The Orvis Mirage is one of our favorite reels, so we know the engineers at Orvis run a tight ship. But can they live up to that reputation on a budget-friendly reel? We haven't tested any of Orvis' value-oriented reels, and we wanted to see if they did as well as their top-of-the-line counterparts. How does the Orvis Access Mid-Arbor measure up?

 

5-Weight Challenge Full Results

WEIGHT

4.5 ounces. One of the lighter reels in the test!

DRAG

 

The Access, despite its smaller arbor (smaller = more drag), has less drag strength than the rest of the Orvis lineup. It averaged 4.3 lbs, and had a mere .12lbs of startup inertia.

 

Sealed?

Indeed.

DRAG TEST GRAPH

SOUND

The sound on the Access, like all of Orvis reels, is fine, but nothing special. Clicks on both incoming and outgoing.

SPOOL & RETRIEVAL RATE

The aptly named "Mid-Arbor" is the smallest arbor and slowest retrieve in the test at 5.72 inches per turn. On the plus side, it does hold plenty of backing.

LOOK & FEEL

The look and feel on the Access is pretty similar to other reels made in the same factory (Orvis Hydros, TFO BVK, etc). We'd like to see a more interesting design, but certainly don't expect it at this price point. It's not winning any beauty contests.

Ergonimics

Handle: The handle on the Access is better than the Mirage. In fact, it's one of the best in class.

 

Drag Knob: One thing I really didn't like on the Access (and the Hydros) was the drag knob. It's not comfortable to adjust, particularly when there's some torque involved.

 

Spool Change: The quick release works well.

The Drop

Excellent. The Access looked fine after we roughed it up. You can definitely see what happened, but it held up particularly well for a black reel. It's *almost* as good as Lamson's Hard Alox finish. No Damage.

WARRANTY

Lifetime to the original owner + $30

 

Price: $155

CONCLUSION

 

Best Buy!

There are a lot of things to like about Access. It's got a first rate handle, super smooth drag, light weight, etc. But what stands out most, is it's price. So, the Mid-Arbor has won our coveted "Best Buy" award. The only thing that holds this reel back is its 1995 sized arbor. The Orvis marketing department did a good job differentiating this from the Hydros, but we'd really like to see this reel with a bigger arbor. It might have even won the test!

 

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PROS

  • Price
  • Smooth, strong drag for the price point
  • Pretty lightweight!

CONS

  • Do mid-arbor reels still have a place in today's market?