Best Fly Fishing Reels: The Definitive Guide

If you want to improve your time outdoors you may be looking for one of the best fly fishing reels.

It’s important to choose this piece of equipment right and I’ll show you how to do that – you’ll see my top picks for 2017 too.


How To Choose A Fly Fishing Reel

There’s a few things to keep in mind when making your selection and the most important is:

  • Materials of the reel
  • Amount of drag
  • Overall Size

First thing you need to look at is the materials of the product you’re considering. The majority of reels today are made from machine bar-stock aluminum – these are the best quality and the kind you’ll want. There are composite material reels and cast iron as well but your first choice should be aluminum.

Next, you’ll need to investigate the drag system of the reel. The drag is the amount of resistance the reel provides when a fish takes your bait and goes the opposite direction. Having good drag is more important when you’re salt water fly fishing than trout fishing (you still need some drag for trout fishing). Any quality reel will have you covered in this department.

The arbor size is another important factor and today large arbor reels are the trend and probably will be going forward – they reel in the line faster and with more ease. Traditional trout reels tend to be smaller and have a more classical look. You can also buy a mid size arbor which is a good middle ground.

Lastly, you need to look at the overall size of the reel you want. This depends on your rod and you want both to be compatible; For example, a 5 weight trout fishing rod should be matched with a 5 weight trout reel.

So now that you know what to look for let’s take a look at my top picks for the year now.

Orvis Battenkill Fly Reel

Company: Orvis

Price: $$

Rating: 4.8/5

Orvis is one of the most recognizable names in fishing and their Battenkill fly reel is one of their marque products. The Battenkill balances old school simplicity with new age technology and features:

  • A slightly larger arbor to help your reel faster
  • Made from durable machined aluminum and will handle mother nature’s worst
  • Adjustable drag system so you get the feel you desire

The price isn’t horrible either and you can pick this reel up for around $95.

Take A Closer Look At The Orvis Battenkill

Waterworks ULA Force SL Reel

Company: Waterworks

Price: $$$$

Rating: 5/5

The Waterworks ULA Force is one of best reels available and truly is high quality – the price reflects this (it’ll cost over $470). If you’re a beginner and just trying out fly fishing you won’t need this reel. It’s reserved for people who live and breathe the outdoors and get out there as much as possible. You’ll be happy to know it comes with:

  • One of the smoothest drags ever created
  • Extremely lightweight
  • High center of mass makes casting ultra smooth

Any fisherman would be lucky to have this piece of equipment at their disposal, that’s for sure.

Take A Closer Look At The Waterworks ULA Force SL Reel 

Sage Series 4200 Fly Reel

Company: Sage

Price: $$$

Rating: 4.8/5

The Sage Series 4200 may not be on the same level as the product you just saw but it can still be used by serious fisherman – it’ll cost less too (around $155). Some of the features I like include:

  • Several different color choices so you get the exact look you desire
  • Multiple weight options allows you to match it to several different rods
  • Made from aircraft grade aluminum

The drag is smooth too and will allow you to reel at much faster rates than what you’re used too.

Take A Closer Look At The Sage Series 4200

Scientific Anglers Voltage Fly Reel

Company: Scientific Anglers

Price: $$$

Rating: 4.8/5

The Voltage from Scientific Anglers is a large arbored reel and is best suited for big game and salt water fishing. It’s moderately priced at around $130 (can go higher depending on customization) and comes with:

  • Multiple weight options to suit your individual needs
  • Easily converted for lefties and righties
  • Made from quality aluminum materials

This product is lightweight so you won’t be distracted from your fishing pursuits.

Take A Closer Look At The Scientific Anglers Voltage

Piscifun Aoka Fly Fishing Reel

Company: Piscifun

Price: $

Rating: 4.6/5

If you consider yourself anything more than an avid fisherman you should avoid the Piscifun Aoka fly fishing reel – it’s best suited for anyone trying this sport out or only likes to go out every blue moon. If you’re a beginner, however, you’ll like the:

  • Mid arbor design that allows for a smooth drag
  • Strong aluminum materials make this product very durable
  • Allows for easy left to right hand retrieval

The price is right with the Aoka and this reel will only cost around $39.

Take A Closer Look At The Piscifun Aoka

Waterworks Lamson Remix Fly Reel

Company: Waterworks

Price: $$$

Rating: 4.8/5

Here we have another Waterworks reel and this one, the Remix, is a little more affordable than the one you already saw – it’ll only cost around $159. Like many reels you get different weight options and a:

  • Hybrid design fuses the benefits of a cast spool and CNC-machined case
  • Smooth drag system lets you reel fast and easy
  • Narrow format assists in line control

All Waterwork products are assembled in the USA by experts and skilled craftsmans too.

Take A Closer Look At The Waterworks Lamson Remix

Sage Evoke Series Fly Reel

Company: Sage

Price: $$$$$

Rating: 5/5

The Sage Evoke is one of the most expensive reels on this list and for good reason – it’s one of the best. This product is an angler’s dream and is one all fisherman will love to cast with. Some of its top features include:

  • Specifically designed so you can handle larger fish with more ease
  • SCS carbon drag system with 39 different settings gives you maximum control
  • As durable of a construction you’ll find

Owning this reel will cost over $550. Beginners should look else where but everyone else should consider the Evoke.

