Saltwater Fly Fishing: How to Pick The Best Reel and Cast

saltwater fly fishing

A fisherman is only as good as his equipment.

A quality reel and cast can make all the difference during a saltwater fly fishing trip. By using the wrong equipment, you’re taking the chance that your trophy fish swims free.

Over 18 million people go fly fishing every year. That means there’s a large market filled with a variety of brands that differ in size, quality, and style.

So it’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into.

Fortunately, finding the right fishing gear is easier than it seems.

There are a few key elements to look for when purchasing a reel and cast.

Make the most of your saltwater fly fishing adventure by gearing up the right way. Read on for tips on finding the right reel and cast.

Think About Your Goals

It’s important to think about your goals while you’re feet are still on dry land.

Take some time to reflect before setting out to make a purchase.

Are you a first timer or experienced veteran? What size fish are you trying to catch? Are you going to be fishing from shore, on a kayak, or on a boat?

Reels and casts are catered to all different kinds of anglers.

By having a firm grasp on your fishing goals, you will be better prepared to find the right gear that’s suited to your needs.

Finding the Right Size

Size matters in fly fishing.

That’s especially true with saltwater fly fishing.

In general, saltwater fish are stronger than freshwater fish. It’s going to take a bigger fight to reel them in.

Saltwater rods are designed to be sturdier and handle more resistance than freshwater rods.

The best size saltwater rod to search for is around nine feet. These sized rods can handle lifting a large amount of dead weight and have the toughness needed to handle saltwater fish.

One thing to keep in mind is that beginners should consider an all water rod. They are given extra stretch which makes them easier to handle in a variety of different environments.

Reels are rated by both weight and size. It’s important to keep in mind rod size when purchasing your reel to maintain balance.

For best performance, find a reel size similar to the size of your rod.

For example, if you buy a 12-weight reel then you want to buy a 12-weight rod.

Reel Material

Reel material also plays an important role in saltwater fly fishing.

There are two main types of fly fishing reels – pre-cast and machined.

Pre-cast reels are created by pouring liquid metal into a mold. These reels are heavier and cheaper than machined reels.

However, they’re also less durable and don’t last as long.

Machined reels are made of shaped aluminum. They are stronger reels that will usually last a lifetime.

They’re also made of less material than other reels. That means they’re lighter which is what you want when you’re saltwater fly fishing.

Go for a machined reel if you can splurge. They are strong enough to take on saltwater fish and last longer.

Arbor Size

One often overlooked aspect of reel selection is arbor size.

Arbor is a cylindrical center piece in the reel that is wrapped by the fly line.

When selecting your reel, it’s important to note that you’ll encounter a lot of smaller arbor reels.

That’s because the fly fishing industry as a whole caters more towards freshwater fly fishing.

Freshwater fly fishing accounts for 64 percent of the fly fishing market.

Smaller-arbor is lighter and more frequently used by freshwater fishermen.

Large-arbor reels are crucial for saltwater fly fishing. They are larger and have quicker line pick up.

This will come in handy when you’re trying to get a lot of line in a short amount of time when facing large saltwater fish.

Drag System

Drag is a significant part of fly fishing.

When looking for a reel, make sure you’re paying close attention to the drag system.

The drag system is what controls the reel’s speed and resistance when facing a fish.

The spring and pawl, or clicker drag, design is usually a good choice if you’re fishing for small game. This system is cheaper but doesn’t have the durability to handle big fish.

A disc drag system is better for saltwater fishing.

This system is more efficient and has the better braking power to prevent fish from pulling off the line.

Since drag is so important, it’s wise to stick to reliable companies when purchasing your reel.

The big name companies might not be as cheap as alternative options. However, they are more reliable in providing drag systems that set you up for success.

The Cost of Saltwater Fly Fishing

It can be tempting to go for the cheapest reel and cast when buying your fly fishing gear.

However, cheaper isn’t always better.

It’s best to consider more expensive gear if you’re looking for durability. Think about the long-term when you’re buying your reel.

Saltwater fly fishing reels are slightly more expensive than freshwater reels. Price depends on the company, quality, and design of the reel.

Reels vary quite a bit in regards to price. You can likely find reels that cost as little as $50 and as much as $1000.

That doesn’t mean you have to dip into your savings to buy a fantastic fly fishing reel.

Good saltwater reels usually run anywhere between $200 to $500.

The most important thing to keep in mind is durability. While you can certainly find fly fishing reels for cheap, the cheaper options won’t last as long as their higher priced counterparts.

You might have a higher price tag upfront to buy a superior reel. In the long run, you’ll get a reel that lasts a lifetime and can handle the demands of saltwater fly fishing.

Now you know what to look for when buying saltwater fly fishing gear.  Go out, cast your line, and catch yourself an impressive fish.

Feel free to contact us if you have additional questions or comments about choosing the right fly fishing equipment.

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