7 Best Saltwater Fly Reels: Reviews For All Weights & Budgets

by Andrew

7 Best Saltwater Fly Reels: Reviews For All Weights & Budgets

by Andrew

by Andrew

Anglers who value adaptability when out on the water should invest in good-quality equipment for saltwater fly fishing. Many of us are drawn to this angling style because it can be mastered at any experience level with the right guidance and gear.

Saltwater fly fishing is great for targeting bonefish, redfish, tarpon, striped bass, and several other species. What sets this angling style apart from others is the casting style and use of a fly to attract target fish.

Being able to recognize a well-constructed saltwater fly reel is crucial, which is why we’ve scoured the market for the best reels for your next fly fishing adventure. 

Preview

Product

Reel Size

Line Capacity

Line Weight

Check Price

Redington Reels Rise III 5/6 Reel, Black

Redington RISE

Diameter: 3.47 in

200/20

7-8 lbs.

Redington Reels Behemoth 5/6 Reel, Black

Redington BEHEMOTH

Diameter: 3.4 in

125/20

4-5 lbs.

Piscifun Sword Fly Fishing Reel with...

Piscifun Sword

Diameter: 4.05 in

150/20

7-8 lbs.

Sage Fly Fishing Spectrum C Fly Reel

Sage Fly Fishing Spectrum C

Diameter: 3 5/8 in

100/20

5-6 lbs.

Piscifun Crest Fully Sealed Drag Large Arbor...

Piscifun Crest-4

Diameter: 3.4 in

150/20

9-10 lbs.

Redington Grande 7/8/9 Fly Reel - Marine

Redington Grande

Diameter: 4.1 in

200/30

7-9 lbs.

Ross Reels Evolution LTX 4-5 - Black

Ross Reels Evolution LTX Fly Reel

Diameter: 3.83 in

115/30

5-6 lbs.


Advantages Of Using Salt-Resistant Fly Reels

When it comes to saltwater fly fishing, the best course of action is to invest in corrosion-resistant fly reels. Especially when it comes to offshore, inshore, or beach fly fishing; it's important to choose a rod and reel specifically constructed for saltwater angling. 

While you might be able to find corrosion-resistant freshwater fly reels, freshwater reels aren’t designed for long-term use in saltwater environments. Freshwater fly gear doesn’t account for the wide range of fish species you might encounter because it is designed for a smaller species pool. You need a reel that is durable and adaptable in different saltwater fishing locations, which is why a saltwater fly reel is the best option.


Tips For Choosing Saltwater Fly Fishing Reels

Target Fish & Fishing Location

Your target fish and fishing location go hand-in-hand. Anglers going after redfish, trout, or snook might opt for inshore fishing while anglers fishing for bonefish or bluefish might venture offshore. Keep in mind also that a common target species off the coast of Texas will be different than ones in the Florida flats.

Fly Fishing Skill & Experience Level

Like any new venture, fly fishing takes some practice and familiarity to fully master. Working out the perfect cast is one of the most challenging skills to learn when fly fishing, but anglers with base-level experience will be able to learn with some practice. Don’t underestimate the value of getting advice from other anglers with fly fishing experience.

Power & Durability

A fly fishing reel needs to be well-constructed and durable to ensure the reel’s longevity. Anglers fielding their options can find reels made from aluminum, composite, cast steel, and plastic material. Aluminum has the most durability but comes at the most expensive costs. On the opposite end of the spectrum, plastic reels are cheap but lower in quality. The higher quality a reel’s construction, the more powerful it’s likely to be. 

Speed & Smoothness

When casting a line with a fly fishing reel, ball bearings factor into the smoothness of the cast by reducing friction. As a general rule, the more bearings a reel has, the more stable the line will be. A drag system is another part of a reel’s design that can impact an angler's ability to fight fish because it acts as a braking system.

Reel Features

Saltwater fly reels can vary in hand orientation, size, weight, and gear ratio. Depending on preferred target fish and location, you might want a reel with a heavier weight and mid-range gear ratio to bring in bigger target fish quickly. Inshore fishing might require a reel with higher gear ratios, whereas low gear ratios anywhere between 5.1:1 and 5.4:1 will be effective at fighting large fish when offshore fishing in deep waters.

It’s essential to look for a reel with a sealed drag system, especially for saltwater fishing, because this will keep the bearings and other features protected from external elements.

