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Fly Rod/Reel Review

A Winning Rod/Reel Combo for stalking native bows and brookies in small streams.


Date: 4/24/02
Tackle type: Fly Reel
Manufacturer: Ross
Reviewer: Buzz

Total Score: 8.83

Ross’s San Miguel 1 matched with a custom 2WT. Fly-Rod.

If you are an avid fly-fishermen there are two schools of thought to developing your arsenal of rods and reels.  One is to purchase gear and equipment that is well suited to many types of fishing. While this is good for the wallet, it can leave you short changed when you venture out to fish streams that are outside of your equipments comfort zone.  The second school of thought is to match your equipment to the exact type of fishing and conditions you will find yourself in. This review will show you a first hand look at an ultimate rod/reel combo that will make fishing for smaller fish in smaller streams second to none.

Ross San Miguel 1 Specifications

Line Capacity WF 2 + 50 yards of 20 lb. backing
Spool Width .70 inches
Weight 3.9 oz.
Materials Space Age polymer disk drag system between polished stainless steel surfaces.
MSRP $375.00

Impressions: It is typical for many fly-fishermen to start off with a standard 8-9 foot 6 weight rod.  As your skill progresses you will likely begin to fish streams that are much bigger and much smaller than you intended when you first purchased your first set-up.  This will leave you over- rodded and under-rodded for many situations.  The result is that you will not have the same fishing experience than if you use equipment that was precisely made to fish the environment and conditions you find yourself in.

The Ross San Miguel 1 is a tiny reel that is packs Ross features and quality in the palm of your hand

First, the Reel:  Ross has hit a home run in producing the San Miguel Series One.  Arguably, this is one of the most maintenance free, practical, best performing reel on the market today.  If you want to feel the definition of smooth, try checking the drag and retrieve on this work of art.

Features of the San Miguel 1:

    1. Waterproof adjustable drag system

    2. Polished black finish for protection and stealth

    3. Low inertial start-up makes for a more responsive drag

    4. Built to last

The San Miguel 1 has a remarkably responsive drag for a reel of this size

The Test:  I have tested this reel on small streams in Montana and Northern California.  My first impression of this reel was its silky smooth retrieve and drag system.  I absolutely could not believe how light this reel was the very first time I picked it up.  This reel is the epitome of perfect form and functionality.  I have caught and released many 12” native rainbows and brook trout with this reel and its sensitivity allows you to feel every twitch at the end of your line. It also has an exposed rim that is perfect for palming if you happen to hook into a fish that is larger than you expected.

: Ross San Miguel 1 has won the award of ”The most innovative and successful product” at the 1999 International Fly Tackle Dealer Show.

: Ross really stands behind the workmanship of this reel with a lifetime guarantee against defects in material and workmanship for life as long as the original purchaser owns the reel.  A big plus!

The San Miguel 1 looks right at home paired up with this custom built rod from Raptor Rod Works of Chico, CA

The Rod: I had this rod custom made by Raptor Rod Works of Chico, CA.  As a result the guides, cork, reel seat, wraps, and stripes were all made to my personal specifications.  If you are looking for a comparable rod I would suggest you look at 2 Wt. Rods by Sage, Thomas and Thomas, and Scott.  You will need to demo the rod to see which has the action and feel you are looking for.  However, if you are going to be in small streams and in tight places, you will want a rod that is short, light, and compact.

The rod exhibits a very flexible and sensitive tip, perfect for exciting brook and rainbow fights

Testing the rod & Reel together: I never realized how much fun small fish can be if you are properly equipped with the right gear.  Using any reputable 2 Wt. Rod with a San Miguel 1 reel will let you feel every twitch from the fish when it has taken you fly.  I could not believe how much fun I had knowing that none of the fish were trophy’s by anyone’s standards.  However, if you get into a feisty 12” or 14” fish you will feel like you have a bolt of lighting at the end of your rod.


Ross San Miguel 1 Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Some of the most innovative technologies have been used to create this masterpiece.  Rugged Space Age polymer, and polished stainless steel. 9
Performance Makes casting all day effortless.  At 3.9 oz. you don’t even realize there is a reel on your rod. 9.5
Price With an MSRP of 375.00 you will likely spend more on the reel then you will on your rod.  However, if you want to have the very best, you must consider this reel. 8
Features Can be set-up with a left or right hand retrieve.  But what if you don’t like the smooth sounding drag?  Well you can actually disable the outgoing click and run completely stealth with a silent retrieve and silent drag.  The fish won’t even know you are there. 9.5
Design (Ergonomics)

Don’t plan on changing the set up of this reel while you are on the water.  You will need an Alan key and a small Philips to get at the internal guts of this reel.

Application This reel is only made to put on a 2 or 3 Weight rod.  Anything else is an absolute injustice to what this reel was intended for.  If you put this reel on the application it belongs, you will be amazed at all aspects of its performance. 9

Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Premium construction L Fit for one application
J Smooth retrieve  
J Responsive drag  
J Great material quality  

Conclusion: If you enjoy getting away from the crowd and hiking into secluded areas, chances are the streams you find will be small.  However, these streams will hold native bows and brookies that when matched with the right equipment, can give you the thrill of a lifetime.  Light 2 and 3 Wt. Fly rods matched with the San Miguel 1 is the best set up you could have bringing up the lower end of your rod arsenal.  You will look at small streams and small fish in a totally new light.

Keep Fishing - Buzz










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