to top 10 table

Best Fly Reels

last updated Jul 16, 2019

When it comes to fly fishing, fly reels may be considered the second in command next to the fisherman. The reel is your connection between you and the rod and allows you to reel in the biggest lake monsters with ease. The best fly reels will help you cast with accuracy and precision, bring the line back rapidly when needed, and stop the progress of the line with a moment’s notice if you feel a couple of bites on the line. Having an excellent fly reel will give you the advantage over other fly fishermen as you will be able to cast and reel with ease, so you can spend more time focusing on reeling in the fish rather than setting up your fishing rod.

This is the best product on our list that is currently in stock:

icon
Okuma Integrity
98.3/100 our score
Weight
99
Materials
100
Features
98
Durability
96
Okuma Integrity
Why is it better?

Very lightweight

Relatively easy to use

Wide range of sizes and weights

In a Hurry? Editors choice:
Okuma Integrity
Test Winner: Okuma Integrity
Amazon Link
Researched Sources
34
Researched Sources
Reviews Considered
1,875
Reviews Considered
Hours Researching
15
Hours Researching
Products Evaluated
17
Products Evaluated
Last Updated:
Sami Kritz
By Sami Kritz:

??? With the right skill and technique, you can catch any fish with a fly reel. However, not just any fly reel will cut it... our updated list of fly reels brings you the best of the best. We have researched the durability of each product and factored that into each reel's overall rating. Additionally, you'll also find a new other factor to consider, expert tip, and FAQ! ?

Sorting Options
Weight Materials Features Durability By Default
Rank
PictureProduct
Name
Rating
Shops
#1
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
98.8
Weight
99 %
Materials
100 %
Features
99 %
Durability
97 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.11.19)
Amazon Link
$89.00
Cabelas
$89.00
See Deal
#2
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
98.3
Weight
99 %
Materials
100 %
Features
98 %
Durability
96 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.11.19)
Amazon Link
$35.02
#3
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
96.8
Weight
99 %
Materials
96 %
Features
98 %
Durability
94 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.11.19)
#4
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
96
Weight
97 %
Materials
95 %
Features
95 %
Durability
97 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.11.19)
Amazon Link
$139.48
#5
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94.8
Weight
96 %
Materials
96 %
Features
95 %
Durability
92 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.11.19)
Amazon Link
$52.84
#6
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94.5
Weight
96 %
Materials
95 %
Features
95 %
Durability
92 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.11.19)
#7
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94.5
Weight
94 %
Materials
96 %
Features
94 %
Durability
94 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.11.19)
Amazon Link
$119.99
Cabelas
$119.99
See Deal
Gear Coop
$139.99
See Deal
#8
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93.3
Weight
95 %
Materials
93 %
Features
93 %
Durability
92 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.11.19)
#9
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.8
Weight
94 %
Materials
92 %
Features
91 %
Durability
94 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.11.19)
Amazon Link
$58.85
#10
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91.3
Weight
93 %
Materials
89 %
Features
91 %
Durability
92 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.11.19)

Top 10 Picks

1. Orvis Clearwater Large

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
98.8
Orvis Clearwater Large
Amazon Link
Weight
99
Materials
100
Features
99
Durability
97
best offer for today
more shops
Amazon Link
$89.00
Cabelas
$89.00
See Deal
Pros:

Lightweight

Very affordable

Very smooth operation and drag

Easy to adjust

Cons:

Does need routine maintenance

This first entry on our list of the best fly reels proves that you don’t always get what you pay for – sometimes you get so much more. Made from high-quality materials and featuring a larger than average arbor, this reel is a great choice for your general fly fishing needs.

Read more

Weight and Size

This reel is designed to handle test lines of between four and six pounds and measures approximately 5 x 5 x 4 inches in size. It weighs respectful 14.2 ounces, but that weight doesn’t detract from the overall operation and ease of use.

