Better late than never, I guess. Anyway, about the reel - I could probably boil it down to one word – versatility. When I received the Firehole II, I immediately spooled it up with WF7F and began packing it along with me everywhere to fish. And I mean everywhere. (Seriously, go look at the trip reports from 2009 on our Finewater blog - this reel is in about every other photo) To date I have used it for steelhead in
As with the
Like many reels out there, the Firehole has a closed disc drag system. The FFB site calls it a “powerful disc drag…”. Well, ok. Let’s see. I didn’t bother testing the drag as I did with the
All of that said, I do have a couple of nits. First is the low backing capacity. Per the FFB web site, the Firehole II will hold seventy to eighty yards of 20 lb backing with a 5 or 6 wt fly line ( I assume they mean a WF line here). Seventy to eighty yards of backing is fine if you’re fishing for bass or trout. Striper fishing, not so much. . I was able to get around this by using gel-spun, which allowed me to put well over 100 yards of backing on the spool. So not a big deal, but worth mentioning. To be fair, the Firehole II is not designed to be an every day big game (read: striper) reel. This is reel for 5 to 7 weight lines and the corresponding fishing situations, so the backing issue may not be an issue for you. Then again, I use this reel for all of my carp fishing so backing capacity is a definite consideration.
Also, the drag knob is big and easily adjusted, but a bit sensitive. As a rule, I try very hard not to adjust the drag while fighting a fish. Sometimes though I have little choice and will try to ease the drag off a bit. With the Firehole II, I found it took a very deft touch to back the drag off gradually. On a couple of occasions, I backed off the drag a bit too much and got some over-run when the fish made another charge. Took some practice to develop that touch.
You can check out the Firehole II and its specs here. I think you'll find that on paper, the Firehole II compares favorably with other reels out there. When it comes down to it though, I really only want to know three things about a reel –
1.Does it have a quality drag?
2. Does it balance well on the rod?
3. Is it durable?
The Firehole II answers the bell on all counts as far as I’m concerned. A year of use and abuse allows me to say that with a great deal of confidence. At 149.00, I think this reel is worth a look if you're in the market.
DESCHUTES UPDATE: Since I have referenced the Deschutes review we did back in October of 2007, I thought I would throw in an update on that reel. It now has nearly two years of use under its belt now. We have used it both in our personal fishing and also on our guided trips, allowing clients to use it. This thing has seen literally hundreds of hours of river time. It looks like hell, but this tough little reel is still going strong.