What is the Loop Opti fly reel?
The Loop Opti fly reels are the top-of-the-range reels in Loop's lineup, one step above the Evotec reels, two above the Multi reels and three above the entry-level Loop Q reels. All of the Loop Opti models are very similar looking high-end large arbour machined aluminium fly reels and are arguably among the most desirable on the market today, sporting a hard shiny black finish and the distinctive silver Loop "L" logo on the rear.
Unlike those from other manufacturers, Loop names its Opti models rather than referring to them by the line weights they handle. The one I've been testing is the new Loop Opti Rapid, which filled a gap in the range for 6 weight lines. It's also recently added the new Opti Gyre to support 11 weight lines.
While each of the Loop Opti fly reels shares a very similar design, they're not simply the scaled up versions of other models, as you tend to find with other makers. Each Opti reel features a slightly tweaked design, using different porting holes and to get the right strength and weight just right.
How are these reels made?
Loop Opti reels are machined from a single block of aluminium and are then painted and anodised to give them a smooth, hard and shiny finish. This is more resistant to knocks and scratches than die-cast or pressure-cast aluminium reels, which can potentially bend out of shape if dropped hard. Optis have a minimalist yet sturdy frame which feels very strong indeed.
Like Loop's other reels, the Opti has a v-shaped spool, which is said to give faster and more efficient line retrieval, as well as reduce line memory. Combined with their large arbour design, this means they pick up line very quickly compared to other fly reels. If you need to quickly recover line to keep up with a fast-moving fish, this is just the kind of reel you'll benefit from. While this functionality might be overkill for trout, which are typically played by hand, it's going to give you the edge on salmon and saltwater species.
What other models are in the Loop Opti range?
The Loop Opti range has been on the market for a few years and currently includes nine models designed to handle fly lines from a 4 weight right up to a 12 weight. The range lets you fish for everything from trout and grayling, right up to tarpon and GTs in the tropics. All of them have large arbours and high line capacities, allowing you to have a lengthy amount of backing in place to allow fish to run.
|Model||Capacity||Diameter||Arbour diameter||Inner width||Weight|
|Opti Creek||WF4 + 110m of 20lb||44mm||85mm||20mm||113g|
|Opti Dry Fly||WF5 + 150m of 20lb||56mm||102mm||20mm||125g|
|Opti Rapid||WF6 + 200m of 20lb||54mm||105mm||25mm||206g|
|Opti Runner||WF7 + 150m of 30lb||70mm||115mm||25mm||233g|
|Opti Speedrunner||WF8 + 190m of 30lb||86mm||131mm||25mm||258g|
|Opti Strike||WF9 + 250m of 30lb||50mm||115mm||32mm||265g|
|Opti Megaloop||WF10 + 250m of 50lb||68mm||131mm||32mm||290g|
|Opti Gyre||WF11 + 300m of 50lb||54mm||120mm||33mm||285g|
|Opti Big||WF12 + 350m of 50lb||59mm||126mm||38mm||428g|
What is the drag like?
Loop fly reels use their Power Matrix drag system. This is a fully waterproof sealed drag system which allows the reels to be used for saltwater fly fishing. The drag is really strong and smooth and kicks in quickly. It's apparently made from really high-quality components, including marine grade seals and specialised carbon braking discs. I've got several other Loop reels which share the same Power Matrix drag and have never had an issue with any of them.
The drag is easy to adjust. There's a lovely aluminium knob on the rear of the reel with diagonal grooves to provide a bit of extra grip. It can tighten up hard should you need it to. The design of this is quite minimalist, so there are no indicators to tell you which direction tightens or loosens the drag, but that becomes instinctive after a while, anyway.
How easy is it to change the spool?
It's very easy to change the spool on the Loop Opti. There's a simple nut to unscrew and remove from the front, then the spool simply slides off the central drag housing. The downside is that, like the Loop Multi reel, the drag nut isn't captive, so you do need to be careful not to lose it if you're changing the spool on the bank. The newer Loop Q series reels feature a captive nut, but the Loop Opti and Multi are based on an older design.
Does it come with a reel case?
Yes, each Opti reel comes with a sturdy reel case, rather than the cloth drawstring bag of cheaper models. This provides extra protection from knocks and scratches and can even be used when the reel is attached to the rod, which is great for keeping your expensive reel from getting marked or damaged when you're travelling between spots.
What are they like to use?
I've been using the Opti Rapid on my 6 weight Loop Cross SX rod. It oozes quality. It feels great in the hand, is machine exquisitely and has a seriously smooth action. It looks and feels as expensive as it is. It's a great quality piece of kit. Although it has a bit of weight to it, it does balance the rod very well and feels good when casting.
The line pick up is seriously quick and the v-shaped spool design Loop uses helps the line bed down neatly. I don't think I've used a line that retrieves line so quickly, so this would be a good choice if you fish for faster running species like salmon, bonefish or other saltwater species.
Loop uses great drags in its reels and this one is the same as the others. It's smooth and consistent and strong enough to stop almost anything and the direction can be changed by flipping over a washer and reassembling. It's an impressive looking reel and it's really capable and well made. Look after it well and it should last you many, many years.
How much do these reels cost?
Although I own loads of Loop kit, I actually borrowed this one from Loop to review. They're stunning reels, but as the top-of-the-line in Loop's range, the Opti range comes with a high price tag which reflects the quality. Prices start from £381 for the smallest Loop Opti Creek reel and rise to £588 for the massive Loop Opti Big for 12 weight lines. That's a lot for a reel, but these are among the nicest around, I think. If you've got the money and want to treat yourself, you'd likely not be disappointed with one of these.
More information: Loop Tackle Design