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Fly Fishing Reels: More Than Line Storage!

Many anglers consider fly fishing reels merely as units in which to store their fly line. Unlike deep-sea fishing, where the fishermen uses the reel (often called "spinning reels") to pull in the fish, fly anglers have a different technique. They'll pull the fly line from the reel with their free hand while their other hand casts the line. While the reels used by other anglers are intricately-designed, fly reels often look primitive by comparison. But, their construction is perfectly-suited to the methods fly anglers use to cast their line and play their fish. In this article, you'll learn how fly fishing reels are built, the types of reels you can purchase and a brief description of a reel's drag system.

How Are Fly Fishing Reels Built?

Most fly reels are comprised of a spool and a frame. They're usually built from cast aluminum or graphite (which is lighter than aluminum). For anglers who fish in saltwater, reels with an anodized finish are available to help resist the corrosion that saltwater can cause. The spool of the fly reel has large arbors that allow quicker retrieval of the line and better handling. Plus, the large arbor is handy for taking in slack line (useful when a fish is coming directly at you). Some fly reels are designed to accommodate heavier lines. If you're angling for pike (a larger species than trout), you'll need a reel that can store the heavier line you'll be using.

Types Of Fly Fishing Reels

Reels come in 3 main types: automatic reels, single-action reels and multiplier reels. Automatic reels provide a mechanism that retrieves the spent line effortlessly. By literally flicking a lever, this type of reel will automatically retract your line. Many experienced fly anglers argue that an automatic reel is a poor substitute for skill. They claim that fly fishermen should accept the challenge of taking in their line manually rather than relying upon machinery.

Single-action reels are the most common. Many novice fly anglers use them. This type of reel has a handle that fastens directly onto the spool. The angler simply turns the handle to retract his spent fly line. Multiplier reels are similar to single-action reels with one key difference. The gear system of the reel is designed to "multiply" the retraction ability with each turn of the handle. The main benefit of a multiplier reel is the quick pace of the line retrieval.

What Is A Drag System?

A reel's drag system is used to apply tension on the fly line. When a fish takes your fly, it may try to escape away from you. Without a drag system, your fly line would quickly become spent. The drag your reel applies slows the escaping fish down. It makes the fish struggle against your line. The 2 types of drag systems available today (spring and pawl and disc drag) work similarly to the brakes in a car. You can adjust the amount of drag pressure on the reel.

What Type Of Reel Should You Buy?

Your first consideration when buying a fly reel is knowing what type of fly angling you're going to be doing. If you're chasing fish in saltwater, make sure your reel has an anodized coating to resist corrosion. If you're going to be fishing for trout in freshwater, a smaller reel should suffice. For beginning anglers, a single-action reel may be the best choice. Those who don't want to fuss with line retrieval should consider an automatic reel.

Finally, think about the type of drag system you want. Larger fish (like bass) may require a disc drag while a spring and pawl drag system should be fine for smaller quarry (such as trout). In the end, your reel should reflect your personal preferences and level of skill. In time, you may want to invest in a different reel. You're limited only by your willingness to explore your options.