Expert Review: Orvis Mirage LT Fly Reels

This review is my honest opinion of the reel, which I purchased with my own money in June of 2022.

The Mirage LT reel with Douglas Sky G rod.

All photos courtesy of Andrew Grandemange

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

My take

When choosing a reel for a lightweight rod, the Orvis Mirage LT Fly Reel is an excellent option. It is a premium, large arbor fly reel that provides ample drag with a lightweight modern design. This is a great option for a seasoned angler, or even a new angler, who is looking for a top tier fly reel. Depending on the size of the reel purchased, the Mirage LT can target anything from trout in small streams to large saltwater fish.

Front and back views of Mirage LT reel.

About the reel

  • Model: Orvis Mirage LT Fly Reel
  • Reel Size: LT II (3-5wt)
  • Backing Capacity: 3wt (150 yards/20 lbs), 4wt (125 yards/20 lbs), 5wt (100 yards/20 lbs)
  • Arbor Size: Large
  • Construction: Machined from 6061 T6 aluminum bar stock
  • Drag System: Sealed carbon and stainless steel disc drag
  • Drag Pressure: 4 lbs

About me

  • Preferred fishing style(s): Dry fly, nymphing, streamers
  • Experience: 20 years of fishing

Test conditions

How it performs

Durability
4/5
Performance
5/5
Quality
5/5
Versatility
5/5

What I was looking for

I recently upgraded an old 5wt rod to the Douglas Sky G and I knew I wanted a high quality lightweight reel to pair with this premium lightweight rod. All my reels are silver so I wanted to branch out a little and add some color to my setup. I specifically wanted a subdued color that blended into nature, but not something black. I also wanted a reel that had a nice satisfying clicking noise. I wasn’t focused on drag since this reel was for a trout rod.

Why I chose this gear

When researching which reel I wanted, I considered a few other options before settling on the Mirage LT. The first two reels I looked into were the Lamson Litespeed F and Ross Evolution LTX. They are both high-end lightweight reels but I didn’t want any of the color options available so I passed on those. I then considered the more budget-friendly Orvis Hydros reel, specifically the matte green color, but decided against it due to it being heavier than the previous reels.

I ultimately chose the Orvis Mirage LT because it ticked the boxes of what I was looking for in a reel. The olive color is the perfect shade of green and, at 4.3 oz, it is lightweight. As for the reel’s clicking noise, it’s like music to my ears. As an added bonus, the reel is made in the USA and the drag is more than capable of stopping the largest trout.

Mirage LT taken apart to switch retrieve direction,

Mirage LT taken apart to switch retrieve direction

What I love about it

  • Performance: This reel has performed amazingly well. The line pulls off smoothly and has zero startup inertia. It also balances well with the Douglas Sky G rod.
  • Quality: The quality of this reel is top-notch, as it should be for an Orvis reel that is made in the USA. The aluminum is smooth to the touch and the color has a nice shine to it. The spool and reel cage fit tightly together. I don’t anticipate this reel ever failing when trying to land a fish.
  • Size: The Orvis Mirage LT reel is based on the Orvis Mirage reel, but it is 30% lighter and narrower. The size II reel is perfect for trout fishing.
  • Drag System: The drag system on this reel is fantastic. With one full turn of the drag knob, it will go from zero to full drag. With 4 lbs of drag pressure, this is way more than enough drag to handle any fish caught on a 5wt rod.
  • Features: Spare spools are available for this reel and can easily be swapped out by unscrewing the spool knob, pulling off the spool, and replacing it with another one. The retrieve can be switched from left to right hand too, but it takes a little more work than other reels I’ve owned.

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Aesthetics: Overall, the aesthetics are great, but my main complaint is the drag knob. The ridges on the knob make the reel easy to grab, but they are too prominent and hurt my fingers a little when adjusting the drag. There is a similar drag knob on the Orvis Hydros reel that has less prominent and more smooth ridges that still allow for good grip without hurting my fingers.
  • Durability: I anticipate that as I use this reel, it will get scratched, detracting from the smooth olive finish. That’s a very minor issue but one that is more noticeable with non-silver/chrome reels. However, the quality of the aluminum will allow it to take a beating and will work fine after being dropped.

Mirage LT with the include case and tool.

Mirage LT with the included case and tool

Favorite moment with this gear

My favorite moment with this reel was the first fish I landed while using it. It was a good-sized brown trout that took off after eating a well-presented dry fly. After a short time playing the fish, I was able to land it without much drag applied. I’m a sucker for the sound of a reel and the sound of this reel whirling as the fish ran, pulling off line, was perfect. It’s a subtle dull clicking that I absolutely love. In my opinion, Orvis reels are some of the best sounding reels.

Value for the money vs. other options

The Orvis Mirage LT is a great alternative to Orvis’ Mirage reel. It offers the same drag system but in a lighter, slimmer package. This reel has more stopping power than other reels in the same price point, but with the added ability of quickly increasing or decreasing drag in one turn of the drag knob. That alone makes it worth getting instead of the cheaper Orvis Hydros reel that takes more than a full rotation to reach full drag.

Final verdict

The size II Orvis Mirage LT reel (3-5wt) that I purchased is perfect for trout or panfish and has become my primary reel when trout fishing. This reel is still a new addition to my collection, and I’ve only used it over the course of a summer, but it has exceeded my expectations. I will happily buy more of these reels when needed. Regardless of skill level, any angler who needs a reel for freshwater or saltwater fishing should strongly consider picking up the Orvis Mirage LT reel.

Selling Orvis on Curated.com
Orvis Mirage LT Fly Reels
From $349.00
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Written By
I grew up in Washington state and starting fly fishing in 2003 after graduating high school. I started tying flies shortly after. Many of those flies can be found in trees along the rivers I frequented back then. I like to think that I am a better fisherman now, as more flies end up in the mouths of...

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