Who doesn't love a fly reel with a fully-sealed drag? I fished for years and years with reels that were either open or not fully-protected from moisture and grit contaminating their drag systems. Sure, they operated great while clean and dry, but care had to be taken while fishing to keep the drags functioning perfectly. You could've called me old-fashioned at the time, but in the last few years I've finally embraced fully-sealed reels and absolutely love the peace-of-mind they provide.
California-based Galvan Fly Reels has a well-established and respected reputation in the industry by making some of the best reels around. The Grip series of reels sports looks reminiscent of the Torque series, with sweet aesthetics, top-notch components and yes, a fully-sealed drag system to offer their customers a whole new level of performance.
Line Size: 8 weight
Weight: 7.8 ounces
Diameter: 4 inches
Width: 1.25 inches
Backing Capacity: 200 yards/20lb
Drag: Carbon Fiber (fully sealed)
Easy Release Spool: Yes
Colors: Clear/Blue only
Reel Pouch: Yes
Spare Spool Price: $230.00
Reel Price: $535.00
This large-arbor reel is fully-machined from 6061 aluminum with a Type T2 anodizing for robust corrosion resistance. The overall design is one of precision, elegance, and beauty. There's heavy porting visible throughout the reel for weight reduction and the dimensions are good, though personally I prefer a bit narrower frame/spool. The dimensions are also the exact same as the T-8 Torque model.
The Galvan reels I've encountered in the past have all boasted outstanding fit and finish, and our Grip G-8 tester was no different. The coloration, porting, and surface texture was all equally attractive and precise. I noted no sharp edges, burrs, or other errors to be found. Even the top and bottom corners of the frame (exposed after the spool is removed) have slightly rounded-off corners so you won't get poked by sharp edges. Very nice!
Carrying a weight of 7.8 ounces, the Grip G-8 comes in just .2 ounces heavier than the Torque T-8. It's certainly far from what I'd call "hefty" and its weight is right in there with reels like the Cheeky Boost 400, Orvis Mirage LA IV, and Sage 6280. For being such a robust and strong-feeling reel, I'd say this is pretty good.
What I'd call the "big feature" of the Galvan Grip is the fully-sealed drag system. The watertight design boasts two hybrid ceramic ball bearings and a carbon fiber drag surface for strong stopping power. Startup inertia was seamless, as I could sense absolutely zero hesitation. Once the line started flowing the drag itself was smooth, with just a faint bump to be felt mainly at higher settings. At full lock, there's an overabundance of power on tap if you really need to put the brakes on a pissed-off fish RIGHT NOW. Both incoming and outgoing clicks are mellow but pleasant.
Speaking of a locked-down drag, it takes about 2 1/4 turns of the drag knob to go from zero to full. There's firm detents throughout the range which always gives a nice, positive feeling to drag adjustment. The knob itself is quite large and has a chunky surface texturing which provides a decent amount of grip, but I felt it could be a bit "grippier" for moist/slimy hands.
The arbor size is on the generous side, so the line retrieval rate was plenty quick. Another really cool feature of the Galvan that's instantly noticeable is the handle—it's HUGE! Aptly named the Monster Grip Handle, at first glance it may seem like it's a bit too much. I thought the same thing until I actually started using it. It's incredibly comfortable and offers a lot of confidence when reeling quickly with wet hands.
Spool removal is done by untwisting the front center cap a few times and the spool then slides right off while the cap stays safely attached. The texturing of this cap is the same as what's on the drag knob. Since the top of this center cap sits about flush with the outside of the spooI, when unscrewing the cap I had a tendency to rub my knuckles against the spokes on the inside of the arbor which caused some minor discomfort.
What?! No fish pictures? Due to weather, work, and sudden family health issues, I was only able to get the Grip out on two quick, less-than-stellar outings that resulted in just a couple non-picture-worthy fish. I even held on to the reel slightly longer than I originally said I would (sorry Galvan), but it was really just bad timing...that's my excuse!
Galvan also offers Grip reels in a 10 ($585) and 12-weight size ($635) to cover heavier-duty fly fishing adventures. Each Made-in- the-USA reel includes a neoprene reel pouch (which fits while the reel is mounted on a rod) and associated paperwork.
Interested in a Galvan Grip fly reel?