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Ross Evolution R Reel: On the water review with Telluride Angler

Posted on 3rd Feb 2017 @ 12:43 PM

Ross Evolution R Reel:  On-the-Water review

by Richard Post, Telluride Angler
February 1, 2017

Ross Evolution R Fly ReelThere’s something new from the folks at Ross Reels in Montrose, CO. They call it the Evolution R. This reel is in part a collaboration with (recently) Montrose based Abel Reels and in part everything you’ve come to know and love from Ross Reels. I was lucky enough to be handed one of the first production models of this reel and got turned loose on the Dolores river for a guide’s day off. Flies were cast, drifts were made and fish were found. I walked away from the day very impressed with the new hardware from Ross.

The Evolution R is a machining masterpiece, and when you talk to guys like Dan Frazee who run the machines at Ross about this reel, their eyes light up and you can tell they are excited and proud of this wonderful new reel. The finish on the 4/5 size that I fished is a wonderful looking and feeling matte black that matches the components on our favorite 5-weights at Telluride Angler. The drag knob is large, very easy to operate and intuitive. This is something that I find is lost on some fly reels. The Evolution R’s drag knob allows you to operate it without having to figure it out. It also looks amazing, blending perfectly with the frame, and having a style that is stunning for its uniqueness and appropriate with the size and machining on the frame. It wasn’t a cold day, but if it had been, this drag knob would have been very easy to operate with gloves or even fold-over mittens.

I fished a two fly nymph rig for most of the day. The water was low and clear and I fished 5X tippet to my top and bottom nymph. I caught a handful of nice rainbows and browns in the 12” to 14” class and the river was kind enough to offer up one rather large cuttbow that taped out at 21”. That last fish was the one I needed to test the drag on the Evolution R. The drag engaged smoothly and protected the lighter tippet very well with a Sage X 590-4. Line pickup was instant with the large arbor and the reel made it extremely easy to get the fish onto the reel and control the fight.

Overall, the reel left me wanting nothing except a longer day on the water. The sound, the look, the balance on the rod and the overall feel of the reel impressed me. Often times super light large arbor reels that have a lot of metal taken out tend to feel a little flimsy. I notice this on the reel winder when loading them with line and backing and I tend to be a little protective of them while fishing. These aren’t reels that I would like to drop or take into a place like the Gunnison Gorge. The Evolution R, while as light as other similar reels on the market, made me feel like it could stand up to day-in and day-out guiding. It just feels solid. The spool fastens to the frame securely, there’s no wobble or play between the frame and spool. I can’t yet speak to long term durability, but I can tell you that I have no misgivings about handing this reel to a client and telling them to have fun. Get one of these awesome new reels in your hands and see for yourself.

[Evolution R product page]