Fly fishing has surged in popularity over the last few years, with an accompanying surge in “new and improved” equipment. Modern technology has provided new lighter, stronger materials for rods and reels to enhance the fishing experience. This sport is a game of timing and accuracy, so the gear must match the angler’s skill level. With so many different types and reels available, knowing which to choose can be difficult.
One way to overcome this difficulty is to arm yourself with knowledge. Do a little research; not only on fishing equipment, but also on the spot you’re going to fish. The type of fish dictates what type of fly fishing reel you’ll need, but so does the type of water. Once you understand those differences, you’ll need to match the reel to the fisherman, to the type of techniques that will be used.
Getting in on the Action
Fly fishing reels are either single action or automatic. Single action is the most common. This reel consists of a spool with a crank handle and a drag system.
Automatic fly reels have a catch mechanism which automatically reels the line. Automatic reels do not have a drag device.
What is Drag and Do I Need It?
If you’re going fly fishing for a steelhead or other large fish, drag can be a plus. Drag tightens the fishing line, making it more difficult for the fish to run. So, if you’re fighting a big fish, drag can make landing it easier.
Experienced anglers may prefer not to have drag, so they can experience the thrill of a big fish running with their line. Beginners, though, should consider incorporating a drag system as a helping hand. You don’t have to have a drag system, but they can be helpful.
Playing with the Line
The reel’s job is to store fishing line and to make that line accessible, described as the “play”. In fly fishing how easily the line plays out is very important. After all, the last thing you want is to have a reel with a sticky line. If you snag a big fish and it starts to run, you could damage your reel and/or rod, and most certainly will lose the catch.
What you want is a reel that lets out the line smoothly and winds it back in the same way. So, when you go to the sporting goods store to buy a reel, check how easily the line plays out.
If you’re going after freshwater fish in a stream or small river, a lightweight graphite reel is a good choice. If, the water is brackish or saltwater, a reel made from corrode-resistant material, like stainless steel, is a better choice. These stainless steel reels can also be used for bigger fish.
No matter what type of reel you choose, you need to take care of it. Wipe it after each use and store it in a bag to protect against the elements and sharp objects in your tackle. Maintain the reel, and it you’ll enjoy many years of fishing.