I was recently on OzarkAnglers, reading a post on suggestions on where to get your first fly rod. All the normal suggestions like Bass Pro, Cabelas, you local fly shop, EBay, etc were all being mentioned but then a member posted something about a company called Albright who always has a HUGE closeout sale in October. He gave the link to the page so I figured it'd be worth a shot to at least check out, never know what kind of deal you might find.
And what a deal I did find. Albright is a fly fishing equipment company based out of New York. They build rods, reels, fly lines, waders, wading boots, and even conventional spinning rods. The core of their company is made up of several individuals who helped start Redington along with having Lou Tabory (renowned saltwater fisherman and outdoor writer) as a rod designer. So I'd like to say that they've got the background to build quality products. The only hitch in the company is that everything is manufactured over-seas in Asia, which makes you wonder but on the flip side of things, that keeps the cost down on their products.
Anyways, I had been hunting around for a reel to either put on my 3wt or put my Ross Vexsis that was on my 4wt on the 3wt while putting the new reel on the 4wt. The GPX large arbor reel caught my eye. It had all the functions of any modern high quality reel and also looked really nice with the polished bar stock aluminum spool with the black frame on the back. Another thing was that it was marked down to $87.50 from $250! Well, I decided I wanted the reel but found out the other hitch in Albrights system. If you don't spend $$$ to get the free freight, you really take a hit on the cost of even UPS Ground!! So I put in a call to some fishing buddies who I knew were needing a pair of waders and a new rod/reel combo. Well we met the $150 minimum for free freight and the gear arrived at my shop in 4 days, not too bad.
Upon initial inspection, I was really impressed with the reel. It looked great and everything felt smooth as far as the drag and the reel action. It looked to be built right with no short-cuts in manufacturing that I could really tell. I also tried on the Albright waders which seemed to be as same quality as other waders in the $150 range (on sale for $70!). The rod/reel combo that my other buddy got looked decent. You can tell the reel is the cheap one, but it looks like it will be fine. The rod itself feels pretty good with just giving it the ol' "wiggle test" but the reel seat is pretty cheap. I imagine it casts good enough for a beginner though.
I spooled my reel up with Cortland 444 Lazer Line and decided to put in on my 8' 4wt Scott while putting the Vexis on my 3wt. It was a good match as everything still felt very balanced and light even with the GPX reel being a touch wider and heavier than the Vexsis. I tested it out this weekend on Crane Creek in Missouri. The drag worked very well on the scrappy lil' McCloud rainbows, lots of adjustment to be had which was nice when you really wanted to tune the drag in. The reeling action was smooth and it really picked up the line quickly with the large arbor design.
I'm very happy with the reel and would recommend Albrights products to anyone, especially when they're having their October sale. Tons of good deals to be had!