Pull in an amazing catch this fishing season with one of the best fly reels! If you’re going fishing, a rod and reel are the most fundamental pieces of equipment you’ll need. The reel especially is one of the more delicate and complex pieces of fishing gear, so quality is key.
Fly fishing reels should be strong without weighing down your fly rod setup. They also must be durable and easy to use so that you don’t lose a good catch. Invest in a good fly fishing reel and it will last for years!
Best Fly Fishing Reels
Looking for a new fly reel? We’ve done the research and found the best fly fishing reels on the market today. These reels come from some of the best brands and are known for great performance out on the water.
These are the Top 10 Fly Reels of 2020:
- Sage Fly Fishing – SPECTRUM Fly Reel
- Hardy Ultralite CADD Fly Fishing Reel
- Piscifun Sword Fly Fishing Reel
- Redington BEHEMOTH Fly Reel
- Piscifun Aoka Aluminum Fly Fishing Reel
- Redington RISE Fly Fishing Reel
- Piscifun Crest Large Arbor Fly Fishing Reel
- Orvis Battenkill Disc IV & V Fly Fishing Spey Reel & Spool
- Croch Fly Fishing Reel
- M MAXIMUMCATCH Maxcatch ECO Fly Reel
Sage Fly Fishing – SPECTRUM Fly Reel
Sage fly reels are some of the most popular among fly fishermen. The Sage Spectrum Fly Reel is a large arbor, high performance fly reel. It has a concave spool surface for increased line capacity and super smooth drag. The Sage Spectrum Reel is lightweight but durable, made with high quality, aerospace grade aluminum.
- SCS fully sealed drag system, One revolution drag knob with numbered and detented settings
- Large arbor for fast line pick up
- Fully machined 6061-T6 aerospace grade aluminum
- Cold forged and tempered for superior strength and rigidity
- Hard anodized for surface protection and corrosion resistance
Hardy Ultralite CADD Fly Fishing Reel
Hardy is an English brand, also known for the highest quality fly fishing gear. The Ultralite CADD Fly Fishing Reel is one of their best fly reels, a favorite of the brand. This reel has an ultra large arbor and a 360 degree color coded drag system. Its impressive industrial design looks great and is made with premium materials and components.
- Bar stock 6061
- Two tone anodising
- 360 degree colour coded drag
- Ultra large arbour
- Captive spool release
Piscifun Sword Fly Fishing Reel
One of the best budget fly reels, Piscifun offers great quality at an affordable price. The Piscifun Sword Fly Fishing Reel has a mid-arbor design for versatility and a buttery smooth drag system. It is made with a premium aluminum alloy, so it is lightweight but extremely durable. The Piscifun Sword Fly Fishing Reel comes in various sizes and colors, and comes with a three year warranty.
Redington BEHEMOTH Fly Reel
Redington is another famous fly fishing brand, so it’s no surprise that their reels make the list. The Redington BEHEMOTH Fly Reel offers a powerful carbon fiber drag system and a die-cast construction for a strong, large arbor spool design. This premium reel has an oversized drag knob and twin molded handles with an ergonomic grip, so it’s easy to pull in big fish. It is also saltwater safe.
Piscifun Aoka Aluminum Fly Fishing Reel
Another great choice from Piscifun, the Aoka Aluminum Fly Fishing Reel is a high performing and affordable option. It has a cork and teflon drag system with a one-way clutch, so drag is smooth. The mid-arbor spool design and oversized handle reduces line memory and makes for a quick pick up. Piscifun is so confident in this product that they offer a three year warranty.
- Three Year Warranty - Your reel has been set at the factory for left-hand retrieve. To convert your reel to right-hand retrieve, please contact us for guidance.
- Smooth Drag - Cork/Teflon disc drag system with one-way clutch bearing for smooth immediate drag engagement.
- Mid-arbor Design - Reducing line memory while also facilitating lightning-quick line pickup.
- Click Drag and Silent Retrieve- Quick spool release with easy left to right hand retrieve change.
- Exquisite Appearance - Fully machined frame and die-cast spool; oversize handle, as with all of our reel series.
Redington RISE Fly Fishing Reel
Another top pick from Redington, the RISE Fly Fishing Reel comes with a lifetime warranty. This reel has a U-shaped, large arbor reel for quick line retrieval. Its carbon fiber drag system provides over 20 pounds of fish fighting torque. The RISE Fly Reel has a CNC machined and anodized aluminum design, so it is durable. It comes in four size options and four colors.
- CNC Machined, anodized 6061-T6 aluminum design with quick release spool, easily converts to left or right hand retrieve
- Ultra-large arbor design for quick line retrieve, twin molded, soft-touch ergonomic handles, oversized drag knob for easy adjustment
- Smooth, compact carbon fiber drag System
- Nylon reel case included
Piscifun Crest Large Arbor Fly Fishing Reel
Piscifun makes the list again with another top-rated and high quality reel. The Piscifun Crest Fly Fishing Reel has a fully sealed carbon to stainless steel drag system, so it is safe for fresh or saltwater use. It has a large, U-shaped arbor and a large handle, so it limits line memory and increases pick-up time. This reel is made with premium aluminum and has lots of great features, as well as a lifetime warranty.
- Lifetime Warranty - Piscifun offers Life Time Warranty for all Crest fly reels without Human Damage problem. The Crest fly reel has been set at the factory for left-hand retrieve. To convert your reel to right-hand retrieve, please contact us for guide.
- Fully Sealed Carbon-to-STAINLESS DRAG - Impervious to water, sand and grit, requiring no maintenance except for simple rinsing. Can be used for both fresh and saltwater fishing.
- Precisely Cnc Machined - Strong yet lightweight anodized 6061 T6 aluminum, sports a heavily ventilated spool to shed weight yet keep its strength.
