Best Fly Reel

Most fly fishermen and women will eventually target trout. This guide to the finest fly reels for trout provides an overview of the available models.

The pursuit of trout is quite popular among fly fishermen worldwide. These fish inhabit streams and rivers in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and South America. There are few places on earth where trout cannot be caught.

Best Fly Reel
Ultimate Guide To The Best Fly Reel For Trout 3

What to Search for in a Five Pound Fly Reel?

There are other trout species that move between freshwater and saltwater environments (Read our Saltwater Reels Guide). These fish may be caught around the coasts of Scandinavia and the United Kingdom, where they are known as sea trout. Cutthroat trout move to the ocean and can be caught, for instance, in the Pacific Northwest.

Choose a trout reel designed for saltwater fishing if you plan on engaging in this type of fishing. In this guide, we will offer some excellent reels for this purpose.

A traditional trout fly reel is frequently a size 5. This denotes the class of the line. As a general rule, the smaller the number, the smaller the fish the lure is designed to catch. For example, a #3 fly reel is an excellent choice for fishing in little streams. A #5 or #6 reel is ideal for trout fishing in the majority of scenarios. Salmon anglers choose a reel between #8 and #12, while hunters of large saltwater species can go as high as a #14 reel.

Types of Trout Fly Reels

There are an infinite number of trout fly reels on the market. In this guide to the finest 5 wt fly reel, we will divide trout reels into different categories in order to provide a more comprehensive picture.

Historically, the majority of trout fly fishing was conducted in tiny rivers where fish cannot escape once hooked. Consequently, a disc drag is not as essential as, for instance, while fly fishing in the ocean. The same holds true for little arbor vs. huge arbor. A larger arbor (larger diameter of the spool) expedites line pickup. This is crucial, for example, while fishing in saltwater.

As previously said, if you intend to fish for trout in salt water, you must get a fly reel designed for these circumstances. Lastly, your stylistic choices and money are also crucial factors. Because of this, we will provide suggestions in three categories: entry-level trout reels, mid-range fly reels, and premium reels.

Best Trout Fly Reel: Quick Answer List

  • Redington Crosswater
  • Orvis Clearwater Large Arbor
  • Pflueger Medalist
  • Orvis Hydros
  • Waterworks-Lamson Remix
  • Colorado Fly Fishing
  • Galvan Torque
  • SAGE Trout
  • Hardy Duchess 3″
  • Hatch Gen 2 Finatic 4 Plus

Best Trout Fly Reel Under $150 for Beginners

Redington Crosswater

Here is an excellent trout fly reel for about $100! The Redington Crosswater includes several characteristics of much more expensive fly reels.

A big arbor spool makes retrieving lines quickly simple. Whether you are left-handed or right-handed, you can effortlessly adjust the Redington Crosswater’s retrieve.

The Redington Crosswater is equipped with a drag mechanism that can handle large fish in rivers with more flow. Redington is recognized for producing inexpensive items of high quality. A one-year guarantee ensures that you may put your new reel to the test and return it if something is defective. Includes a cloth reel bag.

Orvis Clearwater Large Arbor

The Orvis Clearwater Large Arbor is an additional excellent option for trout fishing. At $89, it is also priced below $100. The same benefit applies to this reel as the Redington. Orvis manufactures high-end reels, and their expertise trickles down to entry-level items like this one.

The Orvis Clearwater #4-6 is an excellent all-around trout reel. This reel’s adjustable drag design allows it to handle larger fish with ease. Since the Redington Crosswater, it is ambidextrous, allowing both right-handed and left-handed anglers to use it as the retrieve can be simply switched.

In addition, the Orvis Clearwater has a big arbor design for rapid line retrieval. A reel that will bring you years of enjoyment. Includes the renowned Orvis warranty.

Pflueger Medalist

The Pflueger Medalist is our favorite entry-level traditional trout reel. It has the appearance of a traditional trout reel but is constructed of contemporary machined aluminum, making it a durable reel.

