The Reel Deal – Hatch 5 fly reel vs Sage 4600 Fly Reel [review]

Hatch 5 fly fishing reelFly Fishing Reels Sage 4600








With so many quality mid-range reels available today, it can be a challenge to know which will best serve your needs. Although competitively priced, quality fly reels are still expensive items, which makes owning all of them pretty much impossible. Here, we take a look at two popular fly reels, the Hatch 5 Finatic fly reel and the Sage 4600 fly reel series, and compare the features, pros and cons of each.

The entire Finatic range from Hatch has taken fly reels to a new level. These quality reels have a unique sleek, modern appearance, yet still offer the traditional features that we have all come to rely on from a good reel. The Finatic series spans a wide range of different sized reels for all occasions, with the 5 being on the smaller, more lightweight side for this series. That said, this little powerhouse is certainly capable of just about anything you throw its way. The Hatch 5 fly reel weighs in at 6.5 oz, and is available in both large and mid arbor sizes to suit your individual needs. The Hatch 5 retails for roughly $500.

On the other hand, it’s hard to go past a reel from Sage, as we all know the kind of quality we can expect when purchasing from one of the best brands in fly reel manufacturing. The 4600 series typifies Sage – this high quality, high performance large arbor reel has been carefully designed and put together to allow for the best possible results on the water. The Sage 4600 fly reel is lighter than the Finatic 5, weighing in at 4 1/2-5 oz, and retails for anywhere between $375 and $450, making it a slightly more affordable option than the Hatch 5 Finatic.

fly fishing reelsMany people may find it difficult to comprehend the fact that a relatively unknown and new fly fishing reel such as the Finatic series from Hatch could compete with such a well known and respected brand as Sage, but indeed that is exactly what they’ve done. The Hatch 5 offers many of the same features as the Sage 4600; both reels are constructed similarly, machined from single block 6061 aluminum for superior strength and durability. Both reels also provide lightweight options for those looking for large arbor reels. Traditionally, reels of the large arbor design have been heavier and larger, but this is no longer the case, and both the Hatch 5 Finatic fly reel (available in both large and medium arbor designs) and the Sage 4600 represent this.

These reels certainly aren’t identical in performance, and one area of difference is in the drag systems of each reel. The Hatch 5 fly reel offers a modern, refreshing approach to a drag system, with the same silky smooth outcome we love. This reel has a fully enclosed Rulon disk system, with several square inches of surface area, which is more than most reels. This allows for increased reliability, durability, and performance, ultimately resulting in a pleasurable fly fishing experience. What’s more, the Hatch 5 drag system automatically self-lubricates when it is engaged and begins heating up.

Hatch 5 fly reel vs Sage 4600 Fly Reel Review
Photo Credit: Tony Warelius

Sage has taken a more traditional approach when it comes to the 4600 series, but the result is of an equally high standard. The sealed carbon system Micro Cassette drag design of this reel uses a 3:1 gear drag ratio, which offers the same performance as a traditional centered disc drag system, but in a much smaller, lighter package. The drag system is fully adjustable and also self-lubricating. Both drag systems are silky smooth, engage perfectly, provide great results and are built to last a lifetime. A good, high quality drag system is what makes a good reel, and there’s no doubt that both of these reels can’t be beaten in quality.

Although similar in quality and overall performance, these reels represent two different approaches to fly reel design. The Hatch 5 Finatic fly reel is at the forefront of modern design, and it could even be said that these reels are marketed at young anglers. They use modern technology to create a reel with a unique feel, but one that offers the same exceptional quality and reliability as a traditionally designed, old school fly reel. If aesthetics is an important feature in choosing your reel, you may enjoy the unique, distinctive design of the Finatic reels, as well as the fact that they are available in five different colors.

Hatch 5 fly reel vs Sage 4600 Fly Reel Review Rainbow Trout
Photo Credit: Eli Cureton / USFWS

If you’re more one for tradition and a name you know, the Sage 4600 fly reel will not disappoint. This cleverly designed large arbor reel feels like a much smaller, lighter reel but holds an impressive amount of line. With silky smooth drag and all the features we know and love from Sage, this is another quality mid-range reel that has more to offer than meets the eye.

I wanted to address a number of points with each real but short and sweet I think the key things between the two are price, weight and which one is more “sexy”. I have fished with both and if you are willing to shell out more money, I would go with the Hatch 5 as it is a beautiful reel. The price point is a little hard to swallow for me personally so if I had to start with one I would choose the Sage 4600 and then move up to the Hatch 5 when I want to build my “dream rig”. So… Can’t go wrong with either one but if money was no object I would go with the Hatch 5 series as of right now.



I spend time between the love of my life (my wife), my digital agency, and trying to squeak in time for fly fishing when I can hide from responsibilities. If you want to strike up a conversation with me try subjects on: fly fishing, fly tying, cooking, photography, reading, camping or anything related to social media or marketing.