Materials

This fly reel is made from die-cast aluminum and features the ability to either use a left-handed or right-handed retrieve, a stacked disc drag system, and a positive click drag knob system.

Features

This fly reel features a sturdy stacked drag system and a positive click drag knob that provides fantastic overall control and braking ability, so your line goes where you want it to as you fight with your chosen fish.

As the name indicates, this reel features a reasonably large arbor size, which allows for excellent retrieval at respectable speeds overall.

Durability

If there was one drawback that we found was that to maintain a good tolerance between the different parts, this reel did need a bit of extra care. Regular cleaning and lubrication to keep things moving smoothly were found to be necessary. However, with a little bit of TLC, this reel is in it for the long haul.

Summary

Considering the ease of switching between right and left-handed retrieval, fantastic and smooth operation, and the precision drag operation, the Orvis Clearwater Large Arbor reel is an excellent choice.

2. Okuma Integrity

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
98.3
Okuma Integrity
Amazon Link
Weight
99
Materials
100
Features
98
Durability
96
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$35.02
Pros:

Very lightweight

Relatively easy to use

Wide range of sizes and weights

Cons:

Drag system could be less prone to malfunction

Tolerance between moving parts could be better

The second entry on our list is certainly a fly reel to contend with. Not only does it feature smooth reeling and a great drag system, but it also is extremely durable to boot.

Read more

Weight and Size

This reel can certainly handle a wide range of line weights, from four to six up to eight or nine line-weight. It is also a reasonably large reel, being able to handle nearly 100 yards of line, so you’ll have plenty of room to let the fish run.

Materials

This reel is created with a die-cast aluminum frame with a machined stainless steel spool shaft for added durability. It also features a machined brass bushing drive, and a multi-disc cork drag system.

Features

The drag mechanism of this reel features a roller bearing engagement system that allows for the drag system to operate in one direction, and the multi-disc cork working device makes quick, precise stops in line retrieval easy enough to do. However, it should be noted, that because of the multiple moving parts in the drag system itself, the reel has been known to seize up during more complicated runs.

Similar to the previous entry, the arbor size of this reel is abundant and relatively in charge. The retrieval of the line is fast and easy to do.

Durability

While the overall operation of this fly reel is quite proper, the tolerance between some of the different parts can be problematic at times, especially in the drag system. However, as a whole, the drag system is reliable. Paired with the die-cast aluminum frame, you can put your faith in this reel.

Summary

If you want a solid fly reel that will help you conquer your latest stream or lake, then the Integrity B Large Arbor Fly Reel is a great choice. While we would have liked to see a little bit more tolerance between the many working parts, and a less problematic drag system, for the money this is a respectable choice.

3. Redington Path

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
96.8
Redington Path
Amazon Link
Weight
99
Materials
96
Features
98
Durability
94
best offer for today
more shops
Pros:

Very lightweight

Good drag system

Very easy to use

Cons:

Plastic parts may wear out quicker than expected

The Redington Path Fly fishing reels were introduced in 2015 and they’ve been taking the world of fly fishing by storm with good reason since then. Designed to make both casting and retrieval a breeze, this is one of the most popular fly reels on the market today.

Read more

Weight and Size

This particular reel is designed to handle line weights of 7, 8 and 9, and measures approximately 5 inches by 5 inches by six inches in size. It is also one of the more lightweight options on the market today, weighing in at about 6.4 ounces.

Materials

This fly reel features an aluminum frame and spool that is die-cast and kept to the lightest weight possible. It also features a disc frag system, and can easily be switched between right and left-hand retrieval. It does, however, contain quite a few plastic gears and parts inside, which can wear out quickly with frequent use.

Features

Like many of the fly reels on the market today, this one features a robust disc drag system that helps you to keep the fish from getting away from your net.

The arbor size is relatively abundant on this reel, which makes both casting and retrieval pretty easy overall.

