Fly Fishing Gear - Fly Reels
Fly Reels Purpose:
The main purpose of the fly reel is to retrieve and store the fly line and backing. Except
for small fish, which can be fought by retrieving the line by hand, the reel’s drag serves
the most important function.
Storing the fly line and backing and retrieving the line and, sometimes fish, requires a
reel that should be as light, weight and simple as possible. As you should already know,
unlike most other reels, it serves no purpose during the cast.
Types of Fly Reels:
The single action fly reel turns the spool one time with each turn of the handle. This
means that the size or diameter of the reel’s spool determines how much line is retrieved
per turn of the spool.
Large arbor reels take up line faster, reduce the amount of line memory and is a factor
in the efficiency of the drag. Some reels are called “large arbor” reels when the diameter
of the spool is increased little beyond that of the standard fly reel spool. Only the width of
the spool is increased. These reels may hold more line and backing, but the amount of
line retrieved per turn of the reel handle is only affected by the increase in spool
In addition to the standard single action fly reel, there are “multi-action” reels that are
capable of retrieving more than one spool of line per turn of the handle. This feature is
unnecessary, however, except where they may be considered a feasible option for
fighting very large fast moving fish.
Most fly reel have interchangeable spools, whereas they can easily be converted from
right to left hand retrieves or vica versa, Most right handed anglers, for example, choose
to retrieve line with their left hand and cast with their right, although this is strictly a
Most fly reels have optional spare spools that can be filled with other types of fly line.
This makes it economical and convenient to change spools without either having to swap
the reel or to change to another outfit in order to fish a different type of line.
Some fly reels have “clickers” that somewhat add to the spool tension or drag which
make a clicking noise when line is being stripped from the reel. This is a totally optional
thing. Some anglers prefer the clicking sound of a fish taking drag and others do not like
it. Most of these type clickers can be turned on and off, of course.
Most freshwater fly reels are direct drive reels, that is when the line goes out, the spool
and the crank handle rotate together. There are “anti-reverse” reels that do not directly
connect the handle and the spool. As line is stripped from the spool, the reel handle does
not turn. It is only engaged when you are retrieving line. The advantage is that less parts
move when drag is being taken or line stripped from the spool and you may not crush a
knuckle by the fast turning handle. Unless you are catching extremely large fast fish, this
feature, in our opinion, is not worth the inconvenience of the extra weight the additional
parts add. Even so, some anglers prefer the direct drive reel.
Copyright 2013 James Marsh
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