|The 4 Plus, Trout Town Workhorse|
I use the same approach with fly design about 95% of the time. Most if not all flies you see have been put to the test. So, I figured it would be fitting to give my honest assessment on these reels after they got ridden hard for a season of fishing and guiding.
You could also be biased if you are backed solely by a certain company. I have seen this many times in the past with some of the reviews that I have had the pleasure or displeasure of reading. I have been lucky enough to have tested, fished and handled all kinds of new products over the past 10 years. I will be the first to tell you, yes I am on the Hatch Pro Staff. Am I biased? Absolutely. I jumped ship from another very reputable reel company this past year as a result of getting to fish one of these fine reels. And the truth is, I never looked back. To leave another company in the dust after 6 years says a lot, in fact it speaks volumes. And these bad boys are 100% American Made.
Over the last year I have heard a mixed bag of both positive and negative feedback about Hatch reels. Most who own a Hatch, say that they are hands down the sweetest reels out there. Non-owners complain about the high price tag, and that they are too heavy. Although both points are arguable, I'll give you my take on both, with a little bit of comparison put in for some perspective. I am going to base this solely around the 4 Plus model as this is my primary trout reel right now, and fits into the overall trout category, I.E. 4-6 weight line capacity category.
For comparison purposes, I picked two reel companies that I personally think are some of the most popular with trout guys in my neck of the woods, if not across the country. I see reels from both of the comparison companies the most on my home waters. The companies I am referring to are Ross and Waterworks Lamson, with two models from each. For Ross, I chose the Evolution LT #2(own one) and the new F1 #2. From Waterworks Lamson I chose the Litespeed #2 and ULA SL #2 (owned and fished both models, although they are predecessors of the current ones) Here are the categories and the comparisons:
Hands down the least expensive is the Ross Evolution LT #2 at $285, edging out the Litespeed by a mere $14. The next in line was the ULA SL at $419, the 4 Plus Hatch at $450 and then the Ross F1 at $475. Although the 4 Plus isn't the most expensive, coming in at only a mere $25 cheaper than the F1, it is still a high priced reel in all respects. Here's my take, you get what you pay for, more on this later in the review, but as you can see it isn't the most expensive reel in it's class but definitely on the higher side. I will say this, you are getting more than a trout reel here folks, although this reel is rated for a 4-6 weight rod, there are what I call "x-factor" positives with this reel. You have the option of either a large arbor or mid arbor spool for all hatch reels, something that isn't a standard option with many other companies. This gives you the option for more backing or the option to run lines for a 4-8 weight series of rods on one reel. So in theory, if need be, you could use this particular reel for 4 different sets of rods. The other "x-factor" is the Pulse and Monsoon spools are fully interchangeable, so if you are in a pinch, as long as the model number is the same (4 plus for example) they will all work together. BONUS!
The second category I will delve into briefly is the overall weight of the reel. For some reason these days, lighter is better amongst most anglers. I personally have differing opinions in that category, although the new age "euro-nympher" (high sticker in my book) prefers a lighter rig. That's a topic of it's own, I will say this, a lighter reel doesn't always combat fatigue, balance typically does, but for the purposes of this review let that be decided by the consumer/fisherman. Whatever....
So, the lightest out of the group once again goes to Lamson, with the ULA SL coming in at a mere 2.95 ounces. At a distant second is the Lamson Litespeed at 3.8 ounces, Ross Evolution LT at 4.2 ounces, the Ross F1 and 4 Plus last at 5.6 ounces. Although the heaviest, 5.6 ounces really isn't heavy in my book. In fact, from my experience, the lightest 3 reels when put on rods of 9 or more feet in length end up being tip heavy, as the rod tip will typically bury to the ground when held in hand. This phenomenon will actually cause fatigue as the angler who may be "high stick fishing" will have to constantly hold the rod up to prevent the tip from falling to the water. With a balanced rod and reel combo this is less apt to happen. I have put my 4 plus on rods from 9-11 feet in length and they balance perfectly, right in the handle. Enough said.
|The Reel Apart|
MEAT AND POTATOES
|No Screwed In Reel Seats Here....|
A quick peak inside and you see very little. A colored end cap that has a gear shaped top, that sits snug into the spool as one cohesive unit. Inside that colored cap is the sealed internal drag that sets these reels apart from the pack. That's right, sealed drag, that means no problems with anything getting in the way of the reel performing to standard.
|Closer Look At The Sealed Drag|
|The Inside View Of The Spool|
|Exterior View Of The Spool With Spool Release Knob|
|Knurled Drag Knob|
So in closing, I look at it like this, if you want to buy a reel for your next fly rod, or one to outfit your arsenal, you have a lot of choices out there. If you are willing to shell out a few more bucks and buy not just a reel, but a work of art and an investment, then spend your money on a Hatch, they are arguably one of the best reel investments you will ever make. They not only look sweet, they work hard and won't let you down, besides, you get what you pay for.
For more on these works of art, check them out at http://www.hatchoutdoors.com/home50/home-page