• Paul

3 Fly Rods With GREAT Reel Seats



The reel seat isn't the most crucial aspect of a fly rod to look at, but I now take the design into consideration more than I used to.


Out of all the fly rods I've fished over the years, a lot of the reel seats were simply unremarkable. Looks aside, it was the function of these seats that often felt somewhat unrefined and failed to blow me away. I can accept a seat like this on a more value-oriented rod, but I've always thought a pricier stick should utilize something more superior.


A reel seat might be 10/10 on the eye-candy scale, but if the rings don't tighten down with a nice ramp-up in tension, that's a big downer for me. Similarly, if the reel STILL has a bit of wiggle to it even when fully tightened onto the seat, that's also a letdown. Thankfully, not all reel seats are created equal. In fact, it appears some manufacturers have recently been upping their seat game, with several offering outstanding new designs that take functionality to the next level. What rods fit into this category?


Three examples include the Hardy Ultralite X, Orvis Helios 3, and Waterworks-Lamson Cobalt.



What makes each of these reel seats so unique? It is simply how they capture and securely hold a reel better than others I have used. You'll probably notice that the Cobalt (pictured above) and Hardy both have one thing in common—the built in "rails" on the bottom of the seat. Rather than the surface just being the curved seat barrel itself, the reel's foot now has a place to firmly plant itself upon which prevents side-to-side slop. This makes mounting the reel very straightforward and gives it a rock-solid base once the ring(s) are fully tightened. While I wouldn't say it makes a distinct difference while actually fishing, it undoubtedly adds refinement and "niceness" to the rod as a whole.


While the Helios 3 also has a similar-looking cutout on the underside of the seat, it's tough to tell if it has much impact on how solidly a reel is held. Rather, it appears the shape of the Helios' hood plays a big role in holding the reel's foot so firmly, as it features a very precise shape with edges that don't slope outward which prevents side-to-side movement. Despite this non-engineer's observation and description, it's a stealthy seat that grips a reel like a vise.


I'm not saying these are the ONLY rods out there offering great seats like this, but they are three I personally own and enjoy using. Another honorable mention would be the new Waterworks-Lamson Velocity rods, each of which sport the same "Lockdown" reel seat design as featured on my Cobalt. Any fly rod that casts great is certainly a wonderful thing, but when the components also stand out, that makes for even more of an enticing package!


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