Redesigned in 2016, the new Orvis Mirage is a real looker. Its futuristic lines—particularly on the back frame—really give it a unique look that easily separates it from the competition. These fresh cosmetics combined with a host of strong features makes the Mirage a very appealing upgrade over its predecessor. Although at the time of this writing the reel has been out for nearly two years, I felt it was imperative to get one reviewed here on Demystifly. Thanks to Tom Rosenbauer at Orvis, I had a tester on my doorstep about a week later that was pre-spooled with Orvis Hydros HD Trout WF5F line. Time to fish!
Line Size: 3–5 weight
Weight: 5.6 ounces
Diameter: 3.5 inches
Backing Capacity (20 pound): WF3F 150 yards / WF4F 125 yards / WF5F 100 yards
Drag: Carbon/Stainless (fully sealed)
Tested Max Drag: Around 4.5 pounds
Machined/Cast: Machined 6061 T6 aluminum bar stock
Spool Release: No tools needed
R/L Conversion: Yes
Colors: Pewter, Midnight (tested), or new Dragonfly
Reel Pouch: Yes
Spare Spool Available: Yes ($269)
Reel Price: $498
Fully-machined from 6061 T6 aluminum bar stock, the Orvis Mirage features a Type III hard coat anodizing which surpasses the more common Type II anodizing used by most reel manufacturers. Despite its rugged military-grade finish, my tester did have a few minor dings from previous testers. Although it showed some wear, I'd suspect it to be pretty rugged though normal use unless you really clunk it around.
A few other noteworthy features quickly worth mentioning are a titanium shaft for less weight, a radiused (rounded-off) reel foot that lets you wrap your leader around it without kinks/damage, and a low-profile spool counterweight. The reel has kind of a wicked, stealthy look and offers all the features you need. My tester was free of any sloppy craftsmanship.
The Mirage has a machined handle that has a smooth surface and slight taper. It's sized right and is plenty comfortable, plus it feels solid with no wiggle or play. Speaking of which, the whole frame/spool connection is very tight and solid as well which helps give everything a precise and strong feeling while cranking. Just like with the drag, cranking the reel gives off a mild clicking sound. For ultra-quick line pickup, the spool spins freely enough if you like to slap or smack it to get line back in a hurry.
Curiously, the drag of the Mirage is quite a bit less powerful than that of the Hydros SL reel that I recently tested here. Despite measuring the maximum drag at around 4 1/2-pounds of force (which is still PLENTY), the Mirage's drag still boasts some impressive performance. Startup inertia was non-existent and the drag proved to be very smooth at any setting. Even after being dunked in dirty water and set down on muddy shorelines, the drag still functioned great. Full drag power is reached in about one full revolution of the knob, and the knob itself is easy to grasp with plenty of height and good texturing on the surface.
Spool removal is done by unscrewing the center cap on the front of the spool. With the spool removed, the center cap stays nicely connected to the spool—a good safety feature since you don't have to worry about it flying off into the river. However, I do wish the center cap was larger and offered a better grip as a couple times it was on a little too tight and was basically impossible for me to unscrew without putting on a glove first. When it comes time to re-seat the frame and spool, that part is easy and straightforward.
I can fully understand why the new Mirage is Orvis' current flagship reel lineup. My tester proved that it performed great while offering some pretty slick aesthetics that are anything-but-ordinary. While my Mirage II was just a couple bucks shy of $500, you can buy one of these knowing you're getting a really quality piece of equipment that's also Made-in-the-USA.
The Mirage reel family starts with our Mirage II for 3–5 weight lines and tops out at the whopping Mirage VI that can accommodate up to a 15-weight line. Have a closer look at all the different models at the link below!
Orvis Mirage Fly Reels