The Best Fly Fishing Reels – Buyers’ Guide 2021

Fly fishing rods are the most popular, but a fly reel can help you improve your angling skills. It will allow you to cast long, precise casts and fight aggressive fish confidently.

It can be difficult to choose the right reel for you, given the variety of reels offered by major manufacturers.

We are here to help. Below, you will find our top picks for weight and water type. This will give you concise, honest reviews of the best options.

Here are some of the top fly fishing reels on the market today.

  • Galvan TorqueT5– The Best #5 Fly Reel Overall
  • 3-Tand TF-50– The Best #5 Fly Reel For the Money
  • Redington Behemoth– The Best Budget #5 Fly Reel
  • Nautilus CCFX2– The #8/10 Saltwater Fly Reel is the Best
  • Lamson Guru Series II (1.5)– The Best Light Fly Reel

Reviewed the Best Fly Fishing Reels

Galvan TorqueT5– The Best #5 Fly Reel Overall




Drag:Torque System
Capacity to back up125 yards 20#
MaterialT6 aluminum
Weight:4.8 oz.
  • Awesome quality
  • Amazing toughness
  • Excellent backing capacity
  • Outstanding drag
  • Not the lightest.
  • Saltwater use only
  • The reel handle might feel a little short


Galvan’s Torque fly-reel is the ultimate choice for fly anglers. It offers quality and performance that will keep them on the top of their wish lists year after year.

The Torque T5 is made from lightweight aluminum and then tempered to make it more durable. This is more important than you might think: After a long hike to your favorite stream, you don’t want a slippery rock to stop your day. This strong reel might be scratched, and you may even gouge it, but bending, crushing or breaking is next to impossible.

The Torque’s spool has plenty of space to support your back and picks up line at a quick 7.16 inches per turn. This isn’t a fast speed but it will be enough to catch the #5 tackle fish you are chasing.

The Torque is unmatched at certain points, but the drag is the most important. It’s stronger than you might need and easy to set with an amazing range of incremental adjustments. It makes a satisfying click when you fish. You can also tie it to something slightly larger. The Torque system redefines smoothness–you won’t find a better product at any price!

However, not everything is perfect. The reel’s knob may be a little too short for some anglers, but it is strong and offers enough traction to withstand tough fights.

Although it is not the lightest option for #5, the torque’s quality and durability make it an excellent choice for our top slot.

3-Tand TF-50– The Best #5 Fly Reel For the Money

3-Tand TF-50 Trout Fly Reel




Drag:Nano CF Drag Disc
Capacity to back up130 yards 20#
Weight:3.9 oz.
  • Awesome quality
  • Amazing toughness
  • Excellent backing capacity
  • Excellent drag
  • Very light
  • Seal against saltwater
  • The Torque has a better overall drag quality than the Torque.
  • For large fingers, the knob may be a little too small.


The TF-50 is described by 3-Tand as an all-arounder that can be used for trout and steelhead. It’s a big task, but a few fights and a little practice will show you that the TF-50 is worth it.

You wouldn’t expect a reel at this price to be able to compete with high-end rivals. The TF-50’s aluminum spool is machined and tempered. This ensures that it lasts as long as the Torque, but costs a fraction of the price. The TF-50 is slightly larger than the more expensive competitors, with five yards more 20-pound backing rope.

It is also astonishingly light.

Are these small details really that important? These small details add up.

The TF-50’s carbon fiber drag system is also amazing. It is very smooth and gives up only a little bit of Torque performance. The drag system can also be adjusted very easily. You’ll have enough stopping power to stop everything, from steelhead to bass, on this reel.

This reel is protected against saltwater intrusion so you can fish it anywhere and anytime.

This reel is a masterpiece of quality. I am left scratching my head at how 3-Tand manages to pack so much performance in a reel for this price.

Perfectionism is impossible. This reel’s shortcomings are in the areas of knob feel, drag sound and drag settings. The Torque has an incredible range and power that you simply cannot match.

Does that make it a deal-breaker for you? In my book, no!

Redington BehemothBest Budget #5 Fly Reel

Redington Reels Behemoth 7/8 Reel, Black





Drag:Carbon fiber
Capacity to back up125 yards 20#
Material die-cast aluminum
Weight:5.7 oz.
  • Solid construction quality
  • Excellent backing capacity
  • Massive maximum drag
  • Excellent knob design
  • Right price
  • Our list has more expensive options, but the overall quality is lower than ours.
  • The drag settings aren’t very good.


Fly fishing can be a very expensive sport. If you have the opportunity to save a little money while still getting high-performance fly fishing, you will jump at it.

Redington’s Behemoth reel is an excellent choice for anglers who cannot (or won’t) throw $300 after a nice reel. While it’s not the most efficient on our list, you won’t be disappointed with the value for money.

Redington’s arbor has a lot of capacity. It also has a deep V which increases its ability to hold more backing line. This is an important consideration for anglers who are chasing larger fish. While machined aluminum spools are the most popular, it’s important to remember that die-casting is possible, provided the correct alloy is used.

It is very quick to pick up line, and you won’t feel slow when a large trout turns your direction.

The drag of the Behemoth is strong enough to handle monster fish and titanic fights. It can pull 15 pounds. It does have a narrow range of settings. The “lower” part of the dial reduces the pressure. This is not a major issue, but it does mean that Torque performance will be limited at this price.

The retrieve knob on Behemoth is well-designed, executed, and one of my favorite items on our list.

This reel is not as sealed against saltwater intrusion as the more expensive Torque.

The Behemoth reel is solid and very affordable. Is it a competitor for the 3-Tand reel?

