The Buyer’s Guide To The Best Fly Fishing Reel
Last updated: 04/29/21
When you’re looking to get into fly fishing or simply want to upgrade your gear to something that’s going to perform better, the reel is one of the most important parts. This integral piece of fishing gear will have a huge impact on your fishing performance and could mean the difference between a subpar fishing trip and an excellent one.
Finding the best fly reels around can be a little tricky, though, as there are literally thousands of options out there to choose from. As such a unique style of fishing it’s not easy enough to just choose one and hope it will help you perform during fly fishing, so that’s we’ve made this thorough buyer’s guide to help lead you in the right direction.
Fly reels might seem simple enough in the grand scheme of things but they’re one of the more complex parts of this style of fishing. Your fly reel has to be the right size, material, have enough drag, be durable enough, and plenty of other factors in order to make it successful so sometimes just looking for the best cheap fly reel won’t be enough.
Rather than make you search for hours for something that will meet your needs, we’ve done the hard work by going through countless fly reels reviews to find those that stand out for whatever reason. Perhaps they’re the best fly reels for the money or they’re the best quality, but whatever your preference is when shopping for new angling gear we’ve surely covered it here.
College Bass occasionally links to product and/or services offered by vendors to assist you with all your fishing. Some of these may be affiliate links, meaning we earn a small commission if items are purchased.
|Piscifun Sword Fly Fishing Reel||Check Current Price|
|Goture Fly Fishing Reel||Check Current Price|
|Piscifun Blaze Fly Fishing Reel||Check Current Price|
|Redington Zero Reel||Check Current Price|
|Fiblink Fly Fishing Reels||Check Current Price|
Best Fly Fishing Reel Review
With so many products out there all aimed at enticing the modern angler, it can be hard to know when you’re shopping for something worthwhile.
Fly fishing reels are an essential part of the angler’s gear so getting it right the first time will save you a lot of time, money, and lost fish in the process. Here are our picks for the top fly fishing reels on the market and what they can offer you.
When compiling a list of the best fly fishing reels, it should come as no surprise that Piscfun has topped it. Although relatively new when compared to other fishing brands out there, Piscifun continues to make high quality and affordable fishing gear for new and experienced anglers, and their Sword Fly Fishing Reel is up there with the best.
Coming in a range of different colors and sizes there’s something suit every rod and angler, even with a nice pink design to choose from.
Even better, the reel is corrosion resistant and has a hard-anodized surface that will protect it from damage, so you’re able to take it out on the saltwater without giving it a second thought. This is the best 5wt fly reel for the money, so if you’re after this size you can stop your searching today.
This reel uses a multi-disc cork and stainless steel drag system that will give you the smoothest and fastest drag engagement you could hope for. However, there were a few comments that mentioned the drag system could have been a little tighter on the adjustment dial as it might be quite easy to come undone while you’re trying to bring down a larger fish.
There’s no doubt that this is one of the smoothest performers on the market and could easily be considered one of the best fly fishing reels for trout. There were many online reviews that were amazed at just how well it performed when compared to other reels that cost at least double the price.
Another point to notice is that you’ll have to spend a little more time on maintenance and cleaning due to the drag washers. These will have to be cleaned after each fishing session to ensure they don’t rust up, but it should take around a minute to do in order to give you a quality reel that will last.
Piscifun has managed to make a fly reel that’s solid enough to know it’s reliable but also lightweight to let you focus on your passion. It’s an expert machine and of much higher quality than you’d expect for the lower price tag, and with a three-year guarantee on its performance, you really have nothing to lose when giving it a shot.
CHECK CURRENT PRICE: Piscifun Sword Fly Fishing Reel
Another option that could be considered one of the best budget fly fishing reels on the market comes from Goture, with their Waterproof Fly Fishing Reel. This brand usually focuses on making affordable products and they’ve delivered again with this one, offering a simple but durable fly reel that will suit most angler’s needs.
The best feature is the aluminum handle which gives it so many of its benefits, including being incredibly durable and able to last for years to come. This high-grade machine CNC aluminum is corrosion resistant so you don’t have to worry about it failing on you after just a few uses, provided you’re able to put in a little extra care with maintenance and cleaning.