Durability

Unlike some of the other reels on this list, the number of gears and moving parts is kept to a low number on the Redington Path Reel, so the overall tolerance between things is relatively high. It should be noted, however, that the interior plastic parts don’t always hold up to strenuous use.

Summary

If you enjoy fly fishing for trout, and you want a reel that will allow you the precision and control that such an endeavor demands, then the Redington Path Fly Reel certainly should be a the top of your list. Although the plastic gearing that was used to make a lighter reel may prove to be less than durable, the overall construction is still quite lovely.

4. Piscifun Platte

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
96
Piscifun Platte
Amazon Link
Weight
97
Materials
95
Features
95
Durability
97
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$139.48
Pros:

Great for use in nearly all environments

Offers great control and drag performance

Cons:

Individual parts may break under stress

Takes some practice to master

The fourth entry on our list of the best fly reels is tailor-made for those who want a reel that can take the right amount of abuse and still keep going. Designed to be nearly impervious to water, grit, grime, and sand, these reels are a great choice when your knee-deep in the water and muck, searching for that elusive catch that is trying to get away.

Read more

Weight and Size

This reel is available in several different line weights, including those that can handle 3-4 line weight, 5-6 line weight, and 7-8 line weight. It also measures approximately 6 inches by 3.3 inches by 1.08 inches in size and has a backing capacity ranging between 50 and 150 yards depending on the line weight.

Materials

Unlike many of the fly reels on the market today that are die-cast through specific molds, this particular one is actually machined and features a completely sealed drag system that is kept watertight through the use of a series of embedded “O” rings that hold the gearing free of water, dirt, and grime. The reel itself is made from anodized 60601 T6 aluminum and features a quick release and relatively easy conversion from right to left-handed retrieval.

Features

This drag system features a broader working base for the disc, which means that there is not only better heat distribution, but an angler can more easily make adjustments to keep the fish on the line in the heat of battle. Also, the drag features alternating stainless steel, Teflon, and carbon design to provide a great deal of drag strength when needed.

The arbor size is reasonably large, allowing for the quick returns and more natural adjustments that are so vital when fly fishing.

Durability

While the overall feel and function of the reel is pretty good, some found that there was a bit of tightness that interfered with the overall smoothness of the operation. However, the full metal frame provides great durability without adding weight to the reel. To make it even better, this reel comes with a lifetime warranty.

Summary

The Piscifun Platte Fly Reel is a true marvel of technology and design that can withstand quite a bit of abuse and still keep coming back for more. While the overall complicated design does lead to the potential for part failure, overall this fly reel is a good and solid choice.

5. Okuma SLV Diecast Aluminum

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94.8
Okuma SLV Diecast Aluminum
Amazon Link
Weight
96
Materials
96
Features
95
Durability
92
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$52.84
Pros:

Small and fairly lightweight

Good dragging ability overall

Sturdy

Cons:

Tolerance could be improved

If your fly fishing style is more subdued and you’re looking for a fly reel that can easily handle lots of backing and line that are used to let a lake bass run, our fifth entry on this list may just be what you need.

Read more

Weight and Size

This reel measures a bit smaller than others on this list, topping out at just below seven ounces and measuring four inches by three inches by four inches. It can, however, handle a wide range of line weights, ranging from 2/3 to 10/11.

Materials

The reel is made from lightweight aluminum that has been cast into a frame that is designed to produce rapid retrieval of the line possible, and also has a stainless steel shaft, one-way roller bearing, and a multiple disc cork drag system.

Features

The drag consists of a series of cork and stainless steel discs that operate quite well when it comes to stopping the line quickly. However, it should be noted that the drag adjustment does have some plastic threads that can be become soon broken or frayed with too much use.

Considering the smaller size of the reel overall, the arbor size is remarkably large, which allows for quicker return overall.

Durability

The overall tolerance of this reel does leave a bit to be desired. In certain circumstances stripping out the line can become quite problematic, and the gearing has been known to seize when too much moisture is introduced into the mechanism.

