Fly fishing can bring out all of your emotions in one short trip. You could feel excited, then frustrated, satisfied, then rewarded! Having the right equipment could bring those sweet sensations to life. Of course, you’ll need the right line and lures for your trip. But, your fly rod and reel is your key to success.
If they’re not compatible, your rod will feel off-balanced and will affect your fishing ability. Be prepared, and check out our reviews on the best fly reels for under $200. So, you can get to the water faster.
Spectrum C 5
CNC Machined and anodized aluminum
Redington BEHEMOTH 11/12
Liquid Fly 7+
Pressure Cast Aluminum
Cheeky Fishing Tyro 375 DIA
What To Expect From Fly Reels Under $200
If you’re new to fly fishing, then you're probably wondering what to expect when you buy and use your new reel. Luckily for you, fly reels are probably the simplest of all fishing reels.
You’ve your spool which holds your fly line, some thinner line for backing, and a small handle on the side for retrieval. More expensive fly rods will have higher quality materials and components, but there are still many good quality reels available for under $200.
How Do You Pick Fly Reels Under $200
Type of Target Fish & Location Environment
One of the biggest perks of fly fishing is that you can do it anywhere. From freshwater lakes and rivers to saltwater shores and streams, you can cast and catch a range of species with the right rod and reel.
A lot of fly anglers try to catch trout, grayling, or salmon when in freshwater. Whereas in saltwater, you can catch anything from bonefish, spotted sea trout, tuna, and striped bass. Whatever you decide on catching, make sure your reel, rod, and bait are perfectly matched for the fight.
Fly Fishing Skill & Experience Level
Just like many types of fishing styles, you’ll need to practice before you are perfect. It’ll take novice anglers a few trips before they get the hang of your new gear, along with finding the right spots to fish. Catching up on some reading will help you get started, but nothing’s better than some good ole practice.
If you’re a little nervous or need some guidance, then we recommend making a trip with a professional at first. Their knowledge could be invaluable and will make you a better fly fisherman, fast.
Power & Durability
A $50 fly reel may operate the same way as a $500 reel, but the primary material, drag system, and corrosion or weather-resistant properties determine if it’s strong and reliable. If you know you’re solely focusing on saltwater fishing, then be sure your drag is fully sealed and that it's constructed of corrosion-resistant materials (like aluminum).
Another good tip, whichever size fly reel you choose, make sure you stick with its’ recommended line and max drag. This will ensure you’re getting the most power and durability without pushing the reel too much.
Speed & Smoothness
If you want buttery-smooth line retrievals and a fast rate, then it’s crucial to match your fly reel to the right sized fly rod. If they aren't matched correctly, you'll find the line may begin to build up in the spool.
In return, your rod will feel jerky, and you risk snapping your line during a catch. By selecting a reel that makes your fly rod and reel feel balanced, it will prevent arm, finger, and hand fatigue, so you can fish for longer.
When there are a dozen reels that work the same but priced so differently, it’s hard to know what you’re getting with a higher budget. These small but might reels differ with price and features.
You won’t need all of the extra’s each reel will offer, but some could come in handy. Here are some features we looked out for when reviewing our best fly reels.
- 1Reel Size- in diameter
- 2Arbor- Size and style
- 3Weight- Is it lightweight, or small, heavy, and chunky?
- 4Drag System and its settings
- 5Hand orientation- Is the reel suitable for left and right-handed anglers?
When it comes to fly fishing, the three types of retrieval systems are the single action, multiplying fly reel, and automatic fly reel.
Freshwater fly anglers tend to stick with single-action retrieval systems as it’s easy to use, and it's perfect for catching large species, like largemouth bass. For saltwater, the best retrieval system tends to be an automatic fly reel for its fast and effective line retrieval.
Line Weight & Spool Size
Your fly line weight will determine what you can fish for. If your reel is too small, it won’t hold heavier lines on the smaller spool size. Fly reels with a line weight of 8+ than your reel should be strong enough for powerful, large fish in saltwater and freshwater applications.
No matter which line weight you decide on, make sure your spool size is either mid-large in size. This will ensure you’ve enough space for your line and backing when fishing.
Make sure you’re covered against damages or defects when buying your new fly reel. A warranty will give you the peace of mind you deserve. Some manufacturers offer a simple one-year warranty, whereas other brands offer a lifetime!
If you’re in between two models, then allow the warranty to help you decide. We’ve listed each warranty in the pros or cons section to make your final decision a little bit easier to make.
6 Best Fly Fishing Reels Under $200 Reviewed
1. Sage Fly Spectrum C 5
Our Top Pick
Diameter: 3. 5 Inches
Vented concave arbor for better line retrieval
The first reel on our list for the best reel for under $200 is the Sage Fly Fishing Spectrum C Fly Reel. This model has been recently reinvented to suit more fly fishing anglers over a range of applications.
