Best Fly Reels For The Money And New Anglers

by Thavius | Last Updated:   October 8th, 2022
Best Fly Reels For The Money And New Anglers

A fly reel is a vital part of any fly-fishing outfit and works in harmony with the fly rod. In this article, we’ll focus on the best fly reels for beginners and people on a budget.

Once done reviewing the best fly reels, we also take a look at the features of a fly reel. This will help you understand which type of fly reel is best suited for your situation.


The Best Fly Reel Reviews

Best fly rod and reel combo for beginners

This four-piece combo includes a 5wt aluminum fly reel, 28 flies, a rod tip, and a cloth carrying bag. The NetAngler Fly Fishing Rod and Reel Combo is an ideal setting for a beginner since all the included items were selected carefully to ensure an easy fishing experience. Featuring an eight-foot rod, this combo set is a very portable set that can break down to only 27-inches.

The rod is made of carbon fiber and is very lightweight and easy to carry, so your arms won’t get too tired during the day. The aluminum 5/6wt fly reel is preinstalled with a fishing line and has a large arbor design that uses die-cast premium aluminum alloy. Featuring a left-handed retrieve, the reel easily converts into a right-handed retrieve if necessary.

The NetAngler Fly Fishing Rod and Reel combo is a great starter package. Lightweight and powerful, this is a great rod for long casts and the cork grip makes it comfortable to use all day long. The included carrying rod bag has handy storage pouches on the side that is the perfect place to store accessories and flies until you need them.

  • This is a good starter set
  • It has a comfortable handle and is easy to carry
  • You can change it to a right-handed retrieve
  • The line cleaners don’t work well and leave residue on the line
  • The case is pretty cheap

Best fly reel under $200

Equipped with a large arbor, the Piscifun Platte Fly Fishing Reel also includes a fully sealed drag and a CNC-machined aluminum alloy body. This is an easy-to-maintain rod that only needs simple rinsing when used in either saltwater or freshwater. Plus, gravel and sand will not work their way into the real thanks to the sealed drag.

With an alternating stainless, carbon, and Teflon design, the drag gives you a lot of strength. The Piscifun Platte Fly Fishing Reel offers repeatable and accurate drag settings and only offers a subdued click as it operates. The drag system on this reel has a large working surface, so it is simple to adjust it while the fish is still hooked allowing for smoothness and better heat dissipation.

Lightweight but strong, the Piscifun Platte Fly Fishing Reel includes a spool that is heavily ventilated to shed weight while keeping its strength. The large arbor design helps to improve the retrieve rate and hold more fly lines and backing while reducing the line coil memory. And the handle is easy to grip thanks to the knurled knob.

  • This is a well-designed and construction reel
  • It’s very affordable and a good value for what you get
  • It comes in several colors
  • This is a noticeably heavy real
  • It’s a pain to switch to a right-handed retrieve

Best saltwater fly reel for the money

Comfortable to use, the Orvis Hydros Reel has removed all the unnecessary material to reduce the reel’s weight as well as stiffen the spool to reduce line stacking. The knob that controls the drag has an ergonomically accessible design while the drag is sealed to keep the clutch bear protected inside the drag. One of the strongest available, the sealed drag features stacked stainless steel and carbon disc washers and no start-up inertia.

The Orvis Hydros Reel uses a matte anodized finish along with a large arbor that helps balance well with a lightweight fly rod. It offers less coiling of the line and great retrieval rates in comparison to other arbor reels.

  • Ergonomically designed for comfortable use
  • There is no start-up inertia
  • It balances well on a lightweight rod
  • The weight is slightly noticeable on a lightweight rod

Best trout fly reel for the money

Featuring a large arbor, the Orvis Clearwater Reels come with a powder-coat, matte-gray finish over its die-cast design. It also comes with a Rulon-to-stainless stacked disc drag and can easily convert into either a left or right-handed retrieve. This reel can hold its own against high-quality machined reels.

Equipped with a positive click drag knob, you can be assured of a consistent setting each time you use it. The Orvis Clearwater Reels are good-looking reels with high performance and good value. For trout fishing, (new) anglers are better off focusing on line weight 4-6.

  • You get two extra cassettes
  • Drag adjustment is good on this reel
  • The reel is a good starter set up
  • It doesn’t seem like they will hold up well in the sun
  • You have to be careful not to drop the cassettes

Best 5wt fly reel for the money

This CNC machined aluminum alloy fly fishing reel comes with four different weights and five different colors. The Piscifun Sword Fly Fishing Reel is tempered and cold-forged for better rigidity and strength. With a super smooth drag system, this precise fly fishing reel provides silent retrieve and accurate click-drag.

The Piscifun Sword Fly Fishing Reel is abrasion or corrosion-resistant thanks to its hard-anodized surface protection. It includes a knurled handle that is easy to grip and a stainless steel and cork drag that is silky smooth. The large CNC hollow design makes this reel lighter than its competition and the professional machine work and polishing make this reel three times stronger.

Easy to maintain, you just need to rinse off the Piscifun Sword Fly Fishing Reel in freshwater to keep it clean. The mid-arbor design helps to reduce line memory as well as provides super-fast line pickup. And it comes with a three-year warranty.

