“This reel review first appeared in the 2020 Gear Guide.”
Most great products don’t come from the minds of engineers or marketing savants, they come from consumers—great companies listen to their customers, and that’s what Orvis has done with the makeover of one of its top-selling reels.
While the vast majority of online consumer reviews of the previous Orvis Hydros SL were glowing, there were a few criticisms that made you go “Hmmm.” A few people complained that after use in salt water, grit and debris got inside the drag housing. Some said the drag knob was too small and unfeatured to get a grip on with hot, sweaty hands. A few others complained that the super-large-arbor Hydros SL was too heavy in relation to the line capacity.
Well, guess what? Orvis has famously good customer service for a reason—they act on customer complaints. So they focused on this customer feedback and redesigned the reel to make the new Hydros 30% smaller and lighter with the same line and backing capacity. They also engineered a larger, more ergonomic drag adjustment knob with one and a quarter rotation from minimum to maximum drag, and hard stops at both ends. And most important, they redesigned the entire sealed drag package to keep salt and sand out of the 16 sandwiched carbon and stainless steel drag surfaces. They did all this, and delivered a high-performing reel for line weights 1 through 11 at a super affordable price. What’s not to love? $200-$280 | orvis.com