For the most passionate fishermen out there, a fly rod is the extension of their arm, while a fly fishing reel is one with their body, and this “union” leads to the biggest catch out there. This is why you should invest in the best fly fishing reels out there. Many fishing aficionados make the mistake of throwing all their money on a great fly fishing rod and then purchasing the rest of the fishing gear with the remaining pennies.
I don’t think this is a wise choice. The top fly fishing reels should match the strength of a fly rod while being lightweight, durable, and reliable in the long term. This is a tough objective to reach and only the top fly fishing reels out there can achieve this performance. Making the right choice can be instrumental to the biggest catch of your life, so let’s take it easy, methodically, and find the top fly fishing reels on the market right now.
Table of Contents
- Comparison of 10 Best Fly Fishing Reels in 2021
- Top 10 Best Fly Fishing Reels Review in 2021
- 1. Croch Fly Fishing Reel
- 2. Redington ZERO Fly Reel
- 3. Piscifun Aoka Fly Fishing Reel
- 4. Aventik Z Fly Fishing Reel
- 5. M MAXIMUMCATCH Fly Fishing Reel
- 6. Waterworks-Lamson Liquid Fly Reel
- 7. Fishing On The Fly Fishing Reel
- 8. ANGLER DREAM Fly Fishing Reel
- 9. Colorado Fly Fishing Reel
- 10. Sage Fly Fishing SPECTRUM Reel
- How to Make Sure You Purchase the Best Fly Fishing Reels for You
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- Relevant Resources
Comparison of 10 Best Fly Fishing Reels in 2021
|Croch Fly Fishing Reel||Check Price|
|Redington ZERO Fly Reel||Check Price|
|Piscifun Aoka Fly Fishing Reel||Check Price|
|Aventik Z Fly Reel||Check Price|
|M MAXIMUMCATCH Fly Fishing Reel||Check Price|
|Waterworks-Lamson Liquid Fly Reel||Check Price|
|Fishing On The Fly Fishing Reel||Check Price|
|ANGLER DREAM EX-ALC Fly Reel||Check Price|
|Colorado Fly Fishing Reel||Check Price|
|Sage Fly Fishing SPECTRUM Fly Reel||Check Price|
Top 10 Best Fly Fishing Reels Review in 2021
Buying the best fly fishing reel should not be an afterthought. Don’t go buy any $12 reel that you find at the first thrift store or on an obscure online website! Although at a first glance, the nature of the fly reel might not have a big effect on the cast or the retrieve of the line, however, you will feel you’ve made a bad cheap investment when the reel breaks drone or drags unevenly.
So, what we are going to look for is durability, weight, and overall smooth feeling. I have already found the best 10 fly fishing reels, and present them below with both their pros and cons. So, we’ll be looking at the best fly fishing reels for the money, the best saltwater fly fishing reels, the best affordable fly fishing reels and so many more. Shall we proceed?
1. Croch Fly Fishing Reel
From a first glance, this Croch Fly fishing reel is a mid-sized reel, with a rather simple left-to-right hand conversion. It is made from aluminum alloy, so it should be on the light side of things. They say it is coated with a substance that makes it resistant to saltwater corrosion, so it might be used for ocean or sea fishing as well.
It might work well with several varieties of fish and it features an interesting design which I think might enable a desirable large line retrieval rate and less line stacking. It comes with a one-way clutch bearing made of stainless steel that is cold-forged. One thing I liked was that the arbors are ported concavely, and that translates into more strength.
- Lightweight, made from hard-anodized aluminum alloy
- Corrosion resistance
- Stainless steel drag system that works really well
- Some performance issues were reported in regards to the drag’s inconsistence; it might need some reel oil applied to it to function smoothly
Also Read: Best Catfish Reel – Help You Catch Big Fish
2. Redington ZERO Fly Reel
Shopping for the best fly fishing reel can be hard, especially if you’re at the beginning and don’t want to invest too much. So, the question here is how little is enough? This Redington fly reel is a good answer, as I think is one of the best budget fly fishing reels out there right now.
