Orvis Fly Fishing
How Do I Choose A Fly Reel?
Picking a fly-fishing reel is a straightforward, simple process. To start, there are just three considerations for you to make: Target species, price, and the type of water you’re going to fish, salt or fresh.
With all the reels on the market, looks may also be a consideration. After all, you’ll be spending hours with this reel attached to your rod. Picking one that looks good and matches your style is also a consideration.
Target species: trout & freshwater bass
Target species: saltwater fish
Pick a price range
Like with most things in life, you get what you pay for with fly reels. Most cheap reels are just cheap. For trout and bass fishing, you can get away with a reel that’s less expensive. But rest assured its lifetime will be much shorter than a well built, more expensive model.
In saltwater fishing, cheap reels might not make it through a full season. Corrosion from salt water and sand will kill them, quickly.
There’s nothing worse than having to deal with less than perfect equipment while on the water. Spending a bit more on a reel ($100-$200) will relieve you of the frustration of faulty parts and subpar performance. These reels also come with better warranties. If something does for wrong with them, getting the problem fixed is easy.
Saltwater vs. freshwater
When buying a saltwater reel, look for one with a sealed drag system (most freshwater reels don’t have them). This helps keep water from getting into the guts of the reel and turning the parts into rusted, unusable pieces.
While you can get away with a standard drag system on a saltwater reel, you need to be relentless in how you maintain it. This means pulling the line off after every use, washing the line and the spool, taking the spool off the reel seat, and spraying the reel with freshwater. Periodically, you’ll need to pull the drag system apart, wash the interior of the reel and grease all the moving parts.
Pick a reel that you’re going to love looking at. You may prefer classic, old-school reels to match a bamboo rod or ones with updated, heavily ported, futuristic looking spools. Reels come in many colors and styles, so match it to your rod.
And don’t go cheap. It may cause you to spend more money over time, replacing cheap reel after cheap reel, rather than spending a bit more on one that lasts a lifetime.
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