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Review - FFB Metolius Reel

With obvious pride, Carl Craig, the owner of Fly Fishing Benefactors, plopped his new line of reels in front of me; taking obvious pleasure at the delight that spread across my face as I stared at the design. "It's called the Metolius; named after a river in Oregon." Not wanting to look stupid, I mumbled something and made a mental note to brush up on my geography later. It turns out that the Metolius, like all good water, is about as far away from everything as it can be. Luckily, there is no need to make the pilgrimage all the way to Oregon to slap this reel onto your rod. It's here, it's available and it is FFB's best product to date considering price to value.

In my book, Wade Fishing the Rapidan River, I discuss why I am a fan of the very reasonably priced FFB Deschutes line. In short, the Deschutes has everything the big boys offer at a low price of $80. The Metolius costs five dollars more, but look at what you get! FFB rolled advanced engineering features from its higher-priced reels into the Metolius; making this a spectacular value for a bargain price. The additional five bucks buys:

·         Increased machining to cut the intricate design

·         Lower weight -  0.2 oz lighter

·         An easy reverse bearing to switch from right to left hand retrieve without tools.

·         An aluminum barrier to protect the glass composite drag surfaces from grit and grime

In fact, the more I looked at this reel, the more I wondered whether FFB had made a serious business error. Simply put, when you pack all this into a reel at this price point, why would a customer pay for the high end products?

The answer ends up being simple. Both the Fire Hole and the Snake are higher capacity large arbor designs. Yet, in spite of the large arbor, both are lighter! While the Fire Hole is slightly lighter, the Snake is an amazing featherweight – 3.54 ounces versus the 4.71 ounces for the Metolius. I have to admit that as much as l like the rakish Metolius, my overall favorite remains the delicately machined Snake.

All of the reels are robust, reliable and durable. So, with the Christmas season approaching, which version should be the focus of your articulately crafted, delicately dropped hints?  It comes down to how much to spend and how much weight to tolerate.  All the reels hold a full fly line and plenty of backing.  If you spend all day on the water, weight is important - go for the Snake if you can.  On the other hand, if you are an occasional angler, the new Metolius is hard to beat.

The matrix below will help you make your decision and one of the first things that should jump out is how consistently FFB engineered quality across the entire line with high end features even being pushed into the entry level Rapidan.  The only real variables are cost and weight... and the right look to impress those wary mountain trout or irritable smallmouth bass!

While I only show the statistics for the 3/4 wt line, the same slick design is available in a 5/6 wt.

Fly Fishing Benefactors Line of 3/4 Weight Reels

Snake I

Fire Hole I

Metolius I

Deschutes I

Rapidan

Price

$149

$129

$85

$80

$40

Center line disc drag

X

X

X

X

X

One-way clutch bearing.

X

X

X

X

X

0 to dead stop drag adjustment

X

X

X

X

X

Glass composite drag surfaces

X

X

X

X

Easy-to-grab drag knob.

X

X

X

X

X

6061 bar stock aluminum.

X

X

X

X

Cast Metal Frame

X

Easy Spool Removal

X

X

X

X

X

Durable and lightweight.

X

X

X

X

X

Corrosion resistant

X

X

X

X

X

Low maintenance

X

X

X

X

X

Stainless-steel gearing.

X

X

X

X

Saltwater-proof

X

X

X

X

One Step Change right to left

X

X

X

Right or left-hand retrieve

X

X

X

X

X

Scratch-resistant

X

X

X

X

X

Hard-anodized finish.

X

X

X

X

Diameter

3.27"

3.00"

2.91"

2.90"

3.39"

Weight

3.54 oz

4.48 oz

4.71 oz

4.90 oz

4.82 oz

Arbor

Large

Large

Regular

Regular

Regular


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The Metolius 3/4 is gold...

 

.... while the 5/6 is titanium


Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore

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