Gear Review: San Miguel Reel

The iconic San Miguel Reel has made a triumphant return to the Ross Reels lineup! One of the most sought after trout reels for decades the San Miguel defines the ultimate class and finesse in a fly reel. About 20 years ago Ross Reels stopped producing the San Miguel, but as of December 1st, 2019 the reels are available to purchase. The new reel has been upgraded to be in line with all the new technology and engineering the team over at Ross has been incorporating into all their current reel models. The fly shop at Vail Valley Anglers is lucky enough to have some in stock and available for purchase online.

What is all the rage behind this reel?

According to Bart Larmouth, the National Sales Manager of Ross Reels, “The San Miguel epitomized what a Ross Reel was – and they are still a pretty coveted reel by anyone who ever saw one. The new version takes all the classic features that folks loved about the original but puts it in a new package with cutting edge materials and features.”

At the AFFTA 2019 International Fly Tackle Dealer Show (IFTD) this past October in Denver, Colorado Ross Reels released the new San Miguel to the public. At the show, the San Miguel Reel took home the award for Best of Show: Best Freshwater Reel for 2019. We were able to get our hands on one of these redefined classic’s to get a feel for precisely what the reel is all about.

First impressions:

At first look, the reel is clean, sleek, just classy almost looks like a Mercedes Benz Car or something along those lines. The hand-polished finish on the reel stands out as the jet black almost glistens in the light and your greasy hands will smudge the exterior of the reel.

The reel is still very light but heavier than the other Ross Reel models, the 5/ 6 San Miguel model weighs in at 6.00 ounces, while the Ross Animas 5/ 6 model weighs 4.43 ounces and the Ross Evolution LTX 5/ 6 model weighs 4.65 ounces. Given the San Miguel is not ported it has some added weight. Which some anglers do prefer as it might balance out a rod better or even withstand drops and heavy use a little better.

Spooling on the reel is very, very smooth, no sound once so ever on the incoming spooling. The San Miguel has a light outgoing click noise. It free spools nicely which I personally love having on a reel as I like to pick up line this way. The reel has a simple push-button spool release. Making it easy to pop off the spool and examine the housing. Everything is enclosed including the drag. If you look at the spool it has an elegant flower petal-type pattern.

The reel feels like you can have full confidence in at all times, it also just feels like it is built to last which is something we look for in a premium-priced reel.

What’s changed:

So what exactly did Ross do to upgrade the model? They kept the good and upgraded the old, classic San Miguel aesthetic coupled with modern performance updates; a larger arbora new handleand an updated drag system. The reel is hand polished in Montrose, Colorado and a high-gloss black finish is added. The drag system in the new San Miguel has been updated with Ross’ latest powerful and smooth carbon stainless sealed drag system. The handle has been upgraded to the canvas micarta handle like that on other Ross Reel Models. The material in the handle is used in high-end custom knives and it enhances grip when wet. The arbor of the reel has increased to more of a large arbor resulting in faster retrieval and more space for backing and fly line.

What is the best fishing application for the San Miguel Reel?

This reel comes in trout sizes, 3/4, 4/5, and 5/6. It is designed to be a trout reel and your go-to trout reel for that matter. Given the ported look and the little bit heavier weight opposed to some of the other Ross Reels, the reel would make for a great 6 weight streamer reel or trout spey reel for that matter. While the reel does look like it would be a good spey or two-handed rod reel given the fully ported look, the smaller sizes don’t suggest it at this time. Rumblings have been made that Ross Reels has some reel options coming soon for the spey or two-handed angler.


High-Gloss Black70400000212San Miguel – 3|48182880041730.88”2.95”5.40 oz3- 4 wt.WF3 + 65 WF4 + 50$595.00
High-Gloss Black704000002San Miguel – 4|58182880041970.88”3.27”5.80 oz4- 5 wt.WF4 + 90

WF5 + 75

High-Gloss Black704000002San Miguel – 5|68182880042100.88”3.52”6.00 oz5- 6 wt.WF5 + 100

WF6 + 80

  • Classic San Miguel aesthetic coupled with modern performance updates.
  • Polished, high-gloss black finish.
  • Powerful and smooth carbon / stainless sealed drag system.
  • Canvas micarta handle enhances grip when wet.
  • Large arbor for fast retrieval and reduced line memory.
  • Push-button spool release.
  • Available in sizes 3/4, 4/5, and 5/6.


Ross Limited Lifetime Warranty – As of October 2019, Ross has a limited lifetime warranty that applies to the original owner of the fly reel. The warranty is limited to repair or replacement of the product only and does not cover direct, indirect, consequential, incidental, or any other type of damage resulting from the use of the product. That being said, Ross will also repair your reel for you for a cost. Pretty sweet to have this warranty in place when dropping $600.00 on a reel. It is also great to know that this reel in made in Montrose, Colorado at the Ross Reels factory.

This reel is really something special, the liquid-smooth free spool and high gloss black finish paired with the nostalgia of the old San Miguel will have you itching to get the reel on the water and feel the quiet drag system work its magic on your favorite trout stream. This is a return of an icon of a reel, you have to feel it to believe it. Swing by the shop to check one out or online here. For more questions about this reel or line and backing recommendations for the reel call us at 1-800-926-0900 or

Patrick Perry, Former Guide, and Content Contributor, @patperry