How to Choose a Fly Fishing Reel

How to Choose a Fly Fishing Reel

Once you’ve chosen a fly rod, the next step will be choosing a reel. With all the different features and price points out there, it’s easy to be a little overwhelmed by the choices. In this article, we’ll explain how to choose a fly reel in three simple steps and also provide some additional tips.

  1. First, choose a fly reel that provides enough capacity to hold the line you plan on using. Most reels hold a range of line weights. For example, if you’re using a 4wt rod, you’ll probably want a reel that holds line weights between 3wt and 5wt. If you’re using a 6wt rod, choose a reel rated for 5-7wt.
  2. Next, narrow down your selection by looking at the drag system and other features, such as arbor size. The better the drag system and larger the arbor, the more expensive a reel will be. Reels with high-end drag systems usually provide smoother operation and increased longevity. If you plan on fishing a lot, consider investing in a nicer drag system and a large arbor. If you only plan on fishing occasionally, a less expensive reel should be completely adequate.
  3. Finally, consider your budget. If a $50-60 reel works best for your budget, go with that price point. If you choose a reel from a reputable outfitter, you’ll most likely be very satisfied. If your budget allows a little more flexibility, it may be worth investing in a more advanced reel. With that in mind, most beginners probably won’t benefit that much more from choosing a $250 fly reel over a $120 fly reel.

Fly Reel Tips

  • For most beginners, a basic reel with cork disc drag and an aluminum body is a good starting point. If your budget allows, choose a large arbor reel for a faster retrieval rate.
  • If possible, consider a reel that allows you to change spools quickly and easily. This will allow you to effortlessly swap out lines as the need arises.
  • If you plan to fish in saltwater conditions, choose a reel made of corrosion-resistant material and always thoroughly rinse out your tackle with fresh water before storing it.

Check out our Fly Fishing Guide for more tips and in-depth information on fly fishing tackle.