This past July, the IFTD (International Fly Tackle Dealer) show took place again in Orlando, Florida. Many manufacturers had their latest and greatest products on display and it also gave the world a chance to see what new gear will be unveiled by their makers. In many cases an entire new product or product-line will come out, but in the case of Hatch, they released their old Finatic reel...well, not really.
When I heard that Hatch had gone back over their previous Finatic design to make improvements, I thought that it could go either way...pointless or game-changing. Depending upon what Hatch actually did to create the "version 2" of the Finatic would be the line-in-the-sand. So, ignoring rumors and scattered bits of information, I decided to call Andrew Dickinson, who is the General Manager at Hatch, to get the full scoop. After speaking with him at length on all the details, it's pretty clear that this falls into the category of "game-changing" rather than "pointless." I say this for three main reasons:
- Instead of releasing a new reel for the sake of something "new" (which could also just create "new" problems) Hatch went back to fine-tune all of the previous/potential issues in their current design. This move shows not only a dedication to their product, but a dedication to making their best possible product. There's a big difference there. The former relies on actually admitting something needs revising, a rare commodity in today's world.
- The adjustments that they did made a difference. A big difference. The things that were done were not merely cosmetic/aesthetic, minor, or not functional. Hatch really took the important mechanics of a good real and made sure those were taken care of in their new design. They listened to their customers, employees, dealers, and guides but kept their minds on the original motto of "drag, durability, and design."
- Hopefully this will also push other companies to not simply release a new product for just the sake of being "new" and rather prioritize legitimate improvements + refinements to the fly fishing industry
Here is what has been changed/updated with the new Hatch Finatic reels:
- Handle - The handles on the new reels/spools have an enclosed shaft and are surrounded by an Ultraflon sleeve which keeps corrosion away and the handle freely spinning even after many years use in saltwater.
- Sealed Drag System - Hatch has now replaced the rubber o-ring of the previous version with a new Teflon lip seal. This is much more durable system that will not loosen its seal or degrade with time. It's the same Teflon lip seal that military grade mechanics use with their underwater gear. As someone who uses their saltwater reels heavily while fishing in crashing waves and flats wading (reel is always seeing water/being dunked) this is important. A "sealed" drag that still allows (even a little) water in but then also in-turn makes it hard to evaporate out of the drag = corrosion. Corrosion in the drag is no good...it's the last place you want to see any oxidization.
- Ball Bearing - The bearings are now shielded. This provided a longer lasting and better performing/smoother bearing. Hatch reels have always had world class drags and this will only make sure they stay working that way forever.
- Porting - They took out a little material. With more porting, Hatch now has a lighter reel but sacrificed nothing on durability or rigidity.
- Finish - Although seemingly more of an aesthetic change, the new "mist" finish is actually less reflective which makes the reel/angler less visible to fish via glare or light reflections (especially ideal in shallow water sight-fishing).
(Pictured above is my own 7+ showing the drag knob/housing which has been updated with the new Teflon lip seal)
The new Hatch Finatic (Gen. 2) reels are certainly an upgrade from their previous reels. Being a Hatch owner myself (7+) I got a little envious, and for good reason! Well, guess what? Hatch is willing to retro fit any Gen.1 reels with the new components! That's right, you can send in your previous version of the Finatic and Hatch, for $50, will replace/retro-fit your reel with the new part(s) and make sure it gets the full treatment. So, that's what I did. I now have a "NEW" Hatch reel...I sent my (custom orange) Gen.1 Finatic 7+ to Hatch and in a matter of weeks I got back a healthier and refreshed reel. New drag seal, inspected drag system, new ball bearing...the works!
I was very impressed with Hatch's decision to revamp their Finatic reels. It's a prime example of how making a good product is a process. Hatch has made some of the best reels on earth for years and have now set the bar a little higher - not only on the product side but also on the "business" side.
I have also been testing out this new Hatch fly line. Pictured above is my reel rigged with the 300gr "ultra fast sinking head" saltwater line. Airflo is making these lines for Hatch in the UK and they are made with the same environmental minded construction as the rest of the Airflo line up. PVC free and I found very little tangling overall - this line worked well fishing very deep troughs and also as a "crab line" (fishing heavy crab patterns along sand flats). The 300gr matched well with the 9wt Thomas & Thomas Exocett. Seeing as the season is slowly tapering off, I look forward to giving this line more attention when the stripers return next spring/early summer!
Check out the video below showing how to convert your Hatch Finatic reel from LH to RH retrieve (or vise-a-versa) ...