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Have you ever been saltwater fly fishing and felt that your setup was somewhat unbalanced?
Perhaps you will need to adjust the fly line since it’s too loose or the weight of your rod is too heavy.
What you may not realize is that choosing a quality fly reel is the most important element to ensuring your saltwater fly fishing setup is balanced.
Our detailed buying guide below will answer any of the questions you may have about purchasing a good quality reel.
We’ll then follow it up with product reviews of the best saltwater fly reels money can buy.
Advanced anglers please keep in mind that this article is written for both the beginner and novice so some basics will be covered that are not so relevant to you.
Best Saltwater Fly Reels For The Money
Last update on 2023-12-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
What Is The Best Saltwater Fly Reel For The Money?
Here are the top 8 models on the market today
Redington Behemoth Fly Reel
The Redington Behemoth is widely regarded as one of the best performing saltwater fly reels in its price range, constructed with a unique die-cast construction.
The reel also contains a large drag knob, which makes it easy to operate the drag system.
Additionally, a nylon case for the reel is included in the purchase, making sure the reel gets the extra protection you need when traveling to and from your fishing locations.
However, although it is backed by a powerful drag system, it is not sealed. The drag system may suffer in the long-term when it comes into contact with sea water.
- Highly durable carbon fiber construction
- Deep-spool for extra backing capacity
- Quick retrieval
- Ergonomic spool handle features
- Slick design
- Inconsistent in landing big catches
- Start-up tension on the drag system is too high
- Drag system is not sealed
Maxcatch BLC Fly Reel, Large Arbor Fly Fishing Reel
This saltwater reel by Maxcatch features a wide variety of weights to cater to almost all fly fishing experiences.
The reel is more targeted toward experienced fly fishers by containing a larger arbor as well as an automatic retrieval system which uses a one-way bearing system.
- ONE-YEAR-WARRANTY – we as a 16 years fly reel factory, offer “No Hassle” warranty for all our reels. If you are not 100% satisfied with our reel, you can return it in any time.
- OUTSTANDING VALUE – this reel incorporates all of the features of reels that costing much more money. We just wish to bring the experience of Fly fishing to more people
- Strong and Durable All-aluminum construction, Large arbor design for rapid line retrieval
- Rugged disc drag for putting serious pressure on the fish. One-way bearing for quick and easy left-to-right hand retrieval switch
Last update on 2023-12-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Constructed with die-casted aluminum, the BLC fly reel is available at an affordable price and has left many users curious when considering the product quality with the relatively low market price.
While the product has had overwhelmingly positive reviews, the low price means the product inevitably suffers a lack of long-term durability and is not tailored for inexperienced fly fishers who may wish to purchase a fly reel that already has the line attached.
- Efficient drag and retrieval systems
- Durable aluminum construction to cope with saltwater demands
- Affordable price
- Does not come with spare spools
- Lacks long-term durability when tackling large fish
- The line is not already attached which may not be helpful to beginners
- Not an easy right-to-left hand transition
Piscifun Sword Fly Fishing Reel
The Piscifun Sword fly reel offers fly fishers an affordable saltwater fly reel option that can handle the corrosive tendencies of seawater with a machined, aluminum, alloy construction, designed for high-impact durability.
Using a mid-arbor design, the Piscifun Sword strikes a good balance between being lightweight as well as having sufficient strength to cope with larger fish.
The lightweight feel is also enabled through the large CNC hollow design found on the reel.
The product also is backed by a three-year warranty to give customers extra purchasing protection.
- Lightweight design
- Quick line pick-up
- Anti-corrosive and durable construction
- Three-year warranty
- The drag loosens as you fish and it is not easy to adjust
- Not durable enough to deal with testing weather conditions
- The drag system is not fully sealed
Piscifun Crest Fully Sealed Drag Large Arbor Fly Fishing Reel
The more expensive version of the Sword, the Piscifun Crest offers a more reliable saltwater fishing fly reel by containing a fully sealed drag system, protecting the drag from the saltwater elements.
Available in either black or green, the Crest uses a large arbor design that caters for those seeking to catcher larger saltwater fish.
