• Paul

Waterworks-Lamson Litespeed F 4/5/6 Fly Reel Review


I have always viewed Waterworks-Lamson as one of the more innovative—or even daring—companies in fly fishing. Constantly thinking outside the box, their products often push the envelope of design and really set themselves apart from many others on the market. Remember the Center Axis integrated rod/reel they introduced a few years back? It doesn't get much more unique than that!

The new Litespeed F marks the 6th generation (where has the time gone?!) of the popular series. Redesigned from the ground up, these reels appear to be significantly improved in all aspects. Let's dig in deeper and take a closer look at my personal 4/5/6 model to critique its build quality and performance!

Reel Size: 4/5/6

Measured Weight: 3.65 ounces

Diameter: 3.75 inches

Spool Width: 1 inch

Machined/Cast: Machined

Arbor: Ultra Large

Backing Capacity (20 lb): WF6F / 125 yards

Drag Type: Conical (sealed)

Tested Max Drag: Approx 5 pounds

Spool Release: Pull apart

Reel Pouch Included: Yes

R/L Interchangeable: Yes

Spare Spool: $259.99

Available Colors: Fuego and Whiskey (tested)

Reel Price: $529.99

Fully machined and featuring an extremely open, airy design, the new Litespeed F is easily one of the most gorgeous reels I've ever owned. It's available in a Fuego and Whiskey color scheme, the latter of which is what I purchased. Although the pictures looked stunning enough to prompt me to buy one, in person the reel is even better.

The Litespeed F replaces the Litespeed G5, shown here. Image: Waterworks-Lamson

I love a lightweight fly reel, especially when it comes to lighter line weights. Despite the new F being larger in diameter than the now-discontinued G5 Litespeed, weight has actually been reduced. To compare some of the specs (F vs. G5): Diameter 3.75 vs. 3.63; Width 1.0 vs. 1.03; Weight (ounces) 3.65 vs. 4.19. Not only is the reel what I'd call an ideal size for its given line ratings, but it is now also one of the lightest reels available, period. In case you missed my recent piece about this, check it out by clicking here.

With this being a premium reel, I was expecting the build quality to be extremely clean and precise. I'm happy to report that my Litespeed F indeed lives up to expectations by sporting tight tolerances, clean, smooth surfaces, and no harsh or sharp angles to the touch—two thumbs up!


The drag system is comprised of Waterworks-Lamson's unique conical system which generates friction from a pair of cones rather than with typical round washers. For a little more explanation of this proven drag system, you can check this out. All that aside, how does it function?

There's no better word to describe the drag other than smooth. No matter what the setting, the drag kicks in without any blip of startup inertia and stays buttery as line flows off the spool. Additions to the drag system this year are re-engineered drag seals for an even higher level of protection against grit and water. I've hardly torture-tested the reel thus far, but after several dunkings the drag still operates perfectly.

Adjustment of the drag knob is easy due to its nice size, outer texturing, and the fact that it's not set into the frame very deep. The knob goes from zero to full drag in about two full revolutions, and there are soft clicks/indents for each level of drag tension. Thanks to a new spring set, drag tension is accurate and linear throughout the various settings. While there's a hard stop on the bottom end of the drag knob's range, maxing out the reel takes a bit of muscle to force those last few clicks.

Incoming and outgoing clicks are modestly loud and exhibit a quality tone. The reel handle is on the basic side, but it's an excellent size and taper for maximum comfort. One thing I love most about the reel is that there's no slop to it. The frame and spool are bound together with a tight, precise feel, while the handle is equally as solid on its post. When cranking, this gives the reel an increasingly refined feel. For rapidly regaining loose line, the spool will also spin several times when quickly "slapped" on the rim.

Speaking of retrieving line, the F has a very fast pickup thanks to its 1-inch width and generous 3.75-inch diameter. Going by diameter alone, it beats out other similar reels such as the Nautilus XM 4/5 (3.5 inches), Abel VAYA 5/6 (3.62 inches), and Galvan Torque T-5 (3.5 inches), however, the Ross Evolution LTX 5/6 beats it at 3.83 inches. Without checking every reel in existence, it's safe to say the Litespeed F is on the larger side.

The included neoprene reel pouch is very nice, but it needs to be larger so it'll more easily fit on a rod.

This is a simple pull-apart spool setup, so there's no levers, tools, or buttons involved. I never have any issues when separating or joining the spool and frame. The lack of any mechanism gives the reel an ultra-clean appearance and really lets that cool "ninja star" (as I call it) at the spool's center really stand out.


If you're looking for a premium trout-sized reel that's lightweight and performs at a high level, this one gets a big recommendation from me. While companies can sometimes disappoint or even downright fail when it comes to successfully improving a product, Waterworks-Lamson brought their A-game with the new Litespeed F!

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