We would have liked to see a bit more durability in this reel, especially with the plastic pieces in the drag and the tolerance. However, the reel is priced accordingly, so why not give it a shot and see what you think?

Summary

The Okuma SLV die-cast aluminum fly reel offers a no-nonsense reel that is perfect for a lazy day on the lake. While we would have like to see better overall tolerance and the fact that it can seize up when wet wasn’t a great thing, overall, this is a robust and dependable reel.

6. Ross Evolution LT

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94.5
Ross Evolution LT Fly Reel
Amazon Link
Weight
96
Materials
95
Features
95
Durability
92
best offer for today
more shops
Pros:

Good drag system

Very durable

Cons:

Some had issues with the retrieval rate

The Ross brand has been known for years in the fly fishing community as being one of the more dependable manufacturers of quality fly reels, and the Evolution is by far no stranger to that reputation.

Read more

Weight and Size

This Ross Evolution LT Fly Reel is an updated version of the original. This particular reel has been fitted with an aluminum spool cap. It also has a durable aluminum drag knob and escapement cover. This is one of the lightest reels available today, weighing under 4-ounces and the measures 5 x 5 x 4”.

Materials

To balance out the weight of aluminum on this reel, ventilation has been added to the spool and frame. This means that just because metal has been added to this reel, it won't be weighed down.

Features

For anglers who love a great design that has a lot of thought put into a reel's build, so much so that it could be called a piece of art, this reel is for you. However, it is also a reel that is highly functional.

The drag system on this reel is both precise and sensitive. It is capable of battling a large fish, but still, the lightest tippet is protected.

Durability

Along with all of the features mentioned above, this reel is designed with durability with a triple redundancy drag system, which offers three systems for backup, so that the reel remains intact in even the most demanding of circumstances.

Summary
This lightweight upgrade of a traditionally popular reel brings us a great combination of durability and sensitivity. A few things, like the drag knob and retrieval rate, could be improved, but we didn't see that as a reason to leave it off the list.

7. Redington Behemoth

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94.5
Redington Behemoth
Amazon Link
Weight
94
Materials
96
Features
94
Durability
94
best offer for today
more shops
Pros:

Fantastic drag system

Large enough to accommodate larger fish

Cons:

Overall tolerances can be problematic at times

Interested in expanding your fly fishing horizons beyond the lakes and rivers of the backcountry and trying your hand and the great seas? If so, you’ll need a reel that is strong enough to take on the challenge. Thankfully, the Redington Behemoth might just do the trick.

Read more

Weight and Size

This reel can handle a few different line weights, depending on the model chosen, including 5/6, 7/8, 9/10 and 11/12. The overall size dimensions are a respectable 4 x 5 x 6 inches, and the weight is approximately 10.4 ounces.

Materials

This relatively large fly reel features a die-cast aluminum material and an interlocking arbor design with a super heavy-duty carbon fiber drag system. It also has more room for backing by making use of a deep V-spool design. And to top it all off, the handles are soft to the touch and are designed with the fisherman’s hands in mind.

Features

This reel features one of the more powerful disc drag systems that we considered for this list, and it certainly shows in its performance. Not only is it easily adjusted with an oversized drag knob, but the whole system can easily convert between right and left-handed retrieval styles.

The arbor size is larger than the standard size, allowing for more rapid retrieval of the line and more accurate casting overall.

Durability

Perhaps the one area that needs improvement on this reel is the quality of construction in regards to the overall tolerance. There were quite a few instances where using an extra spool. If the spool is slightly larger or smaller than originally used, jams with the line are often more prevalent. On the other hand, the durability of the reel itself (die-cast construction) is expected to impress. For the most part, customers have been impressed, however, some have learned the hard way to not let the reel slip out of your hand.

Summary

If you’re looking for a larger fly reel that can certainly handle the big boys and give you the drag control you need to become the boss of the seas, the Redington Behemoth Fly Reel might be one to consider. While we were thrilled with the smooth drag and overall use, the allowable tolerances did leave a bit to be desired.

8. Waterworks Lamson

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93.3
Waterworks Lamson
Amazon Link
Weight
95
Materials
93
Features
93
Durability
92
best offer for today
more shops
Pros:

Very lightweight

Good Quality Control

Relatively easy to use

Cons:

The fly reel doesn’t really stand out on performance

In the search for a dependable, yet affordable fly reel, many people have taken a look at the Waterworks Lamson Liquid Fly reel and stopped looking. Designed to help both the novice angler and the more experienced one to handle whatever the stream or river throws at you, these fly reels are tough and dependable.

Read more

Weight and Size

This particular fly reel is available in several different line weights including 3 / 4 weight, 7/8 weight, and 9/10 weight as well. The dimensions are approximately five by five by four inches, and the weight comes in at about 16 ounces total.

Materials

One of the potential problems with die-cast construction is that there is a strong potential for the molds to be less than perfect. After all, they are most likely being made by human hands in some regard.

Features

Overall we found the drag system on this fly reel to get the job done, but it wasn’t anything to write home about. It should be noted that the entire drag system was sealed from the outside, so things like grit and grime shouldn’t become too much of an issue.

For the most part, the arbor on this fly reel would probably fall into the medium category – more extensive than a standard, but not quite big enough to be given the “large” designation when compared to some of the others on the market today. However, no matter what you call the arbor size, it does the job well in retrieving and casting the line as needed.

Durability

Generally speaking, the tolerance on this fly reel is reasonably good, with very few reports of tangles or line snares while in use.

Customers have been impressed with the solid look and feel of this reel. There have been a few initial concerns will some pullback while reeling in, but over time it seems to smooth out.

Summary

While not the cream of the crop, these fly reels are certainly adequate for most fishing situations. They’re known for being assembled in the US, and for having durable and long-lasting mechanisms, especially when talking about freshwater fly fishing.

9. Piscifun Sword

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.8
Piscifun Sword
Amazon Link
Weight
94
Materials
92
Features
91
Durability
94
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$58.85
Pros:

Lightweight

Durable

Quick overall retrieval

Cons:

The drag system is not very user-friendly

Sometimes what you need in a fly reel is one that is affordable and can take a few knocks and licks while you’re learning the ropes. Of course, the Piscifun brand is well suited to do more than just this, but their Sword Fly Fishing Reel is a great way to have some fun and enjoy the challenge of the sport.

Read more

Weight and Size

This fly reel is available in a variety of line weights, including those for 3 / 4, 5/6, 7/8 and 9/10, so pretty much all the bases usually used are covered. As far as the dimensions, these reels range in size between 4.1 x 2.9 x 0.83 inches and 6.7 x 4.05 x 1.07 inches.

Materials

This reel is machined using high-grade 6061-T6 aluminum material and then is cold-forged for increased strength and durability. The arbor itself is concave to improve the overall strength, and it’s relatively easy to convert from left to right-handed retrieve and vice versa.

Features

For the most part, the disc drag system on this reel is sturdy and responsive, and the disc system operates quite well. However, there were numerous complaints about the drag system not having a whole lot of play or being less than user-friendly.

The arbor size of this fly reel falls squarely in the mid-range and offers a reasonably quick retrieval on the line when used correctly. Also, there is plenty of room for the needed backing on the reel itself as well.

Durability

The tolerance overall is reasonably good on this reel. While there were a few issues here and there with the spools becoming tangled when the drag system was engaged, for the most part, most people found the tolerances to be acceptable.

This CNC-machined reel is incredibly durable. It is an ideal fly reel for all conditions and is also resistant to corrosion. For its level of durability, it is still lightweight. It features smooth movements and a beautiful finish.

