How do you know when you have the best fly fishing rod?
After splashing out on a solid fly fishing rod, you may think you are good to go. However, the quality of the fly reel you use will be pivotal in securing a great catch. If you are a fly-fishing enthusiast or pro, you will probably agree with me that the value of fly reels in fly angling is underrated. Nothing can wreck your otherwise pleasant day of fly-fishing worse than a poorly made fly reel. This should not be the case. Your flexible and robust fly rod deserves an equally splendid and well-made fly reel.
The only issue is that the market is full of different types of fly reels, making it overwhelming for a first-timer and veterans alike to choose the best fly reel from the many rests. Nevertheless, with this detailed guide, you have utterly no reason not to select a fly reel that is closest to perfection.
- 1. Piscifun Sword Fly Fishing Reel
- 2. Okuma SLV Diecast Aluminum Fly Reel
- 3. Fiblink Aluminum Saltwater Fly Fishing Reels
- 4. M MAXIMUMCATCH Maxcatch ECO Diecast Aluminum Fly Reel
- 5. Sougayilang Alloy Fly Fishing Reel
- 6. Pflueger Automatic Fly Reel
- 7. Redington Zero Fly Reel
- 8. White River Fly Shop Dogwood Canyon Disc Drag Fly Reel
- 9. Cheeky Tyro Fly Reel
- 10 AnglerDream Fly Reel
The Best Fly Reels Reviewed
1. Piscifun Sword Fly Fishing Reel
Whether you are new to this game or an old hand who has had a fair share of poorly made reels, this fly reel is sure to impress. We all agree that using a faulty fly reel is as annoying as it is a shortcoming. You may even have to cancel your day out amid the fishing expedition. Fortunately, Piscifun brings you this sturdy Sword Fly fishing reel. It is a dependable piece that is worth taking with you the next time you go fly-fishing.
Built to Last a Lifetime
The solid Aluminum alloy builds couples with the cold-forged and tempered construction to make it strong and rigid enough to withstand rigorous use for ages. It is still lightweight enough not to strain or weigh you down. Additionally, this serious angling gear comes with a hard-anodized finish that not only protects it from corrosion, rust, and wears but also gives it striking sparkly looks. Expect a professional polish finish that gives it a premium look and makes people think about what you are doing is serious even when it is not.
The company achieves smooth immediate drag engagement using multi-disc cork and stainless steel drag system with one-way clutch bearing. To ensure a simple and straightforward retrieval process, and easy conversion from the left hand to the right hand, the makers, employed the mid-arbor design. Constructed by CNC machine, you cannot help but notice the large hollow design that makes it lightweight yet tough. The hollow design also allows free circulation of air and prevents heating of the reel when fishing under the hot sun.
Cost and Value
Many times cheap are expensive, but that is not the case with this fly reel. At an easily achievable price, the reel looks as good as it functions and offers real value for your money. You simply get what you pay for here.
Advanced Features: 98
2. Okuma SLV Diecast Aluminum Fly Reel
We are so inclined to sophisticated gear that we forget just how amazing it is to have such a simple primary fly reel. The Okuma Diecast Aluminum Fly Reel makes up in functionality where it lacks in looks. The game-changing fly-fishing equipment promises professional quality fly-fishing without compromising on comfort and affordability.
Simple and Convenient Design
Thanks to the solid cast aluminum frame and stainless steel washers, the fly reel will hold up to long-lived use and may outlive the fly rod itself. For comfort and a firm grip during use, you will find a non-slip positive grip rubber handle knobs. The manufacturer ensured no sharp burs or edges when finishing preventing any cuts, scratches, and accidents.
The Okuma SLV Diecast Aluminum Fly Reel relies on multi-disk cork and washer pinch bearing drag system that is adjustable to match your preference using a screw. It reels smoothly and changes noticeably when adjusted. It was also thoughtful of the makers to include a roller bearing and restrict the drag to engaging in a single direction. As you would wish, changing from left to right-hand retrieval is a breeze with the one-way bearing convenient design. What’s more, a precision-machined brass bushing drives system and spool shaft allow for silky-smooth drawing of the line and the best results.
Cost and Value
You cannot do better than the Okuma SLV Aluminum Fly reel if you are in the market for a simple pocket-friendly fly reel that delivers like the high-end unit that cost a ton. It is well worth every penny, making it a decent investment for any serious angler on a budget.