Take A Closer Look At The Safe Evoke

Cheeky Boost Fly Reels

Company: Cheeky Fishing

Price: $$$

Rating: 4.8/5

The Cheeky Boost Fly Reels is one of the best deals on this list. If you decide on it you’ll get a reel and two matching spare spools. You’ll also get:

  • Rev carbon drag system will slow down the most stubborn fish
  • Lightweight and delivers good balance
  • Spools can be switched with out the use of tools

The price isn’t terrible either and this Cheeky Boost product will cost around $219. You also get your choice of weight options to suit your rod and individual needs.

Take A Closer Look At The Cheeky Boost Fly Reels

Hardy Ultralite CAAD Fly Reel

Company: Hardy

Price: $$$

Rating: 4.9/5

The Hardy Ultralite CAAD is one of the lightest reels on the market and is very easy to use. It’s not cheap but not overly expensive either – the CAAD will cost around $269. Some nice features include:

  • Large arbor design minimizes drag and quickens your reel
  • Made from strong aluminum materials
  • Various weight options for different fisherman

This product is built to last and will withstand bad weather and rushing rivers.

Take A Closer Look At The Hardy Ultralite CAAD

Tibor Riptide Fly Reel

Company: Tibor

Price: $$$$$

Rating: 5/5

Tibor is another high end fishing company and their Tiptide fly reel is one of the most expensive products on this list – it’ll only cost around $670. This piece of equipment is made for people that know they love fly fishing – not someone just trying it out. Skilled anglers will like the :

  • Long line capacity of up to 200 yards
  • Made from very strong and durable aluminum
  • One of the smoothest drag systems ever built

The Tiptide is designed to go after big game and can handle stripers, shark and tuna. When you order from Amazon you get a $60 Troutfitter gift card too. If you’d like to check out that deal, click below:

Take A Closer Look At The Tibor Tiptide

Pflueger Patriarch Fly Reel

Company: Pflueger

Price: $$$

Rating: 4.8/5

The Pflueger Patriarch is a product that all skill levels can enjoy and is best suited for intermediates to more skilled fisherman. It’s not overly expensive and will cost around $200 and features:

  • Large arbor design improves drag and line retrieval
  • Made from durable high grade aluminum
  • Corrosion resistant

This is a product you can use when fishing in streams or salt water – it’s extremely versatile.

Take A Closer Look At The Pflueger Patriarch

Redington Surge Fly Reel

Company: Redington

Price: $

Rating: 4.7/5

The Redington Surge is the perfect reel for anyone trying out this sport or only likes to get out there every once in a while. You get your choice of weight so you can match it to your rod and it comes with a:

  • Disc drag system which halts fish from pulling away
  • Easy to change out the spool
  • Made from strong aluminum materials

This reel won’t break the bank either and you can pick it up for as low as $39 – this makes it ideal for anyone on a tight budget.

Take A Closer Look At The Redington Surge

Redington Rise Fly Reel

Company: Redington

Price: $$$

Rating: 4.8/5

This Redington reel, the Rise, is higher quality than the one you just saw – it’s more expensive and will cost around $199. This product can be used by skilled anglers and these fisherman will love the:

  • Large arbor design that eases drag and line retrieval
  • Ergonomic handles are soft and pleasant to hold onto for the whole day
  • Comes with a lifetime warranty

You know a reel is durable when it comes with a lifetime warranty. This is definitely a piece of equipment you’ll like to have at your disposal.

Take A Closer Look at The Redington Rise

Hardy Bougle Fly Reel

Company: Hardy

Price: $$$$

Rating: 4.9/5

Here we have another quality Reel from Hardy and this one, the Bougle, is pretty expensive – it’ll cost around $490. You’ll have a hard time finding a better one, though, and this one comes with:

  • Standard arbor design gives a classic look and feel
  • Large line capacity
  • Made from ultra strong and durable bar-stock aluminum

The hardy brand has been around for over 100 years and you know when you purchase from them you’re getting a time tested reel.

Take A Closer Look at The Hardy Bougle

Ross Eddy Fly Reel

Company: Ross Reels

Price: $

Rating: 4.7/5

The Ross Eddy is a reel that’s perfect for beginners and people trying out this sport – it comes at a low price of just $75 too. Despite that it’s still a quality product and features:

  • Large arbor design makes reeling in a stubborn fish much easier
  • Can be used in both freshwater and saltwater conditions
  • AGP coating ensures this reel will last in the harshest conditions

I wish I had a reel this nice when I started fly fishing; it would have made life a whole lot easier.

Take A Closer Look At The Ross Eddy Fly Reel

Tibor Gulfstream Fly Reel

Company: Tibor

Price: $$$$$

Rating: 5/5

Last on the list is one of the best reels on the market – the Tibor Gulfstream. The quality this product possesses comes with a price and a high one at that. The Gulfstream costs around $735 but you do get an $80 gift card from Trouttfitters if you purchase it. You’ll also like:

  • The large line capacity of up to 300 yards
  • Its ability to land large salt water fish including marlin, shark and tuna
  • Extremely light weight at 11 ounces

This reel is extremely durable too. Only certain anglers will need the Gulfstream, however, and if you’re one of them you should definitely consider it.

Take A Closer Look  At The Tibor Gulfstream

Enjoy Your Time Fishing With A Quality Reel!

Fly fishing is one of the best outdoor activities known to man – nothing beats waking up early, grabbing a few drinks and heading out to try and catch the fish you’ve been thinking about all week. The only way you’ll land that trout or tuna, however, is with a quality reel – like the ones on this list. No matter your needs or budget there’s a product here that will suit your perfectly.

If you have any questions about what you’ve read comment below and I’ll make sure to respond as fast as possible. You can let friends and family see by sharing on social media too.

Are you ready to up your fishing game this year?