Orvis Battenkill II Reel

David Anderson reacquaints himself with an updated classic

True story. After absolute Photoshop malarky, the next best way to make any small-stream trout look bigger for the classic rod-and-fish shot is by using a smaller reel. As true as this is though, the reel manufacturers, damn them, have over many years been making larger and larger arbor reels with no regard for how long it takes me to make diminutive trout look bigger in Photoshop.
More seriously, my sweet spot for a 2 or 3-weight reel has always been 3 inches or under in overall diameter and light enough not to unbalance the shorter rods I typically use on small streams. The Orvis Battenkill II in size #1, at 2¾” and 3.8 oz fits this brief like a glove, and at a smidge under $230 is also very affordable.
In build, the little Battenkill is simplicity at its best, with an old-school, reversible (left or right hand wind), single pawl clicker drag that adds just enough braking to stop free-spooling, and more importantly, just enough voice to announce to anyone in shouting distance that you’re hooked up. It’s machined of heavy duty bar stock aluminium with a tidy, anodised finish in grey. The simplicity also lends itself to maintenance that is little more than the odd clean-out of grit and perhaps a touch of grease on the axle at the end of the season.
The spool itself is fairly narrow, and with a weight-forward 3-weight line it holds more backing than I ever want to see on a stream. Let’s call it 50 metres. If that’s not enough, I want to know where you’re fishing.
The end result is a well finished and solid little reel with a built-for-life-and well-after-death feel and a classic look that’s not likely to fall out of fashion anytime soon.
If you’re a big fish little rod person and the clicker drag isn’t enough, there’s the newer Battenkill III model that’s basically the same, but with a disc drag. It’s a smudge bigger at 3″ if that matters and costs a little more, but might be the less excitement option on bigger water.
The Battenkill II reels come with a cloth bag, lifetime defects warranty and are available in 3–5 and 5–7 weight line sizes.

Orvis Battenkill II Reel - FlyLife Reviews