Fly fishing is an angling method that uses a light-weight lure — called an artificial fly — to catch fish. The fly is cast using a fly rod, fly reel, and specialized weighted line. Buying the right reel is as essential as finding the right rod.
For this, we have for you our buyer’s guide, and My top 5 picks for the best fly reels for the money.
- Size of Arbor
- Material its made from
- Suitable for Salt or Freshwater use
- Reviews from other users
Overview of a Fly Reel
Choosing the right Fly Reel for use can be a difficult decision to make. To help you with this we have a list of features that you should make sure your Fly Reel has to make it a perfect purchase.
1) Size of arbor
There are usually three sizes of arbors: standard arbor, mid arbor or a large arbor. Arbor size is the space between the center spindle and the spool base. It is a critical factor which you should always consider because it backs up the fly reel and also affects the line retrieval rate. If the size of the arbor is large, then usually you can hold more line.
2) Drag System
It is important to consider the Drag System to make an informed choice. There is a standard arbor reel on click drag system also known called as “spring and pawl”. It has cogs which eventually control the pressure put on the spindle. But it is important to know that it is not suitable for catching larger fish.
But if you to target large species, i.,e. Catching large fish then you must go with the modern disc drag system. It puts pressure on the reel allowing you to retrieve line and fight the fish. If excessive drag is placed on the spool; there is a risk that the leader or tippet will break.
That’s why it is important to check for a good reel that can release drag from low to tight within easy reach and without the chances of the line being snapped. Another thing to consider is what materials the drag system is made up from.
It can be of carbon fiber, cork, ceramic, titanium, and other materials, but you will have to consider all of these before making any choice so that you buy with comfort and peace of mind.
Another important point to note when purchasing a fly reel is what is the actual reel constructed from by way of materials used. Different constructions using different materials for a specific purpose ie freshwater usage or saltwater usage will help you better make a decision prior to purchase.
It is essential to look at your budget before looking for one otherwise time, and efforts will be wasted. Die-cast reels which are usually made up of pouring molten metal into a mold and are usually the cheaper option for fly reel.
However, it should be noted that they are not durable, and there is always a risk of shattering if dropped from above the ground level. On the other hand, if you are willing to buy a more expensive fly reel, then you can look for a CNC machined reel.
It is made up of a solid block of aluminum and such reels are generally anodized, which gives them more protection against the elements of freshwater or saltwater usage. They are usually more durable and longer lasting and should only require a one-time investment giving you a reel that will last a lifetime.
It is essential to consider the weight factor of a reel also. You should always match the weight of reel with a fly rod and your desire of catching a large fish or small one. Maintaining the right balance in the weights of the rod, reel and fly line is very important as they are supposed to be matched together in order to have the best performance from the tackle.
However all of these points depend on your budget of course and below we have our buyers guide which outlines our recommendations.
1. Redington Behemoth Fly Reel – Best Value!
Redington Behemoth fly reel is a top fishing reel: reliable and powerful, so anyone from a beginner to an avid fly fisher will get along with this reel. It is an incredible carbon fiber drag powerhouse. This strong and hard-wearing reel comes with a padded case for storing and protection when traveling.
Its the perfect reel for you if you fish for large fish like carp, pike or salmon. It is the most powerful drag in its class, and has stunning aesthetics. The construction is un-machinable and die cast with a durable, interlocking, large-arbor spool design that both looks and functions like a premium reel.
It has an oversized drag knob for easy adjustment. This product is known for its strength, reliability and efficient performance. This reel is sized for your favorite 5-weight trout fly rod, and all the way up to saltwater ready big game sizes. This reel offers performance and affordability to beginner and veteran anglers alike.
2. Piscifun Platte Fly Reel – Best Budget Option
This is one of the most budget friendly reels out there. It is made up of fully sealed carbon which is impervious to water, sand and grit. It can be easily cleaned with simple rinsing and can be used for both fresh and saltwater fishing. It has a click retrieve and a positive click drag knob which will provide users with accurate and repeatable drag settings.
An aggressive diamond knurling on the drag knob permits easier grasp and adjustment mid-battle. The reel is strong yet lightweight and its large arbor design picks up line fast to give users the edge over freshwater and saltwater species. With this reel, you’ll be able to hold plenty of backing, retrieve your line in a speedy fashion and you won’t have to worry about line memory either.
