Kistler Bakk 5/6 Fly Reel Review
Updated: Dec 18, 2022
If you're a conventional bass fishing addict like I am, the name Kistler should instantly ring a bell. Based in Texas, the brand has garnered a loyal following over the years, especially with rods such as their well-known Helium series. For 2023, Kistler is switching things up by expanding into the fly fishing market with both rods and reels. Although this move came as a complete surprise to me, it's always intriguing when a company decides to jump into a brand-new segment. With that said, let's take a closer look at their new 5/6 Bakk fly reel.
Reel Size: 5/6
Measured Weight: Approx 4.48 ounces
Diameter: 3.74 inches
Arbor Width: 1.02 inches
Backing Capacity (20 lb): WF5F -140 yards / WF6F - 120 yards
Drag Material: Proprietary resin (fully sealed)
Tested Max Drag: Approx 2 1/2 pounds
Spool Release: Twist-off center cap
Reel Pouch Included: Yes
R/L Interchangeable: Yes
Available Colors: Gunmetal
Reel Price: $299.00
Bakk fly reels are named after Jeremiah Bakk, who leveraged his 25+ years of fly fishing experience, decade of guiding in Colorado and Wyoming, and overall passion and involvement in the sport when designing this fresh reel series.
This reel is fully machined from 6061-T6 aluminum and finished in a satin gunmetal color scheme. As a result, this creates a simplistic, stealthy look which will also allow the reel to visually match well with a variety of rods. Throughout the spool and frame, the design is very open, with all kinds of porting for both weight reduction and to help the backing/line dry off faster.
At about 4.48 ounces on my scale, the Bakk 5/6 is on the light side for its size and compares favorably with other popular machined fly reels like the Redington RISE 5/6 (4.6 ounces), Galvan Torque T-5 (4.8 ounces), Abel VAYA 5/6 (5.45 ounces), and Waterworks-Lamson Guru S 4/5/6 (4.41 ounces).
My test reel showcases a nice level of build quality. Tolerances around the reel foot and spool/frame look tight, and both the drag knob and handle don't have any looseness or play.
The drag setup on my 5/6 Bakk reel consists of stacked carbon washers that are fully sealed. Like many reels of similar size, this drag won't win any awards for sheer power, as it produced only about 2 1/2 pounds of drag pressure on my scale at full lock. What's more important in a reel like this is the drag's smoothness, and the Bakk definitely has that. Even with the knob jammed down tight, the drag eases into engagement without a hint of startup inertia and stays consistent as line peels off.
The drag knob features two types of surface texturing. I can't say if this provides a definite advantage or not, but it's plenty easy to grip with dry or wet fingers. When turning the drag knob, there's noticeable detents and a quality clicking sound that's easy to hear. Going from zero to maximum drag is achieved in roughly 1 3/4 turns.
During retrieval, the size and surface pattern of the handle provides comfort and a sure grip. Whether reeling or pulling off line, the incoming and outgoing clicks have a mild but high-quality sound.
Kistler's first entry into the fly market is a solid one, as the sounds and smoothness of the 5/6 Bakk get two thumbs up. No other reel sizes are currently available, but a 7/8 model is expected in summer 2023. In addition to Bakk reels, Kistler also offers Bakk rods that we might get to take out for a test drive in the near future!