  • The drag works well and is very smooth
  • The mid-arbor design gives you quick line pickup
  • The hollow design makes it very lightweight
  • The drag knob is pretty touchy
  • The drag can become loose accidentally if you aren’t careful

How To Choose The Best Fly Fishing Reels

Anatomy of a fly reel

source: anchorfly

The purpose of a fly reel is to store and retrieve the backing and the fly line. There are several things you need to think about when choosing a fly reel including whether it will hold the fly line that your rod uses, and does it have the power you need to pull in the fish species you are targeting.

It’s important to make sure you buy a durable reel that is low maintenance and long-lasting. Here are some considerations to help you find the best fly reel for your fly fishing needs.

Fly Reel Size

Depending on the type of fish you are targeting, the size of the fly reel will need to be able to hold the amount of backing and fly line you need for that type of fish. A typical fly line is 90 feet long, but the diameter will vary based on the line weight.

For example, an 8wt fly line will require more room than a 4wt fly line. Plus, large fish that run farther will need more backing than more passive fish, so you will need a large spool.

Fly Reel Drag

The drag on a fly reel is basically its braking system. Slowing the spool’s rotation, the reel allows you to apply pressure and control a fish on your line. The drag will also help stop backlash and stop the spool from overrunning if the line becomes stripped.

Synthetic drag systems like Teflon, Delrin, and Rulon are long-lasting and durable. Since they self-lubricate, they are easy to maintain. It is also possible to seal this type of drag system so saltwater and silt can’t harm it.

Carbon fiber drag systems are similar to other synthetic drag systems, but with the additional benefit of dissipating heat quickly so, there is no chance of it overheating. Most drag systems these days are made of carbon fiber.

Cork drag systems are very slow to startup, which can cause your tippets to break. But cork does compress, so the force it takes to get the drag moving is less, which will protect the tippets from a hard-running fish. Plus, as the fish runs, the cork will expand, and the pressure quickly ramps up to a level that will stop the fish from running. You do have to manually lubricate a cork drag, and you cannot seal one.

It’s important to maintain cork since it will dry out and rot if you don’t. you also can’t compress it constantly, or it will lose its memory after a while, which can cause the reel to have no drag at all.

Arbor Fly Reels

One of the most important advancements in fly-fishing technology is the introduction of mid-arbor and large-arbor fly reels. They offer several benefits to your fly fishing experience.

Advantages of large-arbor fly reels

Fast line retrieval – With a large arbor, you get more line retrieve every time you crank it. This can be particularly helpful when you need to pick up a slackline at the start of a fight and require consistent line tension, even if the fish is swimming towards you.

Less coiling – Using a larger arbor allows you to wind the fly line in a more open and looser coil. With a more open coil, you can create less line memory so the line can be straighter on the water. A larger coil will also lead to a longer line life since it endures less stress over time.

Consistent drag – Since the diameter of the spool stays the same when a fish is pulling more line, you will maintain constant force when the line is pulled. Thus, you don’t have to adjust the resistance while fighting a fish, so you can control the fish better and are less likely to break a point.

Advantages of mid-arbor fly reels

There are several advantages to using a large arbor reel, but there are also some benefits to using a small one.

Smaller arbors also mean a lighter arbor, which is an important consideration if you have a small rod. If you have an arbor that is too heavy for your rod, it can throw off its balance and make it awkward to cast.

The mid-arbor is also an option on many reels today. A mid-arbor reel combines the benefits of both the large and small arbor reels, but they are not as pronounced.

Fly Reel Materials

Machined – A machined reel will be more durable than the other two options. If you fish in places with lots of rough terrains, a machined reel is a great choice since it can withstand more abuse than a stamped metal or die-cast reel. Plus, they are more corrosion-resistant since they can be anodized, which makes them good for use in saltwater or other harsh environments.

Die-Cast – With recent advances, die-cast reels have become stronger and lighter. They are also very affordable, which is good for anyone on a budget. Just remember that they can’t be anodized, so they are susceptible to corrosion.

Stamped Metal – A stamped-metal fly reel is less durable and heavier than a die-cast or machined fly reel. They are also the least expensive reel available, which makes them great for beginners. It’s a good choice if you aren’t targeting any fish that can really test a fly reel.

Our Top Choice

The winner of the best fly fishing reel roundup is the Orvis Hydros Reel. With an ergonomically accessible design, this is a comfortable reel to use that is also lightweight. Equipped with a sealed drag, this reel keeps everything inside the drag protected.

With no start-up inertia, the Orvis Hydros Reels have less coiling of the line and better retrieval rates when compared to other reels on the market. The matte anodized finish gives extra durability while the large arbor helps to keep the reel well-balanced on a lightweight fly rod. The definite winner of the best fly fishing reel roundup is the Orvis Hydros Reel hands down.

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I've been a fisherman for over 35 years. From catching small bullheads with my grandfather at his pond to catching strippers on the backwaters of the Chattahoochee, I love to get out in the wild and have a marvelous day on the water.