Nowadays, there is a bewildering choice of fly fishing reels, and modern fly reels are now much more than early fly reels which were just intended as a convenient means of transporting the fly line to and from the water. Improvements in materials, technology and engineering have produced different fly reels for different fish species, tactics and locations, not to mention the whims and desires of fly fishermen!
Fly fishing reels are described as either ‘Mid-Arbour’, or in the case of the larger diameter models, ‘Large Arbour’ fly reels. Some come with one spool, some are ‘Cassette’ reels which come with numerous spools, allowing you to have a large range of different fly lines without having to buy multiple reels. Standard fly reels usually employ a simple ‘click-check’ braking system to prevent any excessive over-run, which can cause tangles, and these are still adequate for a lot of fly fishing. Smaller fish can be landed by simple ‘hand-lining’ with no real use of the reel. If needs be, the tension of the line when playing a fish can be further controlled by the fisherman’s finger pressure on the spool rim.
Fly reels with a drag do the same as a brake on a car wheel, it is adjusted by a small dial. A drum or two discs can be tightened together which then controls the speed of the spool, which in turn controls the tension and speed of the line that a fish can pull off the reel when being played. The simple drag systems on budget fly reels are perfectly adequate for most medium sized fish. Greys fly reels contain a super range of lightweight alloy fly reels, which are ideal for lighter rods and tactics such as river fishing / small to medium size trout fishing lakes.
Lighter, better and stronger are the key qualities in more extreme locations, and Greys, Orvis, Loop, Scierra and Wychwood all supply quality disc drag fly reels in high-grade alloys with more sophisticated drag systems which will cope with both the conditions and the fish!