Weight & Size
- Like rods, reels are often rated by weight or size. When looking for a new reel you will want to match the reel size to your rod for a correctly balanced outfit; for example, if you’re fishing a 5-weight trout rod, you’ll want to pair it with a 5-weight reel.
- Also consider when looking at reel size are the type of line you will be using and backing capacity. Backing capacity is even more important when choosing a saltwater reel. Most reels can handle 2 to 3 sizes of line. For example a size 6wt reel can handle a 5,6 or 7wt line.
- Switch and Spey reels are oversize to accommodate larger shooting head fly lines, while saltwater reels often feature more backing capacity as those fish are prone to long runs.
- Drag is a very important feature of the fly reel. The drag provides the braking power to stop a big fish and take control of the fight. There are two main drag systems to choose from: click and pawl, and disc drag.
- The traditional style is click-and-pawl and offers less adjustability and stopping power than a disc drag system. Because of this, the click-and-pawl is a great system if you are on a budget or chasing smaller fish..
- Disc drag provides the smoothest and most efficient drag system. It is a great choice for stopping large game fish, or when you need to smoothly stop a large trout on light tippet.
- When choosing a saltwater reel you have to consider not only line capacity and drag system but also the seal of the drag system. If it is not water tight you will have problems with sand and coral contaminating the drag system. If that happens your reel will be seriously compromised then failure is inevitable.
- My advice when purchasing a saltwater reel is to spend as much as you can afford.
Arbor refers to the cylinder at the center of the reel that the backing and fly line is wound around. Most modern reels feature some type of large arbor as they retrieve more line faster and create less ‘memory’ or twist in the line and leader. If you are chasing warm water or saltwater species, pick a reel with a larger arbor as this will aid in smooth runs as well as retrieving a lot of line quickly when the fish turns and runs back at you.
Classic trout reels are generally smaller in arbor, as are beginner fly reels. They are usually lighter, less bulky, and less expensive than their large-arbor counterparts.