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Questions on Fly Fishing Reels – 41 Answered

Questions on Fly Fishing Reels - Beginners Guide
Fly fishing reels are the containers that hold the fly fishing line and backing.

Making sure it is matched to a fly rod by weight will make sure the setup is balanced and will cast properly.

There are many types of fly reel that cover every budget and skill level and this can confuse beginners.

Usually going into a fly shop will sort out any problems but with online shopping you may not always get the answer you need before making a purchase.

Hopefully, this fly fishing reel FAQ list will help with some of the questions beginners have.


Q) What Is Backing on Fly Reel?


Sometimes referred to as fly line backing, it is the amount of line extending the total length of your initial fishing line on the fly reel.

This enables your catch to run further than the length of the fly line if needed.

Most backing is from high-grade braided Dacron.

Dacron boasts low stretch, rot, and abrasion resistance.

Other backing materials like Micron exist, but their primary base material is from Dacron.

Even though the material lasts for years, it can degrade.

Pro anglers and guides recommend checking the strength of your first 20 to 55 feet annually.

The commonest strength rating for backing on fly reels is 20lbs.

However, Dacron backing for saline areas has a rating of 30lbs.

Most online and physical fly fishing stores stock reel spools to load your Dacron backing.

Putting backing on a fly reel isn’t a skill like fly tying.

But, you need to be smart at it to ensure it serves you well.

The trick is to wind the backing on evenly with enough tension.

You want to prevent your backing from biting into itself.

Some novices prefer buying reels loaded with backing and fly lines because they do not trust their knots.

Store owners have machines for spooling backing onto a reel in a smooth yet tight manner.

This means the line shouldn’t wrap over itself or producing loose loops that can form a bird’s nest.


Q) Should Fly Line Come Off Top or Bottom of Reel?


The fly line should come off from the bottom of the reel and it creates a huge difference from the other way round.

If the line is coming out from the top of your reel, there might be minimal space between the rod’s handle and the fly line for your fingers.

If in any case you should pick up the fly rod or have it on a different hand when the fish hits, it will be difficult to do it without the line getting trapped in your fingers.

The fish and handle can break you off without playing the fish even for a minute.

It is crucial to spool your fly line correctly.

Most fly fishing lines come with slight memory that arises during manufacturing.

Rig the fly line so that it is wounding off of the spool’s underside and onto the reel’s underside.

Doing this means you are winding the line in the direction of its memory.

While most guides advise doing the bottom-to-top method, some anglers do vice versa.

They intend to create line twists.

The line fights its memory when on the reel making it twist up.


Q) Do All Fly Reels Need Backing?


If you are going out to fly fish for tiny species, you might not need backing.

But who will opt for the smallest fish when there are monsters and trophy-sized species in the same water?

Not all reels need backing but it is important if you are catching fish of relatively huge size.

Most fly reels are built with room for fifty yards of 20lb backing or thereabouts.

The extra backing is to increase your fly line’s level closer to the fly reel’s top end to make reeling easier.

Initially, most fly fishing reels were designed to be narrow with smaller arbors.

The size, combined with the click-and-pawl drags needed extra backing for anglers to reel in lots of slack faster than tying the fly line to a spool.

Also, most fly fishing lines are 90 to 100 feet.

For most trout angling scenarios, you won’t run into too many issues with this.

However, if you are in massive waters, on a big river or lake, or hook into a species of your dreams, you will benefit from the additional line offered by backing.


Q) How Do I Choose a Fly Reel?


The primary aspect of choosing a fly reel is getting a good one that can hold the needed amount of fly line and backing for your rod’s weight.

For instance, if you buy a 5-weight fly fishing rod, choose a fly reel that can take fly line weights in the bracket of 4-6.

Fly reels come in different styles and models to cater to the needs of all fly fishers.

These accommodate different ranges of line weights and you should choose yours within the ranges available.

Choosing the right size of fly fishing reel means it can hold enough backing for when the fish you hook bolts for its life.

Another crucial factor is the drag system.

Click-and-pawl drag systems were the most typical several decades ago.

Even though they functioned well, they had a bunch of challenges.

The drag system you choose will depend on the fish species you are after and the type of fly fishing you intend to indulge in.

Cheaper drag systems might not hold up well to hard bolting fish like the famous saltwater bonefish.

But if you are out for small to medium trout and bass, this won’t be an issue.

Getting the right size of fly reel ensures it is weighted properly to balance your fly rod.

It is crucial to prevent fatigue when fly fishing for longer periods.

Looking for more info this post on fly reels will help.



Q) Are Allen Fly Reels Good?


Without a doubt, Allen produces some of the best fishing reels in today’s market.

Allen reels are among the most productive angling gear available in various shapes and designs.

The manufacturer is keen on meeting the essential and fundamental fishing needs of the common angler.

Some of the reels under this producer’s wings are the Omega series, Kraken series, Alfa reels, and Atlas reels.

Most anglers who are diehards of USA-made reels have little to no confidence in Allen reels until they put them to the test, especially, those that were manufactured in China.

