Buyer’s Guide & Information

Best Fly Reels Under $100 Reviewed

We have reviewed and compared the best fly reels under $100. Find a high-quality budget model in this review guide.

by Andrew

Buyer’s Guide & Information

Best Fly Reels Under $100 Reviewed

We have reviewed and compared the best fly reels under $100. Find a high-quality budget model in this review guide.

by Andrew

by Andrew

As far as angling styles go, fly fishing gives anglers an upper hand when on the water. By using a fly attachment, you can attract the attention of target fish without giving yourself away.

When it comes to finding the right fly fishing reel, remember that high price points do not always guarantee high-quality equipment. If you’re looking for a great quality reel priced under $100, this review is an excellent resource for you.

Preview

Product

Reel Weight

Line Weight

Material

Check Price

Orvis Clearwater Large Arbor Reels/Only...

Orvis Clearwater II

5.44 oz

4-6 lbs

Aluminum

Lamson Liquid -3+ Reel Smoke

Lamson Liquid S-Series 5+

8 oz

4-6 lbs

Aluminum

Piscifun Crest Fly Fishing Reel Large Arbor...

Piscifun Crest-3

5.61 oz

7-8 lbs

Aluminum

Piscifun Sword Fly Fishing Reel with...

Piscifun Sword

6.1 oz

7-8 lbs

Stainless steel and aluminum

M MAXIMUMCATCH Maxcatch Fly Fishing Reel with...

MAXIMUMCATCH Maxcatch

5.7 oz

7-8 lbs

Aluminum

Okuma SLV- 2/3 Diecast Aluminum Fly Reel,...

Okuma SLV 23

4.52 oz

2-3 lbs

Synthetic, aluminum, and stainless steel

Redington Zero 4/5 Fly Reel - Sand

Redington ZERO

3 oz

4-5 lbs

Plastic


What To Expect From Fly Reels Under $100

Fly reels differ from other types of fishing reels in a few ways. For instance, you can expect to find reels with a mid to large sized arbor, which will come in handy for fast line retrievals. It is more than possible to find a fly reel priced under $100 built with materials and features designed to give you long-term use. You don’t have to settle for a low-quality performance when you choose an inexpensive option.


Buyer’s Guide: What Makes A Good Fly Reel?

Type of Target Fish & Location Environment

Fly fishing can be done in freshwater and saltwater environments. Geography plays a significant role in the type of fish you’ll target on the water. For instance, the target fish you’ll find in Alaska won't be the same as species native to Florida. Common target fish for fly fishing includes salmon, bass, and trout.

Fly Fishing Skill & Experience Level

Learning how to cast with a fly reel and doing it expertly can take some time, but this is expected with any new venture. With a foundational understanding of fly fishing, anyone can quickly adapt to this fishing style and have a successful fishing trip.

Power & Durability

Whether you're fly fishing in saltwater or freshwater environments, it's necessary to have a corrosion-resistant reel. When paired with great quality material, this feature ensures that you’ll be able to use the gear for years without issue. Materials to look out for include aluminum, composite, and cast steel.

Speed, Smoothness & Retrieval

We know anglers like yourself are always on the lookout for reels with fast and smooth retrievals. Retrieval systems vary between single-action, automatic, and multiplying. Generally, single-action reels have a slower retrieval rate than multiplying reels.

Ball bearings reduce friction when casting out a line, so keep in mind that more bearings typically means a smoother experience. An effective drag system comes into play when fighting fish and is an integral part of the construction to pay attention to.

Reel Features

Reel features impact the quality of your experience on the water. Ensure that the reel you select is a proper match to your fly fishing rod and offers a gear ratio that works for your fishing preferences. A reel with a higher gear ratio, say 6.0:1, will pick up more line with each turn of the handle for faster retrieval.

When it comes to drag systems, we highly recommend a sealed drag system because this will protect the reel's internal features. A disc drag system is also a popular option. You can find reels that are suited for left-handed, right-handed, or ambidextrous use.

Arbor Size & Line Capacity

Fly fishing usually requires a larger arbor size to accommodate the backing, the line itself, and the leader with the fly. Mid-size arbors are popular because they tend to weigh less than large arbors; however, large arbors can hold a larger spool and, therefore, more line.

