We are not experts, but we fish a lot and have a lot of gear. When looking to buy a new reel, there are a few things to consider. With all being said, it comes down to a few different factors: drag, line capacity, and materials.
Having a solid drag is not only important in saltwater, but it can be important is fresh water too. There is something called drag inertia which is the start up force needed to start the drag. Some reels have a higher inertia than the actual set drag. Make sure the drag is smooth to avoid unwanted added pressure which can break off a fish. We have seen this when fishing with lighter tippet. One thing to note is rod bend increases pressure on the fish considerable. So, do you need a reel that has smooth drag for trout fishing. We think it is a nice consideration when fighting a big fish to have a smooth drag versus trying to keep pressure with your hands. If you are fishing for freshwater species like carp, pike, bass, a nice drag is a must…same with salt water. Trident fly fishing goes in depth in an article a few years ago. – https://www.tridentflyfishing.com/blog/8-weight-fly-reel-shootout-and-review-whats-the-best-saltwater-fly-reel/
Make sure you have enough line for the job. Trout fishing requires little to no backing and a large arbor reel is not needed. On the other hand, saltwater species and carp require large spools to carry more backing. We do use large arbor reels for trout though. Large arbor reels pick up more line per crank which comes in handy!
Sealed drags are a must in saltwater to prevent corrosion. We would recommend a milled body made of metal which can be found in a lot of reels these days. Stay away from plastic reels because they will break…sorry to say it. Also, some metal is softer than others. Reels like the Redington Behemoth have a softer metal which can break and will get scratched easier.
REELS WE USE:
We like large arbor reels with smooth drag. There are so many different companies to choose from. Personally, I use Orvis Hydros reels on all my rods due to price point and unbelievable value for money. Elijah has Sage reels, Ross reels, an Allen reel, and an Orvis one.
In the end, buy a quality reel that will last a long time. The last thing you want to do is spend money on a trip and your reel fails…
Email us if you have any specific questions – firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by – Alex Howell