I first came across Danielsson fly reels in 2017, when I was looking for a large arbour full-cage reel for use with mono running lines on a 5 wt single handed rod. Most Spey reels are designed for heavy heads and to balance long rods, and are consequently too large and too heavy for 9 - 10 ft single hand sticks.
Danielsson Fly Reels are made in Sweden by a company that began producing reels in partnership with Loop, and they are recognised for producing the first true large arbour fly reels.
After the two companies parted ways, Danielsson Innovation AB continued to produce fly reels, which they now market directly to the public - intentionally cutting out distributors and retailers to keep the price of their high quality products accessible to a wider market.
All Danielson reels are machine cut from high tensile aircraft grade 6061 aluminium and all have full frames/cages.
The latest drags on Danielsson fly reels are completely sealed and pressure tested to 100m. The drag consists of stacked discs of stainless and polymer composite (i.e. not carbon) that does not break down or malfunction under extreme cold or the extreme heat generated by a long fast run.
The company mission is to produce reels fit for purpose that will last a lifetime.
The Danielsson F3W 4 seven is a great reel for 9.5 ft 5wt and 9 ft 7wt rods, and would be perfect for 1wt and 2wt double-hand Trout Spey rods.
The Danielsson F3W series is a lighter version of the L5W series (see below) and although it has a smaller drag cylinder the drags are adequate for anything from trout to bonefish and salmon. The series consists of three models: 2six, 4seven and 7ten.
The F3W 4seven I ordered for my 5wt outfit has an advertised diameter of 3.74” and weight of 5.2 ounces. It cost me the princely sum of $184 US ($256 NZ) – an incredible price for a high end reel – and it arrived on my doorstep in New Zealand within 9 days of placing the order.
Opening the parcel I immediately liked the clean classic lines of this reel, and in my hand it felt much lighter than I had anticipated. The clicker felt solid and reliable, without being too soft or too loud, and the drag was as smooth as advertised, with only a hint of start-up inertia.
The drag pressure on the L3W 4seven was way more than I would ever need for any gamefish I would tackle on a 5-7wt – even if I didn’t prefer to use lighter settings and apply additional pressure with my fingers.
On the subject of manual braking, the face of the spool fits around the cage, with a generous rim that is 5mm wide. The diameter of the spool is consequently 3mm larger than both the frame and advertised reel diameter (i.e. 3.85” v 3.74” or 98mm v 95mm). The wide and proud rim makes it very easy, and enjoyable, to apply finger pressure to a revolving spool.
The wide, proud outer rim on the Danielsson F3W and F5W series is great for fighting decent fish
The spool on the '4seven' spins like a roulette wheel, when incoming, which enables rapid retrieval of loose running line, by slapping the wide rim of the reel or giving the handle a flick. This is especially appreciated when a fish is hooked whilst stripping streamers using skinny mono running lines.
One of the many features that struck me about Danielsson’s unique reel design was how little movement there was between spool and frame when I twisted the spool laterally – a consequence of the unique industrial clamp coupling they use for attaching the spools to the hubs of all of their reels. The mechanism does make changing spools a bit more fiddly and time consuming than with other systems, but for me the unique look and rock solid feel are worth it.
Even though the Danielsson reels have a full-frame design, there is just one bridge/support between the frame and frame ring, instead of the usual three, and this is situated directly opposite the reel foot, where it also serves as a line guide. Having just one support provides maximum room for finding the ends of tippets and untangling them when they somehow become wrapped around fly lines or sink tips.
Full Cage Design
F3W 4seven Danielsson reel with spool off showing full cage design
The F3W 4seven easily accommodated 100m of eight carrier 50lb gelspun braid, a full 50 yards of 35LB Lazar running Line, and 180 to 275 grain Skagit heads with 10 foot sink tips attached. Skagit heads take up more space than Scandi heads of equivalent weight.
I have used the 4seven on several rods, but it seems to have found a home on a 9.5 ft 5 wt rod (Sage X-597), where it does a lot of time with Skagit and Scandi heads around 180 grains. A second spool is loaded with a WF floating line for flinging nymphs and dry flies on larger rivers, where the longer rod has distance and mending advantages.
At 5.2 ounces the 4seven balances the longer 5wt perfectly, and also works well on a 9 ft 7wt. It would also be a good choice for 1 and 2 wt double-handers.
The F3W 2six is a fantastic reel for a regular 9 ft 4-5 wt rods, and is great for Spey applications with thin mono running lines as well as conventional fly lines.
