Orvis Battenkill Reel Review in 2023 – Fly Reels

You’ve probably heard of the Orvis Battenkill, even if you’ve never had the chance to use one. It’s an iconic click and pawl fly reel that’s stood the test of time, making it a popular product for freshwater anglers worldwide.

And while the Battenkill is based on the original design that’s lasted decades, it had a huge overhaul in 2016. The latest Battenkill is backed up by the best technology, to make it even more effective and easy to use. So we couldn’t wait to get our hands on it and review it for you, to see if it’s worth the money.

Curious to find out if you should buy yourself an Orvis Battenkill fly reel? How does it compare against the slicker disc fishing reel drag systems on the market today? Read on to find out the answers in our detailed review of the Orvis Battenkill!

Orvis Battenkill Specs:

Available Size: 1 – 3Overall Weight: 2.8 – 3.2oz
Arbor Size: LargeMaterial: Bar Stock Aluminum
Spool Diameter: 2.75 – 3.25inColors: Black
Spool Capacity: 100 – 150ydsWarranty: Orvis Lifetime Warranty
Drag Type: Click-PawlCountry of Manufacture: USA

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Key Features

  • Bar Stock Aluminum
  • Click-and-Pawl Drag
  • Classic Battenkill Aesthetics
  • Ported Jewel Finish
  • Orvis Lifetime Warranty

Battenkill Overview

The Battenkill by Orvis is a four-position click-and-pawl fly reel with internal adjustments. If you’re looking for a classic yet technically advanced drag system, that’s exactly what this Orvis reel provides. What’s more, this reel won’t break the bank. It costs between $98-119, making it perfect for beginner fly fishers or anyone on a tight budget.

This fly reel comes in 5 different models from I through to V, which are suitable for any fishing set up from 1wt up to 11 weight rods. So, you can find the perfect reel for anything from ultralight fishing on small streams to spey fishing for trophy-size fish!

The Battenkill I is best for ultralight tackle, while the Battenkill II is superb for fly fishing on smaller rivers and streams, making it a great choice for those wily wild trout. The next model up, the Battenkill III, has more backbone and can handle larger trout, bass, and other freshwater fish. But if you’re into Spey fishing or thrive on catching trophy-size fish, the Battenkill IV or V might be the best bet for you!

The Battenkill also boasts a sealed drag, making it very durable and hardwearing. You won’t need to worry about sand, grit, or water getting inside the mechanism and causing it to seize up or rust.

Now, let’s get into the features and benefits (and any downsides) of the Battenkill in the next section of our fly reel review!

orvis battenkill


In this section of our review, we’ll take a close look at the build and construction of this Orvis reel. So how does it fare?

The Battenkill is made from heavy-duty 6061-T6 bar-stock aluminum, which is exceptionally durable. The machining looks neat with careful attention to detail, for an excellent finished product. It’s also anodized for extra durability and protection from rust, while the drilled porting ensures a light weight.

This model has a standard arbor (sorry, large arbor fans) and a narrower spool. The benefit of the narrow spool is that you get reduced line stacking for a better experience out on the water. And while the Battenkill holds a fair amount of backing, it’s not got the largest capacity compared to many other reels on the market today. But what does stand out are the super-fast retrieval rates, thanks to the increased spool diameter.

The laser-engraved logos are also a nice feature, complementing the black nickel color for a cool retro look. This reel is very sturdy, but the black anodized finish does show scratches. It’s not a huge concern, but it’s worth mentioning in case the aesthetics are a priority for you!

Overall, this Orvis reel feels sturdy and robust and should last for years of fishing trips, making it exceptional value for money.

Drag System

Taking a close look at the system is a crucial part of any reel review. As explained above, the drag on the Battenkill is a click and pawl system. Setting and adjusting the drag is simple, but you do have to remove the spool to change it – there’s no external adjustment option. While this makes for a clean design, it can be a bit fiddly at times.

