Lamson Cobalt Saltwater Fly Reel Review

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Photo by Louis Cahill

Photo by Louis Cahill

By Louis Cahill

The Lamson Cobalt is a big game fly reel with a pedigree.

I’ll be honest, I’ve always thought of Lamson as a trout reel company. I don’t mean that to be dismissive, but I think of them as making great trout reels and, for saltwater reels, I never really thought of them at all. The demands placed on saltwater fly reels, by both the elements and the fish, are so extreme that they are almost a thing unto themselves. When I heard that Lamson was making a serous saltwater reel, I was instantly interested.

From the very beginning, the buzz about the Cobalt was pretty exuberant. When I got my hands on one for the first time it was immediately obvious why. This reel is lovely and elegant on the outside but a beast to its core. A thoughtful design and an inspired execution. 

Everything about the Cobalt is top quality. It’s not a budget reel. It’s built to last and to dominate strong saltwater species, season after season. I feel confident saying that. I come from a family of machinists. I grew up in a machine shop and I know good machining when I see it. The fit and finish on the Cobalt is as good as you will find and the materials are top quality, down to the titanium fasteners.

There is a ton of cool tech in this reel. Below is a video in which Tim Volk talks about the Cobalt in detail. I’ll hit a few of the highlights I especially like.

Dual Axis Machining

One of the first things I noticed about the Cobalt is its sleek design. Clean and elegant. No edges to punish line or hands. Not even a counter balance. Lawson achieves this by machining the spool so that it balances perfectly with the handle. The operation is smooth as silk. It might not sound like a big deal but when that reel is screaming, you’ll appreciate it.

Seriously Sealed Drag

There are some fly reels on the market, at a higher price point, that don’t have sealed drags, and other that kinda do. The drag housing on the Cobalt is rated waterproof to thirty meters. It would be difficult to overstate the importance of that.

Micro Crystalline Anodizing

Micralox coatings are the final word in corrosion resistance. The molecules in the coating are arranged in a uniform and locked pattern which makes them impervious to chemicals like salt and extremely stable thermodynamically. Minus the science, it’s never going to rust…ever.

Indexed Drag

OK, solidly my favorite thing about the Cobalt is the indexed drag system. It’s different from any other I’ve used in that you set the minimum drag. You can choose a half pound, one pound or two pound minimum, or origin, setting and the reel never goes below that. That means it will never free spool and never backlash.

The dial then has twenty-four numbered click-stops, each of which increase your drag by now half a pound. So your drag setting is precise, repeatable and understandable. You always know exactly how much pressure you are putting on the fish, and if you need to make adjustments during the fight, you can do it with confidence and know that you will never over tighten and never backlash. It’s also really nice to step onto the bow, dial back to your origin to strip off line, then go right back to the exact drag setting you want. It’s awesome!

I have been totally impressed by the Cobalt. I have some very nice big game reels and this one has gone straight to the head of the line. I feel prepared for absolutely any saltwater species with the Cobalt in hand. If you are in the market for a serious fly reel, get out to the shop and check it out.

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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