Pflueger Supreme QRS 9101112 ReviewApril 23, 2018
- Fast line changing capability
- Very versatile
- Questionable durability
- Slow line retrieval
At first blush, the Pflueger Supreme QRS reel series is a remarkable solution to the problems many saltwater anglers face — changing conditions, and locales, require different types of fly lines. Most reels allow anglers to change out their reel spools, but spools are expensive, running 30 to 50-percent of the cost of the reel itself. That’s largely because the spools are expensive to build. They are machined from the same aluminum stock as the rest of the reel body. They feature gears and bearings that must mesh with the reel’s drag system. In short, the spool is essentially half the reel, so getting a spare is going to cost half-as-much as a full reel.
Pflueger addressed this price issue by designing a polycarbonate cassette that slips into the spool section of the reel. That means, instead of having to buy a complete spool to change your lines in the field, you can just replace the line-holding cassette. These cassettes drop into the spool, and because the cost is so minimal for the cassettes, Pflueger provides four with each reel!
Weight & Balance
The Supreme QRS looks and feels bigger than it is. One of the downsides of the cassette system: it adds weight. At 10 ounces empty, the Supreme pushes a full pound when loaded with 220 yards of backing, and a sinking line. We found that definitely affected the balance of a rod, making every rod feel excessively butt heavy during casting.
Spool size and line retrieval
Though the Supreme QRS’s spool is just 4.1 inches in diameter — smaller than the Orvis Mirage — it looks much larger, in part because it is wider. The cassettes will hold more than 220 yards of 20-pound backing, as well as an 8-weight line. The line retrieval speeds proved to be among the slowest of the test, in part because testers felt the handle was a bit too small, and the balance of the reel was a little off, thus slowing down the cranking process.
The Supreme’s line cassettes sit snugly in the spool when clean. A small locking lever releases the cassette and it slides out, and back on, with a trio of small tabs on the inside of the cassette core sliding into narrow notches on the spool hub. Unfortunately, those notches can get obstructed by sand and grit, preventing the cassette from seating firmly into the spool. Likely, sand and salt can make the tiny locking lever catch and stick, preventing the release (or re-locking) of the cassette. Finally, the overall durability of the poly cassettes is a concern. We cracked one of the four we had out for testing after just a small (3-foot) drop on a rocky beach approach.
The disc drag system on the Pflueger Supreme features a small, but effective control knob. The system can be loosened to nearly allow the spool to free-wheel on the reel, or tightened to make it nearly impossible to pull out line. But the system is prone to infiltration of debris. A couple of testers found sand and grit could work itself into the drag system and/or hub area to create a ‘grinding’ in the drag movement. A blast of fresh water out of a sports bottle cleared the grit each time, but the occasional grinding of grit inside could be a long-term concern.
Fit and finish
In addition to the innovative cassette design for fast line changes, the Supreme QRS offers another really smart feature. Each cassette is ringed by small holes with numbers and/or letters engraved below the holes. Small plastic pins clip into the holes, letting you mark the type of line (floating, sinking, intermediate sink-tip, etc) as well as line weight. That makes grabbing the line you want fast and easy when you are looking to change things up.
The reel and spool are attractively designed. There’s not a lot of exposed rim on the spool, so palming is difficult with the Supreme. But overall, the look and functionality are good — not exceptional, but good, especially given the price of the product.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.