Top 10 Best Fly Fishing Reel (2019) Reviews & Buyer’s Guide
- Simon Michel
Buying a fly rod seems like an important task for most people, but I have a different opinion. I grew up in a fishing village, and my folks taught me a lot about catching fish, using the right gears. Whether it is a leisurely activity for you or you plan to do it professionally, using the right gear is always important. To get a great catch, the fisherman has to ensure that all other gear are of top-quality and go well with the fly road. How else can you catch a trophy size giant trout and impress your friends?
I am talking about the fly fishing reel. If you are a novice, it would be difficult for you to know the technicalities of choosing the best fly fishing reel. The good news is that the Fisher Reel team took out the time and put in all the efforts to write this review.
Here's a complete review just for the readers and we have made it even more interesting and informative by adding a buying guide. Let us start with the buying guide and then proceed towards the product that I have hand-picked for you.
What You Will Get Here
- Why Use Fly Fishing Reels
- How Did We Pick These Products?
- Things to Consider When Buying a Fly Reel
- Our Top 10 Best Fly Fishing Reels
- Our Top Choice: Piscifun Sword CNC-Machined Aluminum Alloy Body
- Top 5wt Choice: Redington Behemoth Fly Reel
- For Beginners: Piscifun Sword
- Top Steelhead Choice: Redington Rise
- Top Saltwater Fly Choice: Piscifun Platte
- Top Trout Fly Reel: Waterworks: Guru 2 Open Reel
- Our Budget Choice: Piscifun Blaze Fly Fishing Reel
- A List of 3 Other Products We Reviewed
- Fly Reel Cleaning Tips
Why Use Fly Fishing Reels
Once you choose a fly fishing rod, consider investing in a fly fishing reel. These are not just the equipment used for fishing, but they are designed in such a way so that they work reliably. There may be too many amateurs who would tell you that you do not need to waste money on a reel. With 12 years of personal experience, I can tell you that it's as important as the rod.
The heavier the rod is, the more strength your arms need. Your arms will be doing major work by holding the rod. If you wish to save strength, the rods need to be lighter. In order to match the reels with the rod, it should be lighter. Checking the weight of the fly rod and then choosing a reel which balances the weight will be the right way to go about it.
The question - why do we use fly fishing reels instead of other fishing reel types? The answer is simple!
- A reel is a place where the fisherman/angler can store the line.
- A poor quality or cheap reel will show its true colors when it comes to catching a fish. You will lose the fish as they are fast and heavy enough to make their way out of the reel. The drag should have enough power to capture the target fish.
- You need a quality product which will last longer and stay durable even when you use it in saltwater.
- Choose a reliable reel so you get a strong, smooth and sensitive drag.
In short, it helps you to fight bigger fish. You do not expect to get an excellent catch without a good quality reel. The majority of them are expensive but there's a very good reason behind this. The bigger your prey, the better quality your reel should be. It is an indispensable part of the fishing gear and using it will help you catch the heaviest or the fighting fishes.
Another question that pops up in your mind - How did we select these products for you? The question is reasonable and I shall answer that in the next section.
How Did We Pick These Products?
Novices tend to make buying mistakes which is fairly common. Before I started writing this buying guide, I did extensive research. Of course, personal experience has been fruitful for me. Growing up in a fishing village is an advantage because you know about the latest trends in this industry. We have rich and poor fishermen, but they all know the importance of the right fishing gear.
To find out about the most reliable products, I interviewed many anglers and also those who do fishing as a leisurely activity. Most of the products listed in the product review section are being used by me and my family.
We have been using these products for years and we have deep knowledge on this subject. Secondly, my team checked the reviews of each product and they chose the most trusted products in the market.
Investing in a fly reel is a big decision and my suggestion to you would be NOT to buy it without proper research. After doing extensive research online and speaking to the existing buyers, we have created a list of the top 10 products in the market. They have excellent reviews on Amazon and even the professional anglers have given a thumbs up to the product selected by me and my team.
Things to Consider When Buying a Fly Reel
Before you attempt to buy one, it is important to check this section for better understanding. You will find many buying guides which try to force-feed you knowledge which is not required. They straight get to the point by showing you the product that they have chosen. How do you know your chocie has all the features that a good reel must possess? Here are the factors that you must consider.
