At a Glance: Fly Fishing Reels
FishUSA offers fly reels from Greys, Orvis, Redington, Sage, Waterworks-Lamson, and other major brands and stocks the gamut from entry-level to advanced models. These reels range from small 2-3 weight trout reels to 10+ wt. reels for salmon and saltwater applications. All are either aluminum, die-cast, or CNC-machined from bar stock. Many display extensive porting, which removes excess aluminum during the machining process, thereby reducing the weight of the reel. Almost all are anodized for corrosion resistance. A few reels maintain the traditional click and pawl drags, but most offer a disc drag system. The standard arbor design remains on some of the smaller reels, but most employ a mid or large arbor spool, allowing quicker pick up of line when reeling. All have reel seats that conform to American Fishing Tackle Manufacturers Association (AFTMA) dimension specifications so that they will fit on most modern fly rod reel seats that comply with this industry standard.
Trout reels run from 2-3 wts. to 6-7 wts., with a mix of standard, mid and large arbor designs. Most feature a disc drag, although some smaller reels continue to use the click and pawl drag system to overcome free-spooling line tangles. A disc drag isn’t necessary on most trout reels until you get into fish exceeding 18 inches or so. Then a disc drag becomes an asset in fighting the fish. Like all the others, trout reels are designed and rated with corresponding fly line weight sizes and backing capacities. Generally, reels would be sized for 2-3, 4-5, 5-6, or 6-7 lines plus backing material. You would first wind the Dacron line backing on the reel, and then the fly line is attached to the backing. This backing fills up some space so that the line isn't coiled in small loops when wound on the reel, which can cause "memory" issues where a fly line doesn't uncoil and can interfere with casting performance and cause tangling.
Bass, muskie/pike, salmon, steelhead, and saltwater reels run from 6-7 to 10+ wts. All feature mid or large arbor designs. Most can cross over for multiple species. A 7-8 wt. large arbor reel targeting steelhead, for example, would work great for freshwater fish like bass, pike, larger trout, and even smaller saltwater fish. Manufacturers use aluminum, stainless steel, and sometimes brass to make these heavy-duty reels. CAD/CAM designed and CNC-machined from bar stock, the metal undergoes an anodizing process for a decorative, durable, and corrosion-resistant finish. Many also include extensive porting to lighten the reel's weight. All reels in this category feature a disc drag system manufactured from various materials – the more expensive reels offer sealed drags, keeping salt, sand, and dirt out of the mechanism. As with trout reels, you would reel Dacron backing on the spool first, then the fly line. Most of these reels also work well for switch and spey rods if it matches the correct weighted line and backing capacities listed for the rod you own.