Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: west coast steelhead/salmon, BC/Alberta trout
New Review: Vosseler S Series
This past spring I added a couple of new reels to the collection—a classic Hardy and a Vosseler S3. Both were acquired for my annual trip into the BC central coast: the Hardy for steelhead, and the Vosseler for Chinook. Earlier in the year Vosseler’s US representatives had contacted me about my experiences with these reels, and since I had none, it seemed like a good time to try one out.
My Vosseler arrived in the titanium finish that resists scratches and looks pretty badass, presented in a ventilated Velcro pouch designed to allow the reel to be mounted on a rod while still in the case. Made in Germany under strict quality control, it’s clear that the first thoughts that went into Vosseler reels were “how do we make a really good fly fishing reel?” and “How do we make the look of that reel underscore its functionality?” So the Vosseler S3 is appealing to the eye without being flashy, like many other examples of fine German engineering you could name. Now, I’m pretty picky about my Chinook reels, and I’ve been fortunate enough to use the best. I’m reluctant to take a chance on something unproven, and considering you get so few chances when you fish for ocean-fresh Chinook I want to feel confident with any new tackle I might choose to use. First impressions are pretty important to me when it comes to new tackle, and the Vosseler looked like a good candidate for a week on the water, so I took it into the Dean with me to see what it could do.
When it comes to Chinook and steelhead fishing I expect my reels to take a lot of abuse. I fish pretty aggressively—stomping up and down embankments; crashing through timber. I often use my rod as a walking stick when ascending steep stuff so my reels are daily exposed to dirt and rocks—if they are going to fail, the fail will be quick and catastrophic. Fresh run BC Chinook salmon are famous for inducing CTF—Catastrophic Tackle Failure— making them a great test for a reel, along with anything additional that I could throw at it (intentional or otherwise) over a week of over 12 hour days of remote Canadian coastal anadromous fishing.
And so I dropped it off the front porch of my cabin (accidental); used it as part of my climbing/wading staff (intentional); maxed the drag while a hot salmon pulled off all but a few dozen yards of backing (intentional); filled it full of gravel (sort of accidental); banged it against the side of ATVs and jetboats (I have to say accidental so Scott, Kara and Andrew don’t get mad at me). All that along with the usual stuff that happens to a reel while you fish it convinced me that the Vosseler is designed to take punishment and keep performing as advertised.
I had the S3 clamped to an Echo King 10 wt and this turned out to be a perfect match for the coastal Chinook I was after. The spool is well-balanced so at high revolutions the reel does not wobble at all. The large handle is easy to grasp and has a positive feel to it. Even when lined with a heavy Skagit system this light yet strong reel balanced the 13ft rod perfectly. With 250 yards of 50# GSP and 150ft of 810 grain Airflo Skagit system the reel was pretty much maxed for capacity, so I’d like a bit more room. Then again, when an uncontrollable Chinook decides to leave a pool maybe I should call the boat.
The S3’s smooth, powerful drag system proved its worth against BC Chinook salmon and steelhead. With its low start up inertia the reel starts spinning quickly even with the heaviest drag setting, making it a perfect choice to manage large, powerful fish that make frequent, sudden lunges for freedom. It adjusts easily through a wide range of settings and the drag knob is right where it should be on the back of the reel. Because cold hands make gripping a drag knob a bit challenging at times especially when a fish is running I’d like a slightly larger drag knob on a reel this size, but this is a small complaint.
In the end it performed flawlessly. Would I like a bit more capacity? Sure, maybe another 50 yards or so. A larger drag knob? Yup. By neither of those hamper the reel’s performance. The capacity just means I have another few seconds to decide whether or not to bust the fish off…and by the time a fish has 250 yards out on you it is all pretty much over anyways…and the drag knob thing is just really so I have something to say could be improved on a reel that is pretty darn excellent.
Vosseler S3 retails for $405 and is distributed by Angler Sport Group.