The Pflueger Medalist has a conventional arbor; thus, retrieving your line will be slower than with the Redington or Orvis. The wooden-looking polymer handle lends to the traditional sense of the Pflueger.

As with the majority of traditional trout reels, the Pflueger Medalist lacks an adjustable drag mechanism. This means you must apply direct pressure with the palm of your hand on the reel to stop the runs of larger fish. It requires some acclimatization. Once the technique is mastered, the connection with the fish becomes more direct, resulting in a greater sense of satisfaction.

Mid-Range Trout Reels: $150 – $250

Orvis Hydros

Orvis, a well-known brand in the fly fishing industry, has established its products’ superiority for decades. The Hydros is no exception to this rule and is an excellent choice for saltwater trout fishing.

The extremely big arbor of the Hydros enables rapid line pickup. This is a crucial characteristic for saltwater fishing since you must frequently strip and recover line fast owing to the speed of the fish.

The Orvis Hydros drag system is composed of carbon and stainless steel. This reel has gotten exceedingly lightweight over time. Therefore, if you want to fish all day, this might be a tremendous benefit. Available in numerous sizes and colors.

Waterworks-Lamson Remix

If you’re searching for a vintage setting, TheWaterworks-Lamson Remix is a wonderful option. This reel is visually compatible with fiberglass or bamboo fly rods. Its low weight makes it an excellent alternative for trout rigging.

TheWaterworks-Lamson Remix features a completely machined aluminum case, which contributes to its lightweight and superior durability. The sealed drag mechanism is extremely sensitive, making this reel a suitable choice for saltwater as well, such as when pursuing cutthroat trout in estuaries.

TheWaterworks-Lamson Remix boasts a sizable arbor that makes line retrieval a breeze. This mid-priced reel is available in a variety of sizes and colors and comes with a lifetime warranty for the original owner, making it a wonderful bargain.

Colorado Fly Fishing Reel

If you want to use your reel in both freshwater and saltwater, Colorado’s $150 price tag is a wonderful value. The critical components of this reel are protected from the environment by a fully sealed drag mechanism.

Additionally, Colorado includes a big arbor. Olive green that is exquisitely subtle Aluminum that has been CNC-machined

Colorado is an excellent fly reel for pursuing sea trout, and sea-run cutthroat trout since its size (#5/6/7) ensures that it can handle larger fish that also make longer runs.

$250 to $500 for Trout High-End Fly Reels

Galvan Torque

The Galvan Torque is a superb, reasonably priced trout fly reel that is built in the United States. It has a lovely, traditional form and is available in a wide range of colors, allowing you to choose one that complements your trout fly rod. If you want to target smaller saltwater species, such as sea trout, the Galvan Torque is an excellent option. It is made of aluminum and has a tremendous torque drag.

The disc drag mechanism of the Galvan Torque is effective in any setting and requires little maintenance. Its huge arbor design allows for a speedy line collection, for example, when a large fish is rushing. The guarantee is a lifetime for the original purchaser.

SAGE Trout

The SAGE Trout Reel is a contemporary fly reel with an elegant, traditional design. The full-frame design and classic, slenderized form contribute to the conventional appeal.

If you are searching for a trout all-rounder, the SAGE 4/5/6 option is the best option. The 2/3/4 should be selected if ultralight travel is desired.

The SAGE boasts an excellent responsive drag mechanism and a big arbor design for speedy line retrieval. Available in bronze and silver with an ambidextrous design.

Hardy Duchess 3″ Fly Reel

Hardy Brothers is one of the few fly fishing brands with a history as extensive as theirs. Their Hardy Duchess 3″ Fly Reel is our top pick for vintage trout reels that will be handed down to your children and grandchildren.

The Hardy Duchess 3″ Fly Reel exemplifies a traditional fly reel. This reel concentrates on the basics and excludes any extraneous elements. There is no drag system on this stainless steel and aluminum object.

The Hardy Duchess 3″ Fly Reel is the best option if you’re searching for a unique fly reel for a vintage bamboo or fiberglass rod. The sound made when a fish is hooked is unforgettable.

