Orvis Clearwater Cassette Reel

Tom Jarman proves that everything old becomes new again

Over a decade ago I began competition fly fishing and started fishing lakes more seriously. At this time cassette reels were popular and readily available in the UK and Europe for stillwater fly fishing. The reels used plastic cassettes that could be switched in and out of the spool of the reel. The cassettes themselves were reasonably priced, allowing you to purchase as many as you needed. The concept was a great idea because, in a single day of lake fishing, conditions change and anglers need to change techniques and depths to keep catching fish. Different techniques require different fly lines and, to fish a greater range of depths, anglers will use intermediate and sinking lines to achieve this. 

I decided to give a cassette reel a go, however, the cassettes of the time had some significant flaws. They would get stuck on the spool of the reel, popping the cassettes in and out was an effort, and they would sometimes crack or bend. For this reason, I moved away from them and back to standard reels with extra spools for different fly lines. 

Recently I got my hands on a new Orvis Clearwater Cassette Reel. Six months in I’m really enjoying the new changes to the cassette reel format. The plastic cassettes are far more durable and don’t stick to the spool. They now pop in and out with ease using a switch on the face of the reel. 

As someone who loves an excuse for more gear and wants to be prepared with the right line for the right day, having a convenient and affordable way to have extra lines spooled and ready to be fished is amazing!