Waterworks-Lamson Force SL II Fly Reel Review
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The Force SL has been Lamson's flagship reel series for some time. It's known for minimalist design and super light weight. We knew this was a good looking trout reel, but can it stand up to the rigors of saltwater fishing? Read on to find out!
Can a fly reel be too light? I’m not sure, but if there’s a reel in this test that is, it’s this one. At 3.8 oz, the Force is BY FAR the lightest reel in the test. If you’re looking to ‘balance’ out an 8-weight, it’s going to be to light for even the lightest of 8-weights. But who cares about balance anyway?
Nothing to write home about here. The drag on the F3 maxes out at very trout sized 4.1 lbs, but because it’s got a hard stop on the top end, it’s all usable drag, which puts it squarely in the middle of the pack. At the halfway mark, it’s got 1.34 lbs or 32% of the max – a solid adjustment range. On the bottom end, you’ll find .11 lbs, which is not enough to prevent the reel from free spooling.
Finally, like most of the reels in this test, the Force didn’t have any startup inertia to speak of when set to max drag. Oddly, though, when we tested it at half drag, it exhibited quite a bit of startup inertia. Since this is an apples-to-apples test, we didn’t dock it any points, but thought it was worth mentioning.
Drag Test Graph
Like other Lamson reels, the Force sounds great, but for a saltwater reel, it’s just a bit… trouty.
Spool & Retrieval Rate
At 9.64 inches per turn, the Force picks up line wicked fast. It’s also HUGE. Even if we take out 10-20% for the curvature, this reel has plenty of room for backing and any line you’d like.
Looks & Ergonomics
The Force rocks some space age looks. There’s no denying that it’s got a super cool minimalist design. It’s frameless, so if you’re used to a more traditional design, you might find it a little tougher to grasp. It’s got a solid handle, but it’s a little too thin to beat out the likes of Nautilus. Similarly, the drag knob is a little too thin, but the bigger issue is that the design of the frame means that you can only turn it about one-third of a turn at a time. Not ideal if you have a big fish on the line.
Finish and durability
The Force with its Type-3 finish and super lightweight stands up to dragging and dropping better than just about any other reel out there (check the photo!). It’s one of the things we love about Lamson reels: you can beat them up, and they still end up looking great!
Lifetime to the original owner + $30 fee.
The Force SL feels like a one-trick-pony, but it delivers on more than just weight. It’s got great line pickup and awesome durability. We’d like to see Lamson upgrade the drag to match the stronger and smoother Litespeed, however. If a minimalist design and light weight are what you seek, look no further. If you're looking for a more well-rounded big game reel, there are better options, but all weigh a LOT more.
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- Super, super light
- Great finish and durability
- Quick retrieve
- Not as serious a drag as we'd like for a saltwater reel
- $550 seems like a lot for this reel