Best Saltwater Fly Reels


Buyers Guide: Best Saltwater Fly Reels

Saltwater fly reel

Looking for the Best Saltwater Fly Reels, then you are in the right place!

Saltwater Fly fishing is a wonderful sport and having transitioned some time ago from freshwater fly fishing due to relocating to a country surrounded by Saltwater I have to say its been an extremely enjoyable sport for me and continues to be so.

Today im going to help you find the best saltwater fly reel for your needs with my top best saltwater fly reels listed below most of which i have used or own personally!

With Saltwater fly fishing, you need tackle that stands up to the harsh conditions and hammering saltwater does to your gear so today and below I will be reviewing for you the best saltwater fly reels.

My fly reel reviews below hopefully will give you some further insight if you are perhaps considering to purchase a new saltwater fly reel and the things you should consider when making a purchase.

The Saltwater fly reels below are in the higher priced range which I do believe from experience are well worth the investment as they are from top brands and come with great warranties.

The Best Saltwater Fly Reels

Buyer’s Guide

Choosing the best saltwater fly Reels can be a difficult decision to make. As ive mentioned above, you need to ensure you get a good solid reel, one that has a sealed drag system to protect it from the harsh saltwater and a reel that will stand the test of time.  purchase.

1) Size of arbor

Ideally you are looking for a reel that matches you fly rod weight as this allows good balance with the rod.

Also you should ensure the reel has a good sized arbor. I usually go for a large arbor as this ensures I can keep plenty of backing line, fly line and leader on my reel for fighting those fish that like to run and run.

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 stores the backing line, fly line and also affects the retrieval rate.

If the size of the arbor is large, then theoretically, you can hold more line on the spool. The reels of today are now so well manufactured using the lasts and advanced technologies that “large” doesn’t always mean heaviest.  

The weight of the reel as in how much it actually weighs is also an important factor to consider as you don’t want to be carrying a really heavy reel around all day as this will lead to arm and wrist fatigue.

2) Drag System

Another important factor to consider when selecting a saltwater fly reel is that it should really have a concealed and closed drag system.

This will ensure you keep the reel away from the salt, grit and mud that may try to enter if you are fly fishing the saltwater flats.

If you are targeting large big game fish then the drag is an extremely important factor as it will allow you to put pressure onto the fish and tire it down to a point you can reel it in.

3) Construction

Any well-made saltwater fly reel will be made from CNC Machined anodized aluminum.

This is the chosen material of the major brands and manufactures as it’s a tried and tested material that has proven to with stand the elements of harsh saltwater environments and is also a lightweight yet robust material.

The more robust your saltwater fly reel, the longer it will last and the thus allow for more longer term saltwater fly fishing.

4) Weight

It is essential to consider the weight factor before finalizing an option.  You should always match the weight of reel with a fly rod and your desire of catching a large game fish or small one.

Going for a lightweight reel if you are going to be walking the saltwater flats all day is a good choice as the less weight you have to carry is better.

As mentioned above, ensure you also go for a larger arbor so you can ensure to get as much line as possible onto the reel as this will allow you to cover more area

 Other things to consider:

  • Arbor size
  • Material its made from
  • Weight
  • Durability
  • Suitable for Saltwater use
  • Reviews from other users

Do you need a Fly Rod? Check out our Best Fly Rods under $200

1. Redington Behemoth Fly ReelBest Value!


The Redington BEHEMOTH saltwater fly reel combines a very powerful drag in its class with stunning and beautiful aesthetics that push the limits of fly reel design.

The unique, un-machinable, die-cast construction is coupled with a durable, interlocking, large-arbor spool design that both looks and functions like a premium reel and allows plenty of fly line onto the reel.

With a super-heavy duty carbon fiber drag package it brings the utmost in drag strength, reliability and performance.

Sized for your favorite 5-weight trout rod, and all the way up to saltwater ready, big-game sizes.

The BEHEMOTH reels offer performance and affordability to beginner and veteran anglers alike and comes with the *Redington Lifetime Warranty!

Features:

  • Most powerful drag in its class
  • Adjustable, CarbonFiber drag
  • Unmachinable, unique Die-cast construction
  • Large arbor design speeds retrieve and reduces line memory
  • Oversized drag knob foreasy adjustment
  • Easily converts between left-hand and right-hand retrieve.
  • Deep V-Spool for increased backing capacity
  • Twin molded, soft-touch ergonomic handles
  • Nylon reel case included
  • Lifetime warranty
Pros
  • Powerful Drag
  • Awesome value for Money
  • Perfect for Saltwater
  • Backed with a lifetime warranty
Cons
  • Construction is solid but not that of expensive models


2. Hardy Fortuna XDS Fly Reel – Best Capacity


Hardy fly reels are one of the top rated fly reel brands on the market. Renowned for quality and durability  and around since the time of fly fishing’s arise.

The reels are suitable for beginner to advanced fly anglers.

  • The Hardy Fortuna XDS Fly Reel With all the legendary strength of the original Fortuna series the Fortuna XDS offers the same saltwater reliability and brute strength of its predecessor in a new lightweight design.
  • Reduced weight design
  • 340 degree color coded Drag control
  • Captive spool release
  • Class-leading drag pressure up to 30lb

This reel is a great choice to consider , it also comes with a 5 year warranty from Hardy.