Not even close!

Nautilus CCFX2– The #8/10 Saltwater Fly Reel is the Best




Drag:Dual-action CCFX2
Capacity to back up200 yards 30#
Weight:8.6 oz.
  • Awesome quality
  • Excellent backing capacity
  • Excellent drag
  • For a large reel, it is very light
  • Great knob design
  • Seal against saltwater
  • Poor durability


There are many #8 and #9 options, but the Nautilus CCFX2 is my favorite reel.

The previous CCF of Nautilus was excellent. In fact, the improvements to the new model make it an almost unbeatable option if you are chasing reds or steelhead in salt.

This 5-inch spool has a lot of capacity for backing line and can pick up 12 inches per turn. It’s fast enough to make it difficult for even the largest fish to outrun your retrieve. It’s strong and light, with a featherweight feel to your rod.

The CCFX2 has a powerful drag that matches, providing an incredible 20 pounds of tension. This is what I need when I’m trying turn a bull-red. The drag can be adjusted on the fly to match the settings to the fish. Six turns increase the drag’s effectiveness to the maximum. You can micromanage the settings of your drag, which you will really enjoy on the water.

The knob is also a favorite of mine. It’s perfect for gripping during hard fights.

This reel is sealed against saltwater as you would expect.

This reel is not built to withstand a beating and its durability is poor. This wouldn’t stop me from loving this reel. However, I think it shouldn’t deter you from the CCFX2.

Lamson Guru Series II (1.5) Best Light Fly Reel

Lamson Guru Series II, Grey/Orange, 1.5




Drag:Conical sealed
Capacity to back up35 yards 20#
Material6061 Aluminum and Stainless Steel
Weight:3.87 oz.
  • Excellent quality
  • Excellent backing capacity
  • Plenty quick
  • Good drag
  • Seal against saltwater
  • Poor durability


A reel is essential for anglers who fish light lines. In many cases it will serve more as a line holder and not as a cranking machine. This doesn’t mean quality and performance aren’t important, but that you want something more from a #3 reel that you would from a #5.

Lamson’s original Guru was a great light reel. However, the new improvements have made it an excellent choice for dry flies or light lines. You won’t be outgunned by trout in small streams, as it has plenty of backing line capacity. It’s not fast, but it’s fast enough to test your angling skills.

Although the overall build quality of this reel is very good, it can’t withstand serious abuse. This little guy can be seriously damaged if it falls on sharp rocks.

Lamson matches the drag mechanism with the reel, which makes the drag smooth and light. There is one problem: even at the lowest setting, there is still a little tension.

Does that make it a deal-breaker for you? It’s not a deal-breaker, I think. The Guru II is a great dryfly reel, and one I would reach for when outfitting my #3 rod.

It’s also sealed as an added bonus!

How to Buy a Fly Fishing Reel

Fly fishing tackle 5wt is the most popular. It’s a Goldilocks choice. It is strong enough to catch big fish but lightweight enough to use for dry flies or beautiful presentations.

We have shifted our focus to this weight as a result.


Manufacturers have made fly reel making much more efficient over the past few decades.

Reels of high quality are made from solid blocks of aluminum. This provides unrivalled strength and toughness. Few reels are now die-cast. This involves pouring molten steel into a pressure mold. Machined reels are superior, hands down.

Our top picks are made from aircraft-grade aluminum. They are then tempered to increase their durability and given a hard-anodized coat to protect them. Redington Behemoth is an exception to this rule. The die-cast process allows for a lower cost reel than other competitors.

Is it really important?

Yes. However, you only get what you pay.


Fly fishing is a delicate art. However, the conditions in which it’s done are harsh.

A fall is almost inevitable, from rocks as slippery as greased ice to twisted roots that are just waiting for your foot to catch it, Your reel will take a beating if you fall.

This is one reason why machining is important: it results in a stronger reel, all things being equal. Additionally, heavy reels can withstand abuse better than their ultralight counterparts.

We believe it is a smart idea to place more importance on durability than weight. An ultralight reel that bends upon impact isn’t as good as a rugged, heavier option.


It is important to weigh your rods. A heavy reel can affect the feel of your rod and can cause casting problems. However, a lighter reel can simply disappear onto your rod.

We seek the sweet spot where the reel is so light that it almost guarantees fragility, but not so heavy that it becomes annoying.

Supporting Capacity

Manufacturers are more likely to falsify numbers than they should when it comes to reporting exact backing capacity.

These numbers are important. You can fight big fish or grab as much line as you like with every crank of your handle. Experts recommend using 25-50 yards less than the maximum for best performance.

Wider spools perform better than those with narrower options. They prevent your line’s from overlaying and can affect casting. However, “wider” can be relative and spool measurements alone don’t mean much.

Our reels have wide arbors and can cast well.


The last, but not least, is the fly reel’s drag.

Quality reels will offer smooth drags, but that is not the main point. While there are some standouts like the Torque reel, the real test of a drag’s performance is its setting range.

You don’t need much drag for #5 applications. For #8/10 applications, a few pounds is usually enough, multiplied by the bend of your rod. What is important is the point at which tension increases and the number of options available to you to get to that sweet spot between 1.5 and 2 pounds.

You can be more specific with your settings the more options you have. Stars like the Torque allow you to dial in the exact weight you desire, making it easy to make small, precise, incremental changes in drag tension.

Last Thoughts

Since your grandfather used his favorite fly for trout, fly fishing reels have advanced a lot. This new reel offers a lot more options than the old ones, thanks to improvements in the manufacturing process and space-age drag material.

We hope this article helped you choose the best option for you. If not, we would love to hear all about it!

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