Summary

While we certainly would have liked to see a more user-friendly drag system that allowed for more play and control, overall this fly reel certainly got the job done in most fishing situations. If you’re looking for a durable choice that performs reasonably well, this is one to consider.

10. Sage 2200 Series

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91.3
Sage 2200 Series
Amazon Link
Weight
93
Materials
89
Features
91
Durability
92
best offer for today
more shops
Pros:

Affordable

Fairly lightweight

Quality drag system

Cons:

Tolerance could be better

Overall construction feels a little cheap

Truth be told, fly fishing can be an expensive hobby. But it doesn’t have to be. The trick is to find quality equipment at a reasonable cost. Thankfully the Sage 2200 series of fly reels helps you to do just that.

Read more

Weight and Size

This budget-friendly fly reel is available for line weights ranging from 3 / 4 up to 9/10, so chances are you’ll be able to find the weight you need to fit your rod and line. The diameter ranges between 3.3 and 4.3 inches, so it is a little on the larger size, comparatively. And finally, the weight is just less than one pound.

Materials

This fly reel is created from die-cast aluminum that has been powder coated to help resist the wear and tear of use while fishing. The drag system handle is relatively abundant and easy to use, and switching between right and left-hand retrieval is a reasonably simple process. The one complaint that we saw was that the overall feel of the fly reel wasn’t that sturdy.

Features

The drag system consists of a series of carbon discs that have a great balance between a quick arrest of the line and the slowing of the line that is sometimes needed. The drag knob is large and reasonably easy to operate, and the set numbers are marked on the knob itself. This makes it easy to set the drag and not worry about it again.

The arbor size is relatively large and allows for quick retrieval of nearly 100 yards of backing and line if needed.

Durability

The tolerance of the reel is adequate, but it’s certainly not anything to praise outlandishly. Changing the spools can be a bit problematic since you have to push from the back instead of pulling from the front as usual. However, there were only a few reports here and there of excessive tangling or problems with line memory.

As mentioned, the overall feel of the reel doesn't give us much confidence. It is a die-cast aluminum reel but it doesn't it seems a bit thin. Overall, it's a functional design with a large arbor and comes at a great price.

Summary

If you need a budget-friendly fly reel that can certainly perform very much like the more expensive brands, the Sage 2200 series is certainly worth a closer look. While we would have certainly liked to see a stronger quality construction, and a spool exchange system that was more user-friendly, for the most part, this is a great choice.

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Weight

In the case of the best fly reels, the weight refers to the weight of the line that it is designed to handle. In most cases, a reel that is rated 5/6 can handle a five-pound weight line or a six-pound weight line. Theoretically, it could handle a lighter weight line, but the performance would be less than desirable.

The size of the reel refers to the actual dimensions of the reel itself. This is important since the size of the reel is directly proportional to the size of the spool of the line that it can handle. The larger the reel, the more range you can potentially use while fishing.

One of the qualities that you’ll find in good fly reels is how many different weights and sizes can be accommodated in the fly reels depending on which type you purchase. Thankfully, most of the fly reels presented here provide many such options.

Materials

In the world of fly reels, there are two main types of construction. Fly reels are either machined out of a solid piece of metal, or die-cast and poured into a mold. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

A machined fly reel is often stronger and much more durable, but it is often quite heavy comparatively. A die-cast reel, on the other hand, is usually lightweight and made from durable aluminum, but they aren’t always as durable, especially when the smaller fishing gears and parts are taken into account.

Most of the fly reels that are on the market today have at least some portions of them that are die-cast- sometimes the frame, sometimes the whole body. This is done to save on overall mass and to make the fly reel lighter and more responsive.

The construction of the fly reel can also tell you quite a bit about the quality of the individual parts and gears that are contained within its mechanisms. Often a fly reel is more than just a place to put your spool of line. It consists of a series of fishing gears, discs, threads, and pulleys that allow you to control your fishing line to catch the next big one with relative ease.