These reels receive a following because they are cheaper by almost half of fly reels made in the USA.

However, for reels in this class, very few can beat Allen reels.

The manufacturer stands behind its products and customer service is fantastic.


Q) Can Fly Reels Get Wet?


Fly reels can get wet, however, the amount of moisture exposure should be maintained at a minimum.

Sometimes, it is hard to prevent your reel from getting water.

It could get dunked in water but there is no reason to panic.

Fly fishing reels with sealed drags will be alright even if they get a little water on them.

But, try not to submerge your reel in water regardless of the drag system.

Saltwater reels should keep you on high alert since minerals in the salt can damage some delicate parts on a reel.

The most fragile are reels with semi-sealed and open drag systems.

No matter how careful you are, accidents can happen.

Knowing what to do if they happen is the most crucial thing.

Saltwater is ten times more corrosive and dangerous than freshwater.

Most reels today are from stock aluminum.

Well, we know that aluminum doesn’t rust, but with exposure to salt, it can pit, especially if you don’t rinse your reel to remove salt deposits.

Salt can also clog in reel components making them rough while reeling.

A good rinsing in freshwater and allowing to dry properly before putting away should keep your reel in good condition.


Q) How Do Fly Fishing Reels Work?


Fly fishing reels work by storing the fly fishing line and backing.

Besides, the fly reels’ storage function, these machines control the fly line, balance the fly rod, and apply the required drag to a bolting fish.

Fly fishing reels are simpler than bait and casting reels.

A single hand rotation is equal to one reel rotation.

However, automatic and multiplier reels exist but all the additional gear needed for these reel types adds a huge amount of weight to do a task that isn’t that necessary.

Fly reels are built with drag systems that put you in control of your fly line when playing a fish that is attempting to run.

The fly reel through the drag applies the present pressure amount determined by the drag setting.

There are different types of drag systems from disc drags to spring and pawl drags.

Each has its pros and cons.

Costlier reels have sophisticated drags that can help you easily reel in a 150lb tarpon or something similar.

Generally, fly fishing reels have parts and components performing different functions.


Q) What Does 3/4 Mean on a Fly Reel?


When you see ¾ on a fly reel, it means that the piece of equipment can hold two different line weights.

These are line sizes 3 and 4.

The lower the number, the lighter your setup should be.

There are no one-size-fits-all or universal fly reels in the current market.

All practical options are fly reels with specific line weight.

As the weight of the fly line increases, its diameter does too.

For instance, an 8-weight fly fishing line has a thicker diameter than a 3-weight.

Since 3 is a thinner fly line, it takes up very little space on your reel.

For anglers, purchasing reels that work with two or more line sizes is the real saver, especially if you have several fly rods within the range.

For instance, if you own a 3-weight and 4-weight fly rod, you only need to buy a 3/4 fly reel as long as you buy 2 lines a 3 weight and a 4 weight.

It saves you the hassle of buying two separate reels.

All you will need is a spare matching spool and fly line.

It is easier to swap spools when fishing different rods.


Q) What is the Arbor on a Fly Reel?


An arbor on a fly fishing reel is the spool’s diameter where an angler attaches the backing.

I will make this brief and less technical: the larger your reel’s arbor, the faster the retrieval rate of the line and backing.

You can try comparing a 2-weight fly reel and a saltwater reel for massive bonefish.

There are three arbor sizes in the fly angling space: standard, mid-size arbor, and large arbor.

Most modern options range between mid-size and large arbors.

Standard arbors are the smallest size hardly seen in today’s fly fishing reels.

But, these are common in click-and-pawl reels that manufacturers like Ross Reels and Orvis manufacture.

Standard arbors are sensible in small, light small warm water and trout rigs.

In such scenarios, reels mostly serve the purpose of holding the fly line than other functions in high0end saline area fly reels.

Large arbor reels are known for less memory in the fly line.

The drag performance is also more consistent since the reel diameter maintains its effectiveness as the fly line leaves the fishing reel.

Large arbor reels work perfectly when going after species that easily bolt on longer runs.

Their systems help anglers recover line faster after long runs.

Mid-size arbors boast more backing capacity.

These reels are lighter than their large arbor counterparts.

For more on Large Arbors check this post.


Q) Are Allen Fly Reels Made in the USA?


Most of the recent Allen reels are made in the USA.

A good example is the Omega.

Allen is a fairly new company in the fly fishing industry as it was launched in 2007 under the leadership of Justin, the founder.

Allen announced the release of its first-ever made-in-USA fly reel in 2013.

The magnificent fully-machined reel was manufactured in Michigan.

The Omega is another one made in Detroit and anglers love its performance in saltwater areas.

Initially, Allen reels were made in China.

The two costliest fly reels from Allen aren’t manufactured or assembled in the USA.

For instance, the Kraken XLA reel is only assembled in the USA.


Q) Why Do Fly Reels Click?


Fly reels click because a triangular spring-loaded piece of metal (often called a pawl), hits against the teeth of a fly reel’s components.

But, only fly reels with the click-and-pawl drag system make the click sound.