This model is made up of CDC machined, sturdy aluminum that will stand up to a lot of hard use. Thanks to the ventilated spool, it’s lightweight, preventing you from tiring early so you can make the most of your fly fishing time! The drag adjustment wheel is easy to use even for beginners. The spool can also be changed effortlessly.
3. Waterworks Fly Reel – Beginner Friendly!
This amazing fly reel set contains one Liquid reel and two spare spools in a nylon carrying case all for the price of one reel and one spool making it super affordable and our customer’s all-time favorite. This combo pack opens up easy interchangeability for the multifaceted angler at more of an extreme value.
It is made up of Pressure Cast Aluminum and has a Polyurethane Case and Spool. The Lamson Liquid Fly Reel has an impressive, smooth and reliable conical drag system and CNC machined parts. It’s fully sealed, stopping any harmful dirt or sand from getting into the reel. You can use this reel for both freshwater and saltwater fly fishing.
You can have multiple lines set up and ready to go according to the conditions with the spare spoons that are included. The Lamson Liquid is definitely one of the top fly reels for the money.
4. Waterworks-Lamson Remix – Fast Retreive!
Lamson remix fly reel comes with free structures of a cast spool with CNC-machined case integrity. A 6061 bar-stock aluminium case ensures maximum structural rigidity and thus, increased strength and durability. The pressure-cast spool comes with a precision fit and finish to increase product performance and enhance quality.
Made in the USA, this fly reel lets you cast your caddis with confidence. With a very feasible and affordable price, this hybrid reel fuses the freeform structures of a cast spool with the mechanical integrity of a CNC-machined case. It has a harder, brighter finish for added durability. The spool has compound curves, near-zero-radius inside corners.
The reel is good looking and the painted body also saves you money. Not only does it have a remarkable looking spool, it picks up line at 7.55 inches per turn. Its handle is flat and its length is long enough for increased comfort. The drag knob also has a very large size which makes it very easy to grab.
The spool is also a quick change spool. Although slower than the one click button, it still is an incredible upgrade great for reducing time. It has a lifetime warranty for the original owner along with a $20 fee. The reel gives a click sound on both the incoming and outgoing.
It really is a very easy to use and convenient fly reel that not only takes care of comfort, durability and affordability but it also is a very stylish and smart looking product.
5. Galvan Fly Reels – Lightweight!
I like the design of this reel, its super simple and comes in chrome silver. Its also extremely lightweight! With it being lightweight, you may think it wont work so well for larger fish but actually its a great real for fly fishing rivers, streams, lakes, and fish of a small to medium size such as trout.
Its an easy go lucky fly reel , one that you can have around and just use without worrying about having to take lots of care and worry it is being scratched etc, like a throwaway reel if you will. The price is very attractive and the manufacturer is well known so no issues with the quality of build etc.
This reel holds up well to corrosion to so no need to worry about that. Ive had mine for the past 5 years now and its a tough little bugger and i have taken it through some rough patches of water, terrain, dropped it a few tims and its still going strong!
I do like again the silver chrome color, its quite “old school” with all the modern fly reels around these days in all colors from blue to pink. You wont be disappointed with this reel if its the one you decide to go for.
Chrome color finish
Bit more pricey than others
Only one color available
These were the best fly reels for the money that I have reviewed. I hope that my buyer’s guide and product reviews have been helpful and you will now be able to purchase the perfect fly reel for your rod. Go through all the specifications and product details before ordering and make sure you are choosing the right fly reel for you.
What fly reel should i buy?
This entirely depends on a few things such as what is your budget, what types of fish you intend to target, what is the size of your fly rod, are you fishing freshwater or saltwater. Ask yourself those questions to enable you to take the right decision on what reel to buy.
What is the lightest fly reel?
Fly reels come in different sizes and weights. The smallest fly reel in size I have ever come across was for my 3wt fly rod. I paired that fly rod with a 3wt fly reel used for fishing freshwater streams for small trout.
Why do fly reels click?
The clicking sound is there for the purpose of alerting you to the fact you have hooked into a fish. It’s also the pawl and drag system working together allowing the reel to spin and allow the line to go out. Personally, I turn this off as I find it annoying but each to their own!
Which way should a fly reel wind?
You should be reeling or winding your fly reel by turning the handle/winding away from your body in a clockwork manner. This will allow you to retrieve the line when you want to bring in the fish or return the line to the reel to make a new cast.