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Orvis Battenkill Mid-Arbor III reel

By Magnus Angus

The ‘III’ means this is for #5 and #6 fly lines and arbor is how our American cousins spell the word ‘arbour’. It’s machined from bar-stock aluminium and hard anodised. It feels, looks and performs like a quality reel. All surfaces where lines meet metal are smooth. Actually, all the surfaces are smooth.

The smooth disc-drag mechanism is sealed away for safekeeping. Orvis make a feature of the handle size, enough for the biggest paw, and the drag knob adjusts equally easily. I particularly like the adjustment range on this Battenkill (720 according to the blurb, meaning the useful range of drag is wider than most reels, allowing really fine drag adjustment).

Spools fit to the half frame body in the usual quick-release way, so there is slight end-float between spool and body. Switching from left to right hand wind means removing a spring clip and inverting the one-way clutch bearing. Simple enough. Don’t drop the clip!

If you look closely at the body it’s completely conventional. The spool is built-out to provide a larger arbour. Orvis have opted for quite a narrow spool, which means line builds up quickly, and this works well. The aim of reels like this is really to provide some of the benefits of large arbour reels, lower start-up inertia and less difference in drag between full and empty. For my part, I see mid-arbour reels as allowing me conventional looks with an element of large-arbour-ness. You can achieve exactly the same result with a conventional spool and more backing.

Orvis list the backing capacity as 100 or 75 yards of 20lb Dacron for 5 and 6 lines and give the weight as 5.8oz (165g). The backing capacity is adequate but this is a fairly weighty reel.

• Price £99 (good value)
• From Orvis stockists

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