The best fly reels of all time are the ones made to last a lifetime or more. We understand that there’s a wide variety of good reels available that are worth considering. After 40 hours of research, we rounded up our picks for the best fly reels of all time.
We understand that getting started with the best fishing gear can be empowering. But, some people forgo gear search, so they never get to complete their project. Since you’ve come to our site, you’re obviously not one of them.
For those who want the best reel performance, on this page, we discussed the best fly reels of all time. In the sport of fly fishing, you can’t gamble with reels. The fishing reels we discussed in this article are the crème of the crop.
When it comes down to buying a fly reel what matters in the end is your needs and preferences. If you haven’t bought a fly reel before or are looking to upgrade your fishing gear, the range of options can confuse you. The best fly reels reviewed here can give you a start.
Still, you want to find a reel most appropriate for your requirements. That’s where this guide comes in.
In this section of the article, we discussed a number of factors you should consider before purchase. Use these 5 factors we’ve outlined below which should help you decide on the right fly.
Although fly reels have a very limited number of components, a few aspects of the design make all the difference. Do not let your reel dissuade you from catching that large trout anymore. Remember these important factors when shopping for a reel.
The primary job of a reel is to retrieve line. The retrieval system of a reel is of vital importance in the sport of fly fishing.
Most fly reels collect line in one of the 3 ways: single action, multiplying action, or through automatic action. These action types refer to how fast the reel retrieves line.
Till now, single action reels are by far the most popular. For normal fishing, these reels are highly reliable. Single action here refers to one full revolution of the handle completes one turn of the spool as well. Single action reels are considered the most durable.
Multiplying reels, on the other hand, turn the spool two or three times for every full crank of the handle. Multiplying reels incorporate a series of gears to produce two or more turns of the spool. With multiplying reels, your line gets reeled in much quicker. But, this type of reels comes with a downside. Since there are gears and sensitive parts involved, multiplying reels are more likely to break than a single action reel.
The third type of retrieval system I’ll be discussing is the automatic fly reel. This retrieval system follows a different mechanism for retrieving line. This system employs the safety latch for pulling in the line. This system has a trigger, which is activated by the tension created by the line.
The drawback here with the automatic fly reel is that they do not hold backing as good as other reels do. Besides, the reel is not durable, for they have the motorized system.
The Drag System
You don’t want to lose the catch of a lifetime breaking off your tippet and getting lost forever. The drag system is what makes sure you don’t.
The drag system offers resistance to the fish stripping line away too quickly. When a fish latches on to your lure, the drag system applies resistance to the reel spool and eventually stops the reel’s spinning.
Now, a smooth drag system is the key to finding the right reel. It applies tension to the line and protects your gear. On the other hand, poorly designed drag systems interlock, causing the fish to break off the tippet.
Imagine, you’ve tagged into an 8-pound bass. If you have a light, jerky drag set, the bass would run and snap the line. The point to be noted here is that you need to tighten the drag and opt for a good-quality drag system.
There two types of drag systems that veteran anglers and beginners need to be aware of: Spring-and-Pawl and Disc-brake.
Spring-and-Pawl vs Disc Brake
Spring-and-Pawl drag system is also known as Click-and-Pawl. This system harkens back to the time of fishing when components were simple.
This system relies on a spring to apply drag on the reel. The tension of this system is increased or decreased and adjusted through a triangular shaped pawl.
By applying pressure through this pawl, the drag system pulls out line very smoothly. To make tension seamless, the fly reel does everything required to protect the tippet. But, the spring-and-pawl drag system is not free from drawbacks. The prime one is that going after large fish with this system will be nearly impossible.
Similar to disc brake on a car in function, the disc drag reel works on creating friction by pressed discs. Consequently, the line’s tension is tightened by friction.
Disc drag reels will definitely help you catch large fish species, such as bass, trout, salmon, and steelhead. The disc drag reel keeps a seamless, but adequate pressure on the fly line.
In practice, you can work both the styles. The discerning factor for both the systems is drag settings. Click-and-Pawl reels work on a discrete drag value, whereas disc drag systems offer nearly infinite drag options.
We want things that we hold and carry as light as possible. Without a doubt, you don’t want your reel to pack extra weight. Lightweight designs for reels help you not only handle, but also cast the rod. A lightweight design makes sure you fish for a long day without fatigue.
What you need to remember is to keep the weights of the reel and the rod matching. A lightweight reel on a heavier rod, or vice versa makes it almost impossible to cast with precision.
For example, for a 5 weight line, the reel and the rod need to be in the 4 to 6 weight range.
Check out the following guideline of rod-and-reel setups for optimum performance.
The construction of fly reels mainly involves processing of metal elements. The cheapest reels are usually constructed through metal stamping. These reels tend to be heavier than other metals.
An improved model usually is made of die-cast manufacturing process. This process is used to produce mid-tier models.
The best fly reels come fully CNC-machined. In this process, operated by computers, a machine removes a solid block of metal, leaving perfected shaped components.
Frequently Asked Questions
A fly reel is an important aspect of fishing gear that mainly holds the fishing line and necessary backing. A fly reel adds great value to your fishing gear.
Pick a fly reel that holds necessary backing and fly line for the weight of the fly rod. Besides, take its drag system into consideration.
An Arbor design allows you to retrieve line much quicker and reduces line memory. Mainly there are two arbor designs available – large Arbor and mid-arbor. A large arbor design allows you to handle a lot of line in a large body of water, whereas a mid-arbor design picks up line lightning fast.
A fly reel may bear a notation for the size line the reel is intended to hold. For optimum performance, the weight of the reel should match those of the rod and line.
A saltwater reel relies on a large arbor and uses more line. You want to avoid using steel reels in salt water. Besides, any corrosion-resistant reels will work in either of these environments.
Hopefully, after going through our guide, you can easily choose the best fly reels of all time. Our round-up of the best fly reels will help you narrow down your choices.
Now all you have to do is simply go through the factors above, pick a reel from our recommendations based on your needs.