Sage’s “One Revolution Drag Knob '' with numbered and detented settings helps anglers to test different control levels until landing on their preferred one. This fly reels’ easy enough for any novice fly fisherman to master with its thoughtfully planned out features and materials.
What we loved the most about the Spectrum C fly reel is its durability and performance when out on the water. It's composed of a lightweight aluminum die-cast material and a machined, anodized aluminum drag knob and handles. It’s also finished with a powder coat, so the surface will be protected and corrosion-resistant.
The large arbor on this reel is worth mentioning, as well. It has a vented concave design, so line retrievals are smoother and faster. With a choice of 3/4, 5/6, 7/8, or 9/10, there’s sure to be a size to suit novice, intermediate and experienced anglers. For the best fly reel under $200, we loved the 5/6 size, and we use it in fresh and saltwater environments.
The only downside to this reel is its hand orientation. The Spectrum C was created with right-handed anglers in mind, but you can convert this reel to suit left-handers, but it requires a little more work during setup. If this isn’t a problem for you, then you’re bound to love this fly reel for fly fishing.
2. Redington RISE 7/8
Diameter: 3.47 Inches
CNC Machined and anodized aluminum
Ambidextrous hand orientation
Our runner up for the best fly reel on a budget is the Redington RISE fly reel. Redington is one of the leading competitors within the fly fishing sport, so it’s no surprise their reel comes in the second spot. Constructed from CNC machined and anodized aluminum, this reel is durable through-and-through and can last years right off the bat.
The carbon fiber drag system works impeccably on this fly reel. Thanks to its materials and to the fact it’s sealed, it makes the RISE fly reel a perfect match for fresh and saltwater applications. You can trust that the internal features will be protected no matter where you're fishing.
Some other features worth mentioning are the ultra-large arbor design, twin molded, soft-touch ergonomic handles, and an oversized drag knob for easy adjustments, even when wearing gloves.
Storing and traveling with this reel will be a lot easier as well as it comes with a nylon reel case and weighs a mere 5.1 ounces. You have got a choice between 5 colors and 4 sizes, but for us, the 7/7wt was a perfect match for our saltwater excursion. We hope you’ll love taking this 7/8 sized fly reel to rivers, lakes, streams, and beaches just as much as we did.
3. Piscifun Platte 9/10
best saltwater fly reel under $200
Diameter: 3.3 Inches
Click-drag knob for easier drag adjustments
Nab yourself a sea trout, sea perch, or yellowtail with our top pick fly reel for saltwater fishing. The Piscifun Platte 9/10 fly reel was designed with these species in mind. With its large arbor design and its sturdy CNC machined aluminum alloy body, there’s a lot to love on this low-priced but high-quality reel.
Piscifun removed any unnecessary weight from the reel, so you can hold and handle it for longer. For example, the spool is heavily ventilated but remains incredibly strong, and it’s housed in T6 aluminum for protection.
The drag system is great too. Of course, a saltwater friendly reel needs to have a fully sealed carbon drag system, and the Piscifun Platte is no different. It’s fully sealed carbon to stainless steel drag is impervious to water, sand, and grit from entering. So, maintenance is short and sweet after every use.
Choose between black, gunmetal, or ice blue and have your new fly reel match your preferred fly rod. You can also choose between 5/6, 7/8, and 9/10 in size. We preferred the biggest size for saltwater applications, and we’re sure you’ll love it too. It’s a great all-around fly reel for a range of saltwater applications.
4. Redington BEHEMOTH 11/12
best 12wt fly reel under $200
6 x 5 x 4 inches
Deep V-Spool for increased backing capacity
Bigger reels will catch bigger fishes; it’s a simple fact. But, there are not many fly reels in the 10-12wt with enough drag to withstand the pull of a rainbow trout or a tarpon.
The Redington Behemoth fly reel has a top-of-the-line drag system that puts many of its competitors to shame. The reels' carbon fiber drag can be easily adjusted by its oversized drag knob, even when wearing gloves in cold weather.
The construction of this fly reel is quite impressive, too. It has a unique Die-cast construction with a matte finish. You’ll get to choose from 5 color options to match your equipment better.
Not only does it excel at sturdiness and variety, But it’s also protected against saltwater corrosion and harsh weather conditions. We found this fly reel to be one of the most pleasing to the eye as well. You’ll catch the attention of other anglers with this reels’ aesthetic design.
Match these features and good looks with a large arbor, twin-molded handles, and with an excellent price tag, and you’ve got yourself a remarkable fly fishing reel for larger fish. It’s our top pick for the best 12wt fly reel for under $200. If you like catching large game fish, we’re sure you’ll love it, too.
5. Waterworks-Lamson Liquid Fly 7+ (6-8 wt)
best 6wt fly reel under $200
Pressure Cast Aluminum
Combo pack- comes with two extra spools
The next fly reel on our list is the unique Lamson Liquid Fly Fishing Reel by WaterWorks. We loved how well the 7+ fly reel operated. It holds 6-8wt. line, and can catch trout, largemouth, smallmouth, small saltwater fish, and small salmon, too. Once you unpackage your new fly reel, you’ll see 1 reel, 2 spools, and a carry case. It’s great value for money for any novice or intermediate fly angler.