Hatch Gen 2 Finatic 4 Plus is a fly reel manufactured by Hatch Outdoors, an American company located in California. Their fanatic collection is wildly popular with fly fishermen and ladies all around the world, and for a good reason. The Hatch Gen 2 Finatic 4 Plus is an outstanding trout reel that is also safe for use in saltwater.

The drag mechanism on the Hatch Gen 2 Finatic 4 Plus is smooth and completely sealed. The Hatch design with the cross bracing, which is made from type 2 anodized aluminum and CNC-machined, has become a symbol over time.

The Hatch Gen 2 Finatic 4 Plus is offered in a selection of standard and bespoke colors.

What to Consider in a Trout Reel?

Let’s examine the factors to consider when considering purchasing a fly reel.


Currently, the majority of fly reels on the market are composed of aluminum of varied quality. Superior versions are machined from aircraft-grade bar stock, whilst inferior models are poured into a mold, resulting in a cast structure. Cast aluminum reels are more susceptible to cracking or breaking than completely machined aluminum reels, despite their attractive pricing. The polish of aluminum reels is also a crucial factor to consider. To prevent corrosion and scratches, an anodized finish is essential. An anodized coating is particularly crucial for use in salt water.

Utilizing graphite or even plastic, some entry-level fishing reels have attempted to reduce costs. Although these reels give an alternative for beginning fly fishermen, they are not likely to withstand the test of time, and their general performance is pretty poor.


Body, spool, and drag are the fundamental components of a fishing reel. You should be able to construct a reel that spins smoothly, is user-friendly, has a reliable drag mechanism, and is resilient.

The quantity of machining increases the price of reels. The quantity of “porting” on fishing reels, which refers to the number of holes drilled into the metal, has been a very clever development during the previous decade. This reduces the amount of weight in the reel’s body and spool. The more the accuracy of a fishing reel’s porting, the greater its expense, but the lighter the reel. Some fly reels are so light that they no longer effectively balance the fly rod. Finding the ideal balance is as simple as loading a reel and attaching it to a fishing rod. Place one finger beneath the cork’s top handle. If it can teeter without either the reel side of the rod side falling to the ground, then it is quite well-balanced.


The drag mechanism is now the focal point of the reel. The drag system must be simple to regulate, give smooth start-up inertia, and provide stopping power.

Click pawl drags are designed to be extremely lightweight and employ a metal spring and a triangular point that clicks and provides pressure to a simple gear. However, as basic as they are, they fail significantly more frequently than contemporary drags.

Another conventional alternative is cork drags. The greatest disadvantage of cork is that they require continual care, and if they are sealed, which most are not, you must be very accurate in your maintenance—removing small screws, covers, and gaskets. Cork deteriorates with time and might freeze if it becomes damp, causing skipping in the drag performance.


Typically, reels are designed to accommodate a range of rod sizes to account for how a particular reel will affect the balance of a certain fly rod when loaded with backing and fly line. Using the required backing weight and length in conjunction with the correct line weight will precisely load the reel. Refer to this CHART for the correct quantity of backing. Here is a rigging tip: when rigging at home, place all of the backings on the reel and then measure back to cut it. For instance, if the guideline is for 180 yards of 20-pound backing, place 200 yards on the spool and then measure out 20 yards to cut off. It is crucial to have tension while spooling your backing; think of it as packing a parachute; you need the backing to be tight so that it can be released quickly when it counts most. Combine this with excellent knots and, you guessed it, a high-quality reel with smooth start-up inertia, and you are prepared to confront any situation your brains can concoct.


When you combine a huge arbor, high capacity, lightweight reels, and a smooth, robust drag mechanism, you get a true treasure. Anglers who intend to spend time in salt should pick reels with powerful, completely sealed drags, huge capacity, and anodized finishes. Fully sealed is preferable for infrequent journeys to the salt, although at least partial sealing is advised. Anglers who pursue trout and bass may get by with lighter drags, less capacity, and a lower price tag, but it is highly suggested that they be prepared for the unexpected big. Rare opportunities to encounter genuine animals should not be squandered due to lack of preparation.

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