Jay’s Unbiased Review of Hatch Outdoors Fly Reels and Gear

Hatch and Nautilus Fly reels on Echo, Scott, and Burkheimer fly rods.

Hatch and Nautilus Fly reels on Echo, Scott, Sage, and Burkheimer fly rods.

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.

Hatch 5 Plus Fly Reel.

Hatch 5 Plus Fly Reel.

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.

Hatch Finatic 7 Plus Fly Reel.

Hatch Finatic 7 Plus Fly Reel.

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.

Hatch 9 Plus Fly Reel.

Hatch 9 Plus Fly Reel.

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.

Hatch Finatic 11 Plus Fly Reel.

Hatch Finatic 11 Plus Fly Reel.

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.

Hatch Finatic 11 Plus Fly Reel.

Hatch Finatic 11 Plus Fly Reel.

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.

Hatch Premium Backing.

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 Professional Series Saltwater Series Fluorocarbon Tippet.

Hatch Professional Series Saltwater Series Fluorocarbon Tippet.

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.

10 & 12 pound Hatch Fluorocarbon Tippet.

10 & 12 pound Hatch Fluorocarbon Tippet.

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 - Intermediate and 400 gr sink tips.

Hatch Tropical fly lines – Intermediate and 400 gr sink tips.

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.

Hatch Nomad Pliers.

Hatch Nomad Pliers, my favorite of favorites.

Hatch Nomad Pliers, my favorite of favorites.

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



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11 Responses to Jay’s Unbiased Review of Hatch Outdoors Fly Reels and Gear

  1. Tom Rossi says:

    I agree. Have two Fanatic 5’s and two Fanatic 7’s – along with a pair of their pliers. There’s other good equipment out there, but there is something about Hatch’s quality that make them seem so much more substantial (and worth the investment).

  2. Mrmachinist says:

    I get a sudden rush of shame when seen in public using my 30+ year old pflueger medalist reel, all it does is catch fish decade after decade. Bob G. sold it to me at the caddis fly when I was a teenager, now I’m middle aged and it’s in better shape than I am, ……sure miss ol’ Bob.

  3. david jensen says:

    Where can I get that nice rod ceiling holder?

  4. Cardo says:

    Yeah great reels although the heft can cause balance issues on lighter rods. I’ve got the 3+ on a 5wt Helios ZG, a 4+ on a 6wt Helios H2, the 5+ on a 7wt Helios ZG, and had the 7+ on a 8/9wt blue water Beulah. And got a 2+ coming to pair with a Helios H2. Never tried the other brands—no reason to.

  5. BG says:

    Interesting how folks can have such differing experiences with gear (like cars I suppose). I currently own a Hatch 9+ that has had the drag cassette replaced twice…once for locking up completely on the first day I used it, and then again after the clutch failed and was applying heavy pressure to the incoming retrieve. I’ve also seen a friend drop one with the result being that the machined reel foot broke completely off the frame, requiring replacement of the frame. I really don’t consider myself to be overly hard on equipment, so my problems were a bit surprising based upon what I had heard from others.

    That said, my experiences have shown me that Hatch easily has the best warranty in the business and has been nothing but a pleasure to deal with directly…no shipping charges or fees and quick (3-4 day usually) turnaround.

  6. Jay says:

    Ceiling rack: look on Internet. Forget the name but they are great and reasonable cost.

    Drag system: I had one 11 plus with a drag too heavy on startup and too finicky on adjustment. I sent it back and they had it right at no charge in less than a week.

    Drops: I had an 11 plus fall from my ceiling rod rack and bounce off hardwood floor. No damage or warp I can detect.

    Got to rinse and lube reel handle “O” ring to prevent seizure.

    Thanks for everyone’s comments.


  7. Warren Holm says:

    Hi Jay,

    I hope you see this question. I am looking at the purchase of an 11 Plus, but am confused by the backing capacities (Hatch Premium) on the Hatch website. I note your 2 x 11Plus reels are not particularly full, neither the large arbor or the mid arbor.

    Could you please tell me how much of the Hatch Premium backing you have on each of these reels?

    Thanks and regards,


  8. Gary Neal says:

    Have you had any drag failures on your Hatch Reels?
    I have had six drag failures on my 9’s & 2 on my 11’s

  9. Oregon Fly Fishing Blog says:

    Never. I had one 11 that I thought had too much start-up drag and sent it back to the factory for adjustment. I like my start-up to be really smooth and light when I’m salmon fishing with 10 lb. leader. I saw an angler down in Baja with an 11 that had a drag so tight on the lightest setting that it would certainly have broken here leader if she hooked a large fish. I do not know if it was always that way or if it was compromised by saltwater use. Anyway, I have never had issues with either drag failure or drag inconsistency with any of the hatch reels I fish. And not that you asked, but I also fish Nautilus reels, and I personally rate Nautilus and Hatch at the highest level of reels that I trust. I know that people tend to be brand loyal and fish one brand or the other. In my case, I fish both and trust both. Make sense? JN

  10. Chris Hollis says:

    I have had trouble with the hatch reels. squeaking and the drag

  11. Matt jensen says:

    HATCH REELS ARE THE BEST YOU CAN BUY, I have fishes nautilus 5/6 nvg I’ve fished every Abel out there and all the other reels that are in the same price range and honestly no other reels are as beautifully machined as hatch, and I’ll take that to the bank, look at the smoothness and the porting and the drag it just all adds up to a completely perfect fly reel! Yes I did have some issues with the gen 1 but the gen 2 finatiic is bulletproof and they addressed all the issues and now I believe the hatch gen 2 finatiic is the best reel money can buy, I’ll fish hatch til I die

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