Abel Fly Reel  Lamson Fly Reel  Pflueger Fly Reel  Lamson Reel 

Best Saltwater Fly Reels

What's the "best" saltwater fly reel, and who would possibly be so pompous to pick it? I'll instead explain my top choices for several  categories, because there isn't necessarily a "best" or most appropriate.

This is bound to be somewhat controversial, but I'm always getting asked about saltwater fly fishing reel choices, so here goes.

Entry Level: Pflueger Medalist 1500 Series - under US$50

The Pflueger Medalist 1500 Series Fly Fishing Reels are simply great cheap reels! And for about 35 to 45 dollars, depending on the model, they simply CANNOT be beat! They are tought to find these days although the Pflueger Trion Series Reels are readily available, slight more expensive yet still a great deal.

They are step up from the famous 1400 series with a better drag and an exposed rim so you can easily "palm" the reel to slow running fish.

They range from the model 1594 1/ RC which holds up to a #8 fly line and 35 yards of 20 pound backing to the model 1598 RC which holds up to a #12 fly line with 75 yards of 30 pound backing. That's not a lot of backing, but it's more than enough for most saltwater fishing.

I started with Pfluegers, and there is still not a better reel for the  money. An amazing deal!

Mid Level: Scientific Angler System 2 Reel - under US$220

The Scientific Angler System 2 Fly Reels are workhorses that they've been making for decades. They're reasonably priced, durable, and have a very decent drag.

The System 2 ranges from the Model 78 which takes an 8 weight fly  line and 240 yards of 20 pound backing to the Model 1213 which takes a 13 weight fly line and 300 yards of 30 pound backing, with 2 models in between, the Model 910 and  Model 1011.

I have fished them extensively all over the planet and they've always performed flawlessly. I highly recommended Scientific Angler System 2 Fly Reel.

High Level: Abel Reels - under US$1000

Abel makes expensive high end fly reels with fantastic drags. I've been fishing Abel fly reels for years and am very happy with them!

They make Abels up to the Super 14 Model, which takes a 14 weight line and a whopping 500 yards of 30 pound backing, and all the way down to light trout reels. I'll admit to owning a few in bonefish to medium tarpon sizes, and most commonly use them chasing stripers these days.

So what's this much money get you over a lesser price reel, say a Pflueger Medalist 1500 Series Fly Fishing Reels or Scientific Angler System 2 reel?

A high end reel like an Abel Reel will be somewhat more durable, usually machined out of a single piece of high quality aluminum but other than that?

Only a couple of things really: expensive fly reels are lighter, which can matter when casting endlessly, and they have better drags.  Other than maybe aesthetics and bragging rights, that's all.

You can have fun and catch big fish with any of the reels listed above.

So I chose Abel Reels as my high end pick, but really there are a lot of great reels in this category. For their price they better be great! I easily could have picked Tibor or Islander or . . .

There are lots of great reel choices in all price ranges. Now stop wasting your time reading and go fish or tie a fly or buy a fly reel or something . . .