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 2019, beginning with a How-To-Buy guide.
How to Choose the Best Fly Fishing Reel
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 2019
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.
- Strong arbor
- Good design
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.
- Affordable for its high-quality
- Versatile and balanced
- Not many cons to list, but some will find it exceeds their price range
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.
- Very quiet
- Pretty design
- Poor drag (comparatively)
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.
- Cost effective
- Very strong design
- Not a terribly versatile reel, best for beginners
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.
- Super strong
- Powerful drag system
- Some durability issues over time
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.
- Lifetime warranty
- Light weight
- Drag is prone to some wear
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.
- Durable and long lasting
- Comfortable handle
- A simple, somewhat unattractive design
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.
- Lifetime durability
- Low weight
- Strong/Reliable drag system
- 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
- 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!