Fly Fishing 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 the job.

John Horsey – Top UK Professional Fly Fishing Guide

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 suffice.

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.

What does ‘large arbor’ mean?

The reel’s arbor size refers to the diameter of the spool.

Large arbor reels are popular because:

  • They store your fly line in larger coils, reducing line memory problems
  • They retrieve faster due to the larger spool size
  • The drag operates more smoothly because the wider spool creates less start up inertia

When choosing a reel, it is imperative to first decide what fish you want to target” John Horsey

Types of drag systems used on fly reels

The simplest drag is the ‘click-and-pawl’ system whereby a spring pushes the pawl into a gear on the reel’s spool to create both tension and a clicking noise as line is pulled off the reel. Reels with this type of drag may feature a screw or knob that adjusts the tension but they have their limitations – fine for light trout fishing.

More sophisticated reels designed for fast running fish have a ‘disc drag’. This works by pushing a pad against the reel’s spool or braking surface to provide the correct level of drag.

There are two types: ‘sealed’ drags that prevent dirt entering the mechanism but are tricky to maintain, and ‘open’ drags that are easily dismantled for servicing but susceptible to sand and dirt.

‘Open’ types require regular attention, particularly those with cork surfaces. Some anglers monitor the tension on the spool by ‘palming’ (cupping the rotating spool with the palm) and for this to work you need a reel with an exposed spool rim.

Reservoirs and lakes

I normally use WF7/8 fly lines when reservoir fishing for trout and my favourite reel is the Hardy Ultralite ASR 6000, which comes with two spare spools. It has a superb disc drag to slow the runs of fit summer rainbows hooked at range on dry fly and light tippet.

I am also a great fan of this cassette system of reels, which means having one reel but many spare composite spools to hold a full range of floating, sinking, intermediate and sink tip lines. The ingenious spool coding system makes fly line selection a real breeze!

The larger Hardy Ultralite ASR 7000 reel is perfect for use with my Hardy Zephrus SWS 9’ #9 rod when fishing for Chew’s huge pike. These massive, toothy critters often bore deep when hooked and bend the rod double, so I need to fully utilise the reel’s disc drag, which is so important when applying direct pressure.

River fishing

For most UK rivers, rods ranging from 8’6” to 10’ are the norm, with line ratings varying on the size of river and species being chased. Large arbor reels with disc drags are not necessary for these smaller rivers and lighter lines but, if you decide to head further afield to places like New Zealand, you will need more robust tackle and reels which can handle the run of a 6lb plus wild rainbow trout in wide, fast-flowing water.

Salmon anglers using double-handed fly rods require large arbor reels that can hold a 9/10 Spey-casting line and sufficient backing. Due to the design of the fly line taper, this reel needs to be much bigger than, for example, one to hold a WF10 saltwater fly line.

Left or right hand wind?

I am right handed and as such, cast and hold my rod with this strongest hand. I therefore set up all my reels to be left hand wind. Tradition used to dictate that fly reels were set up as right hand wind for right handed people – something I have never understood and never subscribed to!

However, if you prefer to switch to your weaker hand when playing a fish to enable winding the reel with your right hand, then so be it. It’s purely a matter of personal choice.

21 thoughts on “Fly Fishing Reels

  1. Природа обделила женщин физической силой, но взамен подарила развитую интуицию. Именно она позволяет даже совсем маленьким девочкам без особого труда выбирать тех мальчиков, которым они симпатичны. Ведь даже в детском саду девчонки безошибочно выделяют своего преданного поклонника. При непосредственном контакте определить первое зарождающееся чувство достаточно просто, гораздо сложнее понять, нравишься ли ты парню, если вы пока не общаетесь или знакомы заочно, допустим, по переписке в сети. Сегодня мы рассмотрим и эти варианты.

  2. Thanks for your publication. I also believe that laptop computers have grown to be more and more popular lately, and now are often the only form of computer used in a household. Simply because at the same time potentially they are becoming more and more cost-effective, their working power is growing to the point where they are as powerful as pc’s out of just a few years back.

  3. I just couldn’t go away your website prior to suggesting that I really loved the standard information a person supply on your guests? Is going to be back often to check up on new posts

  4. Thanks for the suggestions you talk about through this site. In addition, numerous young women who become pregnant never even aim to get health care insurance because they are concerned they might not qualify. Although many states at this moment require that insurers supply coverage no matter the pre-existing conditions. Premiums on these guaranteed plans are usually greater, but when thinking about the high cost of medical treatment it may be the safer approach to take to protect a person’s financial potential.

  5. Hi there, I discovered your site via Google at the same time as searching for a comparable topic, your website came up, it seems to be good. I have bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.

  6. Thank you for the good writeup. It in reality was a enjoyment account it. Glance complex to more delivered agreeable from you! By the way, how can we communicate?

  7. Greetings, I think your website could possibly be having browser compatibility issues. When I take a look at your web site in Safari, it looks fine however, when opening in I.E., it has some overlapping issues. I just wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Other than that, wonderful blog!

  8. Quality articles is the important to invite the viewers to go to see the website, that’s what this website is providing.

  9. Hey there I am so thrilled I found your blog page, I really found you by mistake, while I was researching on Google for something else, Anyhow I am here now and would just like to say many thanks for a tremendous post and a all round enjoyable blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to go through it all at the moment but I have bookmarked it and also added in your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read a great deal more, Please do keep up the fantastic work.

  10. I’ve been surfing online more than 2 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It is pretty worth enough for me. Personally, if all website owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the net will be much more useful than ever before.

  11. I am now not sure where you’re getting your information, however good topic. I must spend a while studying much more or figuring out more. Thank you for great info I used to be on the lookout for this information for my mission.|

  12. Magnificent beat ! I would like to apprentice whilst you amend your site, how could i subscribe for a blog site? The account aided me a appropriate deal. I had been a little bit acquainted of this your broadcast provided vibrant transparent idea|

  13. Hey! I could have sworn I’ve been to this site before but after checking through some of the post I realized it’s new to me. Anyways, I’m definitely happy I found it and I’ll be book-marking and checking back often!

  14. Hello! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any problems with hackers? My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing a few months of hard work due to no backup.
    Do you have any solutions to prevent hackers?

  15. We’re a group of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our community.
    Your web site provided us with useful info to work on.
    You’ve performed an impressive activity and our entire community shall be thankful to you.

  16. I am curious to find out what blog platform you have been working with? I’m experiencing some minor security issues with my latest website and I would like to find something more secure. Do you have any recommendations?|

  17. Wow, awesome blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your web site is magnificent, let alone the content!|

  18. Hmm is anyone else encountering problems with the pictures on this blog loading? I’m trying to figure out if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog. Any feed-back would be greatly appreciated.

  19. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point.
    You clearly know what youre talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to your weblog when you could be giving us something enlightening to read?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *