Jun 9, 2015

Why I fish Hatch Fly Reels

Hatch Finatic 9+

There are few investments made by steelhead anglers more critical to their success than a good reel. A good reel can make or break your trip and will definitely increase your hook-up to landed ratio.

I read a review or “shoot out” the other day that had 19 criteria points for what a good reel is. Overall a good review, too good if you ask me. I don’t need a dissertation on the merits of a good fishing reel, I just need to know one thing, does it work? Can I stop a big fish with it? Will it hold up under every day use year over year? I’m willing to pay for quality but I expect a little bling to go with it, ie, it’s got to be pretty. I’ve fished a lot of reels over the years and my favorite are made in the USA by Hatch Outdoors.

My first Hatch Fly Reel
I ran into my first Hatch at a fly fishing show, it was love at first sight. As a young angler I couldn’t get past price but I had a different set of priorities as a twenty five year old. Fast forward another five years and I finally get my first Hatch, it’s a 9+ Pulse. This is still my go to reel and easily the most used of the many I have in service.

Today I’m 44 years old and a full time fishing guide. I make it a policy to only provide the best equipment for my clients and you will find Hatch Reels available in my boat every day. Before the guys at Hatch were “Hatch”, they wanted to build a better reel based on drag, durability and design. They nailed it.

Let’s start with the drag, after all this is a reel we’re talking about. I could go on and on about the sealed drag, the stacked discs, resistant to heat issues, pound for pound fish stopping power, or the low start up inertia. I don’t care about the technical stuff although it does sound awesome, it’s just words. For me a drag’s about smooth reliable resistance. I recently fought a seal lice infested Spring Chinook in 200,000 cfs of Columbia river, and believe me my old Hatch Pulse put the wood to him! Lots of reels claim smooth fish stopping power and out of the box maybe they’re telling the truth. Over time things wear out, need maintenance, fail. The big fails for me are surging, free spooling/loss of drag, and total lock up.

That leads us to durability. Hatch reels require no maintenance, that’s right, NO MAINTENANCE! I’m not going to lie to you, after fishing reels every single day over a number of years and tough conditions even all reels may need a little warranty work. My favorite thing about Hatch reels is that I have never had one fail. I have sent reels back because they were no longer working as well as I expect them to. The good news is I can send them in for repair at my leisure because they still function.
Oregon Steel

Let’s talk about customer service. For the record, I’ve sent lots of reels back to their respective manufacturers over the years. The service I’ve received has been a deal breaker for several otherwise decent reels. Sending your high dollar stuff back to the manufacturer is never a good time. What I don’t want to hear is something along the lines of “never seen that happen before”, or “we’re pretty backed up right now but we’ll do the best we can”. Here’s what you get from Hatch, “send it in, we’ll fix it and overnight it back to you”. Yeah, that’s it…I’m good with that. No excuses just fix it and be quick about it.

Design. Like I said, I’m not a real technical guy but I have pretty high standards. The current version of the Hatch reel is the Finatic, prior to that it was the Monsoon, and before that the Pulse. It’s the same reel inside but it’s gotten lighter and prettier. The spools and reels are all interchangeable and there are two spool options, large and mid. As a Spey guy I will note one thing that’s pretty relevant regarding design and Hatch; Hatch reels are consistently heavier than most of their competition. While on the surface this may sound like a disadvantage, it’s not. Fishing a Spey Rod requires a heavy reel, it acts like a counterweight in both casting and holding the rod it the swing position. The other silent advantage is the precise machining of the Hatch reels. Thin diameter running lines are en vogue and for good reason and aside from a fully caged reel none of the competition can keep the running line inside the reel; that’s a problem.

For me it’s easy to be Hatch guy. Without lots of words, form, fit and function or as the Hatch guys say “drag, durability and design”. Nailed it!

Sam Sickles | Steelhead Outfitters

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

1 comment :

  1. Agreed! My first (and only) steelhead was last September on the Lower Deschutes. The Hatch Finatic 5 worked perfectly. The most rewarding part of the catch was the guide and my friend asking me if I heard what an elderly gentleman on the bank said. I wear hearing aids and did not hear him. "I tip my hat to you on the way you played that fish". I had a lot of help...from the reel. Smooth drag and smooth line play as each run hit hard and fast. Those who have caught steelhead know the power and surges these fish can make. Am appreciative of the opportunity to participate in the great natural resources of Oregon.


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