All at the best price for a high performance big game large arbor reel. The VII size comes with two spool choices. Pick the high-capacity deep spool for blue water species or the freak spool for the highest amount of line pick up for the serious tarpon angler, nearly a foot per crank and nearly 40% faster line pick up than the Size VI reel with the same spool capacity.
The Evolution of the Mirage Reel
Phil Monahan has guided fly fishers in Alaska and Montana and was the editor of American Angler magazine for almost 10 years.
Last week, I was hanging out in the office of my friend Steve Hemkens, the Divisional Merchandise Manager of Orvis Rod & Tackle, when I noticed a jumble of reels on top of a filing cabinet.
"What's with those?" I asked.
Steve got up and took the five models down off the cabinet and put them on his desk in a line, explaining that each represented a stage in the development of the Mirage series of reels. As he explained how the reel had developed through the research & development process, I thought, "Cool. I have to get this on the blog."
So I had my colleague Tim Bronson, an exceptional photographer, shoot a picture of each reel and then sent the images to Steve so he could walk us through the steps that led him from the original prototype to the finished product. The reels at opposite ends of the series are astonishingly different. Here's Steve's story, a rare behind-the-scenes look at the product-development process:
Step 1: I had the grand plan that we would name this reel the "X Factor," so I worked hard on a design that had features more suggestive of an X—thus the triangular holes and the very tricky X shape on the drag knob (which, by the way, gave the milling machine a heart attack because the pattern was so complicated to machine). I also though that a bead-blasted Titanium-esque finish would be cool. I WAS WRONG. To steal one from Kurt Vonnegut, it was "uglier than a gut-shot iguana." But the internal mechanisms of this initial prototype were 90% of what ended up going to market.
Step 2: This version and the reel in Step 1 are the first of six prototypes of the Mirage, which were made in the winter of 2008 and fished continuously for over a year. I had been warned by my collaborator that machining the drag knob in the shape of an X was going to be problematic. As a fall-back position, we made one version that was a simple round knob. You can see where I started to sketch out the now-iconic drag-knob "swirl" with a pencil on these early versions. If you look closely at one of our Spring Fishing Catalogs, you'll see a photo of my boss, Jim Lepage, with a big tarpon he caught in Florida, and one of these prototypes is in the background.
Step 3: This reel was part of the second round of prototypes, once the field-testing feedback started to come in favorably on the "gray" reels. As you can see, I still wasn't totally willing to give up on the X Factor concept, even though I moved on from the triangular hole patterns on the spool. You can see from this drag-knob concept that we were trying to do something a little different by putting distinct indents in the knob for your fingertips. However, the testers were lukewarm on the performance improvements, and IMHO it looked awful. This version also confirmed that gold looks better than concrete gray.
Step 4: This picture represents what happened when we gave up on the X-frame idea and went to a design that was more fluid and suggested more movement. Also you can see, the swirl icon on the drag knob, as well as the knurling, come to life. You can also see that the backing is pretty dirty, thanks to the beatdown this reel gave to some Florida Panhandle tarpon in May-July of 2009.
Step 5: This is the preproduction approval sample from the Summer of 2009, just before we launched the reel in January of 2010. Notice the reference detents around the drag knob, and the two-tone finish on the "swirl," which was a small signature that we made before the reel went to market.
Furthest left in the group picture at the top of this page, you can see a "concept spool" designed for a super-high retrieve, with even more machining around the arbor to decrease weight, as well as a speed handle. I'm not sure if this will go to market or not yet, but it's a sneak peak at the kinds of things we're working on.
|Mirage Large Arbor Reel: Backing Capacities|
|Testimonials for the Mirage Big Game Reel|
From Dave Hise, 2005 Orvis Fly-Tyer of the Year:
Had the opportunity to fish with the Mirage IV the last few days... Hooked and landed a ton of large, hot steel. The reel performed flawlessly on all the corkscrewing, head shaking, twisting surges, and screaming runs. Had it teamed up with the 11' 6. Unbelievable combo. Thats all. Great job. That reel is amazing.
From Conway Bowman, shark-fishing guide and extreme fly fisher
Three days…twenty five Mako sharks…I’m tired. But my Mirage is still going strong. Fly fishing for Mako sharks requires a big game fly reel that can handling the strongest, fastest fish in the sea. A smooth drag, functional design and a great price is what you get in the new Orvis Mirage.
Try one on your next big game fly fishing adventure.
From David Mangum, renowned tarpon guide
I had a chance to put what would become the new Orvis Mirage reel to the test this summer. I was asked to give my best shot at destroying the prototype I was given and with a smirk on my face, that's exactly what I set out to do! I failed. Many of my tarpon clients helped put the prototype through its paces, we fished with straight 60lb .test and buckled the drag down far past what would be considered "normal drag pressure", I wanted to see what the reel could or couldn't handle. Fish after fish the reel put-up with the abuse, we either stopped the fish or broke them off, but the reel was never the weak-link in the system, it never skipped a beat! Finally serious big fish stopping power, a light weight package, and a large arbor to pick-up line fast!
From Ron Gras, retired steelhead guide and saltwater fly fisher
Whatever is in that drag must be strong and durable; after four hard days of fishing and many fish including a 30 lb. yellowfin tuna, large bonito, super large needlefish, jacks, etc., the reel never missed a beat, absolutely smooth and incredibly strong. From my experience with this reel, Orvis has a winner, I can't wait to get back to Baja this December and give it more time on the water.
From Capt. Michael Augat, pursuer of over 75 species of sport fish
I’ve been using the Orvis Vortex reels for over a decade and a half and have caught fish with them worldwide. They are good, solid reels that don't let you down when you're along way from nowhere. But now the Orvis design team has created a new flagship reel that is better in every way. I’ve tested the drag on tuna and sailfish and many big bull dorado. It’s brutally strong, smooth, sealed, and faultless. I love the look of this new reel, its balance, its toughness and its signature. This is a reel I’ll happily use all day long for stripers on the east coast or tarpon in Mexico, but I’ll now also dare to tackle striped marlin in the Galapagos islands.
From Capt. Steve Horowitz, flats guide, Miami, Florida
For what it's worth, I thought the reel performed great. Hooked lots of tarpon in the 150-pound range. One of the smoothest drags I've ever used. Really like the initial start up and evenness (is that a word?) throughout the range of speeds coming off the reel. From quick pre-jump bursts to 200 yard sprints all was good.
From Capt. Ed Hurst, Sarasota, Florida
I was impressed with this reel as soon as I saw it.
After submitting it to over 80 hours of beach fishing I'm totally impressed and not much rocks my boat.
I cleaned it for the first time today. It took me about 2 minutes to take the spool off wash the sand of it and wipe the body with clean cloth and reassemble it. It's so simple even a fishing guide can do it.
There is absolutely no corrosion on the reel and it looks like it just came out of the box.
I used a caliper as a tool to get into the drag. There was no sand or water inside. You're on to something here. Reminds me of the hydraulic steering on my boat. The steering cylinder can be all ratty looking but the caps always unscrew because of the O ring seals. The saltwater doesn't get into the threads causing electrolysis and corrosion.