1. Your Experience and Location
Where are you going fishing? Fishing in a lazy river will be different from fishing in a high current or tide location. In case you are going out for fishing in an ocean, you would need a sealed reel which stays protected in dangerous waters. It should be sealed to keep the interior components safe from the saltwater.
Also, your reel should not get damaged by saltwater. It must be made of high-quality materials and will keep the gear safe from saltwater. In case you are fishing in cold and icy conditions, consider a cold-resistant reel.
Another factor you must consider is how experienced you are. Different fishermen handle the same reel differently, and if you are a professional then you need an excellent choice. Naturally, a fly fishing reel for beginners will be different from the professional ones.
2. Construction and Material
In the construction aspect, you will find three categories - the cheap, good and the better.
The Cheap Ones - Most of them are made with a process known as a metal stamping. These are economical options that a beginner can invest in. These are typically heavier and the durability is not promising. The cheaper products offer less durability and getting a good catch is difficult with this variant.
The Good Ones - Die-cast manufacturing is the process used for making top-class reels. The poured molten metal on a pre-formed metal is the process through which this reel is made. I would suggest you buy a die-cast reel and not the cheap ones that are created by the process of metal stamping.
The Better Ones - These are created by machined metal. This is basically technological excellent as the computers direct the machine to create these high-quality reels. The difference between the better and the good ones is just this that the die-cast ones (good ones) are not anodized. They can corrode easily, but the top ones are par excellence!
3. Weight & Spool Size
Fishing could become a tiring task. If you are using a rod which is heavy in nature, your reel must balance the weight. Most of the flying fish enthusiasts would buy a reel which is light to reduce the fatigue.
The key is to match the reel's weight with the existing rod. It should be well-balanced. It would be a mistake to use a super light reel on a heavy rod. In case you are using a five weight line, make sure your choice is 4 weight for better performance. A 4-6 weight rod is ideal for small bass or a large trout.
If you want to catch bigger bass, salmon or bonefish, then a 7-8 weight rod will be required.
4. Retrieval System
Although this does not have a lot of importance, the buyer should know about the retrieval system. This basically means as to how fast the reel retrieves the line. There are three types - the single action, the multiplying, and the automatic system.
5. Arbor Size
There is a standard, mid-size and large arbor design. Traditional fishermen use the standard size arbor. This is not as commonly used by fishing enthusiasts. It has a narrow frame and the rate of retrieval is not praise-worthy. The broad mid-arbor design is better than the former one and has a broader frame. It has an excellent backing capacity. The father of arbor design is the large size one. These are larger and super lightweight. When it comes to great backing and a faster rate of retrieval, this is the size you need to go for.
6. Drag System
If you're able to manage a great reel, you would get a smooth and buttery drag. Do make sure that the drag system is sealed because in saltwater conditions, the drag can get damaged and would require constant cleaning. A cheap option may not have a great drag system like a high-quality one. What does the drag system do? It helps you to fight the bigger fishes. Now you know the purpose of drag! This is the most important feature.
When we talk about the drag system, there are different types.
- Spring and Pawl - The line gets pulled out smoothly. However, it does not work well for bigger fishes.
- Disc - This is ideal for large-fish fishing situations. It exerts hard yet smooth pressure on your fly line.
The reel should be lighter than the rod. Technically, invest in a device which balances out the weight and does not cause a lot of fatigue. Avoid buying a heavy-weight reel.
8. Target Species
Different fish species have different tendencies and behaviors. Some are fast, some are smarter than you think, and some can fight till you drop. Take the example of a trout, which is available in deeper waters. The fisherman would require a reel which has a smooth drag and easily collects the line, and he should spool it perfectly to get a big catch.
9. Value for the Money
Most of the anglers and amateurs will tell you about how you should buy an affordable product. A cheap product does not have to be of the poorest quality. If you are a beginner, you may invest in a cheap reel. As you move forward, getting a reliable product becomes a necessity. Investing in an excellent reel with a smooth drag would do the trick. Just keep the features in your mind before investing as that is always a wise thing to do.
