Out of the Box PREview: Loop OPTI Reels

*An “Out of the Box PREview” is a preview of gear we will be doing a #crushed-review on later in the year.  “Out of the Box PREviews” give our initial thoughts on the product right out of the box, before it is used.  These PREviews will tell you what we like, what we love what  we are unsure about and/or what we don’t like.  Then after using the products (and using them hard) we will write a Crushed Review and you will get to see how the product held up to our initial impressions.  

The LOOP OPTI REELS (DryFly and Creek)

General Thoughts:  These reels are super slick looking and are designed by the originators of the large arbor fly reel.  There are so many fly reel companies out there and some of them appeal to a very broad market by offering good looking (mostly large arbor) reels for cheaper prices than some of the more established companies.  I have owned one from a very popular company like this and it served me very well for a couple of years.  It was a good reel but I couldn’t say it was a great reel.   I get asked a lot what makes an expensive reel better than a cheaper reel? An honest answer is sometimes nothing…but that doesn’t apply all the time.  Many people out there are eating these cheaper reels up without realizing what can set some of the higher end reels apart.  By all means fish within your budget and also know that the quality of a reel is not defined by its price tag.   Having a more expensive reel wont get the fish to eat your fly either.  However, the LOOP OPTI reel is a reasonably priced high end reel worth much more than what you will pay for it. The LOOP OPTI reels have earned their price tag with simple yet often overlooked innovations that amp up the performance of this reel.  They run from $520- $700 depending on the size of the reel you want.  Back to a more specific version of the question above:  What sets the LOOP OPTI Reels apart from other reels? The difference between this high end reel and many other reels is the difference between great and good.   My first impression of this reel is that it even sets itself above so many other high end, well respected reels with simple yet innovative additions to the OPTI design.  Some of these innovations aren’t even marketed as selling points for the reel which makes my head spin…they should be.  Needless to say I was stoked when I took a close look at the different components of these reels.  Every detail is purposeful and designed to have them function at a higher level.  I shouldn’t have been surprised…after all LOOP was the innovative designer of the large arbor fly reel.  When it comes to a reel, little things set apart the great reels from the good reels.

What We Like: 
Rubber Handle Knob –  While it seems like no big deal the Rubber Handle Knob just feels good and won’t slip when wet.

Waterproof and salt safe drag system –  These two smaller versions aren’t going to see any salt water but it’s nice to know in case someone gargling the stuff chokes it up on my reel.

Reel Case –  The reel case keeps it’s form so you don’t have to wrestle the reel into it yet it holds the reel snug.  It also has two little heavy duty elastic straps on the back of  it which attach it nicely to the fly rod tube.

What We Love:  
The Formed Arbor of the spool is incredible. – No more backing hang ups.  The backing and line go on and off the spool so smooth.  The tapered belly of this reel is something I didn’t expect to like so much, but spooling backing and line onto it myself made the importance of this innovative design click.  The line on pickup distributes itself so well and evenly which leads to the extra smoothness when line is coming in or going out.

Housing Line Guide – I am just making up a name for this, but on the frame of the reel there is a curved bar adding to the smoothness of  line pickup.  Little treats like this make me feel happy inside.  It is good to know LOOP took every detail of this design seriously…which is how we approach fly fishing.

Power Matrix Drag System – I know, I know calling anything a power matrix sounds so gimmicky. I would have named it something else.  Even “Power Drag System” sounds better but feeling it despite its name was impressive.  Pulling line by hand against the drag gives a much different feel than most of the reels I own or have fished.  It has a very smooth start and it stays so even as line is going out.  This is just out of the box so the only testing has been in Luke’s living room, but we are excited to see this thing in action when a fish starts running.

Balance – Luke is pairing his Creek model with a 4wt 9′ LOOP Cross 1 Rod.  The OPTI Reel came out long before the Cross 1 but Luke swears they designed them together and just waited to drop the Cross 1 out last year.  Not true but he claims they feel like they were made for each other.  The DRYFLY was and forever will be attached to one of the best independently reviewed 5wts on the market – the LOOP OPTI Stream.  Perfect because these were for sure designed for each other. 

What We Dislike:  Nothing, nada, zip.

What Concerns Us:  We got nothing here either.   Which is maybe the concern.  Any thing that would pop up in the future would be a huge letdown since we are so impressed with these reels from the get go.  I have a feeling these will come though very well.

Other Thoughts: Everything about this design seems so thought through, down to the very last detail.  We were pleasantly surprised by the detail of these reals.  That said we will get the real verdict when it is crushed review time for these reels later this year.  Did I mention they are aesthetically pretty hot too? 

See Also:
Here is the Manual, so you can get a better look at the details of this reel.  
Different versions of the reel:
Check out LOOP USA for the specs or to purchase your own.
PS.  Their customer service is phenomenal.

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