This Redington ZERO is a quite simple product. It does not come with lots of features, as it is not designed to help you catch big fish and fight in big streams. It comes in four different colors: black, teal, avocado, or sand color and it looks quite cool overall, due to its matte finish.
This reel comes with a large arbor which helps reduce line memory and pull your line fast when you catch something. Due to a very good die cast construction process, the reel is very light. The handles look quite ergonomic and like they’re molded in the whole design.
This is a very important aspect, especially if you’re going to use the reel all day. The drag system is not the greatest, but it is ok for a good budget fly fishing reel. You can pair the reel with a lightweight rod, like, say, the Butter Stick glass rod. The performance will feel consistent and the whole build quite durable and balanced.
- It can reduce line memory issues
- Durable build
- The quick-change pool enables you to easily switch from left-hand to right-hand retrieve
- Not much drag power, and it’s not suitable for big fish and big rivers
3. Piscifun Aoka Fly Fishing Reel
Piscifun is a brand very popular with anglers all over the globe, so it might be easier to trust that this is one of the best fly fishing reels out there on the market for saltwater, and it’s not that pricey either. Moreover, if it lives up to its brand promise, it will last for years.
This specific Piscifun Aoka Aluminum Fly reel has a mid-arbor design, with a Teflon disc drag system, all within an overall good-looking machined frame. You can buy it to add it to your collection of different fly reels or use it as your main reel, which I recommend since it looks really good.
Yeah, looks are also important when it comes to fishing, really. The drag system is strong and allows you to tackle a broad range of fish types; it really gives you confidence that you can fight larger types of fish also. Now, to the technical stuff.
The Piscifun Aoka Aluminum reel comes in two main sizes: 5/6 and 7/8. It can hold about 100 yards of 4 weight line with some additional backing. The Teflon disc drag enables for a smooth and efficient braking and overall experience. The handle is quite oversized, which makes for better handling.
- Strong classic drag system with smooth and efficient braking
- Oversized handle for better and more comfortable operation
- It looks very sturdy like it will stay with you for a long time
- Some products might have a manufacturing issue with the screws; so it’s better to check if they’re properly tight before going fishing
4. Aventik Z Fly Fishing Reel
If your budget is balanced and what you’re looking for is good value for money, then this fly reel from Aventik might just be on the list of the best value fly fishing reels on the market at the moment. It comes in 3 /4, 5/6, and 7/8 size variants.
If you buy it as part of a combo, you will also get a free chest bag with it, which is a nice touch. Your choice is yours. Bottom line is, this product is really good for beginners who don’t want to invest too much in a fly reel but also wish to find an honest product that offers good value for money.
- It is also available in combos
- Overall good balance
- It also comes in bigger size variants
- Easy to switch from left to right-hand retrieve
- Not the best design
- It does not look durable or sturdy enough for long-term use
5. M MAXIMUMCATCH Fly Fishing Reel
This Maxcatch Fly Fishing Reel is made using a CNC machine. The body is built using a 6061-T8 aluminum alloy, making it non-corrosive and durable at the same time. Including the hard anodized surface, you get a product suitable for any conditions.
This fishing reel is available in 5 colors: green, blue, black, silver, and black + silver. Its selling point is its ‘drag system’ wherein it is designed with a hybrid Teflon and cork disk and a stainless steel disk for that smooth and quick drag engagement. Not to mention, the design includes the patent-pending drag knob screw hidden.
- Accurately made using CNC machine
- Non-corrosive and durable body
- Smooth and fast drag engagement
- Has an outstanding balance between rapid line pickup and backing capacity
- Reinforced spokes
- Reduced line memory
- Available in 5 colors
- Equipped with a 1-revolution drag knob and a patent-pending concealed drag knob screw
- Very difficult to repair
6. Waterworks-Lamson Liquid Fly Reel
The last on our list of quality fly fishing reels is this product from Waterworks Lamson; it is last, but not least. As you probably know if you’re into fishing, Waterworks-Lamson is an innovative reel designed and the products excel at craftsmanship and performance.
