Fly Fishing Reels

Imagine you are standing in the beautiful Colorado waters. You cast your line and the fly lands perfectly on the water. A fish strikes almost immediately. You’re excited to grab the reel but then disaster strikes! You can’t retrieve your fish because your reel is not retrieving quickly enough or the drag won’t adjust to the strength of the fish. The fish of a lifetime has just spit the fly or snapped it off, because you couldn’t loosen the drag. What a missed opportunity!

When a fish of a lifetime strikes and all hell is breaking loose, you want the best quality fly reel to give you at least a fighting chance. A quality reel will hold the line and help you land the fish without damaging your equipment.

There are several fly fishing reels, all different in terms of size, construction material, retrieval mechanism, and overall esthetics. Even if you are an amateur angler, we can guarantee to assist you in finding a fly reel that both matches your needs and fits your budget.

What Do Fly Reels Do?

The main purpose of a Fly fishing reel is to store your fly line. But a good reel also sometimes means the difference in landing or losing a fish. Being able to adjust the length of the fly line we are fishing with is as simple as winding on or “ripping off” line from the reel. But a reel should also balance out your rod, this will prevent small casting errors like hinging your wrist or not having enough backing capacity when you’re in the heat of battle with a 100 pound Tarpon.

How Do I Choose My Fly Reel?

A simple rule of thumb is that small stream fishing doesn’t require a very sophisticated large arbor with Carbon Fiber disk drag, but fishing for large freshwater and saltwater species does. This is a good rule to use when starting you next reel purchase

When you look for a fly fishing reel, the first thing you need to consider is the type of fishing you will be doing: freshwater or saltwater?

You also need to decide on the type of fish you are going after: again, the size of your reel matters because it needs to be strong enough to fight larger fish.

Finally, if you want to fly fish on a regular basis you might want to invest in more expensive but higher quality equipment.

What Should I Know about My Fly Reel?

There are basically three types of Fly-fishing reels that we are going to be looking at and there are several proprietary drag systems each manufacturer will employ. They are differentiated by the arbor size. The arbor of a fly reel is the diameter of the spool where the backing is attached. Without getting too techy here, the larger the arbor the quicker the rate of retrieval of line and backing.

Standard Arbor is typically what older model reels used all be built with. It meant that you would have to reel like a Son of a Gun to retrieve line. This often made landing large fish a real challenge. Today many anglers will choose a standard Arbor reel for smaller stream or light tackle rods because they tend to be much lighter in weight and your not dependent on the drag as much.

Mid Arbor just like it’s name is the “middle of the road” in arbor size. It has the ability to retrieve (pick up) Line at much faster rate per revolution or turn of the reel then a Standard Arbor reel. A Mid Arbor reel has it’s value for the angler who is looking for better line pick up while not sacrificing size or weight of the reel.

Large Arbor Reels have definitely become the most popular reels on the market especially among anglers targeting larger freshwater and Saltwater species. Just like it says a Larger arbor reel can pick up line at a rate 2x faster in relation to Standard or Mid Arbor Reels. When it comes to landing a large fast moving fish like a steelhead or a Permit, a Large Arbor reel with a sturdy drag system is your best tool.

What’s the difference in Drag Systems?

The point of the drag system on the fly reel is to slow the fish’s run as it’s moving away from you. There are two types of drag stemes, disc-drag and spring-and-pawl drag:

  • Disc-drag technology is based on the existence of discs that are stacked inside the reel’s arbor. Most all disc drag systems are sealed inside the arbor to keep water and dirt out. Depending on the size of the reel there can be a dozen or more discs stacked inside. A high quality Disc-Drag reel has the ability to apply pressure to a screaming fish in a way that can slow it down without breaking Tippets. Discs can be made out of graphite steel or more likely Carbon Fiber. The Orvis Mirage Big Game reels are very much the state of the art in technology. But all that comes at a higher weight and price tag.
  • Spring-and-pawl reels use springs. They are usually used for freshwater fishing and are less common than disc-drag reels. Spring-and-pawl reels are commonly used for smaller fish. Old spring-andPawl reels are actually a rare find and often command high prices for their antique or nostalgic values. An old English built Orvis CFO reel is worth several hundred dollars on auction sites.

What Material Are Fly Reels Made of?

You can find plastic, die-cast aluminum, and machined aluminum fly reels.

  • Plastic fly reels are less sturdy than the other two categories. Plastic doesn’t have the resistance and strength of aluminum and will eventually bend and warp when trying to reel in heavier fish.
  • Die-cast aluminum is stronger than plastic as it is made of melted aluminum that has been poured into a mold.
  • Machined Aluminum is the strongest material for fly reels. This material displays strength and stamina and is anodized so that it can withstand saltwater fishing conditions. Instead of melting aluminum, manufacturers take a solid block of aluminum and sculpt it according to specifications.

If you want your fly fishing equipment to last for years, then the best fly fishing reels for you are machined aluminum ones.

Does the Size of My Fly Reel Matter?

When it comes to fly reels, size really does matter. Fly fishing rods and reels come in several sizes. Larger reel sizes can hold heavier weight fly lines and more backing. You should choose a fly reel size that matches the fly line you plan to use.

Sometimes people fear that a larger arbor means heavier equipment. However, technology has made sure that the materials used for the larger arbor fly reels make them light to transport and easy to handle.

Tips for Choosing Your Fly Fishing Reel

Choosing the right Orvis fly fishing reel isn’t as difficult if you do a little research. The following key questions will help you pick the best fly fishing reel setup for you:

  • Are you going to fish in saltwater or freshwater? Some materials are not saltwater proof. Anodized fly reels will weather the saltiness of the sea much better (of course, you should still rinse your equipment with fresh water to protect it after fishing).
  • What type of fish are you going to catch? Larger and heavier fish require stronger lines and sturdier fly reels. Similarly, lighter fish require lighter fly reels.
  • What type of fly line will you be using? The size of your line determines the size of your fly reel. Again, the size of your fly line depends on the type of fish you plan on fishing for. Small trout can be caught with a fly line weight of 1 to 3. Larger trout, sea bass, and salmon may require heavier and stronger fly lines, hence bigger fly reels.

Fly Fishing Outfitters for the Best Fly Reels

We have a wide selection of fly reels for sale to accommodate all fly fishing expeditions. You will find reputable brands such as Orvis, Redington, Temple Fork Outfitters and Galvan. Find here your Orvis reels, Redington Fly-Reels, various fly reels sizes, and simple yet versatile fly reels that can adjust to most fishermen’s requirements.

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  • Galvan Brookie Fly Reel


    The Brookie, the small water trout reel from Galvan, is perfect for fishing in small ponds, lakes and large rivers. The reel has a simple design with a small drag system for fishing. The Brookie is light in weight and made up of highly durable materials. If you are looking for a minimalist trout reel this is one of the best on the market. The brookie fly reel is made of 6061 aluminium bar that makes it lightweight but strong enough to use in any condition.

  • Galvan Torque Tournament Reel


    The Galvan Torque Tournament Reels are designed to offer high performance and accuracy while fishing. They are easy to use and you can activate the drag in this fly reel with a simple stroke of a button. The reel is made of 6061 grade aluminium and meets the industry standards for durability. Type 2 anodizing is used to make it scratch and corrosion resistant. Here are some key features of the Galvan Torque Tournament Reels.

    • Innovative drag system
    • Scratch and Corrosion resistant
    • Super fast retrieval rate
    • Handle is larger and easier to grip
    • Ported to the maximum strength-weight-ratio
    • Comes in three sizes: T-14 fast, T-16 faster, and T-18 fastest
  • Orvis Battenkill Disc Reel


    The Orvis Battenkill fly reel is named after the Battenkill River that flows through Manchester Vermont. The Battenkill reel is affordable and high-performing. With models ranging from 1wt to 11wt, this reel has a model for every fishing scenario. In addition, the Battenkill Disc features a sealed disc brake system, making it strong and highly functional. If you’re looking for a quality reel at an entry-level price point, the Battenkill Disc is one of the best.

  • Orvis Battenkill Fly Reel


    The Orvis Battenkill fly reel comes in a simple design and offers multiple features for fly fishing lovers. The fly reel is machined from heavy duty aluminium that makes it durable to use in any condition. Although the rods are short, it balances with its ultra lightweight design. The flyreel is available in three weight options. It has a narrow spool for lesser line stacking and a large spool diameter ensures high retrieval rate. Here are the main features of the battenkill fly reel.

    • Large spool diameter for high retrieval rate
    • Narrow spool means less line stacking
    • Easily adjustable left- or right-hand retrieve
    • Laser-engraved logos
    • Ultra Lightweight design balances with shorter rods
    • Machined from heavy-duty bar-stock aluminum
  • Orvis Clearwater LA Fly Reel


    Orvis Clearwater reel is an entry level reel with plenty of useful features and a powerful disc drag system. If you are looking for a large arbor or want a spare reel in your bag, you can try the Orvis Clearwater reel for fishing. With a backing capacity of 100 yards, it is a great fly fishing reel to use in saltwater. It is a great clear water reel to protect your line. It’s tipped and minimizes the chances of losing fish. The reel helps to make the most out of your efforts while fishing.

  • Orvis Hydros Reel 2020


    Orvis 2020 Hydros Reel is one of the best fly reels available in the market. The reel is specially designed to offer high performance in all conditions and fishing destinations. The handle is made of durable material, and the weight is kept light to make it easy to use in all conditions. Orvis Hydros Reel is available in five models and you can select the one that best suits your requirements. Here are the main features of Orvis 2020 Hydros Reel.

    • Lightweight large arbour fly reel
    • Easy to use drag knob
    • Fully sealed drag clutch bearing
    • Zero startup inertia.
    • Kink free leader protection
  • Orvis Mirage LT Fly Reel


    The Orvis Mirage LT is a lightweight variant of the original Orvis Mirage fly reel. It comes with a maintenance free steel and carbon disc that adjusts itself from zero to full grab in a single rotation. The Mirage LT is 30 percent lighter and 30 percent narrower than the previous bigger fly reel. The lighter version is made by the same American professionals that build the Orvis Mirage. Here are the features of the Orvis Mirage LT.

    • Line Size: 5/6/7
    • Weight: Approx 4.57 ounces
    • Drag: Carbon Fiber (fully-sealed)
    • Tested Max Drag: Approximately 2+ pounds
    • Spool Release: No Tools Needed
    • Machined/Cast: Machined
    • Reel Pouch Included: Yes
    • Colors: Midnight, Red/White/Blue, Olive (tested)
  • Orvis Mirage USA Reel


    The Orvis Mirage reels are extremely useful fly reels made in New England for fishing in corrosive saltwaters. The fly reel is machined in the US using strong but lightweight 6061 T2 aluminium bar stock. The ergonomically designed aluminium handle and hard coat anodizing makes it a durable and long lasting fly reel available in the market. The titanium shaft is strong, but lightweight so that it doesn’t add additional weight to the fly reel. Here are the main features of Orvis Mirage reels:

    • Stainless steel disc drag system
    • Single drag knob rotation
    • lightweight 6061 T6 aluminum bar stock
    • Military spec type III hard coat anodizing