3-TAND VIKN V-50 Fly Reel Review
Updated: Mar 30, 2020
3-TAND may not be the oldest name in fly reels, but they've certainly come a long way in a relatively short amount of time. Sure, the fly reel market may look saturated already, but it seems like there's always room for a fresh new brand willing to challenge the old standbys. The 3-TAND reels I've handled and fished thus far from the TF series have all exhibited clean craftsmanship and ultra-smooth performance. I wasn't expecting the VIKN V-50 to be any different, but there's only one way to find out for sure.....let's test this thing!
Pronounced "Vixen," VIKN reels deliver a nice list of features and some exotically-beautiful aesthetics. In addition to the rubberized inset in the reel foot, integrated/hidden counterweight, fully-sealed carbon-fiber drag, and easy spool release, the spool also sports a unique V-channel in the arbor. This added feature gives the spool more depth to fit additional backing which in turn allows the reel to handle a wider variety of fly lines while still retaining acceptable capacity. While many reels are rated for two fly line sizes, our VIKN V-50 tester was rated for either a 6,7, or 8 weight line.
I really dig the look of the VIKN reels, but I'd love to at least see a black scheme offered as well. Otherwise, the outside of the reel is quite pleasing to the eye and is crafted with a high level of care. The inside of the frame does exhibit quite a few light machining marks (or whatever they are) on the insides of the rear spokes, but these are purely cosmetic and out-of-sight with the reel put together which doesn't bother even my picky self. As a whole, build quality looks great and the connection of spool to frame is very solid and tight.
Our VIKN tester uses a stacked 3-bearing system that completely supports the entire shaft. Thanks to this setup, the retrieve is absolutely silky smooth and also totally silent. In addition, I like the narrower spool width both for looks and the fact it makes it easier to finger-level line quickly. Retrieve speed is adequate, but if comparing it to some other reels (especially in the 7/8 size class), this reel's overall diameter of 3.625 inches is not quite as big as others. I'd definitely like to see that enlarged a tad. Another thing I'd like to see enlarged is the handle. It gets the job done fine, but it's on the small/thin side for a 6-7-8 reel. Something that doesn't need enlarging, however, is the overall weight. At about 4.9 ounces on my scale the V-50 weighs far less than most 7 or 8 weight reels....awesome!
The VIKN's braking power is provided by a nano carbon-fiber drag system that's fully sealed. My tests indicated a maximum drag pressure of about 5-pounds—nothing earth-shattering but plenty for most scenarios the reel will encounter. Startup inertia felt seamless, as there was no hint of binding or hesitation at first pull. Drag performance overall was pretty good, but I did note some occasional light jitter and bumpiness, particularly at higher settings when pulling line off slowly. No inconsistencies were detected under actual fishing conditions when stripers and largemouth ran line from the reel, though. Sound wise, the V-50 gives off a very mellow clicking sound as line leaves the spool.
The drag knob is nice and chunky with a shape that makes it easy to grab firmly with wet or cold fingers. The drag tension is very light up to about 1 1/2 turns, but after that it starts ramping up quickly. It takes just shy of 2 1/2 turns to run the range from zero to maximum with soft detents along the way.
I can't stand spool releases that are hard to use....which is why I like the VIKN's so much. It couldn't be easier—unscrew the cap in the center of the spool and remove the spool. Putting the spool back on is a cinch too, and there's a nice progressive tension when tightening it down thanks to a small rubber o-ring. With the spool detached, the center cap stays put nicely but will come off if you pull on it, so be wary of that.
I enjoyed spending time with the V-50 both out west in California as well as here in Florida. Mounted to both a 7 and 8-weight rod, it handled schoolie stripers and some solid largemouth bass without breaking a sweat. 3-TAND VIKN reels also come in two other larger sizes covering a huge range of line weights: a V-80 (8–11 weight lines) and a whopper V-130 (11–15 weight lines). All reels include a neoprene reel pouch.
Line Size: 6/7/8
Backing Capacity (20-pound): WF6F + 240 / WF7F + 215 / WF8F + 190
Tested Weight: Approx 4.9 ounces
Diameter: 3.625 inches
Arbor Diameter: Approx 1 3/4 inches
Spool Width: .95 inches
Drag: Nano Carbon Fiber (fully sealed)
Tested Max Drag: Approx 5 pounds
Machined/Cast: Machined Aluminum
Spool Removal: No tools needed
Reel Pouch: Yes
Reel Price: $319.95