Stillwater Fly Fishing: Choosing a Reel
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Stillwater Fly Fishing: Choosing a Reel

Choosing a reel can be confusing for a first-time buyer.  A plethora of different brands, drag systems, colours and spool diameters, here are a few things I look for in a reel:

Arbor:  Reels come in three primary arbor diameters: Small arbor, mid-arbor and large arbor.  What does this mean for you?  Because fly reels are a 1:1 ratio the larger the arbor means the more line pickup per rotation.  In English, that means it will be easier to catch up to a fish that is running towards you.  I like a mid to large arbor reel with a smooth ingoing click (or no click at all) that allows for speedy pickup to eliminate the amount of slack line a fish will have to work with.  Less slack line = fewer fish lost.

Stillwater reel of choice: Ross Cimmaron II

Drag:  You are not fighting Tarpon or GT’s, you do not need 25 pounds of stopping power, but it is nice to have a smooth drag that is easily adjustable with enough force to turn a fish around.  Larger fish, especially those nearing the ten-pound class, will often take a healthy amount of backing before turning around.

Low Startup Inertia:  Startup inertia is not the most crucial part of the equation, but it does make a difference in the long run.  Basically, reels with a very high startup inertia will feel a bit “jumpy” as a fish is running.  Low startup inertia means a smoother transition from stand-still to high RPM’s

Questions? Comments? Fill out the contact form below or click here and I’d be happy to get back to you.  Thanks for reading!!


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