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Fly Reel Review

Don’t count your fly reels until you try a Hatch (continued)


I replied with the color of my reel and within four days a new cassette arrived, this was before I had even gotten a chance to drop off my old one at UPS. I plugged the new cassette in and was back in business. Not only had I gotten a chance to field test the 5 Plus but I also got to test drive the company’s customer service which I found to be equally as impressive. While we all want reels to perform without issue there are times when something happens. In this case Hatch not only provided full disclosure of the issue but stepped up and got me up and running in record time.


Spooled up with Sharkskin Steelhead line


Durability: Besides the initial flaw with the drag system I experienced no other issues with the reels whatsoever. The anodized finish held up to the very alkaline waters of Pyramid Lake and we didn’t do any other maintenance other than quick rinses with freshwater. The type II anodized finish makes this reel fully saltwater capable and Hatch’s one piece machine reel seat design also reduces points of corrosion where salt and contaminates can get in between what is normally two pieces of metal.


Ready to go Steelheading on the Smith River


Hatch has engineered these reels to last, and simple things like the spool nut remaining attached to the spool even when the spool is removed ensure that anglers won’t lose components in the field.


To change out spools simply rotate the knob inside the spool


When it comes to maintenance for fly reels it just doesn’t get much easier than this and our two test reels held up very well and continue to perform without showing any signs of rust or physical damage.


The bolt is captured inside the spool so there is no chance of losing parts during a change


Price & Applications: Unlike spinning and baitcasting reels many of the top fly reels are still made right here in the US and Hatch is one such company. They machine all of their reels in their Vista, CA location and even have a custom shop capable of some pretty unique designs that qualify as truly functional works of art. If you are looking to start a collection of hatch reels the Monsoon 5 Plus reels we reviewed are a very good choice as they can be used to target anything from rainbows and browns to steelhead and bonefish.


Making drag adjustments on the fly is easy with the external knob


When it comes to their custom reels Hatch partnered with an award winning artist from Carmel named Lance Boen two years ago to create a set of limited edition reels which feature a solid back design that is engraved with his artwork. This is not traditional laser engraving but actual machined relief work which removes a lot more material and creates a distinctive look and feel. Each reel is very limited (only 30 of each) and numbered with Lance’s signature engraved on top. These reels come packaged in a wine style box and bundled with a premium leather pouch with sheep skin lining. As you might expect these limited edition pieces cost a pretty penny and a 5plus “Trout Compass” reel retails for….wait for it…. $1500 dollars. This is similar to what an Abel Prosek Limited Edition reel would retail for.


A look at the frame of the reel


At 500 dollars each the 5 Plus definitely falls in the premium reel category and should be compared side by side with offerings from Abel, Nautilus and Tibor. These are reels that are for fly fishermen that are looking for more than just a “line holder” but a true collector’s piece. For these anglers that want to fish a working piece of art the Hatch 5 plus is equal parts form and function.


The inside receiver bolts directly to the spool with a single connection


Ratings: (We've re-calibrated our ratings standard for 2008 and have included a key at the bottom of the following matrix as a guide):

 Hatch 5 Plus Fly Reel Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality The Hatch Monsoon 5 Plus is built with excellent aircraft grade aluminum and is extremely refined. The construction is top notch and the clean  machining of the reel seat right into the top of the reel is impressive 9.5
Performance Other than the single hiccup in the one drag all performance was excellent. The reel feels very solid yet remains lightweight and the drag has a wide range of settings capable of stopping any mid sized fish 8.5
Price The 5 Plus is a premium reel in every sense and comes with a price tag to match, the good news is while it may be expensive this is one high end fly reel that gives you a lot for the money 7
Features Some innovative features here including the machined reel seat, stacked drag system, swept spoke design, external drag adjustment and excellent neoprene/sheepskin pouch 8.5
Design (Ergonomics) Good overall ergonomics, the reel feels balanced and lightweight and the handle has been reshaped to be even more ergonomic 8
Application The 5 Plus really is the do it all reel and a great one to start your Hatch collection. This reel can be used for everything from trout to bonefish and I'm planning on bringing it on my next Peacock trip to the Amazon as well 9

Total Score

Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = unbelievable!
For More Details of the updated rating system visit our explanation here


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

+ Excellent design and construction - Expensive 
+ Great customer service - Lockup with the drag during testing (Hatch remedied issue)
+ Phenomenal drag system  
+ Great overall package, attention to detail is impressive  
+ 5 Plus is a great size for a wide range of species  
+ The most exciting new fly reel in recent memory  


Conclusion: I’ve always liked Abel refinement and how solid Nautilus offerings are but I probably fish Galvan and Bauer reels more than any other brands simply due to their more balanced price to performance ratio, but when it comes to premium fly reels I think the Hatch reels are probably now my favorite. Hatch reels make use of the latest design and technology yet manages to pay homage to reels of yesterday with a design that is instantly recognizable. The longer you fish this reel the more you will appreciate the attention to detail and clever implementation which includes the one piece reel foot and that sweet multi-disk drag system.


The Hatch 5 plus is an excellent mid sized steelhead reel


I was further impressed with Hatch as a company after personally experiencing a failure in the drag system. The company takes customer service seriously and got me up and running in record time to get back on river while the fish were still running. One of the truest testaments to a quality organization is when a company not only takes building their product seriously but approaches post sale support with that same level of commitment. The 5 plus is a great size for all mid-sized species and not only looks great but fishes equally well, in fact it is probably the most exciting new fly reel I have fished in years, and though costly is worth the money when compared with competing offerings. The team at Hatch may be relative newcomers to the crowded fly reel industry but they did anglers right with the introduction of the Monsoon 5 Plus. Hatch breaks the mold of what fly fishermen should expect and if you are in the market for a premium fly reel then you really shouldn’t count all your reel choices before checking out a Hatch.










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