Advanced Features: 99
Who said that your gear should not look stylish when you decide to go fly-fishing? The Fiblink Fly Fishing Reel is a sleek looking machined unit that promises flawless functioning for decades. It is the perfect accessory for anglers looking to customize their fishing gear and significantly improve their fishing style.
Good Looking and User-Friendly
If good looks concern you, you ought to check this reel out; we are confident that you will like it as much as we do! Not just that, at about 5 Oz, you will hardly feel you have a reel at all thanks to its lightweight aluminum construction. The tough metallic construction is complemented with a resilient layer of the paint finish. This makes the reel defiant to rust, wear, moisture, chipping and assures long years of dedicated service.
The large arbor means faster action, increased retrieval rates, and more consistent drags. The manufacturer understands the different preferences on the market and includes a one-way bearing to aid in swift left-to-right hand retrieval switch. The reel features an advanced fiber composite drag system that ensures sufficient proper control to stretch the system to its sporting limit. Also, the spool is ventilated for proper aeration and prevents heating up when fishing under the scorching sun.
Cost and Value
This level of quality and functionality at a fraction of what the competition costs have surpassed many customers’ expectations. It is an excellent choice for the money with crisp and clean design and function. A decent bargain that is well worth the investment.
Advanced Features: 96
4. M MAXIMUMCATCH Maxcatch ECO Diecast Aluminum Fly Reel
If you are planning to go and explore the outdoors and spend the day fly-fishing, why not make the most out of your time with such a strong and stable piece. The Maxmatch ECO Diecast aluminum fly reel is from M MAXIMUMCATCH. It is no new design of reel on the water, but it features awesome attributes meant to maximize your catch and make your fly fishing expeditions much more comfortable and fun.
A rugged drag system will exert pressure on your catch and prevent big fish from running away with the line. Expect swift line retrieval courtesy of the large arbor. Like other top-rated products in its class, this one features a new way bearing that substantially eases the switch from left to right-hand retrieval. Also, there is a one-way clutch bearing on the drag system that ensures smooth drag engagement.
Solid and Convenient Build
You will not be replacing your reel any time soon with the CNC machined constructed Maxcatch ECO Diecast Aluminum Fly Reel. The aluminum construction makes it strong enough for the largest fish and highly durable without adding to its weight. The Teflon disc and drag systems are products of stainless steel meaning longevity and consistent performance. The ventilation of the spool not only adds to its lightweight but also allows air through and ensures cooling during hot days.
Cost and value
If you cannot live with a high budget, and most people cannot, this is a great option for you. At a fraction of what it’s premium competitors cost, this fly reel gives the big names in fishing a run for their money with stellar quality and convenient. Highly recommended.
Advanced Features: 96
5. Sougayilang Alloy Fly Fishing Reel
Nothing can wreck an angler’s good day worse than a knockoff fly reel. That is why you need this fine piece of engineering to accentuate and spice up your favorite pastime. The Sougayilang aluminum fly reel is another robust and high-quality unit that is created with budget shoppers in mind.
The manufacturer used CNC machined aluminum alloy making sure the entire unit can stand up to years of rough use and resist corrosion, rust, wear, and other destructive elements. The hard-anodized surface guarantees weather fastness, increased resistance to abrasion. The reel is also cold forged and tempered to enhance its strength and rigidity. You get nothing less than smooth immediate drag engagement, increased line retrieval rate with the large arbor.
A Pleasure to Use
In the hub, there is a finely machined and knurled metal screw cap that loosens the spool and makes changing from left to right-hand retrieval less of a task. A rotary knob makes it more convenient and simple to control the resistance of line release. Furthermore, a one-way roller bearing limits the drag system to only one desired direction. To give you the control you need to stretch the system to the sporting limit, there is a fiber-composite drag system. The fly-fishing accessory is designed for every type of freshwater fishing including trout, bass or painful.
Cost and Value
If you are working on a tight budget, then this fly reel should fit your bill just perfectly. Do not be deceived by the low price point; none of the pricey competitors can hold a candle to this reel. Inside the package, you will also find a free protection bag for convenient storage and transportation. It works as advertised and offers real value for your hard-earned cash.
Advanced Features: 94
6. Pflueger Automatic Fly Reel
We will not sit down and pretend that having such a well-constructed reel does not matter. Pflueger designed this fly-reel to set the standard for what the perfect fly-reel should be. It is a compact unit that works amazingly for farm pond and small stream fly-fishing.
Built to last
As you would expect, the frame and spool are made of aluminum alloy assuring a lifetime of severe abuse while keeping its weight on the low for more comfortable handling. You cannot do better than this stainless steel constructed main spring, foot, and line guard as far as longevity and a resistance to wear, rust, and elements go.
The automatic fly reel features a fully covered design that protects the inner parts from damage and contact with elements. Moreover, easy and convenient storage has been made possible by the mainspring release and fold down trigger design.
Cost and Value
The Pflueger Automatic Fly Reel is good quality fly reel on the cheap. The price is reasonable and within reach of the average angler, while the quality is unquestionable, making it a decent buy if you are conscious of your spending. The manufacturer promises free shipments to save you the extra cost.
Advanced Features: 93
7. Redington Zero Fly Reel
Redington may not be a big name in the fishing niche, but the Zero fly reel is still first-class and offers flawless reeling, satisfactory durability, and safety at a reasonable price. It is dependable for top quality, consistent performance, and suitable diverse types of fishing.
Convenient Unmachined Construction
This thing looks and feels solid. The company chose to go different with an unmachined unique diecast build that optimizes the durability, ease of use and gives it a deluxe appearance. This also makes it super lightweight at an unnoticeable weight of just 0.2 Oz. The spring-loaded clicker drag system is praised for its ability to withstand strong pulling from the most aggressive of fish.
Suited for your Needs
You will enjoy fluent functioning with the new durable clicker drag system this unit relies on. Do not be discouraged by the large size; the classically styled reel is the lightest reel out there and comfortable to use all day long. Expect swift retrieval and reduced line memory courtesy of the large arbor design. There is an easily accessible button for releasing the spool.
Cost and Value
You can spend a ton on a reel, but it will not work any better than the Redington Zero Fly Reel. It may not be the cheapest fly reel in our shortlist, but the satisfactory delivery and premier quality justify every extra dollar you pay.
Advanced Features: 93
8. White River Fly Shop Dogwood Canyon Disc Drag Fly Reel
It is time to stop complaining about poorly made equipment and get you the White River Fly reel for decades of dependable service. An incredibly strong and robust unit is known to give a price catch and lives a little to be desired.
A canyon disc drag system ensures adequate resistance to the strongest of pulls and withstands a reasonable duration of quality fly-fishing. At a backing capacity of 100yds/20lb, it has ample oomph for light to average fly-fishing. It is also worth mentioning that the rimmed, counterbalanced spools are solid and will not wobble or breaks after years of vigorous application.
Durable and Ergonomic
The all-metal construction screams longevity and defiance to elements. A neat finish not only gives it a superior look but also protects it from rust, wear, and chipping. It is crafted by a machining process that gives it a clean, smooth finish that making the reels a pleasure to use. Because of the ventilated design, you can enjoy fishing on hot summer days without worrying about the unit heating up.
Cost and value
Try as hard as you might; it is difficult to find this level of quality at this price. Despite the superior quality and splendid performance, his fly reel is pretty inexpensive, making it a great option for beginners and pros looking for a backup reel.
Advanced Features: 93
9. Cheeky Tyro Fly Reel
We wind up our countdown with another technological marvel from Cheeky Tyro. This is an upstanding, high caliber fly reel designed for entry-level to advanced anglers. You can never be too careful when to fly fishing that is why you need this robust fly reel to withstand rough use.
Robust Indestructible Body
Made from gunmetal, the CNC machined reel can take a severe beating and offer dedicated quality service for years. You will love the lightweight build that lets you fish all day long without feeling the strain in your hands. Weighing in at about 5Oz, the unit is tough enough to hold up to 20 Lbs. Of fish. Another practical feature is the ventilated design, which lets you fish on sunny days without heating the reel.
If you are after the very smoothest of reeling, this is your best bet. The Advanced Rev Carbon drag system is designed for smooth, trouble-free reeling. You will also want to note that quick-change spools ensure simple left to right and retrieval switch.
Cost and Value
If you are willing to splash out three-figures on a fishing reel, then the price is right for you. The good part is that you will enjoy the extra quality and additional features you will not find in ordinary low-priced fly reels.
Advanced Features: 90
10 AnglerDream Fly Reel
This fly reel can be used by left or right hand anglers. Spool as an easy release from the steel rod frame. There is also a one way bearing found in the center of the spool beneath the spring clip.
Excellent choice for the beginning angler
It has a weight-forward line, which assists with casting. Makes casting easier when going for the longer casts– even in windy environments!
