Ross LTX Reel Review - On the Water Field Test
Exciting things continue to roll out of Ross Reels in our home state of Colorado. The last two years have seen the company push the envelope with introductions of the Colorado LT and the Evolution R series of fresh and saltwater reels. The newest edition, the Ross Evolution LTX, packs the best of those models into one of the finest reels available today in the trout and light saltwater game. When I am personally considering a new reel, it has to pass the BAR(bad ass reel) exam in four categories: aesthetics, simplicity, durability and drag. After taking the LTX for a week-long test drive in the most brutal elements possible, Wyoming in winter, I believe the Ross Evolution LTX hits it out of the park in all four categories.
Working at the fly shop, I’m surprised at how few people will admit to buying a reel based on aesthetics, but it happens all the time. Although it should never be the ONLY reason to buy, it definitely plays a huge role. Embrace the aesthetics…and like my Uncle Steve always said about baseball, “you look good, you play good.” You’ve got to admit there’s some truth to that! Ross keeps it simple and classy: the LTX comes in either black or platinum and 4 sizes (3/4, 4/5, 5/6, 7/8). There’s also a reason the Ross design crew worked so hard on the highly “skeletonized” frame. It reduces weight, adds gorgeous originality, and increases the reel’s strength to weight ratio. If you didn’t notice, we just checked off 3 of our BAR exam attributes to a solid reel purchase.
The Evolution LTX is a simple reel from the user’s perspective. There are minimal moving parts and this equates to less ways for the reel to malfunction, especially under harsh fishing and weather conditions. There is no spool release mechanism as the spool quickly and effortlessly pops free of the housing with a quick push of the thumbs. Any suspicious materials (plastics) found on other reels are either absent or replaced with a carbon-fiber substitute. Most notably, the drag engagement is now carbon-fiber, giving the LTX more durability, but retaining the same “sound” we’ve all come to know and love from Ross. Additionally, the reel is essentially maintenance free giving the angler peace of mind to fish hard every day regardless of sub-zero temperatures or hot, salty environments. During my test drive, temps were consistently below 20 degrees and winds hardly dropped below 15mph. The Evolution LTX never froze up, never free spooled due to frozen drag and survived multiple dunks in the river and the snow! The fish I put on the reel were quickly tamed, despite light tippets and strong currents, thanks to a drag that is four times stronger than its predecessors’ (and four times smoother if I can interject my own feelings here). Additionally, taking in line was fast and efficient due to the large diameter of the LTX’s spool and a handle machined from canvas phenolic rod (a Ross Reels innovation), which reduces weight, adds durability, and increases grip when wet. Bar exam? Check, check, check and check.
Lastly, the Evolution LTX has a few “hidden features” that may not necessarily make or break your next fishing trip, but are more like icing on the reel cake. In order to keep your lined-up reel as clean as possible, the large arbor spool includes an innovative line channel for cleanly hiding arbor knots when winding on backing. No knots or tag ends to get in the way or “mess up” an otherwise perfectly machined reel. Additionally, the Ross Reels signature bell-shaped arbor design also adds strength, while helping to self-level the fly line across the face of the spool as it is retrieved. Might as well have your cake and eat it too: Ross has machined a leader loop into the frame allowing you to wrap your leader around the reel, not the reel foot, when moving from spot to spot. No more kinks or twists in the leader and faster presentations may just buy you an extra fish or two! Isn’t that what we’re all after at the end of the day? Give the Ross Evolution LTX a solid look next time you’re in the shop and I’m sure you’ll agree…it really is “made on the water.”