Last Update: 11/02
Tackle Type:
Overall score:
Fly Reel
Eric Z.
Manufacturer's Description:
"What more can you say about a series of fly reels that have set a new standard for performance and value in the world of fly fishing? How about just the highlights: Incredible stopping power with over six square inches of effective drag surface. Outperformed the drag materials in every competitive reel tested by at least 25%. Three times the effective drag of every cork drag reel we tested. Dissipates heat resulting from runs of heavy weight fish. Spool design effectively maintains drag consistency as line and backing are quickly removed from the reel. Drag is fully resistant to the contaminations found in the harsh environs of big game fly fishing. Utilizes a quick release system that combines the best features of a locking and quick release spool."
  • Fully machined out of bar stock aluminum
  • Strong, smooth and sensitive disc drag system with over 6 square inches of effective drag surface
  • Self-lubricating oil impregnated bronze bushings for ultra-smooth rotation
  • Water shedding grooves on palming rim
  • Skillfully machined spool and frame that provides perfect balance, appropriate line ventilation and dynamic cosmetics
  • Lightweight design- weighs 10% less than many top-selling brands
  • Fully ventilated, perfectly balanced spool and frame
  • Quick release locking spool
  • Easy LH/RH retrieve conversion
  • Exposed spool rim for palming
  • Large, easily adjusted drag knob
  • Saltwater approved
  • Guaranteed for life

ModelDiameterWt/ozFly Line Rec.Backing
BG-43.75"7.37-9WF8+185yds./30 lb.
BG-54.00"8.08-10WF9+200yds./30 lb.
BG-64.25"8.710-12WF11+250yds./30 lb.
BG-74.50"9.211-13WF12+325yds./30 lb.
BG-84.75"9.713-15WF14+450yds./30 lb.

First Impression:
I've been looking at this reel for quite a while now. I like the looks, the weight and the manufacturing. The price is towards the top end of what I'm used to spending, but by the comments I've been hearing over the last year it sounds like it's worth the money. I also like the large surface area of the drag washers. They should prove to be useful on those big kings and in the salt. Also, the large drag knob should be easily adjusted even while wearing gloves.

Ratings: (out of 10)
CriteriaRating # 
Performance:  5
Construction/Quality:  6

If there was a workhorse of good quality reels, the Big Game would be the master. A good performing reel, not without a few small faults, but one of the best in the marketplace today. The drag is basically flawless and quite capable of stopping just about anything that swims, both in fresh and saltwater. The oversized center arbor aids tremendously in line recovery, and spool change out can be accomplished with one hand and a simple turn of the knob; no lose parts to drop. It's just about as cold water friendly as any reel I've fished and only on the coldest of days could I get the reel to freeze up, even after dunking it.

At a little over three hundred bucks this reels is in the low end price range of your better reels. This reel should last a lifetime so if you do the math it's a great deal.

A well constructed reel, good anodized finish, machined out of bar stock aluminum and lifetime warrantied.

The design is very well thought out. The large diameter of the spool is almost a standard these days. The anodized finish should prove to last a lifetime. Large venting ports through the spool and frame will make washing it down a snap and cleaning very easy. Ross claims this reel, and all others it makes for that fact, to be salt water approved and "fully resistant to the contaminations found in the harsh environs of big game fly fishing" . We'll put that to the test! The only item I'm not too certain about are the plastic "tabs" on the underside of the spool. They don't look like they'll last.

A massive drag washer area is the heart of this reel, to me at least. Self lubricating, "maintenance free", drag. Left or Right hand retrieve, quick release spool, and a drag knob that's easily adjusted --even with gloved hands-- make this full featured reel.

Plus / Minus:
Drag is fully resistant to the contaminations found in the harsh environs of big game fly fishing Drag is fully resistant to the contaminations found in the harsh environs of big game fly fishing
Large Drag Surface

This reel should be a lifetime investment. Ross has assured the angling community they will support the Big Game series for the life of the reels with parts and service. With the reputation that Ross has it should be a good purchase.

Where to Buy:
Just about anywhere that sells fly gear. Here's a link to Ross Reels Home page where you'll find a Dealer Search link on the top navigation bar.

