Best Saltwater Fly Fishing Reel 2020 – Review & Buying Guide

If you are the person who is a fan of saltwater fly fishing, then you are required a very strong, long-lasting, and good reel that you can rely on. Looking for the best saltwater fly fishing reel for the money in 2020? You have come to the right place!

Quick Overview - Best Saltwater Fly Fishing Reel 2020

Buying Guide

Saltwater reels require some extra toughness as compared to freshwater reels. There are a variety of reels available in the market, but the problem is to choose the one that suits your budget and fishing style. You can buy a cheap fly reel or an expensive one, but here money is not the only factor you should be concerned about. More than that, you must learn about important factors while buying a reel.


It is very important to buy a reel having durable material because nothing ruins a reel faster than saltwater exposure. If proper precautions are not considered while buying or using the reel for saltwater fly-fishing, then in no time saltwater will see into every little part of your reel and will ruin it completely, then it will be of no use for you.

In the past, it is a very lengthy procedure to clean the reel after every use. It has to be scrubbed and cleaned after every single use, but now the time is so fast that we do not have time for this. So, it is best to go for corrosion-resistant material while buying a reel for saltwater fly-fishing.

Saltwater reel manufacturers are now very serious about the materials being used in the construction of the reels. They are using anti-corrosive materials in all the reels being constructed. Most of the modern models of reels are being made from machined aluminum and anodized it afterward to increase its life span and corrosion resistance.

So, buying a saltwater fly reel is not just the price to keep in mind; more importantly, it is the material it is being made of for its long-last working and maintenance.

Sealed Drag

The component most at the risk of getting damaged on the reel is the drag. At the same time, it is the component you must rely on during the flight band landing a fish. Corrosive salt water is the top enemy of reel drag, decreasing the performance and durability of the reel.

That's why all the reels being manufactured for saltwater fly-fishing features fully sealed drag systems to keep it safe and long-lasting. A fully-sealed drag system is safe to use. Dirt or sand cannot stop anglers from fishing.

Arbor Size

The term Arbor means the diameter of the spool. All the reels that are considered ideal for saltwater fly-fishing feature large Arbors. The reason behind this is to make the line retrieval rate faster. You don't have to make too many turns if your gear features a large arbor, and it is also very handy while catching a big fish. It gives you more line and backing capacity, which benefits you when you catch a fish, and it tries to run away.


When you are in the field catching a fish of 150-pound say tarpon, a very larger amount of pressure and stress is placed on the reel. The frame of the reel can be damaged, break, and bend out of shape while facing such huge stress.

To cope with all the negative outcomes while fighting a large fish, your saltwater fly reel must have a strong, tough, and stiff frame. Modern models of fly reels incorporate sturdy frames without making the reel heavy and impossible to carry.

Backing Capacity

Most fly reels have only 100ft long lines that are not suitable if you are catching a fast swimming saltwater fish. So, you have to make sure that there is plenty of backing capacity when your fish tries to run away.

The most durable and affordable material being used for fly reel backing is Thin Braided Dacron. Its small diameter is a blessing that you can add hundreds of yards of line to your reel. Even if your fish runs away from you, the benefit is that you won't run out of line.


The user-friendly functioning of a reel is very important to make the most out of fishing. When we consider fly reels, in this case, it refers to the handle and drag of the reel. Are they comfortable? Easy to use? From our experience, the handles should belong.

The drag knob should be strong, have grip, and should be large to work easily with quick drag adjustments.

Fly Reel-Strong and Lightweight

If you decided to catch a tarpon or some other large saltwater fish with your fly rod, you must test the firmness of your fly reel. It should be strong enough to bear the stress and pressure. Always go for the fly reel that is well-designed and well-constructed and won't disappoint you at all.

A strong fly reel does not mean that it should be heavy. You should go for a fly reel that is strong but also light in weight for easy handling. So, you can make the most out of it. If your reel is light in weight, it is easy to carry for long distances, and also you don't get tired, even fishing for a long time. There should be a balance between firmness and weight of a fly reel for ideal fishing.


Last and most important factor for long life proper functioning of fly reel. Saltwater fly reels require very little maintenance, all thanks to fully sealed construction designs. If you buy the reels build with corrosion-resistance material and are fully sealed, then minor maintenance will do wonders.

If you buy the reel having no corrosion-free material, so a proper cleaning after every saltwater fishing trip is essential for the long life of the reel, if not, you'll end up with loss, nothing else. So, these are the most important factor you should consider while buying a saltwater fly-fishing reel.

The Best Best Saltwater Fly Fishing Reels – Our Top Picks

Here we have compiled the reviews on some of the best saltwater fly-fishing reels you could find without wasting time. Plus, we have also discussed the important factors you should consider while buying the reel without getting confused and panic. 

Here are our top 3 reviews on the best saltwater fly-fishing reels you could find in the market. Find out how each of the following described reel works and if it is the right choice to buy one according to your budget and style. Let’s not wait any longer! Here we go.

people fishing at ocean with some of the best saltwater reels and rods

The Best All Around Saltwater Fly Fishing Reel

Best All Around Saltwater Fly Fishing Reel



  • Fast line retrieval
  • Sturdy but light in weight
  • Easy to carry
  • Smooth
  • Anti-corrosion
  • Drag knobs are complexed

The first on our list is Orvis Hydros SL. It is best known for its high-quality finish. It has never disappointed its users when it comes to saltwater fly-fishing. The Hydros has a proper service system to make the reels light in weight, better and bigger, especially for saltwater fly-fishing. The design of this reel is strong, tough, and long-lasting.

