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A Good Inexpensive Reel Now That The Medalist Is Gone

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I have been switching some stuff around (sold some fly gear then donated several items to PHW) but wanted to put together an inexpensive glass combo for rough fish. I was looking for a decent reel in the $30-40 range and decided to get an Okuma Sierra based on my experience with a helios and an SLV (both great reels). The Sierra, Tempest, Magnitude (no longer made) and the old Cabelas Prestige (no longer made) are all the same reel. They have a polished brake disk and shoe with a wide adjustment for the drag. It reminds me of the disc brakes on my mountain bike, very smooth perfect drag pressure with excellent feel and tolerances. I bought it for $40 at Academy (couldn't find any shops that had them in stock). I also bought an eagle claw 8' 5/6 Featherlight 2010 model (awesome rod blank for $25 from Everharts in Clinton).

The reel has almost perfect tolerances, a finish similar to the Konic (seems to be a sprayed/baked urethane of some sort), a nice wood handle and a counter balance (not rivited, but screwed on). Its not the lightest thing in the world but balances a heavy glass rod well. I couldn't be happier with the drag system and can't wait to put it to the test. It doesn't have a lot of contact surface so the really positive drag feel is surprising

I see that a non rim control medalist can still be purchased in a packaged combo for $50 at academy. The sierras are sold in a clam pack but the tempest combos have the reel exposed where you can handle them. They are the same construction, although the finish on the sierra is different.

I am pretty happy with this setup and look forward to comparing it to my new Cabelas CGT 7'6" 5wt glass rod (using my White River Classic fly reel, the older classic arbor style which is a buttery smooth reel, though not a "truck stopping" drag).

I have always liked Okuma's reels. I'm looking at one of the Trio spinning reels for surf fishing in Myrtle beach this spring.

Here is a link to the website for the Sierra


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I have an SLV on my 5 wt Okuma Cascade rod and it's been great. I've had it for 5 or 6 years now and it has never failed me. Next time I'm in Academy I'll check out the Sierra. Okuma is hard to beat for quality and price.

If fishing was easy it would be called catching.

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