Best Fly Fishing Reels of 2021 – Complete Reviews with Comparison

Fishing reels play a vital role in the daily operations of a fisherman. Whether you are fishing for fun or economic reasons, you need to get the best option to suit your needs.

There are lots of fishing reels, and it can be overwhelming when you try to narrow down to one. Fishing reels have designs and features to meet specific needs.

In case you are new or want to find the right choice, below you will find some of the best fly fishing reels that we think you should try out. There is also a buyer's guide to help you through.

Comparison Chart

Piscifun Sword Fly Fishing Reel with CNC-machined Aluminum Alloy Body 3/4 Black

Redington Zero 4/5 Fly Reel – Sand

Waterworks-Lamson Remix -5+ Reel Smoke

Sage Fly Fishing – Trout 4/5/6 (4-6 WT) Reel – Bronze

Ross Reels Evolution LTX 4-5 – Black

Fly Fishing Reels Review

1. Piscifun Sword Fly Fishing Reel

Piscifun fishing reel is a superior reel with one of the most superior drag systems. The reel is reliable and helps many people train and master fishing skills. This is possible because of the rigid design that keeps the line under control. The large spool available also makes it easy to crank and control large fish.

Product Highlights

The fishing reel consists of aluminum material. This factor makes it corrosion-resistant. In addition, the hard-anodized aluminum surface increases abrasion resistance.

The manufacturer uses precision CNC machined aluminum alloy to enable it to resist high impact. This way, it can serve you longer and ensure you enjoy every fishing session.

You will enjoy the silky smooth drag that the machine manifests. The multi-disk cork and stainless steel drag system work in a one-way clutch basic. This leads to a smooth drag engagement that is immediate and accurate. The whole process is silent.

Piscifun fishing reel has a mid-arbor design that reduces the line memory. This results in quick line pickup. The whole system has a hollow design that makes it lighter and easy to carry.

What I Like

Let's first talk about the three-year warranty available. The company has you covered under this warranty. This incentive covers manufacturer defects and workmanship issues.

It is easy to set the left or right hand retrieve. You can also switch between the two easily. It is even better since you can call the support team to help you out.

The aluminum coating used makes the reel efficient to use in saltwater. After you finish fishing, the coating makes it easy to clean. All you have to do is rinse it with fresh water.

The precision-machined aluminum alloy has high impact resistance. So, there is no need to worry about it getting banged up.

What I Don't Like

The biggest downside to the reel is the drag system.  The drag adjustment is very sensitive and goes from too tight to too lose very quickly.  This is not an issue on smaller fish but can be a big problem if you are fishing for big fish that like to run.

PROS

  • Inexpensive
  • Abrasion resistance
  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Easy gripping knurled handle
  • 3-year warranty cover

CONS

  • Drag is sensitive and difficult to adjust

2. Redington Zero Fly Reel

With this reel, you will have no worries about drag. This reel is very effective and is one of the best tools to use to practice fishing. The product is easy to use and comes with practical preset settings. For instance, the default tension is enough to help you catch fish effectively.

Product Highlights

This classic reel has a unique die-cast construction that is light. It is lightweight to allow beginners to navigate easily through the waters. In addition, the reel features a good grip making it easy to handle.

The die-cast construction also easily connects to the left or right-hand retriever. This system then connects to a superior drag system. The system generates enough power to help you reel in your catch.

It has a large arbor design. This design makes it fast to retrieve and reduces line memory. The reel ensures that you use little or no effort when fishing.

All these features work together to create a robust, reliable, and effective tool for you.

What I Like

There is a lifetime warranty on this reel. The manufacturer handles all manufacturing defects and complaints that you may have. If you feel that the product you bought is of low quality, you have the option of returning it and getting a replacement. One can do all this through the excellent customer support available.

The reel is affordable. Compared to similar products in the current market with the same features, it comes at a reasonable price. Also, the reel can fit tight budgets.

This click-drag system is durable. Other benefits you get from having it are it is easy to use, simple, and light. It is about two times lighter than its counterparts.

You will enjoy your time with this reel. It is easy to switch between the left and right retriever options. Also, you will spend less time cleaning and maintaining it.

What I Don't Like

The reel is ideal for the beginner. It is best for light fishing tasks. It is not common to find pro fishers using it since it does not provide enough strength to fight strong fish. Use for light fishing activities or for catching small fish.

PROS

  • Simple and easy to maintain
  • Affordable
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Large arbor design

CONS

  • It is not the best option for catching big fish

3. Waterworks-Lamson Remix Fly Fishing Reel

This entry-level reel is an excellent option for those looking for a durable and reliable option while working on a tight budget. If you haven't got that much cash to throw around, you'll want to make sure you can get something pretty solid and dependable, so let's take a look and see if this is the reel you might be looking for.

Product Highlights

The Remix Fly Fishing reel by Waterworks-Lamson is a pretty solid piece of work. Made from 6061 bar-stock aluminum, this hardwearing reel is made to withstand all kinds of punishment. There's a lot of intelligent design work put into it, such as the radiused compound curves on a die-cast spool and a near zero-radius on the inside corners, all for improved performance.

