Expert Review: Ross Animas Fly Reel

Published on 03/23/2023 · 5 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the reel, which I purchased in March of 202o and again in February of 2021.
Danny Salinas, Fly Fishing Expert
By Fly Fishing Expert Danny Salinas

Photos courtesy of Danny Salinas

About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the reel, which I purchased in March of 202o and again in February of 2021.

My take

The Ross Animas is a fantastic reel option for a fisher looking to upgrade to a lightweight, reliable, fully machined reel made in Colorado.

About the reel I own

  • Model: Animas
  • Reel Sizes: 5/6wt and 7/8wt
  • Backing Capacity: The 5/6wt holds approx 100 yards, and the 7/8wt holds 180 yards
  • Arbor Size: Large
  • Construction: Fully machined
  • Drag System: Non-Sealed Composite-Disc Drag
  • Drag Pressure: Approximately 10lbs

About me

  • Preferred fishing style: Drys, nymphs, streamers, fresh and saltwater
  • Experience: 10+ years of fly fishing

Test conditions

  • When I bought this: My 7/8wt was purchased in March 2020 and my 5/6wt in February 2021
  • Rod Paired with Reel: Currently, my 5/6wt is paired with a Douglas Sky G 590-4 rod, and my 7/8wt is paired with a Sage Payload 789-4 rod
  • Line Paired with Reel: Scientific Anglers Infinity Blend on the 5wt setup, and Scientific Anglers Bass Bug on the 7wt setup
  • Days tested: 40
  • Waters I’ve used it on: I’ve used the 5wt exclusively on freshwater but have taken my 7wt on saltwater before
  • Species targeted with reel: Trout, bass, other freshwater species, redfish

How it performs


What I was looking for

I’m a gear junkie, always checking out and trying new setups. When I purchased my first Animas, I was looking to upgrade from cast aluminum reels to a fully machined reel that was lightweight, reliable, and looked great. I purchased the second Animas because I loved my first one so much.

Why I chose this gear

I ended up going with Ross Animas my first time around because it checked all the boxes I was looking for: lightweight, fully machined, made in the USA, and visually appealing. I also considered reels from Orvis, Abel, and Sage. While I would love to afford an Abel reel (made in the same factory as Ross), I chose the Ross over the others because, unlike Sage reels, they are made in the USA; and the Animas was lighter and more visually appealing than the Mirage.

What I love about it

  • Performance: These reels haven’t let me down yet. They have balanced well with every rod I’ve paired them with. The drag and knob are easy to set, and I personally like that the clicking noise is** **not super loud. When it comes to actual fishing, it has never seized up nor not performed when I needed it to.
  • Quality: These are beautiful reels that have held up to riding in the back of my truck, in kayaks, and drops and the build quality and materials used are great.
  • Versatility: I have used these reels from saltwater to freshwater, chasing trout, bass, and even redfish.
  • Durability: These reels are meant to last a lifetime. The reels still look great, and I haven’t noticed the paint wearing, fading, or chipping off. Ross Reels comes with a lifetime warranty if I ever need a repair. Currently, there is a $30 service fee for repairs, which covers the repair plus shipping.
  • Use Case: This reel works well for almost all types of fishing. Dedicated Euro-nymphers might find it too light to balance with their euro rod.
  • Size: These reels come in 4/5, 5/6, and 7/8, and I recommend pairing them with a matching rod.
  • Feel: The lightweight nature of this reel makes it a breeze to cast all day and not get worn out when paired with my Douglas Sky. I always get told how light these feel when friends pick up my rigs and cast them.
  • Build:** **These are fully machined aluminum and crafted in Montrose, Colorado.
  • Aesthetics: These are available in Platinum, Black, and the newly released Matte Olive color I am eying. I have just the Platinum, and they have held up with some bumps from drops, but no paint is coming off.
  • Features: Extra spools are available, and removing them is simple. Changing between left or right-hand retrieve is simple.

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Drag System: While not fully sealed, the drag system is easily flushed out. And the drag is buttery smooth with an easy-to-set knob. I don’t mind the non-sealed drag, but some anglers may. I only dinged this reel’s versatility rating because it's not a fully sealed drag. While I use this reel for light saltwater applications, it would require additional maintenance if one plans to make it their main saltwater reel.

Favorite moment with this gear

I’ve caught more fish on these Ross Animas reels than on any other reel, so it’s hard to choose a favorite moment while using these. Though I would just say, I can rely on these reels every time I take them out, and I know that even if I get skunked, it's better to be on the water than sitting at home.

Value for the money vs. other options

When it comes to getting a made-in-the-USA reel, there are options from Lamson Guro, Speedster and Litespeed, Orvis Mirage and Mirage LT, Galvan Torque, Abel Vaya and Rove, and others, but I think the Ross Animas is a great reel that is priced well and even better than some of the more expensive reels.

Final verdict

The Ross Animas is a fantastic reel if someone is looking for a fully machined aluminum reel made in the USA that is lightweight, durable, and aesthetically appealing. If someone has to have a sealed drag, there may be better options, but if that isn’t a concern, then the Animas is for them.

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