The strong but lightweight aluminum construction gives an extra layer of security on the water and is flexible for both saltwater and freshwater fly fishing.
Piscifun also offers a lifetime guarantee for any non-human damage to the reel, allowing more ambitious fly fishers to not hold-back when seeking large catches.
- Lifetime warranty
- Lightweight design
- Fully sealed drag system
- Easy to change the hand retrieve
- Large arbor is not ideal for longer trips
Waterworks-Lamson Liquid Fly Reel
The Liquid fly reel by Waterworks-Lamson is in the more expensive range of saltwater fly reels.
The reel contains a fully-sealed drag system that is ideal for to prevent any debris from entering the drag system.
This sealed drag is Lamson’s conical drag system which is an own unique drag system design requiring zero maintenance.
The lightweight aluminum design ensures the reel does not add an extra weight burden to your fly fishing setup.
- Innovative drag system design
- Lightweight feel
- Contains extra spools
- Value for money
- Some vendors provide the product with the spool
Redington Zero Fly Reel
The Redington Zero fly reel is a superlight, affordable fly reel constructed with a unique die-cast construction.
Although the click-and-pawl drag system may not be the most efficient drag systems out there, using the Redington Zero can be easier to use for many saltwater fly fishers.
For the affordable price, Redington also offers an extra spool which may well come in handy, as the cheaper material construction means the Redington Zero does not have long term durability.
- Extra spool provided
- Super light
- Accessible for beginners
- Drag system is less effective in saltwater
- Not durable in the long term
- Drag system is not sealed
TFO BVK Series Large Arbor Fly Fishing Reels and Line Holder Spools
The TFO BVK series is at the more higher-end bracket of fly reels available for saltwater fly fishing.
Constructed with an anodized aluminum frame, the TFO BVK has delivered a lightweight fly reel that is also durable in the long term.
This model has a large arbor, which reduces the need for maintenance on the drag system as well as creating a quicker line pickup.
When applied to large fish in saltwater environments, the TFO BVK requires fly fishers to apply manual drag through using your hands, meaning the TVO BVK gives the best control for smaller catches.
- Lightweight construction
- Easy to use clicker mechanism
- Ideal for long fly fishing trips
- Drag system struggles to cope with aggressive large fish
Airflo Delta Quick Release Fly Fishing Reel (UK)
The Airflo Delta is designed with high quality, high-performance die-cast construction designed to cope with the demands of saltwater fly fishing for many years.
The Airflo Delta uses a large arbor which is, therefore, best used for catching larger fish. To use this reel on longer trips may be cumbersome with the added weight of the arbor.
The drag system is highly powered, ensuring an effective taming of potentially aggressive fish in saltwater conditions. This reel is available in the UK.
- Very functional reel
- Product description matches product experience
- Good long-term durability
- Easy right-to-left hand conversion
- Super-powered drag system
- Can feel heavy – not ideal for long saltwater fly fishing sessions
- Drag system not suitable for beginners
Frequently Asked Questions
Before you head out on the water to catch the big one, you should be well-informed on which product will work best for you.
Here are a few questions you may have:
What Is The Difference Between a Centerpin and Fly Reel?
The fly reel and the center pin reel share the same design concept and have quite obvious similarities. They are, however, quite different, serving different fishing purposes of which there is no crossover.
Here are some key basic differences between a centerpin reel and a fly reel:
The first obvious difference is that modern center pin reels are generally much larger than fly reels. You will also find that it is rare to find an accessibly priced center pin.
While affordable fly reels are readily available, the price of a center pin can take your breath away.
The center pin reel has no drag system. Fighting a fish is done by varying hand pressure on the reel. An engaging and exciting technique every angler should experience.
A fly reel has a variable drag system like a spin reel or baitcaster.
Fly reels are fished using specialized fly fishing rods or various lengths and weights. A Center pin is traditionally fished with very long slow action rods of lengths from 11 to 14 feet.
A center pin has a clicker, i.e., a mechanism to stop the reel from turning backward, but it is never used when fishing, and only engaged for storage and transport.
