Review: Mystic Reaper Fly Rod | Outbreak Magazine

I have known Mystic fly rods for quite some time now, several years. Designer and entrepreneur Dennis Klein and his wife, Victoria, who owns the company, make quality fishing gear in the company’s small Michigan store. If you haven’t heard of Mystic, you must.

First, Mystic rods have been made in the USA in Portland, Michigan, and have been for over a decade. The first Mystic rod I was lucky enough to fish was the company’s 8-weight M-series freshwater rod. Dennis was kind enough to send one to use for a Trout Unlimited carp tournament several years ago, and I really fell in love with it.

But what I love most about Mystic is the honesty behind the products. Dennis has been making rods for years and he’s not afraid to experiment and then ask for his opinion on the finished product. I remember at the Denver Fly Fishing Show a few years ago he eagerly put a rod in my hands for me to throw. When I made my report it was full of questions for me. How did it sink? Was it fast enough? Too fast? How was the balance? It’s too heavy ?

I tried to be as honest as possible and he took the criticism to heart. He uses these comments to improve his products. And, honestly, they’re pretty darn good to start with, so Dennis delves into the niceties at this point in his career.

Last summer Dennis sent me his new four-piece, seven-foot-three Reaper to use in the shade as I drove north through British Columbia, the Yukon and Alaska. And, as is typical for me and Mystic Gear, I loved it.

Mystic presents the Reaper as a true quick tip-flex rod, and it does, even in four pieces and in the 3-weight version. It comes in sizes up to a 9ft 12in weight and promises to be just as fast in all versions.

What works

Light and compact
I’ll be honest, I was skeptical of the lightweight rod’s four-piece design – thought it would add weight, reduce reliability, and likely slow down the rod. The latter might be a bit true, but it’s still super fast and it’s deliciously light in the hand. The fact that it breaks into four pieces makes it a true backcountry backpack cane, while in its case, the set is less than two feet long.

It’s a dry fly rod … with spine
I had a blast with the shadow and rainbows of little streams all across British Columbia and the Yukon throwing dry flies with the little Reaper. He was quick enough to handle bigger water than I could have fished normally with a weight of 3, and he has a serious backbone. As I noted at Hatch earlier this year, I landed a 30 inch pike on the Reaper in an act of desperation, as Donald Rumsfeld might say: “You fish with the rod you have, not with the the cane you hope to have. “

A classy guy, this Rumsfeld.

The odd juxtaposition of me throwing big streamers at toothy pike with a weight of 3 in four pieces aside, the results are proof that the little rod has a lot of backbone. In addition to that “plug and play” effort, the Reaper handled dozens of shadows, some pushing 20 inches and ending up in fast water. At its core, however, the Reaper is a dry fly rod, as you would expect with a weight of 7ft 3in. And it’s a good dry fly rod, too. It’s a pleasure to throw with enough juice to get a bit of wind, but not too much to get in the way of important presentations.

What not

Four-part design
As I noted, the four piece design is both a blessing and a curse if you like fast acting fly rods. For most of us, however, a soft 3-weight is the perfect backcountry tool, so while the four-piece layout slows down the rod a bit, the loss of action is more than made up for by. the convenience of being able to attach a small rod tube to your bag while hiking to a hidden trout or grayling stream. Also, a dry fly rod should be a bit slower.

No frills
You will also notice that the design of the Reaper is very basic. Nothing fancy, no fancy stuff. I suspect this was done to keep the rod light in the four piece model. It is however basic. It’s not that it’s not attractive. It’s clear cosmetics weren’t high on Mystic’s priority list when this rod was built.

Last word

I guess it’s no secret that I’m sort of a mystical homer. I love rods made by people I know in places right here in good old USofA. And I love Dennis and Victoria, they are real fishermen. I’ve watched Mystic evolve over the past decade and am almost always impressed with the gear they produce.

The 3 Weight Reaper is a great little trout rod that I was lucky enough to use for grayling hunting across the north of the country last summer. This year I plan to put it to good use against the invasive Yellowstone brook trout and wild backcountry cutthroats.

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