I’m going to go out on a rather tenuous limb right now and say that I think the Hatch “Finatic” is one of the five or so best performance fly reels ever made. And I have a Charleton. And a Nautilus. And a Tibor. And the hot new Bauer reel. (I did say five, right?) There are classic designs, big sellers that have become standards, and a handful of new designs that are also shaking the tree (more on that later). But this one is special.
Hatch has been making reels for a relatively scant seven-some years now. But from the onset, they’ve done it the right way. Totally enclosed, virtually impervious drag system (that has notable stopping power, yet buttery start-up fluidity). Classy, functional design. Near bomb-proof aluminum machining. This is a “by fishermen, for fishermen” reel that reflects close attention to the details. And it’s made in America, which matters a helluva lot to me.
By way of testimonial, I’ll just say this: I’ve been very lucky to find myself in remote, wild places, making stories for Field & Stream and elsewhere. I’ve been in relative unscratched parts of Patagonia—several years ago I drove, camped on the beach, and fished my way down the Baja Peninsula and back. I was in Bolivia before there was a lodge on Rio Secure. Eskimo villages in Alaska… Out Islands in the Bahamas… pike lakes in the Canadian wilderness… sailfish off the coast of Guatemala… all that stuff.
And the one overriding gear consideration (yeah,I plan on rods snapping, and lines breaking) is that I don’t want to find myself “out there” with a reel that’s going to gag on a big fish. Hatch reels don’t gag. In fact, as I’ve found myself in these places, I’ve also seen local guides and anglers go eyes-wide with respect as they handle this reel. They like the extremely tight frame-to-spool tolerances. And the tuned-in angler (the person who’s seen the other crap blow up at the wrong moment) bond through trust, right away.
The Finatic is noticeably lighter than some of its Hatch predecessors. Granted, a 7-plus model will set you back $600. But if you fish in the places where failure is not an option, and you hope to will a classic reel to your kids or grandkids someday, the Hatch Finatic is one of only a handful of options that really walks the walk, as well as talks the talk. But that’s just my humble opinion.
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