The reel holds or winds the fly line and backing which fills the spool allowing faster retrieval of the fly line and provides enough “back up” if and when a fish really takes off.
But why do you need to spend money on it and not just use a tin can?
What to Look for when Buying the Best Fly Fishing Reels for the Money 2018
Value and Quality
If you are anything like me, you’d have one or two expensive rods and a whole bunch of other rods. And because you already spent so much on rods, you’d think that you can be cheap on reels.
Consider this—one expensive reel can serve a couple of your rods. If you buy extra spools, you can stretch their efficiency to serving 3, 4 and 5 weights. If you calculate, the price of the reel is cut in thirds in terms of cost per set up.
High-quality reels also last a long time, with some brands that you can use up to 30 years if you take care of them properly. This means that you don’t have to buy every single time your cheap reel breaks. This video by Capt. Chris Myers shows how to care for your reels.
High-quality fly reels have better drag systems that lockdown when it really matters. What you should be on the lookout for are two things—
- start-up inertia or smoothness
- sealed drag systems (should be maintenance free)
Weight and Arbor Design
If your rod is lightweight, using a heavy reel will result in an unbalanced system, which will then cause fatigue. Your motor control will be compromised and your performance will be negatively affected. This is another reason why your choice of reel will significantly affect your overall fishing experience.
In terms of arbor design, choose large ones that take the line up faster as well as keep the line relaxed in a gentle curve. This way, your line does not train into tight curls and allows air to pass through to keep the backing and line dry.
These are just a few of the important things that you should consider when buying a reel. If you need to spend more to have these features, the advantages far outweigh the cost. If you are just getting your feet wet, this fly fishing expert roundup can help you get started. And once you are ready to be nudged into the water, here are the best fly reels for the money in 2018.
Best Fly Fishing Reels for the Money in 2018
1. Redington Behemoth Reel
The head turner design makes this reel a good fit for Darth Vader–if he were a fly fisher. The arbor spool design is large and meant for quicker retrieval and reduced line memory. The deep V spool primary idea is to give increased backing, and its ergonomic handle is soft-touch for maximum yet comfortable grip.
The reel has more drag that you may need, and true to its hype, it has the most powerful drag in its class.
You may need to be extra careful dropping the reel in the dirt because sand can easily get into its parts. However, it comes with a lifetime warranty, which is an excellent bonus to the already superb features of this reel.
2. Okuma SLV Diecast Aluminum Fly Reel
A popular choice among anglers, the Okuma SLV is purely made of machined aluminum and has a straightforward design that makes it easy to use so an amateur can use it like a pro in no time.
It features a roller bearing so the drag system works only on the way out, and a cork and stainless steel system usually found on other expensive reels. The retrieve is smooth and the drag is easy to control.
You can also easily switch from left to right handed with its side dial. Because the reel is made entirely of aluminum, it is lightweight, however, you would need to care and maintain it a bit more because it does not have an anti-corrosive coating.
3. Piscifun Blaze Fly Fishing Reel
One of the most stylish reels in the market, the Piscifun Blaze is made of hard anodized CNC-machined aluminum alloy. It makes this fly fishing reel abrasion and corrosion resistant, sturdy and lightweight. The mid-arbor design is great for precision casting, and easier line pick up.
It boasts of silky smooth drag, and silent retrieves. The bearing is sealed so that it is protected from corrosion. Its zero deviation feature eliminates wobbles and side plays.
The reel handle is ergonomically designed for a better feel and comfort, and the entire reel is ultra-lightweight and easy to disassemble. Piscifun Blaze requires almost no maintenance as you can simply rinse it with clean water.
4. Piscifun Sword ‖
Deserving of the Piscifun reputation of high-quality fly reels, the Piscifun Sword II will not disappoint. The reel is cold-forged and tempered so it is really sturdy and can last a long time, especially with its hard anodized surface. Made of CNC-machined aluminum alloy, it is ultra-lightweight, as well as impact and corrosion resistant.
The concaved arbor design ensures greater capacity and strength. It has a stainless steel drag system with a one-way clutch bearing for faster retrievals.
The only downside to this reel is it is preset for left-hand retrieval upon purchase. So, you would need some help from the manufacturer if you need it to convert it for right-hand use. Getting the right setting for the drag adjustment dial can also be a bit challenging, as well as disassembling for cleaning and maintenance.
5. Orvis Clearwater Large Arbor
This reel is made from high-quality die-cast constructed aluminum which makes it lightweight for better balance without compromising strength. The Orvis Clearwater features a large stainless arbor that allows for a better grasp and a more balanced weight. Its arbor size also helps in faster retrieval especially when the fish is fighting.
It has an excellent stainless steel stacked disc drag system providing powerful inline, and the drag knob has a positive click so you get consistent settings every single time. The reel is also convertible for a right-hand or left-hand retrieve.
Maintenance is minimal: you just need to keep the drag disc lubricated against dirt or dust.
The Bottom Line
Buying a high-quality fly fishing reel to match your rod setup does not necessarily mean paying with your arm, leg, and spleen. Our review of the best fly fishing reels for the money above range from budget to high-end options. And most of them were redone to improve performance and user experience. So there’s something for you whether you’re looking for reliability, durability or features.
We are fortunate that today’s technology allows us to have choices of reels with better parts, tighter tolerances, and overall higher quality. Just be sure to consider your personal preferences and needs before purchasing a reel. You also need to mix and match your rod-reel combinations, as there is no such thing as a singularly perfect answer for all types of game fish and fishing conditions.