Large arbor reels that are both strong and lightweight are the signature mark of Waterworks-Lamson and this Liquide fly reel is no different. The design looks impressive enough: compound curves, zero-radius corners, hard-to-find excellent finish for a die-cast reel.
It features a conical drag system that has been tested and proven to work in many Waterworks-Lamson fly reels. Of course, it is a bit pricey, but if you’re out there for a professional, full-gear fishing experience, then this might just be it.
Needless to say that the drag system is fully sealed so that no dirt, grit, sand, or water could affect its operation. As a result of this, it can be used in both fresh and saltwater environments. For more style, you can even order a special Lamson sleeve to add to the drag canister to make it more colorful and flashy. But that is down to your own taste.
- Large arbor which offers more backing and takes less time reeling the line
- Pressure Cast Aluminum build that is both durable and lightweight
- Conical drag system which provides a lot of stopping power and low start-up inertia
- Comfortable handle
- Although it has a fully-sealed drag system, it can suffer from corrosion, so if you want to preserve it better, don’t use it too much in saltwater
7. Fishing On The Fly Fishing Reel
The search for the best fly reels has not ceased yet. Right now, we’re looking for a good fit on the list of the best cheap fly fishing reels. This product by Fishing On The Fly might just be the right “candidate” for the title.
It is made from high-grade diecast aluminum for pretty good durability over time and better resistance to corrosion from saltwater, especially. It comes with a precision disc drag system that enables you to adjust the drag while in the middle of a fight.
The knob looks quite ergonomic and the overall design is glossy and looks expensive. It can be adjusted from left to right-handed without much fuss and it has a decent amount of resistance for its price range. So, this is a summary of what we liked and didn’t like about these best fly fishing reels.
- It can procure a nice balance for a 6 wt ft rod
- Overall smooth retrieval experience
- It comes with a carry bag in the box
- They don’t sell spare spools
- The brake on the reel might not be too efficient
8. ANGLER DREAM Fly Fishing Reel
It boats quick spool release and easy left to right hand retrieve change. The reel is designed for freshwater. The manufacturer warns against using it in salt water and not opening and cleaning the fishing reel afterward.
It’s right, if you use it in salt water, you need to take better care of it and see that the one-way bearing will not corrode. This Angler Dream flies fishing reel is available in 3 /4, 5/6, 7/8, and 9/10 sizes, which is a quite broad range of options for a fly reel manufacturer like they are.
If you’re an angler looking for a high-quality starter reel, then you should definitely consider this reel as the better option over other cast or graphite reels on the market right now. Nevertheless, if you’re a more professional angler using big brand names for fishing gear, you shouldn’t overlook this reel. It is a good backup option for any fishing trips.
- It can handle small fish very well
- Fully-machined aluminum reel
- Quite lightweight
- It does not hold much backing
- It’s not made to hold enough line for big chases in big rivers
9. Colorado Fly Fishing Reel
This Colorado Fly Fishing reel is made by Platinum Fly Gear. It was computer-designed for the ultimate precision, or at least this is what the manufacturer says. Anyways, if you’re looking at the best fly fishing reels reviews, this product might have them all.
It looks lightweight and the manufacturer says it is also waterproof. It can be used both in fresh and saltwater, since it is fully sealed, preventing any corrosion from getting to the mechanism inside. Also, it comes with a nice textured drag knob which makes the use more comfortable.
The large arbor promises fast retrieval rates, while also helping reduce line memory. One nice feature is that it comes with additional spools for different lines. This is a huge plus, considering that some fly reel manufacturers don’t even produce additional spools that you can buy separately. The product also has a lifetime money-back guarantee which sounds nice. So, why do all those fly fishing reel reviews say this is a really good product? Let’s see!
