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Fly Reel Review

Ross proves Large Arbor design works, with their Canyon Big Game Fly Reel


Date: 10/1/02
Tackle type: Fly Reel
Manufacturer: Ross
Reviewer: Buzz

Total Score: 8.75

When most of us start fly-fishing we quickly charge to local streams to catch small to medium sized rainbows, and as our skills progress, we often desire to take bigger fish from bigger waters.  In doing so it is a must to upgrade your equipment to handle these bigger fish. This review will take a close look at Rossís New 2002 Canyon Big Game series Fly-Reel.

Ross Canyon (4) Specifications

Line Capacity WF 8 + 185 yards
line Weight 7-9wt.
Spool Width 1.1 inches
Diameter 3.75 Inches
Weight 8.2 oz.
Materials Aerospace grade Aluminum Alloy
MSRP (Reel) $335.00
MSRP (Extra Spool) $134.00

When I first looked at Rossís Canyon Big Game Fly Reel, I knew it was unlike any reel Iíve seen before.  Itís Champagne Gold finish definitely makes it stand out from the crowd.  In picking up the reel and testing the drag I immediately knew that that drag system on this reel was state of the art. 

The Ross Canyon Reel has a deep anodized finish to protect the reel from the elements, making it extremely corrosion resistant

Does the Canyon deliver what you require in a good Big Game Reel? 

1)     The Body:  The Material of the Body is very important if you want your reel to stand the test of time.  Ross uses aerospace grade aluminum.  This is not only very strong, but surprisingly light for its size.

2)     Spool Design:  The advantages of a large arbor reel are most notably seen in the rate at which you can retrieve your line.  It also minimizes the variation in drag tension when line is taken deep into your backing.  With the advancements in technology, large arbor reels are often just as light as their counterparts making them the optimal reel to be using while targeting big game.  Ross is one of these companies that is expanding their line of large arbor reels, and the Canyon is an example of great implementation of wide arbor design.

The Ross Canyon uses space age materials to outperform traditional cork drag systems in stopping power and heat tests

3)     Finish: It will be necessary to have a reel with a solid protective coating to protect the reel against nicks and scratches.  Ross implements a deep anodized finish to provide a very high level to resisting the elements of the environment. This finish allows the Canyon to be used in saltwater applications.

4)    Drag System: A drag system is arguably the most important factor in determining which reel is right for your application.  The 2 main types of drag systems are the cork drag system and the disc drag system.  Ross uses a new Titanium Drag System that actually has 3 back up systems to ensure it will not fail.  With over 6 square inches of effective drag surface, it is stronger and more consistent than many reels on the market today.  This reel can actually dead lift 13.5 lbs when adjusted to maximum tension. One key advantage of this drag system is extremely efficient heat dissipation. When big game work your reel and line quickly this will help keep the reel cool, as well as preserve your drag system. 

The Canyon also comes in much more traditional black finish

5)    Spool Release: Today finding a reel that has the capability of changing spools easily can be a challenge.  Some reels require tools to change set-ups.  If you want to change shooting heads often, this will not work for you.  Ross has a quick release knob that is securely fastened to the frame.  This is not only durable, but also easy to access.

The drag can be finely adjusted with the turn of the knob
(the drag is actually cross drilled to reduce heat and corrosion build up!)

Real World Test:  I have used this real to target Striped Bass and found it to perform exceptionally well.  It stood its ground when being spooled by big stripers in brackish water. On an 8 wt. rod the Ross Canyon 6 balanced perfectly.  The drag knob was very easy to adjust while fighting the fish, a big plus. The drag was excellent and surpassed the stopping power of most other cork drags we have tested. Perhaps the most interesting thing I noticed about the Canyon's performance was the increased line capacity, making it near impossible for even the largest fish to spool you, thanks to the wide arbor design.

Other notable features:  

- Water shedding grooves on palming ring help draw out water from  the reel and line.

- Surprisingly light-weight for its appearance

- Easy switch from left hand to right hand retrieve

- Saltwater approved

- Lifetime Guarantee


Ross Canyon (4) Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Excellent materials, completely machined design, this reel looks solid and is amazingly light for its size. Excellent quality components 9
Performance Ideal for Big Game. This reel feels at home on most rods and is a perfect match for fighting big game fish like hard hitting Stripers. You will rarely feel under-reeled 9
Price With an MSRP of 335.00 the Ross Canyon is reasonable. The best thing is that extra spools are only 134.00, which is a very good deal 8
Features Many advanced features built into this reel help sweeten the presentation and overall package. Best of all is the innovative drag which provides mind boggling stopping power...and is still extremely contamination resistant and reliable 9.5
Design (Ergonomics)

Good design makes holding this reel easy. Quick change design allows you to switch spools in seconds. Special grooves on the reel not only look good but function well by drawing water from the heart of the reel

Application While too cumbersome for most freshwater fishing, this reel is perfectly designed for saltwater applications. Corrosion resistance makes the reel suitable for even the nastiest conditions. 8.5

Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Premium Materials L Some anglers need time to adjust to wide arbor line management
J fantastic Drag system  
J Quick Spool changes  
J Wide Arbor Design  
J Lifetime Guarantee  

Rossís Canyon Big Game Reel is truly ahead of itís time.  While many competitive reels have a few features of this reel, very few will be able to check off every feature on the list.  At a price of $335, this reel would be considered reasonable by many fly fishing enthusiasts who are serious about targeting big stripers, coastal steelhead, and bonefish. Excellent features, foreword thinking in Arbor design, pure stopping power, and cosmetics that will make any angler drool, all add up to make the Ross Canyon one fantastic reel you should definitely consider the next time you are in the market for a  big game fly-reel.


Keep Fishing - Buzz










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