The large-shaped arbor has a novel design. Usually, they’re shaped in a 360 design, whereas the Lamson Liquid Fly Fishing Reel is shaped in a U. This helps prevent line stacking when the line runs on or off the spool fast. The sealed conical drag works well, too, and all of this is housed in a pressure-cast aluminum frame.
With two color options, and 4 sizes available, there aren’t too many choices for anglers. But WaterWorks different suffice on durability and performance. Having more than one spool is a big bonus as it allows you to be better prepared before getting to the water.
Maybe you want a spare spool for a different line, or you’re hoping to keep a hold of it in case of emergencies. Either way, this combo pack proved to be excellent value, especially if you’re interested in a 6-7wt fly reel.
6. Cheeky Fishing Tyro 375 DIA
good fly reel for the money
3.5 Inches Diameter
Black and Orange
die casting and CNC machining construction
This reel may be priced for entry-level anglers, but it certainly goes above and beyond on quality and performance. The Cheeky Fishing Tyro Fly Reel is lightweight, balanced, and has a range of features for a reel on a budget. That’s why we’ve chosen this particular model as a good fly reel for the money.
The spool and frame are constructed of die-cast aluminum, like many other fly reels that are double the price. The carbon stacked disc drag system is unsealed, though, so we don’t recommend using this fly reel in saltwater. It works a dream in freshwater lakes, streams, and rivers.
If you’re an angler who loves the sound of silence while reeling, the Tyro will not disappoint you. Its silent retrieval and smooth operation are incredible for the price. You can also easily convert from left to right-hand orientation to suit all anglers.
And, for the ultimate peace of mind, you can purchase spare spools for different lines at a very reasonable price. Pack everything up nicely in the reel case that's included, and you're almost ready for your next fishing adventure.
Fly Fishing Tips For Beginners
Now that you’ve got the perfect reel picked out, the thought of setting it up and using your new arsenal may feel a little daunting as a beginner. But before you know it, with a bit of training, you could be bringing home rainbow trout for dinner with your new fly fishing reel. Here are a few tips and tricks to get you started.
- 1Find the perfect fly rod to complement your reel. If you use the wrong size rod with your fly reel, it will feel off-balanced and won’t last long under the circumstances.
- 2Identify the size of the rod on the blank, and match it with your line and backing of your preference.
- 3Now that you've your primary equipment picked and purchased, you’ll need to load your fly line onto the reel. Check out this video to learn how to set up your reel correctly.
- 4After you set up your reel, start to learn how to cast. We recommend practicing the overhead cast for getting your line out at long distances.
- 5Lastly, find your perfect fishing spots. Maybe you want more space for yourself, or you prefer a certain lake or river. That’s great! Just be sure you've enough space and time for some trial and error at the beginning.
People also Ask (FAQs)
Can fly reels get wet?
Whether you’re fighting some splashback or it starts to rain in the middle of a catch, your fly reel is bound to get wet. That’s why it’s important to consider materials that are rustproof or have weather-resistant or corrosion-resistant features. Stick with materials like aluminum and stainless steel, and be sure your drag system is completely sealed for better protection.
How to take care of fly reels?
Cleaning and maintaining your fly reel is just as important as finding the right one. After every trip, you should rinse your reel with cold freshwater. It only takes a couple of minutes, and it can save your metal components from rusting. Make sure you dry the reel thoroughly before storing it in a cool, ventilated area.
We also advise you to do a deep clean of your fly reel every 4-6 trips. This requires you to remove the line and spool from the frame. Soak only the spool in warm soapy water. Lightly scrub any residue off with a toothbrush. And then once it’s clean, rinse it well, and let the reel dry overnight.
What is the difference between saltwater and freshwater fly reels?
The biggest difference between the two is that saltwater reels can withhold a lot more varieties of line. They’re also built to withstand the eroding factors within saltwater. They have anodized protection to fight against corrosion and tend to be a bit bigger and stronger. On the other hand, freshwater reels are dependable, easy to use and work well with lines up to 20 lbs.
Where can I find quality fly reels for sale under $200?
Apart from your local tackle shop, you can always review, research, and reserve your fly reel on Amazon. You'll see the reels you love at discounted prices, and it can be delivered to your doorstep in as little as 2 days. So, what are you waiting for?
Whether you’re buying your first ever fly reel or you're buying a good quality backup for your favorite fly rod, you're bound to love more than one of our reviewed reels.
Our top pick, the Sage Fly Spectrum C, has some spectacular features and at a price we just couldn’t believe. The Spectrum C proves to fly fishing anglers that good quality doesn’t have to have an outrageous price tag.