Other Products in this line:
BG-47/9 wt$345.00
BG-58/10 wt$385.00
BG-610/12 wt$425.00
BG-711/13 wt$475.00
BG-813/15 wt$525.00

Spare Spool Pricing:

Quest invites manufacturers to submit comments on this review. Comments will not change the review in any way, but will be added along side the information presented.

Additional Staff Comments:

Long Term Test:
First use proved most everything that Ross said about the reel is true and well stated. The drag performed perfectly, the large arbor was great at picking up a lot of line, the spool release was easy to use, and after a day of banging around in the bottom of a dirty drift boat it was very easy to clean off.

04/01 - Warranty Work
Had a ghost sound in the reel. It made a sound like something was scraping inside the reel somewhere. Sent it in to Ross and within a week or so I had a brand new reel!

12/02 - Warranty Work
Sent the reel in to be cleaned. Some how I think I got dirt into the "fully resistant to the contaminations found in the harsh environs of big game fly fishing" drag.

12/02 - Part II
Got the reel back after 2 weeks. The verdict from Ross was I had salt residue in the drag system. I guess it's not "fully resistant"... From what I hear any of the so-called saltwater approved drags out there can succumb to this problem, not just Ross. They replaced the thrust washer, discs and rulons and even the drag knob, then cleaned the whole thing and set it. They included a new "Maintenance Bulletin" about lubing and cleaning. It reads:

Maintenance Bulletin
Your Ross reel is designed to be maintenance free. Is is assembled with self-lubricating bearings, therefore it should never require additional lubrication. Additional lubrication will eliminate the drag due to our friction-based design. It also attracts dirt to the drag area, and causes more wear.

We further recommend a complete disassembly and cleaning following each salt water trip. Failure to follow these recommendations may render your reel inoperative.

We urge you to send in your reel to our service department once every year or two for a thorough maintenance check. This service is at no charge to you except for the postage when you ship it. We pay return postage.

Separate the spool from frame.
Loosen drag all the way.
Soak for 20 minutes in warm clear water.
Flush under running water to force out loose dirt debris.
Allow to air dry thoroughly before putting together and storing.

The only question I have on the bulletin is if they tell you to completely disassemble the reel after each salt water trip why don't they give you detailed instruction on just how to do that? What is total disassembly... all the way down to the last screw? Now that's a recipe for disaster... and lost parts! One of the major reasons I decided on the Ross was due to the fact it had a "sealed, maintenance free, lubrication free drag system". Hmmm. Well, I guess on the positive side I can always just send it in to Ross after each salt water trip and have it cleaned out! Thank god I don't fish salt 200 days a year.

After thinking a while on what exactly "complete disassembly" is, I opted to email Ross Reels directly and get an answer. Here's the email I sent them on Jan 11th:

I just got my BG4 back a couple weeks ago after sending it in for maintenance and a "noisy" drag. I guess I had saltwater residue in the "sealed" drag. I got one of your new "maintenance bulletins" which partialy read: "We further recommend a complete disassembly and cleaning following each salt water trip. Failure to follow these recommendations may render your reel inoperative."

One question, how? Can you provide some sort of step by step procedure for disassembly either with another maintenance bulletin or at least some on-line instructions? There are a lot of small parts when you open up that drag knob!


I am awaiting their response.

Just got an email from Ross in reguards to the above email I had sent them. It reads:

Hi Eric,
Thanks for your question. The intent of the maintenance bulletin is that for best protection against build up of saltwater residue that the five steps at the bottom of the bulletin should be followed. The disassembly is a caution to make sure the spool is removed from the frame and the drag is fully loosened prior to soaking the two parts in warm fresh water. We do not intend that the reel be fully torn apart for normal maintenance. As you have seen from the exploded diagram in the instruction sheet or on the web site, there are a lot of small parts in the reel.

I hope this answers your question about the necessary procedure to protect your reel from the destructive affect of saltwater.

Thanks for you question and good luck and good fishing.
Alan Gillidette
Ross Reels

Thank god I don't have to take the reel apart! Perhaps they should change the "We further recommend a complete disassembly and cleaning following each salt water trip. To something like "We further recommend to follow the below steps following each salt water trip". That might stop any further confusion. I did appreciate the immediate responce and the clarification. Again, great customer service prevails!