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Fly-fishing Reels  6 Important factors to consider when choosing a fly fishing reel.

Go directly to the comparison tables.  Go to a manufacture:  Martin, Fenwick, Pflueger, Okuma, Orvis, Scientific Anglers, Redington, Temple Fork, Ross Reels, GLoomis, Nautilus, Sage, Hardy, Abel, Hatch, Lamson

flyfishingthings.com/fly fishing reel Pfluger trion 1956 flyfishingthings.com/fly fishing reel redington rise 5-6 flyfishingthings.com/fly fishing reel Temple Fork CLA 5-6 flyfishingthings.com/fly fishing reel GLoomis Current 5-6 flyfishingthings.com/fly fishing reel Sage 1650
Pflueger Trion 1956 Redington Rise 5-6 Temple Fork CLA 5-6 G.Loomis Current 5-6 Sage 1650 

When choosing a fly-reel, remember, the basic purpose for a fly-fishing reel is to hold the backing and fly line. However, there are other important functions and features (all desirable) to be taken into consideration.  They are:

First,  the 
Drag system. The reel should have a quality drag system that controls the rate of release of the fly line. This is very important when fighting a fish—especially a fish that is big enough to pull line(sometimes all of it) off the reel. A smooth, (not hurky-jerky), drag system will allow the line to pay out smoothly, with the right tension, to the run of a strong fish.  There are a number of different drag systems on the market today, and most all of them work well.  I think the thing that is most important is that the drag systems be easily adjustable and pay out line smoothly and evenly.  Like I said, no hurky-jerky.
 

Next comes
 Durability.  You don’t want the reel to corrode overtime, and you want it to keep functioning, even if it’s dropped or stepped on or whatever.   Regarding corrosion resistance.  If a reel is not coated well or the surfaces are not treated in some manner to reduce corrosion, it may corrode, even if used in freshwater; let alone in saltwater.  Like the pizza man says; “better ingredients; better pizza.”  Eliminate all reels that are not machined from high-grade aluminum stock (aircraft quality aluminum).  Why, because the reel will last longer and perform better over its lifetime. Machined reels have more precise tolerances, are stronger, and lighter. That’s three very good reasons.  Note: if expense is an issue, remember, you get what you pay for.

Third,   Size and weight=
Rod Balance.  The reel should match up with the fly rod in that when the reel is attached (loaded with the line) the whole fly-fishing unit is balanced.  Don't buy a reel made for a 8 weight rod for example and put it on a 5 weight rod.  If you do the rod is not going to cast properly.

Forth.
Spool inter-change-ability.  A reel that has interchangeable spools is important because: you can load each with a different kind of sinking line, and/or a sink tip line and/or different types of shooting lines.  All this will give you enough versatility with one rod to fish virtually any condition.

Fifth.  Appearance. Were talking anodized colored aluminum reels now.  Not as important to some, but important to others. If you're into image or prestige and want the reel to look good on the fly rod then go for it.  The reel manufacture's offer some astonishingly good looking reels today. Expect to pay $200 and up.

Sixth, the arbor size.  The arbor is the spindle on which the spool rotates; the larger the diameter of the arbor the faster the line retrieves(or pays out).  Thus, a larger arbor is more desirable than a regular arbor sized reel. Second, larger arbor reels spin more smoothly than do smaller diameter arbor reels. This will reduce friction that can build up from the hard run of a bigger fish.  If you pick up a reel and spin the spool and it doesn’t spin smoothly, don’t even think about buying it.  It will not hold up under the run of a “hot” fish.  You want the reel to spin like butter. You don’t want it to explode as a result of a hard run.  Finally, a large arbor reel allows for quicker spool change, which on occasion might mean the difference in the number of fish you have the opportunity to catch, or not catch, because you’re busy changing reels.
Reels come in standard, medium and large arbor sizes.

Wrap all these values up in a reel at an affordable price, and you have a winner.  There are many very affordable reels on the market today that have all the qualities I’ve mentioned.  Pick the one that fits your budget and go fishing!

A couple of final thoughts: when you load the reel with the fly line, you need to consider which hand you're going to crank the reel with?  There is no right or wrong answer to this question.  If you’re going to fish with the rod in your right hand then most likely you’ll want a left hand crank and vice versa.  It’s whatever you’re most comfortable with, and make sure. Following is a group of tables where you can compare #5 wt reel models according to price, spool availability, size, weight, and backing limits. Additionally I have included a link to their website. The first table shows the average reel price by manufacture.Very interesting

Fly-fishing reel comparison tables.

Back to top.

Rank Mfc Average
$35.00 Martin $139
$86.00 Fenwick $430
$92.00 Pflueger $367
$94.00 Okuma $754
$98.00 Orvis $980
$109.00 Scientific anglers $436
$$116.00 Redington $698/span>
$120.00 Templefork $600
$178.00 Ross $1,955
$185.00 G Loomis $555
$250.00 Nautilus $250
$271.00 Sage $2,442
$291.00 Hardy $876
$308.00 Abel $1,540
$450.00 Hatch $900
     
Lamson does not make reels to fit #5wt rods.