Cost and Value
This fly reel is going to prove an excellent value. The price is not going to hurt wallet, and if you are buying something to suit a beginner, you will not have to spend a lot. You will love how simple this reel is to use.
Advanced Features: 89
Criteria for Rating
The material used and overall build quality of the reel will dictate the durability of the reel. Metallic reels are generally more long lasting than graphite reels. The reel to have should be coated and anodized or other metal finishing techniques. This protects the equipment from corrosion, rust, wear, and chipping.
The drag system should be robust and tough enough to exert pressure on your catch and prevent big fish from running away with the line
Look out for a fly reel whose weight matches your fly rod and fly line weight to balance your rod nicely. To confirm the size line the reel can handle, check the technical specification on the product page, and compare with the specification of your fly road to avoid any mistakes. You cannot imagine pairing a 3-wt fly rod meant for small fish with a 9-wt reel meant for large fish.
The weight of the reel speaks much about the comfort and ease of handling. By using a lightweight reel, your hands will not feel fatigued even after a long day of fishing. Also, confirm the overall line capacity or backing capacity of the reel. Open water and saltwater fishers, and anglers who go for long runs need reels with higher capacity to accommodate the long-running fish. More capacity means a longer line and makes the reel perfect for the big waters. Higher capacity fly reel, however, seems to be heavier and more tiresome to use and transport. Small capacity reels are best suited for small fish and learning anglers.
The size of the reel is annotated like 5/6. This indicates the size line the reel can hold. The two big circles on the fishing reel are called spools. They determine the overall size and line capacity of the reel.
The size of the arbor is also well worth considering. The arbor is an inner circular hub around which the reel rotates. Larger arbors are ideal for advanced anglers who go for large fish species and open water and saltwater fishing. This is because of the faster line retrieval, better-stopping power and minimal kinking, and the bird’s nest in the fishing line.
Large arbors will, however, be bulkier and more cumbersome to carry. If you are an entry-level angler or a veteran who prefers small fish and lightweight setups, go for a small arbor.
The fly reel you have in mind should feature a ventilated design if you intend to fish on hot days. Such reels have spools with holes, which allow free circulation of air and prevent heating when exposed to the scorching sun. This protects your line while also making the reel more lightweight. If you care about looks, you will also want a fly reel with a nice neat finish and attractive design to complement your sense of fashion.
Reels that feature an advanced fiber composite drag system offer sufficient proper control to stretch the system to its sporting limit. Moreover, the fully covered design will protect the inner parts from damage and contact with elements.
The type of drag system also determines the amount and size of fish you will catch. The drag system is responsible for the resistance of the spool and prevents the line from stripping away when the fish is taking the line. Disc drag systems are most advanced and provide better stopping and braking power, smooth reeling, and are more reliable for larger fish than click-and-pawl drag systems. Disc drag reels are mostly made of cork, carbon fiber, titanium, or ceramic among others.
If you are new to fly fishing or a seasoned fisherman on a budget, click-drag systems are cheaper yet effective. This type of drag system is more traditional and may not be as durable as a system that is more modern. Click-drag systems are also lighter than disc drag systems making them more comfortable to use and perfect for learners.
Additionally, fly reels can be manufactured either by machine or cast. Machined reels are made by cutting and carving out the reel from a solid metal block. Machined reels are preferred by most anglers for being more durable, lighter and mostly anodized, although they are pricier than cast reels. Diecasts reels are made by pouring molten metal into molds and letting it cool to form die-cast reels. In spite of being cheaper, die-cast reels are however less durable and can shatter if dropped. Some diecast reels can, however, be much lighter than machined units can.
Frequently Clean the Reel
Occasionally clean the reel to remove dirt and grime. Most reels have user manuals, which include instructions on how to clean. Check on your manual or search for instructional videos to assist you with the cleaning process. If sand or dirt gets inside, remove the spool and wash the spindle and drag mechanism as soon you notice it.
If you will be fishing in salty water, rinse the fly reel immediately after use using freshwater. This prevents rusting and corrosion. Avoid using pressurized water or soap as they may affect the finish and trigger corrosion.
If the price point does not matter to you, then settling for high-end fly reels is an excellent idea. They offer outstanding delivery and come with additional features you will not find with low priced products. Seasoned anglers who often fish and aim for large fish should consider pricier units with smoother reeling, better stopping and breaking the power and high-end bearing.