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Quick Spool Release
  • Easy to clean
Cons
  • It’s on the Higher priced end

3. MAXIMUMCATCH Sprint – Best Budget!


The Maximumcatch Saltwater Fly Reel is another excellent choice as it combines a lot for the price. Using the latest multi axis machining techniques, this reel has been built to last!

With is supreme build quality-The Sprint Fly Reel is forged from fully-machined high-grade 6061 T6 aluminum, making this the toughest reel they’ve ever produced.

  • The X Factor- Innovative X structure design, resulting in enhanced engineering strength without any additional weight gain.
  • Durable Drag System:-The Sprint’s carbon, cork and stainless-steel disc drag system gives you the power the battle the biggest fish while also providing a smooth turning drag.
  • V is for Victory-Deep V-spool design results in greater line capacity – ideal for ocean and saltwater flats fishing.
  • Perfect Protection-Rubber inlay on the reel’s button allows you to seamlessly fix the line to the reel without the fear of scratching your flies on the reel’s surface.

*Comes with a Lifetime Warranty from Maximumcatch!

Pros
  • Fantastic price!
  • Holds a lot of line
  • Superb drag system
Cons
  • Brand isn’t that well known but the reviews are good

4. Redington Grande – My #1 Choice!

This is one of the heavyweight champions of big game fly reels. The redington GRANDE reel is a fully anodized, machined aluminum reel that features the new sealed SUPER-TORQUE carbon drag system that will KO any fish you hook!

This reel range has gone through years of field testing, resulting with an over-sized palming rim, increased backing capacity, and designed with an easy to locate handle and drag knob so you can make quick adjustments in the heat of the battle.

  • CNC machined, anodized T-6061 aluminum construction
  • Fully sealed, SUPER-TORQUE, carbon fiber drag system provides smooth and powerful drag in all conditions
  • V-spool with backing canal arbor for reduced line stacking and increased backing capacity
  • Oversized palming rim for increased drag application and spool rigidity
  • Optimized reel foot position for true center of gravity to prevent rod twist, and unique, rounded finish for line/leader protection when stowed
  • Enlarged soft-touch, anti-snag handle machined from Delrin to increased grip and ergonomic comfort
  • Easily converts between left-hand and right-hand retrieve
  • Lifetime warranty
Pros
  • Converts from Left hand to Right hand easily!
  • Optimized reel foot – Stops Rod twisting!
  • V Spool for smooth line retrieval
Cons
  • Little heavier than the Redington Behmoth


5. Hardy SDSL Fly Fishing Reel – Best High End

One of the latest additions to the Hardy Saltwater reel line up.

The SDSL series of reels is fully machined from barstock 6061 Alloy and they feature a fully sealed Carbon fibre disc drag system which is capable of generating up to 16lb of pressure controlled by a 340 degree colour coded regulator. This ensures you can play almost any fish!

An extremely incredibly strong yet maintenance free reel, the SDSL is also extremely lightweight for long days on the saltwater and features a stunning Silver and Blue colour scheme and Captive spool release system so you can change up your fly lines quickly and easily.

*Another great choice of saltwater fly reel from Hardy and again it comes with a 5 year Hardy warranty.

Pros
  • Carbon Sealed Drag
  • Low maintenance
  • Super lightweight
Cons
  • The most expensive reel on our review list

Conclusion      

These were the best saltwater fly reels I would recommend for you to consider.

I currently fish with the >> REDINGTON BEHMOTH it’s a great reel, well built and has been on the receiving end of plenty of massive fighting fish, its never let me down.

I hope that our buyer’s guide and product reviews have been helpful and you will now feel a bit more confident in considering what are the best saltwater fly reels available on the market.

Go through all the specifications and product details before ordering and make sure they satisfy your needs!

FAQ’s

Can you use a freshwater fly reel in saltwater?

You can definitley use a freshwater fly reel in saltwater but i wouldnt recommend it. Its highly likely that your reel will get damaged and corroded in a short space of time due to the salt.

How much should i spend on a saltwater fly reel?

I would suggest when starting out fly fishing that you dont spend huge amounts of money, just focus on getting a basica set up to start with then you can upgrade as you go along. For a starter fly reel, id aim for a range between $100 – $200.

Why are fly reels so expensive?

With any sport there is always a price point attached to it. For me i dont see fly fishing or fly reels as expensive. I see them as an investment. Usually fly reels are built to high standards with quality materials. SOme of my fly reels ive had for well over 10 years, thats good value for money in my opinion!

How do you spool a fly reel

The ideal way to spool your fly reel is to start off by adding the backing line. The tie on the fly line and to the fly line tie on the leader or tippet. We wrote an article on this which you can read here : How to set up a fly fishing rod and reel

Can I use braid as fly backing?

You can use braid but its not commonly used as fly backing. Essentially you need a line that will withstand pressure from a running fish if its exhausted your fly line already.

Looking for a new fly reel? 
Check out our fly reel guide here :
>> BEST FLY REELS UNDER $200
>> BEST FLY FISHING CEST PACKS 

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