One of the best activities for people who live near streams and small rivers is to cast a fly and catch fish. This relaxing pastime is very popular and rewarding activity that many people enjoy. However, having the right equipment is crucial to having a great time and catching some of those huge fish! Here is our best fly fishing reels for 2023 rated by a number of factors.
Don’t take chances with your fishing trip by taking an old, worn out fly fishing reel that may not work properly. Take a look at the top 10 best fly fishing reels below and make your fishing trip a success.
In today’s busy world it’s difficult for most of us to get a chance to go fishing like we want. When we do find the time to cast a line and float a fly it is absolutely crucial that everything works as it should. Nothing is worse than getting to the water only to find out that your fishing equipment is broken or simply doesn’t perform. The following fly fishing reels have been tested and are the top of their category.
Best Fly Fishing Reels
1. Piscifun Sword Fly Fishing Reel
If you’re looking for a precision machined, amazing fly fishing reel at an affordable price then, this is it! The Piscifun Sword fly fishing reel comes in 4 different sizes. There are also many colors to choose from, however, the reason why we think it’s number one on our list is because the way it fishes!
Highlighted Features of Piscifun Sword Fly Fishing Reel
Precision CNC-machined 6061-T6 aluminum alloy
You won’t need to worry about rusting and other damage due to using this reel. The aluminum alloy body is abrasion resistant and hold up against weather very well. It’s also precision crafted so you won’t find any nicks that can ruin a fishing trip.
Easy Gripping Knurled Handle
Having a fly fishing reel that not only performs but actually feels good operating it is important. The easy grip handle feels very good and easy to operate. Plus, the balance of the fly fishing reel is very good and does not overwhelm you with jerky motions which is common in most fly fishing reels.
Very Affordable Reel
One factor that we always look at when reviewing products is value. Not just price but also value for the money. This fly fishing reel offers a ton of value as it is one of the best performing reels while also being one of the most affordable in the list. One of the deciding factors of why we wanted to list this as number one on our best fly fishing reels is because of the value it has.
Very Smooth Drag System
The drag on this fly fishing reel works well. The cork and stainless steel construction gives you complete control over the drag and adjusting it on the fly is also easy. Even during the startup inertia the drag really performs well and can lock down when needed.
- 【Silky Smooth Drag】Multi-disc cork and stainless steel drag system with one-way clutch bearing for smooth immediate...
- 【Solid and Light Weight】Precision CNC-machined 6061-T6 aluminum alloy for high-impact durability; Larger CNC hollow...
- 【Corrosion Resistance】Hard anodized for surface protection increases abrasion resistance and weather fastness; Cold...
- Precision machined
- Lightweight and fun to operate
- Does not wobble even during first hook up
- Great value for price
- Can be a bit tricky to change the reel from left to right-hand retrieve
2. Croch Fly Fishing Reel
For an inexpensive entry level reel one of the better choices is the Croch fly fishing reel. The reel is well crafted and hefty enough to handle rugged freshwater fishing such as Pike, Steelhead, and Salmon.
The Croch fly fishing reel is available in 3 different sizes: 3/4, 5/6, and 7/8. It also comes in a variety of color choices with the most popular being a black and gold finish.
One of the main components of any fly fishing reel and what we look for most in this best fly fishing reels review is the drag on the reel and how well it functions. Dealing with backlash because of a runaway drag or snapped line because of an inconsistent drag is no good. The drag on the Croch fly fishing reel is good and consistent. However, the drag works but it’s not the smoothest we’ve seen. The drag is also easy to adjust even on the ‘fly’. Since the reel is lighter weight it wasn’t as much of a problem as we first thought however.
Another factor we look at closely when rating the best fly fishing reels is the value for the money. Many times a higher priced more expensive reel will outperform a sub-$20 reel but that doesn’t mean the reel doesn’t offer a lot of value for the money. The Croch fly fishing reel comes in at under $15 making it one of the most inexpensive on this list. But the value and quality of reel you get for that amount of money is truly amazing.
For those who are new to fly fishing and want to give it a try this is likely the best fly fishing reel for you. It’s inexpensive and offers many of the features that more expensive, higher quality reels offer. You can get the best value by choosing this fly fishing reel.