The reel's frame is machined for precision and better durability while keeping it lightweight on your rod, which adds comfort. This also adds to its structural rigidity, further enhancing durability.

You'll also get to enjoy a lifetime warranty for the first owner of the reel, which means that you'll have some peace of mind in the unlikely event there is some damage.

It's a roughly medium-sized reel with a backing capacity of 100 yards. It's neatly made with an excellent finish and design. It has a painted finish, which may take some getting used to if you aren't used to it.

Lamson fly reels are also well-renowned for their smooth drag systems, which you get to enjoy the Remix Fly Fishing reel again. You will notice an unfortunate lack of power to the drag, with a maximum drag of 1.4 lbs. There's also heavy startup inertia which further slows it all down, making it feel somewhat unsatisfying to use.

What I Like

The best part about this reel is that it's a lightweight and durable option on a budget. It's relatively inexpensive given the quality of the build, so you get to enjoy a decently strong and well-made fishing reel. Even if it is conditional to the first owner, the lifetime warranty is still an excellent addition to the mix of making this a reliably good option. This makes it a decent choice for an entry-level reel as you can expect it to last and won't necessarily need to worry about the significant drawbacks at that level.

What I Didn't Like

Some unfortunate drawbacks make this more of an entry-level option without much use beyond that level. The slow startup inertia and low drag power mean you won't be able to pull anything larger than smaller fish, so you won't get much use of this reel once you grow in experience.

PROS

  • Lightweight
  • Great budget option
  • Durable materials and design
  • Lifetime warranty for the first owner

CONS

  • Slow startup inertia
  • Weak drag

4. SAGE Trout Reel

The SAGE trout reel has both left and right orientations to cover all customer preferences. These reel types are classically aesthetic but feature modern performance. They have a romantic appeal and come in a variety of colors.

Product Highlights

Anodized aluminum is the material used to manufacture the reel. It is a good choice since it is corrosion-resistant. This means the reel can withstand tough conditions.

The main feature to note is the one revolution drag knob. This knob makes it fast to retrieve the line. By using this feature, you reduce the pressure on the hand, and this is one factor that makes it comfortable.

Also, the knob makes it easy to store this tool. In on revolution, you easily retrieve back the line and can store it after your fishing sessions.

Using the knob, it is easy to fine-tune drag. If the drag system does not produce the intended power, use this knob to adjust and reset it to its default setting.

The large arbor of the reel facilitates fast line pick up. The concave arbor has excellent strength and maximum capacity. Therefore, it is easier to deal with reactions from large fish.

What I Like

The product comes with a neoprene and embroidered nylon reel bag. This bag makes it easily portable. It is also easier to carry the tool in your backpack as the nylon prevents it from colliding with the other stuff.

This bag is a nylon product; therefore, it easily slides off. The case is watertight to prevent water from penetrating in or out.

It is easy to convert from left to right-hand retriever. It only takes a matter of seconds if you are familiar with the process.

If you prefer beauty and want a beautiful product, there are many different options for this reel. All the available choices have a romantic appeal. They make good gifts if you have a loved one or family member who loves fishing.

The tool has a sleek design that is easy to clean. Rinse your device with fresh water, let it dry, and place it back in the nylon bag.

What I Don't Like

The reel is a bit heavy and finding a rod to balance with it can be tricky. The product weighs about three times more compared to other similar reels.

PROS

  • One revolution drag knob is available
  • Large arbor makes it more effective
  • Easy to convert from left to right hand retrieve

CONS

  • It is a bit heavy

5. Ross Reels Evolution LTX Fly Reel

The Ross Reels Evolution LTX fly reel is a perfect combination of the previous Evolution LT and R performance capabilities. This reel is evident of the quality workmanship used to manufacture it. Expect maximum performance and reliability.

Product Highlights

All its performance capabilities start from the type 2 anodizing aluminum material used. This feature helps generate a balance between rigidity and aesthetics. It further makes the structure durable and corrosion-resistant. The 6061 T6 Aluminum material is also abrasion-resistant.

The Ross Reels Evolution LTX fly reel has a large arbor design to increase line pick up. The large arbor helps to angle and makes it easy to manage large fish.

The drag generated by the reel is powerful. There is a stainless steel disc drag system that produces this power. This whole system has watertight seals to prevent water penetration. A sealed system produces the right amount of power to lift big catches. Also, the stainless steel factor makes it easy to maintain and clean the reel.

What I Like

The stainless steel disc drag system produces ultra-smooth and quiet movements. The reel is also durable and will last long. The Ross Reels Evolution LTX fly reel has a bell shape that makes it easy to manage line movements. You can quickly level the fly line.

All clients can claim the Ross limited lifetime warranty. The limited promotion handles repairs and replacement due to factory defects and poor artistry. However, it does not cover other types of damages that result from usage.

