What Features Do You Look For In A Trout Fishing Reel

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For Trout fly fishing there are a few things to look for in a good fly reel, there are different types of fly reels, from traditional arbour type with a click pawl or spring drag which is a simple cog mechanism which alters the amount of pressure on  the line. Often there is little difference between low and full drag. The alternative is a disc drag which works much like a car brake with pressure applied by a disk, it increases tension as a fly pulls line off the reel but maintained low pressure when you wind the line in.

Click Pawl or Spring Drag System Fly Reel Disk Drag System
Click Pawl or Spring Drag System Disc Drag System

Here is our recommended checklist of features

Critical Trout Fly Reel Features

  1. Cassette Spool SystemReel Balance - your reel should be balanced with your rod, with the capacity for backing required by the type of fishing you plan to do. The loaded fly reel should ideally balance the fly rod in your hand at the point where you grip the handle. This will make the rod feel light and remove any tip heavy feel and make fly fishing more comfortable all day!

  2. Good Drag Mechanism - make sure you have a good drag that will work in winter and all year. Traditional reels with cork Cork drag  will freeze or provide varying drag as temperature increases. Ideally go for a fully enclosed drag system. The drag needs to handle hard runs and not free spool. Rulon appears to be one of the modern trends for drag now. In our opinion disc drag with modern materials like rulon is the only way to go for trout fly fishing.

  3. Adequate Capacity For Backing - with large trout runs we need to be prepared to have adequate capacity for potentially a large fly line with plenty of backing. On small rivers you often will lneed little or no backing. On large stillwaters you may want 50 to 100m of backing.

  4. Interchangeable Spools - reels have the capability of changing fly lines, these can usually be by a bar stock or dye cast spool or a plastic cassette. Interchangeable plastic cassette spools offer tremendous value for money as often bar stock or die cast spools will cost half the cost of the original reel.

Personal Fly Reel Features

Fly Line Noise - Of highly personal and subjective preference is reel noise, some fly fishermen love hearing the noise of a fly line personally we prefer silent reels always.

Reel Colour - Makes no difference to the fishing, however we prefer matt finish or black reels. Anything to avoid spooking a fish. The trend for modern fancy coloured fly reels is not to our fancy.

Reel Manufacture

There are two main manufacturing processes used to produce fly reels and some reels rely on a combination to achieve the finished product, each manufacturer has their own preferences based on product market position and price.

  1. Die Cast Fly Reels – This is a mass production process that uses uses molten alloy poured or injected into a mould. This process is generally used in less expensive salmon fly reels. Introduced Hardy’s early in the 20th century allows cheaper reel production. Die casting allows manufacturers to produce mould shapes that would be impossible to create with a CNC machining process. Because of the moulding process dropping die cast reels onto a hard surface has occassionally seen them shatter! It is a cheaper manufacturing proscess

  2. Fly Reel CNC Machining – A visit to the Hardy Factory in Alnwick to see cnc machining is astounding for a fly fisherman lucky enough to do this. Top fly reels are made from computer numerical control machining of bar stock aerospace grade aluminium, Greys for example use 6061 bar stock aluminium. The CNC machined components are then anodised to prevent corrosion making them resistant to saltwater. Typically fly reels machined this way are lightweight, very strong and will take a lot of punishment at the river and in transit.. With care and regular maintenance they should last a lifetime when cnc machined

Fly Reel Top Tips

  • We prefer to wash our reels after every trip, however every few trips your trout fly reel should be cleaned with WD40 sprayed onto a cloth and use this to remove dirt and staining on the fly reel

  • Always release the drag fully before storing, especially if you have a traditional cork reel. You do not want the drag surface bonding to the reel because it was left fully tightened

  • Always keep your reel in a neoprene bag on boats and in your bag to avoid scratches and dents.

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