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Orvis Clearwater Fly Reel Review – Beginner Fly Reel

Our recent review of the Clearwater Fly Reel was prodigiously positive. Orvis simply worked hard enough and did an awesome upgrading and redesigning that fly reel and it is fully satisfying to fly fish with.

Once you choose the fully-loaded type, Orvis has a few goodies as part of the package to ensure that you spend less, save more, and have everything shipped at the same time. Any angler will confirm that having a great fly rod is mandatory.

Having one of the best fly reels like the Orvis Clearwater Fly Reel which works exceptionally well without any hitches and matches the rod perfectly is equally important.

There is much more than a good fly reel can do apart from holding the fly line and backing. Have you ever tried to hook a big and fast swimming fish?

You will discover that the aftermath will highly depend on the quality of your fly fishing reel every fisherman or woman wants a well-built durable unit that is effective even after years of consistent use.

A bonus to it should be a stylish design that looks striking strapped on the fly rod. It is pleasurable to fish with something like this.

How about pairing your Clearwater fly reel with a Clearwater 4pc fly rod 2019 edition? It will always be your go-for combo.

Orvis Clearwater Fly Fishing Reel



Check Clearwater Reel Amazon Price



The good news is that it won’t cost you an arm and a leg to acquire a fully functional and powerful fly reel. There are more excellent ones in our buyer’s guide with affordable price tags. 

This one has been so far highly rated by anglers and offers the best value for every dime spent on it.

Most fishermen will buy from a reputable manufacturer and supplier to ensure that they don’t fall prey of unscrupulous dealers who sell counterfeits at a throwaway price.

Briefly about the team behind the Mighty Clearwater fly reel 2019 edition. Orvis has been a family owned retail company that has been in existence for over 160 years now.

To date, the company hits 163 years of product manufacture and customer service. So far, the oldest in the industry yet still standing strong and unbeatable.

Perkins and his team are the masterminds behind the updated version of the famous Clearwater fly reel and fly rod.

There have been praises about the new reel’s functionality, performance, aesthetics, value, and more trust in durability now that it still is new in the market.

There is more about this fly reel in this review that will interest you. Ready to know more? Let’s go.



Key Features of the 2019 Orvis Clearwater Fly Reel

Environmental Tolerance and Maintenance – The Clearwater fly reel is recommended for freshwater fishing. Its construction is well-designed to suit such environments and exposure to salt water will affect its longevity.

Orvis properly lubricates all Clearwater reels before sale. The manufacturer recommends that the reel be well cleaned and lubricated after prolonged use or after exposure to sand, grit, and dirt. All moving components should be lightly lubricated.

After use, ensure that the fly reel dries completely before putting it away. If storing for a long period, remove the backing and line then loosen the drag.

Arbor Design – Both the Clearwater II and IV have large arbors. The difference is in the diameter. While the Clearwater II boasts of a 3 ½’’ diameter, the Clearwater IV has it in 3 ¼’’. Reels with large arbors are very prolific and gives the reel a fast retrieve rate. The line comes off the reel in bigger coils allowing the angler to cast easily with lesser tangles. The drag is consistent too.

Drag System – Powerful is the description here. Clearwater reels feature Rulon to stainless stacked disc drag system which is dependable. Adjusting the drag is simpler by turning the knob clockwise to build resistance and anticlockwise to reduce it. The minimum drag setting should be at par or slightly higher than the pressure needed to counter overrunning of the fly line on quicker runs. You can palm the spool rim using your palm or fingers to apply additional drag.

Material and Design – Cast aluminium is what Orvis used to make this fly reel. The casting process gives a lighter fly reel compared to machined reels. The drop in its overall weight due to the material and construction doesn’t interrupt the balance with your rod.

Durability – This masterpiece just landed this year and a few months after its release, there haven’t been critics on durability. We are hopeful that things remain as such even with years of use. We will make an update in case there will be any hitches that affect the reel’s longevity.

Conversions – Clearwater LA reels are installed for the left hand retrieve. However, you can change to the right and back at will. To convert to the right hand, simply remove the spool and pull the keyed bush and the clicker plate assembly off the spindle. Proceed too flip clutch bearing then reassemble.

Spool – The spool release is easy to find; right at the middle of the reel spool. If you want to remove it, depress spool release latch while at the same time lifting your spool away from the reel body.

Other Aspects of the 2019 Orvis Clearwater Fly Fishing Reel

Weight – Basically, all upgrades of the Clearwater are lighter than the previous versions. Clearwater II Reel 2019 edition weighs 5.4 oz. which makes it 0.1 oz. lighter than the older model while the Clearwater IV weighs 6.1 oz. and 0.2 oz. lighter than the older one. The difference might be very little but has significance.

