Monday, June 22, 2015

Fun With New Gear

Orvis Hydros 966-4 and Islander IR4
I love this combo!

As stated in previous gear reviews, I'm not always going to talk about the latest and/or greatest. In the case of high priced items like rods and reels, I'm usually pretty far from being on the cutting edge. I think I can offer some perspective on reasonably priced gear though. In addition to a couple of old standbys, I fished two new combos this spring.

Orvis Hydros 966-4 and Islander IR4

The reel came first in this combo. It was very lightly used and came with an extra spool. I am very happy with my other Islander reel, an LX 3.6, which I used last season on my old Sage 9' 7wt. rod. I wanted to bounce that reel over to my Sage 11' 6 wt. switch rod. I decided to replace it with a used Islander IR4, which is Islander's click and pawl model. The reel wound up being way too light for the old, tip-heavy Sage 7wt. I was pretty disappointed, but not for long. The only solution was to buy a new rod! 

I didn't want to buy another 7 wt. rod. I already have one I love, plus a nice backup. I had two 9' six weights already, but neither has a fighting butt, so I looked around for a "saltwater 6wt." I found myself at the Orvis outlet one afternoon and tried an Access and a Hydros, both 9' 6" 6 wts. The reel balanced better on the Hydros despite the fact that that the Access was actually lighter. The Access felt sort of clunky, but the Hydros 966-4 casted beautifully. It's a shame the Hydros is no longer made (I don't think it was made for very long to begin with). 

The proof is in the pudding, as they say. This combo became my primary rig for American shad fishing this season. And what a combo it was! The rod and reel are a nearly perfect fit. They are light in the hand and perform flawlessly. The rod is a 6 wt. with some backbone and it handled both weighted shad flies and strong fish admirably. If I had to pick one, however, I'd say the Islander IR4 reel is the true star of the pair. Man, this reel SINGS! I will never get tired of this sound. Like its more expensive siblings, it's a solid piece of gear, beautifully machined and pretty to boot. Given the favorable exchange rate, I ordered the large arbor spool to use the reel with my 5 wt. trout rod. 

I had such fun with this pair, it will probably become my primary single handed rig for the Naugatuck salmon season this fall. It was such a blast fishing this combo, I'm looking into suitable summer quarry just so I can keep using it. Carp, perhaps? 

Ross Reach 7119-4 and Danielsson L5W 6nine

Ross Reach 7119-4 and Danielsson L5W 6nine

Technically, I began fishing this combo last December. I think I only fished it once, though. I definitely didn't hook anything with it until this spring. This rig was supposed to be my main setup for fishing small stripers and large sea run browns. If you read my last post, you'd know that never materialized. I did catch some smallmouth bass and American shad with it though. 

I bought the rod on Sierra Trading Post at the insistence of my friend, "The Good Doctor." The doctor has several rods from this line, but raves about the Ross Reach 11'9" 7 wt. switch in particular. With a 40% off coupon, I figured I'd buy it to replace the Redington CPX 11'3" 7 wt. I had borrowed for several years. I used it with two lines: a Vision Ace Scandi F/I  (28' & 380 gr.) and a Rio Steelhead Scandi that started at 31' and 410gr., but I lopped 2' off the front taper to help throw heavy polyleaders better. The line modification worked well and the rod had no problem throwing a moderately weighted fly and a 7.0 ips Versileader. The rod is very light and a pleasure to cast. I look forward to using it with an uncut scandi head and small, unweighted flies, preferably for Canadian salmon this summer (plans not definite). 

I already owned an old, Loop-era Danielsson LW 6nine, which is a very similar reel. I sold off my old Orvis reels and needed a few replacements. I bounced the older Danielsson over to my 8 wt. single handed set up. The new L5W 6nine pairs well with the Ross switch rod. It is a very lightweight reel, so it needs a suitably lightweight rod. According to the specs, the new reel has a slightly larger capacity than the old reel. To me, the range of adjustment in the drag is noticeably wider in the new reel. It's a very smooth reel, especially upon startup. If you absolutely need to keep a fish in the pool, you can really crank down the drag on a Danielsson. Plus, the entire range of drag adjustment can be changed easily, providing an overall lighter or stronger drag range. The outgoing click is very quiet, which some people might not like. It doesn't sing like a click and pawl reel, or even my disc drag Islander, but I don't mind. It does its job extremely well and is a very versatile reel. I've never heard one bad word spoken about Danielsson reels. 

It's a shame this Swedish reel company isn't more of a presence in North America. Reels can be purchased directly from the Danielsson webshop. They are very reasonably priced*. With the relative strength of the USD, now's the time to buy to save a few bucks. 

*Use the webshop prices, not the prices on the main site. The former reflect the current exchange rate and are lower than the prices listed on the main site (for now).


Other than a Beulah Platinum 9' 5wt., that's it...for now...Yikes! Time to offload more old gear on eBay!

The American shad season is pretty much over.
I need to find another fishery for this combo, asap!

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