I am finally getting around to adding some more product reviews to the site. I’ve actually had this reel for close to a year now, but am just now getting enough total time on the water with it to give a fair review. Yes, its another review of an Allen Fly Fishing reel. I was trying to diversify these reviews, but they keep coming with new gear, and I keep giving them my money instead of anyone else. There is not a ton to say about this reel that I haven’t said about the Kraken or Kraken XLA. But all those good things I said about those two reels is truly amplified with this piece of art, called the Omega XLA.
I’ll start with what made this a “must have” for me when they announced it. I have always coveted the standard Omega reels. Mostly because they are made in Detroit, MI, but also falling in love with one of the original demo reels that happened to be in my hands when I caught my first Steelhead. I was already a big fan of Allen’s reels, but that experience really sold me. Hearing my guide rave about it, and feeling first hand how smooth and strong the drag was, I knew it was just a matter of time before I had one. About a year and a half later, the guys at Allen announced the new Omega XLA reels, and a launch sale of 50% off. It was a done deal.
Omega XLA Features:
Here is the product description from Allen’s website
Our Omega XLA series represents the perfect blending of our best drag technology and premium U.S. construction. Now we have added an extra larger arbor version to the mix, pairing the advantage of a mega-fast retrieve with the most powerful drag on the market. The Omega XLA is the ultimate choice for subduing speedy, powerful trophies in every corner of the world, ready for punishment with its sealed drag and durable, attractive anodized finish. And like all of our reels, the Omega XLA is covered by our peerless customer service and lifetime warranty to the original owner.Made in the Motor City, the Omega series from Allen Fly Fishing is the rebirth of American Muscle. Are you ready to take it for a spin?
- Fully machined aluminum spool and frame
- Full Frame design
- Multi-disc stacked carbon drag system
- Sealed drag
- Large arbor, U-cut spool
- Click retrieve and click drag
- Made in the USA
Model Reel Dia Weight Arbor Dia Spool Width Reel Capacity Size Suggestions Price 3 4.5″ 9.25oz. 2.6″ 1.1″ 8wt WFF + 200yd 30lb backing 7wt to 9wt WFF
350gr to 500gr Shooting Heads
$625 4 5″ 9.85oz. 3″ 1.1″ 10wt WFF + 250yd 30lb backing 9wt to 12wt WFF
500 to 600gr Shooting Heads
$675 5 5.43″ 11.15oz. 3.1″ 1.28″ 12wt WFF + 300yd 30lb backing 12wt to 14wt WFF
600gr to 1000gr Shooting Heads
What I Like:
It’s silly to say everything right? Seriously though, there is not much you could possibly do to improve this reel. The tolerances are really tight and it is a cool looking reel. My two favorite features on the Omega XLA over the standard Omega are the full frame, and of course, the extra large arbor.
- The full frame gives the Omega XLA an incredibly stable and solid feel. Most fly reels these days are partial frame. It reduces weight, but adds a degree of flex. The main reason it is an improvement however is that thin running lines can’t work their way between the frame and spool causing a jam. With my heavy use of mono running line with the OPST Skagit head system, I will occasionally run into this problem on my other reels. Not with the Omega XLA.
- The extra large arbor gives you the ability to pick up line much faster than a standard large arbor reel. This helps when fighting hot fish like salmon and steelhead here in Michigan. But would be indispensable if you fish salt. I don’t know if there is a better salt water reel on the market. And secondly, this reel mostly lives on my 11’3 8wt switch rod from Mystic. A standard large arbor doesn’t feel right on these long rods. I find the Omega XLA looks great and balances the rod more effectively.
Really the only reason not to buy this reel is the price. Starting at $625, the Omega XLA is not a small investment. The sticker shock is real, but if you are in the market for an ultra high end reel, made here in the USA, you won’t find much that compares to it, regardless of price.
The only other thing that I have noticed that may be relevant to those who chase fish in the cold northern winters, is that the full frame does give more of surface area for snow and ice to grab hold. The reel never actually had any problems, even in some extreme conditions, but clearing the reel from snow and ice took just a little bit more effort with the Omega XLA than it did the Kraken. I recently was on a trip where I got 4″ of snow, 25 degree weather, and 15-20 mph winds. I was cleaning a lot of ice out of my guides. Every time I picked up a rod and reel, the reel would be iced up and packed with snow. The Kraken (no full frame) and the Omega XLA (full frame) could both be cleared easily with a quick turn of the spool. The Omega XLA just took a little more effort. This isn’t really a negative on this reel, just a reality of having the full frame. Both reels performed flawlessly in these tough conditions though. The drags sung happily and smoothly whenever they were battling fish.