To achieve farther casts, it’s best to invest in a reel with more line capacity.

Warranty

Most brands will extend warranty coverage for fly fishing reels and other equipment. However, not every reel on the market will be covered by warranty or as much warranty as you’d prefer. It's crucial to factor warranty into your purchasing decisions.


7 Best Fly Fishing Reels Under $100 Reviewed

1. Orvis Clearwater II

Best Fly Reel Under $100

Reel Size

3 1/2 in

Reel Weight

5.44 oz

Color

Matte grey

Line Weight

4-6 lbs

Material

Aluminum

Key Feature

Rulon-to-stainless steel stacked disc drag

Anglers looking for the best fly reel under $100 should look no further than the Orvis Clearwater II, and specifically, the four to six weight model.

This reel is constructed with aluminum material, which has an integral role in the reel’s long lasting durability. As far as appearance goes, the matte gray powder-coat finish gives this reel a sleek look comparable to high-end fly reels. 

The die-cast aluminum material is paired with a Rulon-to-stainless steel stacked disc drag. While the drag system is not fully sealed, anglers can expect a smooth and effective drag performance when fighting target fish. This model clicks when the drag is engaged, but the sound is subtle enough to not be overpowering or distracting.

When fly fishing with this model, anglers won’t be concerned about running out of line when on the water because there is a backing capacity of 100 yards. Before setting off on your next fishing trip, you can easily convert the hand orientation from left to right, or vice versa, depending on your preference.

This fly reel will perform just as well as an expensive model with the same line weight capacity, which is why it stands out as the best budget-friendly option on the market.   

Pros
  • Aluminum material
  • Ambidextrous hand orientation
  • Click drag knob
  • Visually appealing finish
Cons
  • Drag is not fully sealed

2. Lamson Liquid S-Series 5+

Runner Up

Reel Size

3.61 in

Reel Weight

8 oz

Color

Smoke or vapor

Line Weight

4-6 lbs

Material

Aluminum

Key Feature

Sealed conical drag system

The next best fly reel on the market under $100 is the Lamson Liquid S-Series 5+ with a four to six weight line capacity.

The large arbor allows for more line and backing, which will come in handy when fighting strong fish. This reel can hold up to 100 yards of backing, so you can focus on reeling in your catch rather than worry about running out of line. This reel is constructed with a pressure-cast aluminum frame and spool for a lightweight feel but powerful performance.

The sealed conical drag system is especially noteworthy because it is protected and creates an overall smooth operation. These components are CNC-machined in the U.S. This reel is designed to have a precision fit and finish for having an optimal casting experience.

The manufacturer Waterworks-Lamson offers lifetime warranty coverage for the reels and rods you purchase from the brand. Coverage extends toward defects in the parts and labor but doesn’t cover damage resulting from misuse, poor maintenance, or modification.

This reel is a durable and dependable option for novice and experienced anglers who want to invest in high quality, but low cost fly fishing gear. 

Pros
  • Lifetime warranty for parts and labor
  • Sealed conical drag system
  • Precise fit and finish
  • Large arbor
Cons
  • May not be as well-suited for saltwater environments

3. Piscifun Crest-3

Best Saltwater Fly Reel Under $100

Reel Size

3.7 in

Reel Weight

5.61 oz

Color

Black or green

Line Weight

7-8 lbs

Material

Aluminum

Key Feature

Fully sealed drag system

The Piscifun Crest-3 is the best saltwater fly reel under $100. The Piscifun brand is known for creating and selling high-quality gear, and this fly reel lives up to the brand’s good reputation.

This reel is structured with CNC-machined aluminum material that is strong but also lightweight. The spool is designed to be heavily ventilated, which also contributes to the reel’s lightweight feel. A large U-shaped arbor reduces line memory and allows you to retrieve the line in seconds.

Whether you’re fly fishing in saltwater or freshwater environments, this reel is well-suited to either environment. With a seven to eight pound line capacity, you can handle mid to large sized target fish. You are able to make quick decisions at a moment’s notice with the click and drag silent retrieve. For anglers who have a preference when it comes to hand orientation, it is a simple process to change the hand retrieve on this reel.