You won’t hear a click sound in disc drag systems when stripping the fly line.

Fly reels have to click away from themselves.

When you pull the line away from your reel, it makes the signature click sound.

Palming the line reduces the click sound because you are applying pressure on the fly line.

Click-and-pawl drag systems are the forefathers of modern drags.

Other anglers refer to them as spring-and-pawl and are the most basic.

Before understanding how the click works, you need to know some of the parts that make up the click-and-pawl system.

There is a line spool on a toothed-like gear, a spring-loaded metallic piece (called the pawl) lying against the toothed gear, and a retainer pin that holds the spring and pawl in place.

The retainer could be adjustable or stationary depending on the reel’s model.

The parts of the click and pawl are what cause the clicking sound.

When the fly line strips, whether you or the fish are pulling it, it causes the spool to spin.

The pawl that lies against the toothed gear bounces.

The bounce exerts pressure on the fly line, which acts as a regulator and prevents overrunning.


Q) What to Do if You Drop Your Reel in the Water?


If you drop your reel in the water, the basics of caring for it is rinsing it thoroughly under a tap with fresh water.

Some reels have removable parts.

You want to get these apart to expose all the possible components as you rinse the reel.

Notice that I said ‘freshwater’ and not any other type.

Freshwater is considered almost pure without minerals that can damage your reel and its parts.

Next is to ensure it dries fully.

The most recommended way is air drying, but you can use a cotton cloth to dry areas that are hard to reach before exposing the reel to further drying.

If you have WD-40, you can use it to displace the remaining moisture.

After the reel has completely dried, you want to oil and lubricate it because the water might have rinsed everything off.

Do this to the gears and movable parts.

Cleaning and oiling your reel after it falls in water is mandatory.

But, the two are also part of maintaining your reel and you should do it regularly.

As an angler, you need to have a reel cleaning kit.

These kits have the necessary products and tools to do the task.

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Q) Does Saltwater Damage Fishing Reels?


Saltwater is corrosive and can damage fishing reels, but there are reels designed for such environments.

These saltwater-specific reels are built to withstand the salt in the sea, ocean, and flats.

But, it doesn’t mean they don’t need regular maintenance to keep them in good condition.

If you neglect a saltwater reel, it won’t serve you longer as expected because of the salt buildup that ends up corroding parts.

Corrosion happens when electrons between water, oxygen, and iron exchange.

Saltwater is considered an electrolytic solution.

It has more dissolved ions allowing a faster movement of electrons.

While salt doesn’t cause rust, it speeds up the rusting process.

Drying a reel after exposing it to saltwater doesn’t counter the corrosion since it doesn’t completely remove the salt residue.

Salt eats into metallic components and parts.

It degrades the fibers quite fast.

Most fly reels are made from aluminum and while the material can’t rust, it can pit from exposure to salt.

The result is a reduction in effectiveness and integrity.

Salt damage on your fly reel might not be visible early but you will slowly start noticing a slightly rough spool until it becomes completely defective.

In this case, ensure to clean your fly reel after any trip to an area with saltwater.

Remove the dirt and rinse under fresh tap water to remove the remaining dirt, sand, and debris.


Q) How Does Fly Reel Go on Rod?


An angler attaches the fly reel’s foot to the rod’s reel seat.

First, it is crucial to understand the side of the hand that you will be casting with.

If you are right-handed, you will cast with the right hand then reel in with the left and vice versa.

Keenly assess the forward area of your reel seat.

There should be a cut-out under the cork that anglers call the stationary hood.

If casting with the right hand, insert your rod’s reel foot into the inlet.

The crank should be on the left side.

The reel foot sits into the inlet then screw or slide the moving hood over the rear reel foot before tightening securely.

Try spinning the reel crank to get the proper drag and reeling direction.

Your spool should easily spin anticlockwise and for a right-handed angler, it is the correct reeling in position.

If need be, you can switch the direction of each reel retrieve.

Next to go on the fly fishing reel is the backing.

The crucial thing as you load your reel is that, when it is full, the line will never touch the body of the reel.

The backing attaches to the spool arbor’s base with an original knot referred to as the arbor knot.

Ensure it is secure before continuing with your setup.


Q) What Makes a Great Fly Reel?


Aspects that make a great fly reel include the style, material, drag system, and arbor size.

The others like the looks, outer design, and aesthetics are bonuses to the masterpiece.

A great fly reel should contain enough backing and a fly line for your fishing needs.

It should also match the fly rod.

There are two types of drag systems on fly reels – click-and-pawl and disc drag systems.

Click-and-pawl drags use simple cog mechanisms and can change the pressure exerted on the spindle.

There is a very slight difference between the minimum and maximum drag.

One of its biggest advantages is that these systems weigh very less.

Disc drag systems are the commonest and have a brake-like mechanism.

These can be fully or semi-sealed systems and each has its pros.

Arbor size on a fly reel matters a lot.

You can choose from small, medium to large arbor reels depending on your fly fishing needs though large arbor reels are the most typical among anglers.

Small arbor reels work for small river applications but the retrieve rate is low and coil memory is higher.

