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Finding affordable gear can be challenging for those getting started in big-game saltwater fly fishing. Fly fishing, in general, is expensive, but when you consider the specialized tackle required to wrestle with big game targets like tarpon, a reel alone can run the cost of a monthly mortgage payment! Add some rods, lines, bags, pliers, flies, and guided trips, and we are up to nearly a downpayment on a four-bedroom ranch! 

What are you to do if you want to pursue big game, but your budget isn’t as big as the species you’d like to tame? Call it quits? Not yet, thanks to brands like Redington, which are dedicated to bringing quality, affordable gear to the masses. This is where the Grande comes into play: A reel Redington designed with massive drag in mind at the most affordable price possible. What does Redington get right, and what doesn’t work? Read on to get our honest, unbiased take on what Redington claims is “the heavyweight champion of big game fly reels.”

Big Game Reel Shootout Full Results


With a name like Grande, you weren’t expecting a featherweight, were you? Tipping the scales at a hair over 11 ounces, the only two reels that outweighed it in the shootout were the REALLY heavy Sage Thermo and Mako 9600B.


If there’s one thing Redington gets right with the Grande, it’s the drag. Depending on the species targeted, a reel’s max drag isn’t always critical, but this is a shootout to see which reels have the guts to stop true leviathans, and the Grande lives up to its reputation with a massive 41 pounds of top-end drag! If you’re not really wrenching on it, the effective drag drops to 15 pounds, which is still plenty, but when cranked to the half-point, it is around 5.3 pounds. These numbers are all OK; it’s just not the most linear drag in the shootout. Still, considering a sub-$400 reel has the strongest drag in the shootout, it’s tough to complain.

Drag Test Graphs


While not as authoritative as the GTX and Silver King, the Grande still produces a noticeable clicking sound on both the incoming and outcoming. It sounds a bit too much like ‘plastic’ for our liking, however. 

Spool & Retrieval Rate

While we love the Grande’s drag, the spool design leaves much to be desired. The Grande had the widest spool in the shootout, pushing 1.5 inches! Its retrieval rate was also pretty meager, averaging under 11 inches per turn. It does have a substantial backing capacity of 339 yards of 30lb Dacron but keep in mind that you risk needing to act like a level wind if filled to the max due to its width.

Looks & Ergonomics

The Grande definitely doesn’t have the Hatch Iconic’s sleek looks, but considering the price, it’s okay if you’re okay with looking down and seeing a Timex instead of a Rolex. The reel feels bulky and awkward, but the drag knob works well enough, and the handle is at least large enough and relatively easy to grip. This isn’t a standout area for the Grand, but it’s ok.


Lifetime to the original owner

Price: $380


Redington gets a few things right with the Grande. Namely, a best-in-class max drag. The reel was average in most categories to finish around the middle of the pack. Despite the powerful max drag, its non-linear nature loses points. Furthermore, the spool ranked dead last in width, which can cause issues with fly line piling up on one side and a poor retrieval rate. Additionally, the reel is a tank.

The Grande’s looks and ergonomics are nothing to phone home about, but considering the price, they are serviceable. We do have to tip our caps to Redington for delivering a reel this powerful at a price this reasonable. Anglers looking to get into the world of big game fly fishing now have a viable reel option they can confidently rely on, and this should open more doors to the sport.  

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  • Best-in-class max drag!
  • Great price


  • Heavy
  • Poor spool design