Gear Review: The Hatch Iconic Fly Reel
By Justin Miller
Good things come to those who wait …
The much anticipated new Hatch Iconic reel has finally dropped and is available to the public! We have been looking forward to this for well over a year, but the lousy pandemic ruined even the best laid plans. When California locked down the state, Hatch’s original launch date for the Iconic got lost. And once they were finally allowed to go back to work, they started pushing again and have gotten all caught up with an army of reels ready to go today! Your patience has finally paid off!
I was extremely fortunate to get an early crack at taking one of the brand new Hatch Iconics out for a test drive — Hatch sent me an 11+ Iconic fresh off the CNC machine, and I took it to the world of fly fishing’s ultimate proving grounds — Providence Atoll in the Seychelles! I loaded up the grey 11+ they sent me with over 350 yards of Hatch 68lbs PE Line backing and a 100lb core Scientific Angler Amplitude Big Water Taper and 130lb fluorocarbon leader. I was ready to pick a fight with the devil himself and try my best to destroy the reel in the process!
Right away I was in love with the Iconic. It was everything I had come to love in the Finatic but more refined. The drag was butter smooth with no pulsing, no hard start up inertia, and the drag knob was very easy to adjust and micro-adjust. I never had it slip or stick. Managing the drag is a big deal in the Seychelles when chasing GTs. I have never adjusted a reel so much during a day in my life. You are constantly loosening and tightening. GTs are absolute beasts, and there is coral everywhere, so you crank the drag to about three clicks short of the max and try to rip their soul out before they can get to safety and sort you out … but I promise that you cannot pull the line off of the reel yourself! So, every time you get to a new spot you have to back the drag all the way off, strip out the 80 feet that you need to cast, then crank the drag back to ridiculous. Back and forth, on and off, all day. The large drag knob and the smooth strong settings made this constant process easy.
Providence Atoll is a target-rich environment to say the least! That reel had to hold its own and fight a lot of big GTs during the week, and it never stumbled. It absolutely took care of business going toe to toe with the “gangster of the flats.” The new Hatch Iconic will stand among the best saltwater reels on the market today, without a doubt.
Just as the previous models, the new Hatch Iconic is fully machined from bar stock aluminum. These reels are as tough and durable as is humanly possible. Hatch also machines the reel foot to the frame body in one piece, not screwed on like most other reels on the market. You never have to worry about a loose reel foot with Hatch.
Note: Older Hatch models are not compatible with the new Hatch Iconic. Finatic Spools will not fit Iconic frames or, vice-versa.
Drag & Clutch:
- Hatch completely rebuilt the drag system when they were designing the Iconic. The newer carbon-filled drag material dissipates heat faster and also creates a smoother feel when fish are ripping away.
- One of the Finatics’ issues was water getting inside the drag housing and eventually causing issues with the reel, such as pulsing. Hatch addressed this issue head on and greatly improved the sealing of the drag by removing the old Allen wrench access and providing an entirely new seal as well as eliminating any chance for water seeping into the drag and clutch assembly.
- Black w/ Silver lettering and hub
- Grey w/ Black lettering and hub
- Clear w/Blue lettering and hub
- Clear w/Red lettering and hub
The NEW Hatch Iconic is a superior reel, a newly designed fish fighting tool, that will handle the toughest and largest game fish in the world, yet delicate enough to protect the lightest tippet! With an unbeatable and improved carbon-filled drag, newly designed and sealed clutch system, machined reel foot, heavily ported spool and frame that facilitate faster line and backing drying, one piece spool nut, oversized ultra-adjustable drag knob, and redesigned handle and counter weight, we couldn’t be happier with this reel.
It was definitely worth the wait.
— Justin Miller