Mid-size arbors allow you to enjoy a blend of the large and small arbor reels.

Their retrieve rates are slightly higher than small arbors.

The backing capacity of large arbor reels is excellent, meaning they boast faster retrieves and reduced line memory.

Though large arbor reels appear bigger, most of them are very lightweight.

If you are a little carefree, stick to anodized aluminum reels for durability.

These can take a reasonable amount of abuse than plastic and die-cast reels.



Q) What Is Mid Arbor?


A mid arbor is the inside part of the fly reel’s spool where an angler ties the backing and the fly line.

On mid-arbor fly reels, the spool’s diameter is relatively sized- not so big, not so small.

Mid arbor fly reel setups strike an excellent balance between small or standard arbor size fly reels and large options.

Some anglers feel that these are the best setups for their needs.

In some situations, mid-arbor fly reels are the safest options for the fly-fishers fishing setup.

Hence most beginners choose these reels as they continue developing their fishing skills.

So, if you are a novice at fly fishing, it would be best to start with a mid-arbor fly fishing reel.

It comes with a wide array of benefits that you can find in small and large arbor fly reels.

It is safe to say that it is one of the most versatile fly fishing reels.

The differentiating factor between mid and large arbor fly reels is their retrieve rate.

Mid arbor fly reels have a slightly reduced retrieve rate compared to large arbor reels.

It is because the size of the diameter is slightly smaller.

A crucial thing to note when fly fishing is that the retrieve rate makes a huge difference in the middle of a battle.


Q) What Does Large Arbor Mean?


A large arbor means that the center spool of the fly reel is bigger than the traditional narrow or medium spool fly fishing reels.

Traditional reel spools measure about half an inch in diameter, while large options have a diameter of about 2 and 3/4 of an inch or bigger.

Large arbor reel designs boast numerous benefits compared to traditional and midsize arbor reels.

Because of the bigger size pool, large arbor reels have faster line retrieve rates.

Anglers have proven that large arbor reels have retrieve rates 5 times faster than narrow spools.

They have reduced line memory as the line comes out of the reel in a more relaxed manner.

In line with reduced memory, large arbor fly reels have fewer line tangles.

It is easier to cast a big chunk of fly line into the water and get it back onto the fly reel with minimal to no tangles compared to when using a mid or small-sized arbor fly reel.

For those who are deep into aesthetics, large arbor fly reels look cuter than the rest.

I know we are all for functionality and performance over style and aesthetics but sometimes we need to match the class and appearance.



Q) Which Direction Do You Reel a Fly Reel?


There is a heated debate on which hand you should reel a fly reel.

If you ask saltwater fly fishermen, most will say that reeling with the dominant hand is the correct way to go.

Trout fishermen and other pro anglers say that reeling with the hand that is opposite to the casting hand is the real deal.

This way for a trout fisherman, there’s no need to switch hands and sides in the middle of battling a fish to reel it in.

This could go on and on as an argument but it goes down to someone’s personal preference.

For me, there isn’t any wrong or right side to reel as long as you can get the task done perfectly on the water.

It will be best to learn how to fish and cast both ways as this will not be a big issue in case you borrow fly fishing gear from someone else.

Whether you are trying out the saltwater flats or combing the lakes for a trout it should work out great for you.

There are no rules or laws that require the fly fishing anglers to reel in a certain way.

What works for you today might not work for another tomorrow.

Even for die-hard saltwater anglers, it is possible to fish in a trophy-sized fish with a non-dominant hand.


Q) How Do You Remove Salt Build-Up from a Fishing Reel?


Water is corrosive and can damage the fly reel, whether it is built to withstand conditions in saline environments or used in freshwater.

Removing salt buildup from a fly fishing reel is the first step to maintaining it.

First, you want to start by deep cleaning your fly fishing reel.

To give it a good clean, fill a basin or plastic container with clean warm freshwater and allow your fly reel to soak for some hours.

Soaking allows the salt particles to loosen up and some to dissolve in water.

You need to have a lot of water in the plastic container so that it does not reach its saturation point and keep having salt deposits on the fly reel.

It is crucial to separate the spool from your fishing reel frame before stopping in freshwater.

You want to allow the freshwater to do its magic in all the hard-to-reach corners of the fly fishing reel where salts can easily build up.

The reel should take a bath in 3 or 4 hours and after that scrub lightly with warm soapy water.

Use a very smooth-bristle toothbrush if you do not have a fly reel cleaning kit that comes with the tools and necessary products to clean your equipment.

The tiny toothbrush helps you to reach all the nooks and crannies your hand or fingers are not reach.

Clean out all the extra salt, dirt and debris left after the soaking process.

Give the reel and its parts thorough rinses before patting it down with a cotton piece of cloth.

Allow the fly fishing reel to air dry before oiling and lubricating it.

You want to maintain regular rinses of the fly fishing reel in freshwater throughout all fishing seasons as this extra care ensures that the components remain corrosion-free.


Q) Why Is My Reel Stiff?


Your fly fishing reel could be stiff because the drag knob is acting up.

