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
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