Nevertheless, just because you are short on cash doesn’t mean you should fish with knockoffs. Make sure what you take home offers the best value for your money. It should be the best combination of premier quality, satisfactory performance, and practical features.
Buying from companies like Reddington and Piscifun, which offer serviceable products at low costs, makes it convenient should you wish to replace a part of the reel or purchase extra spools. Such models are convenient if you intend to go fishing in saltwater since the parts will be more susceptible to corrosion and tear.
Consider free extra add-ons like storage bags and set up tools to save you the cost of purchasing them separately.
Ease of Use
It is advisable to settle for a reel that includes an instruction manual to guide you through set up, use, and maintenance. The reel should be easy to assemble and disassemble without demanding any special skills or tools.
Make sure what you invest on can easily be brought apart for easy cleaning to remove dirt and grime. The adjusting knob should be easy to access and comfortable to use as well.
Experienced anglers who will want to try out different types of fishing methods, locations, seasons, and fish variety should opt for a versatile accessory that can deliver in most situations. That is not all; the fly reel should be paired with the rod in the correct position. For example, right-handed anglers need a left-facing reel since they normally retrieve the line using the left hand and vice versa. If you or your dear one is left-handed, opt for a fly reel that can be used by both left and right-handed anglers to make it more versatile.
The ideal reel should be weather resistant and offer enough power and resistance for both large and small fish. Large capacity and longer line mean better results when dealing with long-running fish.
Ensure the drag system allows you to set it to your favorites for the best results across different situations and fish species. The adjustment knob should be easy to reach and comfortable to use to prevent fatigue and scratches and cuts during use.
We recommend drag systems that click when adjusted to notify you when the adjustments are changed to allow for better accuracy and precision.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What does start-up inertia mean?
A: The startup inertia of a fly reel is the resistance to movement from the moment the fish starts pulling and taking the line. This resistance prevents the reel from spinning at top speed. Startup inertia is used as a measure of determining how long it will take for the reel to be spinning smoothly at top speeds. Reels with low start-up inertia usually have low stopping power.
Q: How can I manually switch the hand retrieval of the reel?
A: Most reels can be used by both left and right-handed anglers. You only have to set it up in the right way. The reels are slightly different, and you will first have to check the user manual for any instructions on switching the hand retrieval. If there are none, you will need to disassemble the hub of the reel and identify the clutch bearing. Flip the clutch bearing over before reassembling the hub. For some reels, you will then need to switch sides with the thumb grip. A fly reel that comes with one-way bearing is much easier to switch between left and right-hand retrieval.
Q: Do I require more than one reel?
A: There is no single type of reel than can deliver in all situations. The type of fly-fishing gear depends on the type of fly you will use. On the other hand, the type of fly is determined by your location, season, and target species of fish, among others. More so, if you have more than one fly rod, you may also need extra reels. Most fly reels are limited to a narrow selection of a line. Find out what your target species are and research on the fly methods for the species before settling on your ultimate pick.
Many anglers opt for reels that are sold in bundles including the fly rod and fly line. Even so, reels are prone to complications and may break or develop a fault forcing you to find a replacement. Other seasoned anglers will want to customize their fly-fishing set up to their preference and elevate their fishing style, calling for a need for an additional fly reel.
Q: Do I need extra spools?
A: Beginners in fly-fishing will not require any extra spools. You should get familiar with using one particular spool before advancing to using multiple spools. If you are veteran in fly-fishing, the different types of lines should not sound alien to you. While some rod and reel setup is intended for only one weight of a line, an experienced angler may want to switch between floating lines and sinking line. Others will want to change out amid the fishing process from weight forward to a level line. This calls for additional spools to make the process much easier.
Q: Is there a difference between saltwater and freshwater reel?
A: There is very little difference between saltwater and freshwater reels. Seawater is more corrosive to metals and requires reels with corrosion-resistant parts. Some manufacturers make reels that have corrosion-resistant parts and are well suited for both salt and freshwater. Saltwater reels have larger arbors with faster retrieval rates, more braking power, and more line to handle bigger fish.
- Outdoorcanada.ca, Everything you wanted to know about fly reels but were afraid to ask
- More Than You Want to Know About Fly Reels – Bighorn Trout Shop
- Part III: The Basics of Fly Reels – Temple Fork Outfitters
- How to Choose a Fly Reel | Backcountry.com
- How Does A Fly Reel Drag Work-You Should Know – Fly Fishing