What To Look For
Orvis is a leading manufacturer of fly reels and fly fishing equipment. The Orvis Battenkill Mid Arbor and the Battenkill Bar Stock reels are both fresh- and saltwater-capable fly fishing reels. You want reels with a sturdy, lightweight design and an advanced drag system. Both the BMA and the BBS have generous drag systems that can be easily adjusted while fighting fish. Also look for reels with a warranty policy. Orvis has a strong return policy for both reels and allows you to return them for a refund at any time for any reason.
You want to avoid reels built on plastic frames and with a cheap grade aluminum. Machined aluminum reels with stainless steel gearing like the BMA are durable. Also avoid reels that require excessive maintenance and will fail if the gears are not constantly cleaned and oiled. Reels without any warranty are also a common pitfall and should be avoided.
Where To Buy
The Battenkill Mid Arbor and the Battenkill Bar Stock can be purchased through any Orvis dealer or Orvis store. Check with your local fly shop to see if it deals with Orvis products, or research the orvis.com website to find the nearest dealer. Orvis reels can also be found in Internet auctions, but it is safer to buy directly through Orvis for the warranty.
The Battenkill Mid Arbor costs $129 dollars for the 3-4 weight model, $139 for the 5-6, $149 for the 7-9 and $159 for the 9-10. The Battenkill Bar Stock costs$119 for the 1-3 weight and 3-5 weight models, $129 for the 5-7, $139 for the 7-9 and $149 for the 9-11. Spare spools can also be purchased separately for about half the price of the reel.
The BMA and the BBS are both quality reels. The BMA is the more advanced--it uses corrosion-resistant stainless steel gearing and has a larger mid arbor for holding more line and fighting larger fish. The reel is also saltwater ready and uses an advanced disc drag with a glass lining for protecting your tippet. The BBS is an excellent reel but it is more limited than the BMA because it does not have the larger arbor for line control and uses a simple disc drag. The BBS is a value reel, but it is adequate for most fly fishing situations. It will be difficult with hard running fish--you have less backing--but it is popular as a basic trout reel.
Orvis will spool your reel with backing if you buy a new fly line. The company will also attach the fly line and have the reel almost ready to take fishing. You will need to attach a tapered leader to the fly line and tippet to the leader. Add a fly rod and a fly and you are prepared to fish. Orvis will personalize reels--engrave your name on the outside--for an extra fee
If you fish for trout and panfish in small streams the, BBS is an excellent reel. If you are going to chase trophy trout, bass and saltwater fish, the larger arbor on the BMA makes it a much better value. Although the BMA is slightly more expensive, it's not likely to fail you when you hook a trophy fish.