We graded each reel on a 1-5 scale in three areas:
1. Price
2. How the reel felt and reacted as the motorcycle sped away
3. How we like handling the reel

Then we made “judges deductions” for any beefs we had about the reels.

Hard to argue with a standard like Orvis; after all the company has been at making reels for 150 years. This model, price $119, is a very safe and satisfying bet for trout fishing, and it looks slick on any brand of rod.
Score: 4.5 out of 5

How it “Met the Street”
A very impressive startup drag, with no undue shakes or shudders felt during the run. The mid arbor tempers the lateral (back and forth) rod tip vibrations some of the larger arbors caused (as expected). Dial the drag to the right setting, and it balances nicely on both the “going out” and “coming back” aspects of fighting trout.
Score: 3.5 out of 5

Functional Review
We like how this reel looks and feels. Easy to pop the spool. Having fished this reel extensively in the past couple of years, it seems pretty durable (after all, the true reel test is how the thing works after 5 or 10 years in the water environment). Orvis backs its warranty promises quickly if ever there is a problem.
Score: 4 out of 5

We’re not so jazzed about the plastic crank handle. That’s about it. Balancing price and performance expectations, this is a solid value. At $119, you should at least buy one as a spare … that’s cheaper than the spool replacement on some of the higher end models. But jeez, it went toe-to-toe with reels three times more expensive and held its own.
Deductions: .5

Total Score: 11.5 out of 5

Watch More Reel Tests:

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