The 12 Best Fly Fishing Reels 2023: An Unbiased Review

The earliest fly fishing reel was invented around 1195 AD by Chinese. Today, technological advancements have led to the design and creation of the best fly fishing reel in our age. Anglers in a quest to achieve the true satisfaction of successful fly fishing nee a functional, reliable, and affordable fishing reel.

It’s not always true that the most expensive reel is the best one. There are countless options in the market, and it is upon you to choose the right fly fishing reel for your adventures. Remember, you will not be buying a fishing reel every few months, a reason you should choose the right one.

Here are a detailed review and an ultimate buying guide to help learn more about some of the common fly fishing reels and probably choose one that suits you best.

Best Fly Fishing Reels

Top-picks fly fishing reel: A comparison chart

First things first, here is a comparison chart to help you compare the top 12 fly fishing reels at a glance. Be sure to check the buying guide at the end of this review.

1Redington Reels Rise III 5/6 Reel, SilverSilver8 ounces
2Orvis Hydros SL Fly ReelBlack Nickel9.6 ounces
3Okuma Helios Large Arbor Fly Fishing ReelWhite11.2 ounces
4Piscifun Sword Fly Fishing ReelFly Reel Gunmetal8.8 ounces
5Piscifun Platte Fly Fishing ReelBlack9.1 ounces
6Waterworks-Lamson Liquid Fly Fishing ReelBlack19.2 ounces
7Redington Reels Behemoth 5/6 Reel, BlackBlack0.2 ounces
8Okuma SLV- 8/9 Diecast Aluminum Fly ReelWhite8 ounces
9Fiblink Saltwater Fly Fishing ReelOrange
10M MAXIMUMCATCH Fly Fishing ReelBlack+Silver
11Piscifun Sword Fly Fishing ReelBlack Fly Reel 6.6 ounces
12Piscifun Crest Fully Sealed Drag Large ArborBlack4.8 ounces

1. Redington RISE Fly Fishing Reel

It is beyond any reasonable doubt that Redington is among the popular brands in the fishing gear industry. The company has been rolling out outstanding fly fishing lines, and the RISE model is quite a masterpiece. The reel is durable and equipped with high-end features.

One way of making your fishing trips exciting is by picking an accessory that best suits your needs. For instance, if you intend to hunt bass, it is best to pick a fly fishing reel for bass fishing. This Redington RISE Fly Fishing Reel is a perfect option for bass and outperforms the typical spinning gear. Its frame is made of solid aluminum, making it durable and lightweight.

The reel’s carbon fiber drag system utilizes the latest tech that makes it more reliable when it comes to bass fishing. This fly fishing reel provides enough torque to bring even large bass home for dinner. Featuring reversible dual handles, this Redington RISE Fly Fishing Reel allows the user to switch from left to right quickly.


  • Suitable for fishing in large water bodies
  • Offers enough torque
  • Comes with a lifetime warranty
  • It is affordable


  • The drag wears out with time
  • Its construction is a little bit flimsy

2. Orvis Hydros SL Fly Reel

The new economical fishing reel offers anglers everything they have been looking for in a reel. It features a top-rated drag system as well as an epic spool. The carbon fiber is fully sealed to prevent dirt, sand, and grime from damaging the inner components of the fishing reel. Therefore, this piece of fishing gear can be used even in harsh environments.

Besides, the reel is equipped with a narrow spool that requires less line stacking. Other outstanding features associated with this reel include ergonomic design, zero startup inertia that makes the drag at least three times stronger, and more.


  • Has a three times stronger drag
  • Ergonomically designed
  • Durable
  • Has a drag-clutch bearing that’s fully sealed


  • The drag knob is somewhat substandard

3. Okuma Helios Large Arbor Fly Fishing Reel

This Okuma Helios Large Arbor Fly Fishing Reel is among the most preferred fishing reels in the market, and for a good reason. It combines reliability, durability, and affordability, and these are the top qualities every angler checks for when choosing a fly fishing reel. Its large arbor design lets users retrieve a catch easily while its die-cast aluminum frame makes the frame sturdy.

