Almost 30 years old and with over 30 saltwater species on fly, MC Coetzer’s Ross fly reel has stood the test of time. As featured in The Mission Fly Mag Issue 01.

You know you’re getting old when you Google your favourite fly reel only to come up with hits on e-bay and a site that specialises in the sale of vintage fly reels. Vintage my ass… That search put an end to writing about the technical specs and stuff that I don’t understand anyway.

Back in the early 1990s I did a two-year stint guiding on Bazaruto Island in Mozambique with Flyfishers Unlimited. Guiding back then wasn’t the same as it is now. Today’s guides have prominent profiles on social media and the best guides can pick and choose their tackle sponsors. Back in the day we were paid just over a thousand bucks a month and getting tipped by guests was as rare as a trip off the island. We had only two perks….

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The one was that we could buy a Thomas & Thomas rod and a Ross fly reel at cost. And the other was that we could fish as much as we wanted to. Andrew Parsons and I started a fuel company that supplied the lodge and fishing operation with fuel. Our access to “free” fuel meant that we spent insane hours on the water. Long hours on the water meant your tackle really got tested to their limits. It was the reels that took particular strain with no reel lasting more than a few months before corrosion turned it into an expensive paper weight.

The first Ross fly reel I bought was a Ross Saltwater IV. It was a bit of an unknown reel in South Africa. It struggled to establish itself in the SA market because it used some synthetic material (I think it’s called Roulon) for the drag washer at a time when virtually every fly reel came out with cork drag systems. Nobody trusted anything other than cork and to this day flyfishers are sceptical of any synthetic material in drag systems.

“The Ross still performs like it did on day one”

Now, twenty years later and with literally many thousands of saltwater fish caught on it, the Ross still performs like it did on day one. The external nylon parts have faded over time but there isn’t a speck of corrosion to be found anywhere. The drag is a smooth as silk. I think it’s been about ten years since I’ve opened the reel up for a service. But, it gets rinsed after every trip and the backing gets washed every few years.

Read the rest of MC’s Ross fly reel review in The Mission Fly Mag Issue 01 below, or buy the print version online (we ship worldwide).