I was so impressed with the performance of the F3W 4seven that within a year I was ordering a second Danielsson reel. This time a 3.4 inch 4.8 ounce F3W 2six.
I know the current trend is toward larger diameter large arbour reels, but to my eye a reel with a diameter of 3.4 inches just looks better than one of 3.75 inches on 8-9 ft 4-5wt single hand rods, especially those without fighting butts. I also find it easier to fight large New Zealand Trout when the rim of the reel is well clear of the rod butt. And when I rest my rod against a fence, I don’t want the reel touching the ground.
I loaded the 2six with 75 meters of 50 lb gelspun backing and 30 meters of 25 lb SA Flat Mono running line, and it happily takes Skagit and Scandi heads of 150 to 180 grains, with 10 foot sink tips.
A second 2six, purchased a few months later, is loaded with 75 meters of 50 lb gelspun and a 5 wt weight-forward floating line. This is now my go-to reel for dry flies and nymphs on backcountry streams.
I found the weight of the loaded reels just enough to balance modern 9 ft 5wt rods. Any lighter and they would be too light.
I have caught many large rainbow and brown trout with these two little reels - including turbo-charged Tongariro chromers and sea trout in coastal rivers - and they have been well up to the task. The super large arbours and wide spools ensure decent retrieve rates, despite their comparatively small size. The smooth drags have protected light tippets during long runs and smooth operation has been pure joy.
F5W 6nine and 4seven W
The Danielsson F5W 6nine is a brilliant reel for 7-8 wt 9 ft single hand rods as well as 4/5 wt double handers <12 ft long. The F5W 4seven W is a great reel for 10 ft single hand 5/6 wt rods and also for 3 wt double-handers.
The 6.8 ounce Danielsson F5W 6nine has the same diameter as the F3W 4seven, but it is 5mm wider and has a deeper spool. It also has a larger, more powerful drag and is a handsome gunmetal grey instead of black.
The F5W 6nine would make a great 8wt reel for a single hand rod, but it is also a fantastic reel for 4-5 wt 11 ft double handers. Mine is loaded with 200m of 50 lb gelspun PE braid, 30 meters of SA Flat Mono 35lb shooting line, and easily accommodates 300-325 grain Skagit and Scandi heads with 10-12 ft sink tips.
One cool thing about the the F5W 6nine is that it also takes a 4seven W spool, which is has an even larger arbour than the F3W 4seven - the ‘W’ stands for wide. But why bother with a shallower spool, when I could effectively achieve the same arbor with the 6nine spool by adding more backing?
First off, the 4sevenW spool looks amazing on this reel - a bit like wide rims and low profile tires on a Ferrari. Secondly I purchased it for a 10 ft 5wt single hand rod that needed the additional weight of the F5W, but did not need the capacity of the 6nine. The F5W 4sevenW has also worked very well as a single-hand Skagit reel on a 9.5 ft 7wt.
F5W 6nine and 4seven W spool
The drags on all Danielsson reels can be adjusted internally to provide alternative max settings. The factory settings are level 1 for the F3W 2six, level 2 for the 4seven and level 3 for the F5W 6nine. The number of turns available on the drag knob remain unchanged, so a lower level max setting provides finer control for protecting lighter tippets.
Maximum drag on the F5W 6nine is ridiculously powerful - as in more powerful than my Nautilus NVG 9 - but it remains exceptionally smooth.
Since I am unlikely to use much more than a quarter of the drag capacity in the reel’s current role, I could consider knocking the drag setting back to level 2, which would give me more control between zero and a less powerful max setting.
But then again, I am managing fine with it as it is, and the reel could easily find itself on a saltwater trip, connected to a yellowtail kingfish or a trevally I have to keep out of the bricks.
The F3W and F5W series are designed for use in the salt.
My Danielsson reels have seen a lot of use, and abuse, over the last three years. I have dropped them on rocks, covered them in sand, and they are often under water. They have also landed a lot of good fish. Notwithstanding a few minor scratches, these reels remain as smooth and rock solid as the day I bought them.
The full-cage design, essential for Spey casting with thin mono running lines, also provides additional strength for handling powerful fish on heavy drag settings. Completely sealed and with quality anodising, they are suitable for both fresh and saltwater use.
When I think of Danielsson fly reels the words that immediately come to mind are: good looking, smooth, solid and indestructible.
Not to mention incredible value for money.
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