Fly reels – the basics for beginners

Published 4:25pm Thursday, July 18, 2013

Even in the dappling method weight is a consideration. It’s important to keep as much line off the water as not to spook the wild trout in the remote creeks I fish, and to get a natural drift by keeping the line out of any currents. Keeping your rod high is a good way to keep line off the water, but if you do this for several hours, a heavy reel can cause poor technique, resulting in poor presentation, etc.

The drag is a factor if you fish for fish that are big enough to get “on the reel” instead of “hand lining” them in. Since fly fishing many times involves light line, a smooth disc drag is important to play a fish on the reel. Many cheap reels that you may find at a big box store will have a “clicker” that clicks as you reel or pull line out. This really doesn’t count as a drag since they have no adjustments. A good disc drag will have an almost infinite adjustment.

Matching the size of the reel to the weight of the rod is important too. You wouldn’t want to put an offshore “winch type” reel on a 4’6” ultralight rod, so a 9-weight reel on a 3-weight rod isn’t a good idea either.

Less importantly is noise; some reels have silent retrieves, others have minute clicking sounds. I really like the silent retrieve reels.

I will say, probably to the murmurs of many diehard fly fishermen, that if you are not careful, you will pay for the name when you buy fly fishing equipment. I like good quality gear, and in any type fishing you can greatly overpay for a certain brand, when you can get gear just as good for much less. The fish couldn’t care any less that you spent $700 on a rod and $500 on a reel that’s mostly for bragging rights to your peers. It seems to me that fly fishing gear is overly priced more than other types of fishing gear, so if you are a beginner, don’t get the cheapest thing you can find, but don’t drop a grand on a setup either. It’s just “bad economy.” Thanks to G.R. and C.B. for that last quote.

Editor's Picks