The products mentioned in the list are for different sets of people. There is an option for beginners, an option for those who wish to fish in saltwater and more.
Our Top 10 Best Fly Fishing Reels
The first step is to read the 'things to consider' section thoroughly. Reading the reviews is not going to make sense without having the knowledge of the features and basic factors for making a good buying decision. Take a look at the products and compare each one of them to select one for a memorable angling experience.
Piscifun Sword is CNC machined and has a silky smooth drag system. If the whole idea is to catch a bigger fish, then this equipment has the ability to do so. The construction is of 6061-TK aluminum alloy and has an anodized finishing. The real highlight of the product is the lightweight design.
For easy grip, there is a knurled handle which allows you to hold it with ease without causing any fatigue. The product is high-quality and durable. Speaking of durability, this CNC machined choice is built for lasting for years. Whenever in doubt, the customer will get a 3-year warranty. The brand believes in building trust and they offer you a 3-year warranty which covers all the damages. Since it is hard anodized, the product is resistant to corrosion. It has been tempered and cold forged for rigidity and extra strength.
It is is available in four colors and you can also choose from four weight options. Choose the one according to your need and the ideal weight that balances out the weight. Let us take a look at the product specifications, pros and cons before making a choice.
- CNC machined
- Pure 6061-T6 Aluminum alloy
- 4 colors – Available
- Available sizes – 3/4 wt, 5/6 wt, 7/8 wt, and 9/10 wt
- Drag – Butter Smooth
- Knurled Handle – Easy grip
Buyers have used this product for salmon and trout fishing. Performance wise, the product did extremely well. There were some reviewers who believed that this worked mainly for trout and not for the bigger species. Go a size up in case you have a longer rod. Overall, this choice is praise-worthy and comes with a 3-year warranty. When choosing such a reel add for your rod, consider checking the drag system and the constructions. In case of defects or technical issues, you can get it exchanged or repaired. Since the product is corrosion-resistant and is CNC machined, it tops the list of most of the existing buyers.
Redington Behemoth's main selling point is its drag system. It is powerful and works supremely well. When we talk about the drag system, it is not just about stopping your catch. As for the Redington Behemoth, the drag is solid and chases the prey efficiently. The brand has offered a 30-pound drag which allows you to chase and catch your prey easily. Secondly, it has an oversized knob which allows you to adjust easily and with the right set-up process, you will enjoy pleasant fishing experience.
The product has a die-cast construction which falls under the 'good' category. A product can be either in the die-cast or CNC machined category and this one falls in the former category. The maker of the product has tried to create it with a different perspective. He created the product in die-cast construction but wished to break the notion of 'die-cast construction is poorly engineered and cheap.' The product is built for durability and does not fit in the 'poor quality' die-cast construction category.
Consider washing it after every use because the drag system has no seal on it. The arbor design is large which reduces line memory and speeds the retrieve. The icing on the cake is that this 5wt reel is pocket-friendly. You do not have to shell out a lot of money to buy this excellent product. Of course, it has some negative pointers which we shall mention in the cons section.
- Die-cast construction
- 30 lb drag
- CarbonFiber drag
- Oversized drag knob
Do note that the drag system has not been sealed. You would need to wash and rinse it after every use. Overall, the product is good but there are two negative aspects which can be considered for improvement by the brand.
The drag knob has a startup tension and some reviewers found that the product is heavy. Other than these negative aspects, there are many positives such as the excellent and smooth drag as it picks up line easily and quickly. Would we recommend this product? Absolutely! It is affordable and most reviewers and existing users were elated with the overall performance.
Looking for the finest entry-level option? Piscifun is certainly the right brand to opt for. If you are a beginner, you would want to invest in a product which is affordable and does the job of chasing and catching a fish easily. As a beginner, you do not have high hopes but want a good start. The Piscifun Sword has a smooth drag system and allows you to catch the target without any hassle. The product is solid but is super lightweight, which does not tire you out.
Four reel sizes are available on the market, which means the buyer can choose the ideal size for their rod. The line capacity is spot-on with the mid-arbor design. There is another reason for its superlative line capacity and it is the concavely shaped spool.
