Saturday, February 16, 2013

Gear Review - Solitude Reels

Last winter while at the Midwest Fly Fishing Expo, I stopped by the Solitude Reels booth and handled a few of their fly reels for the first time.  I was familiar with the brand but had never been in a shop that offered them.

I was first impressed with the classic look and then the noticeable heft of the Solitude fly reels since I figured that they would balance a fiberglass fly rod nicely...especially some of the eight and nine weights that I use.  These fly reels certainly aren't overweight but weigh more than most modern fly reels out there which in my mind isn't a bad thing at all.

Next I was surprised at the prices of these fly reels since they range from $225 for the Solitude 2 to $295 for the Solitude 5.  Add to that these fly reels are "Made in the U.S.A." from start to finish which certainly adds value to them as well. 


After the show I got in contact with Jonathan Knapp of Solitude Reels and learned more about the company and their fly reel offerings.  Jonathan sent one of their black Solitude 5 fly reels, which is the largest reel they offer, and I took it along to Beaver Island where I put quite a few bruiser carp, several over thirty pounds, on it.  Since last summer it's also done duty on a couple redfish trips and I've been nothing but impressed.

Recently I ordered up the rest of the family of Solitude Reels and have a size 2, 3, and 4 to match my 5 which are all in black.  The black Solitude fly reels are coated in Type III hard anodize as opposed to the gold or pewter fly reels which are anodized Type II which helps to explain the $50 price bump for any of the fly reels in black. 

PROS:
- Four sizes covering four through eleven weight.
- Fully machined from aircraft-grade aluminum.
- Type II or Type III hard anodize on all fly reels.
- Smooth drag systems on all models.
- Made In The USA.
- Value.  Models priced from $225 to $295.
- Easy to remove/interchange spools.

CONS:
- Silent drag systems on all models.  No traditional click.
- I'd like to see a Solitude 1 and Solitude 6 offered.
- Not in a lot of shops.  Yet.

While at the Fly Fishing Show in Somerset a few weeks ago I went to dinner with Jonathan Knapp and his wife and Solitude Reels has a lot going for them in a positive direction.  These are seriously well made fly reels and I think we'll start seeing them show up in more shops and on the water with anglers who looking for a fly reel with a lot of function for the price. 

Check out the Solitude Reels website for more information and follow along on their Facebook page as well.

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