Retrieval Mechanisms

Retrieval mechanisms impact how quickly an angler can reel in a catch. Single-action reels can turn the spool one time with each manual turn. Automatic reels can help with controlling the line but cannot hold as much line as most reels with single-action. Multiplying retrieval systems can turn more of the spool with every single turn of the handle.

Line Capacity

Larger spool size means more line capacity and extra backing capacity, which can come in handy when targeting large fish species. Anglers want a reel with a line weight that can handle the target fish's weight. A 6-pound line weight will work for smaller species like snappers while a 16-weight line weight can handle heavy species like tuna.

Price & Warranty

Many good-quality saltwater fly reels will come at higher price points, but there are affordable options. Before you make a purchase, review the reel’s features and also check to see if the reel is backed by warranty.

At the end of the day, you want your investment to be protected.


7 Best Saltwater Fly Reels Reviewed

1. Redington RISE

Best Saltwater Fly Reel

Reel Size

Diameter: 3.47 in

Arbor Size

Ultra-large

Line Capacity

200/20

Line Weight

7-8 lbs

The best saltwater fly reel on the market today has to be the Redington RISE. Anglers can choose between different reel size combinations ranging from 3/4 to 9/10 and five different reel colors as well.

Constructed from anodized machined aluminum, this reel is durable through-and-through. The ultra-large arbor design means that the reel has a large center spool that will house the backing and fly line. This part of the design contributes to a faster retrieval rate.

This reel has been structured with significant consideration for the comfort and efficiency of the angler. The reel has an ambidextrous hand orientation so that anglers will be able to adjust the orientation for the retrieve. An ergonomic handle makes it so that anglers could spend long hours on the water and fight fish without straining or exhausting their grip.

A carbon fiber drag system is paired with an oversized drag knob to allow for easy adjustments and smooth retrievals. The Redington RISE has a sealed drag, making it even more suited for saltwater fly fishing because anglers can trust that the internal features will be protected.

Anglers who purchase this reel also receive a nylon reel case. This will protect the reel between uses and will come in handy, especially when traveling with your fly fishing gear. Redington offers a lifetime warranty plan for this reel in the case that you come across any manufacturing or operational issues. 

Pros
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Nylon reel case
  • Carbon fiber drag system
  • Ergonomic
  • Quick retrieval
Cons
  • Backing not included

2. Redington BEHEMOTH

Best Saltwater Fly Reel Under $100

Reel Size

Diameter: 3.4 in

Arbor Size

Large

Line Capacity

125/20

Line Weight

4-5 lbs

The Redington BEHEMOTH fly reel is the best reel for saltwater fly fishing that anglers can find for under $100. Ranging in sizes from 4/5 to 11/12, this reel is excellent for achieving longer casts and reeling in heavier target fish.

This reel is constructed from un-machinable, die-cast carbon material with a carbon-fiber torque system. With the large arbor design, the Redington BEHEMOTH is equipped for fast retrieval and reduced line memory.

The adjustable and oversized drag system makes it easy to adapt at a moment's notice when a hooked fish starts to fight back. This reel is structured to be as high-quality as our top pick, the Redington Rise, at a more affordable cost. At any experience level, anglers can master the use of this reel, especially since the reel is designed for ambidextrous hand orientation.

Anglers who are looking for a great reel for heavier target fish have the option to select a heavier reel size. The 9/10 size, for instance, would function well for offshore fishing and also comes with a lifetime warranty plan.

Whether anglers choose a lighter or heavier weight version of the BEHEMOTH, they can rest assured that the reel is well worth their investment. 

Pros
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Large arbor design
  • Carbon fiber drag system
  • Ambidextrous
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Some models with a heavier weight are priced over $100

3. Piscifun Sword

Best Value Saltwater Fly Reel

Reel Size

Diameter: 4.05 in

Arbor Size

Mid-Arbor

Line Capacity

150/20

Line Weight

7-8 lbs

The Piscifun Sword fly fishing reel offers the best value in both quality and affordability. This reel comes with a three-year warranty and is constructed with stainless steel and aluminum material.

The design makes it optimal for anglers looking for a durable but lightweight option. A mid-arbor design gives this reel the right amount of retrieval speed to suit any angler while simultaneously reducing line memory.

Long-term use is ensured with corrosion-resistant properties. The surface of the reel is protected against abrasions and harsh weather due to its hard anodized treatment. A multi-disk cork and stainless steel drag system makes it so that anglers will be able to engage the drag immediately. The accurate click drag and silent retrieve contribute to a pleasant fly fishing experience overall.