- Aluminum alloy for high-impact durability and all-conditions corrosion resistance. Ultra-lightweight, practical, less...
- More solid and smooth. Stainless steel drag system with one-way clutch bearing for smooth immediate drag engagement
- Super quality--Cold-forged, CNC-machined, high-grade aluminum construction
- Price: this is a great fly fishing reel for the money
- Lightweight and available in different sizes
- Mid-arbor design for easier and quicker retrieve
- Easy conversion from Left-hand to Right-hand retrieve
- Available in 4 colors: Black; Silver; Gold and Gun Green
- Unit claims to be created on CNC machine but appears cast
- Finish on reel is rather dull
3. Sougayilang Fly Fishing Reel
The Sougayilang fly fishing reel is one of the best looking reels we have featured here on our best fly fishing reels review. But when it comes to fishing, having a great looking reel doesn’t mean you’re going to catch more fish. There are several things that we really liked about this reel, although the alure of the finish and it’s appearance is what first caught our eye.
This reel is a great value for the money. The Sougayilang fly fishing reel comes in at under $40 so it’s considered by many to be an entry level reel. However, with great construction and features that you’ll find on higher priced reels, that means that it should certainly be included in this best fly fishing reels review article.
One of the most crucial elements we consider when judging a fly fishing reel is the wobble of the spool. If you’ve ever had a fly fishing reel that had a large amount of wobble then you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. There is a very small amount of wobble on this reel which is a concern but not a deal breaker. Sometimes when a reel wobbles it will continually get worse and worse. One of the best things about the Sougayilang fly fishing reel however is that it comes with a 5 year warranty. A warranty like this is really unheard of for a reel of this price. It also makes the wobble less of a concern because the reel is better protected if it does have problems later, you can return it.
The Sougayilang fly fishing reel works best in freshwater. One of the problems that many people were compaining about is the open bearing system. Since the bearing are not sealed like most reels, it makes the reel more suceptible to dirt and debris getting in the bearings of the reel.
Depending on what your dominent hand is, this reel may already be set up for you. In any event you can change the hand of the reel really quickly.
- This fly reel is made of CNC-machined 6061-T6 aluminum alloy,that made it more durable and corrosion resistant in all...
- 2+1 Ball Bearings and 1:1 Gear Ratio, One-way roller bearing engages drag in one direction,Strong All-aluminum...
- Finely machined and knurled metal screw caps to loosen the spool and easy to change left to right hand retrieval...
- Price: this is a great fly fishing reel for the money
- Very good looking reel
- Amazing drag system that works flawlessly
- Open bearing system seems to allow dirt and debris into reel
- Slight wobble in reel
4. Waterworks-Lamson Liquid Fly Reel
We always give a few extra points for any product the is made in the USA or even those that are assemebled in the USA. For the Waterworks-Lamson Liquid Fly Reel the precision crafted reel is what makes it be placed on the best fly fishing reels list.
Although this is one of the higher priced reels on the list, it’s also one of the best. The Waterworks-Lamson Liquid Fly Reel comes in between $50 and $100 but offers tremendous value for the money. It works great for both fresh water and salt water fishing. The sealed bearing system keeps dirt and debris from entering the bearings and the drag system keeping the reel in great shape in the inside. Even with the sealed inside it’s alway easy to clean and remove any sand or salt after fishing.
The spools are changed out quickly and without much hassle so extra spools are a great idea especially if you are targetting different fish species on the same fishing trip.
The drag on the Waterworks-Lamson Liquid Fly Reel works flawlessly and is very easy to adjust. Even running from full drag to loose can be acheived quickly and in a matter of seconds. It does take some getting used to but getting the hang of adjusting it is rather straightforward. Even with the additional spools on this model there is no wobble at all. Switching the spools several times and we still could not find any wobbling.
One problem we did see that others were having is the seat on the clutch of the reel. Of course the instructions and reading materials on the Lamson website and instruction manual cover this exact topic.
Overall this is one of the best fly fishing reels for the money. It performs very well in almost any condition. Plus, it also holds up well over time.
