|The beautiful shape and color of the Merisuola reel is a real joy to look at.|
Some years ago the good folks at Vision fly fishing started to plan and design their new saltwater/heavy duty reels and I was lucky enough to be asked about my visions (no pun intended...) of a perfect SW fly reel. After many emails back and forth with the design team it was a long wait to see the finished product. The wait was however well worth it...
|One of the first fish on the new reel was a massive shark.|
|Full drag and half an hour later the fish was at the boat.|
The reels come in three different sizes on the Merisuola format ( 7/8 9/10 and 10/12) and two sizes in the heavy duty XO format (9/10 and 10/12). The reels have identical designs and parts. The difference between the two series is 98% cosmetic. I personally have the 9/10 Merisuola (the blue one) and the 10/12 XO (the gray/gun metal one). You can check the line up for the Merisuola series here and the XO series here on Vision fly fishing's website. I will focus my review on the two reels that I personally got.
The 9/10 Merisuola weighs in at about 258 grams or 9.1 oz for my American readers. I have 275 meters (300 yards) of 80 lb backing on it and I can fit an 12 wt intermediate line on it quite nicely on top of that. Most 12 wt floating lines won't fit on it comfortably with that much backing, but some will. 10 and most 11 wt floaters fit just fine. It has an diameter 109 mm or 4.3 inches.
|275 meters of thin 80 lb backing and a 12 wt Airflo Tarpon intermediate fits just nicely. The reel is full, but not too full. The Airflo Tarpon is a bulky and long line for an intermediate. Other 12 wt intermediates will leave more room on the reel.|
I use this reel on my 10 to 12 wt rods. If aiming for perfection, the reel is a touch heavy on some of the super light 10 wt rods out there and a bit light for some of the older 12 wt's out there. However, all and all the weight and physical size of the reel is at a nice sweet spot for multiple uses and is in my opinion the most versatile size of the whole line up. The reel packs an impressive drag at about 8 kilograms or 18 pounds and is pretty darn smooth from the minimum to the max. The drag range is at about 2 1/2 revolutions from min to max..
|The 12 wt Merisuola rod and 9/10 reel is a match made in heaven. It feels like you're fishing a 10 wt and not a 12 wt.|
I have used the 9/10 Merisuola so far on my Blue Fin Tuna fishing and it performed perfectly. If any of you have fished for BFT you know that the speed and stamina of those fish will push any reel to its limits. The blistering first runs are nicely taken with a medium drag of around 2-4 kilograms and then when you crank it up at the final stages of the fight to near max or max, the fish won't have any good chances of taking "easy" line out. Even though the most useful drag range on any reel is from 2-6 kilograms the extra kilograms that this reel offers can come handy from time to time. Just be careful about maxing this reel out if you are using lighter tippets.
|The Tuna tamer did its job once again.|
|Looking stupid as hell with this one:)|
|The 9/10 on the job.|
|Late stages of the fight and the fish is just swirling around the boat.|
The 10/12 XO weighs in at about 269 grams or 9.5 oz. It has a diameter of 114 mm or 4.5 inches. I have about 400 meters (440 yrds) of thick 50 lb backing on it. I can fit just about any line on it with that backing on it except maybe the Rio 550 gr GT line which takes up an ridiculous amount of space on a reel.
|The reel packs nicely with the 12 wt Airflo Tarpon intermediate with some room to spare. I am thinking about changing the backing to 80 lb Whiplash on this reel too as it would give the reel much more space, but haven't had the need to do it yet.|
I use this reel on some of my twelve weights, but mostly on my 13 and 14 wts. You can also use it on a 10 or 11 wt without getting the feeling that you are using a massively overweight reel on it. Especially if I'm doing sinking line fishing or something else where the optimal casting feel of your setup is not that important the reel works just fine. Changing the backing to something thinner and lighter would make the reel a bit more appealing to use on a 10 or 11 wt, so I might do that in the near future. This reel packs an unbelievable 9.5 kilograms or 21 pounds of drag. The top 2 kilograms of the drag is where the reel starts to show some star up inertia that you actually feel. Other than that, the drag is smooth.
|Me working on a Trevally with my 10/12 XO while Timo is at the back working on he's with the Grand Daddy rod and XLB reel. Vision Fly fishing was well represented on that trip!|
I have used this reel on different Trevallies in Australia, for Albies and other critters out there in Florida and for Blue Fin Tuna in France. The Florida offshore fishing is especially brutal on your reel as you can hook up to 60 fish a day and the Albies down there are big and mean. The reel has been a joy to use and fits like a glove to my heavy duty fishing.
|After a week of fishing for fish like these and your reel screaming for hours every day, you can be pretty certain that if your reel is still in working order after a trip like that, it's a good one.|
|Great mid sized (25-32kg) BFT tamed with the 10/12 XO|
|Many Golden Trevallies were caught on that trip.|
Pros and Cons
+ The overall quality. These reels are well manufactured and have a feel of a high end reel.
+ The price. There are only one or two reels out there that can compete with these reels in this price range (445€) when it comes to the quality that you get on the Merisuola and XO reels.
+ The ergonomics on the reels is spot on. Nice drag knob to work with that rotates smoothly and easily. Great big handle that's easy and comfy to hold on to even if you have to reel in a lot of line.
+ Weight / size / performance ratio is great. Modern single handed rods are so light and well balanced that if you are going to optimize your outfit, the older heavy weight reels are not as good for the overall feel as these lighter reels are.
+ Drag and drag setting. Power, smoothness and ease of use.
- The drag setting is not completely linear. You have a half a round of emptiness at the bottom half of the drag and then at the very top the drag curve steepens substantially before you hit max. This is very common in reels and from what I have been told, the R&D team is working on some solutions on minimizing this in the future. This is a thing that you learn to live with very fast and has very little effect on your fishing.
- The spool. I would have opted for a slightly narrower spool and increased the diameter a bit to compensate for this. Not a big deal, but when looking for perfection I do prefer a slightly narrower spool in salt water fishing.
All and all I have been very pleased with these reels. This will probably be my reel line up of choice for the future unless Nautilus comes up with an upgrade on the CCFx2 drag system. The Nautilus infinite drag setting is just so ridiculously long that it nullifies the other awesome features on that reel for it's price range. So until then the Merisuola line up is my choice for the ultimate SW reel I can afford to buy.