The Battenkill has a four-position click pawl drag, but none of the settings are hugely powerful. But when you’re trout fishing, it’s not all about power. Simplicity is a benefit that’s often overlooked, and that’s precisely what this timeless reel offers.

With this kind of system, you can stop a fish by holding your hand against the spool. Doing this will slow down the turning spool, increasing the resistance against the fish. So, this allows you the ultimate control and customization of the drag according to the situation.

Another bonus of the classic click-pawl drag is that it won’t let you down. As it’s so simple, it shouldn’t break, stop working, or give up on you. When you buy a Battenkill fly reel, you’ve got a reliable reel for years (if not decades).

orvis battenkill weight


Click-pawl reels are also among the lightest models on the market right now due to their pared-back design. And that’s true for this reel, too! It’s ultra-lightweight – the Battenkill II comes in at an incredible 2.9 ounces – incredible. That makes it excellent for balancing out shorter rods and the ultralight rods that have become so popular in fly fishing circles in recent years.


This reel makes it easy to switch quickly from left-hand to right-hand retrieve, whether you’ve got the Battenkill II, Battenkill IV, or a different model. The Delrin handle is very ergonomic and comfortable to grip – a great feature!

There’s also a handy spool-release latch for maintenance, and adjusting the drag itself is very simple. You can select the drag you require with just a click, although you do need to remove the spool first to do this.


  • Affordable price
  • Excellent construction
  • Easy to operate
  • Sturdy and durable


  • Not the nicest sound
  • Line memory can be a problem
  • The backing capacity isn’t huge
orvis battenkill pros cons


Do you have some burning questions about the Orvis Battenkill? Or maybe you’re not sure what a click pawl reel is, exactly? Not to worry, we aim to answer them in this section of our review. Read on for answers to all your questions on the Battenkill for fly fishing!

What is a Battenkill?

A Battenkill is a classic click-and-pawl drag reel from the well-known brand, Orvis. Battenkill fly reels offer four different settings of drag and are an excellent choice of fly fishing reel for beginners and experienced anglers alike.

Where are Battenkill reels made?

The original Battenkill fly reels were originally manufactured in England. Now, the Battenkill fly reels are made in China, which allows Orvis to sell them at such a low price. But that doesn’t mean that they are of lower quality. As with all Orvis products, they are manufactured to the highest standards for an excellent result.

What is a click pawl fly reel?

If you look at the history of the fly reel, you’ll discover that click pawl reels predate the disc drag system that you’ll find on most reels these days. They are a simple yet pretty effective mechanism, where a pawl or clicker ticks against a gear on the spool.

A click pawl fly reel will never be as powerful or adjustable as the mighty disc drag system, but it can meet the needs of freshwater anglers. They tend to be very lightweight, dependable, and hardwearing. Plus, they often come in at a more affordable price.

orvis battenkill The Wrap Up

The Wrap Up

If you’re looking for a high quality yet affordable click pawl reel, you won’t go wrong with the Orvis Battenkill. Despite the bargain price, this reel is built to last with exquisite craftsmanship. It’s super light and will pair up perfectly with ultralight tackle, but it’s also suitable for all sorts of fishing. The classic design, retro aesthetics, and improved performance make this reel a winner for us!

The Battenkill II is a fantastic reel for trout fishing on the fly. It’s lightweight and easy to use, with excellent ergonomics that guarantee your comfort, no matter how long you’re fishing. But if you like a challenge and prefer to Spey fish for trophy-worthy fish, the Battenkill IV will serve you well. No matter what kind of fly fishing you prefer, Orvis has the right Battenkill for you!

Like the sound of the Battenkill? Grab one of these dependable fly reels for your next fishing trip! With a range of models to choose from, there’s something across all the line weights.

At Fly Fisher Pro, we aim to review the best products so you can get more out of your time on the river! Head over to check out reviews on the top fly rods, best fly reels, and more. Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter on all the latest news and tips for avid fly fishers!

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Ben Kepka

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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