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Fly Reel Review

A fly reel for everyone that won't break the bank, the Mohawk River by Martin

Date: 9/20/04
Tackle type: Fly Reel
Manufacturer: Martin
Reviewer: JIP

Total Score: 8.08

Introduction: Fly fishing often translates into the purchase of costly gear, but that doesn't always have to be the case, and Martin offers some very aggressively priced offerings for fly fisherman of all levels. The Mohawk River is very affordable and still delivers upright quality and performance for both experienced and first time fly anglers.

Martin Mohawk River  (MR34) Specifications

Line Capacity 50 yards 20# backing; 30 yards WF4F
Line Weight 3-4wt.
Weight 3.5 oz.
Material Machined anodized aluminum
Warranty 1 year
MSRP $59.99


The Mohawk River, a tiny trout reel by Martin

Impressions: The Martin Mohawk River fly reel is quite impressive especially for the price. The frame and spool is fully machined from anodized aluminum and perforated to further reduce weight. The MR34 uses a single caliper disc drag system and a retrieve/drag clicker. The overall construction is good and indicated quality craftsmanship throughout. This reel comes in 3 different sizes from 3wt. to 8wt and all are metallic silver in color. To protect your investment the reel also comes with a reel bag to keep it from being scratched during transportation or storage.


Complete Rig for Mohawk River Tests

Rod Martin Mohawk River 7'6" 3wt.
Reel Martin Mohawk River (MR34)
Line Scientific Angler Trout WF4F

Real World Tests:
Spooled with Scientific Angler's new Trout 4wt. line and rigged on a 2 piece 3wt. rod, the test team consisted of Nature Boy, Zander, and myself who venture up to Yosemite National Park to fish some pristine backcountry streams that hold a variety of trout such as brookies, browns, and rainbow hybrids.


Drawing line is absolutely smooth and controlled when the drag is set properly


Casting (Line Delivery): When casting it's up to the angler to properly control the line using the rod, but being able to draw line out of the reel is just as important. When working the line off the spool for those distant casts to finicky trout in clear waters, the fly line came off smoothly and consistently with every pull. The drag was properly set and it kept the fly line from getting out of control as the spool spun.  Switching spools on the Mohawk River is as easy as a push of a switch which releases the spool from the frame, all of which can be done with only one hand.


The anodized aluminum spool and frame are machined to perfection


Drag: The Martin Mohawk River utilizes a single caliper disc drag system that is adjusted via an easy to access external knob. While turning the drag control knob, an audible click assists in finer incremental adjustments. Throughout the settings we found that the drag allowed line to flow off the spool evenly and most importantly, smoothly. Only when it reach the maximum setting where it would produce pauses as the line was coming off the spool. Not that backcountry trout would require such stopping power or even any drag at all. A light setting would be best when fishing with light tackle especially when you're not out there to muscle the fish in with one pull.


Retrieves are comfortable from this 3.5oz fly reel


Retrieve: Each Editor agreed that the retrieve was both accurate and balanced from the affordable Mohawk River. The balanced and uniform frame and spool plays an important role in its retrieve. We have seen poorly made reels that wobble horribly as the spool is being retrieved, but with the MR34 we did notice this at all. With each retrieve the line came in nicely, no rubbing whatsoever from the frame and spool, and the audible click on the retrieve was there to tell us if the line is being either draw or retrieved from the spool. The Mohawk River reel can also be configured to be a right or left hand retrieve. By following the simple instructions that came with the reel, we were able to quickly switch to accommodate each Editor's preference in the field.


The Mohawk River is a blast to use on trout waters. Nature Boy shows off his catch on his first cast with a dry fly


Price: Premium fly fishing equipment can easily add up to a significant amount, but not everyone, especially anglers just starting out may want to make such a big investment right off the bat. That's where value conscious gear comes into place. There are many choices out there that run about the same price, but the quality and performance vary greatly.  We chose to take a look at the Martin Mohawk River because of its value and quality. The MR34 is a great value fly reel that's carefully crafted and has good overall performance that'll get the job done every time.


Martin Mohawk River Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Neatly machined out of anodized aluminum, well balanced, holds up nicely, and attractive 8
Performance Performs well for a trout reel with good drag unless it's cranked all the way down.  The retrieve and line draw comes off nicely and the balanced frame and spool make this happen 8
Price A piece of fly gear that won't break the bank and still get a good product 8.5
Features This fly reel features much of what you would find on others such as a easy to adjust drag knob, audible clicker, and  an easy switch between left or right hand retrieve 8
Design (Ergonomics) A well balanced and lightweight reel that's comfortable to use all day targeting beautiful trout 8
Application A great little reel for backcountry trout fishing due to its size and weight 8

Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Affordable L Maximum drag not fully refined
J Lightweight  
J Balanced  

Conclusion: Targeting trout in extremely clear waters of the backcountry is a blast especially with dry flies. Martin introduces a fly reel that's great for those hidden trout waters. The Mohawk River MR34 is a nice compact and lightweight 3wt reel that looks good, is well balanced, performs well for a variety of nymphing and dry fly applications, and best of all comes with an incredibly low price tag of under $60. At this price the Martin is a perfect backup reel, or the perfect reel to take on those long hikes where you want to avoid damage to very expensive tackle. But don't get me wrong, the Martin is a surprisingly good reel that can earn a spot in your fly reel collection as a full time performer. With an overall solid package, and a heart stopping good value, the Martin should be considered by fly fisherman who are seeking a worthy reel that won't break the bank.









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