It’s rare to find a low-cost reel that you can use in saltwater, because most good saltwater reels will cost you an arm and a leg. Unfortunately, most low-cost reels just aren’t built to withstand the corrosive environment of the salt flats or the open sea. That’s why we were so excited to hear about the Echo Bravo – a saltwater-specific reel for under $150!
Tim Rajeff and the team at Echo Fly Fishing aim to make saltwater fishing more accessible to fly anglers, no matter what your budget is. So, the Echo Bravo was created with two goals – performance and affordability. As with all Echo products, the aim was to create a quality reel without the high price tag. And that’s exactly what they’ve done!
So, let’s find out whether the Echo Bravo is worth the buy.
When Echo released the new Bravo reel in 2018, there was nothing like it (and there still isn’t today!). It’s a great budget reel that is suitable for all sorts of saltwater fishing from deep water to the shallow sand flats.
The Bravo boasts clean, attractive aesthetics, and a large arbor for speedy line pickup. But most importantly, it has a super-strong yet smooth drag system. It can handle big fish and holds plenty of backing for when you catch a runner!
One thing to be aware of is that you will need to be meticulous with the cleaning of your Echo Bravo. But if you do, this affordable new reel should last you for many seasons of fishing. That’s a fair trade-off for such a low-cost reel.
All things considered, we think that the Echo Bravo fly reel is one of the best saltwater reels in this price range. But now, let’s take a closer look at the features the Bravo reel has to offer.
The Bravo reel is constructed from an aluminum alloy, which is very sturdy and can withstand bumps and scratches. This reel features a large arbor, a welcome addition that means that you’ll get speedy line pickup and minimal line memory. It also emits a nice audible click when it’s in use – very handy for feedback.
This reel can hold plenty of line and backing thanks to the large arbor and spool design. You should be able to take about 200 yards of backing, plus plenty of fly line too – because you’ll need it when you’re chasing big saltwater fish!
This reel is sturdy and should last a long time, provided you rinse it in freshwater after each day on the water. However, Echo’s limited warranty only covers the reel for 1 year from the time of purchase, so it’s not as generous as other manufacturer’s policies. That could be a pain if your new reel develops a fault shortly after the warranty is up.
The pit stop drag system is one of the real stand-out features of the Echo Bravo reel. It’s fully sealed and corrosion-resistant, and the pit stop drag design allows you access to the reel and its internals without needing any tools.
It’s also quick and easy to convert it from a left-land to right-hand retrieve so that you can do any necessary maintenance on the go with ease.
The carbon fiber and stainless steel disc drag system is very powerful, with a maximum drag topping out at around 20 lbs. With this pit stop drag system, you can stop fish in their tracks, especially when they want to run and run. It’s suitable for trophy-size fish and feisty saltwater varieties that will put up a fight when you hook them. There are no limits with this reel!
But it’s not just about power, either! The roller clutch bearings on the carbon fiber disc drag system ensure buttery-smooth drag with very little startup inertia. These features combine to make the Echo Bravo a joy to use.
Just a heads up – it’s not entirely maintenance-free, though. You’ll need to take care of your reel with daily rinsing and cleaning, and look after it by keeping grit and sand away from the components.
Admittedly, the Bravo’s weight isn’t one of the biggest selling points. It’s not of the lighter reels on the market, but it’s not very heavy either. The Bravo 7/9 weighs 8.5 oz, while the largest 10/12 model comes in at 9.2 oz. It’s not terrible, but it’s nothing to shout about!
This reel wouldn’t be our first choice for ultralight rods or light tackle setups. But it works wonders with rods of 6+ line weights and should balance them out well.
Pros & Cos
Don’t have time to read the full review? Not to worry! Here’s what you need to know:
- The large arbor ensures speedy line pickup
- Strong carbon fiber drag system
- Corrosion-resistant and suitable for saltwater
- Requires regular maintenance and care when in use
- Only comes with a 1-year warranty
- Not very lightweight
The Wrap Up
The Echo Bravo is a fantastic saltwater reel, all without costing you an arm and a leg. It’s kitted out with a robust pit stop drag system that can handle even the biggest fish while offering easy access to the reel. The Echo Bravo reel features a large arbor and corrosion-resistant internals that won’t rust, making this an excellent long-term investment that should serve you well!
If you’ve been dreaming of a saltwater reel that doesn’t break the bank, the new Echo Bravo is exactly what you need! Found this review helpful? Why not share it with your fishing buddies on Facebook or Twitter, so even more anglers can discover this exciting new reel?
Drop us a comment to let us know what you think of the new Echo Bravo – we always love to hear from you guys!
Hey, I’m Ben, a fly fisherman for over 20 years and also an aspiring blogger. I’ve been into fly fishing since my graduation from spin fishing when I was 12 years old. I started flyfisherpro.com to help introduce as many people into this amazing sport. Tight lines everyone!
You can read more on our about page here.
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