Unbiased? I’ve sure got opinions about my Hatch reels and gear, based on personal use experience, and as such I’m probably not unbiased. For one thing, I can fish about any fly gear I wanted – and the choices out there are so numerous that it would be impossible for me to fish all the gear and then even more impossible for me to select the best of the best based on performance, because there are too many good reel manufacturers and I am not a super human gear evaluator, jus a regular guy who loves to fish and is capable of recognizing “good stuff” when I fish it. I like to be positive, and yes, I have fished some gear that was a disappointment, but I don’t have time or the inclination to write about disappointing products.
Why Hatch? Put it another way, why not Tibor, Abel, Bauer, or Nautilus instead? There is probably an element of chance and involved, pure and simple. I hold the aforementioned fly reels in the highest esteem, and have fished all four. Each of those fly reels performed at the highest level possible. But at some point, my budget is limited, I have only one fly reel case, and I decided to go all in with one fly reel to fish and specialize with – and I picked the Hatch Finatic. I love the wide range of reel sizes Hatch offers (as do most other reel manufacturers, but something about the Hatch heft, feel, drag, and sound won me over. I know several of the people who run the operation at Hatch, especially Andrew; these reels are made with the highest precision computer controlled machining and components. The reels are tested and tested and then tested again. I am an angler who is HARD on my gear and do little other than rinse them lightly under a hose after each use. My reels bounce around in the dory. One of my Hatch reels, an 11 Plus, survived an 8 ft drop from the overhead rod rack to the oak floor in our cabin without a dent or scratch. Wouldn’t recommend this to anyone, just saying that these are tough fly reels, they sound delightful when an albacore is making a screaming run, and they have a highly dependable drag system that has never let me down.
If you are hoping for details about ball bearings, sealed drag systems, synthetic lubricants and disks, you had best move on, because I don’t really dig that jive. I refuse to regurgitate technical details that I really don’t understand, but I can and will honestly report my experience fishing the Hatch products I have put to the test for the last several seasons.
All I’m going to do is show you a glimpse at the Hatch gear I’ve been using with a few comments.
My Hatch 5 Plus Finatic is lined with a Rio Streamer Tip 10 ft sink tip – ‘been fishing this one on an Echo Glass 4 wt switch rod for winter steelhead this season. Plenty of backing for a 6 wt line and the reel took a serious workout in stride this winter.
This Hatch 7 Plus reel is strung with a RIO Striper line and hung on a Sage Xi3 rod that I fish for silvers in the ocean during the summer. Again, excellent performance.
This Hatch 9 reel is currently in my Simms reel case, but is about to get mounted on my Burkheimer 995-4 to fish for spring Chinook. Many fine memories with the fly reel and rod combination.
This Hatch 11 is mounted on a Scott Radian 9 wt rod, again, ready to fish Springers in the next month or so. The reel is far larger than needed, so during albacore season, I line this reel with an Airflo Big Game 700 gr line and head out after tuna. Salmon test this reel, but not like the tuna do, and it stands up to both species with high honors.
This hatch 11 Plus is equipped with a Hatch Tropical 500 gr line and is my back up when out fly fishing for lingcod. Don’t be fooled by the term tropical, this is a great fly line for use here in our temperate waters offshore Oregon. The 500 gr head gets it down almost as fast as the Airflo 700 gr line and in fact sometimes i fish this line if the kings are at 40 – 50 ft instead of at 80 – 100 ft depths.
Hatch Premium Backing. Best backing I have ever had the pleasure to fish. Not slick and wiry like super braid, this PE is round, feels good, is fine diameter and sting at 68 lb test it is smaller than 20 lb Dacron and is round instead of flat. I use this in situations when I need extra backing fishing for salmon, and especially for tuna.
Hatch Pro Series Saltwater Fluorocarbon. This is the leader I fined for albacore tuna offshore last season (2014) and will fish again in 2015. I fished #20 and #25 alternately and without rationale, and never lost an Albie to a bad knot with this material – and I fight fish hard. My opinion regarding fluorocarbon was not all that good until I fished this material. I am now completely confident in this specific brand of Fluoro, and am ready to rig my tuna and silver lines with this leader again in 2015.
I have always been a Maxima Ultragreen guy up until I fished this material overwinter. Now I’m convinced that using Fluoro brought me more grabs in ultra clear low flows and I found this material totally trustworthy. In the past I always downgraded the listed strength of Fluoro but I now consider this material every bit as dependable as maxima, but finer diameter and probably less visible to the steelies.
Hatch Tropical Fly Lines. Again, I’m not one to be deterred by the phrase “tropical” and I fished these two Hatch fly lines last season for silvers and Albacore, with pure satisfaction. The Intermediate is a great line for bucktailing silvers offshore.
Hatch Nomad Pliers. These stood up to the harsh of an ocean environment with no maintenance the entire summer season. Superior pliers, leather holster, lanyard, clip, cutter jaws, and grip surface. Are there other good pliers out there? Of course. Am I extremely fond of these? Yes.
From fly reels, tippets, lines, pliers, and ball caps (don’t have one yet), I count on my Hatch fishing gear and trust it to perform under the harshest of conditions. I fished one of these reels a few years ago when I went to the Upper Dean River in BC, fishing Spey rods for summer steelhead. Yep. Exquisite performance.
Count on Hatch for superior products and absolutely flawless quality.
Jay Nicholas, April 2015