Top 8 Best Fly Fishing Reels Reviews 2020

The need for a good fly fishing rod by itself, to overlook the gear, is a debunked notion. At the end of the day what makes a decent get-up is the gear and the main tool. So for sake of all who want to do good by themselves and the fishing community: put your priority in high caliber gear.

For today’s expression of that statement, we’ll be looking at the Best Fly Fishing Reels, and what makes an ideal reel. Now, there are plenty of options out there, but this list will be taking a hard look at what improves your fly fishing rod, and moreover, the way you fish.

As always, we’ll be taking a look at the essential features of our reviewing topic and approaches to better search for your perfect match. So, without further ado, here are the Top 8 Best Fly Fishing Reels for 2020, beginning with a How-To-Buy guide.

How to Choose the Best Fly Fishing Reel

Best Fly Fishing Reels

1. Matching Weights

When you’re buying a reel to match your rod you want to ensure both pieces weigh roughly the same. This provides a way for your gear to be suited towards your style of fishing. Beyond this, you will want to make sure that your fishing stays comfortable, so pick a pairing that doesn’t strain your hand, wrist, or back.

2. Start Up Inertia

This is the amount of resistance against your reel, from the point your line is taken, until the fish has pulled it out some distance. Essentially, this is like a pre-stage drag system, giving you better control over your catch, preventing broken line, and being tossed about. This is a key trait for a fly fishing reel and you want to make sure your Start Up Inertia isn’t too low or you won’t have enough stopping power.

3. Drag System

You want a balanced Drag System. Not one that is too low or high, as this will cause your line to break, or your fish to get too far ahead of you.

In gist, a proper drag system will put pressure on the fish, the line, and the reel. This is a means by which to land the catch you’ve been waiting for, and if you have too much or too little drag, it can mean a bad day on the water.

4. Weather Resistance

Your reel will become wet, resulting in rust. To prevent this, look for non-corrosive metal based fly fishing reels, anything that will defend against the great, wet outdoors.

8 Best Fly Fishing Reels for 2020

Orvis Mirage USA Review
9.1 oz
Orvis Clearwater Large Arbor Review
5.5 oz
Ross Evolution LT Fly Reel Review
4.2 oz
Goture Fly Fishing Reel ALC Review
Orvis Hydros SI Fly Reel Review
7.4 oz
Redington Rise Review
5.7 oz
Douglas Argus Rex Review
4.2 oz
Hardy Duchess Review
3.1 oz

1. Orvis Mirage USA

Orvis Mirage USA Fly Reel Review

Here is another Orvis that is one of the best out there. For starters, don’t let the weight throw you off, coming in at 9.1 ounces it’s a heavy one, but quite strong. This reel is all about smooth adjustments and facing aggressive fish. Unlike some of the reels on this list that devote more points to weight and speed, the Orvis is an excellent bet for defense against gear-injury and larger angry fish.

The drag is single turn, so there’s some adaptability lost here, still the drag system is more than reliable and powerful. Before moving onto spools, it’s common knowledge among fishing enthusiasts that Orvis makes wonderful spools.

The retrieval rate is great, with 9.9” inch per turn, and comes with a good amount of backing capacity on top if all the that. Along with this, the design is ideal, smooth and polished. The handle is also nice and comfy.


  • Strength
  • Strong arbor
  • Good design


  • Pricey

2. Orvis Clearwater Large Arbor

Orvis Clearwater Large Arbor Review

Considered one of the better and more well known reel brands out there, Orvis tends to remain consistent, and the Clearwater is again no exception. The reel arbor is cast aluminum which keeps it light and withstandable to abuse.

The drag system is a positive-click drag knob – oh and this great device also includes left-hand and right-hand retrieves. In general, this is a versatile piece of equipment. Not only is this reel strong and lightweight, but like many of the reels on this list, is highly affordable. The gear also includes left and right hand adjustments for the ambidextrous or those of us that require a left hand set-up.

Now to consider possible cons. With a reel like this it’s difficult to find many disadvantages. The overall build will last you many fishing trips. The capabilities are also pretty off the charts. So what tends to be the issue with high quality reels like this? In this case, it’s cost. Now, considering how well made of a reel this is, the cost is definitely fair. But for some anglers that need to watch their budget, this one might exceed your expense limit.


  • Affordable for its high-quality
  • Lightweight
  • Versatile and balanced


  • Not many cons to list, but some will find it exceeds their price range

3. Ross Evolution LT Fly Reel


Ross Evolution LT Fly Reel Review

Ross Evolution LT is one of the lightest fly reels out there and just looks amazing. Sometimes you might be looking for a beautiful fast reel. If you are, the LT is a great place to start. Ross has put a lot of effort into this little device, making sure to polish the edges, and cut out the sound. This is one of the quietest reels to use out there.

In general the LT is a reel that looks great, feels great, and even sounds above the league. The only real issues with this piece of gear lies in the drag, which is much weaker than its competitors. One other aspect of the Evolution LT that is interesting is the shear quietness of the reel. Compared to its peers the LT is virtually soundless.

The LT is an exception of sorts. The manufactures have dedicated their attention to the Evolution’s appearance, feel, and expression. Not to say these are the only factors that matter, but end up setting this reel apart from the rest in particular categories. If anything, the main con has to be the LT’s drag system, which just doesn’t add up to the other reels on this list.


  • Very quiet
  • Pretty design


  • Poor drag (comparatively)

4. Goture Fly Fishing Reel ALC

Goture Fly Fishing Reel Review

Let’s dive into this great Goture fly reel. First off, the arbor is an excellent size – also comes with dual sealed cartridge bearings. The reel is a good deal coming in at one of the cheaper options for its level of quality. The bead blasted aluminum, machined CNC frame for the arbor, and great bearings make for a reel that will last any angler for a while.

