The Basics of Fly-Fishing Reels

Make Your Fly Rod Work for You

Before you purchase your first fly reel, make sure that you understand some of the basics of these relatively simple reels.

If you are switching to fly fishing from years of bait fishing, you may, at first, be surprised at how straightforward a fly-fishing reel is, says Paul Marshall who is an expert at both types of fishing, and even sells hookbaits here. But you may also be confused about the differences between different fly-fishing reels and which one you should get.

Here is some basic information on reels to help you understand them better, and thereby feel more confident when picking one out for yourself.

 Holes – you may notice that one of these reels has holes in its side. These allow water to drain from the line.

• Adjustable drag – if you plan to catch large and strong saltwater or freshwater fish, adjustable drag is important. If you go out big game fishing, you will fight to reel in the fish, just as you have to do with bait fishing.

• Single action – most fly-fishing reels are single action. This means that one turn of the handle turns the spool one time.

• Saltwater reels – these are designed specifically for use in saltwater. You will find that they have a large diameter, a large line, and a high backing capacity to manage the long runs of strong fish. Corrosion can be a problem when fishing in saltwater – choose a reel that uses stainless steel, brass, aerospace aluminium, and/or electroplated stainless steel.

• Replaceable spools – if you plan to do different fishing types, look for a reel that has easily replaceable spools. This way, you can use either a sinking or floating line in the same reel.

• Weight – the weight of your line must match the design of your fly reel. In other words, if you have a fly reel designed for a 4-weight line, then be sure to get a 4-weight line and vice versa. Similarly, if you have a 4-weight reel, you need a 4-weight rod and vice versa (generally, though, a 3 or 5 weight will work with a 4 weight.

Large arbors – large arbors have become more popular over the years than their smaller counterparts. The reason for this popularity is greatly due to the improved rate of retrieve. As mentioned above, most fly-fishing reels are single action – the spool turns one time with one turn of the handle. This is true of larger arbors, but because larger arbor reels are bigger, more line is reeled in with one turn of the handle. Also, the line is less likely to become too coiled. Using one is less tiring because the cranking speed is slower – the slow-turning also makes it easier to control. And the drag pressure is more consistent when you use a larger arbor versus a small one.

Casting. Casting a fly-fishing rod is quite different from casting any other rod. You do not even touch the reel while casting. The reel merely holds the line and is not a part of the casting process. You manually pull out the line from the reel and let it lie loose toward your feet, feeding it out with your free hand as you need it.

And when it comes to fighting fish and retrieving the line, the reel is again not as important as your hand – your hand controls the drag. Of course, when fishing for larger game, the reel does become important, just as it is with other kinds of fishing outfits.

These are only a few basic tips to help you make an informed decision. However, do not be afraid to ask questions. Most fishing suppliers will gladly and readily answer your questions, tell you about specific fly reels, and help you make the best decision possible.