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.

$625. This is the standard in Orvis’ saltwater reel lineup. It has all the bells and whistles of most high-end saltwater reels, with a slightly more attractive pricepoint.
Score: **4 out of 5 **

How it “Met the Street”
Well … we darn near set ‘er on fire. Granted, we weren’t playing fair: We ran it at 55 mph, threw water on it during the run, and clamped the drag down fairly tight … but we charred the cork drag. This was an extreme test. This reel is rock star when we fish it on the flats. But the fact is, we tested four reels to the max, and this one smoked.
Score: 2 out of 5

Functional Review
The amount of cork incorporated in the drag surface is probably not quite enough. It’s a slick enough system, just a little underdone, like bringing the knife to the gunfight. It’s light for its size, and balances the rod very nicely when you cast frequently. And its looks are pleasing. We were “pulling” for this reel to do a little better.
Score: 3 out of 5

Smoke is bad. Even if we did intentionally abuse the poor thing. And why have the silly screw mechanism for popping loose the spool? There are better designs. For all the wonderful tradition and experience Orvis has in reels, this one was in over its head … and we’ll take the blame for moving it up a grade beyond where it should have been.
Deduction: 1

Total Score: 8 out of 15

Inside The VO2

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