Expert Review: Lamson Litespeed F Fly Reel

Published on 08/21/2022 · 5 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the reel, which I purchased with my own money in January 2022.
Joseph Smith, Fly Fishing Expert
By Fly Fishing Expert Joseph Smith

All photos courtesy of Joseph Smith

About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the reel, which I purchased with my own money in January 2022.

My take

The Lamson Litespeed F fly reel is a high-end reel that anglers of all skill levels would enjoy. It is lightweight with a solid drag and performs under tough conditions.

A Smallmouth bass caught on this set up

About the reel I own

  • Model: Waterworks Lamson Litespeed F Fly Reel
  • Reel Size: 5+
  • Backing Capacity: 125 yds/20 lbs
  • Arbor Size: Ultra large arbor
  • Construction: CNC machined aluminum
  • Drag System: Sealed conical
  • Drag Pressure: Approximately 5 lbs

About me

  • Preferred fishing style(s): Drys, nymphs, streamers, fresh, and saltwater
  • Experience: 40+ years of fly fishing

Test conditions

  • When I bought this: January 2022
  • Rod Paired with Reel: TFO Blue Ribbon 9ft 5wt
  • Line Paired with Reel: Monic 101 Fly Line
  • Days tested: 90+
  • Waters I’ve used it on: Local trout streams and farm ponds
  • Species targeted with reel: Trout, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, bluegill

How it performs


What I was looking for

I recently decided to change my everyday trout rod. I was looking for finer quality gear and something that I could fish all day and not feel fatigued. I wanted a reel to balance my trout rod.

Why I chose this gear

I have had other Waterwork Lamson reels on my trout setups and thought they were solid. I have a Litespeed IV on my 4wt rod already and was looking to keep it similar. I had previously considered buying this reel for another set up, so when the opportunity presented itself at the right price, I jumped on the offer. In addition to this reel, I considered the Waterwork Lamson Guru, Galvan Torque, and the Ross Evolution reels. I chose the Litespeed F over the Evolution, Torque, and Guru because I wanted a lightweight, solid reel. My Litespeed IV has performed flawlessly and I wanted to have a lighter reel than the Guru and Torque (both of which I already own).

What I love about it

  • Performance: This is a smooth reel. Line pulls off smoothly and the drag has a easy start up. The ultra large arbor picks line up quickly, but the reel is so light, I barely notice the increased spool size.
  • Quality: This is the lightest reel I own. It is made from CNC machined aluminum and is solid in its construction.
  • Versatility: I have had no issues with versatility. I chose this set up to be an all-round trout set up, and it has thrown streamers and nymph rigs to delicately presenting dry flies. This has not been an issue for me.
  • Durability: I have found this reel to be extremely durable. I love the way this reel pairs with my rod, and I appreciate how lightweight it is. I can fish an entire day with minimal arm fatigue.
  • Use Case: The drag has easily handled bass and trout. I look forward to putting it to use with many future fishing trips. This Litespeed F does come in larger sizes; if they are as solid as this reel, they will easily handle larger fish.
  • Size: I was looking for an all-around trout rod, so I paired it with a 5wt rod. My other all-around trout rod is the oldest rod set up I have from my early days of fly fishing. I wanted to have an up-to-date, state-of-the-art setup. As I was looking for a 5wt setup, I chose the reel of the correct size to balance my 5wt fly rod.
  • Drag System: The sealed conical drag system is smooth, and I have encountered zero problems with it to date. The drag control knob is large and easy to turn. It goes from off to full in about two revolutions. The new spring set keeps the drag tension linear throughout the adjustments. This drag has fought hard-running smallmouth bass without problems and protected 7x tippet on rambunctious trout.
  • Feel: The overall feel of this reel is very comfortable to use. It balances nicely with the rod and the color option pairs well with the rod finish.
  • Build: I prefer machined aluminum reels over cast metal, as I feel they hold up better. I have other Waterwork Lamson reels, and they have all performed solidly for me. I have not been disappointed in this measure.
  • Aesthetics: I find the Whiskey color to be stunning. The aesthetics of this reel are phenomenal.
  • Features: Spool changes are easy with the Litespeed F as they are simple push out and pop in. There are no knobs to turn, and no special tools required. The fit of the spool with the reel frame is impeccable. There is no slop or play between the two. With a simple process, the reel can be changed from a right-hand to a left-hand retrieve.

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Use Case: For a dedicated trout reel, this may be overkill. The sealed drag is nice, but this reel will never see saltwater. I appreciate all the refined features of this reel, but they do come at a price. For those on a budget who want a solid reel, consider the Waterwork Lamson Guru or a Galvan Torque.

Favorite moment with this gear

My favorite moment with this reel was taking it fishing for the first time. I really enjoyed how well it paired with the rod and I really appreciated that at the end of the day, I had no arm fatigue. I can not stress how lightweight this is.

Value for the money vs. other options

As mentioned previously, this may be overkill for a trout setup. There certainly are less expensive reels that will do just as good of a job for trout fishing, like the Lamson Guru or Galvan Torque. Though this reel is truly premium.

Final verdict

The Litespeed F reel by Waterworks Lamson is a top-class reel. The machined, futuristic design makes it very lightweight. The ultra-large arbor makes line management a breeze, and I would be hard pressed to find a smoother drag.

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