Was it scientific? No. But we did do our homework, learning that a max trout burst is about 9 mph; bonefish race at around 23 mph; and big game fish like mako sharks can reach speeds of 50-plus mph. Was it fair? We tested each reel only at the top speed of the fish it was designed to handle, but we’ll let you debate that question. Was it honest … hell yeah. And we’ve got the videos to prove it.

Trout Reels Hatch 3-Plus Nautilus 5 Abel Pt. 5 Ross Evolution Orvis Battenkill Mid Arbor Scientific Anglers System 2L Model 45L Bauer JM2 Bonefish Reels Sage 3400 Nautilus 8 Bauer MX4 Orvis Battenkill Large Arbor **Big Game Reels ** Orvis Vortex (VO2) 8-11 Nautilus 12 Hatch 9-Plus Abel Super 10

The Takeaway: At “trout speed” the drags were usually comparable and adequate. Factors like price, aesthetics, and functionality probably should weigh more in the purchase decision in this range. But as the reels got bigger, drag performance and tolerance became more and more the deciding factor. Click on a reel’s name to see how it held up.