Generally, fly fishing requires your reel to be excellent storage for your fly line. The drag system must be smooth enough so that the line can easily be pulled while inside water. This is exactly what Okuma Helios Large Arbor Fly Fishing Reel does.


  • A smooth drag system that facilitates seamless reeling
  • The product is made of high-quality materials for durability
  • There’s no possibility of tangling lines
  • It is reliable in terms of performance


  • The handle is a little weak, according to most client reviews

Also read: 10 Best Closed Face Reels: An Unbiased Review and a Buying Guide & 15 Best Fly Fishing Wader – Ranked, Compared and Reviewed

4. Piscifun Sword Fly Fishing Reel

The Piscifun Sword Fly Fishing Reel like other Piscifun products and comes with a three-year warranty. This affordable sword fly fishing reel won’t disappoint compared to many cheap reels flooding the market. The reel features a mid-arbor design which is becoming common compared to the large-arbor designed due to availability of more line capacity. Besides, it is available in three colors: black, titanium, and gold.

The reel is made from CNC-machined 6061-T6 aluminum alloy for high-impact durability as well as ensure it is light weight.  It is highly professional in fact three time better compared to diecast reels with no marks to be seen.

Anglers will love the silky-smooth disc-drag  system designed with accurate adjustments, which has proven more than adequate when it comes to catching bass, river trout, bluegill, and similar fish species .Unfortunately, this fishing is completely unsealed, and that means water, sand, and dirt can enter the housing and probably cause damage to the system.

While the unsealed sword fly reel drag system makes it not suitable for salt water, the anodized finish of the Sword offers some added durability and protection against rust and corrosion. When you buy the same it comes set at left hand retrieve with detailed instructions included for right retrieve adjustments.


  • Relatively affordable
  • Corrosive resistant
  • Mid-arbor design


  • Unsealed drag system

5. Piscifun Platte Fly Fishing Reel

The Piscifun Platte Fly Fishing Reel, which can be used for both salt and freshwater fishing and interestingly comes with a 3-year warranty. Handling the Platte Fly Reel doesn’t require much effort since Piscifun has ensured that the reel is lightweight.

The Piscifun Platte is a fully sealed meaning sand, and various forms of dirt can’t penetrate the reel making your maintenance work easy. All you need to do is just rinse it. Also, sealed from water contamination via three imbedded “O.” The drag system is also sealed, featuring alternating carbon to give the reel accurate drag settings, although with subdued clicks. Further, the drag features a flattened knob to increasing its surface, eliminating any chance of loop or slacks.

The manufactures employ CNC machining to ensure the reel is made from lightweight anodized 6061 T6 aluminum that contributes to the reel being corrosive resistant. Also, the Piscifun Platte comes with a large arbor that picks up the lines faster, giving anglers a distinctive edge when fishing. To make fly fishing even more fun, the reel features an aggressive diamond knob that enables an easier grasp as well as adjustments even when hauling.

The Platte fly reel is available in three different colors; Classic Black, Fashion Ice Blue, and Pretty Gunmetal. When you receive the reel, the packages include a schematic paper and a reel protection bag. The reel you receive features a large Abor design that Increases retrieve rate by picking up line faster.


  • Comes with a warranty
  • Fully sealed and requiring little to no maintenance
  • Accurate drag settings
  • Lightweight
  • Corrosive resistant


  • Factory sets to let hand retrieve and you have to set to right hand retrieve yourself

6. Waterworks-Lamson Liquid Fly Fishing Reel

The fly fishing reel is made from a pressure die-cast aluminum, which enabled Lamson to design compound curves and zero-radius interior corners for a unique fit and finish not available in other fishing reels. Its one-piece frame has the strength, and a slim arbor design accompanied by concave incurved spool holds its line with strong backing ability. Its stealth black finish won’t scare away the fish with its undesirable flashes and offers sturdiness and abrasion resistance.

With its drag system, Lamson didn’t cut corners at the liquid. The reel features CNC-machined drag cassette, which is the original layout as determined on the brand’s top-quality reels and has smooth fish stopping force that soft when adjusted with its massive drag knob.

The Waterworks achieves the best structural sturdiness and integrity while minimizing weight, features evident on relatively expensive reels. This reel features a validated CNC-machined conical drag system. It is completely sealed to protect it from snow, dust, sand, water among other particles – to ensure its reliability and perfect operation even after seasons of tough work. Lamson’s conical drag system is a unique drag system that requires zero maintenance.

Its pressure-cast aluminum construction is lightweight, and this attributes to its durability. You can also customize its appearance by adding a colorful Lamson Sleeve. It’s aluminum lightweight design ensures that the product doesn’t add an extra weight burden to the fly fish setup.


  • Lightweight reel
  • Innovative Lamson’s conical drag system design
  • Value for money
  • Contains extra spools


  • Some vendors offer this reel with the spool

7. Redington BEHEMOTH Fly Fishing Reel

The Redington BEHEMOTH Fly Fishing Reel is among the excellently performing fly fishing reels in the market. Redington is a reputable brand that has been in business for decades producing quality, superior, and innovate products. The BEHEMOTH reel comes in four different sizes and is suitable for both experienced anglers as well as beginners.

Unlike competing reels in the market, Redington BEHEMOTH Fly Fishing Reel has a uniquely designed carbon fitted drag system that is entirely adjustable. The heavy-duty carbon fiber drag provides super strength to the reel giving it unmatched performance so you won’t have to worry about big fish getting away.

Also, the reel has a sound torque system that features carbon plates mixed with stainless steel friction plates. To make hauling even better, the reels feature a twin molded handle to ensure a soft touch grip. It also features an extensive arbor design to facilitate rapid retrieves and reduce line memory.

The oversize drag knob ensures that anglers have a secure grasp to make it easy to make precise adjustments, as well as conversion from left to the right hand, retrieve in the blink of an eye. The sturdy, unique die-cast construction technique can easily carry five weight trout rods, making it a multi-utility felt reel.

The price is fair, and the reel is supplied with a padded carry case for carrying the reel around easily. The reel is suitable for both freshwaters as well as saltwater fly fishing.


  • Powerful drag ability
  • Very affordable
  • Good handle with a combination of rubber
  • Lifetime warranty


  • Some anglers find the reel a bit heavy
  • A slight wobble of the spool

8. Okuma SLV Fly Fishing Reel

The Okuma SLV Fly Fishing Reel has a more traditional appearance than many fly-fishing reels. It comes in a variety of sizes, and its unbelievably low prices make it a fantastic addition and may appeal to many anglers. The Okuma SLV reel is an absolute winner for anglers on a budget.

This fishing reel is made in Taiwan and consists of die-cast aluminum alloy. The material is thick enough, and any sort off of warping is unlikely. Unfortunately, the aluminum alloy lacks any kind of corrosive resistant treatment. Nevertheless, if you are keen on maintenance, the reel will last long.

The drag system is unsealed featuring a cork and stainless-steel washer bearing that drag in one direction to ensure a smooth retrieve, simple control, and a consistent amount of pressure while using. Also, thee drag system is easily set with a dial on the side, making it easy to change your fly-fishing tactics on an active hook. Further, the process of switching the retrieve from right to left-handed is amazingly simple for any angler.

The reel features both a precision-machined brash bushing drive system as well as stainless steel spool shafts. It also features a very large arbor design to facilitate rapid retrieves and reduce line memory. The knob is a non-slip positive grip rubberized handle knob that ensures anglers have a steady grip when fly fishing.


  • Very affordable
  • The smooth retrieval drag system
  • Simple to use


  • Lacks a corrosive protective layer
  • Require keen maintenance
  • Low durability

9. The Flyblink Fly Fishing Reel

The Fliblink Fly Fishing Reel is robust, durable, and is integrated with a sturdy frame with the assistance of the CNC machined frame of aluminum alloy. The aluminum alloy utilized creates top-grade, making it corrosion resistant, and it is built with cold forge. The reel has a fiber composite drag system that delivers flexibility.

The aluminum makes the reel lightweight and provides outstanding strength for efficiency when casting and retrieving. It is an excellent arbor layout that facilitate reliable line retrievals at the side of the less stacking of line. This enables easy and quick left to right-hand recovery.

The Flyblink Fly Fishing Reel has a sealed drag system that’s made from fiber-composite to control fishing lines efficiently. Additionally, the sealed drag is one of the best two categories of the disk drag system, which is much regarded for its powerful controlling capacity.

The significant arbor feature in Flybink Fly Fishing Reel ensures a high backing capacity and also offers a fast retrieval rate. Besides, the materials have been cold-forged to provide it with a lighter shape and size without compromising mechanical stability.

Some of the reels do not offer an option to change the side of the retrieval handle. But with this reel, you will find a manual for this machine to change the side of your retrieval handle from left to right conveniently.


  • It is competitively priced
  • Sealed drag stack
  • Corrosion-resistant
  • It is constructed from CNC machined aluminum for durability
  • It has a sleek design
  • It features a large arbor design which helps in fast line retrieval


  • Quality control issues reported with the manufacturer

10. M MAXIMUMCATCH Fly Fishing Reel

The Avid Fly-Fishing Reel by Maxcatch is a real value entry-level reel. It’s revolutionary and even has a patent-pending drag system design that features a one revolution drag knob hidden screw that has engraved numbered settings. The reel is available in several colors, and anglers are sure to find one that fits with the various pieces of fishing gear such as fishing rods and lines.

The Avid Fly-Fishing Reel is manufactured by Maxcatch, a China-based company. The reel is made of bar stock aluminum, which makes the reel both lightweight and corrosive resistant under all conditions. For precision, the 6061-T17 aluminum alloy is CNC- machined, which make the material durable. Maxcatch is so confident in durability; they even provide a lifetime warranty.

The reel features a Hybrid cork and Teflon disc as well as stainless-steel disc drag system equipped with a one-way clutch ball-bearing which provides a smooth and reliable drag. Also, you can easily change the retrieval direction from right to left thanks to the finely machined and knurled metal screw caps. Additionally, the same makes the process to loosen the spool effortless.

Unlike other fishing reels, Avid Fly-Fishing Reel by Maxcatch features a mid-arbor spool instead of a long one and light housing design, which is a perfect balance to facilitate rapid retrieves and reduce line memory.AS with many products from China, M MAXIMUMCATCH Fly Fishing Reel is very affordable for any angler.


  • Lightweight
  • Corrosive resistant
  • Smooth drag system
  • Mid arbor spool
  • Come with a warranty
  • Beautiful design and aesthetics


  • Drag doesn’t function well when wet

11. Piscifun Sword Fly Fishing Reel

The most significant thing a fly fishing reel does handle the fly line and backline. This Piscifun Sword fly fishing reel offers you a quick right to left conversion and guarantees an exciting fishing experience. The reel is lightweight, and that means it is nicely adjustable to fit the fly-fishing rod you are using.

This product is made of high purity 6061-T6 aluminum alloy, tempered, and cold-forged for rigidity and superior strength. This makes the reel more durable and resistant to corrosion than ordinary aluminum. To clean it just rinse it after each use in freshwater.

Generally, Piscifun Sword Fly Fishing Reel is durable and at the same time lightweight. It is designed in a way that the hard anodizing finish delivers a more extended performance for abrasion resistance. It has a multi-disc stainless steel drag system which delivers seamless fishing experience.

One of the features that make this fishing reel exceptional is that it is sealed and anodized to protect it from corrosion. This enables it to last longer and makes it a good investment. The manufacturing company offers a three-year warranty, which is quite commendable. Individuals can return the reel to their company if they want to convert their retrieval systems to suit them a dominant hand. The after-sales service is an excellent, making purchasing from them a hassle-free process.


  • Smooth drag
  • Designed to withstand arbor nots
  • Durable aluminumallows for maximum longevity


  • Drag start up is not smooth

12. Piscifun Crest Lightweight Fully Sealed Drag Large Arbor

This reel is durable, lightweight and easy to maintain. It is built from a robust CNC-machined 6061-T6 aluminum alloy. Its spool is study, rigid, and corrosion-resistant than other fly fish reels made from the aluminum. It’s polishing, and machine work is flawless. The machine is well ventilated to allow it to shed water without losing strength. The reel features a fully-sealed drag that’s resistant to dirt, water, sand, and more debris that can slow it down when you are fishing. The reel requires simple maintenance and rinsing it with fresh water. Its huge U-shaped arbor design limits line memory and provide rapid line pick up when paired with a large cranking handle.

Piscifun offers many years of warranty for all its reels with non-human damage problems. The Piscifun Crest fully sealed carbon-to- stainless drag is impervious to water, sand, and grit. It requires no maintenance except simple rinsing with clean, freshwater.

Besides, this reel has a silent retrieve and click-drag design, which allows you to make adjustments accurately when necessary consistently. The reel is versatile, enabling you to fish both fresh water and salt waters. The durable but lightweight aluminium construction offers an extra layer of security on the water and is flexible for both freshwater and saltwater fly fishing. Piscifun also offers a lifetime guarantee for any non-human damage to the reel, allowing more avid fly fishers to not hold-back when seeking large catches.


  • Lightweight design
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Fully sealed drag system
  • Suitable for both fresh and saltwater
  • Easy to change the hand retrieve
  • Easy-to-grip handle


  • Large arbor is not ideal for long trips

A comprehensive Buying Guide

Every experienced angler knows the value of a top-quality fishing reel just by touching it. Fishing can be so overwhelming if you lack the right tools to do the job. Choosing the right fishing accessories such as reels and fishing lines requires some skills that only experienced anglers have. If you are looking forward to beginning your journey as an angler, then this post is for you.

How much is the fishing reel 

The price of a fishing reel will always tell its quality. Ideally, an experienced angler will tell you that to get a quality fishing reel in your hands, you must be willing to spend some reasonable bucks. You can get fly fishing reels from as low as $39.00. The most expensive fly fishing reel will cost you $900.00.

That price range sounds hectic, given the harsh economic time. Typically, an average quality fly fishing reel will come at $125.00. If you are looking for a fishing reel that will last a lifetime, then you should be ready to spend at least $400.00.

Expensive fly fishing reels are worth your investment because they can last longer compared to most of the cheap reels in the market. The price of a fishing reel will also depend on the size. A large fishing reel will cost more compared to a shorter reel. Large fishing reels are more useful in long-distance casting or saltwater fishing.

The more you are willing to spend on a quality reel, the more quality you get. If you have a fixed budget, then you can go for reels worth $250-$500. For an enormous fishing reel, equip yourself with $200-$300. You should always be ready to spend more on a quality fly fishing reel because it is worth your money.

Here are some factors that will determine the price of a reel you land

  • The weight of the fishing reel: Heavy fishing reels are cheaper than lighter ones
  • Country of origin: Fly fishing reels made in the US are the most affordable in the market
  • The technology the manufacturer has used on the reel
  • The track record and the drag system involved on the reel
  • The material used in making the fishing reel i.e., stainless steel, CNC machined aluminum, carbon fiber, or die-cast
  • Hand finishing to make the fishing reel smooth and efficient

The material used and reel construction 

The material used and reel construction will directly influence the amount you spend on a quality fly fishing reel. A decent fishing reel has a perfect structure that makes it last longer than most conventional reels in the market. When it comes to selecting fishing reels based on its construction, there are several materials and techniques to look out for when shopping.

Nowadays, with the advanced research that most manufacturers are investing in, it is typical to find a cheaper fishing reel made of durable material and reliable technology. Most low-end and high-end fishing reels have the quality you need as long as you take your time to search their specs.

Most professional anglers prefer buying fishing reels from the US because they are more affordable and durable. These fishing reels have the best drag systems, design, material, and machining technology. Let us look at some qualities of a fishing reel material you should look at when shopping:

Die-cast aluminum

Most professional anglers will advise against buying die-cast fishing reels because they don’t last longer than most fishing reels. A die-cast fishing reel is made by pouring metal in a liquid state and allowing it to cool into the desired shape.

