thousands of fish have been taken on the traditional (small arbor) reels, but most of the manufacturers have started leaning towards the large arbor.  I've used both, and I have to admit that the large arbor on my Okuma Integrity 7/8 comes in handy when a big carp flips a u-turn and charges back at you after having ripped all of your flyline and a goodly amount of backing off the reel.  The drags I've seen on the large arbor reels seem to have larger surfaces, which is always a good thing, but some of the smaller reels must have good drags too, right?
My advice is go with a large arbor design...if you look at all the new reels out nowdays that design is the way they are all leaning....they pick up line faster, keep it in looser coils when stored on a reel, and allow for a more consistant pressure when fish make runs and pull out line. for saltwater make sure you can get at least 200 yards of backing on it (with whatever weight backing you choose, 20 or 30 lb)...permit, tarpon, and bones all are capable of making very long runs and you will want the extra insurance....with the exception of my smaller trout reels, my Gunnisons (which i use on redfish and pike), and San Miguels this is the design i choose when i purchase a new reel.
 
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