Expert Review: Orvis Mirage LT Fly Reel
This review is my honest opinion of the reel, which I purchased with my own money in May of 2021.
About this review: This review is my honest opinion of the reel, which I purchased with my own money in May of 2021.
I love how well the Orvis Mirage LT Fly Reel pairs with a lightweight trout rod like the Orvis Helios. It has plenty of drag to stop big Colorado browns in their tracks and even handles Ohio steelhead with ease. This is the perfect reel for the serious angler looking to shave weight off their rod outfit. Also, it is not too flashy, and it can easily pair with other companies' rods without standing out.
About the reel I own
- Model: Orvis Mirage LT Fly Reel
- Reel Size: LT III (5-7)
- Backing Capacity: 125 yards of 20-lb backing
- Arbor Size: Large Arbor
- Construction: 6061-T6 aluminum bar stock
- Drag System: Sealed and maintenance-free carbon and stainless steel disc drag
- Drag Pressure: Fully adjusts from no drag to full drag in one turn of the drag knob. The actual numbers are not specified, but it has more stopping power than I need for most freshwater-fishing applications
- Preferred fishing styles: Dry Fly, nymph, streamer
- Experience: 15+ years of fly fishing
- When I bought this: May 2021
- Rod Paired with Reel: Orvis Helios 3D 9ft 6wt Blue
- Line Paired with Reel: Orvis Pro WF Floating Textured 6 and Orvis Pro Depth Charge 3D Smooth 200 on a separate Mirage LT Spool
- Days tested: 40+
- Waters I’ve used it on: Rivers, streams, lakes
- Species targeted with reel: Brown trout, rainbow trout, steelhead, cuttbow, cutthroat
How it performs
What I was looking for
When I moved to Colorado, I knew that my fly-fishing game was about to become a lot more serious. I wanted a reel that was lightweight, had a strong drag, was built in the USA, and would do well for streamer fishing. I was also looking for a reel that had a history of positive reviews, which holds true for the Mirage LT.
Why I chose this gear
After some serious research, I went with the Orvis Mirage LT as the newest addition to my arsenal. The drag system comes from the widely loved Orvis Mirage and is proven to stop big fish in their tracks. Beyond that, I knew this lightweight reel would pair well with the incredibly lightweight Orvis Helios rod that I was purchasing. I also love the design and how it compliments the rod.
What I love about it
- Performance: In terms of performance, I could not be happier with how smooth this reel is. The drag can be adjusted super fine, and the line comes off the reel smoothly with zero start-up inertia.
- Quality: This reel is built in the USA out of 6061-T6 aluminum bar stock and feels very sturdy. I have never had concerns about this reel failing me. Plus the design is very appealing to the eye and makes for some great fish photos.
- Versatility: With a sealed drag, I can fish salt or fresh water with this reel. Also, its overbuilt drag system allows it to fight fish above its weight class. I would feel comfortable fishing this reel in the salt for hard-fighting Redfish.
- Durability: The reel does not have many exposed parts where it could break. Its shell is made from a very strong aluminum that can take falls on rocks without showing scratches.
- Use Case: I typically use this reel while slinging streamers or dry-fly fishing. I know that these are very different use cases, but it is a large arbor reel, so I have lots of line to play with for long swings or bombing dry-fly casts way upstream. Being based in Colorado, I often fish for spooky brown trout that are swimming in crystal clear waters.
- Size: The Mirage LT III Large Arbor fishes around the 5–7 weight class. This is a good weight class for a variety of larger freshwater fish (i.e. steelhead, big browns, etc.) when I am trophy hunting or slinging big streamers.
- Drag System: The drag on this reel is smooth and easily adjustable. With one full turn of the drag knob, I can adjust my reel from zero drag to full drag. The drag system is also fully sealed, so there are no concerns about corrosion.
- Feel: This reel is made to be paired with a light rod. When I fish my Helios all day with the Mirage LT, it is light and well balanced, allowing for all-day fishing without tiring.
- Build: This reel is made in New Hampshire and has the coveted “Made In The USA” stamped into the reel. Orvis takes a lot of pride in their in-state manufacturing, and the excellent build quality reflects that.
- Features: Swapping spools is easy for this reel and something that I do often on the river. I have one spare and switch between sinking and floating line.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Aesthetics: After a ton of use on this reel, i am beginning to see small dings and chips in the black paint. This is to be expected when going through this much use, but the coating is losing a little of its shine. I went with the midnight black when I bought my Mirage LT; I wanted to pair the rod with the black on my Orivs Helios 3D Blue. The color is glossy and looks sleek in the sunlight.
Favorite moment with this gear
Even though I bought this reel for Colorado browns and bows, I have brought it back for a few Ohio-steelhead adventures to put the drag to the test. The first time I fished with this reel in Ohio, I was out with my buddies and the day started off pretty slow. I moved upstream above them and made a drift with some egg flies through a nice, slow patch of water. Before I knew it, I was hooked up! After fighting with the fish for a few minutes, I pulled in a beautiful, chromed-up buck to the net and set my reel and rod in the water next to the fish for a few glamor shots. It was a pleasure to watch that one swim away while my buddies filmed the moment.
Value for the money vs. other options
These Mirage LT Reels are not necessarily cheap, but when it comes to quality gear, I believe that the price tag is worth it. It is essentially the lighter version of the Mirage with a similar drag system but less line storage. And it comes in significantly cheaper than its big brother. At this price point, there aren't many reels from other brands that will match the weight and stopping power of the Mirage LT.
All in all, it has always been a great experience with the Orvis Mirage LT. It's lightweight, battle tested, and an essential carry for my fly-fishing trips here in Colorado.