A Bit About Fly Reels
Fly reels come in all shapes and sizes but their primary
function is to store a fly line and sufficient backing to cope with
the strongest of fish. Clearly, the rod plays an important role
in playing a fish but it is essential to have a reel that also does
For example, some saltwater species will run for hundreds of metres and are almost
impossible to stop. In these situations, you require a reel with the capacity to hold
several hundred metres of backing and which is equipped with a reliable disc drag
to carefully slow the fish as it runs.
Other fish, such as grayling on our UK rivers, do not make long, fast runs but tend
to use their huge dorsal fin to kite across the current and therefore large arbor reels
and disc drags are not necessary and in place a simple click-and-pawl check will
What species are you fishing for?
When choosing a reel, it is imperative to first decide what fish you want to target.
My normal day job entails guiding on Chew Valley and Blagdon lakes from a boat.
When fishing for trout, I will use a smaller reel than when I am targeting pike on
the fly and when river fishing I use reels designed to carry #4 weight lines to
complement my lighter rods. If I’m fishing for salmon on bigger rivers then my reel
must be large enough to hold #9 and #10 weight lines, complete with enough
backing to handle a big, fit salmon fresh in from the sea. On the subject of the
sea, the reels I use for my saltwater fishing need to be large and able to resist the
corrosive effect of sea water.