Field & Stream Online Editors

** Orvis | Vortex Anti-Reverse Fly Reel**

It’s no fun to be on the receiving end of a knuckle-shredding run by a salmon or a bonefish ripping line from the reel as the spool whirs like a propeller and the handle whacks you on every turn. With the introduction of the Orvis Vortex Anti-Reverse (AR) reel, those days are over. Now when a fish strips line, the spool revolves but the handle remains stationary. The Vortex line of direct-drive large-arbor reels was already known for high-speed retrieves, rugged construction, and mammoth drag systems; the addition of the AR feature makes them state of the art. Flip the small Quick Clutch lever to release the fighting drag so you can more easily strip line for casting. Move it back to restore the resistance before you cast. $625¿¿¿$725; 888-235-9763;

Why it wins: Innovative combination of anti-reverse and one-touch drag

Shimano | Calcutta TE Baitcasting Reels

Shimano’s Calcutta TE reels are the baitcasting equivalent of a Porsche Carrera-worthy of dreaming about even if all you can afford is an old Chevy-and worth every penny. Compact but incredibly strong, these babies purr when cranked, thanks to oversize gearboxes in which larger-than-average gears are set on extra-rigid mounts. The net result is a palpable increase in smooth cranking power. And the big gears are paired with hefty drag washers, which will smartly tame powerful fish. Plus, Shimano has made changing the variable braking settings remarkably simple, so you can fine-tune the reel to match different casting conditions. Sizes range from the sporty TE 50 GT (7.2 ounces, holds 95 yards of 8-pound-test, 6.2:1 gears) up to a beefy TE 700 (19 ounces, holds 300 yards of 20-pound-test, 4.7:1 gears). $300¿¿¿$390; 877-577-0600;

Why it wins: Supersmooth performance, strength, and durability

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