We just returned from the International Fly Tackle Dealer show in Reno, where we saw a bunch of cool new products that we’ll be telling you about over the next few weeks. One of the coolest pieces of gear that we’ve seen in a long time was the Saracione Islamorada lever drag saltwater reel.
Joe Saracione has been handmaking reels in Oregon since 1980. He’s known for his salmon and steelhead reels – classic looks, sturdy modern drags and impeccable construction. To say he’s taken a new approach with his saltwater reel would be an understatement.
Lever drag systems are well known to conventional anglers in the saltwater world. The idea is fairly simple – a lever mounted to the reel allows the angler to quickly and predictably adjust the drag setting during the heat of the battle, in a much more consistent way than can be done by twisting a drag knob.
Joe has taken this concept to a super high end saltwater reel. Here’s an example of how it might work when you’re, say, tarpon fishing in the Keys.
- It’s your shot, so you hop up on the bow of the boat. Set the lever in the middle position, and then adjust the drag knob to the level you typically want the drag when you’re fighting fish.
- Pull the lever to the ‘full off’ position, which backs off the drag and makes it easy for you to strip off line.
- Move the lever back to the middle position, and the drag is right back where you initially set it.
- Hook a fish (it’s that’s easy, right?). Fight the fish. When he’s right next to the boat in the final stages of the fight, you might slide the lever up to ‘full on’ position for the mega-drag that helps end things quicker.
So that’s the idea – you can change the drag setting quickly, and be confident in the amount of drag you’ve got at each position of the lever.
More on the Islamorada
The drag on this thing looks and feels extremely burly, employing 3 carbon fiber discs and aluminum washers. It comes in three sizes corresponding to 8, 10 and 12 weight lines. The #8 has a 4″ diameter; the #10 and #12 are both 4 1/2″ in diameter, with different width spools.
As you can see above, the reel has a simple, classic look, and having played with one in person we can tell you that it’s got the same super high-quality, weighty feel of any Saracione reel. You can imagine passing this baby on to your kids.
It’s a really cool idea, executed beautifully. It’s also a super-premium product and will set you back $1200.
Here’s the detailed writeup, with lots of photos, on the Saracione web site.
Would have my line and leader all messed up in that level drag in about 4.3 seconds. Looks cool, love Saracione but practical? I don’t know…
JR Merritt says
The lever is very practical. Just think back to how hard
it is to turn some drag knobs with cold wet hands.
the lever feel, position is so damn close to my penn int vsx that my thumb
went to the right spot without thinking.
damn these phones are hard to type on.
Eddie Otero says
Beautiful reel, but not very practical… Just looking at it makes my arm ache (HEAVY), plus I can see the lever becoming a potential snagging problem.