Although this reel is corrosion resistant it’s not actually saltwater safe, so if you want to take a risk you’ll likely only get a few uses out of it before the saline starts to destroy it. If you’re someone who only sticks to freshwater fishing, though, this won’t be a problem, but if you like some versatility in your fishing then you might want to pay extra for an upgrade.
There are many sizes of the Goture Fly Fishing Reel available to suit all types of rods and anglers, so it’s just a matter of choosing the right one. Their reels also come in a few different designs and using different colors too, so you can really choose one that best matches your style and personality.
Using a ball bearing design, the Goture Fly Fishing Reel will give you the smoothest feel you’ve ever had in a reel of this price. It has 2 ball bearings and a one-way bearing system to give you smooth and consistent access to your line so that you never have to worry about tangles or becoming caught when it’s most important.
There are plenty of great things about this reel including how easy it is to change the drag system and how well the aluminum has been machined, and when you look at the low price it seems even better. For the casual angler who prefers freshwater fishing, this is definitely a great choice for the best fly fishing reel.
CHECK CURRENT PRICE: Goture Fly Fishing Reel
For a fly fishing reel that has more of a fun and youthful feel, you might want to consider the Piscifun Blaze Fly Fishing Reel. Coming in a range of stylish colors including a bold blue design, it’s definitely one of the smarter looking reels on the market and one that would be great for a beginner angler.
Piscifun knows exactly what features to put on their fishing gear to make them work and the Blaze is no exception. Made from CNC machined aluminum alloy it’s quite impressive in terms of quality, however, it won’t stand up to saltwater. If you’re someone who prefers the option of saltwater fish, this isn’t the choice for you.
The mid arbor design of this reel gives you the perfect balance you need when fishing for fish who need a bit of strength and fight when landing them. It uses a click-drag system which should make it a lot smoother, but there are some reviews that mention this is probably the poorest feature of the whole reel.
One great feature of this that you won’t find on many other reels is the easy conversion that allows you to turn it from left to right hand retrieve, so you don’t have to shop for specifics. It’s extremely easy to use and as long as you match it to the right rod and line, you’ll get years of enjoyment out of it.
Piscifun offers a three-year warranty on this rod which is great to see, but as mentioned before you won’t be able to take it into salt water. The surface is corrosion resistant and it’s been hard anodized to give even greater protection, so even if you take it into harsh conditions it will still outlast other cheaper models.
This is the perfect reel for a young angler who wants something with a bit of personality or for the beginner who needs simplicity as they learn the ropes of fly fishing. There are some minor drawbacks with its features but overall it’s one of the most loved budget-friendly fly reels around, so that should tell you everything you need to know.
CHECK CURRENT PRICE: Piscifun Blaze Fly Fishing Reel
When you have a little more cash to spend on a fly reel and you don’t want to settle for the cheapest around, the Redington Zero Reel is a great mid-range product. Considered the lightest reel in class, this is the reel you should choose if weight is everything to you and you prefer the feather touch of a reel when you’re on the water.
The best feature of this is the die-cast construction which makes it completely unique and a lot more durable than machined reels. However, there’s certainly a cost to using this type of manufacturing as you can expect to spend around three times the price of others.
With a click and pawl system, this operates like a traditional reel but with a modern touch, so if you like the way that older reels felt then you’ll appreciate the time warp you get from this one. Some of the reviews think the clicking is too loud when compared to others but this really doesn’t affect its performance at all, so it’s simply a matter of drowning out the sound.
If you’re someone who has broken reels in the past or you just don’t like using anything that feels flimsy, you’ll love how the Redington Zero Reel feels in your hand. It’s solid and feels virtually indestructible so you don’t have to worry about giving it a thrashing or catching fish that are going to be too big for it to handle.
You won’t find another reel for this price that operates as smoothly and if you can afford the higher price tag it’s definitely worth checking out. If you prefer a die-cast rod to something machined then this is the best choice on the market for this price range, so it’s worth adding to your collection, and it’s certainly one of the sleekest options out there.
CHECK CURRENT PRICE: Redington Zero Reel
When you’re fairly limited on funds but still like to enjoy a spot of fly fishing, something like the Fiblink Fly Fishing Reel might be right up your alley. This is a budget-friendly fly reel that has one key difference – its saltwater loving abilities.
This is one of the only affordable fly reels that has been made to withstand saltwater which gives it a whole lot more versatility for choosing your next fishing spot, but you still have to be willing to put in the time and effort to keep it clean.
The CNC machined aluminum alloy construction only adds to its strength and durability, and you might be surprised at just how dependable it feels for something of its price.
There are a few minor issues with this one which might be fair considering the cost, with one problem coming from the size of the spool. Some reviewers found that it was too small to fit the line and backing even when compared to others of the same size, indicating that there may be some misleading specifications given to customers.
The other issues are only minor and those that can be easily overlooked, with the majority of customers actually being pleasantly surprised at its feel and performance for the low cost. As one of the cheapest fly reels on the market, you might expect something flimsy, but this one actually delivers where it says it will.
The Fiblink Fly Fishing Reel is extremely lightweight and you might not even realize it’s in the box when you first pick it up, so you can only imagine how it performs when it’s time to start fishing. If you’ve been searching for an affordable but feature-rich fly reel that works well for beginners and experts, this is a great option to consider.
CHECK CURRENT PRICE: Fiblink Fly Fishing Reels
Why Choosing A Fly Fishing Reel Is Important
People often think that the rod is the most important part of fishing, and while it’s definitely one of them the reel is just as crucial to get right. The reel is where you hold your line and backing, so it’s incredibly important to choose the right one, otherwise, there are many parts of the fishing process that can go wrong.
The backing serves two purposes on your outfit, firstly it fills the spool and secondly, it allows you to get some back up if you happen to land a fish and it tries to take off. This is not a time when you want a malfunction to occur, and so the right reel is essential to keep it running smoothly.
These are single action reels and they work quite simply by taking the line off the spool so you can cast your rod with the other.
They need to be able to store this line safely and without getting it tangled or caught so when the time comes it’s ready to produce. They must match the weight of your rod otherwise they won’t work as well, and this is often referred to as balancing your fly fishing outfit.
The entire purpose of fly fishing is to be able to move smoothly and swiftly, whether it’s getting your fly to the water or keeping it there. With the right fly fishing reel attached to your rod this is exactly what you’ll be hoping to achieve, so long as you know what you’re looking for when it comes to buying a new reel.
What To Look For When Buying Your Fly Fishing Reel
Although it might be tempting just to grab the best budget fly reel or something simple and quickly made, you won’t end up with good results on the water. There are many components to consider in a fly fishing reel and the slightest difference in features will have a huge effect on how it works, so here are some things to consider.
The most important thing to find is a reel that matches your rod size as their weights will have to be suited to each other. You’ll need to first know the weight of your rod so that you can choose the right line, and from there you’ll be able to find the perfect fly fishing reel weight to suit.
Some common terms you’ll read when looking at reels include machined, die-cast, and stamped metal. This refers to how they were made with machining offering the most durable type, but usually more expensive.
Is It Saltwater Safe?
While there are cheaper reels out there that aren’t made for saltwater, anglers usually prefer ones that are. This means they’re corrosion free from the harsh saline conditions found in the ocean and will be a much more versatile piece of fishing gear to own.
There are two common drag system styles found today, the click and pawl system or the disc drag. The click and pawl was more often used in reels of the past with many modern manufacturers favoring the disc drag today.
The drag system can be made either of cork, carbon fiber, graphite, or a number of synthetic materials, each offering their own pros and cons.
The size of the reel is usually determined by how much line and backing it can hold. There are different sizes of fly lines with the most common being 90’but the width varies somewhat.
Depending on where you fish you’ll need a different size, as fish in small areas won’t need as much backing as those found in larger bodies of water. These are usually classed in sizes of large arbor, mid arbor, and traditional arbor.
The Final Say
When you’re looking for a new fly reel it’s important to understand just what role this piece of gear plays in the fishing process. Some people assume that the reel just isn’t as important as the rod, but they actually have to work just as well as each other and be able to perform together in order to deliver when you’re out on the water.
Any of these fly reels would make a great choice for the new or experienced angler so it’s just a matter of finding the one that suits your needs.
You might have different weight preferences or need something that’s saltwater safe, so have a good think about your fishing experiences in the past and what you hope to achieve in the future and it will help to point you in the right direction.
With the right reel and the right rod in your possession, there’s really nothing you won’t be able to do as a fly angler. This unique style of fishing is only as enjoyable and successful as your gear is, so don’t just settle for something cheap that might take away the fun of the fishing experience for you.