We also looked into the Arbor size. The Arbor refers to space in the reel where the spool of the line sits, waiting to be unleashed or retrieved. In general terms, the larger the arbor, the more efficiently the line can be brought back or released in a cast. In some cases, the larger arbors can retrieve line at almost twice the rate of a standard size.

So the question arises then if the larger arbor provides for such superior retrieval and casting rates, why do some anglers still prefer the standard arbor sizes? Well, depending on how the fly reel is created, a larger arbor can have a few disadvantages. First, since the larger arbor is more significant in size, it takes up more room, leaving less room for the backing. This means that on a longer run, the backing of this type of fly reel may run out long before any advantage is seen. To prevent this, most large arbor fly reels have a larger overall diameter. This, in turn, may make them a bit too bulky overall or some tastes.

Features

Drag

The drag of a fly reel refers to how well it can stop or slow down the fishing line, and therefore the fish at the other end of it. There are two central drag systems that are popular today. The first is a variant of the disc system. In this system, the line is squeezed between discs, and the resultant friction is used to stop it, much like the brake pad on your car squeeze against the rotors to slow your vehicle down to a stop. This is by far the most popular method of stopping the line. It’s quick, easy to apply, and often needs very little force.

The second type is one that is much less common. It is often referred to as “click and pawl drag” or sometimes “spring and pawl drag.” These systems often have a spring-loaded “pawl” that engages a small gear with teeth at the center of the spool. As the pawl and the teeth on the spool engage, the tension mounts, and the spool, and the line slows down to a crawl. As an aside, it is often this click and pawl system that provides the almost musical quality of clicks and whirs that so many fly fishermen fall in love with.

The disc system can often provide more consistent pressure, are usually heavier duty, and can be more easily adjusted than the click and pawl systems of yesterday. Not surprisingly most of the best fly reels use a disc system today.

Overall Tolerance
For our purposes, the overall tolerance of a fly reel refers to its ability to handle the running line or shooting line getting caught between the spool and frame, or sometimes getting behind the spool. It is a measurement of how well all the gears, smaller parts, lines, and discs work together overall. A reel that has a greater tolerance often means that the line flows more easily, and is easier to control overall. One that has less tolerance, well, things may become more of a tangled mess.

Thankfully, most if not all of the fly reels presented here today have at least a decent tolerance, one that allows the fly fisherman to concentrate on the task at hand, not trying to untangle a mess of gears, springs and fishing line.

Durability

When looking at investing in a fly reel, do not always assume that the more expensive the fly reel, the more durable or better quality it will be – this is not necessarily the case all of the time.

The best thing to do when looking for a durable reel to last you years to come is to look at the construction materials and design, as well as consumer reviews to see how the reel has held up for others who have put them to the test. Do not solely be swayed by price as you may end up with an expensive fly reel that will not hold up; make an educated purchase, and research before buying.

Expert Interviews & Opinions

Most Important Criteria (According to our experts opinion)
Sort criterias acording to:
Experts Opinion Editors Opinion Users Opinion By Default
Click on a to rate the most important criteria:
#1
ico Weight
Rate This Criteria as Most Important
#2
ico Materials
Rate This Criteria as Most Important
#3
ico Features
Rate This Criteria as Most Important
#4
ico Durability
Rate This Criteria as Most Important
expert tips icon
Keep it Clean

Saltwater can do a number on gadgets and fly reels are no exception. Make sure to clean your reel with fresh water after each use. To resist rust, you should always make sure the reel is thoroughly dry before storing it. You can do this by setting it in the sun for a couple of hours or by laying it on its side for a few hours and then flipping it over.

Beginner's Equipment

After a few years of fly fishing, there's no doubt that you will acquire more accessories than you need. While that is all fun and great, to get started, you only need a few items. You'll need a fly reel, a fly rod, a fly fishing line (also a leader and a tippet), and last but not least, flies! With these few accessories, you're ready to take on this exciting sport.