The fully sealed carbon-to-stainless drag system is a feature that truly makes this reel capable of withstanding natural elements and gradual wear-and-tear. As well as a solid structure, this reel is sold with lifetime warranty coverage. This coverage extends over structural malfunctions that aren’t related to personal misuse or malpractice.

Pros
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Hard anodized treatment
  • Fully sealed drag system
  • Suited for freshwater or saltwater
  • Innovative disassembly design
Cons
  • Heavier than some other models on the market

4. Piscifun Sword

Best Rated Budget Fly Fishing Reel

Reel Size

3.7 in

Reel Weight

6.1 oz

Color

Gunmetal, black, pink, and space gray

Line Weight

7-8 lbs

Material

Stainless steel and aluminum

Key Feature

Corrosion-resistant

The Piscifun Sword is the best rated budget fly fishing reel because it delivers high-end performance at an affordable price. 

The mid-arbor design gives anglers an outstanding balance between fast retrieval and more line capacity. The body of the reel is constructed with stainless steel and aluminum material that has been CNC-machined. This model offers a lighter feel because of the hollow design but retains its strength.

Because this reel is corrosion-resistant, anglers can use this gear on freshwater and saltwater fishing trips. This feature especially, guarantees that you will be able to fly fish with this reel for years to come because the gear is protected.

This reel allows for a silent retrieve and an interchangeable hand orientation, so you can adapt the gear’s positioning to meet your needs. A smooth drag is achieved with the multi-disk cork and stainless steel drag system. The drag system is equipped with a one-way clutch bearing so that anglers can engage the drag immediately.

Anglers who invest in this reel also receive three-year warranty coverage. While this warranty plan doesn’t cover the reel for as long as some other plans might, you can trust that your investment is protected in the case of manufacturing and structural issues.

Pros
  • 3-year warranty
  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Hollow design
  • Stainless steel drag system
  • Ambidextrous
Cons
  • Shorter term warranty coverage

5. MAXIMUMCATCH Maxcatch

Best Fly Reel For The Money

Reel Size

3.70 in

Reel Weight

5.7 oz

Color

Blue, black + silver, green, matte black, and silver

Line Weight

7-8 lbs

Material

Aluminum

Key Feature

Patent-pending hidden drag screw

With a seven to eight weight line capacity, the MAXIMUMCATCH Maxcatch offers the best return for your money. Maxcatch is a dependable brand that offers warranty coverage for its reels. A three-year warranty plan covers this fly reel.

One of the most notable features of this reel is the patent-pending drag design and, specifically, a hidden drag knob screw. The hybrid cork and Teflon disc and stainless steel disc drag system are designed to give anglers immediate control over drag engagement. The one revolution drag knob allows for quick and smooth retrieval. There are numbered settings for making quick adjustments and finding a preferred setting to provide you with even more control when fighting fish.

The aluminum material construction makes this reel durable, and the mid-arbor design enhances the reel’s performance when it comes to a smooth and speedy drag. One of the features that make this reel stand out is the hard anodized surface for corrosion resistance. Regardless of what conditions you face when out on the water, this reel will maintain a dependable performance without wearing out like some other reels on the market. 

This reel can also be easily adapted for left or right hand retrieve.

Pros
  • 3-year warranty
  • Mid-arbor
  • Hard anodized surface
  • Stainless steel drag system
Cons
  • Doesn’t offer as much backing line capacity as some other models

6. Okuma SLV 23

Best Budget Steelhead Fly Reel 

Reel Size

2.91 in

Reel Weight

4.52 oz

Color

Light silver

Line Weight

2-3 lbs

Material

Synthetic, aluminum, and stainless steel

Key Feature

Multi-Disk Cork and Stainless Steel Drag Washers

If you’re looking for the best budget steelhead fly reel available on the market today, you should invest in the Okuma SLV 23.

This reel is constructed with synthetic, aluminum, and stainless steel material for a durable build. A die-cast aluminum frame contributes to a strong but lightweight feel, and anglers benefit from the precision-machined stainless steel spool shaft and large arbor design.

As far as the drag system goes, the multi-disk cork and stainless steel drag washers increase the line retrieval speed without compromising smoothness. When retrieving the line, you will appreciate the non-slip positive grip rubberized handle knobs. Because of the roller bearing design, the drag will engage in one direction only.

