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Orvis Hydros SL Fly Reel


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    • Black Nickel, II


    8 Reviews


    Buttery smooth for buttery browns.

    Orvis has a reputation for building the solid and iconic reels that your grandpa used when he was catching countless brookies in the Catskills—the Hydros SL Fly Reel isn't that reel. With a super-large arbor, ridiculous retrieval rates, and a fully machined construction that's anything but old school, the Hydros SL is a modern reel any self-respecting reel geek will appreciate. While it's true that the Hydros is not an entirely new reel in the Orvis lineup, it has had a complete overhaul, making the all-new SL version both lighter, burlier, and bigger than the original.

    In order to save weight but still increase the overall durability of the reel, Orvis took materials away from areas where the extra strength and weight isn't necessarily needed. Then, it beefed up areas in the frame and critical areas in the spool to give the Hydros the grit it needs to remain intact when you take a slider trying to scramble up a steep cut bank. Another major difference between the Hydros SL and the original Hydros is the fully sealed disc drag system, which, as its name suggests, is fully sealed, making the larger reel sizes ideal for saltwater fishing. Probably the most impressive component on the Hydros is the super-large arbor, which is capable of blisteringly fast retrieval rates (up to 12% more than the original Hydros). Orvis also gave the Hydros a narrower spool to help eliminate line stacking and knotting, then it reduced play between the spool and frame for improved tolerances and liquid smooth operation.

    • Fully machined frame and spool
    • Super-large arbor
    • Fully sealed disc drag system
    • Narrow spool
    • Asymmetric drag knob
    • Left- or right-handed retrieve
    • Item #ORV000M

    Tech Specs

    Drag System
    fully-sealed carbon on stainless disc
    Backing Capacity
    [II+WF3] 150 yards, [III+WF5] 150 yards, [IV+WF7] 225 yards, [V+WF9] 250 yards
    [II] 3.5 in, [III] 3.875 in, [IV] 4.25 in, [V] 4.5 in
    Fly Line Weight
    [II] 3 - 5 wt, [III] 5 - 7 wt, [IV] 7 - 9 wt, [V] 9 - 11 wt
    Left and Right Handed Operation
    Claimed Weight
    [II] 5.6 oz, [III] 5.9 oz, [IV] 7.4 oz, [V] 8.4 oz
    Recommended Use
    fly fishing
    Manufacturer Warranty

    Tech Specs

    • Reviews
    • Q & A

    What do you think about this product?

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    • Familiarity: I've used it several times

    Love this reel; exceeded my expectations. The quality is there, the drag is so smooth and the arbor size (my first with this larger arbor size) is a bonus. With a couple of changes that made this a little lighter, it's still a tough piece of gear. A great investment to be sure.


    • Familiarity: I gave it as a gift but have feedback to share

    Wow, just, wow. I'm a sucker for beautifully machined equipment and this gets a 10/10, but does it even work? Dollar for dollar I'm not sure you can get a better reel. The drag system is where it really shines, silky smooth and not to mention it's maintenance free and that's never a bad thing.

    Best Value Reel

    • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

    Best reel per dollar on the market. A very reliable drag and super lightweight. The minimalist spool reduces a lot of weight vs other reels. I also prefer the boxy aesthetic to more aggressive designs.

    He loves it!!

    • Familiarity: I gave it as a gift but have feedback to share

    I bought this for my dad for Father's Day, and here is what he has to say about the reel:

    My new Hydros reel is amazing. Upon taking it out of the box, the machined quality and elegance jumps right out at you. I have tried other large arbor reels and I was a little nervous about breaking off fish which I’ve done with the others. But the Hydros has such an amazing drag system that is smooth and very easy to fine tune that this isn’t an issue. Small incremental adjustments can be made quickly even with a fish on the line. On the front range in Colorado we often fish with 6X tippet. Without the right drag on your reel you’d never fish the larger fish “on the reel” which is where I like them. The arbor isn’t really a large arbor, it feels and works as a medium arbor. I have fished with a CFO IV reel for 20 years and always loved it. I see two vast improvements in the Hydros reel. First, it is a closed gear system that is maintenance free. If you change spools often with the CFO IV, you’re looking right at the gear system with it open to the environment, don’t even think of getting it in salt water. Second, is the drag. It is so smooth and easy to use, it makes me never want to pick up my CFO IV again. In addition to the quality of the reel, the experience of purchasing it with Backcountry was great. I am very impressed with their on-staff experts. This was not the typical on-line purchase. When I was able to hear the advice and recommendations of a real person that was an expert in the field discuss why they thought this was the right reel, I was sold, not only on the reel, but on the company. A new set of skis will be the next thing I call them on for advice.

    Perfect Trout Reel

    • Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions

    This is an ideal large arbor trout reel with great looks and functionality. Another winner from Orvis and great value. No need for a disc drag but here if you need it. Most other reels are overmachined, over designed, and gaudy. This one is your daily driver for everything you might encounter in trout country and at the bigger sizes a good option for pike and even smaller salmon!

    Such a Great Reel

    • Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions

    I recently picked up this Orvis Hydros SL Reel in the [II] 3 - 5 wt. I have taken it out a few times now, and was super pleased with how well it performed. It's such a cool color, I love the large arbor style of it, it retrieves line so quick and smooth, and the drag is top notch! Thought it would be a little smaller because of getting it in the II size. However, they are serious when they say it is a super large arbor reel. I really like the size of it though, and I think it is perfect. I have other 3-5wt fly reels and they are so small, almost too small for my liking because I like a nice even balance. I can't wait to really put this reel to work this summer with some high mountain stream fishing. Overall, awesome reel and would definitely recommend to anyone looking for a great all around performing fly reel!

    Quick line pickup, Tame that bucky trout

    • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

    I could go on and on about how well this reel Functions, how fast it retrieves line, and how great it looks. But the description tells you all of that already, and it does not lie! The one thing you may not realize until you get this reel in your hands is that it truly is "super large" as the name dictates, but does a great job of balancing out your rods. Especially the longer euro style nymphing rods we are using more and more these days like an 10' 3wt. The quick select drag system is prime for adjusting on the fly when hooked into that bucky brown or chunky bass. If you have any other questions about this or any other reels like it, just reach out to me!

    Quick line pickup, Tame that bucky trout

    Solid 5wt reel!

    • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

    I have tried many different $200 5wt fly reels over the years (Lamson, Ross, etc). Most have a 3.5" arbor, are pretty lightweight, good drag, and not much start up inertia. 5wt reels are pretty generic. So most will do the job. Typically, we are catching smaller fish so the big things like drag or weight aren't all that important. They mostly just hold line. So I look for the little things in 5wt reels. This reel has those things. I have had it for about 3 months now and caught a lot of fish on it, having zero problems. My favorite part about it is that its arbor is huge! It's almost 1/2" bigger than the rest of most 5wt reels. It's line retrieval is really fast. It's insanely smooth and has no start up inertia. I can't find a better 5wt real for $200. I love this reel!

    Solid 5wt reel!