On my previous post I covered the characteristics of what I feel are the best fly rods for smallmouth bass. This post I will do the same thing for reels. You can find a reel to fit any budget, so we will address the things we like to see in a reel as well as the things we feel indicate a person makes way too much money.
That Thing That Holds Fly Line
The size of the reel really depends on the weight and balance of the rod. Some light-weight rods require light reels to prevent the rod from being back heavy, or the opposite when a tip heavy rod needs a heavier reel to prevent wrist fatique.
As you may have already read in my last post, I am a vintage fiberglass guy. Fiberglass is typically heavier than graphite, so you rarely see contemporary reels in my arsenal. Part of it has to do with the weight of my fly rods, but the real reason I have less expensive reels is because I'm a 4 star cheapskate when it comes to reels. Don't get me wrong, I'll spend $100 on a reel, but I'll admit now that $100 is my absolute ceiling.
To me a fly reel holds line. Now I understand a disc drag system and large arbor are wonderful features, but I have yet to fight a fish off of my reel. Maybe I need to fish more or something.... In my quest to justify spending more money on reels (believe me - I tried to convince myself that I needed a very expensive reel more than once) I have read the same thing from the pros - reels hold line! Here is a quote from Tim Holschlag:
"What about reels for smallies? Fly industry honchos groan when I say this, but it's true: a bass reel is primarily a place to store line when you're not using it. A fancy reel with super-smooth drag (and mega price tag) just isn't needed. The bass clan, no matter their size, make strong, but very short runs. That's one reason I seldom play smallmouth off the reel. When I'm fishing from a boat, I may not even reel up my loose line for hours, but leave it on the deck or in a stripping basket where it's instantly ready for another cast."Vrooom....The Automatic Fly Reel
Like many of you I grew up using automatic fly reels. When you are young you don't care about things like balance and weight, you just grab the rig and start casting. Automatic fly reels are great for kids because they have all those moving parts and it has a trigger for God's sake! My 11 year old can care less about fly fishing, but that automatic fly reel is a real attention grabber. I can't tell you how many times I'll look over and see him staring at the reel, watching line suck in while his popper floats down stream.
|The South Bend Oren-O-Matic|
Does this mean automatic fly reels are for kids? Nope....I found a series of high tech automatic fly reels that cost big bucks. Behold, the Vivarelli Lever Action Fly Reel! I have not actually seen a Vivarelli, but they look like they would be lighter than the old school models. Truth be told, I don't use automatic reels much anymore, but I felt they should be addressed. Go ahead and roll your eyes, but it is nice to see the evolution of an American classic - the automatic fly reel.
Vivarelli Lever Action Reel
The Pflueger Medalist
Pflueger Medalist fly reels are built like brick sh#% houses. The mechanism itself is very basic and they balance out a fly rod nicely The picture below shows a Pflueger Medalist paired with a Silaflex fiberglass rod. Beautiful isn't it?
|Pflueger 1495 - Photo by Joe Cornwall|
The Bronson Royalist
One of my favorite reels for smallmouth fishing is the Bronson Royalist. This is another very simple fly reel with very few parts. The Royalist is a dream on a 6wt rod.
|Bronson in Red|
The Royalist is by far my favorite reel for rods up to 6-7wt. Anything more than that and I switch over to Pflueger options.
The Lawson Lauertian
Here is a very cool little vintage reel that is perfect for your shorter rods. I have two of the and they work great on my 6' Canoes cannons. This is a very simple reel that was manufactured in Canada in the 1940's.
|The Lawson Laurentian Still Kickin' After 70 Years.|
Okay....Enough of my Vintage Stuff
Here is my favorite reel for contemporary rods, the Lamson Konic. This reel has all of the bells and whistles, disc drag, light weight frame, large arbor....and the price is just right! I got my Lamson Konic used for $50 and it was basically brand new. Keep your eyes open and you'll find one for a song.
|Lamson Konic - Best Deal Out Their|