This Okuma model is prepared with a left-hand orientation, but it is easy to change the hand retrieve from left to right if needed. This reel is built to deliver a fast performance that matches your target fish’s quick speeds, and the arbor design only contributes to your ability to reel in your catch more efficiently.

When it comes to warranty coverage, Okuma offers limited coverage for the brand's reels. Limited coverage can last for one, three, or five years depending on the model.

Pros
  • Limited warranty coverage
  • Multi-disk cork and stainless steel drag washers
  • Large arbor
  • Ambidextrous
Cons
  • Lower line weight capacity than some other models

7. Redington ZERO

Best Lightweight Fly Reel For Trout Under $100

Reel Size

3.3 in

Reel Weight

3 oz

Color

Sand or black

Line Weight

4-5 lbs

Material

Plastic

Key Feature

Twin-molded dual density handle

Without a doubt, the Redington ZERO’s structure and design make it the best lightweight fly reel for trout under $100. This model has a four to five-pound line weight capacity.

Though this fly reel is extremely lightweight, it is designed with a large arbor to give anglers the same speed and capacity you get with denser models. The un-machinable and die-cast construction of this model is unique among competing brands' reels. One of the main reasons this reel manages to be so lightweight is that it is constructed with plastic material.

A quick-change spool and an easily converted hand retrieve gives anglers more control over their gear when fishing. The Redington team considered the convenience and comfort of the angler throughout the planning and design process. This is evident with the soft-touch, twin-molded dual density handle. The handle design allows for a comfortable grip that is necessary for long fishing outings.

Additionally, this reel is built with a spring-loaded, clicker drag system. If you’re looking to invest in a reel that is good quality with warranty protection, this may be the perfect reel for you. The lifetime warranty covers any manufacturing or structural malfunctions that you experience when using this reel.

Pros
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Large arbor
  • Quick-change spool
  • Ergonomic handle
  • Extremely lightweight
Cons
  • Plastic is not as durable as other materials

Fly Fishing Tips For Beginners

Setting up your fly fishing reel for the first time can be done on your own or with the help of employees at a fly shop. There are four main steps involved in this process:

  1. 1
    Set up the retrieve for left or right-handed use.
  2. 2
    Create an arbor knot to join the backing to the reel and then attach the fly line.
  3. 3
    Reel the backing and line onto the spool.
  4. 4
    Attach the leader and a fly of your choice.

Whether you’re freshwater or saltwater fly fishing, it’s important to learn how to cast the line. To have more control over the line, be sure to cast with the rod tip in a straight rather than arched path.

When saltwater fly fishing, you’ll likely come up against strong currents and high wind speeds. This won’t be as common in freshwater environments. To combat the elements and have full control, add more force to your standard cast to increase line speed.


People Also Ask (FAQs)

Can fly reels get wet?

Yes. If the fly reel is corrosion-resistant and has a sealed drag system, the reel is further protected when in contact with water.

Why do fly reels click?

Some fly reels are designed to click when casting out a line or retrieving the line. Clicking is a function of the drag system, and in some cases, you can disable this function.

What side should a fly reel be on?

This can vary person-to-person, but typically, anglers who are left-handed will adjust the reel’s positioning for right hand retrieve.

What is the difference between a centrepin and a fly reel?

Centrepin reels have a clicker function but come in larger sizes than fly reels. Also, it’s not as common for centrepin reels to have a mechanical drag system.

Is fly fishing harder than regular fishing?

Not necessarily. Some anglers have actually found it easier to use fly fishing gear than baitcasting gear, for instance.

How much backing do you put on a fly reel?

The amount of backing you’ll put on a reel typically ranges from 80 to 120 yards, depending on the reel’s weight.

Where can I find quality budget fly fishing reels for sale?

We recommend Amazon because you can conveniently compare the reel options and browse other necessary fly fishing equipment. You might also look into retailers like Cabela’s. 


Conclusion

Investing in fly fishing gear opens up the possibilities for your angling habits. Finding a great quality fly reel can be done on a budget, and the Orvis Clearwater II is a prime example of how a low-cost reel can deliver high-end performance.

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