By Joseph T. O’Connor Explore Big Sky Senior Editor

I’ve fly fished with some hot reels in the past 10 years, but never owned one other than the $25 plastic rig I bought as an editorial intern at Skiing magazine in Boulder, Colo. I used that cheap reel until Sept. 12, when I tried Bozeman Reel’s new 325, part of its RS (River/Stream) series.

Out on the Madison River at dusk, I hooked into a nice rainbow and the 325 did the rest. The fish ran and the titanium reel’s RDX system kicked in with a smooth, consistent drag that gave just enough line when I needed it.

The reel’s fully sealed system is composed of stainless steel and Rulon, a material used to eliminate what reel manufacturers call “startup inertia” – essentially, stickiness. The 325 has an interchangeable spool, which is quickly and easily switched from right- to left-handed retrieve.

At 4.6 ounces, the 325 handles line weights between 3-5 and holds 110 yards of 20-pound-test backing.

Company founder Matt McCune began researching, testing and designing reels alongside fishing guides in 2008. He says that’s what sets Bozeman Reel apart from other reel manufacturers.

“We’ve got a good relationship with a bunch of the best guides around,” said McCune, who earned an engineering degree from Montana State University in 1996. “We have beer with them, pizza with them, and get feedback.”

McCune, who also owns the Bozeman machining company Autopilot, now co-owns Bozeman Reel Company with Dan Rice and Ed Tompkins.

At BRC, McCune says, “We’ve developed a product that fits well with us – we like to fish, machining and design. This seemed like the perfect outlet.”

The result is a bombproof, easy-to-use design that I plan to fish with for decades.

My old reel now serves as a handy paperweight on my desk, reminding me of fishing the Big Thompson near Estes Park, Colo. The new one is perfect for fall cutthroat on the Gallatin, and I look forward to bringing it back to the Madison as well.

Bozeman Reel Company has a full product line, with reels to handle fly-line weights from 3-7… oh, and they’ll customize your RS reel by engraving your company or personal logo on the foot. The company designs, tests and builds its reels in Montana.