The 6 Best Beginner Fly Reels in 2023 – Buyers Guide

In this post we reviewed the best beginner fly reels in the market currently available. We included each fly reel‘s features and where to purchase them. 

When you start out fly fishing, there are a few things to consider before you can get out on the water. This mainly involves the choice of a fly rod, fly reel, and fly line. These all depend on what species of fish you will be targeting.

The basic rule is to take a fly reel that is the same weight as your fly rod eg; a 4 weight fly rod will be perfectly balanced with a 4 weight fly reel loaded with a 4 weight fly line.

These are the basic requirements to get out fly fishing.

Image Product Details  
flyfisherpro-table__imageBest BudgetMaximumCatch Tail
  • Machined Aluminum Reel
  • Smooth Drag
  • Very Affordable
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flyfisherpro-table__imageBest ValueEcho Ion Fly Reel
  • Saltwater Ready (extra TLC)
  • Maintenance-Free
  • Versatile
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flyfisherpro-table__imageBest DragLamson Liquid Fly Reels
  • Versatile
  • Concealed Drag System
  • Great Performance
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flyfisherpro-table__imageBest DesignOrvis Clearwater
  • Die Cast Aluminum
  • Perfect Fly Rod Balance
  • Powerful Drag
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flyfisherpro-table__imageBest OverallRedington BEHEMOTH Fly Reel
  • Powerful Drag System
  • Perfect Fly Rod Balance
  • Perfect for Trout Fishing
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flyfisherpro-table__imageMost VersatileEcho Bravo Fly Reel
  • Saltwater Ready
  • Carbon Fibre Disc Drag
  • Solid Aluminum Alloy Construction
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Detailed Beginner Fly Fishing Reel Reviews

Below is a selection of fly reels that would make great entry-level choices that should last a long time. Please use the below as a guideline to helping you make the right decision.

MaximumCatch Tail


MaximumCatch Tail Specs:

Available Size: 3/4, 5/6, 7/8Overall Weight: 4.4 – 4.9oz
Arbor Size: LargeMaterial: CNC Machined T6061 Aluminum
Spool Diameter: 2.91 – 3.7inColors:
Spool Capacity:Warranty: 1-Year Warranty
Drag Type: DiscCountry of Manufacture: China

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Key Features

  • Material: Stainless Steel, Aluminum
  • Handle Material: Stainless Steel, Aluminum
  • Bearing Material: Stainless Steel
  • Hand Orientation: Ambidextrous

MAxcatch is one of those fly fishing brands that is doing a super job at bringing quality affordable fly fishing equipment to the market. They offer a range of equipment, including fly reels which are of good quality and with their price tag so low, they are a very affordable choice.

The Maxcatch fly reel is CNC machined aluminum with a Teflon disc and stainless steel disc drag system that offers a smooth and immediate drag engagement.

Available in weights 3/4, 5/6, 7/8 it will cover all freshwater scenarios. It possible may be used for light saltwater but I wouldn’t recommend it. If it has had some light salt work then a good wash in freshwater should suffice.

For an in-depth analysis, be sure to check out the video review here.

Immediately noticeable is the sticking colors that the reel has in a lovely sunburn orange it looks a lot more expensive than it is. The biggest surprise of this fly reel is the fact that it’s CNC machined which means that all parts fit perfectly and at a price tag of $55 you won’t find a better deal. 

Echo Ion Fly Reel

Echo Ion

Echo Ion Specs:

Available Size: 2/3, 4/5, 6/7, 7/9, 8/10, 10/12Overall Weight: 4.8 – 9.3oz
Arbor Size: LargeMaterial: Hybrid Machined/Cast Construction
Spool Diameter: 2.9 – 4.7inColors: Black
Spool Capacity: WF3+75/20, WF5+150/20, WF7+150/20, WF9/10+250/30, WF8+200/20, WF8/9+200/20Warranty: 12 Month Limited Warranty
Drag Type: DiscCountry of Manufacture: USA

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Key Features

  • Anodized Finish
  • Entry-Level Design
  • Large Arbor
  • Hybrid Machined/Cast Construction
  • 12 Month Limited Warranty

Echo is no new name in the fly fishing world. They have been selling quality fly fishing gear for years now and are known for providing entry to moderate fly fishing equipment at affordable prices.

