Click pawl reels are the ultimate in lightweight simplicity. These old-school systems use a small piece of metal (aka a "pawl") that clicks against a small gear on the inside of the spool to produce the necessary drag resistance. While a system like this lacks much if any adjustability like a more typical disc-drag fly reel, they save weight and produce a very audible sound that some anglers prefer.
The ZERO reels from Redington have been out for some time now, having been launched alongside the BEHEMOTH series at IFTD in 2015. Utilizing (you guessed it) click-pawl drag systems, they are very affordably priced and come in some fun colors guaranteed to spice up whatever fly rod they are attached to. With my 4/5 tester being the largest size available, I mismatched it to a Redington BUTTER STICK 6-weight and revisited some freshwater spots I hadn't hit since before summer.
Line Size: 4/5
Measured Weight: 3 ounces
Diameter: 3.3 inches
Spool Width: 1 1/4 inches
Backing Capacity (20 pound): up to 100 yards
Drag: Click Pawl
Tested Max Drag: N/A
Machined/Cast: Die Cast
Easy Release Spool: Yes (push button)
R/L Conversion: Yes
Colors: Black, Sand, Teal, Dreamcicle (tested)
Reel Pouch: Yes
Spare Spool Available: Yes ($49.99)
Tested Reel Price: $99.99
While you've probably seen the ZERO reels by now, have you seen this color? It certainly took me by surprise when opening the box for the first time. The color is called Dreamcicle (think of those tasty treats you had as a kid...Mmmm) and it's brand new for 2019. Commanding a $10 premium over the other colors (those are priced at $89.99), Dreamcicle is an orangey matte color that's certainly very different in appearance, but does a great job of matching to the accent wraps of the new BUTTER STICK rods. It's not a color I'd buy on my own, but it is still weirdly cool.
This is indeed a very, very lightweight reel. On my little scale it hit just 3 ounces, making it the second lightest reel I've ever used, beaten only by the similarly-sized Ross Colorado LT 3/4 I tested a couple years ago. If you want to keep the weight of your trout combo to a minimum, this reel will certainly help you reach that goal.
The reel is crafted using die-cast construction which typically comes at the expense of some durability in both structure and finish. For many folks it shouldn't matter (I tend to baby my gear), but if it's a concern you might pony up the extra dough for a machined RISE reel—although no specific 4/5 size is currently available. For what it's worth, the only thing I noticed was some minor paint scuffing at each end of the reel foot after testing.
I did notice a little loss of refinement in my ZERO reel over a pricier machined reel. The surface wasn't 100% perfect and some of the inner spool spokes didn't look super precise, but I had to look up close to find these things. I also found the choice of yellow paint for the lettering a little too light—the "Redington" and "ZERO" on the sides of the reel foot are barely visible! Despite this slightly negative stuff, the overall presentation is plenty good (especially at the price) and the handle and frame/spool connection is nice and solid.
One reason some folks prefer a click-pawl drag is because of the sound it makes, and there's no lack of noise here. It's quite loud when stripping line and a little mellower when reeling in, but thankfully both sounds aren't unpleasant. The drag didn't get much of a workout from just catching largemouth, but I can imagine it really singing with a long-running fish on the line. The drag performs very well and provides just enough tension to prevent overruns—let your palm apply the added pressure here. Click pawls make fish of any size more fun!
The spool releases by depressing the small button on the center of the spool front. The spool separates easily and goes back on just as simply. It's funny, when I first tried getting the spool off, I immediately assumed it was the type of setup where the frame/spool had to just be pulled apart. After that didn't work for a couple of minutes, I realized the button was there....duhhhhhhh!
The handle is a small soft-touch piece that feels just fine whether dry or wet. Retrieve speed was adequate thanks to the large-arbor and 3.3" spool diameter, and the reel has a nice crisp, quality feel while cranking.
The ZERO is a really appealing package with great looks and excellent performance. It might not be quite as "polished" or rugged as costlier reels, but with pricing at $100 and under, can you really complain? When I first saw and held this reel I knew Redington really had something good, and after fishing it I can wholeheartedly confirm this. I really like the new reels they've been pumping out and hope this trend continues.
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