Most of the time something could be lodged in the discs, or maybe you could be experiencing a warped disc washer.

The nickel washers could have bent because of heat warping or you could have dropped them on a rock.

This kind of stiffness means that the threads on the knob cannot cinch down leading to a Jerky drag that is bad, especially for lighter tippets.

Also, it could be from a possible stripped or otherwise spoilt screw on your knob.

It could have cross-threaded a hole it goes into or small debris that does the same.

You can replace all the washers and see if it functions well hoping that it is not the threads that are damaged.

If a brand new fly reel comes stiff, you can return it to the manufacturer as a defect.

Sometimes it is grease inside the drag that causes the stiffness.

While some anglers avoid using oil on the drag, others use specific models that work well for them.

Grease of reel lubricants are the most preferred especially on carbon drags if they are too jerky.

Avoid using the grease excessively to prevent your drag from losing strength.

If you have to lubricate the drag, ensure you use very light films of high-quality reel grease.


Q) Should I Rinse My Reel After Fishing?


It is recommended to rinse your fly fishing reel after every outing.

There is nothing like a maintenance-free fishing reel.

Even the fully-sealed drag systems in modern fly reels need a little bit of maintenance to keep them running smoothly.

Consider it mandatory to rinse your fly fishing reels regardless of the area you fish in.

I know it might be difficult for most of us because of the long travels to our fishing spots, the rigorous casting activities, and the fun that comes with fishing in general.

But I hope you remember how much you spend on a fly fishing reel to ignore its maintenance because most of these high-quality pieces do not cost a dime.

It is a good habit to practice as it only takes a few minutes of your time when you get home.

Always rinse your fishing reel under clean fresh tap water to remove all the dirt debris and minerals that could damage your fly reel and its components.

Most importantly, avoid over-complicating this process.

It is a simple rinse, tap to dry, then completely air dry.



Q) Does Fly Reel Need to Match Rod?


Your fly fishing reel needs to match the fly rod for your outfit to perform to its best.

This combined with the right fly fishing skills and techniques is what gives you the best yields when out on the water.

Pay the most attention to the weight of the fly rod because it has to match that of your reel and fly line.

The intention is a fully set up combo that can catch a fish with minimal struggle.

Most people think that the fly reel is an unimportant piece of gear.

But it is what creates the difference between a lost fish and a catch.

Weight is a relevant aspect to consider when matching your fly rod to your reel.

You don’t want an extremely heavy reel on an ultra-light fly fishing rod.

Of course, there is no balance here, hence the casting process is not going to hold anything no matter how good your skills and techniques are on the water.

When I say matching your fly reel to your fly rod.

I am far away from the company or brand aspect.

But I know some anglers who swear by specific brands and will often go for a combo from one company.


Q) How Do I Choose a Fly Reel?


First things first you need to choose a fly fishing reel that can hold enough fly line and backing.

There are so many fly fishing reels in the current market.

One primary factor that will influence your choice is the price.

Depending on the make and the quality, these pieces of gear are available from as low as $35 to $900 and beyond.

But a high-performing fly fishing reel doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg.

The material is a huge consideration as fly fishing reels are made from aluminum or high-grade plastic.

Anodized aluminum fly fishing reels are the commonest in the market because of their durability and high performance.

Die-cast rules are also options for careful anglers and those who fish in areas with minimal brutality.

The drag system of a fly fishing reel will influence how well you battle a fish.

You can choose between the famous disc drag systems and the click-and-pawl.

Disc drag systems are the most preferable because of their stability durability and high performance.

They are both sides aren’t something to do alone as much since anglers prefer large arbor fly fishing reels to the standard or medium-sized.

The benefits are increased retrieve rates, fewer tangles, reduced line memory and is on your fly fishing line and knuckles.


Q) Does Fly Reel Size Matter?


Size is the most crucial element when choosing the best fly fishing reel for your needs.

The primary reason is that the reel has to be of the right size so that it can hold your type of fly fishing line and the relevant amount of braided backing to allow you to cast properly and increase your chances of landing a fish.

The size of the fly reel needs to balance that of your rod.

Any slight unbalancing is a possible recipe for failure when fly fishing.

Besides matching the fly fishing reel size to your rod it also has to match the line weight.

For instance, a trout fly reel built to balance a 4-weight fly rod it’s very different in size compared to a saltwater fly reel built to tackle a 12-weight purple fishing rod.

The beauty of a reel and rod outfit is the aesthetics and balance of the two components.

Avoid buying a fly reel without having a rod in hand.

If you hate blind dates, there is no way you will love a blind buy.


Q) What Is the Advantage of a Large Arbor Fly Reel?


One of the biggest advantages of large arbor fly reels is the increased rate of rates thanks to the wider spool center.

Large arbor fly reels are currently dominating the fly fishing industry and unless love them because they have more benefits compared to the standard and medium arbor fly reels.

These reels have wider diameters and their size helps them pull in more chunks of fly line in every turn of the fly reel handle.

Line memory is greatly reduced since the fly line and the backing around unless tighter circles.

