The Real Deal on Fly Fishing Reels
Opinions vary greatly on the type of reel, and certainly the expense, of the reel a fly fisherman needs. The needs of a fly reel are far different than a gear reel. In gear fishing, a good quality baitcaster is going to help you cast better…..it couldn’t be more opposite in fly fishing.
My rule of thumb is to match your reel with what it’s going to be catching….and the fight the fish is going to give which will determine the drag system you need.
If you’re going after panfish or native mountain trout, you’re very unlikely to play the fish on the reel. The reel in this case is really no more than a line carrier. If however, you’re going for bonefish, large trout, musky, bass and the like…..chances are you’re going to put the fish on the reel. Here the drag system matters.
There are two basic types of drag system, the click-pawl and the disc drag.
Click-Pawl Drag System
The original drag (and still used widely today) is the click-pawl drag system. A gear in the back of the spool locks into triangularly shaped clickers held in place with tension on the inside of the reel frame. When the spool turns, the clickers keep the line from over running. There is also typically a tension knob. This allows you to adjust how much tension is placed on it when stripping out line to cast and in the rare case when you play a fish on it. These reels are inexpensive. It’s a good entry level reel and also most appropriate for mountain trout, panfish, and similar species.
Disc Drag Reels
Enter in the disc drag reels. Disc reels use a sequence of stacked washers affixed between plates with typically a carbon fiber inner. The disc drag system takes into account heat generation when a fish is tearing off drag and getting into your backing. It will also accommodate the torque of a quick hard run.
These reels are not cheap, and prices are highly dependent on the materials used and quality the machining of the components. The tighter the reel, as in the closer the machining tolerances, the more expensive it will be….and the more reliable. If you’re fishing salt or brackish water, go for the sealed bearings, it’s a must have. Even if you’re not, the sealed bearings are the way to go if you can afford it. These reels are for big game….stripers, tarpon, steelhead, salmon etc.
That’s the quick 411 my fishy friends…..until next time,
Tight Lines and Screaming Drags