The simple machining concept that manufacturers are using to make die-cast reel makes this type of fishing reel more affordable. If your fishing style does not involve pulling out large fish species from the deep water, then a die-cast reel can do you some good. If you are not willing to spend more, but you want a good reel by your side, then die-cast reel is what you should buy.

Die-cast aluminum reels are softer compared to other types of fishing reels. That means you can bend the fishing reel back and forth without losing the quality. However, the fishing reel can snap when you are fond of turning it because this loses its substantiality.

CNC Machined Aluminum 

CNC Machined aluminum is the best reels you can get in most high-end shops. They double the price of a quality die-cast reel. Notably, the difference between die-cast fishing reels and machined aluminum reels is on the production process. Machined aluminum reels are made from a block of aircraft-grade aluminum, while the die-cast reel is made by metal molding.

Nearly all aluminum die-cast reels use a twist-in system for the bearings that improve their efficiency and security. Also, they come with a great drag system, which makes them ideal for most fishing styles. You can quickly push an aluminum reel back to its usual shape when it bends without causing any physical change. This feature is what makes the CNC machined aluminum reels the most sought in the industry.

If you want to spend less on a quality machined reel, then go for those made in China. Although the fishing reels may not be water-resistant, their quality system makes it unique to other types of the fishing reel at the same price range.

Graphite and plastic composites 

Plastic and graphite fly fishing reels are the most affordable reels you will find in the market. In most cases, you will buy them at $30-$50, with the most expensive ones having a $200 tag. If you are a beginner, then these are the best fishing reels you should go for in the market. They always come with a full package and set-up. You don’t need special skills to start using them. As a beginner, you should expect to drop this type of reel after some months of exercise because they are not that long-lasting as you would want them to be.

Their drag systems are not like in most old fishing reels, which make them of less quality. With the open drag systems, sand, water, and dirt in the water can easily penetrate the real, sometimes causing mechanical failure. Graphite fishing reels are the best for any beginner intending to get out and do some fishing for fun.

Water resistance 

It is essential to consider a water-resistant reel if you are planning to fish in saltwater. Water-resistant reels are of high quality and come with all their components sealed and protected from dirt and sand. The small moving parts in the reel drag system get damaged by saltwater. When shopping for a quality fishing reel, you should check to find out if the fishing reel has a water-resistant label.

For only $200, you can land a top-quality fishing reel from China. You can also opt for fly fishing reels from the USA because they have a quality spool and stronger housing than most fishing reels.

Size of arbor 

When choosing a quality fishing reel, the arbor size is something you don’t want to ignore. A larger arbor is always fatter in the middle, while a small arbor is thinner in the middle of the spool. If you want to avoid the headache of repairing your fishing reel when the line coils in the hinges and loops, then you should go for reels with a larger arbor.

Large arbor reels with large diameter can help you when the fish is charging at you. It also protects you from break-offs because it has lower start-up inertia.

Quality of the porting 

All fly fishing reels have ports. Ports are the spaces found on the body of your reel. Most manufacturers put the ports on the reel to minimize the reel weight. When selecting a fishing reel, you should ensure it does not have any sharp edges that can be dangerous when fishing.

 A reel with more ports can be less effective when applying some force. More ports also affect line position, design, and overall reel structure. Therefore, when picking a fishing reel, go for one with perfect porting that matches its design.

Wrap up

Ultimately, there is no such thing as a perfect fishing reel. Anglers have different tastes and preferences that determine the type of fishing reels they go for in the market. Your style of fishing will influence your selection of a fishing reel. When choosing the best fly fishing reel, you can always pull out about six different varieties of fishing reels to find the right one for you.

Consult expert anglers, and they will advise you on the right pick as a beginner. With plenty of fishing reels in the market, you can always land the right one for your fishing style. Lastly, you should be ready to spend more if quality is what you are looking for in a fly fishing reel.

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