Wychwood River & Stream Fly Reel Review

Over the last ten years or so I’ve seen an awful lot of fishing kit. Unfortunately these days much of it seems to be copies, re-launches or re-hashes of other products on the market and in truth I maybe don’t get as excited about new product releases as I used to. However, every now and again a product comes to the market that restores my faith in fishing tackle R&D and around two years ago I got my hands on a reel that I had a good feeling was destined to become a design classic.

Advances in carbon technology are driving the weight of modern rods further and further down, which is great news – why wouldn’t you want to fish a lighter stick? Rods under 2oz are now commonplace and it’s possible to go even lower if you wish. So caught up have the manufacturers been in the race to shave off the grams from the weight of their rods they have forgotten about the reels. Up until two years ago only Sage offered a machined aluminium large arbor reel that was genuinely light enough, the fantastic but slightly expensive Sage Click, and I wonder to this day how many anglers out there are using a super light rod with a reel three times as heavy strapped to the handle.

Naturally beautiful, ruthlessly efficient.

Naturally beautiful, ruthlessly efficient.

UK manufacturer Wychwood launched their River & Stream reel as the lightest aluminium fly reel on the market back in 2013 and the second I saw them I knew that their design team had come up with something very special. My order went in that day and two years later that little reel is still attached to my ultra-light Sage TXL-F  7’10” 4#. I wouldn’t swap it for the world. At either 50g for the 2/3 or 58g for the 4/5 these reels truly broke the mould for modern mid-end fly reel design.

Aesthetically it looks a little different to many reels on the market but these differences are critical to the weight saving design. The very short spindle on this reel may look unusual but a member of the R&D team told me that this subtle change saved as much as 10g of weight, 20% of the entire reel! The curvy and highly ported spool design is of a direct result of the shorter spindle and again gives the reel a different look and feel to most. I really love the curves on the River & Stream, to me it manages to be both ruthlessly efficient in design yet organic in its aesthetic – it’s a Stealth Bomber sort of cool.

Grayling on dries in Slovenia

Grayling on dries in Slovenia

I don’t usually go for gold reels (my hand was forced on the Tibors) but I find the colour of the River & Stream very pleasant. It’s a matt gold rather than bling gold – this is a reel that seems to blend in amongst nature rather than look like something Biggie Smalls might wear around his neck. There is of course no high powered multi disk drag system on the River and Stream and rightly so. The click check is just enough to prevent over runs unless you get far too excited, and if that big fish takes line from the reel then you’re using your palm and your wits to stop him instead of carbon disks – enjoy it! The adjustable click is made of soft durable plastic and is particularly inoffensive, but don’t expect any great range of clutch strength – that’s not what this reel is about.

Big bruising Welsh browns

Big bruising Welsh browns

My main worry for my little Wychwood was durability. I’m a liability when it comes to trashing kit – particularly reels – so the fact that two years on this guy is still going is testament to its strength and finish. I just spent a few minutes looking for marks on the anodising and there are none, the only sign that it has even been out of the plush sheepskin case is a mark on the spool rim where I slipped and ate riverbed hard in Wales. The marks on me were far more significant than those on the reel.

As light as a feather, just perfect!

As light as a feather, just perfect!

This is a reel for the angler who fishes light. Made in only two sizes – 2/3 and 4/5- Wychwood knew exactly who would desire a reel like this and came up with a product so unique and so perfect that they smashed the design brief out of the park. At less than £140 the River & Stream is cheaper AND lighter than any competitors reels – it’s also the sexiest of the lot. If you’re an angler who has shelled out decent money on a light rod for fishing rivers but you still have that crabby and clumsy 5/6 cartridge reel or the clacky and clunky old spindle reel from 1978 then do yourself a favour and treat yourself to a little dollop of 21st century design brilliance.

 

Andy Buckley Angling Service Home Page

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Categories: Fly Fishing, Product Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

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13 thoughts on “Wychwood River & Stream Fly Reel Review

  1. CJ Herring

    Awesome shot! Love it!

    Liked by 1 person

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  4. Jaron Markstahler

    Hey one question! What is about the balance with the TXL-F 4710-4 and the wychwood river&stream Fly reel in 4/5? Does it balance in the middle of the cork handle? Please write back pretty soon because I am in a dilema with my new combo!!!!!
    greetings Jaron

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jaron,
      Thanks for taking the time to read the blog, I really appreciate it!

      This always interests me. I’ll answer your question gladly but first I’d love to know what you’re looking for from this balance experiment. I’ve spent a lot of time working in tackle shops watching customers do just this with a potential new rod and reel combo.

      Regards
      Andy

      Like

  5. Jaron Markstahler

    that if you are doing your index finger under the middle of the cork handle, the rod is in balance and don’t tend to be more tip heavy or butt heavy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jaron,

      Thanks for getting back to me!
      Interesting subject – as I say one that I have watched folks do regularly. In my opinion if we’re looking to find the balance point of a horizontal rod then we need two things. First off we need to measure from the point that we grip the rod from; which may or may not be in the middle of the cork handle (for me it is quite close to the rod-end of the cork). Secondly we need to make this test with the reel we intend to use complete with backing and fly line not only fitted but strung through the rod with some line out of the rod tip and touching the floor – using an empty reel is not an accurate recreation of the real world balance here!

      Anyway, I’ve digressed hugely! I can tell you that using my version of the balance test that the fulcrum is about 2 inches from the rod end of the cork – just where I hold the rod!

      I hope this helps

      Andy

      Like

    • Jaron Markstahler

      My goal is to have a nice balanced rod and reel combo, that casting is very effortlessly. I don’t like a combo that I have chosen a long time and then it is just not well balanced.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Jaron Markstahler

    ok thank you to give me such a quality description to find out the rod-reel balance. Does your Sage Txl-f 4710-4 Wychwood river&stream 4/5 reel OUTFIT doing a good balance with all those criterias you send me to find out the balance?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Jaron Markstahler

    Alright…. thanks a lot for helping me. I was impressed how quick you write back 😀 I couldn’t believe my eyes as I saw your first answer – I had wrote 5 minutes earlier. I thought the answer will come in the next few days:D 😀 WOW . Probably I will ask you again some things so be ready to answer HAHAHA 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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