You will hardly experience kinkier lines when using large arbor fly reels.

Lines come out of large arbor fly reels in a more relaxing manner compared to the other sizes.

These reels boast dry backing because of the porting along the inner section and the sides of the reel.

Besides reducing the weight by a considerable amount the porting allows the stopped working to dry quickly because of more exposure to the wind and sun.


Q) What Does Large Arbor Mean?


Large arbor fly fishing reels at the most modern designs and feature bigger-sized center spools compared to the traditional standard arbor reels with narrower spools.

Large arbor fly reels have a spool diameter measuring about two and three-quarters of an inch or bigger.

This is unlike the traditional-sized options that have spool sizes of half an inch in diameter.

Large arbor reels boast greater improvements over other sizes and you can reel the fly line 5 times faster and benefit from the high technology invested in these pieces of gear.

Their look is Hi-Tech thanks to the porting design that helps reduce weight significantly without compromising the performance of these fly reels.

Although, we are seeing some manufacturers producing large arbor fly reels that are slightly heavier than what anglers expect.

Most modern large arbor fly fishing reels especially the high-end options are made from high-grade aluminum and are quite light than their predecessors the standard and midsize arbor reels.

If you want to upgrade your fly fishing experience pro anglers and guides recommend upgrading your fly fishing reels to large arbor sizes.

This post quicker retrieve rates, improved drag, more ease on your line, more backing, and less time reeling.


Q) How Do You Spool a Fly Reel?


Ensure that the fly reel is configured properly with the right or left-hand retrieves.

Attach your backing to the fly reel spool by removing it first if you are a beginner.

Take a pencil or a pen through the center of the backing.

The backing should come off the underside of the spool.

Start cranking it onto the fly reel spool while applying some tension to your backing using your fingers.

You want the backing to be on tightly and leveled to prevent digging into itself or going on lopsided.

Ensure that you decide on the right amount of backing for your respective fly line and reel.

Usually, it is best to follow the manufacturer’s recommendation.

By this time your fly reel is loaded with the backing.

To avoid complications and line, let the fly line be on the original spool and avoid winding the line off the side of the spool.

Your fly line has to come off the bottom side of your spool instead of the top.

Some fly lines have inbuilt loops.

Create a perfection loop or a large Rapala knot in your backing and stick the loop through your line’s factory loop.

Pass the whole spool of the line through the huge backing loop.

Put a pencil through the center of the line’s spool and start reeling it off the bottom.

Be careful not to overfill your fly reel and if you do, strip some line off, remove a little backing, reload the two and reel your fly line back.


Q) Are All Fly Reels Reversible?


Not all fly fishing reels are reversible but modern designs are built to be interchanged from the right-hand retrieve to the left and vice versa.

The process of changing the reel direction will vary from one manufacturer to the other.

Fly anglers who use their right hands to fish in freshwater traditionally cast using these hands and then reel in with their left hands.

The method of reversing a fly fishing reel is not universal.

Not all companies design their fly reels to be reversed in the same way.

But the process is almost similar across all styles and brands.

Also, you are free to switch hands when you’re done casting.

Most saltwater fly fishermen and women cast and retrieve using the same hand.

Most of them argue that there is more power and comfort that comes with using the dominant hand.

The freshwater angler finds it easier to cast using their dominant hand then retrieve with the opposite since they’re not fighting fish that might overpower the less dominant hand.

Well, in this case, I would advise you to choose your poison.



Q) How Important Is a Fly Reel?


I hope that this debate would end soon but it doesn’t seem like it.

Every piece of gear in a fly-fishing outfit is important because missing one means that your fishing experience might have hiccups here and there.

The fly fishing reel might seem like a simple piece that holds or winds your fly fishing line and backing but there is more to that than what you think and read.

Forget about the Tenkara fishing style because there are some instances when you don’t need a fishing reel for it.

We are talking about real fly fishing where a fly fishing reel is a mandatory piece of gear.

The importance of the reel comes in when a monster or trophy fish tags onto the fly line.

For instance, in a circumstance when a huge fish yanked out chunks of line per second, a bad quality fly reel then shows its true worthlessness.

Unless your ancestors and forefathers intervene you will lose the fish and potentially damage or break another piece of equipment.

For this reason, a fly reel is an important piece of gear whether you’re fishing a big or small species.

You want a good quality one to put you on the safer side.


Q) How Do You Store a Fishing Reel?


In case you need to store your fly fishing reel for long periods it is recommended to remove the fly line and backing first.

You want to prevent that moisture and salt from getting trapped in the backing since this can lead to corrosion and rust.

If you leave a fly line wound tightly on the spool it will have more memory when it’s time to strip it off leading to annoying tangles and twists that can interfere with casting performance.

Before storing any fly fishing reel, you want to ensure that it is deep cleaned and completely dry of any moisture.

Some manufacturers pack fishing reels in reel clothes before putting them in the reel case and this could come as a bonus to the purchase or could slightly increase the price of the reel depending on the material of these two items.

If your reel came with a reel cloth, put it inside before storing the clothed reel in its case.

