There are several parts of a fly reel to note and in the below article we will cover what they are and the part they play in the build up of the fly reel.

Parts of fly reel - Fly Fishing

The 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 which in turn helps when fly fishing and casting longer distances.

The Inner Arbor

The Inner Arbor is where the main spool and arbor connect to. There is a spindle on the inner arbor that locks inside of the Arbor. When the handle is turned on the main reel, the inner arbor spindle allows the reel to rotate and thus retrieve line.

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The Spool is where the lines sit such as backing line, fly line, leader line and tippet line. The larger the arbor reel, the bigger the amount of line the reel will hold.

Most reels will come with a spare spool from the manufacturer as having a spare spool allows you to change lines such as changing from a floating fly line to a sinking fly line in a short space of time.

Spool Release

The spool release is usually a small button or latch that when opened allows you to remove the spool holding the line out.

Reel Handle

The reel handles only purpose is to reel back in the line when either fighting a fish or after a cast has been made and the line can be retrieved back onto the spool.

Foot of the Fly Reel

The foot of the fly reels only real purpose is for it to be slotted into the rod sleeve and to position it there in fly reel use. The foot once slotted into the rod sleeve is then made secure by tightening the discs on the rod sleeve.

Drag System

The drag system on a fly reel is what forms as its brake. Think of you in the middle of catching a fish and the fish decides to swim off fast and you want to bring it back in. 

By tightening the drag up usually via a small turning knob on the side of the reel, you will reduce the turning capability of the reel and thus slowing down the amount of line that can come off the reel and thus slowing down the fish. 

The drag is used a lot on a fly reel also in loop fly reel for this purpose so as to give you an advantage over fighting a fish.

It should also be noted that 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.


Fly reels have grown better over the years like with all advances in technology. They are made from different materials purpose built for their use such as freshwater or saltwater use.

Die-cast reels which are usually made up of pouring molten metal into a mold and are usually the cheaper option.  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.

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 usually last a lifetime.


A Fly reel does weigh a certain amount in grams and 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, fly 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.


As you can see from the above article and diagrams there are a few parts to be aware of in a fly reel and if you are considering buying a fly reel, you may like to read our buyers guide on several fly reels we have reviewed here