This is one of those fly reels that’s perfect for beginners who might worry about banging up their gear every now and then. A beginner reel tends to be put into a special category. Beginning anglers need a reel that is intuitive to use and doesn’t wear out too quickly. In the case of the Goture ALC, there is a lot of evidence that this reel is well suited for someone who wants to get into the game.

The point listed above is one of the better aspects of the ALC but also acts as a con. For anyone else who is well-experienced buying and using this gear, look towards a reel with more versatility, left and right hand compatibility, and an adjustable crank ratio that allows you to suit your skill to your game.


  • Cost effective
  • Very strong design


  • Not a terribly versatile reel, best for beginners

5. Orvis Hydros SI Fly Reel

Orvis Hydros SL Fly Reel Review

This reel is powerful. It’s one thing to have a lightweight and quick slinging reel, but to have one that is a low weight and packs a punch is another. This Orvis weighs in at 7.7 ounces and still rocks a great drag system, loading in 14 pounds of drag at the top end. The spool and retrieval rate is also strong, outranking most of its peers, with a retrieve of over 10’’ per turn.

On top of all this the reel is ergonomically solid. The design is both comfortable and pleasing to the eye. Ergonomics should not be overlooked. A reel that is poorly designed with cause hand cramps impede your fishing game quite a bit. The Hydros SI does a great job of ensuring that you will be able to fish for long hours without getting too sore.

The one con, and this is an important one to look at, is the question of durability. With the SI there are some issues that may occur over time. If you are a recreational fisher who needs a high-quality fly reel for the weekends, or a couple trips a year, this is still a safe bet. But, if you happen to fish constantly, this might not be the right choice for you.


  • Super strong
  • Affordable
  • Powerful drag system


  • Some durability issues over time

6. Redington Rise

Redington RISE Fly Fishing Reel Review

Redington has been making reliable and cost-effective reels for a while now and the Redington Rise is no exception. The Rise comes in at 5 ounces and yet, don’t let the weight throw you off, this reel is strong and sturdy. With a die-cast spool and aluminum frame, the Rise is another example of a reel that will last you.

In general, there happen to be a few key traits of any product that you choose to buy, and one of the priority traits is longevity. Can the thing you want to use last? In the case of this Redington the answer is yes.

Now, the Redington is durable but falls short in one category: drag wear. Overtime, you may see damage to your drag system. This isn’t extremely common with the Rise, but you should always weigh out the potential issues with any piece of gear that you buy.


  • Lifetime warranty
  • Light weight
  • Affordable


  • Drag is prone to some wear

7. Douglas Argus Rex

Douglas Argus Fly Reel Review

Here’s an example of another great Douglas brand piece of gear. The Argus Rex turns out to be one of those rare examples of high-quality and affordability. One defining aspect of the Argus Rex is its durability. It’s comes in at 8 ounces, still the build is solid, likely to last you quite a long time.

Supposedly meant to fish on salmon runs, this is a reel that is capable of taking some abuse. The Rex comes with an Arbor that is large enough to support plenty of line, comes with an over-molded handle that is both comfy and fitting to most rod styles, and a click-drag system that is reliable as ever.

The only con that stands out is the design. Now, most anglers won’t be looking for gear as eye-candy, still, the appearance can be misleading. Instead of viewing it as a con, think of this trait as an opportunity to ask yourself: how much do I can about the looks of my reel?


  • Durable and long lasting
  • Affordable
  • Comfortable handle


  • A simple, somewhat unattractive design

8. Hardy Duchess

Hardy Duchess Fly Reel Review

The Duchess is a good example of a well built fly reel. Made of high-quality aluminum – which can succumb to corrosion, but is rust proof. Alongside this, the arbor is an ideal size, and comes with a comfortable wooden handle.

Every reel on this list will help you learn the characteristics that match your needs. The Duchess does a great job with its drag system and overall construction. These are two qualities that are high on the priority list for most anglers. Determine for yourself if this proves true.

Onto the drag system, which explains the Duchess’ high price. The click and pawl drag system is straightforward for sure, yet stands out as a reliable and durable system. Added to this is the adjustable knob on the outside of the frame which allows you to clamp the gears down on the fish causing you resistance.


  • Lifetime durability
  • Low weight
  • Strong/Reliable drag system


  • Pricey
  • Smaller line capacity

How to Set Up a Fly Fishing Reel

Fly Fishing Reel FAQs

Q: What are the types of retrieval systems for fly reels?

A: You have single, multiple, and automatic retrieval mechanisms. The single is by far the most common and is primarily used for freshwater fishing.

A multiplying retrieval enables for, you guessed it, a multiplying effect on the reel handle, counting for many times the turns for just one crank. This process brings in the line faster.

Finally, an automatic retrieval mechanism, suprise suprise, automatically retrieves the line for you.

Q: How do I maintain a fly fishing reel? I.e. keep it

A: Keep these three parts maintenanced:

  • Frame/spool material
  • Drag
  • Other moving parts, (remember, parts that move in a reel are probably going to require maintenance).
  • Deep clean your reel after fishing in harsh conditions.
  • Back off drag pressure before storing reel.

Q: What characterizes a saltwater fly fishing reel?

A: Saltwater fly reels tend to have larger arbors, having a wider diameter spool than most freshwater fly reels. Usually the build is made of aluminum and non corrosive materials as well.


A good fly reel should be reliable to you. Anytime you get your wallet out to buy new gear, you need to way what matches your style, your budget, and your long-term needs.

Going through the list ask yourself: what am I looking for? What traits make a good fly fishing reel? Once you’ve reduced your buying filter to just what you need, take your gear, your rod, and happy fishing!


One Response

  1. Jack November 23, 2019

Leave a Reply