Are New Cheap Fly Reels Worth Buying?
The first thing we need to do is define what we mean by
cheap fly reels. To one person $200 might be cheap but in our discussion we
will be talking about new fly reels under $50. Most of these reels could be poorly made. I say
"could" because you may be able to find a good deal on sale. But be
Here are some things you should consider when looking at the
lower-cost fly reels.
- How do
you plan on using it?
different materials fly reels are made of
things you should watch out for
What are you going to use it for?
you planning on passing the outfit on to the kids when they get older?
may not be sure that fly fishing thing is going to be a long-term hobby.
Keep in mind here that a poor outfit could frustrate you to the point of
losing interest altogether.
of the cheap fly reels would be good for casting practice in the back
- If you
are even considering fly fishing for steelhead don't even think about a
cheap fly reel. Start saving now for a fly reel with a good drag system.
Materials used in making fly reels
Let's first look at the materials used to make most fly
reels. As a general rule this is a good place to start your research. They are
listed here in the order you can expect them to be priced, stamped metal being
metal fly reels:
quality; stay away from these at any price.
or plastic reels:
- Light-weight and inexpensive.
may not be stiff enough and are not likely to hold up over time.
drag systems are not as good, which could be a problem when using light
they are included in the "complete combo" outfits.
be best used for casting practice.
are some fly fishers that seem to like these but I'm one who would rather
buy a classic old Pflueger Medalist on eBay (often under $50 with
shipping) than a cheap graphite or plastic reel from China. Go figure.
aluminum fly reels:
aluminum is poured into a mold, forming the parts. Some are machined after
are more likely to break if you hit them on a rock but can be a good
value and a great place to start for the novice fly fisher.
machined from a solid block of aircraft-grade stock aluminum:
are made with more exact tolerances.
very best fly reels are made this way. If the budget allows or if you can
find one used, go for it.
price of these reels will run from $100 to over $800. The best fly reels
for steelhead can often go for over $2000 (I'm not kidding).
Other things to watch out for with cheap fly reels:
- Gaps between
the reel and the spool that can pinch or tangle the line.
- Is an
extra spool available for the reel? It is not a bad idea to purchase it at
the same time.
fly reel needs to be the correct handing for you. Most fly reels can be
changed so this is not a problem but worth knowing for sure.
it look like the coating is just a thin coat of paint?
- Take a
look at the drag. Are there plastic parts and can the drag be adjusted
it come to the drag systems, more manufacturers are tending toward disc
drags but for the average trout a click and pawl system will work just
fine. They do not have the stopping power of disc drags but they do apply
a steady pressure. See Fly reel drag systems for steelhead for more
information on disc drag systems.
the reel capacity. Is there room for 90+ feet of fly line plus the
backing? The manufacturer should give a rating for the line weight and the
amount of backing it is designed for. If no information is given, consider
a different fly reel.
Hopefully we have answered the question about buying cheap
fly reels. Poor-quality reels need to be avoided at any price. Why take
a chance on them coming apart or in some way ruining the day?
Fly reels should last longer than the gas you just put in
your truck (which by the way may be more than you just spent if you bought a
cheap reel). Save up your money for a good reel or buy an old classic on
eBay. Some of the best fly reels can be found there. They may be used but most
are still in good shape. See Buying used fly reels.