Fishing is a great American pastime. In addition to being a great way to spend time outdoors, it may just provide you with lunch or dinner (in those areas that can sustain subsistence fishing). This is probably why fishing is one of the most popular outdoor recreational activities in America .
The key to a successful fishing trip is having the right equipment. Without the right flies, lines, rods and reels, it can be all but impossible to bring hook into that big one.
Let’s take a closer look at 10 of the best fly fishing reels on the market (for the price). This guide will help you choose the perfect one for your next fishing trip.
What to Look for In a Reel
Before we start looking at specific fly fishing reels, it’s important to know what qualities to look for in general. This will help you determine which reels meet your specific needs.
The Reel Itself
First, it’s important to choose a reel that is well-constructed and made out of a sturdy material. We recommend buying your reel new, rather than from a yard sale or thrift store, to avoid problems like internal damage or rust.
Working with Your Rod
Second, the reel has to work well with the rod you’ve chosen. If you’re a beginner, you may want to choose a bundle where the rod, reel, and line all come together. This way, you’ll know that all the equipment is compatible.
For a more customized experience, though, you’ll have to buy them separately. When doing this, make sure that the weights of the rod and the reel work well together, and feel balanced to you.
Also, be careful to choose a reel that works with your dominant hand. If you cast right-handed, you’ll want a left-facing reel, and vice-versa.
Meeting Your Needs
Finally, it’s important to consider your personal needs as a fisher before looking at fly fishing reels. For instance, do you plan on fishing mostly in salt water or fresh water? Different reels work better in different environments.
Additionally, how often do you plan on fishing? If you’re a casual fisherman, you can go for a more budget-friendly option. By contrast, someone who fishes regularly should choose a sturdier reel that will hold up longer.
Ten of Our Favorite Reels
Once you’ve thought through your needs and preferences, you can start shopping around for different reels. To help you narrow down your search, take a look at ten of our favorites.
Lamson Guru 3.5 Fly Reel
When it comes to purchasing fishing equipment, the costs can add up fast. In fact, estimates indicate that fishing in America generates close to $48 billion in retail sales annually.
But purchasing a fly fishing reel doesn’t have to break the bank. We love the Lamson Guru 3.5 because it’s a great value for the money.
This reel is constructed with a sturdy steel seat and features good drag for a reel at this price. Because of its affordability, it doesn’t have as many bells and whistles as more expensive reels, making it a good option for beginners.
Scientific Anglers Ampere Voltage V Fly Reel-Black Nickel
This sturdy reel is made from aircraft grade aluminum and features a large arbor. Also, the drag surface is sealed, making it a good choice for both fresh and saltwater.
The drag system uses a combination of stainless steel and carbon fiber washers. This makes it easy to set drag, and also makes this reel a good choice for going after big fish.
Wright and McGill Dragon Fly Reel
This lightweight reel is a great choice for fishermen who want something simple, yet effective. This reel features great drag performance, as well as an elegant design.
Okuma Helios Machined Aluminum
The Okuma Helios is another solid aluminum reel. This one typically comes with a 5-year warranty, which shows that the manufacturer has confidence in the product. One of our favorite features of this reel is that it is aluminum throughout, rather than including plastic parts.
Saltwater fishers have some unique needs. They need a reel that can stand up to brackish water, and that can carry at least 150 yards of line. The Hardy Fortuna is a great saltwater reel for these reasons.
For one, this rod is sealed, which prevents the gears from getting corroded or jammed. Additionally, the multi-disc carbon braking system gives it great drag for bringing in large saltwater fish.
Ross Evolution LT 2
For those looking for a lightweight reel, we recommend the Ross Evolution. This rod is made of aluminum, allowing it to be light without sacrificing durability. It also has very little friction, which makes it great for going after big fish.
Orvis Access Mid Arbor
This is another option for an aluminum reel. If you don’t need as much line, the mid-size arbor of this reel can be a good option. This allows you to still get good retrieval without a bulky reel.
Galvan Torque 5
The large arbor on this reel makes it a good choice for fresh water and salt water. Also, while this reel is heavier, it has the strength to back it up. If you’re looking for a heavy-duty reel that can hold up to different weather conditions, this is the one for you.
One great feature of this reel is that it has a numbered system which makes it easy to set the drag. It can also easily convert from left-handed to right-handed.
Orvis Mirage III
If buying American is important to you, then you should consider the Orvis. This reel is made of a mix of aluminum and titanium and requires very little maintenance. The smooth drag on this reel makes it a particularly good choice for trout fishing.
If you’re looking for a higher-end reel that won’t break the bank, we recommend the Redington RISE. This reel has a large arbor allowing for plenty of line, but it is still lightweight.
Finding the Right Fly Fishing Reel for Yourself
At the end of the day, certain fly fishing reels aren’t necessarily better than others. Rather, it’s a matter of knowing your own needs and preferences, and choosing the reel that works best for you.
Which fly fishing reels are your favorites?
Let us know in the comments!