Orvis 7/8 Anti-Reverse Fly Reel

Orvis Fly Reel Review

General details/specifications:

Model: Orvis Battenkill
Size: 7/8
Weight: c.6oz
Colour: Black


Reel review

I love this reel. It was left to me by my late stepfather, who used if for years catching bonefish in the Bahamas, Christmas Island, Mexico and Cuba. I now use it for all manner of species – from exotic saltwater species like bonefish and this trevally to small trout in the reservoirs of Northamptonshire. It is perfect for both.

Overall build quality

The build quality is undeniable. The reel has lasted more than fifteen years without needing any servicing or replacement parts. It came ready-to-use, so there was no complicated set-up or maintenance routines – just add a line and go fishing.

Ease of use and special features

One notable feature of this reel is its unusual anti-reverse mechanism. You don’t see this feature very often, even in modern reels, but when fishing for fast swimming fish like bonefish it’s a definite advantage (indeed that’s why Roy bought it in the first place). As those of you who have caught a bonefish on the flats will know, they are extremely fast fish and any attempts to manually ‘brake’ the reel by applying pressure to the outside edge of spool will lead to friction burns or wrapped knuckles. You’ve never seen a reel handle move so fast! There is no such issue with this reel, as the outside edge and reel handle remain static while the inner spool spins. It may feel a bit disconcerting at first, but the drag is so efficient that it soon becomes second nature.


This is an old reel, so whether or not you get the original reel case will depend entirely on the seller, but mine has come with a rather cute Orvis reel case.

Ideal buyer

Although this reel was designed for saltwater flyfishermen, there is no reason why it can’t be used for all kinds of flyfishing. This model is probably too small for the thick lines required for salmon fishing, but is perfect for other UK species, the rainbow trout, brown trout or seatrout.

Value for money

It was an expensive reel in its time but, provided you can find one second hand, this should make an excellent purchase. With only mild care and attention (foe example, rinsing in fresh water after each saltwater outing), mine is as good as new and I don’t intend to replace it any time soon.

Tips for buyers

The secret to this reel is its drag. Without the ability to apply pressure manually, it is imperative that the drag is working smoothly and reliably. Please make sure you ask the seller about the reel’s drag and, if possible, give it a try before buying.

Similar alternatives

If you are trout fishing, there is no real need to purchase a reel of this quality; apart from the behemoths of Dever Springs and similar stocked still waters, it is rare to find trout that will make long runs, so a powerful drag is not generally necessary.

If you’re looking for an all-round fly reel that will suit both fresh and saltwater species, you could also consider newer reels from Orvis, Abel, Allbright, Airflo, Loop, Hardy, Mako and Sage.

How/where to buy

I won’t list tackle shops here would be a pointless exercise but here are a couple of online resources you might find useful:
Codella Used Reels

Summary of pros and cons

Pros Cons
Excellent build quality Possibly over-engineered for trout fishermen
Anti-reverse drag Hard to find
Suitable for salt and fresh water
Robust drag for hard-fighting fish
Easy to maintain



Build quality and finish: 9.5/10
Practicality: 8/10
Ease of use: 9/10
Buying experience: N/A
Value for money: 10/10
Overall: 9/10


James Green About James Green

James Green loves nothing more than casting a fly in pursuit of salmon, seatrout or, when the opportunity arises, a tailing bonefish, tarpon or permit.