The highlight is the construction as it offers corrosion resistance. Maintaining the product is easy and it also resistant to abrasion. We personally love the three-year warranty which covers the damages and any manufacturing defects. Consider buying this product for a smooth drag system and also, the brand is trusted by many existing buyers. Not to forget that Piscifun makes quality entry-level reels to help you understand the fly fishing setup easily.
- 2 color options
- Mid-arbor design
- Hard anodized
- Knurled handle
Piscifun is known for making excellent fishing equipment. This is worth the price you pay for it. Let us not forget that it is lightweight and comes with a three-year warranty. Majority of the Piscifun products offer corrosion resistance and smooth drag. These are the two shining features which help you to make a quick decision.
Say hello to the most beautiful choice on our list. This is the golden fly reel which is CNC machined. Undoubtedly it is the most striking product in the market but performance wise, it does live up to its promise. It has an ultra-large size arbor and even the drag knob is large. You can easily adjust with a larger drag knob.
The quick release spool is another highlight of the product. Available in four colors, the product has received praise and applause by the existing users. The question is - Does it work well? The drag is buttery smooth which is one of the selling points of the product. As soon as you take it out of the box, the drag will be consistent and smooth. This is what you would want from a good steelhead fly reel.
The selling features include CNC machined and it looks like it has been built with a lot of care. The open design makes it lightweight and does not cause fatigue. The drag is not fully sealed, which would require you to take better care of it.
The rear knob works fine but makes an audible sound which is familiar to a clicking sound. Overall, this is a great steelhead choice on the market as per our research and personal experiences of users.
- Oversized knob
- Color – Amber
- 4 colors available
- Drag – Carbon Fiber
- Reel Pouch included – Yes
- CNC machined
- 6061 T6 aluminum
If the brand improves the brake adjustment and spool then this product has the capability of being on top. It is a good purchase especially when it comes with features like CNC machined, anodized, color option, smooth drag, and large arbor size. Also, the clicking sound made by the knob is bearable but can be worked upon. We will give it a thumbs up!
Piscifun is known for making entry-level reels. If you are just getting started as an angler and want a great saltwater reel then this is the right catch. Firstly, Piscifun is the most trusted brand in the market. Secondly, this product comes with a lifetime warranty. To top it up, the product comes with excellent features such as a large arbor which picks up line swiftly. The CNC machined model has a spool which provides enough exposure of air to the line.
The lifetime warranty is good news and provides extra comfort in a buyer's mind. Now you can get it repaired whenever it is required. The drag is fully sealed, which means you can use it in saltwater. It keeps your drag system protected in the water from grit and water. As for the maintenance, it is easier as it requires a quick rinse.
This does a stellar job for all types of fishermen. The drag knob works well as it is repeatable and accurate. The product is strong but lightweight as the 6061 T6 aluminum has been used.
- Color – Black
- Lifetime warranty
- 3/4, 5/6, 7/8, 9/10 wt
- 3 color options
- Saltwater fishing
Other than packaging issues faced by a few customers, the existing users do not have any technical issue with the product. A replacement spool can be included in the package but it is not a matter of debate as the product's performance is praise-worthy. Of course, the lifetime warranty and the excellent customer care team will take care of all the issues. This is perfect for saltwater fishing and the drag is buttery smooth. Reasonably priced, much-liked and an excellent drag system, I would give it a thumbs up.
Chasing the trout would require a reel which has a good click at both the sides and a smooth drag would be plausible. Guru 2 Open Reel is a perfect choicefor chasing and catching trout. Notice the open spokes on the product which reduce the weight. The product is light, but it cannot be tagged as super light.
The large arbor is the highlight of the product. It has a conical drag and has been anodized for corrosion resistance. The product is budget-friendly and does not pinch the pockets a lot. As a buyer, you would want to invest in a product that solves the purpose without creating a hole in your pocket.
The drag system is sealed, which protects it from grit and salt water. The spool is easy to change and as for the ergonomics, it has a flat handle but the drag knob could be improved. Adjusting it may seem like too much work.