- Material: pressure-cast aluminum
- Backing Capacity: [1.5] 100 yards 20 lb,  100 yards 20 lb, [3.5] 200 yards 20 lb,  250 yards 20 lb
- Fly Line Weight: [1.5] 4 WF,  6 WF, [3.5] 8 WF,  10 WF
- Lamson’s conical drag system
- Fully sealed drag keeps debris out
- CNC-machined components
- Lightweight aluminum construction
- Made in USA
- Clicker is really loud and annoying
5. Piscifun Sword 2 Lighter Weight Fly Fishing Reel
As we’ve mentioned above on the other reels we’ve included in this best fly fishing reels review is the drag on a fly fishing reel can make or break the reel in terms of our recomendation. The Piscifun Sword 2 Lighter Weight Fly Fishing Reel states that it has a ‘butter smooth drag’ which we found a bit odd at first. Then upon trying the reel and the drag system we found out exactly what they meant. The drag is easy and doesn’t jerk like many reels do. There is a drawback on the drag we found that it’s sensitive and can sometimes move during a lot of action on the reel.
The grip and feel of the Piscifun Sword 2 Lighter Weight Fly Fishing Reel is great. The handle fits well into your hand and with adjustable retireve sides you can make the reel your own according to your liking quickly. The drag knob is also knurled to give it a better feel as well which comes in handy since the drag is sensitive.
The build quality and value of this reel is of top quality. There is no wobble in the reel and it appears as if all the parts are precision machined rather than being cast. Although many reels may state that they are machined by CNC machines it’s usually only parts of the reel being so. With the Piscifun Sword 2 Lighter Weight Fly Fishing Reel it appears that everything is CNC and precision machined.
The Piscifun Sword 2 Lighter Weight Fly Fishing Reel is a lighter weight than the original Sword fly fishing reel which was in itself a great choice for a fly fishing reel. This reel is a bit higher performance and better quality as well over the oringinal. Overall this is an excellent reel that can hold up very well over the long run. It even has a full 3 year warranty on the reel in case there are any problems with it.
- Three-Year Warranty - Your reel has been set at the factory for left-hand retrieve. To convert your reel to right-hand...
- Solid And Lighter Weight - Precision CNC-machined 6061-T6 aluminum alloy for high-impact durability; Larger CNC hollow...
- Silky Smooth Drag - Multi-disc cork and stainless steel drag system with one-way clutch bearing for smooth immediate...
- Has a 3 year warranty
- Multi-disc cork and stainless steel drag system with one-way clutch bearing for smooth immediate drag engagement
- Accurate click drag and silent retrieve
- Precision CNC-machined
- Hard anodized for surface protection increases abrasion resistance
- Easy Gripping Knurled Handle and Drag Knob
- Drag is very sensitive and can be thrown off with a bump
6. Fiblink Fly Fishing Reel
Looking for a saltwater safe fly fishing reel? The Fiblink Fly Fishing Reel is one of the best fly fishing reels that is salt water safe to use. Even in the harsh environment that you may find in saltwater situations such as sand the reel still performs well and doesn’t hang like many other fly fishing reels. The sealed bearing also gives this reel an edge as well. It has 2+1 ball bearings for smooth operation with a 1 to 1 gear ratio.
The Fiblink Fly Fishing Reel also comes in 3 different sizes so you’re sure to find the one perfect for your target fish species. Plus, the Fiblink Fly Fishing Reel is also a great fit for everyone with it’s easy to change left or right hand retrieval system(Refer to the instruction manual for left-to-right hand retrieval switch, please refer to the instruction manual).
The Fiblink fly reel is saltwater safe, sealed drag stack; Ultra-lightweight, smart, practical, extremely sleek and athletic. And even though the reel looks absolutely amazing it won’t help you catch more fish. There is a big push lately to have the best looking reel, but let’s face it, fish are more interested in the bait you use and it’s presentation rather the the presentation of your reel.
- The Fiblink fly reel is saltwater safe, sealed drag stack; Ultra-lightweight, smart, practical, extremely sleek and...
- Cold-forged, CNC-machined, high-grade aluminum construction
- Less line stacking, higher line retrieval rates
- Great looking finish
- One-way bearing for quick and easy left-to-right hand retrieval switch
- Freshwater and saltwater safe
- Some users complain of this reel breaking easily if dropped
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For a budget minded fly angler, the Piscifun Aoka Aluminum Fly Fishing Reel is one of the best on the market. It features many advantages over comparable reels in the same price range. It has a great drag system and mid arbor reel that works great. Piscifun has been known for their quality in fly fishing reels for many years and this reel is no exception.
