Fly Fishing Reels

Fly Reels: A Complete Buyer’s Guide

A fly fishing setup cannot be complete without its fishing reels. Good quality fly reels are an integral part of Fly fishing. The right fishing reel can make a great difference in your fishing experience. Buying these reels can sometimes be difficult and confusing though, especially for a beginner. So here is a guide to help you make the decision.


The reel size you select must depend on the backing and fly line amount a fly reel can hold. The normal fly line’s length is 90” while the diameter depends on its weight. This means that an 8 weight fly line can take up more space as compared to a 4-weight line.


In a fly fishing reel, there are a few different types of drag systems but the most common ones are:

  • Click and pawl system – used in traditional fly reels. These are considered best for fishing with light tippets
  • Disc-drag system – used in advanced reels. These are considered best when you are fishing for large fish likes salmon, steelhead etc.

Regardless of the drag system used, it’s important to know how to adjust the drag correctly. This short video explains what can happen when you don’t pay attention to the drag system setup:



There are several materials from which fishing reels are made from. Today, machined aluminum is usually used to make reels. The material ensures a beautifully sculptured and smooth reel. These are considered as the best quality fly reels.

Proper Match

Once you have narrowed down your fly reel search, the last step is ensuring your fly reel matches your fly rod and fly line. For example, if you are using a 6-weight fly rod then you must buy the fly reel suitable for that 6-weight rod as well as the fly line. The easiest thing to do is to keep in mind that you just have to match the numbers on fly line, fly reel and fly rod.

Some Recommendations

Following are some recommendations that will help you in selecting the perfect fly reel:

Pflueger Trion Fly Reels

Pflueger Trion Fly Reels

    • Water resistant fly reels are a much better buy as they will not get damaged by getting wet.
    • The drag system more suitable for general purposes is disc-drag. Go for the disc-drag fly reel when going for a typical fishing trip.
    • A spare spool bought with your fishing reel will come in handy, as usually by the time a fishermen has to change the spool, that particular spool model is not available. This happens because fishing reels get updates frequently and the spare parts for older ones are gradually replaced by spare parts for new models.
    • Before buying a fly reel, ensure that fly reel weight and line are compatible otherwise you will face problems with the reel.
    • Avoid buying fly fishing reels that are cheaper than $30 as the quality of those reels is not good. The drag system of such fishing reels is unbalanced and uneven. Instead, spend more than $30 and your fishing reel will last for a pretty long time.


Quality Fly Reels You Should Check

There are many different fly reels available but if you’re looking for a highest quality reel, you may want to check the Hardy Ultralight DD Series reels as they are a top choice amongst many fly fishing veterans.  The Ultralite DD features lightweight design that is supremely practical plus, it is aesthetically stunning.

There’s also an extra spare spool you can get for your Hardy Ultralight DD in case you need a backup spol – or more practially, use a different kind of line on a second one. There is a good video on the made by Hardy that gives a good preview on how these fly fishing reels look like so you may want to check it.

In case you are looking for a bit less expensive, but still very good quality fly reel, you should definitely check Lamson Konic fly reel which is US-made too, plus it is a 100% saltwater safe reel.

Less Expensive Fly Reels

If you are on the budget, our recommendation would be to look at Okuma SLV Diecast Aluminum Fly Reel which is a very decent and positively rated fly reel with multi-disk cork. stainless steel drag washers and roller bearing allowing the drag to engage in one direction only. Alternatively, Okuma  Sierra Diecast can be a good choice if you’re looking for a starter reel at a reasonable price.

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