Trouts are usually found in cold water and they like living in moving water as they jump up and down. Most likely, you would find them in remote area rivers where a jungle exists. Trouts are not as hard to catch, but you need a good reel and bait for these. It has a conical drag and a large arbor which are two features that you must be looking for in the ideal reels for your rod.
- 4-10 wt available
- 4 ounces
- Large arbor
- Open spokes
- US Made
- Sealed drag system
The Guru 2 is ideal for trout fishing adventures and has all the basic features you need in a decent reel. There are certain cons which require improvement. The drag knob is not easy to adjust. It is an excellent choice but one can say that it is not the top product in the market. If the whole idea is to catch a trout, this seems like the safest bet in this list. Also, the price is not too high and most of the beginner anglers were happy with the overall performance.
Looking for a cheaper option? I have placed Piscifun Blaze on #7 but the real deal is that it is affordable for people on a budget. It is hard-anodized for corrosion resistance. With 4 color options, you can make your choice as per your personal preference. The brand offers some pop colors which could interest the jazzy anglers. However, the colors are not just the only highlight. The components are machined and it has a medium arbor. With 7/8 wt, you can fish for light trout, sea trout, redfish, steelhead, salmon, and bass.
It is ideal for rivers, creeks, streams, and lakes. The smooth drag is the highlight of the product. You get endless features by just paying a small price. Just a small note for new users: Do not commit the mistake of using it in salt water. This product works fine in creeks, rivers, lakes, and streams.
- 4 colors available
- Inclusion – reel, protection bag, spare spool, and schematic paper
- 7/8 Reel
- 6061-T6 Aluminum alloy
The product is hard-anodized for corrosion resistance. Though it's on the cheaper side, it works extremely well. Most of the existing users raved about it's efficiency and accuracy. It has a super smooth drag and we personally endorse it because of the three-year warranty. It comes in four colors which is why you can make your choice as per your fly fishing rod color. The product is durable and you can wash it easily. With a medium arbor and well-machined components, the product works well for beginners. In a nutshell, we would recommend this product for beginners as it has a smooth drag and excellent appearance.
A List of 3 Other Products We Reviewed
Orvis Hydros SL is made of aluminum and is ideally made for saltwater fishing. The drag is fully sealed, which means it does not get damaged in saltwater. A powerful drag can be a real selling point for a product. In case the chase is about a salmon or you are exploring the salty water then the drag does matter.
While the drag is silky smooth and strong, it may not be the strongest in the market. The startup inertia is the real selling point of the Orvis Hydros.
It has swift line pickup which is another selling point. The V-cut deep spool can resist line and gives a munificent amount of backing. Available in black nickel color, this product looks good and is available in many weights. Another excellent feature of the product is that it is lightweight. Consider matching the weight with your rod. Let us find out the pros, cons, specifications and the final verdict of the product.
- Material – Aluminum
- Fully sealed drag system
- Color available – Black Nickel
- Fly Line Weight: 3 – 5 wt, 5 – 7 wt, 7 – 9 wt, 9 – 11 wt
- Backing capacity – 150 yds, 225 yds, 250 yds
It has a smooth and strong drag which allows you to catch bigger size fish. However, the real selling point is the startup inertia and the spool. Most of the users went for salmon fishing with this reel and succeeded. It comes with a pouch where you can keep it safe. This is ideal for saltwater fishing and has a large arbor. With few cons in the list, the product does a decent job and that's precisely why it made it to our top product list securing the position of #8.
The Okuma Helios is machined and not die-cast constructed. Anodized for corrosion resistance, the product does a pretty good job in the water. The prospective buyers would be pleased to know that the drag system of this product is waterproof.
It has a large arbor but it is lightweight. The components in the product are machined and are made of high-quality materials. The product can hold line efficiently. Byline, we are meaning to say 250 yards of 8wt line.
As for the drag system, it is sealed, waterproof and is a multi-disc one. It can be easily adjusted with the knob at the back side. It turns slowly but overall, the machined reel does a decent job.
