The Waterworks ULA Force 4
an ultra-modern large arbor Spey reel
"You'd better get moving."
Imagine standing 1/2 way down a 300 yard long pool and watching a big steelhead clear the water just above a set of heavy rapids 150 yards below you. And imagine that this fish is on the end of your line, your reel is spinning and the fish shows no sign of stopping. Add to this the fact that you'd just landed another fish not 10 minutes before, put all of this together with your immediate location--the banks of British Columbia's Thompson River, home to the world's toughest steelhead-- and like me you'd start to resign yourself to the very real possibility that this fish will never see the beach.
So when Tyler Kushnir clambered up beside me and watched the
fish head into the whitewater he knew there was only one thing to do.
"You'd better get moving," he advised, and turned back upriver to
continue fishing his way down the run. We'd seen this sort of thing before on the
Thompson, and he knew that if I managed to follow the fish down through the
rapids and into the next pool I'd be gone a while.
Well, I did manage to hang onto that steelhead, thanks
in part to the short shanked hook I trailed behind a tube fly, but most of the
credit for allowing me to land that 38-1/2" buck goes to the reel I was
using, a Waterworks ULA Force
I don't mean to gush here, but the Waterworks ULA Force 4 is a piece of art. Machined to extremely fine tolerances and flawlessly balanced, the ULA Force in the 3.5 and 4 will complement any two-hander. The Force 4 is a great size for your largest Speys--your 15+ ft 10 -12 weights. The Force 3.5 is suitable for everything else.
ULA stands for "Ultra Large Arbor" and it is that;
this puppy eats line like it's going out of style. The test model Waterworks
sent me is the 4, and for most of the fall I
fished it with a custom 160ft extended belly shooting head line system and was still able to carry nearly 200 yards
of 30# Dacron (for longer bellied Spey lines I would be inclined to
stop at 150 yards as the 8/9 Accelerator I had on there over the summer was
getting pretty close to the frame). If you need even more backing, gel-spun poly
will give you miles of line. In other words, capacity is not a problem with this reel.
The Force series is machined from solid high grade bar stock,
utilizes titanium hardware to reduce weight, and is backed by a killer drag system that is
certainly waaaaayyyyy over the top for steelhead or Atlantic salmon, but
excellent for those who plan to have the reel do double duty as both a Spey and
saltwater reel. The drag is sealed to prevent any
hydroplaning when the reel is wet and it certainly shut down every Dean and
Thompson steelhead I had on this season. The drag system is super hi tech stuff
and I won't go into all the details mostly because I don't understand much of it
other than to say it works--I'm just a humble high school guidance counsellor
and you pretty
much have to be an engineer with an understanding of advanced alloys and
polymers to understand it--but if you want to delve into this visit the Waterworks
website and navigate to the Force series info--it's all there.
Other features include an open spool
design and a large drag adjustment knob on the back of the frame. The reel has an audible "click" that you can
disengage, but I kinda like the sound it makes so I've left it alone. The reel
comes with a neoprene case that is great for protecting it from the flying rocks and
general road crud that gets dumped on my tackle while I charge around Spences
Bridge with my rods strapped to the hood of my pickup.
A few traditionalists who've seen the reel shudder at its
ultra-modern lines, but I think it looks pretty neat, plus I really like the
thinking behind the reel: a little touch like integrating the counterbalance
into the design of the spool itself is a slick way of dealing with the issue,
and gives the reel its sleek appearance.
The only thing that troubled me a little about the Force 4 was
its tendency to reel itself back up again over a few hours of casting. Like some
other precision reels I've fished, there is little resistance when retrieving
line. This makes it easy to haul a fish back in, but makes it just as easy for
the spool to turn slightly with each cast. If you aren't paying attention
to this you'll notice your casting has really improved over a few hours of
fishing--what's really happened is that the reel has reeled in several feet of line
for you. This is not a big deal--my Ross does the same thing--but something to
be aware of. I counteract it by stripping out a few inches of line every1/2
dozen casts or so.
Needless to say I love this reel. It looks
cool, and it performs as good as it looks. Anytime anyone thinks outside the
box I like it, and the ULA Force 4 is a unique original that will see a lot of
water time next season.
special thanks to Shannon Robinson for making this reel
available for review
reel image copyright waterworks, used by permission