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Fly Reel Review

Galvan's Open Back Reels continue to deliver in a wide range of fresh and saltwater applications


Date: 2/25/04
Tackle type: Fly Reel
Manufacturer: Galvan
Reviewer: Zander

Total Score: 8.75

Introduction: For a decade Galvan has been producing high quality reels that have continued to gain popularity among anglers looking for premium fly reels that boast a full set of features, at a reasonable price. We take a close look at Galvan's most well known series of reels, the Open Back.

Galvan OB-6 Specifications

Line Capacity WF 7 + 230 yards
WF 8 + 200 yards
Line Weight 7-8wt.
Spool Width 1.1 inches
Diameter 3.7 Inches
Weight 6.9 oz.
Colors Available Black, Green, Clear (Metal)
Materials Machined Premium bar stock aluminum
MSRP (Reel) $300.00
MSRP (Extra Spool) $130.00

About Galvan: Galvan Fly Reels was started 10 years ago by Bonaficio Galvan, and this year Galvan celebrates a decade of fine reel making with the introduction of their Torque reel, but most anglers still recognize Galvan for their popular Open Back series, which were first introduced five years ago. Galvan has earned a reputation in the industry for designing and manufacturing reels that appeal to the traditions and styles of the past, but make good use of the latest technology in blueprint and construction. Every reel in the Galvan lineup is fully machined from bar stock aluminum and undergo a high quality semi-gloss finish process that makes them very durable and equally as attractive.

Introducing the popular Galvan OB-6

Impressions: The Galvan OB reels have always looked very solid to me, perhaps it is the compact clean lines that are found on these simple, yet elegant reels. We took a look at the largest Galvan Open Back, the OB-6. This reel incorporates the large arbor design concept with unique machining that allows you to look straight through the center of the reel....hence the name "Open Back." The reel is available in three colors, but I opted for the black reel because it matched the reel seat found on the majority of our 7,8, an 9 weight test rods.

The back side of the OB-6

The Design: Overall the machining on this reel is top notch. Every angle of this reel is well manicured, and extensive polishing has removed any trace of machining. The reel design appears more powerful than graceful, with the most stylish portion being the three arms highlighted in the aggressively machined open back.

The Galvan OB-6 is finely machined and finished, devoid of any machining marks and aluminum porting imperfections

Real World Test: We spooled the OB-6 with a generous amount of backing and employed Scientific Angler's brand new Streamer Express Fly line. Once spooled the OB-6 became a good deal heavier, as the reel can hold plenty of backing thanks to the wide spool. This is important as a reel of this size can and should be paired with 7-9wt rods, and used to pursue larger, longer running fish, capable of effortlessly taking your line down to backing. We decided to go to the O'Neil Forebay for a chance to pit the OB-6 against some Stripers recently pumped in from the California Delta.

A trio of hex bolts are used to secure the reel

Casting (Line Delivery): The OB-6 balanced out every outfit we tried it on nicely. The reel helped make long streamer casts effortless thanks to proper line management. The enlarged Arbor Spool maintains your line in larger loops, helping prevent distance reducing line memory. Spool changes are straightforward, and are basically one touch, thanks to the center quick release button.

One of the nicest things about the OB-6 is the velvety feel you get when you draw line from the spool. Our editors described it as "accurate" and "refined" in feel. The line flows precisely from the spool, with no unwanted start up inertia. The Galvan drag unit is fastidious with watch like precision and among the best we have ever tested.

The OB-6's oversized drag knob is easy to operate on the fly, and offers very precise adjustment of drag settings

Drag: Galvan's drag unit is unlike many competitors who choose to use cork based drags. The OB-6's drag is constructed from stainless steel and Delrin, with the Delrin disc functioning as the actual brake mechanism. This disc is sandwiched between stainless steel and delivers constant drag pressure in just about any setting. The drag is precise and extremely smooth in all the settings we tried. The drag operates when the spool rotates and pins on the spool activate the one way clutch. This straightforward design provides a wide range of drag settings, but due to the sheer size of the enclosed drag, cannot deliver extreme drag pressure. The drag pressure that the OB-6 does generate should be enough for most every situation, and the reel is easy enough to palm should you require more.

The ergonomics of the OB-6 drag system are second to none. The OB-6 boasts one of the simplest, yet functional, oversized knobs I have every used. Easy to reach and adjust quickly on the backside of the reel, the drag mechanism has a clicker to help make fine adjustments instantaneously. During our tests we hooked into medium sized Stripers that were simply no match for the OB-6's Delrin drag, most tired quickly against the constant pressure. It would take a monster to test the upper limits of the drag, and the drag's overall performance was impressive.

