Per Stadigh sat down across from me and started digging through his tackle bag. Here he said, and produced a blue clamshell reel case emblazoned with the Loop logo. You will love this.
We were sitting at a small restaurant in the departures area of Vancouver International Airport. Per was waiting for his return flight to Sweden. He had just been steelheading on the Babine, and memories of his trip to Russia a few weeks prior had him thinking through the comparisons between steelhead and Atlantic salmon. At my prodding Per shared his findings about the various presentation methods that were successful for each species, how they were similar, but more importantly, how they were different. When the subject of tackle came up, Per said I really must show you this, and produced the reel case. I opened it and slid an Evotec LW 8eleven onto the table. The anodizing complimented the deep amber hue of the pale ale we were drinking, and I thought my friend might have had one too many when he said 'You hang onto it and try it out on the Thompson.´
How could I refuse?
The first thing you notice about the Evotec LW is the design. It is a beautiful reel that combines the classic features of the Loop Traditional with the advanced drag system found on the Loop Evotec and presents it in a package that looks like nothing else around. The LW is machined from bar stock aluminum and painstakingly assembled to exacting standards. Straight out of the box it looks like a delicate museum piece, and I have to admit I was initially skeptical that it would hold up to the rigors of British Columbia steelheading. But Per fishes harder and knows his tackle better than anyone else I know, so I needed no other evidence that there was something special about the LW beyond its radical exterior.
The LW stands for "Light Weight" and it is incredibly so. At 6.7 oz empty, even when fully lined the Evotec LW 8eleven feels nearly weightless in the hand to anglers used to the heavier reels commonly associated with Spey rods. Over the past few years the trend in two-handers seems to be toward the shorter and lighter rods in line weights 6-through-9. Such rods are excellent for smaller fish in smaller waters or for anglers who are seeking new challenges when approaching medium-to-large rivers and big fish. This trend reminds me of the movement towards light line single-handers for trout fishing that happened 10 - 15 years ago. When fishing one of these lightline double-handers it is counterproductive to clamp on a big heavy reel. I think this is where the Evotec LW really has something to offer to Spey rodders as it is the perfect complement to these lighter rods. Iÿýve found the combination of this reel and rods in the 12ft-to-14ft lengths for line weights 7-through-9 perfect for summer steelhead. It is the ideal match for the Loop color concept rods; I´ve also used it with the Fly Logic Dec Hogan 7 and 8 weights.
Like all Loops, the Evotec LW is a large arbor reel that features low start up inertia and fast retrieval rates with smooth, reliable performance. The reel will not backlash, even when set with a light drag, which is a great feature for anglers who prefer to use the least amount of mechanical drag possible. The sealed drag system easily converts from right to left retrieve and has a subtle clicker that can be disengaged. Strangley enough, while I never thought Iÿy´d like a quiet reel Iÿy´m really starting to enjoy the Loop´s purr.
And how does it perform? The Evotec LW is a strong, durable reel capable of taking all that steelheading has to throw at it. I hate to admit this but at one point or another last fall Per's Evotec LW was slid over rocks and dropped on table tops, yet it stood up extremely well. It's sitting here on my desk in front of me and I can find nary a blemish despite its tough season. Those of you that have read any of my other reviews know that I expect a lot out of my tackle and that, while I treat it well and am as careful as possible, I certainly donÿýt baby any of my gear. Steelheading is tough on anglers and equipment, and I expect my tackle to stand up to whatever I throw at it. Obviously the people at Loop have similar expectations, because the Evotec LW certainly delivers .
As a fish-fighting tool the Evotec LW excels. The incredibly smooth drag system handled the hottest Thompson steelhead of the season, a 16lb screamer that crushed a 3/0 black GP in the shallows of an upriver tailout at last light, a fish that nearly jerked the rod out of my hands (really) and crossed the river several times on blazing runs that put the reel's drag to the toughest of freshwater tests and left me with bruised knuckles. A fish like this definitely builds confidence in a reel, and a few more Thompson rockets quickly established the LW as my Colt .45 for the 2000 season.
The Evotec LW comes in three sizes: the 4seven, the 6nine, and the 8eleven. The 8eleven works well as a Spey reel for the Loop Adapted lines, and also handles the RIO Windcutters and MidSpeys. If you are concerned about capacity use gel-spun poly backings such as Cortland Micronite. As an example, the 8eleven carries 150 yards of 30# Micronite and a full MidSpey 8/9 or Windcutter 9/10/11.
The Evotec LW is a reel Iÿýd take anywhere for steelhead or Atlantic salmon. It would be great on the bonefish flats too, although I donÿýt think anyone is fishing double-handers in Belize yet.
Per was right: I do love the Evotec LW.
You will too.
The Loop Evotec LW 8eleven retails for $495 US.
contact Loop (www.looptackle.se) for dealer info
special thanks to Per Stadigh & Christer Sjberg for their assistance in preparing this review
images copyright 2001 Loop Tackle. Used by permission.