Lamson (Waterworks-Lamson) Fly Fishing Reel Review

8 trout and fly rod

Fish Fry! The day’s catch with Waterworks-Lamson fly reel & Temple Fork Outfitter fly rod.

I needed a fly fishing reel, so I looked at many models and options. Wow!

No wonder people are hesitant to start fly fishing. Do I really need to spend $400 or more for a reel? Then I asked a friend for advice.

He told me he had a fairly inexpensive reel on his smallest rod (4 wt), but all four of his other rods have Lamsons which are in his words are “solid and good value”.

Need Large Arbor Fly Reel with Decent Drag

I was told to make sure I got a reel with a decent drag because of the potential for catching large trout on my home waters. I was also advised to look for a large arbor reel because of the faster retrieve rate, constant tension drag and for less “coil memory” in the fly line and leader.

So I researched Lamson (Waterworks/Lamson). They are not just guys that love fly fishing and wanted to learn how to design reels, they are engineers that wanted to build better reels.

Lamson Liquid fly fishing reel

The Lamson Liquid has replaced the Konic II Fly Fishing Reel at a lower price point.

Among other things, they design bikes. In 1995, they patented the Center Axis Concept which aligns the center of mass of the reel with the center axis of the rod, which reduces twisting and the pendulum effect which makes for a more balanced and responsive rod. They also design reels with few parts for simplicity and reduced weight.

The Liquid is Lamson’s entry level reel, but has the same conical drag and stainless steel bearing system they use in their high-end reels.

Lamson Liquid Features

  • Large diameter Arbor (3.61 in. for 6 wt.)
  • Pressure cast aluminum spool and frame
  • Conical Drag System, sealed and maintenance free
  • Polyurethane finish
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Based in Ketchum, Idaho (50% U.S. made 100% assembled)

The Lamson Liquid Fly Reel; Available in four Sizes:

Reel Rod Arbor Weight
Model Wt Dia (in) (oz)
 1.5   3/4   3.34   4.20
  2   5/6   3.61   4.65
 3.5   7/8   3.85   5.20
  4  9/10   4.65   6.70

I read many other reviews about the entry level Lamson reels and everyone seems to agree that it is the best reel available for less than $150. Way under!  Because the Lamson Liquid is priced at $100 (or just over for 7 weight or larger fly rods).

I decided that $150 was going to be my absolute maximum budget for a fly reel. Before I bought the Lamson Fly Reel, I compared several other reels side by side.

I made the trip into the big city and compared several reels including these (no longer available):

  • Cabela’s Prestige Premier ($90)
  • Ross Flystart ($60)
  • Ross Flyrise ($120)
  • Sage 2250 ($140)

Except for the Sage 2250 and the Ross Flyrise reels, the other reels just didn’t feel as solid or have the same smooth action. My fishing buddy has a Sage 2250 and I’ve used it quite a bit, but I liked the drag system and the drag control best on the Lamson and the Lamson was lighter than the other reels at that price point.

The Sage and Ross reels are quality reels with lifetime warranties, but I still chose the Lamson.

You don’t have to spend $400 to get a strong, large arbor reel with what may be the best drag system available. And it comes with a lifetime warranty.

It is true that most of the time the reel just holds extra line until you need it and spools it back up when you don’t need it. For catching small fish, almost any reel will work, but if you plan to hook and land big fish, then the reel becomes very important. I like catching all fish, big and small, but I don’t want a big one to get away because of the reel.

Check out the video; it shows a few nice trout we caught with the help of my trusty Lamson fly reel:

Waterworks/Lamson Lifetime Warranty

When I got my reel home, I was surprised that no warranty information was included in the box. I emailed Lamson directly ( and asked what I needed to do to register. Within a few minutes, I got the following email:

“We actually no longer require a registration process in order to activate your warranty. Should you ever have any issues with your reel, this is the right place to get a hold of us. Have fun out there, and happy fishing!”

Thanks. I do have fun out there when I’m fishing.

Update: After fishing today (May 27. 2019), I have fished with my Lamson fly reel and TFO fly rod exactly 267 times with zero problems.

Comments, Opinions, Questions?