Expert Review: Lamson Guru S Fly Reel

Published on 07/13/2022 · 6 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the reel which I purchased with my own money in January of 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 of 2022.

My take

The Lamson Guru S Fly Reel is a rugged, reliable reel. This lightweight reel has a solid drag and performs under tough conditions. This is a high-performance reel for a reasonable price.

About the reel

  • Model: Waterworks Lamson Guru S Fly Reel
  • Reel Size: 5
  • Backing Capacity: 100yds/20lbs
  • Arbor Size: Large Arbor with narrow spool to prevent line twist
  • Construction: Machined 6061 aluminum
  • Drag System: Sealed Conical
  • Drag Pressure: Approximately 4lbs

About me

  • Preferred fishing style(s): Drys, Nymphs, Streamers, Fresh and Salt water
  • Experience: 40+ years of fly fishing

Test conditions

  • When I bought this: January 2022
  • Rod Paired with Reel: Moonshine Drifter 5wt 10 foot
  • Line Paired with Reel: Monic Icicle Floating Fly LIne and Orvis Hydros Tactical Nymph Fly Line (two different spools)
  • Days tested: 180 days
  • Waters I’ve used it on: Local trout streams and farm ponds
  • Species targeted with reel: Trout, Bass, Bluegill

How it performs


What I was looking for

I received the Moonshine rod as a gift as an intended Euro nymphing rod. I wanted a reel that would balance with the rod. As I was not entirely sold on Euro nymphing, I wanted a reel that could also serve as an all-purpose 5wt reel.

Why I chose this gear

I have had other Waterwork Lamson reels on my trout setups and thought they were solid reels. I had heard good things about the Guru and the price was reasonable compared to other reels I considered. As I was also looking to make this a multifunctional reel, I wanted a reel that was easy to change spools on and for which extra spools would not be expensive.

In addition to this reel, I considered the Waterworks Lamson Litespeed, the Ross Animas, and the Ross Evolution reels. I chose the Guru over the Ross Evolution and the Waterworks Lamson Litespeed based on price. Compared to the Ross Animas, the Guru seemed slightly more refined. The Animas struck me as a warhorse, and I was looking for a quarter horse. I also like the easy spool change of the Guru – simply pop it on and off.

What I love about it

  • Performance: This is a smooth reel. Line pulls off smooth and the drag has a smooth start up. The large arbor makes line pick up quick and the narrow spool helps the line lie smoothly without twisting.
  • Quality: This is a solidly built reel. Although the reel feels light, it is made from machined 6061 aluminum and is solid in its construction.
  • Durability: I have found this reel to be extremely durable. I have fished with it hard for the last 6 months under different conditions and it looks like it just came out of the box. I have swapped the spool on this reel numerous times as I have changed between applications and the spool has never come loose.
  • Use Case: When fished as part of a traditional 5 weight set up, this reel has performed nicely. It has balanced the 10-foot Moonshine rod. The drag has easily handled bass and trout.
  • Size: I chose the size 5 as this was the size that best worked with a 5-weight line. I set this up primarily as a 5-weight setup with the potential to dabble in Euro nymphing. As the fly line is not really used in Euro nymphing, I did not consider it that important to match the Euro nymphing line to the rod size.
  • 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 1 and ¾ revolutions.
  • Feel: The overall feel of this reel is very comfortable to use. It balances nicely with the rod and the color option looks nice 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 chose this reel in the OG color because I liked the way it looked with the Moonshine Drifter rod.
  • Features: Spool changes are easy with the Guru as they entail simple push out and pop in. There are no knobs to turn, and no special tools required. The open porting of the spool allows for quicker water shedding and line drying as well. With a simple process the reel can be changed from a right-hand to a left-hand retrieve.
  • Handle: I have found the handle to be large and easy to get to without looking, which can be a key feature when fighting a large fish. If you like to slap the reel to quickly bring line in, this handle may get in the way. I do not typically do this though, so it was not an issue for me.

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Versatility: This is not really a fault of the reel. As a rugged, all-purpose reel, the Guru is solid. The versatility issue I encountered is that it is not a good Euro nymph reel as it is not full caged – the long monofilament leader can get stuck in between the spool and reel body. For a true Euro nymphing reel, in hindsight, I should have opted for a full caged reel (and for that matter a true Euro nymphing rod) to prevent the monofilament from slipping in between the spool and reel body. Again, this is really a fault of my decision-making and not the reel. I will say that I like the minimalistic approach Waterworks Lamson took with machining this reel as an all-purpose fly reel.

Favorite moment with this gear

As much as I have said that this is not a great Euro nymphing reel, my favorite moment with this reel was when I caught my first trout Euro nymphing. Perhaps it was just the glee of working the pool right behind a bait fisherman who did not catch anything and watching the look on his face as I caught multiple fish. Or perhaps it was the fact that aside from watching a Euro nymphing video, I had very little knowledge about Euro nymphing, I managed to catch a lot of fish on my first outing. Either way, bringing a large brown trout in on a fine tippet from a fished-over pool was extremely rewarding.

Value for the money vs. other options

I have no complaints when it comes to value for the money. I was able to buy the reel and a spare spool and line for both at what it would have cost me for just the reel of some of the other options I was considering. From a performance standpoint, I have been very pleased with my purchase.

Final verdict

Waterworks Lamson has a reputation for producing solid futuristic-looking reels. The Lamson Guru S is no exception. For the money spent, this reel is a solid, dependable addition to my arsenal of reels.

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