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The Liquid Max is Lamson’s new entry-level saltwater reel, and we’re here to tell you why it’s one of the best value reels on the market. If you’ve been following Trident’s reviews for a while, you know we’ve appreciated Lamson reels for their great performance, thoughtful designs, and affordability. The Liquid Max stays true to this ethos, providing an extremely capable saltwater reel at a fraction of the price of premium reels. In today’s review, we’ll discuss its features, who it’s for, and some honest pros and cons to consider. Keep reading to see why we boldly claim the Lamson Liquid Max to be one of the best budget saltwater reels of 2024.

Pros & Cons


  • Excellent value! For under $300, you’ll get performance that rivals reels twice the price.
  • Ultra-quick retrieval rate. At approximately 11 inches per turn, you’ll have no problem reeling in line in a hurry.
  • A fully-sealed, powerful drag offering roughly 8 pounds of maximum stopping power.
  • The ergonomic drag knob and handle are large and comfortable.


  • Cast construction and painted finish make it less durable than anodized reels.
  • The spool release knob is too small and awkward to use by hand. Not ideal for making frequent spool changes on the water.

Who It’s For

The Lamson Liquid Max is an ideal choice for budget-minded saltwater anglers and beginners. Additionally, it would be a fantastic option for any angler who doesn’t need the absolute strongest drag or most durable construction for their occasional saltwater forays. In reality, the Liquid Max would make 95% of saltwater anglers very happy, especially when you consider its attainable price. Its sealed drag will provide adequate stopping power for common flats species such as Bonefish, Permit, Snook, Jacks, and more.

For more serious saltwater anglers who make multiple trips per year or who target behemoth species such as GTs and adult Tarpon, they may consider stepping up to a premium reel. Models like the Hatch Iconic, and the Seigler BFN will offer features such as an anodized finish and a more powerful drag system.


The 8wt size Liquid Max weighs in at 7.9 ounces, which certainly isn’t the lightest reel weight we’ve seen, but it's comparable to premium reels like the Nautilus CCF-X2 (7.9 ounces) and the Hatch Iconic (8.9 ounces). If you want the absolute lightest saltwater reel possible, you’d be better off going with the Lamson Litespeed M (5.6 ounces) or the Nautilus XL Max (5 ounces).



Lamson ventured away from their trusted Conical Drag system with the new Liquid Max in favor of a fully sealed Cobalt Hybrid drag system. You’ll get approximately 8 pounds of maximum pressure, which is more than enough for Bonefish, Permit, Striped Bass, and other common saltwater applications. The drag knob takes about 2.5 turns to go from minimum to maximum, which is about perfect. No excessive turning to dial in the right amount, but also enough leeway to make minor adjustments if needed.


The Liquid Max features a pleasing drag click that is undeniably Lamson. Its incoming and outgoing sounds are slightly differentiated, although we’d prefer a bit more of a difference between the two. Of course, drag sound is subjective, but suffice it to say we’re glad the Liquid Max has a nice audible click.

Spool & Cage Design


The spool on the Liquid Max is enormous and is one of the best features of this entry-level saltwater reel. It features a maximum diameter of 4.3 inches, a width of 1 inch, and an arbor diameter of 3 inches. These measurements equate to a whopping 11 inches of line retrieval per turn, which is insanely quick. This is comparable, and even better, than many reels twice or three times its price.

The standard open-cage design of the Liquid Max helps keep its weight relatively low but doesn’t aid with line-slip issues. To be fair, we haven’t experienced any line slip with the Liquid Max, nor have we heard of anyone else having issues with it, but it’s something to be aware of with any open-cage reel.

Looks & Ergonomics

The Liquid Max is a modest, but cool-looking reel, especially at this price point. It’s offered in 2 different color options: cadet (gray) with gold accents, and tidal (lighter gray) with blue accents. Both colorways are constructed from cast, painted aluminum, which isn’t as robust as anodized reels. Its spool and cage are ultra-ported and sporty, while still maintaining the classic liquid vibe.

Ergonomically, the Liquid Max is almost as good as any premium reel out there. It features a big, easy-to-grab drag knob and a large, comfortable handle. We can’t stress enough how important these two ergonomic features are in a saltwater reel, and finding them in a budget reel is almost unheard of. The only drawback to the ergonomics is the spool release knob, which is small and difficult to turn if it’s tightly secured. Fortunately, Lamson listened to its consumers regarding this design issue, and they now provide you with a tool for loosening the spool knob. While it’s not the most convenient solution on the water, it works for changing spools at home, and we appreciate Lamson for including it with every reel.


Lamson Fly Reel Warranty


Price: $279.99

Saltwater reels aren’t generally associated with value, as they can reach prices exceeding $1,000 these days. Fortunately, reels like the Lamson Liquid Max offer remarkable performance for a very reasonable price. We’d have to say that this new Liquid Max is the best-value saltwater reel available in 2024, officially taking the crown from the Orvis Hydros. Insanely quick line retrieval, a smooth powerful drag, and comfortable ergonomics for under $300? That’s a value we can fully endorse.



Lamson knocked it out of the park with the Liquid Max. We were already fans of the Liquid series, but the Max offers great features specifically for saltwater applications. Gone are the days of needing to spend $500 or more for a reliable saltwater reel. Sure, the Liquid Max may not be the absolute lightest or most powerful reel on the market, but it's more than adequate for a vast majority of anglers. We applaud Lamson’s ergonomic design and, most importantly, their pricing of this fantastic reel. If you’re new to saltwater fly fishing or a casual flats angler who enjoys 1-2 Bonefish trips per year, consider the Lamson Liquid Max for your next—or first—fly reel. With excellent performance at an attainable price, you’ll be happy with your investment for years of salty fun.

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