This reel is offered in different sizes to suit an angler's preferences. Whether an angler sides with the 3/4 weight or 9/10 weight reel, the ambidextrous hand orientation makes it a versatile and user-friendly option for any angler setting off on a saltwater fly fishing trip.

The sleek design and functionality of this reel set it apart on the market. Anglers who are interested in fly fishing for the first time should consider purchasing this reel, as it is an excellent piece of gear priced at an affordable cost.

Pros
  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Mid-arbor design
  • Smooth drag
  • Solid and lightweight
Cons
  • Not a large arbor design

4. Sage Fly Fishing Spectrum C

Best Saltwater Fly Reel Under $200

Reel Size

Diameter: 3 5/8 in

Arbor Size

Large

Line Capacity

100/20

Line Weight

5-6 lbs

With all features and capabilities considered, the best saltwater fly reel under $200 is the Sage Fly Fishing Spectrum C.

This reel is designed with lightweight aluminum die-cast material and a machined, anodized aluminum drag knob and handle. The drag handle’s numbered settings are included so that anglers can test different control levels until landing on a preferred control level.

The large arbor is a great addition to this reel’s structure, and anglers can expect quick retrieval rates with this feature. The vented concave design of the arbor contributes to the reel’s added strength and line capacity.

Though this reel is designed for right hand orientation, anglers can easily convert from left to right hand retrieve depending on preference. The sealed carbon system drag allows for precise control over the line, and the same can be said for any of the size options that Sage offers. Anglers can choose between a 3/4, 5/6, 7/8, or 9/10 combo weight when purchasing this reel.          

Whether angling for small or large saltwater fish, the Spectrum C is a great cost-effective reel to invest in. This reel has been powder coated, so the surface will be protected and corrosion-resistant regardless of how many fishing trips you take over the years.

Pros
  • Nylon reel case
  • Aluminum construction
  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Large, vented concave arbor
Cons
  • Only right hand orientation

5. Piscifun Crest-4

Best 10 Wt Saltwater Fly Reel

Reel Size

Diameter: 3.4 in

Arbor Size

Large

Line Capacity

150/20

Line Weight

9-10 lbs

The Piscifun Crest is the best 10-weight saltwater fly reel that we’ve come across on the market to date.

This reel has been constructed with anodized aluminum material and has a CNC machined, heavily ventilated spool. The benefits of this spool design are apparent: the ventilated design makes the reel lighter in weight without sacrificing its strength.

A large arbor design functions well alongside the large, flared cranking handle to create speedy retrievals while reducing line memory. The fully seated drag system is equally impressive with click drag and silent retrieve features to make quick adjustments efficient and accurate. Because the drag system is sealed, it will be nearly impossible for sand to get inside.

Anglers can change the hand retrieve from left to right easily because of the reel's innovative spool disassembly design. Not only that, but the reel is structured for ambidextrous hand orientation. The knurled handle makes for effortless gripping and smooth turning power.

Piscifun provides lifetime warranty coverage for this reel as well as other Crest fly reels. The 9/10 weight fly reel is well-suited for inshore and offshore fly fishing because it can hold its own with target fish on the heavier side.

Pros
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Fully sealed drag system
  • Click-drag and silent retrieve
  • Hard anodizing treatment
  • Large arbor design
Cons
  • Heavier than some other reels

6. Redington Grande

Best 8 Wt Saltwater Fly Reel

Reel Size

Diameter: 4.1 in

Arbor Size

Large

Line Capacity

200/30

Line Weight

7-9 lbs

The Redington Grande is our top 8-weight saltwater fly reel for a few reasons.

The CNC machined, anodized aluminum construction makes this reel durable and corrosion-resistant. The carbon fiber drag system is fully sealed and is designed with super-torque, so anglers will have a smooth and powerful drag even when fighting bigger fish.

Redington engineers took into account the importance of reel foot position in the design of this gear. The reel foot is positioned to provide a true center of gravity for the angler and prevent rod twist at the same time.

The V-spool with backing canal arbor is specifically intended to reduce the risk of line stacking and increased backing capacity, so anglers will be able to go after larger target fish without worrying about running out of line.

An oversized palming rim helps to make the drag application function more efficiently and also contributes to spool rigidity. This reel is offered in different sizes, though we are partial to the 8-weight model because of its performance and capabilities. The reel's design makes it so that anglers can make quick adjustments at a moment's notice, specifically when using the handle and drag knob.