Other Factors to Consider

Portability

Branching off of size and weight, another factor that you may want to take into consideration is the portability of the fly reel. Of course, you'll want to keep it safe and you will most likely be transporting it in with the rod attached. Checking the size to make sure it will securely fit in your car or truck without putting pressure on the reel is important. If you like to have options, you may be carrying a box full of flies or eggs, which also adds weight to your overall luggage. If you have a long walk ahead of you, every ounce adds up.

Frequently Asked Questions

q: How much backing versus fly line should my fly reel be able to hold?

a:

The short answer to this question is the amount of backing and line you need to catch the fish you’re going after. However, the real answer is a bit more complicated.

How much support you need, or the line used to take up extra space on the reel and to allow for longer runs when necessary depends on a few different factors. First, you’ll need to think about what type of fish you’re trying to catch.

A small trout is probably going to need a different amount than a more massive bass, for example. You’ll also need to take into account how much fly line you have to work with. Mostly you’ll want to use enough backing to make it so that the fly line can be cast and retrieved easily without endangering the line by running out. The less fly line you have, the more backing you’ll need.

And finally, it’s essential to see if the manufacturer of the fly reel has any suggestions on the amount of backing versus fly line to use. They very well may. After all, they did manufacture the fly reel, so chances are they know quite a bit about how to operate it.

q: How much line will I need to accommodate?

a:

When it comes to the overall size of the fly reel you want to buy, it’s important to not only consider the type of rod you’re using, and the weight of the line, but also how much line you’ll need. Spools can have anywhere from 50 to 200 yards of line on them, and not surprisingly, the more line you have, the bigger the spool is going to be. Since you’ll need to potentially accommodate a larger spool, a larger reel may be required.

q: How much stress can a fly reel take?

a:

Depending on your style of fly fishing, your reel might take quite a bit of abuse. Saltwater fly fishing often means that salt can potentially get into the gearing, and we have yet to meet a small stream fisher that hasn’t at one time cleaned a good bit of sand, mud, and grime out of their fly fishing equipment.

The thing to remember is that a fly reel can be a very complicated piece of equipment, with several gears, discs, strings or plates designed to keep your line moving the way you want it to.

Some brands, like Piscifun, offer fly reels with sealed components, but even then, the parts can wear down and become stressed over time. So it’s essential to look for fly reels that are well made and have parts that can be easily exchanged, either by the fisherman or by the manufacturer when needed.

q: How do I know what weight line to use with my fly reel?

a:

Some fishermen, when choosing a fly rod and reel, know what weight line they will be fishing with as they have past experience with the sport. However, some that are new to the sport, or are going to be fishing in another terrain, may not know what weight of line they will need. The first step when determining the optimal weight of the line is to look at the size of the fly to be used. Overall, the lower the fly size the heavier the line weight and the heavier the fly the lower the line weight.

q: What type of fish can I expect to catch with a fly reel?

a:

There are actually many different varieties of fish that you can catch with a fly reel, depending on where you fish. Most notably, fly fishing is synonymous with trout. After trout, you'll also find that salmon, grayling, pike, panfish, carp, and bass are popular catches.

In reality, with enough patience, strength, and the right rod, any fish can be caught with a fly reel. From the ocean, you can go for striped bass, tarpon, redfish, snook, and bonefish. Shockingly, even big game ocean fish, such as sharks, tuna, wahoo, and marlin, can be caught on a fly reel. Catching fish as large as these will definitely take some finesse and practice, but as you can see, anything is possible.

Sources

  1. flyfishingatlas, Best Fly Fishing Reels, Fishing Blog
  2. The Outdoria Team, How to Choose the Right Fishing Reel, Buying Guide
  3. Harry Spampinato, 10 Best Affordable Fly Fishing Reels: Your Buyer’s Guide, Buying Guide