- Large Arbor Design - The U-shaped arbor limits line memory and, paired with the large, flared cranking handle, allows for rapid line pick-up. The fast line pick-up gives you the edge over freshwater and saltwater species.
- Click Drag And Silent Retreive - Click drag design provides accurate adjustment. The Crest reel features an innovative crew free spool disassembly design, easy to change the hand retrieve.
Orvis Battenkill Disc IV & V Fly Fishing Spey Reel & Spool
Orvis is another well-known and trusted fly fishing brand, guaranteed to make most “best of” lists. The Battenkill Disc IV & V Fly Fishing Spey Reel is a great option for fly fishermen, from the popular Battenkill line. Those who prefer spey casting will enjoy with mid-arbor reel, made with aircraft grade aluminum. The durable sealed drag system uses carbon and stainless steel components and the ergonomic handle makes retrieval easy.
- NEW generation of Battenkill Disc Reels!
- NEW mid-arbor design
- Technically superior sealed-drag based on the Hydros SL
- Battle-tested performance, remarkably accessible price
Croch Fly Fishing Reel
For those on a tight budget, the Croch Fly Fishing Reel is a solid choice. This ultralight reel is a perfect match for lighter fly rods, but it is still durable and strong. It has an oversized cork drag for more versatility and a mid-arbor design. The Croch Fly Fishing Reel has a cold-forged, CNC machined aluminum construction. It comes in various sizes and colors.
- Aluminum alloy for high-impact durability and all-conditions corrosion resistance. Ultra-lightweight, practical, less line stacking, higher line retrieval rates
- More solid and smooth. Stainless steel drag system with one-way clutch bearing for smooth immediate drag engagement
- Super quality--Cold-forged, CNC-machined, high-grade aluminum construction
- Hard anodized for surface protection and corrosion resistance; Concave ported arbor for greater strength and capacity
- Mid-arbor design for easier and quicker retrieve; Easy conversion from Left-hand to Right-hand
M MAXIMUMCATCH Maxcatch ECO Fly Reel
Another great budget fly reel, the M MAXIMUMCATCH Maxcatch Eco Fly Reel has a large arbor design and strong aluminum construction. The teflon drag system is strong against bigger fish. It comes in three sizes and three colors (including a rainbow trout pattern), and it comes with a 1 year 100% satisfaction warranty.
- ONE-YEAR-WARRANTY – we as a 13 years fly reel factory, offer “No Hassle” warranty for all our reels. If you are not 100% satisfied with our reel, you can return it in any time.
- Strong All-aluminum construction, Large arbor design for rapid line retrieval
- Rugged disc drag for putting serious pressure on the fish
- One-way bearing for quick and easy left-to-right hand retrieval switch
- Color: Silver, Black, Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout and Brook Trout
Fly Fishing Reel Buying Guide
Not sure how to choose the best fly fishing reel? Reels are complex pieces of equipment, so it can be difficult to figure out which reel is the best one for your needs. We’ll break down the most important features and components to look at when buying a fly reel.
The arbor is the wheel where the line sits. A larger arbor can handle more line, so line capacity is directly related to arbor size.
For fly anglers target small fish in smaller, shallower waters, a smaller arbor will work fine. Those targeting larger, fighting fish or fish known to make long runs should opt for a large arbor, as they’ll need the extra line and power. A mid-size arbor is a good, versatile choice.
Arbor size also affects line retrieve, as a larger arbor can reel in fish faster and in fewer turns. Consider what fish you’re targeting and your style of fly fishing when choosing an arbor size.
The weight of your fly reel is important for various reasons, including how much it weighs you down over a long day of fishing. The weight of your reel must match your fly rod, or it could cause issues with casting. It should also match the weight of the line you use.
Weights range from 1 to 9 weight options. Choose your weight based on your other equipment of course, but also on the fish you’re targeting. For smaller fish, choose the 1-3 range. Mid-size fish work best for 4-6, with 5 weight as the standard, versatile option. Large fighting fish may require 6-9 weight options.
The drag system of your reel determines how smoothly and efficiently you can reel in fish, and how the reel slows down fish running off with your line. Drag needs to be strong enough to pull the weight of the fish you’re chasing.
Look for reels with great drag reviews and high quality drag components. Popular and durable drag systems often use carbon fiber and stainless steel to withstand tough fish.
Freshwater vs Saltwater Fly Reels
Where will you be using your fly reel? Many anglers fish solely in freshwater, but if you prefer saltwater or occasionally fish in saltwater, your reel needs to be saltwater safe.
A reel that is saltwater safe should be made with corrosion resistant metal so that it doesn’t break down over time. It should also have a sealed drag system so that salt and debris doesn’t cause damage.
Most reels are freshwater safe, but it’s still important to check the materials or look for sealed drag systems, especially if you’re fishing in water with heavy amounts of silt.
What material is your reel made from? Material directly affects performance, durability, and more, so it should not be overlooked. Most fly reels are made with aluminum – aluminum is strong but lightweight, so it makes for a great reel material.
Even if a reel is aluminum, however, you should check for the quality of the metal, its corrosion resistance, and the material of other components. A reel with a strong aluminum frame but a weak, flimsy handle might break despite the frame. Check the type and quality of material for all components of your reel.
Your reel will be useless if it doesn’t fit with your fly fishing rod. Make sure before you make a purchase that the reel fits with your rod. It should be the same weight, and the reel seat on the rod should be compatible. Choosing the same brand for rod and reel can help ensure compatibility.
Use our buying guide or choose from our top 10 list of fly fishing reels and you’re sure to make a great purchase! The best fly reels are lightweight but strong, so you can catch fish all day without fatigue.