Orvis CFO II
- Classic look matches well with bamboo or fiberglass rods
- Made in USA
- Small spool size means slower line retrieval
- Simple drag
The Orvis CFO II offers traditional anglers the option of a brand new reel built in a classic style. The CFO, made in California, features a classic click-and-pawl drag system that functions well but can be hampered by grit and grime when fishing in rough terrain. The machined aluminum reel proved nearly indestructible after a season of heavy use in a range of conditions.
The Orvis CFO reels of 2015 turn back the clock to the early days of the model’s life. From the machined aluminum construction to the click-and-pawl drag system, the CFO is a reel ideally suited for traditionalists and minimalist anglers.
Drag and Line Management
The click-and-pawl drag—a system that has been used for decades—works wonderfully on the CFO II, though I did find it could get a little finicky if the reel was exposed to lots of grit and grime. Accidental dunkings of the reel into sediment-heavy spring run-off streams created a bit of a catch in the system. A quick rinse from my waterbottle cleared the minor problem, but the incident was noteworthy.
The reel also proved the slowest in the test at line retrieval. The traditional small-arbor and spool diameter means lots of cranking to pick up line.
Durability and Design
The machined aluminum frame and spools proved tougher than I expected in so small a package. This little reel took an unexpected fall off my truck’s bumper when I forgot it there and drove out of the parking area. Though I likely only got up to 10 or 15 mph before it was jettisoned, I caught sight of it in my mirror and it bounced at least twice before rolling into the grass-lined ditch. A few minor scratches were the only issues.
The look of the CFO is a throwback to the days before fly fishing became mainstream (i.e. before “A River Runs Through It” hit theaters). Its classic design and simple functionality make it a nice visual match for a bamboo or glass rod.
How We Tested It
The reels in this test were used while fishing for rainbow trout on the Upper Yakima River and the Rocky Ford spring creek (both in Washington State), as well as the Metolius and Crooked Rivers of central Oregon. We also fished small streams in eastern Washington and Oregon (notably the Lostine, Owyhee, John Day, Touchet, Tucannon, Wenaha and Walla Walla.). Testers included long time outdoor writers, game wardens, western fishing guides, and a few select blog readers.
The products featured in this test have been loaned to the Gear Institute. For more on our policies regarding editorial objectivity and sample returns, see here.
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