Orvis Mirage IV ReviewApril 23, 2018
- Very durable
- Smooth operation of sealed drag
- Clean, attractive design
- Made in the USA
- Heavier than some others in class
- Not the fastest retrieval speeds
The Orvis Mirage series of reels features machined aluminum components, giving the reels strength and durability at a modest weight. During testing in Hawaii, the reel was exposed to substantial abuse — much of it unintentional. Specifically, a fumble-fingered tester stumbled and pitched the reel – and the rod it was mounted on – off a 20-foot bluff of volcanic rock while scrambling out to a point on the south shore of Maui. The rod broke in several places, but the reel was largely undamaged. A few minor scratches, but no loss of functionality. Repeated emersions in the salt and frequent drops into sand also failed to affect the reel’s performance.
The Mirage balanced well on each of the rods on with it was tested, enhancing the swing-weight of those rods. And the reels satisfied enough the most artistically-minded testers with its clean look and styling.
Weight & Balance
The 6061-T6 aluminum used in the body of the Orvis Mirage IV offers a good balance of weight and strength. Machined from pure bar stock, the aluminum components are lightweight and tough. The aluminum spool is mounted on a solid titanium shaft. The use of titanium gives the reel great core strength without adding weight. It also cuts the risk of corrosion that can occur with steel shafts. At a full 9 ounces for an unlined reel, the Mirage is middle-of-the-road in pure weight, but when matched to fast and medium-fast rods with stout mid- and tip-sections, the reel balances nicely to enhance the rods’ swing weights.
Spool size and line retrieval
The 4.25-inch spool rolls in line efficiently, letting anglers bring in big fish with less effort. That super-size spool also reduces the risk of lines succumbing to twisting and coiling — the wider diameter proved less likely to imprint ‘coil memory’ on a line than other, smaller diameter spools in the test.
As mentioned, the Mirage IV absorbed substantial abuse without affecting its performance. The Mirage sports a sealed drag system incorporating carbon fiber and stainless components for weight savings and durability and saltwater conditions. The titanium shaft that supports the machined aluminum spool further improves durability by reducing (or eliminating) the risk of corrosion inside the core of the Mirage that could occur if the shaft was made from steel as is standard on many reels.
To further enhance the durability of the Mirage, the aluminum body of the reel and spool are treated with a hard-anodized coating. This provides abrasion-resistance to the surface of the reel as well as providing some added strength to the parts.
The sealed drag system on the Mirage proved efficient and effective. The system can be dialed in to the precise tension required for any given situation, and it then stays put. One tester reported that he would occasionally mistakenly bump the drag knob out of position (usually while awkwardly holding the rod and reel under an arm to strip in line with both hands) but other than that report, the system seemd secure and drift-free.
Fit and Finished
The design of the Orvis Mirage reels is clean and attractive. Testers praised the modern take on a classic reel design. The precision machining of the reel components, backed by the bright hard-anodized finish, give the reel an artistic look without distracting from the performance of the Mirage. The reel sits snuggly in rod reel seats, with good balance and fit. All in all, the reel is as attractive as it is functional.Continue Reading
Testers used a selection of salt-water reels fitted with 8-wt lines in a variety of conditions. The reels were used in pursuit of bonefish and permits in Belize, Mahi Mahi and assorted reef fish in Hawaii, and salmon, steelhead and sea-run cutthroat in Puget Sound. We loaded the reels with 30-pound backing and fished both weight-forward floating lines and sink-tip lines.
Dan Nelson- Fly Fishing Editor
Dan Nelson is GearInstitute.com's fly fishing editor. He is based in the Pacific Northwest.