The drag on the Piscifun Aoka Aluminum Fly Fishing Reel is very consistent and can be switched from click drag system to silent drag which we really like. I’m not a fan of click drag systems and find them rather annoying especially when I attempt to connect with the serene silence of nature. Nothing can ruin the moment like a clicking drag. Of course, landing a monster Steelhead can certainly make me over look that. In either case, you won’t need to worry about that with the Piscifun Aoka Aluminum Fly Fishing Reel drag system.
This is one of the best values for the money for Piscifun reels. It has tremendous value and features that you will find in reels that cost 3 times as much. There is a few problems with the reel however which we found. One problem is the spool on the fly fishing reel which appears to be die cast rather than CNC machined. There was not any hangups or snags on the spool but it may have developed over time. We simply didn’t use the reel enough to determine that.
We did like the oversize handle on the reel but it may seem a bit too large for some people.
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- Oversize handle
- Click drag and silent retrieve
- Cork/Teflon disc drag system
- Fully machined frame and diecast spool
- Mid arbor spool
- quick Release spool
- Easy left to right hand retreive change
- Hangs sometimes under heavy use
- Can feel a bit bulky for persons with smaller hands
8. Okuma SLV Diecast Aluminum Fly Reel
Having a fly fishing reel that can withstand the rigors of heavy use in fresh water and salt water is quite uncommon. However, the Okuma SLV Diecast Aluminum Fly Reel does so without much effort. This fly fishing reel has a multi-disk cork and stainless steel drag washer design so it makes the entire drag system one of the best on the market.
The price of the Okuma SLV Diecast Aluminum Fly Reel is very low compared to comparable fly fishing reels which is why we felt it neede to be included in this best fly fishing reels article. Even using the reel in extreme conditions it works well and cleans up nicely even after heavy uses in a salt water environment.
If you’re looking for a nice, fully operation fly fishing reel then be sure to check out the Okuma SLV Diecast Aluminum Fly Reel today.
- Made of highest quality material
- Manufacturer: Okuma
- Okuma slv Super large arbor fly reel 1 RB 5/6 wt 12/140
- Diecast super large arbor spool design
- Non-slip positive grip rubberized handle knobs
- Easy to change left to right hand retrieval conversion
- Multi-disk cork and stainless steel drag washers
- Roller bearing allows the drag to engage in one direction only
- Precision machined brass bushing drive system
- Drag is sticky under pressure
- Some users complain of reel failing after a few uses
After reading this full review article about fly fishing reels I hope you have found a reel that can satisfy your needs. Whether you’re looking for speed and agility or simply value for the money, the best fly fishing reels that we have featured here should give you the perfect fly fishing reel for your next fishing trip.
When deciding upon which fly reel works best for you, there are a few things to consider. Start up inertia, reel weight, and the drag system are all pivotal features which to measure a fly reel by.
Start up inertia is the resistance to movement that occurs the moment when a fish starts to take the line. It measures the drag that occurs until the reel is spinning smoothly at top speed – in terms of a car, start up inertia basically measures the time it takes from the line to go from 0 to 60 miles per hour.
The drag system is the resistance put upon the spool to prevent the line from being stripped away when a fish takes the line. Light drag systems put little drag on the reel spool, and when a fish begins to take the line, the line will put no pressure on the fish, making it difficult to reel in. Alternatively, high drag systems will put too much pressure on the spool, potentially snapping the leader or tippet.
Be sure to also check out our other articles about fishing reels including the best baitcasting reels and best spinning reels.
Also If you have a comment or recommendation on any of the fly fishing reels we have listed here be sure to comment below with your experience. We love hearing from the readers of our website just how the products we feature work for them. So if you’ve got the perfect fly fishing reel that has held up well and caught those monster fish, be sure to comment below and let us know!
One thought on “Best Fly Fishing Reels of 2023”
Is it me or do the designs for reels both fly fishing and spinning reels are made for show rather than getting the job done?