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When starting out in fly fishing finding good quality fly fishing tackle can be difficult. However, it really is all down to how much you want to spend on the tackle as your hobby can grow into a monster if your not careful. That’s not a problem if you have the financial backing to cover this but if you are working on a basic living then stretching your self too much can be silly.
What is the most important piece of equipment?
Of all of the items for fishing I would generally spend the most on the rod and line as the fly fishing reel is just a container and hence not that important. However with all things in life if you spend a bit more you will get extra features and be able to fish a little bit more comfortably than with a basic setup.
What do I mean then? Well as you go up the price bracket the materials to make the reels can become very expensive as all sorts of alloys are being used. These are stronger and usually lighter than the basic reels. When fishing all day it can become very tiring with a heavy rod and reel and will end your day sooner.
So it all comes down to this really…… spend as much as you can possibly afford without over stretching. That way you will get the best you possibly can. As a newbie fly fishing angler you will probably want to aim for something between $80-$150, this should get a reasonable reel for your hard earned cash. There are lots of cheaper ones between $30-$50 but they are not really built to last and as mentioned can be fairly heavy.
What to look out for in features!
Lets discuss some of the features you may want to consider for trout fly fishing. With trout you will probably be fishing with anything from a 4-5 weight 7ft rod to a 7-8 weight 10ft fly fishing rod depending on the size of the trout you are after and the size of the waterway.
If fishing small streams and rivers that you can cast across without too much of a problem then the smaller rod is good. However on a larger still water or river you may need the larger rod. This will help you get a little bit extra distance on the cast and as larger water ways have larger trout you may need extra rod rating to land these safely. It is also quicker especially if wanting to fish catch and release.
Always match up the rod with the reel by their size rating as a large 7-8 reel on a small 7 ft rod will over balance it and make the tip rise in the air causing problems in the forward cast. Again a small reel on a larger rod may cause the tip to drop causing problems in the backward cast and lifting the line. Both of these scenarios will fatigue you a lot quicker when trying to fight the natural inertia of the rod.
What capacity should you think about?
Now that we have the size worked out next is capacity. Most reels come with a large arbor now a days which means the middle spindle of the reel is wider and thicker than vintage reels which allows for faster winding and playing of fish.
It also means the line doesn’t get as caught up in line memory which can become coiled and when cast out and will sit like a wiggly worm on the water surface. This causes wind and water drag and affects the fishing dramatically. If this does occur and it can with old lines stretch it out before starting to fish can help. This can be done by tying the fly line to a post and walking backwards or dragging it through you hand wrapped in a cloth. Always be careful not to over do it or you will break the line.
Having a large arbor can help reduce this effect and help play trout. The other benefit is to have a good length of backing line on the spool before the fly line so when that really large trout wants to take off you will have the capacity to let him go. I would aim for about 100 yards at least, the more the better especially when fishing large trout and other large predatory species.
So what about tension control?
Tension control on cheaper reels will come usually with a ratchet type tension control. It will probably have two ratchets which you can turn to add more noise and tension when the line is being pulled. These are OK for smaller trout but I would opt for a turning button tension control mechanism on larger trout.
You then can turn the button to add tension or release as you play trout and so make the job of landing them a bit easier. Tension is required to stop the trout making a quick dash and over spinning the reel which can cause the line to become tangled like a birds nest. This will result in a lock up which will no doubt end with you losing the fish.
So having a decent amount of tension were you need to pull with reasonable force to remove line from the reel by hand is ideal to start out. For example if too tight and a large trout wants to run you can snap your rod so being able to turn the button as you play can help land those large trout. You can then adjust as you play the trout releasing or tightening as required. I have seen trout come to the boat or bank-side only to see the net and go completely crazy, taking off at a fast pace therefore its always good to be prepared.
- Make sure you match the reel to the rod rating
- Go for a large arbor with good line capacity
- Variable tension control button to play trout
- Price range $80-$150 medium range $30-$50 budget range