The OB-6 features a ergonomic handle that unlike wood knobs can take plenty of abuse from the elements

Retrieve: Halfway through the day as I stripped line into the bucket I was unexpectedly smacked by what definitely felt like a quality Striper. Though it definitely caught me off guard I soon was able to catch up to the hard running fish and as I lifted the rod and rotated the OB-6 in retrieve the fish caught it's second wind and lurched forward again. Lucky for me the OB-6's wide spool makes it possible to retrieve line with excellent speed and matched the fish to provide plenty of fish turning muscle, and within minutes the fish was brought within reach of the net.

The OB-6 is truly a silky retriever, and the one way clutch provides a quality friction free feel. This reel is good for both right and left hand retrieve, and direction is set by flipping the clutch ring, which takes less then a minute to do. The only service you will have to commit to in order to keep the reel smooth is a periodic wiping of the clutch spring with a Q-tip, and 2-3 drops of ReelX oil on the area. Depending on how much you fish this should be done 2-4 times a year.

Once the spool is removed it becomes obvious why the reel was aptly named
the "Open Back"

Weight: The OB-6 is not the lightest reel on the market, but not considered overly heavy either, in fact it falls somewhat within the middle range. But this was still odd to us as the design of the OB-6 certainly has removed plenty of metal from the original aluminum stock. The answer lies within two factors. First, the reel edges are thicker than other reels of the same class, the resulting thicker arms and spool edges help make this reel very robust and durable in construction, the trade off is the weight. The other major contributing factor to the overall weight is the actual drag and clutch mechanism. The stainless steel drag and housing with the addition of the oversized knob add an extra ounce to the total package.

The Galvan clutch and drag assembly


Durability: Durability is another area that the Galvan OB-6 shines. Unlike reels that make use of cork based drags the Galvan drag is far less prone to contaminates and damage as a result of drying out and/or overheating. Very little maintenance is required to keep the OB-6 performing competently, and the basic overall construction is quite hard-wearing. Of course if you decide to fish for salmon or stripers in a brackish or saltwater environments make sure to rinse the OB-6 in freshwater, washing the spool separately, and allowing all components to air dry before re-assembling.


The spool's pins lock into the Galvan clutch


Warranty: When you are looking to make an investment in a quality fly reel the warranty backing up the product is always a factor to consider. Galvan stands behind their products with a lifetime warranty covering all parts and workmanship under normal use. It is important to note that this warranty is only applicable to the original owner of the reel, and it must be purchased from an authorized Galvan dealer.



Galvan OB-6 Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality The Galvan OB-6 uses top notch materials and finishes this reel nicely. The quality is excellent and rivals many other premium reels available on the market 9
Performance This reel delivers the good in just about all categories. Drag pressure did not meet some of the super sized cork competition, but the Galvan OB-6 offers a good range of settings, and has the competition beat when it comes to reliability and ease of use 8.5
Price With an MSRP of 300.00 the Galvan is a decent price, there is plenty of competition out there but the Galvan offering is attractive for anglers looking for a quality reel with advanced features and reliability 8.5
Features Attractive design, wide spool, easy spool removal, and a great drag system help make this reel feature packed 9
Design (Ergonomics)

While the OB-6 is aggressively ported the reel is robust and weighs a little more than some competitors, the drag unit and spindle are also contributors to the overall weight increase, but once placed on a rod the OB-6 still feels balanced. The drag knob ergonomics are excellent

Application Fishing for larger fish? The Galvan OB-6 will handle plenty fresh and saltwater species with ease 9

Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Premium Materials L Would be perfect if just an ounce or two lighter
J Innovative drag is reliable L OB-6 is the largest size in this series available
J Silky retrieve  
J Durable! easy to maintain  
J Lifetime Guarantee  

Conclusion: Even though the last few years have ushered in a assortment of new reels the Galvan OB-6 continues to stand out as an excellent choice for fly anglers searching for a great balance of traditional design and modern day refinement. The drag unit found on the Galvan OB-6 has the ability to make precise adjustments instantly, is resistant to the elements, and offers ease of maintenance. This reel is a great deal for 300 dollars and a worthy investment for anglers looking for a reel that is going to stand the test of time. The OB-6 won the admiration of our editorial staff and is near perfect in almost any category. No fly reel has ever won a TackleTour Editor's Choice Award, and we came within a hairs breath of bestowing the award to the OB-6, in fact the only reason we didn't award the OB-6 and Editor's Choice was due to the total overall weight being a notch too heavy. But in all respects the OB-6 is indeed a quality reel, one that we highly recommend.


Until next time, Tight Lines.










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