- Great workmanship and design
- The textured drag control knob makes it easier to make small adjustments that might make all the difference in the end
- The waterproof and sealed mechanism makes it perfect for better saltwater and freshwater
- Might not be able to hold really thin mono running line
10. Sage Fly Fishing SPECTRUM Reel
Sage has always made some of the most top-rated best fly fishing reel out there. This new SPECTRUM reel from them might very well live up to the brand promise. It’s got the “good looks” and promise of high performance.
While the Lime color scheme might not be everybody’s favorite, the highly-ported design should because it really steals away some of the weight and makes it really light and perfect for lightweight rods. The spool core is not ported, but the overall design is concave and this makes it even stronger.
It looks like this product will boast really good retrieval speed and easy line leveling. The aluminum handle is slightly tapered and comfortable to hold. The famous Sealed Carbon drag System works wonders in the performance department, reducing startup inertia to the bare minimum. This is what Sage is known for in the fly reels category and they deliver on their promise.
- Really state-of-the-art waterproof design
- Very little tension fluctuation in the spool
- Numbered read drag knob
- No spool release buttons or levers
How to Make Sure You Purchase the Best Fly Fishing Reels for You
The first aspect of a fly fishing reel that you should consider is durability. You’ll have to ask yourself: is this fly fishing reel going to be by my side for life? This is no joke. It’s important to have a reel for as long as possible, as you’re going to get used to its drag and that will make casting and retrieving a smoother and more natural job.
What is more, you should consider the weight of the fly fishing reel, and also the capacity. Basically, the reel should be tailored to the type of fishing you intend on doing, and here’s a little buying guide on how to decide which fly fishing reel is the one for you.
The Basics of a Fly Fishing Reel
The Difference Between Saltwater and Freshwater Fly Reel
As you have seen, we’ve had some of the best saltwater fly fishing reels featured in the review section above. If you don’t know yet, there is a slight difference between freshwater and saltwater fly fishing reels. The difference is small, but it is worth mentioning.
Although not all companies make different, specific reels for both saltwater and freshwater, you should know that if you go fishing in the sea or, you should consider a reel that is made from a corrosion-resistant material, like brass or aluminum. The one fly fishing reel material you should say “no” in saltwater is steel. This is the main difference. You might also find that saltwater’s best fly fishing reels have a larger arbor and some more line.
The Drag System Basics
Fly fishing reels come with a couple of different drag systems. The oldest one is the click and pawl system. It feels like it’s been around since the beginning of time. While this system is known to “last a lifetime”, it has slowly come out of fashion these days, because it has been replaced by a more modern disc drag system, which solves many of its previous problems.
I’m not going to advocate for one or the other. I can only tell you that disc drag fly reels are the most popular drag systems on the market right now and this is because they offer more fish-stopping power than the older ones, offer an overall smoothers experience all throughout the fight, and are more customizable than the click and pawl system ones.
However, if you are an angler who’s fascinated by the tradition of fishing, the history, and old stories of big catches, then you will probably favor the old click and pawl reel system because nothing can compare to that ing sound it makes when a fish rips the line like a demon. You know what I’m saying.
About the Extra Spools
Some fly reels might come with extra spools, and this is to make the process of changing from a floating line or a sinking line smoother and easier. Let’s say you have to change out from a weight forward to a level line? Won’t an additional spool make it all simpler?
Fly Reel Balance
The fly reel you purchase should balance well with your fly rod. A fly fishing reels manufacturer should provide a little guide on what rod weight pairs with what reels so that you are sure you make the right decision. For example, a 4/5 reel would work well with a 4-5 weight fly rod. Choosing the right weights means better balance and better balance means better performance and comfort.
The Fly Reel Size Matters
If you’re looking to do some local fishing, then a small reel is a perfect choice. It won’t weigh much and be comfortable enough. However, if you’re out for the biggest catch out there, then you should consider bigger reels.
The math is simple. A bigger fish requires a bigger line weight. A bigger line weight means a bigger line diameter and obviously, you will need a bigger reel to hold it. You should purchase the fly reel at the end, based on all the other accessories. At first, you need to decide what kind of fishing you’re going to do.
