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Fly Reel Review

Premium Fly-Reel Performance: Bauer M3 Large Arbor Reel

Date: 2/19/02
Tackle type: Fly Reel
Manufacturer: Bauer
Reviewer: Buzz

Total Score: 8.6

Introduction: At TT we support all different types of methods of taking big game fish.  If Fly-Fishing is your niche, then hereís our first in depth look at a fly-reel.  There is nothing quite like bringing in trophy fish on a fly-rod and if you have done it before then you know exactly what Iím talking about.  When I first looked at fishing with a large arbor reel I didnít really know what to expect, but after using the Bauer M3, I can tell you that this reel is second to none.

Bauer M3 Specifications

Line Capacity 150 yds. WF #8 line
Diameter 3.75"
Width 1.37"
Weight 6.8oz.
MSRP $330.00

My first impression of the Bauer M3 reel was that it was big and maybe a little bulky, but after using it I can tell you that using a large arbor reel for big game fish has many advantages over conventional reels.  With a MSRP of $330, many fishing enthusiasts will not be attracted to the price, however if you must have the best tackle on the market the Bauer reel is an option that you just cannot overlook.

The M3 is a beautiful simple yet sophisticated reel using only the best materials (notice the drag control is on the same side as the knob)

What is a large arbor reel?: 
A large arbor reel is a fly reel with a spool that is very large in diameter and is wider than most conventional fly-reels.  It offers many distinct advantages that deserved to be mentioned:


1) It allows for quick line retrieval that comes in handy when having to reel in fast as a fish in running back at you.


2) Also provides consistent drag pressure that is consistent whether you have a little bit of line in the water, or are deep into your backing.


3) Improves the overall handling of managing your line


The reel has anodized finishing which is very resistant to the elements

The Bauer reel is comprised of a deep anodized black finish that provides maximum resistance to corrosion.  Bauer definitely hit a homerun putting its drag control on the same side as the reel knob.  The star drag adjustment knob allows you to adjust the drag tension without having to reach around the reel, or switching hands as reels with conventional drag systems.  Stainless steel bearings, and aerospace bar stock aluminum components make this reel lighter than it appears, a big plus for fishing long days

The Real World Test: I have had the pleasure to test this reel primarily on big waters such as the Lower Sacramento River and Feather River.  The large arbor allows for quick line retrieval, and a line carrying capacity that conventional reels just canít match up to.  The result is a better hook-up to land ratio.  After all, itís not how many fish you hook into; itís how many make it into the net.


The guts of the M3 show the Teflon and cork drag system

The Weight of this reel is very deceiving when looking at its size.  At 6.8 ounces it balances perfectly on a 7 or 8 weight rod.  I immediately noticed that managing your line while a fish is running is much easier on a large arbor reel like the Bauer M3.  If you have the cash to fork over you can immediately expect to be releasing more fish consistently.

Tightening or loosening the drag is a cinch with the same side drag dial of this reel.  You can actually tighten or loosen the drag with one finger on the 5 star knob.  The Bauer M3 has been a problem free, hassle free, piece of equipment every single time I have used it.


Bauer M3 Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality State of the art aluminum and stainless steel ball bearings in a solid frame make the M3 construction top notch 9
Performance Outstanding performance across the board 9
Price If you are fishing on a budget, don't get hooked on this reel, but if price is not a major factor...definitely take a look 7
Features Teflon ball bearings, large diameter disc drag, and a high gloss anodized finish...all measures of flawless form function with a touch of aesthetic appeal 9.5
Design (Ergonomics) A good balance of all elements, easy to fish with and comfortable 9
Application This reel is perfect for any 7 or 8 weight rod on the market.  To maximize this reelís performance it is a must that you be targeting big game fish such as salmon, bonefish, stripers, large Trout, or steelhead. Putting this reel on any rod smaller just doesnít use this reel to itís fullest potential 8.5

Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Premium look and feel L Just a tad expensive
J Smooth retrieve and drag  
J Disc Drag = constant pressure  
J Superior Quality  

If your fishing for trophy fish, the Bauer reel should be a top priority in your decision set.  The fact that Bauer offers a lifetime warranty gives an indication that they expect this reel to last as long as you do.  Outfitted with premium features all the way around, the Bauer M3 proves to be at the top of itís class.  When I used this reel I immediately noticed that I started landing more fish.  The large arbor gives you a greater margin of error for keeping the line taught especially when the fish is streaking back towards you.  3 rotations of the handle and you just reeled in over 2 feet of line, no matter how far into your baking you are.   Put the Bauer M3 on any 7 or 8 weight rod and you just increased your chances of landing that trophy. Try it and youíll know exactly what I mean.       










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