I had my first glimpse of the newly-redesigned Ross Animas at IFTD 2018. In my opinion, the outgoing Animas was a good-looking reel, but this new model absolutely demolishes it in the beauty department. While the elegance factor was definitely turned up several notches, everyone knows that appearance is only half of the equation. Thanks to the great folks at Ross Reels, I received one of these new Animas reels in a 5/6 size via overnight shipping just in time for a trip out west to test on trout and bass.
Ross has improved this new Animas with more structural integrity and less weight. Speaking about the weight, the old Animas 5/6 weighed 4.9 ounces while the new one checks in at 4.43 ounces—a modest change. A more drastic difference can be had with the larger 7/8 model. The old one weighed 7 ounces while the new one hits the scale at just 4.74 ounces. Regardless of the difference in heft, shaving off weight of any measure is always a good thing!
The reel exhibits a very open, airy design with heavy porting in the spool, frame, and even the reel foot. Inside and out the machine work is quite clean and precise, and the addition of the Colorado mountain silhouette on the back of the frame is a really nice touch. The 5/6 reel designation is marked clearly, but it's located on the top of the reel foot which makes it impossible to see when affixed to a rod. I'd rather this marking be shown somewhere more visible for easier reference, like the top of the frame.
The performance of the Animas drag is excellent. While it's not fully sealed, the carbon/stainless system is very smooth and instills a lot of confidence. It starts up without even the slightest hint of hesitation and stays smooth no matter what the setting. During testing, I found the maximum drag to be about 4.5 pounds which is certainly adequate for this reel size.
There's a large drag knob on the back of the frame for simple drag adjustment, however it could be a little grippier for wet/slimy fingers. The drag goes from zero to full in about 1.5 turns of the knob, but the detents felt extremely soft to pretty much non-existant depending on how much the knob was turned. I'd definitely prefer a little more feel during adjustment here.
The canvas phenolic handle provides ample grip, feels good, and looks extremely cool. Cranking the reel feels solid and both incoming/outgoing clicks are modest but have a high quality sound. If you like slapping the spool to quickly pick up excess line, you'll find this reel good for it, as the spool is loose enough to spin a few times with a good smack.
All Animas reels have a maintenance-free spool release. Just pull apart the frame/spool with a firm tug—no buttons, screws, or switches to deal with.
I have no experience using the prior Animas model, but I thoroughly enjoyed fishing with the latest model. It ticks a lot of the boxes I look for in a good fly reel: lightweight, excellent performance, and high-end looks. Best of all, the price is less than I'd expect from a reel of this caliber.
While my review reveals that there's a couple little things I'd like to see change (like most reels), I'd gladly fish this reel again in a heartbeat!
Line Size: 5/6
Weight: 4.43 ounces
Diameter: 3.50 inches
Width: 1.02 inches
Backing Capacity (20 pound): 100 yards with WF5F / 75 yards with WF6F
Drag: Composite/Stainless (semi-sealed)
Tested Max Drag: Approx 4.5 pounds
Easy Release Spool: Yes (pull apart)
R/L Conversion: Yes
Colors: Black or Platinum (tested)
Reel Pouch: Yes (neoprene)
Tested Reel Price: $295.00
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