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Tried And Tested: The Airflo V2 Fly Reel

Ceri Thomas from Fishtec Tackle reviews the new Airflo V2. Fly Reel

Airflo V2. Fly Reel

Over the course of the 2018 trout season I have been out on the water testing a new range of Airflo fly reels – the simply titled Airflo V2. After five months of testing, I think I’m now in a position to write a review on them.

The V2’s are the spiritual successor to the popular Airflo V-Lite series of reels, which ran for several years and gained a very loyal following during that time, in part due to their good looks but also their reputation as a well built, high performance reel for the money. So it’s a big set of boots to fill!

The new V2’s come in at a lower price point, starting at just £109.99 for the 3/4 size. Other models include the 5/6 at £119.99, the 7/8 at £129.99 plus a 9/10 and 10/11 for the double hand and switch guys priced at £139.99 and £149.99 respectively. Despite the lower price, quality certainly hasn’t been skimped on here and they compare very favourably with reels of twice the cost.

The 7/8 model ideal for stillwater work.
The 7/8 model ideal for stillwater work.

What Are They like?

They are a solid, fully machined aluminium reel that features a robust disc drag that unusually at this price point is fully sealed. They certainly feel like a well made piece of engineering in the hand, being nicely weighted. Although not the lightest, they offer a good balance on a modern fly rod and exude a quality feel.

Cosmetically the colour scheme is silver, with red and black trim. Strong and chunky components have been used without, and each reel comes with a neoprene reel storage pouch free of charge.

Backing capacity is simply huge given the deeply recessed V shaped notch in the spool, allowing you to pack in extra backing before you start taking up any significant room with your fly line. So expect to fill them to their quoted capacity, if not more. Being machine cut aluminium the spare spools are essentially half a reel, so these are about half the price of the reel.

On The Water

I have been using the 7/8 size V2 on the larger stillwaters for most of the season, including float tubing trips. It’s usually been teamed up with a 9ft 6in 6/7-wt Super Stik II rod and provides a nice balanced feel to the rod.

I’ve made a point of playing better fish off the reel whenever possible and have found the drag to be very smooth, with no start up inertia and easy to adjust in the midst of battle. I think it would be more than man enough to deal with a bonefish on a tropical flat, if it had too!

The 7/8 has plenty of room, so if you took a small amount of backing out you would have more than enough space for a 9-wt if you wanted, so the reel could be used for fly fishing for pike or UK sea bass as a further option.

The 5/6 V2 is another model I have been testing, mostly with a 9ft 5-wt Airlite V2 rod throwing streamers or fishing the duo or dry fly on the river. I’ve had plenty of good fish with it, including some real slabs that I’ve had no choice but to play off the reel. No issues with the drag stopping or seizing up, and fine tippets have been well protected with the drag on its minimum setting. For example the trout in the image below was caught during a late evening spinner fall and decided to take around 20 yards of line off me in one run – thankfully the V2’s smooth drag didn’t let me down and protected the 6X tippet and size 18 hook hold.

I’ve also used the 5/6 V2 on the Welsh hill lakes, with a 10 foot loch style set up and 6-wt line. Fishing weedy water in September, I recall flicking the flies into a shallow pocket between two weed beds on a very short line, only a rod length out. A good brownie slammed into the fly immediately then proceeded to quickly rip line off the reel whilst heading for a submerged tree branch up the shore. I successfully tightened up the drag and turned the fish back, despite a few determined runs. Once again, it had performed admirably, cushioning the tippet and taking the sting right out of the fight.

I should also mention that as an introductory offer they come supplied with a Free Airflo Super Dri Elite fly line (Trout models) or a Scandi head (Salmon sizes) - so as an overall package they represent unbeatable value for money.
I should also mention that as an introductory offer they come supplied with a Free Airflo Super Dri Elite fly line (Trout models) or a Scandi head (Salmon sizes) - so as an overall package they represent unbeatable value for money.

Bomb Proof

I have a habit (and a reputation!) for breaking stuff on test, should the kit not be well made, and true to form I’ve managed to accidentally drop these reels onto the floor, knocked them off my car and clattered them about on rocky boulders more than a few times. Thankfully they are still no worse for wear, with barely a scratch on them.

One issue you can get with inexpensive reels is water ingress into the drag system, which can result in the drag slipping and randomly spinning out of control, which can frustratingly lose you fish and turn your line into a birds nest on the spool. I had no such trouble with the V2’s, and deliberately dunked them under the water to see if I could break them.

I spent one whole day in solid, torrential rain – the kind of weather where water saturates and soaks into literally every pore. If water was getting into the drag that day, I expect it would have caused issues; but I didn’t have any thanks to it being properly sealed away from the elements.

To conclude, I am very happy with these reels and will continue using them next season. They are a great buy if you are looking for a reel with premium looks and performance without breaking the bank.

Airflo V2 reels are available from Fishtec and other good Airflo stockists.

The 5/6 model ideal for those small stillwaters.
The 5/6 model ideal for those small stillwaters.
A superb brown trout played on the reel by Ceri Thomas.
A superb brown trout played on the reel by Ceri Thomas.
The Airflo V2 Fly Reel 5-6 on test in the river!
The Airflo V2 Fly Reel 5-6 on test in the river!

Ceri Thomas

Airflo’s online marketing manager Ceri Thomas has been fly fishing for over 20 years targeting practically anything that swims. With a preference for wild fish in wild places, Ceri’s fishing travels have taken him far afield, including extensive visits to the USA. His main passion remains his local Welsh rivers and lakes.

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