Waterworks Lamson Centerfire

Thomas Clancy runs the latest Lamson through its paces

Those who claim a fly reel is just a line holder obviously haven’t tried their hand at saltwater fly fishing. Sure, your favourite freshwater reel will handle the bread-and-butter species of our inshore and estuary fisheries no sweat, but the rest of the saltwater scene calls for something a little more rugged and up to the task. Whether you’re cruising a flat, dredging a reef or getting in the thick of a good old fashioned surface feeding frenzy, a well-made, quality reel is vital to ensure you have skin in the game. 

The Centerfire is the latest saltwater offering from Waterworks Lamson. I was lucky enough to be sent the eight-weight model from the guys at Manic to give it a test in the lead up to its release. So, over the last five or so months I’ve tried to give it a solid workout against the local tuna and trevally population to get a feel for what the reel is capable of. 

First impressions out of the box could be summed up as ‘unpretentious’. The reel offers a simple yet functional aesthetic but exudes a quiet confidence that lets you know it will do its job and do it well. The reel sports tight tolerances and clean, smooth machining. It feels and looks bomb proof. The company has poured their strongest and most reliable structural and functional elements from 20 plus years of design experience into the Centerfire, such as the ‘power arm frame’ found on the top shelf Cobalt, bringing you everything you need in a saltwater reel and nothing you don’t. 

The drag system is the same one found in their Litespeed M series and again shares some elements found in the drag of the flagship Cobalt. It is silky smooth with undetectable start-up inertia and packs some serious fish stopping power. The drag holds independent IPX8 certification, so you know its claims of being sealed and waterproof are on the money. The fluted drag knob is easy to find mid-fight and very grippy. Waterworks have previously released some less-than-ideal drag knob designs, so it’s great to see such a marked improvement on the Centerfire. One-and-a-quarter turns will see the full range of the drag covered, which is incredibly efficient. In one small turn you can disengage the drag to strip off line and then crank it back on ready for battle. 

Functionality and performance aside, the thing that impressed me is the price. The $1,000 mark seems to be the industry standard for a top shelf saltwater reel these days. The Centerfire 8 comes in at $900AUD. 

The Centerfire comes in two colours — ‘Citra’, silver with lime accents, and ‘Eclipse’, black with ‘Scott Sector’ blue accents (unlikely accidental). 

While it’s still early days for me, I am genuinely impressed with the performance of the Centerfire. In fact, I’m already making plans to get my hands on the 10 model in anticipation of the upcoming kingfish season.