The quality aluminum material used makes the reel reliable in saltwater. There will be no need to worry if it will begin to rust or degrade.

The main advantage of having this tool is how effective it is when it comes to movement and control. This is because all parts work together to handle your catch.

What I Don't Like

The only real downsize to the Reddington LTX reel is the price.  But then again, you get what you pay for!

PROS

  • Excellent line movement
  • Quality aluminum used
  • Durable
  • Ross limited lifetime warranty

CONS

  • Price might be an issue for some

Best Fishing Reels Buyer's Guide

The reels above are a few suggestions that you should try for a start. They may or may not work for you. If you are looking for a more specific option, there are other options available.

This section helps you narrow down to the right product to buy. Make sure that you consider all the listed factors before buying.

Key Feature #1: Styles

There are two basic fly fishing reel styles to consider. The first are mid-arbor reels that are good for most freshwater fishing.  Mid-arbor reels have a smaller diameter and do not pick up line very quickly.  The benefit though is they tend to be smaller in size and lightweight.

Second, are large-arbor reels, which are a popular choice for many. Large-arbor reels pick up line more quickly and are a great choice when fishing for larger freshwater fish or fishing in saltwater.

Key Feature #2: Comfort Level

All fishing reels fall into two distinct comfort levels: comfortable and not comfortable. The lightweight kind is easy to carry and therefore comfortable. However, they are not that effective and powerful. Heavy-duty reels, on the other hand, are less comfortable but have higher performance.

Use this knowledge when buying. If you want something for leisure or lightweight fishing, get a lighter version. Alternatively, if you want to increase your fishing performance, use the heavy-duty type.

Key Feature #3: Drag System

The drag system assists the reel in applying the right pressure to handle the fish caught. These systems come in different sizes and heights.

Different manufacturers design the systems to suit specific reels. For example, you cannot expect to use a heavy-duty drag system on a lightweight reel frame.

They are also different in terms of complexity and operation. There are those with more robust capabilities than others.

If you decide to set up the reel on your own, ensure that you fully understand if the drag system is compatible with the frame you have. An incorrect system in a heavy-duty reel gets under pressure and does not perform as intended.

Key Feature #4: Materials

The best fly reels are made of anodized aluminum, which makes them durable and resist saltwater effectively.

Carbon fiber is also a commonly used material, and manufacturers have been using this for a long time because it is versatile and reliable.

We also have plastic-made reels, which are the cheapest option available but less durable.

There are more materials to consider. Only choose those that are corrosion resistant and can easily withstand a little abuse.

Key Feature #5: Bearings

Bearings are primarily stainless steel products. We can group the bearings into three main types.

Open type

These bearings are exposed and experience less friction. As a result, they spin faster and generate more power.

Shielded

Those that fall under this category are less exposed, experience slightly more friction, and spin moderately.

Sealed bearings

Here, you find those that are completely sealed, meaning more friction and spin slower. Power from this kind is not that strong.

To get quality results from your bearings, ensure they are stainless steel. Try as much as possible to make them reduce friction. Choose those that are strong and can withstand high pressure.

Best Fishing Reels FAQs

Question 1: What Should I Look for in a Fly Reel?

The key is choosing one that can handle and hold the necessary amount of backing and line for the weight of the rod. If you decide to get a 5 weight fly rod, purchase a fly reel that accommodates weights between 4 and 6.

Question 2: How Should I Set up my Fishing Reel?

To set up the reel, follow the following simple instructions.

  • Attach the backing material to the fly reel using an arbor knot.
  • Connect the fly line to the backing material with nail knot or loop-to-loop connection.
  • Attach leader to the fly line using a loop-to-loop connection

Question 3: What is the Right Reel Size for Salmon?

Fly reels using a sizing system referred to a the 'weight' of the fly reel.  Note this not the actual weight of the reel but a relative scale.  Generally, the larger the fish the large weight fly reel you will need.

For salmon a 9- or 10-weight fly reel is common.

Question 4: How Should I Use a Fishing Reel?

The primary purpose of a fly reel is to hold the fly fishing line.  When ready to fish you simply pull the line off the reel and begin to cast.  Once you hook a fish you then turn the handle on the reel to bring the fish in.  It is import to properly set the drag on your fly reel such that if the fish pulls too hard it will allow line to release from the reel and prevent the fish from getting off.

Question 5: What is a Good Beginner Fly Fishing Reel?

There are numerous options. However, whatever choice you make, ensure that it has the following basic features: durable, lightweight and good drag. Start with a smaller and lighter one that you can efficiently operate. Gradually progress to heavy-duty types.

Summary

A fly reel determines every result when you go out fishing. There are many options to choose from, depending on your preferences and level of expertise. This review highlights the essential factors to consider. Why wait longer when you can try one of the above suggestions today?

Ken Sperry

About the author

Ken is an avid fisherman of 40+ years who loves to explore and find new places to fish. He created DIY Fly Fishing to help you do the same.

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