The center pin is used almost exclusively for float fishing, and they don’t cast like a fly reel. The fly reel is used exclusively for fly fishing, a style and technique that is indeed very old and specialized.
What Is The Difference Between Saltwater vs Freshwater Fly Reels?
In terms of operating mechanisms, there is not really a significant difference between saltwater and freshwater fly reels.
However, the crucial difference is durability. Saltwater fly reels are designed with materials that are not corrosive to seawater, such as strong aluminum or carbon fiber, which can come in handy if you like fishing in the ocean.
Are Saltwater Fly Fishing Reels Expensive?
Like all fishing tackle, there are always going to be more expensive and more affordable options available when it comes to purchasing a saltwater fly fishing reel.
The more expensive options tend to have a complex retrieval system as well as a higher grade of construction material which improves durability.
Extensive research is recommended before you purchase.
You should also know your budget and your fishing environment first. This will leave you best-placed to purchase a saltwater fishing reel most suited to your needs.
What To Consider Before Purchasing a Saltwater Fly Reel?
Detailed below are some of the most important aspects you should consider before you buy:
Anti-Corrosion Materials: These are vital for anyone interested in saltwater fly fishing. While strong fish can put a reel under significant pressure, the most common cause of damage is the corrosion caused by saltwater.
Luckily, you no longer need to regularly rinse your reel after using it since strong-aluminum fly reels have been anodized and can resist saltwater corrosion.
Arbor Size: The reel arbor is the wheel which stores the fly line.
Some good tips to know about the size include:
- Small arbors tend to be cheaper than larger
- Large arbors are heavy and burdensome and should only be used in cases of catch large, dynamic fish
- For most fishing trips, small arbors will be perfectly adequate and even medium-sized arbors can meet the demands of aggressive fish
Spool Size: The spool size changes depending on the size of the arbor, with larger arbors creating more flexibility for the line weight. Spool size is important in ensuring a smooth drag system, preventing any breakages in your fly line.
Line Weight: Lighter fly lines are best served with smaller arbors and vice-versa. You should work out your line weight after deciding what type of fish you are looking to catch, arbor size and spool type.
Drag System: Saltwater fly reels have two main types of the drag system which are:
- Pressed Discs/Disc-Brake: Creates tension with the spool by having a set of discs constructed from carbon fiber, Teflon and cork pressing against the gears of the reel. This drag system is considered the most efficient in taming fish in saltwater conditions.
- Click and Pawl: Uses a spring to create sufficient tension to activate the drag. This is the more old-fashioned drag system and may lack efficiency.
Sealed Drag System: No matter what drag system you choose, a defining feature of saltwater fly reels is that the drag system is sealed. This is designed to prevent any damage from sand or saltwater. The drag is crucial when battling with a fish in saltwater conditions. So, give yourself the best chance by ensuring your drag system is protected.
Backing: Although the majority of fly lines are at least 100 feet long, this can feel very short when you are up against a saltwater fish that is a particularly nimble swimmer. Many use a Dacron line, which has a thin braid to back up their fly reel.
Retrieval System: The retrieval system gathers your fly line in after catching a fish. There are a variety of retrieval systems found with saltwater fly reels, including:
- Single Action: Uses a turning handle to rotate the spool with one rotation equating to one turn of the handle. This is the most basic retrieval system found on saltwater fly reels.
- Multiplying: Depending on your gear ratio these reels can function at different rotations per turn of the handle.
- Automatic: Uses a spring which creates tension when the fly line is fed out. The line is retrieved through releasing the safety latch which then forces the spool to rotate very quickly to pull the line from the water. This system is best used with experienced fly fishers.
Also Read: Top 5 Rated Reels for The Money
Before you buy, ask yourself where you will be fishing and what types of fish you wish to catch. This will then help you through the purchasing process.
Many saltwater fly fishing reels are not clearly advertised online. Examine our buying guide characteristics for reels that are best suited to saltwater environments as a checklist to follow.
Hopefully, this article has provided you with all the relevant information you need to purchase the suitable saltwater fishing reel for your fishing needs.