When a buyer is looking for a reel, they want something which they can use in saltwater easily. Ideal for fishing in all types of water bodies, this is admirable and the existing users were elated with the overall performance. Catching a salmon may require you to explore the water even further, and the Okuma Helios does an exemplary task.
- Drag system – Waterproof
- Multi-disc cork
- Anodized machined frame
- Large arbor
- Spool shaft – Stainless steel (2BB+1RB)
- It does not come with a storage bag
- It is not pre-lubed
If the price does not seem to be an issue for you, invest in the high-quality Galvan Torque which has a smooth drag. The Torque drag allows you to catch fishes of your choice. The arbor design is large. There are many features of this product which will grab your attention. Some of its features include excellent and smooth drag and the large arbor.
It is not the lightest choice out there, but it does not add too much weight. The selling point of the product is drag. It is smooth and highly strong. As per the tests, it did stop a bonefish with approximately 7.5 lb of drag.
It comes in a classic black color and has a contemporary look and feel to it. There is a one-button release for the spool which works very well. Aircraft graded aluminum has been used for making this. Overall, the product has received good reviews online and our conducted tests were favoring the product.
Consider this as an investment as you would want a durable reel for all occasions. The only drawback that I find in this product is the handle which seems too short. The manufacturer can work on this aspect.
- Color – Black
- Arbor design – Large
- Drag system – Torque
- Salt-water safe
For the Galvan torque, you pay a price but it is one of the products which has received a lot of appreciation from the buyers and existing users. You have the option of choosing from six colors and the product is lightweight. The only possible drawback is the handle which is too short, but it does have exceptional features.
Fly Reel Cleaning Tips
Maintaining your fly reel is a vital part. When you are investing in a product, it is important for you to take good care of it. Whether it is a gun or even a stove, cleaning becomes necessary to increase the life of the product. Similarly, the reel requires proper cleaning.
For keeping the drag as smooth as silk, keep it clean by following the cleaning tips which I have jotted down just for you.
- After using the product, use fresh water to clean the parts. It is possible that you are fishing in saltwater which could lead to corrosion. Rinse the reel with under a faucet to clean any slime and mud. You must follow this practice after every use before you store the product on the shelf.
- Use moderate pressure to wash the product. Never manhandle the product by putting extra pressure. If you are using a water hose, make sure that the pressure of water is not vigorous.
- Remove its backing and line. The lined should be cleaned with warm water and a little soap.
- You can scrub the spool with a toothbrush and soak it in warm water with soap. The toothbrush should have soft bristles. To finish it off, rinse the spool with some fresh water and dry it before storing.
- Never store or put the reel when wet. When it is wet, place it on top of a towel and let it dry overnight.
- Lubricating the reel once in a year is very important. Always be generous with the lubrication. But, ensure that you are greasing and lubricating the right parts of the reel.
Here is a Quick Cleaning Technique You Can Follow:
- Break down your reel as much as you can.
- Clean the loose dirt and oil.
- Make a solution of 1 part vinegar and 3 parts water. Soak it for 10-15 minutes and clean it.
- Now soak it in a dilute soap solution. You can use dish soap.
- Now rinse it well using cold water.
- Place it on the towel and let it dry overnight.
- Lubricate and reassemble the reel. Store it in a secure place.
These were the basic cleaning tips and technique that you must follow. Once you invest in a product, it is your responsibility to take very good care of it else the life of the reel will not be as long as you want it to be.
We hope that you have found the best fly fishing reel for yourself with the help of this review. There are many options for you to choose from. After doing extensive research, the product list was created and there is a choice for every type of user. Whether you are a beginner or you want a specific catch, the above-mentioned list has everything you require.
Do a quick comparison and see what fits your requirements the most. If your budget allows, you can go for the #1 product. The #1 Piscifun flying fish reel is a good overall option for you. We have a budget-friendly option for you as well.
Ideally, you should go through the buying guide before purchasing a product. Consider skimming through the technical terms that you must know about which includes drag system (most important), arbor size, retrieval system, and start-up inertia. We do hope that this post was helpful for you in a number of ways. Do show us your love and appreciation by liking and sharing the post with your friends, family, and colleagues. And don't forget to take a look at the following types of fishing reels types reviewed by our expert team: