How to Choose a Great Rod Reel for Fly Fishing

More than 49 million Americans participated in freshwater, saltwater, and fly fishing in 2017 alone. And it’s no surprise, considering how fun and relaxing fishing can be — especially fly fishing.

But as with any other serious sport, fly fishing requires the right gear to engage in properly. One of the most important tools for fly fishing are the rod reels that anglers use. Modern rod reels are more than just line holders: the right reel helps balance the fly rod, performing smoothly enough to make sure you land even the biggest of fish. The following are some things to look out for when you choose great rod reels for fly fishing.


Weight and Size

Like fly fishing rods, reels are typically rated by weight or size. Finding the right size or weight reel will depend on the weight or size of your rod. If your rod is rated for fishing 5-weight trout, you’ll want to combine it with a 5-weight reel.

Additionally, you should know ahead of time what type of line you’ll be using, and how much backing capacity you need. Most rod reels can handle two or three different sizes of fishing line. For freshwater fly fishing, you probably won’t need as much backing capacity as you would need for saltwater fishing.


Fly rod reels are constructed in one of two ways: through machined aluminum and pre-cast aluminum. Pre-cast reels are made by pouring liquid aluminum into molds, while machined reels are made by carving the pieces out of a thick sheet of aluminum. Pre-cast reels are typically heavier and less durable than ones made with machined aluminum. However, machined aluminum reels are typically more expensive.

Rod reels also come with different finishes. An anodized finish will stand up to corrosive saltwater, and is essential for saltwater fly fishing. However, if you’ll be keeping to freshwater creeks and lakes, this won’t be an issue either way.

If you’re just getting started with fly fishing and still learning what you like, a simple pre-cast aluminum reel should be just fine. However, if you want the best that money can buy, you won’t find a more satisfying experience than those which good machined aluminum reels offer. Just remember that, as with all things, you get what you pay for when it comes to fly fishing reels.


Drag is perhaps the most important feature of a fly reel. A reel’s drag provides the breaking power necessary to stop big fish from getting away, along with all of your line. You have two options when it comes to the drag: click and pawl, and disc drag.

The traditional click and pawl style provides less adjustability and stopping power, so it’s great if you’re on a budget or just getting started. Disc drag offers the smoothest and most efficient system, so it’s an ideal choice for stopping large game fish.

These are some of the top features you need to consider when purchasing a reel for fly fishing. As enjoyable as high-quality rod reels are, nothing quite matches the joy and satisfaction of using custom fly reels. To get your own custom-made rod and reel for fly fishing, choose ReelFlyRod today.

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