If you belong to the group of Spey geeks who prefer a solid ”no mumbo jumbo” G&P fly reel (G&P meaning gear and pawl) in a classic design, you should definitely take a close look at Joe Saracione´s updated Mark V G&P reel. In June this year, just before my annual Chinook gig in British Columbia, I was fortunate to receive a prototype of this reel for a test spin. Following is my review:
The reel features an oversized gear and pawls for heavyweight tension – powered by equally large, heavy-duty springs. The configuration is easily converted to LHW or RHW. According to Joe, all his G&P reels will come with a lovely deep voice, or “bark,” as some of the fishing guides on my trip described the sound.
The well-placed and well-designed tension knob features 24 positive-locking detents, with a smooth range of power from its lowest setting to full-drag. What impressed me most was that the spool didn’t backlash, or overrun, even at the lightest setting. Particularly, backlashing can be a problem for some G&P reels when a fish takes off on a long, super fast and furious run — mainly because the spring tension isn’t strong enough to prevent an overrun, or the components are poorly greased or oiled.
During my test, I managed to land 12 fresh Chinook up to 28–29 pounds. All the fish, without exception, tested the reel to its limit, with long, hot runs — all accompanied by the most wonderful and encouraging sound from the spinning reel.
In playing these salmon, I appreciated the 4-inch model’s deep, narrow spool — it holds a lot of backing and allows for fast pick up when retrieving line. Also important is the tall spool; it gives ample space for fingers to adjust the drag when playing the fish out.
I´m convinced that Joe´s new G&P reel will join forces with a large number of devoted salmon and steelhead anglers who prefer to play their fish directly from the reel using fingers on the spool to adjust the drag/tension — without a complicated mechanical brake system to screw up if settings are wrong during the fight. After two weeks of intensive use, I simply couldn’t find any details I wanted to be changed. Not even the handle knob!
The 4-inch Mark V G&P model is going to be a great all round Spey-type reel for two-handers who love to play fish in the “old style.” According to Joe, other G&P models will be available next year.
Overall, the Saracione G&P features the quality we’ve come to expect from this maker — built strong and flawless. If you’re looking for a no-nonsense, charismatic workhorse in a gorgeous, iconic design and second to none in craftsmanship, this is the reel. Grease and oil this sweetheart in the right places now and then and it almost certainly won’t let you down in lifetime of use.
Spool Width: 1-1/16”
Weight: 12 oz.
My test reel was loaded with 170m 30lb Dracon backing + 70m 40lb ultra backing + 50m shooting line + 570gr Airflo Skagit shooting head.
For more information, please visit http://www.saracione.com/index.html or watch our latest salmon film teaser “We are Salmon Junkies” at: https://www.reelhouse.org/columbus/we-are-salmon-junkies/purchase/buy
Test report by Steffen Juhl / Salmon Junkies. www.salmonjunkies.com