Gear Review: Galvan Torque Fly Reel - Tested on the Atikonak River

"This drag is really, really great." I have said this to myself on multiple occasions. Whether dialed back while applying lighter pressure on trout with 5x or 6x tippet, or higher pressure on saltwater species, this Torque Drag system is top notch. All of Galvan's reels share this system from the Rush LT to the Grip. It's a carbon fiber disc drag design that not only provides a lot of drag, but it's incredibly smooth with almost infinite settings. The low coefficient friction of the drag (low startup inertia) is evident. 

From Galvan:

"Although based on the compression disc drags of our original reels, the new smooth and reliable, state-of-the-art thermoplastic and carbon fiber disc drag requires minimal lubrication and virtually no maintenance. There are no ball bearings. Instead, a maintenance free, self-lubricating, HPV (high pressure velocity), hi-tech plastic bushing allows the spool near-frictionless rotation. Humidity will not affect its performance, nor will rain, salt spray or dunking while wading."

This, I believe, is Galvan's best asset. The Torque Drag system continues to attract attention from anglers. Whether they are trout anglers using lighter tippets, or big game fishermen who need that stopping power, little is left to be desired. What makes it unique is that it really suites both sides of the coin. Some reels have tons of drag (poundage) but the startup inertia is horrendous....others have smooth drags but cannot be adjusted accurately/are not hardy enough to deal with saltwater fishing/or have sacrificed somewhere else in the construction to save on cost. 

Galvan Fly Reels Review Fly Fishing Labrador Canada

Fully made in the U.S.A. in Sonora, California, Galvan reels are machined from T6 bar stock (6061) aluminum and are completely anodized. Functionally, the biggest difference between the designs of the Rush LT vs the Torque is amount of porting. The spools on the Torque have more "cut-outs" which not only cuts down on weight but also provides for ventilation for the line and backing. This in turn can help cut down on saltwater "wear 'n tear" on the reels itself but also on the condition of your line and backing. In fact I did notice on my recent trip that the backing on my Rush LT after a long day of fishing was indeed wetter than that of the two Torques I had rigged up. 

Real Life Testing

This is where I like to take testing to another level. There is really no other (better) way to get the full idea of a product's worthiness than to bring it into the field. Additionally, bringing gear to places where I know its going to get a unique and extreme degree of testing is what can also offer some of the best feedback!

On a trip to Labrador, Canada I fished the Atikonak River (see trip report HERE). I exclusively fished Galvan reels. I specifically had the Torque rigged on a 6wt and 7wt for streamer fishing. These were the setups that got fished the most and also had the best action. After a full day of fishing, the reels would be set alongside the cabin, and would preform without a hiccup the next day.

Galvan Fly Reels Fly Fishing Labrador Canada

Every fish seemed to need different drag settings. Various sized fish in addition to slower and faster moving water situations presented a number of slight adjustments to the drag. The way the drag knob and settings are manipulated on the Torque allow the angler a wide rage of options. I could make small turns of the drag knob which really helped me dial in exactly the appropriate drag for the given scenario. Some other reel companies either have smaller "adjustment windows," which provides less fine tuning, or a click-based number system (with no "in between numbers" option). This infinite-options deal I really enjoyed. 

From Galvan:

"Galvan microTune drag adjustment enables quick, precise adjustments to your drag when playing a hot fish. A large and easy-to-grip drag knob can prove essential in trying to manage drag resistance during a fight. Our large drag knobs are regarded as the top of their class, not just for their size and comfort but also for providing the most precise, super-fine drag adjustment on the market."

Galvan Fly Reels Review Fly Fishing Labrador Canada

Reels Tested 

  1. Galvan Torque T6 - Price: $410 - Weight: 5.2oz, Width: .95" 
  2. Galvan Torque T8 - Price: $430 - Weight: 7.6oz, Width: 1.25" 

Both of these reels are light in their respective classes. With the continuing effort of rod manufacturers making lighter and lighter graphite rods, these reels balance well on almost every rod I put them on (within the corresponding wts/sizes). The biggest difference you will first notice between Galvan's Rush Light and the Torque is the weight. This simply boils down to the added amount of machining that is done to the torque to remove material (weight) and yet still continue manufacturing a durable product. 


There is very little to be unhappy about with this reel. But, a couple of things did stick out after much thinking. One was the drag knob - it can be fairly loose when at lower settings. This generally is a non-issue, but I did find two things that happened with this:

  1. The knob has the potential to move/spin when packed away. So if you are neurotic about what your drag setting is, just make sure to double check after rigging.  
  2. When (and only when) the drag is at it's lowest settings, there is a small gap between the knob and the frame. Only once did this cause line to actually get stuck - fortunately this was during a casting test and not actually fishing. This is a rare case.

Overall this is clearly one of the best reels available on the market today. Not only is it machine/made to extremely high standards, but it is also priced well within it's class. A lot of reels that offer a similar degree of quality are hundreds of dollars more. This makes Galvan reels even more enticing! 


  • Large arbor design
  • Fully Anodized 6061 Aluminum
  • Extremely low startup inertia / very smooth drag
  • Lots OF drag. Not only smooth, but tons of it!
  • Made in U.S.A.
  • Easy lefthand or righthand retrieve conversion
  • Simple spool removal with a push-button design 

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