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Fly Reels: More Than Just Line Holders

The Importance of a Quality Fly Reel

Fly reels are often overlooked in the world of fishing equipment. They are seen as boring, stationary devices that simply hold the line. However, when faced with the challenge of a big fish on the other end of the line, the true value of a good fly reel becomes apparent. A poor quality reel can lead to lost fish and even damaged equipment. It is therefore essential to invest in a high-quality fly reel from the start, rather than regretting the decision later.

Features to Consider

When choosing a fly reel, there are several important features to consider. First, it is recommended to opt for a reel with a disc drag mechanism, as they are more common and reliable. Additionally, ensuring that the reel is weather resistant and made of non-rusting components is crucial, considering the exposure to water in fly fishing. Avoid cheaply made reels that cost less than $30, as they tend to have uneven drags and break down quickly. Opting for a single retrieve fly reel is recommended for freshwater fly fishing, while other types are more suitable for saltwater fishing. Matching the fly line weight with the reel weight is also important for optimal performance. Finally, it is wise to order a spare spool when purchasing a fly reel, as they may become discontinued or difficult to find later on.

Types of Drag Systems

Fly reels come with two main types of drag systems: the spring-and-pawl and the disc-drag. The spring-and-pawl system is the original drag system and works well for smaller fish, providing a steady and uniform rate of line release. However, disc-drag systems have become increasingly popular due to their adjustability and smoother line release. While both systems perform well, investing in a quality fly reel with either drag system is essential for a new angler.

Retrieval Systems

Fly reels have three types of retrieval systems: single action, multiplying, and automatic. Multiplying reels allow for faster line retrieval but are more fitting for saltwater or deep-lake fishing. Automatic reels retrieve the line without the need to turn the spool, making them suitable for certain situations but not ideal for most freshwater fishing. For standard fly fishing in rivers, a single action retrieval system is recommended.

Shopping Considerations

When shopping for a fly reel, it is important to avoid excessively cheap options that tend to be poorly made and prone to rusting. Investing in a reel within the $80-$150 range is a good starting point for beginner and intermediate anglers. Purchasing an extra spool at the same time is also advisable, as reel models can become discontinued, making it difficult to find matching spools later on. Popular brands such as Orvis, Cabela’s, and Sage are known for producing quality fly reels that offer durability and longevity.

Where to Buy

While big box stores may offer fly reels, it is advisable to purchase from reputable fly shops or reliable online retailers. Orvis, Fishwest, Cabela’s, Trout’s Fly Fishing, The River’s Edge, Front Range Angler, and Vail Valley Anglers are all trusted sources for quality fly reels. In conclusion, fly reels may not seem exciting at first glance, but their importance becomes evident when faced with a big fish. Investing in a quality fly reel, considering the necessary features, and purchasing from reliable sources will ensure a successful and enjoyable fishing experience for years to come.

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