For fly fishing reels that come without a cloth or a case, you can separately buy these, or use a cotton piece of cloth to wrap around your reel before storing it in a completely dry area free from moisture.


Q) How Do You Maintain a Fishing Reel?


As earlier said, there is no maintenance-free fly fishing reel in the current market.

Not even those with fully sealed drag systems can work like this and maintain their performance and durability for a long time.

All reels need a little bit of maintenance here and there to improve their longevity and performance.

Reel maintenance starts with proper handling during and after fishing.

You need to learn practices like fishing without dunking the reel in water, and avoid bumping dragging, and knocking the reel anyhow.

Always protect it from sprays as you ride in fast boats while fishing.

It is recommended to rinse all your fly fishing reels after each use under fresh tap water to remove any dirt, debris, and minerals that could lead to potential damage after a while.

It is forbidden to pressure wash your fly fishing reel instead deep clean it after a few trips, especially if you often fish in harsh conditions.

Pro anglers advise not soaking the reel frame or its drag housing for longer periods to avoid contaminating the inner components of the system which can compromise the performance of your gear.

Ensure you store your fly fishing reel only after it is completely dry.

Oiling and lubricating a fly fishing reel should be done at least once or twice a year using the best products on the market.

Ensure to back off the drag pressure and remove the line and backing before storing a fly fishing reel, especially for extended periods.


Q) What Is a Good Beginner Fly Reel?


A good beginner fly fishing reel should generally be an all-round piece of gear.

Both the mechanisms and the drag should work effectively.

Beginners need good quality fly fishing reels to help them learn how to cast and understand this equipment better before advancing to sophisticated designs.

A beginner’s fly reel has to be weather resistant because as you’re starting off their high chances that the reel will get wet severally before you’ll learn how to cast without dunking this gear or exposing it to splashes when boating.

It should be made from high-quality materials that don’t easily rust because they care and maintenance process is something you need to learn and get used to doing.

It shouldn’t cost you so much, but avoid buying fly fishing reels that are below $30.

These are cheaply made and could easily fall apart in the first use or quicker than you think.

The beginner fly fishing reel should be over single retrieve, especially for fresh water anglers.

Match it with the fly rod size, reel weight and line weight for ease-of-use.

If possible, get a spare spool for your reel for when you need to use different lines while maintaining the same setup.

A good example is the Orvis Clearwater Fly Reel.


Q) Can Fly Reels Be Too Light?


Manufacturers are now producing ultralight fly fishing reels to counter the weight issue in previous models.

However, these are still very few in the market and what we have a moderately weighted fly reels that anglers have been loving for a while now.

Depending on the fly rod weight you have and that of your fly line, a fly reel can be light for your setup.

And if the reel is extremely light the angler keeps on fighting to keep their tip up.

Sometimes they have to find another method of changing the balance.

For instance, the good place the fighting but on their forearms.

Balance is a primary issue when it comes to creating an effective fly fishing setup that can be used by both novices and pro anglers.

Some fly reels have adjustable weight inserts that can help to solve the balance problems that most anglers face because of heavier rods.

Sage has manufactured one of these fly fishing reels do they cost a little bit higher than the common designs using the market.


Q) How Much Should You Spend on a Fly Reel?


Fly fishing reels shouldn’t be extremely expensive for you neither should they be overly cheap.

Just like fly fishing rods, you can get into angling with a fly reel as cheap as $30 or buy high-end options going over $1500.

The price highly depends on the brand, the quality of the fly fishing reel, the manufacturing process, and other additional features that the company adds to make its sophisticated.

Most fly fishing reels even in the bracket of $30 to $70 are well made with highly effective drag systems that are also fully-sealed to help in the maintenance and performance.

For instance, plastic and die-cast fishing reels are slightly cheaper than anodized aluminum reels because of the type and quality of material and the manufacturing processes.

As a beginner it is better to go for a durable fishing reel that can be able to with stand brutality in your first days of learning because there will be many falls, drops and knocks that can easily damage an extremely cheap fly fishing reel.


Q) Does Fly Reel Color Matter?


The fly reel color doesn’t matter as it is not consideration that should be top on the list.

Fish see colours just like humans do.

The reel color doesn’t matter to any fish species but it will depend on the angler’s preference.

In case your fly reel spooks the fish, you’re probably too close to it that it can’t see the color clearly and get frightened to an extent of bolting.

Brighter colors attract fish species and can often spook them.

However, panic among these water life is often triggered by shadows and motions that are overhead.

This is very different when it comes to the line and backing color that you need to be very careful about when choosing your selection.

Even in the market today manufacturers don’t produce fancy colored fly fishing reels most of them usually match the color of the Earth and its surrounding things.


Q) How Do You Pick a Fly Reel?


You need to pick a fly fishing reel depending on your budget, the target species, and the type of environment you’re going to fish in whether it is fresh or saltwater.

Most reel features fall under these three broad categories but looks and aesthetics are according to your taste and preference.

There are fishing reels with smaller yet powerful drag systems and the old style traditional click-and-pawl reels that rely on the clicker mechanism to reduce the speed of the spool and that of the fish.