Back to top. Abel
Price Spools Model# Size Weight oz Backing
$270 $120 Abelcreek 3.5 4.3oz 210
Go to website $270 $135 Trout series TR2 3.025 4.3oz 155
$425 $175 Super 3N 3.125 4.4oz 100
$575 $255 Super 5N 3.5 5.7oz 125
$1,540

Back to top. Fenwick
Price Spools Model# Size Weight oz Backing
$50 $30 FBFR 56 not available not available not available
$55 $15 DCC56 not available not available not available
Go to website $85 $0 Iron56LA not available not available not available
$90 $15 WCLA56 not available not available not available
$150 $90 FNHLA 35 not available not available not available
$430

Back to top. G Loomis
Price Spools Model# Size Weight oz Backing
$100 $65 Venture 5 3 not available 100
Go to website $185 $95 Eastfork 5-6 3.4 not available 100
$270 $150 Current 5-6 3.4 not available 100
$555

Back to top. Hardy
Price Spools Model# Size Weight oz Backing
$275 99 Flyweight 2.5 2.3/4 not available
Go to website $299 119 Featherweight 2.78 3.1/8 not available
$299 119 LRH reel 3.316 3.5 not available
$873

Back to top. Hatch
Price Spools Model# Size Weight oz Backing
Go to website $400 $175 3 Plus 3.25 5 not available
$500 $205 5 Plus 3.625 7 not available
$900

Back to top. Martin
Price Spools Model# Size Weight oz Backing
$16 $0 CC61 not available 3.1oz 30yds
Go to website $35 $0 MB56FP not available 6.1oz 30yds
$35 $0 MBLA56 not available 7.3oz 30yds
$53 $0 MR56 not available 4.2oz 30yds
$139

Back to top. Nautilus
Price Spools Model# Size Weight oz Backing
Go to website $250 115 FW5 3.5 4.2 not available
$250

Back to top. Okuma
Price Spools Model# Size Weight oz Backing
$30 $15 Cascade CS4-6 not available not available not available
$40 $23 Sierra 4-5 not available not available not available
$60 $35 SLV 5-6 not available not available not available
Go to website $65 $30 Integrity I 5-6 not available not available not available
$100 $70 Vashon not available not available not available
$100 $50 Tuscani TC4-5 not available not available not available
$179 $85 H-45 not available not available not available
$180 $80 Cedros CE 5-6 not available not available not available
$754

Back to top. Orvis
Price Spools Model# Size Weight oz Backing
$49 $19 Clearwater #2 3 4.2oz 100
$49 $19 Clearwater #3 3.1/43 4.9oz 175
$79 $29 BK Disc Drag 3-4 2.78" 4.2oz 75
$89 $35 BK Disc Drag 5-6 3.1/8" 4.7oz 75
Go to website $119 $69 BBS #2 2.3/4 3.5oz 100
$129 $69 BBS #3 3 3.9oz 100
$129 $69 BK MA #2 3 5.5oz 100
$139 $75 BK MA #3 3.1/4 5.7 oz 100
$198 $115 BK LA #2 3.25" 4.1oz 100
$219 $115 CFO #3 3.0" 4 oz 50
$980

Back to top. Pflueger
Price Spools Model# Size Weight oz Backing
$27 $0 Automatic 2.7/8 9oz 50yds
Go to website $40 $0 Medalist1492 2.3/16 4.2oz not available
$120 $75 Trion 1956 3.1/4 6.1oz 50yds
$180 $99 2056 3.1/32 5.8oz 30yds
$367

Back to top. Redington
Price Spools Model# Size Weight oz Backing
$55 $20 Crosswater 4-5-6 3.187 5.1oz not available
$80 $29 RedFly2 4-5-6 3.187 5.3oz not available
Go to website $100 $40 Surge 5-6 3.53 5.6oz not available
$125 $60 Drift 5-6 3.07 3.9oz not available
$159 $80 Rise 5-6 4.78oz not available
$179 $90 Titanium CDL 5-6 3.187 6.6oz not available
$698

Back to top. Ross
Price Spools Model# Size Weight oz Backing
$55 $28 Flystart#2 3.25" 5oz 125
$80 $40 Flycast #2 3.25" 5.3oz 125
$85 $42 Flycast #3 3.5 5.8oz 175
$100 $54 Flyrise #2 3.25" 4.7oz 175 yds
Go to website $175 $92 CLA #1.5 3.125 4.5oz 100 yds
$185 $96 CLA #2 3.25" 4.8oz 125 yds
$200 $105 Airius #1.5 3.25" 4.7oz 100 yds
$210 $110 Airius #2 3.25" 5.1oz 125 yds
$265 $138 EvolutionLt #1.5 3 1/4 4    65 yds
$275 $143 EvolutionLt #2 3 1/4 4 1/5 75 yds
$325 $169 Vexsis #2 3.25" 4 3/5 125 yds
$1,955

Back to top. Sage
Price Spools Model# Size Weight oz Backing
$99 $40 1650 3.6 5 7/8 100/20-lb
$139 $55 1850 3.6 5 7/8 100/20-lb
$199 $130 2050 3.7 5 1/2 100/20-lb
Go to website $260 $50 3850cf 3.6 4 7/8 100/20-lb
$320 $155 Click IV 3.7 2 5/8 100/12-lb
$325 $60 4540cf 3.5 3 3/4 60/20-lb
$335 $65 4550cf 3.6 3 7/8 100/20-lb
$375 $125 4540 3.5 4.125 60/20-lb
$390 $135 4550 3.6 4 3/8 100/20-lb
$2,442

Back to top. Scientific anglers
Price Spools Model# Size Weight oz Backing
$34 $0 SA concept 3.31 4.3 100 yds
$60 $30 SA sys1 Model 456 2.94 3.9 101 yds
Go to website $115 $60 SA 2L 45L 2.94 4.1 102 yds
$227 $116 SA 2LA 456 3.76 5.33 103 yds
$436

Back to top. Templefork
Price Spools Model# Size Weight oz Backing
$50 $15 C4-6 2.875 not available not available
$90 $45 CLA 5-6 3 5.5 100
Go to website $120 $60 TFO 1Click 2.75 3.2 not available
$140 $73 MLA 5-6 3.4 5.5 100
$200 $85 TFO MK 3 4.7 not available
$600