A Thing of Beauty
Choosing a fly reel can be daunting if it's your first time, but we have compiled a simple list of things to look out for when going shopping for one. Price, Use, Material, Click, Drag, Arbor and Size Matching,
A fly fishing reel does not only have a job as an important part of your fly fishing gear but it is also one of the most beautiful parts of a fly anglers arsenal. If you see one in a Hardy store or visit Ross Reels, Peux, and many others you will have the chance to pick them up, hold them in your hand, feel the complex beauty, like a swiss watch, each part is built meticulously. In a way "The reel chooses the angler, Harry!"
Obviously there are so many manufactures of amazing reels, and prices can and do vary dramatically, In the end, it's down to the Angler, You can choose a thing of beauty and function, a reel of just function, or a cheapy that does the job. So in this article, I want to simplify that a little for everyone breakdown the different types of reels, there uses and, inevitably helps you choose what suits you best.
1. Price & Use
Well, it is all down to the make of the reel and the quality of its manufacture, for this reel maker can charge handsomely or on the other side of the scale you can pick up a cheaper reel that does the job. A good trout reel can cost you around £150, a cheaper reel around £50. Make no mistake the cheaper does not necessarily mean worse! It can also be down to a simple thing like having a click check or a disk Drag( a clutch/brake for reels), naturally, a reel with a disk brake will cost more than a simple click. ~Same goes for the material used, Plastic, aluminum, or my beloved Titanium.
I own two kinds of reels, my sexy only get them out for important events Hardy reels (big fan) and my Use every day because they never break and if they get scratched well they just take it on the chin and show they have been used Orvis Encounter reels. I love them both. But essentially the ones I get the most use out of are the Orvis reels because they work well and I am not too worried about losing them, scratching them, falling into the river, etc. Good Old trustworthy reels.
Off course the other end of the scale for the caring and meticulous of people, the people who will hand down these works of art to there children, you can pick up amazing reels in the £300-£500 range and beyond for something that should be kept locked away like Gollum's precious ring for up to and around £1000. Just to be clear I am using a rule of thumb for trout reels here. Not Saltwater, or Salmon reels.
2. Material -What are they made of
In general, a large portion of the reel market is bar stock aluminum that has been machined. How they do this is to get a solid piece of aluminum and carve the block into the reel with a laser CNC machine. That's how a lightweight, rustproof, clean strong reel is born. These can be really things of beauty. Another way is cast aluminum reels that the aluminum is poured into a mold. But If you have the choice and know what you are looking for you should look at the machined aluminum rather than the mold cast.
Naturally, you can also get plastic reels and titanium reels these complete the two ends of the spectrum. The plastic reels all being molded and the titanium being machined at a very very high price.
3. That Beautiful clicking sound
Yes, this is a big selling point for me and many others, holding a trout reel to your ear and hearing the delicate but firm click that occurs when letting line out is also a pleasure that only Fly anglers feel. This is an important part of choosing your reel. You should feel it and it should take you in your mind's eye to the river, that click should feel like a trout shooting off up the river and you battle it. that's the emotion you hope to get when you find the right-click.
A Disc drag essentially is a clutch or brake that applies resistance and regulates the speed of the reel when a fish is taking the line of the reel. too loose and you risk a bird's nest and the fish coming off due to lack of tension. To tight and you risk breaking the leader, tippet or even worse the rod. But the drag set just right will ensure a fantastic battle of man vs fish, without stressing the fish too much and helping you land it safely. This is even more true in saltwater scenarios with big powerful fish that need strong tippets. The drag has to be set correctly.
In a time before me, reels used to be fitted on a spindle-like system in the center of the reel, meaning you really had to work to wind the line back in, even more so because the reels themselves where a lot smaller, similar styles still can be found and are used today for dry fly fishing smaller pocket waters and creeks. Large arbor reels are bigger in size meaning you need fewer revolutions to reel it in.
6. Size Matching
Size and balancing that size is an important part of fitting a reel to certain rods and line weights. Each reel is designed to hold a specific amount of backing coupled with a specific line weight/size. For example, a 3# trout reel is tiny in comparison to a reel designed for saltwater and to hold a 12# line. Make sure you test the reel to the rod it is supposed to fit on. Or at least know it will fit.