1. What species will you be fishing for?

This is one of the first key questions you need to ask yourself. Each fly reel is specially designed for specific fish species in mind. This is highlighted by the profile of the reel and the line capacity of the reel.

A trout fly reel, for example, is commonly designed to accommodate a 7 or 8 weight fly line and backing line. However, a salmon Spey fly reel is significantly bigger in size due to the larger line weights and the increased backing line that is required for tackling such species.

Choosing a fly reel

2. Do you use multiple fly lines?

Most modern trout anglers will carry a variety of fly lines to tackle various fishing conditions. The most commonly used reel option is a multi cassette spool system. This allows anglers to carry an array of different density fly lines on the spare spools provided with these systems. These unique systems allow anglers to change fly lines easily and efficiently on the bank or on the boat.

Multiple fly lines

3. What arbor size do you require?

The arbor size refers to the overall size and design of the reel. Arbor size comes down to personal choice, some anglers don’t like a large arbor reel as they feel it doesn’t look aesthetically right and feel it does not balance their outfit well. Other anglers like them for their line capacity, line retrieval and that the larger arbor helps reduce line memory.

different arbor

4. Sealed or Non sealed drag

Do you require a reel for saltwater fishing? If so, always opt for a sealed drag system. A sealed drag system will stop any unwanted saltwater ingress which may cause corrosion. If you are using fly reels purely for freshwater use, then either a sealed or non-sealed drag system will suffice.

fly reel drag

Top tip: Always loosen your drag after use. This will increase the drag systems longevity and will stop the drag system from possibly ceasing or bonding together due to being stored away tightened up.

5. Reel handle design

You’re probably thinking, what’s so important about the reel handle but, you would be pleasantly surprised how many anglers we have seen complaining about the reel handle design.

reel handle design

We all have unique handprints, handgrip and tolerances to water and other weather elements. So it’s important to find a reel handle that is not only comfortable but one that provides you with a good yet comfortable grip (especially with wet hands) the last thing you want is your hand slipping off the reel handle when playing a PB fish! Take the time to check the reel handle for comfort and wind the reel handle to ensure it doesn’t feel like your hand wants to leave the handle during a revolution.

6. Fly reel weight

The weight of a fly reel is vitally important to any fly angler. A heavy reel might not only give you an unbalanced setup but it may also cause casting fatigue.

fly reel weight

7.Spare spools

So you’ve just purchased a top-end caged fly reel and you love everything about it apart from the lack of spare spools that came with it. You now require spare spools for the additional lines you want to add to your armoury!

caged fly reel

Always ensure you ask about the price of spare spools before purchasing a reel. In some instances, if a reel becomes discontinued, the price of a spare spool can be up to half of the price that you initially paid for the reel! That’s not a financially great position to be in! Think ahead, if you’re only going to use the one line on the one reel then great, there is no issue. If however, there is a chance you may be adding lines to your setup in the future. It’s worth looking at cassette spool systems or even purchasing another reel.

8. Line capacity

Line capacity is extremely important. Modern salmon shooting heads require a running line and backing line. So finding a reel with enough capacity to accommodate all three parts of these lines is extremely important.

fly reel size