Capacity – Capacities depend on the line weight and the Clearwater fly reel. Clearwater II has the capacity as follows: WF4-125, WF5-100, and WF6-75. Clearwater IV: WF8-225, WF9-200, and WF8-175. All capacities have a Dacron backing of 20lbs.

Handles – The handle doesn’t have any tinge of looseness like the older version. The handle has a comfortable taper which feels pretty okay when grasping. There is no doubt that the overall feel as you crank your reel is very solid

Guarantee – There is an unconditional guarantee on this 2019 Orvis Clearwater Fly Reel against any defects in workmanship and material. In case of damages, repairs are possible individually at a small fee. Reach the manufacturer via email or phone in case of assistance in this area.

Customer Thoughts on the 2019 Clearwater Fly Reel 

The new Clearwater is perfectly smooth to operate and is so far one of the best value fly reels that anyone from beginners’ level to professional can buy. Once you match it with the right fly rod, there is nothing to really worry about.

Clearwater reels can be put head to head with a few high-end fly reels and to say the least, it is seamless fun like never before. Its lightweight nature allows you to be able to cast with it the entire day minus any fatigue.

You can go nymphing with it and it is fully functional. The drag knob has proven to be very tactical and easily accessible. If you own the two versions, you will notice that they are equally good but the upgrade is more appealing and satisfying.

The reel allowing for interchangeable spools ensures that the user continues to fish in case the weather takes a turn and decides to get wet.

This is a solid fly reel and has a great drag system. If you are looking to get rock quality gear on a budget, this update is an excellent option. It can handle perch, large bass, and other kinds of fish.

The reel construction especially having been made out of metal rather than composite plastic makes it speak louder when it comes to withstanding abuse on water.


Pros – Things that shine on the Clearwater Fly Reel


  • Easily convertible to either the right or left-hand side
  • Lightweight and easy to carry
  • Stress-free and low maintenance
  • Powerful drag system
  • Durable Construction
  • Comes fully loaded with a WF Fly line, a tapered leader, Dacron and backing
  • Ready to use-no assembling
  • Tougher and stronger spool
  • Highly performing and best value reel


Cons – Things that are not so cool!

  • I doubt there is any that has been detected until now. The reel is a few months old after its release into the market. On reliable sites, buyers and users have left only positive reviews and no critic so far. This is a good start for this tremendous reel. On the price, it might be a little costly especially if you are working on a low budget. However, once you buy it, you will get value for money.
  • A few have reported they were disappointed the reel didn’t come with the fly line as in the photo on many main websites. NB: This is just to show how it will look the product is for the reel only.

FAQ’s – Questions about the Orvis Clearwater Fly Reel

Q) Which line weight will go well with the Orvis Clearwater IV Fly Reel 2019 edition?
A) The heavier weights from 7 to 9 will match this type of reel.

Q) Does it come with an extra spool?
A) No, this one comes as a professionally rigged reel ready to fish with no extra spool. Spare ones can be purchased separately.

Q) What is the tested maximum drag of the Clearwater II fly reel?
A) This will be approximately 5 pounds or thereabout.

Q) How much start-up inertia does it have?
A) None detected so far after several tests. The drag is very smooth at all settings even at full lock.

Q) Does the click sound irritate sensitive ears? Is it a reel to use for a long time without any discomfort?
A) Sure, you can use it the whole day since the clicking is modest and isn’t cheesy like most old reels.

Q) Is this fly reel palmable to add extra drag?
A) Yes, you can palm the spool rim using your palm or fingers.

Q) Is this one fit for left-hand users?
A) No doubt. Orvis installs this fly reel for the left-hand wind but you can convert to any side of your choice.

Q) What is the backing and capacity of a WF6 and WF5 line?
A) The WF5 line has a capacity of 100 at 20lbs and WF6 is 75 at 20lbs.

Final Verdict on the Clearwater Fly Reel

Anxiety built up when Orvis announced of the Clearwater Fly Reel upgrade for 2019. As usual, Orvis had more to surprise anglers. The new version is lighter and tougher.

Well, the difference in weight when compared to the older models may seem minute but you need to put it to test to realize that the difference is great and to the advantage of the angler.

From construction to acoustics, this masterpiece is one that has every sign of longevity. It isn’t surprising that there aren’t any blemishes in construction and performance.

What do you expect from a company that is about to hit two millenniums in the tackle and outdoor sporting industry?

For the much it goes for, this reel is better than most high-end fly reels. The Orvis Clearwater Fly Reel is a delight to fish and it matches pretty well with the Clearwater Fly Rod 2019 edition which we have done a detailed review already on our site.

Orvis did its assignment very well when it came to revamping this reel. This should be a candidate for you as an entry, middle or professional angler is you are looking for quality. If you have the older version, it is time you tried this new edition that hasn’t failed until this moment.

If you are still not convinced on the Clearwater Fly reel then we have more reels reviewed on our full list here.

Check Clearwater Reel Amazon Price


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