How to Make Sure the Fly Fishing Reel Matches the Fly Rod?
This is a very good question you should ask yourself when shopping for the top-rated fly reels out there. For a smooth and perfect fishing experience, you first need to make sure that the fly reel and fly rod are paired perfectly. Their compatibility is really important and this is why you’ve probably seen a lot of fly reels sold in the same package with a compatible rod and line.
First things first, the weight of the rod and the reel should match. Secondly, the fly reel and the rod should fall together in the same position. You should also consider if you’re a right-handed or left-handed person because this influences the way you pull the line, right? So, if you cast left-handed, you’ll need a right-facing fly fishing reel, because usually, right-handed people retrieve with their left hand.
Anyways, just think if you feel more comfortable retrieving the line with the left or right hand and make the purchase of the best fly fishing reels with this thought in mind. For these reasons, full packages of fly rods, fly reels, and lines are a good idea if you don’t have enough experience with customizing your fishing gear.
However, if you’re experienced and know exactly what fits you, then shopping for the best value fly fishing reels is what you should. However, no matter how experienced you are, let’s go through the most important things to consider when deciding on the best fly fishing reel for you.
What You Should Know About the Start-Up Inertia
When a fish starts to pull the line, the reel poses resistance to a movement called start-up inertia. This means it does not start rotating at top speed immediately after the line is taken. The start-up inertia is just that moment of drag that occurs from the first time the line is pulled to the moment it starts spinning smoothly at its “top speed”. We could compare it to a car going from 0 to 60 miles per hour.
The start-up inertia is an important value you should look for when reading the best fly fishing reel reviews out there, on the market. Basically, low start-up inertia means less stopping power, and high start-up inertia means too much stopping power. So, as with almost everything in life, the best fly fishing reel are the ones that offer a balance in this aspect.
Do Not Underestimate the Weight of the Fly Reel
I will always defend the opinion that the top fly fishing reels should be lightweight, or you should work out a lot in the gym. The reason why is very simple. With each cast, your arms will have to lift the rod. A heavier fly reel means a heavier rod. A heavier rod might lead to sore arms, if you know what I mean.
Sore arms lead to less power for casting, by the end of the day. I think that the more modern the fishing equipment, the more lightweight the fly reels should be. So, always check the weight section on a fly fishing reel and compare it to the weight of your fly rod. They need to balance right and also be on the light side of things.
However, you should not compromise weight for durability. You should look for a perfect balance of lightweight and durable. Tough business, right? That’s why we’ve got those 10 best value fly fishing reels above, to narrow down your searches.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: Do You Have to Use a Reel When Fly Fishing?
A: Yes, it is essential to use a fly reel when flying fishing because it will make it easy for you to pull the fish to the net. So, buy a reel that performs well and has a long shelf-life like a metal fly reel. Ensure that you are spending money on cheap fly reels because they break easily and do not last that much.
Q: Why Are These Fly Reels Expensive?
A: They are expensive because various materials are used in the reel, which does not break when you have combat with a big fish. Brand names also play a significant role in the prices of reels. But it would help if you kept in mind that a fly reel also provides many advantages, such as a chance to pull the fish, a nonstick place to hold the reel, which makes the reels worth your money.
Q: What Is the Right Size for a Fly Reel?
A: The size of a fly reel is measured in weight, and they depend upon the weight of the rods. For instance, if you have a six wt rod, you will have to buy a real around 5 to 7 wt. But also make sure that you use the reel according to the weight of the fish as well.
Also Read: Best Spincast Reels – Reviews to Buy
So, our guide has come to an end. I hope you’ve got plenty of material now to help you decide on your purchase. I’d like to reiterate the most important pieces of advice here: always make sure the fly reel matches your rod, don’t waste money on cheap reels, don’t treat fly fishing reels as an afterthought. Read, decide, purchase and enjoy the smooth line glide that the best fly fishing reels offer.