Expert Review: Orvis Hydros Fly ReelPublished on 08/03/2022 · 5 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the reel, which I purchased with my own money in March of 2021.
All photos courtesy of Danny Salinas
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the reel, which I purchased with my own money in March of 2021.
The Orvis Hydros Fly Reel is a great intermediate-level, fully machined reel that is durable, made for all waters with its sealed drag, and will last for years!
About the reel I own
- Model: Orvis Hydros II
- Reel Size: Size II (3WT–5WT)
- Backing Capacity: 100–150 yards, depending on the fly line
- Arbor Size: Large arbor reel
- Construction: Fully machined aluminum
- Drag System: Sealed drag with carbon and stainless disc washers
- Drag Pressure: Not advertised, but will handle just about any trout I am targeting with a 3–5wt rod
- Preferred fishing style(s): All-around trout fishing, dry flies, nymphing, small streamers
- Experience: 10+ years of fly fishing
- When I bought this: March 2021
- Rod paired with reel: Epic Fast Glass 476-4
- Line paired with reel: Rio WF4F Creek Fly Line
- Days tested: 20
- Waters I’ve used it on: Only freshwater, mainly rivers
- Species targeted with reel: Trout, bass, sunfish
How it performs
What I was looking for
I was looking to upgrade the reel from the entry-level, cast-aluminum reel I had on my smaller three- and four-weight rods. I wanted something that would be reliable and fully machined, along with having a sealed drag. Also, I did not want to spend more than a few hundred dollars.
Why I chose this gear
I ended up choosing the Orvis Hydros because it met what I was looking for in the reel from a technical standpoint, and it also helped that I found it at a great price! Other reels I considered were the Redington Rise and the Lamson Remix, and at the time, the Temple Fork Outfitters NTR was not yet released.
What I love about it
- Performance: This reel matches up well with most rods except for my super lightweight three-weights (Redington Classic Trout and Douglas Upstream). I’ve mainly paired it with my Epic FastGlass 476-4 rod. The drag is easy to set and can provide enough tension to not cause my fly line to tangle up on my reel or to clamp down when needed.
- Quality: Orvis Hydros reels are made overseas, but this reel is solid. It is made from aircraft-grade aluminum. The reel is heavily ported, adding to its good looks.
- Versatility: This reel is versatile and handles just about any conditions or waters with its machined-aluminum body and sealed drag. It comes set up for left-hand retrieval, but it can be easily converted to right-hand retrieval.
- Durability: I expect this reel to last me a lifetime; I haven’t had any issues in my two years of using this chasing trout while wading or chasing bass on top of my kayak.
- Use Case: I’ve used this reel mainly on my 4wt rod for traditional, single-handle style fishing implementing mainly dry flies and dry droppers. Most of the fish I’ve caught have not required me to utilize my drag, but the few times I have, the drag worked as desired. This helps me to protect my lighter tippet with its smooth drag to assist me in landing my fish.
- Size: I own this reel in both the 3–5 and 7–9wts. Although this review is for the smaller reel, both have performed well for the fish I’ve targeted.
- Drag System: The drag is solid, with a big, easy-to-set knob that lets me fine-tune my setting quickly.
- Feel: This reel balances well with most rods. However, since it is made out of aluminum, it’s not the lightest reel.
- Build: Despite that the reel is made overseas (helping me save a little money), the build quality is great, and Orvis stands behind it with a lifetime warranty.
- Aesthetics: Aesthetically, this is an attractive reel that can be found in both a black or silver finish, plus the occasional special edition color. If you are worried about dings, opt for the silver finish as it hides scratches better.
- Features: These reels can be easily switched between left- and right-hand retrieve, and spare spools are available for purchase.
Issues I’ve encountered:
- Weight: While there are a lot of things I love about this reel, my biggest gripe with it has been its weight. This 3–5wt model I’m using comes in 5.0oz. It has balanced well with my Epic FastGlass 476-4. It’s just too heavy for something like my ultralight Douglas Upstream 373-4, so I have to consider what rod I plan to pair it with to ensure it balances well.
Favorite moment with this gear
My favorite moment so far with this reel was when I hooked into an unexpected spotted gar while fishing on the Lower Colorado River near Austin, Texas, as I was fishing poppers for bass along a bank. I rarely need to use my drag, but I’m glad I had it that day when I hooked into that gar and it took me for a ride in my kayak.
Value for the money vs. other options
This reel is a great value for the money. I received a fully sealed drag and a machined-aluminum reel from a reputable company that includes a lifetime warranty. Similar reels include the Redington Rise and the Temple Fort Outfitters NTR, which offer a slightly cheaper price point and, depending on the model, are sometimes even lighter. While there might be cheaper and lighter options, I would still pick the Orvis Hydros again because I know I would be getting a quality reel from a reputable company that is easy to deal with if any issues were to arise.
This is a solid reel that will last me a lifetime. While a little on the heavier side, this fully machined aluminum reel and its sealed drag will not let me down when I need it most.