A manufacturer’s warranty is also available for those who purchase this reel, in the case of structural or operational malfunctions.

Pros
  • Anodized, machined aluminum
  • Super-torque drag system
  • Increased backing capacity
  • Retrieve options
Cons
  • Reel isn’t pre-spooled

7. Ross Reels Evolution LTX Fly Reel

Top Of The Range

Reel Size

Diameter: 3.83 in

Arbor Size

Large

Line Capacity

115/30

Line Weight

5-6 lbs

When it comes to fly reels, Ross Reels Evolution LTX Fly Reel is top of the range gear.

The anodized proprietary aluminum construction of the reel’s frame and spool is specifically engineered for Ross Reels. The machined canvas phenolic handle makes for a better grip and a lighter feel.

As far as appearances go, anglers can choose between matte black and platinum color options. In terms of weight, this reel is available in four different categories: 3-4, 4-5, 5-6, and 7-8 weight.

The performance drag system is designed with a stacked-disc system, which is used in other Ross Reels models as well. This reel can withstand a fight from saltwater fish like redfish, bonefish, and snook because of its durable construction and drag system.

This reel is equipped for nearly any saltwater opponent you’ll come across and can be effective for freshwater trout as well. Because of the reel’s design and capabilities, anglers who choose to invest in this reel are making a smart decision.

Though the Ross Reels Evolution LTX Fly Reel is more expensive than some reels in our review, you can breathe easy knowing that the gear is worth every cent. Additionally, the reel is backed with a limited lifetime warranty.

Pros
  • Phenolic handle
  • Aluminum frame
  • Stacked-disc drag system
  • Anodized
Cons
  • Expensive

How To Use Fly Fishing Reels

Anglers learning how to set up their fly reel for the first time can either enlist help from a fly shop or follow a few simple steps. The first task at hand is to decide between left or right hand retrieve. As a general tip, right-handed casters will usually opt for a left hand retrieve. 

Next, attach the fly line backing and the fly line itself. You'll want a backing line of at least 100 yards, and that will attach it to the reel by making an arbor knot. After reeling the backing onto the spool, you’ll tie on the fly line. Lastly, attach a leader and fly.

When it comes to casting a fly line, high wind speeds can work against you. Because of this, it’s important to increase line speed and put more force into a cast.


Saltwater Fly Reel Sizing Guide

Fly reels with combo sizes typically include 4/5, 5/6, 7/8, 9/10, and 11/12 weights. Lower weights are generally better-suited for beach, surf, and inshore fishing, whereas reels with heavier weights work well in deeper waters. Reels that are on the heavier end of the spectrum can also be used inshore, but the same might not be said for lighter weight reels when offshore fishing.

An 8-9 weight reel is excellent for inshore saltwater fishing for redfish and sea trout, for instance. This size reel can handle larger target fish too, but you’ll be far more confident with a 10-12 weight reel if you’re going after tarpon or larger fish species.


People Also Ask (FAQs)

What types of lures and baits should I use with my saltwater fly reel for offshore fishing?

Bait such as shrimp, shellfish, cut bait, and bait fish are ideal for offshore fishing in saltwater environments. As for lures, you might opt for a deep-sea bottom jig, deep diving plug, or trolling spoon. 

How do I look after my saltwater fly reel?

It’s important to clean your fly reel after every use. Disassemble the reel and clean with warm water and a small dose of mild detergent. Wipe away any residue, allow the gear to dry, and then reassemble. It’s important to store your reel in a dry area when not in use and preferably in a reel case.

What are the best-rated saltwater fly fishing reel brands on the market?

The best-rated saltwater fly fishing reel brands are Redington, which recurs in this review, along with Piscifun, Sage, and Ross Reels.

Where can I buy quality saltwater fly fishing reels for sale?

For all of your fly fishing needs, we recommend making a purchase through Amazon. You can search any reel on the market and compare different brands’ fly fishing accessories simultaneously. It's also worth looking into making a purchase through retailers like Cabela’s.


Conclusion

Investing in a saltwater fly fishing reel opens up so many possibilities for anglers. Saltwater fly reels are designed to be durable for years and withstand the harsher conditions you might face in saltwater environments.

If you’re looking to try your hand at fly fishing, the Redington RISE is an excellent piece of gear to invest in. You will see great results with any of the other top-ranked fly reels on our list as well.

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