Also, Orvis has done quite a great job in eradicating the non-essential weight from the reels and has improved so much over time. These specifications helped Orvis Hydro SL reel to stand in the competition with other reels in the market.

Also, the product quality is strong enough to perform flawlessly in saltwater fly-fishing. And at the same time, it’s light in weight, which makes it easy to travel with to the fishing spot. You are getting so much in quite a reasonable money.

Some of the other features of this reel are sealed disc drag system, adjustable drag, fast line retrieval. All these features make Orvis Hydros SL reel best pick for saltwater fly-fishing. It is easy and delightful to use this reel; also, the cherry on the top is super smooth. If you are the one who is looking for a reel that has the best balance between durability, strength, toughness, and smoothness, then this beauty is just the perfect gear for you. Add this on your list right now.

Features and Specs

  • The sealed disc drag system
  • Aluminum body
  • Large Arbor and a narrow spool
  • 3X stronger drag
  • Asymmetric drag Knob

The Best Value Saltwater Fly Fishing Reel

Best Value Saltwater Fly Fishing Reel



  • Light in weight
  • Affordable despite quality
  • Corrosion-resistance
  • Smooth drag
  • Not fully sealed
  • Can change from light to heavy drag accidentally

It is very easy to ignore this reel at this price because it is very low as compared to other reels, but you must give it a second look! It is practially unheard of how Piscifun Sword is so affordable and has a high-end finish at the same time, making it THE choice for a cheap saltwater fly fishing reel.

As it is made from CNC machined aluminum alloy, its strong, light in weight, and is corrosion-resistant. The Arbor of this reel is designed in a way that gives you a smooth drag and fast line retrieval. The whole product is up to the mark, but there is just a small flaw in the design is that it is very easy to turn the drag knob from heavy to light accidentally.

But again, for this affordable price Piscifun Sword is a perfect pick, especially if you are a relative beginner or do not have a larger budget to spend on fishing gear. It gets the job done beautifully and offers all the features a beginner or intermediate angler will need. At the same time, fly-fishing with the reel not being fully sealed, you must be very careful with the cleaning of the reel for the maintenance and durability of the gear.

Features and Specs

  • CNC machined aluminum alloy made
  • Mid-arbor construction design
  • Easy-grip and strong building

The Best Travel Saltwater Fly Fishing Reel

Best Travel Saltwater Fly Fishing Reel



  • Eye-catching design
  • Pocket-friendly price
  • V-shaped spool
  • Easy to travel with
  • The drag knob is not very long-lasting

This reel is best made for anglers looking to catch heavy fish. It is one of the best saltwater fly-fishing reels. Redington Behemoth is on top right now in production, and you will be amazed at how it works. It performs like no other reels.

It’s power-packed wow performance won’t let you down in catching a large salmon or tarpon. The toughness, strength, and the drag of this product are just beyond belief. Plus, you’ll have no hindrance in landing big fish with this reel as it works wonder. These reels are perfect for anglers, no matter beginner or professional. Moreover, the price is so pocket-friendly makes saltwater fly-fishing easy for anglers having budget issues.

Redington Behemoth reel having large Arbor and V-shaped spool allow anglers to catch large fish and gives plenty of control when fish tries to run away. Unique spool shape saves you from irritating line memory when you cast your rod. And, it is the best choice to balance out the tough 10wt or 12wt rods. 

No doubt, it is one of the well-designed and well-constructed reels and has a very high-end finish. The only drawback is that its drag knob can be shaky at times. It is a little less in quality as compared to the rest of the product and not very light in weight as well, which is not good. Despite all these factors, we still consider Behemoth one of the best reels for saltwater fly-fishing. It is easy to travel with Behemoth and serve any angler beginner to pro well in saltwater fly-fishing.

Features and Specs

  • Adjustable drag made from carbon fiber
  • The unique die-cast construction style
  • Large Arbor design speeds up retrieve
  • Easy drag knob adjustment

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

While talking about the backing, you don’t need the backing of more than 100 meters; just on the rare occasions of dealing with big fish, you might need a 200-300-meter backing.

If you are out there trying to catch a small or medium-sized fish, then you don’t need disc drag reel. But if you are fishing a large saltwater fish, then yes buy the reel with disc drag system.

Generally, multiple action reels are preferred for saltwater fly-fishing. On the Gulf and Atlantic sides spinning reels is a good option. West coast makes good use of single-action reels. Another option to consider are baitcasting reels.

Happy Saltwater Fishing!

So, it’s a wrap here. No matter you are a beginner fly fisher or a pro fly fisher heading out for saltwater fly-fishing, you make sure to have the perfect fly reel with you. Saltwater fishing is different from freshwater fishing, so you need to get full knowledge about this first before investing in fly reels.

The guide is pretty much straightforward and explains all the major factors you should keep in mind while buying a saltwater fly reel.  Now its time for you to get your hands on the model you think is best for you. And get out in the field for some extraordinary fishing!