How to Choose the Right Fly Reel
There are many considerations and features when choosing a fly reel, such as the build quality, drag system, arbor size, and capacity. In general, the stronger and bigger the fish you’re targeting the better the build quality should be. Bigger fish also demand beefier and more adjustable drag systems with a suitable amount of drag power. For trout and pan fish, the reel can be pretty simple. Many times with smaller fish the reel is hardly used. Instead of reeling the line in by spinning the reel handle it’s more effective to simply strip it in by hand. In the case of targeting smaller quarry, it’s advisable to proportion more of the money in your budget toward the fly rod and fly line.
The Size of the Reel
The size of the reel you’ll need also depends on the weight designation of your fly line. Fly lines have quite a bit of mass compared to normal fishing line because they are coated with PVC, and thus take up a lot of room on the reel. The higher the line weight designation the bigger the reel you’ll need.
Luckily, reel manufactures make it pretty easy for you to choose the properly sized reel because they assign a corresponding range of line weights to every model. Simply match the weight of your fly line to the recommendations of the manufacture. Your fly reel must be sized correctly to hold all of your fly line, including the backing.
If we were to determine that we’re going to fish for average sized trout and pan fish we’d accordingly select a 5-weight floating fly line, in a weight forward taper (WF5F). We would then choose a matching 5-weight medium-fast action fly rod that is 9 feet long and built in 4 pieces (590-4). The matching fly reel would then be appropriate for a 5-weight line and 100 yards of backing