Disc drag systems are the most typical in the market and work effectively across all environments.

However, they are the most recommended for saltwater areas because of the kind of brutality found in these areas.

Before buying a fly fishing reel you need to have a budget.

It shouldn’t be too low for you to get a cheaply-made fly reel that could break so soon.

Neither should it be too high for you to break the bank yet you can get something reasonably cheaper that can work like a high-end piece.

Choose a fly fishing reel that you will enjoy looking at and using.

It could be the old school classic type for your bamboo fly rods or the most modern heavily ported gear for your graphite rod.


Q) Do You Need Drag On a Fly Reel?


When fishing for small fishes like tiny trout and bass in streams, you might not necessarily need brakes to slow down this fish so as to manage them.

But this only applies to anglers who have been in the sport for a while and can manage casting and reeling in a fish without any brakes.

Beginners might have trouble doing this on their own because they need to learn how all the fly reel parts Work.

As you increase the number of species in your list and their sizes to catch you will need drag as a crucial part of your reel set up to control a fish and stop it in the event of a fight or when you cut them to take off.

If using a fly fishing rod in the weight bracket of 1 to 4, there are high chances that you are not catching any monster or trophy sized fish that will need you to use the drag in a reel.

In case you are using rod sizes from 5 upwards, drag has to come into play.

At this point, you need to learn how to set the drag correctly for the species you’re targeting you want it to accommodate the species size weight and behavior.


Q) Is Fly Rod or Reel More Important?


When it comes to fly fishing gear, everything is important especially the rod and reel as missing one means that you’re probably indulging in a different type or technique of fishing and not fly fishing.

There is Tenkara fly fishing technique where some anglers fish with rods excluding the reels but true fly fishing requires you to have both pieces of gear.

he rod is an important part of the combo as you have to select it carefully depending on the type of fishing and budget.

It is responsible for the casting and lure action and battling of the fish.

The fly reel might seem like a mechanical piece of gear with its function being reeling in the line and all of them perform this basic function regardless of the price, class and model.

But the true importance of a fishing reel equally shows itself during fighting a fish or trying to stop it when it attempts to take off.

That is when you need your reel’s drag system to be working effectively.

Otherwise, there are high chances that you might not be able to land the fish and at the same time break one or two pieces of gear.


Q) How Much Drag Do I Need for Trout?


The rule of thumb when setting the drag on a trout fly fishing reel is not to surpass two-thirds of the breaking strength of the tippet you’re using.

Cranking down your fly reel’s drag excessively will pop your tippet.

If possible, it is advisable to allow yourself a buffer to prevent snapping the tippet each time you tighten the drag to exceed 2/3 of the breaking strength.

Also, ensure you are ready to make some drag adjustments when actively battling trout, especially monster sizes.

Pro anglers know that it takes a little bit of time and practice before developing the right coordination to adjust the drag on a fly.

Beginners can try adapting to what the trout is doing and it will be easier for them to find more fish getting into their net.

Setting the right amount of drag on a trout fishing reel is almost a mystery all you need to do is test the waters and your techniques on life species to find out what works for your combo.


Q) Are Click and Pawl Reels Good?


Click and pawl reels are some of the simplest traditional designs meant for use in freshwater environments only because of how they have been built.

These are fantastic and work well even though they cannot be compared to modern disc drag systems.

The design is simple with very few parts making it easier to maintain especially when you use it in the right environment.

Well-made options have been known to last for decades while still performing effectively even though the manufacturers do not exist.

Because of having fewer components, these reels are lightweight making them excellent for pack-in and back country destinations where you need very minimal weight to be successful on the water.

Dry fly fisherman pair these reels with lighter fly rods especially in summer in the high country streams.

The strength of this reels cannot be compared to modern disc drag reels because they don’t have adjustable drag pressures.

When you hook a monster fish you can apply extra pressure on a click-and-pawl reel by palming it.

Palming a fly fishing reel allows the fisherman to be in tune with the species they are reeling in as they manually adjust the drag throughout the fight.

This makes this reels extremely fun two fish especially when you hook a bus or a fiesty trout.



Q) What Does 5 6 Mean on a Fly Reel?


5/6 on a fly reel is a way of sizing it by virtue of weight.

Usually, fly reels run from 3 to 12 weight.

Lower numbers mean lighter reel setups.

So, a 5/6 setup is best for catching relatively smaller species compared to an 11/12 reel since the latter is slightly heavier and meant for denser applications like salt water environments.

There is no manufacturer who has designed a universal fly reel yet.

All manufacturers have their fly reels for certain line weights.

When buying a 5/6 fly reel it means that you’re getting it for two different line sizes.

You can use it with a size 5 or 6-line weight on the same reel.

If you do the math, this is an excellent way to save some money instead of buying multiple fly rods and fly reels while you can get one reel and extra spools for two different lines.

While you’re happy that you can save some money when buying these types of reels, it is important to match them to the correct size of fly fishing rod so that your setup is complete sensible and can work effectively in the water.

Last update on 2022-10-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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