Question of the Week: How much should I spend on a reel?
Answer: My response is usually “No less than $50 and no more than $100. However, it goes beyond that to the importance of the fly reel over that of your most important piece of gear, the fly rod. More importantly you should save the money you would put into a decent reel and put that savings into purchasing a great fly rod. The “fly rod makes the caster” here, where a fly reel’s purpose is to hold fly line. Don’t get me wrong, a nice fly reel is a handy to have, it’s just that a fly reel doesn’t catch trout. In most cases a fly reel doesn’t even reel trout in. This statement is certainly debatable, you will get those anglers that will say all the trout they catch they reel in with their fly reel so there is a good argument for the need for a good reel. The one constant in all fly reels boils down to ratio. A fly reel has a one to one (1:1) ratio – meaning every time you turn the handle on your fly reel the fly reel will spool your fly line around the arbor one time. Compared to a spinning reel that may have a five or six to one (5:1 or 6:1) a fly reel can lose contact with the trout if a trout runs at you, it changes direction or you are left catching up to the trout that has made a long run and stopped. Stripping a trout in instead of reeling a trout in will give the fly fisherman that six to one (6:1) ratio keeping the line tight until the trout’s in the net. The real answer to the above question is spend whatever amount of money you wish. What you want in a fly reel is for the reel to perform the job that it is designed to do. If you have a dry fly rod, find yourself a good light weight reel with modern drag that will have a nice warranty that supports your use. Let this drive your choice rather than how much you should spend. Buy the reel that best represents the job it will do for you.