Their Echo Ion fly reel is no exception. With a hybrid machine cast design frame and a large arbor, they are popular choices for anglers.

The larger arbor gives you a faster line retrieval and holds more backing, which is great for still water fisherman. Ideally designed for freshwater use it can be used in saltwater with a little extra TLC.

The drag systems on these reels are maintenance-free with a very low startup resistance and no backlash.

An audible in and out click is also a nice added feature that not many modern fly reels come out with these days.

For an in-depth analysis, be sure to check out the video review here.

These fly reels are available in a 2/3 weight all the way up to 10/12 weights. The larger fly reels are a little more expensive selling for $99 but they are still great value for money regardless.

Take a look at our full Echo Ion fly reel review here.

Lamson Liquid Fly Reel

lamson liquid

Lamson Liquid Specs:

Available Size: 3+ – 9+Overall Weight: 4.2 – 6.7oz
Arbor Size: LargeMaterial: Pressure Cast Aluminum Frame and Spool
Spool Diameter: 3.34 – 4.65inColors: Smoke
Spool Capacity: 100 – 250ydsWarranty: Waterworks-Lamson Lifetime Warranty
Drag Type: ConicalCountry of Manufacture: USA

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Key Features

  • Polyurethane Case and Spool
  • Liquid Courage Design
  • Pressure Cast Aluminum Frame and Spool
  • Large Arbor
  • Waterworks-Lamson Lifetime Warranty

Beginner fly reels can sometimes be thought of as cheap and never great quality but Lamson fly reels are changing that viewpoint rather quickly.

The Lamson liquid series fly reel has come onto the market and at its price is a bargain deal. It’s targeting first-time buyers, providing them with excellent quality.

With the frame of the reel being Die cast and the crucial parts of the drag system is CNC machined in the USA the reel feels a lot more expensive than it actually is.

Available in a smoke and vapor color they really are attractive-looking reels.

For an in-depth analysis, be sure to check out the video review here.

The concealed drag system prevents grit or sand from entering, ensuring a smooth and fast engaging drag. The large arbor allows for minimal line memory and you can load a little extra backing on for those big fish with enough room for your fly line to fit comfortably.

Orvis Clearwater

orvis clearwater

Orvis Clearwater Specs:

Available Size: 4, 7Overall Weight: 5.5 – 6.3oz
Arbor Size: StandardMaterial: Aluminum
Spool Diameter: 3 3/8 – 3 7/8inColors: Gray
Spool Capacity: 100 – 200ydsWarranty: Orvis Lifetime Warranty
Drag Type: Stacked DiscCountry of Manufacture: USA

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Key Features

  • Powder-Coat Finish
  • Cast Design and Clearwater Affordability
  • Large Arbor
  • Stacked Disc Drag
  • Orvis Lifetime Warranty

Orvis has done well with their Clearwater fly reel series. These reels are Die cast aluminum which makes them super light with less bulk. This is an extremely attractive feature that many anglers look for these days.

The Orvis Clearwater reel has a large arbor that stores the fly line well and minimalizes line memory.

It balances the matching weight fly rod perfectly which is an important aspect that is often overlooked.

The powerful inline, Rulon to stainless, stacked disc drag is the most impressive part of this Orvis clearwater series as it has a very smooth start-up to protect that tippet with enough power to stop big fish.

Available in a 4-6 weight and a 7-9 weight most of your trout fishing would be covered and possibly some light saltwater fishing as well.

This is a great beginner fly reel that can be added to anyone’s beginner fly fishing setup, but could also double as a backup reel for a guide as well.

For an in-depth analysis, be sure to check out the video review here.

The Clearwater’s 6wt is one of the best 6 weight fly reel in the market today.

Redington BEHEMOTH Fly Reel

redington behemoth

Redington BEHEMOTH Specs:

Available Size: 4/5, 5/6, 7/8, 9/10, 11/12Overall Weight: 5.2 – 11.4oz
Arbor Size: LargeMaterial: Die-Cast Aluminum
Spool Diameter: 3.4 – 4.7inColors: Bronze, Gunmetal, O.D Green, Black, Desert
Spool Capacity: 75 – 250ydsWarranty: Redington Warranty
Drag Type: Carbon fiberCountry of Manufacture: USA

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Key Features

  • Five Color Finish
  • Drag-Centered Design
  • Large Arbor
  • Die-Cast Aluminum
  • Redington Warranty

Redington makes some of the best fly fishing gear available and their reels are no exception.

The Redington Behemoth fly reel is a die cast reel that has a very powerful drag system. Over the years Redington Behemoth reels have pushed the combinations of good-looking aesthetics and functional parts that last. Offering a good-looking reel that performs like a more premium fishing reel.

A large arbor spool and heavy-duty carbon fiber drag system give this reel reliability and strength that is unprecedented for its price range.

The drag is very forgiving, smooth, and is enough to get you started.

Available in a 5 weight which is great for trout fishing, ideal for beginners and experienced anglers alike. Redington also makes these reels in larger weights for those anglers who need more line capacity when chasing those larger fish.

What’s also a great option is to buy a rod and reel kit from Redington, which comes with the correct weight fly line to reel to the rod. The rod and reel setup is perfectly balanced so you can get out on the water and fish immediately.

For an in-depth analysis, be sure to check out the video review here.

For a more information about the Behemoth, see our post here on Redingdton Behemoth review.

Echo Bravo Fly Reel


Echo Bravo Specs:

Available Size: 7/9, 8/10, 10/12Overall Weight: 8.5 – 9.2oz
Arbor Size: LargeMaterial: Aluminum Alloy Construction
Spool Diameter: 4.25 – 4.75inColors: Black
Warranty: 12-Month Limited WarrantyWarranty: 12 Month Limited Warranty
Drag Type: DiscCountry of Manufacture: USA

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Key Features

  • Anodized Finish
  • Aluminum Alloy Construction
  • Revolutionary Design
  • Large Arbor
  • 12 Month Limited Warranty

The Echo Bravo reel series has a revolutionary reel drag system.

It has a new saltwater safe pit stop drag system allowing for easy cleaning after those long days out on the salt.

The Carbon fiber disc drag system has an extremely smooth performance that is very budget-friendly to the angler. With fewer surface areas due to the porting, it makes for a very light reel with an overall attractive design.

With a large arbor and a solid aluminum alloy construction, the reel can be used on any rod and it will function well.

For an in-depth analysis, be sure to check out the video review here.

Designed to fish the saltwater, the reels are made in a 7/8 weight, 9/10, and an 11/12 weight ideal for those big saltwater fish. 

How to Buy the Best Beginner Fly Reel For You

Brand selection

There are a few things to look for when a beginner is buying their first fly reel. I always recommend trying to buy a fly reel from one of the best fly fishing brands out there. Even if it’s a fly fishing outfitter such as Cabela’s and not a fly reel specific brand (they tend to be a bit pricer) but at least you will get some kind of warranty on your fly reel purchase.


You also want to decide on your arbor size. Arbor is the distance from the center spindle to the base of the spool. Standard arbor, mid arbor, and large arbor are your choices.

A standard arbor fly reel is perfect for all basic small stream trout fly fishing requirements, with a mid arbor fly reel being a little wider holding a little more backing. The large arbor is the widest and largest arbor allowing the angler a greater line and backing capacity, faster line retrieval, and minimal line memory

Production method

Most of the entry-level fly reels will be made by a Die-Cast production method which basically means that they are cast from a mould and made in bulk. There is nothing wrong with them and this method of production has allowed us to get very inexpensive fly reels to market.

The CNC machined method produces a much more refined reel which is generally more expensive. That said you do find very affordable reels with both technologies applied in their design.

beginner fly reels


Drag is another thing that should be considered. Again with most entry-level fly reels, their drags will be ‘concealed disc drag systems’ these are great as they don’t let any grit into the drag but they aren’t 100% watertight so always make sure you get as much water out of the drag system once off the water.


The weight reel should always match the rod weight. You may hear for overloading or stepping up in lines but that is for a later stage.


What fly reel weight should I buy for beginners?

For beginners, a fly reel weight of 5/6 or 6/7 is recommended. This will provide good line capacity and a comfortable balance on your rod.

Are budget fly reels for beginners worth it?

Yes, budget fly reels are a great option for beginners. As long as you buy from a reputable brand and do your research to make sure you’re getting a quality product, budget fly reels can be a great way to get started with fly fishing without breaking the bank.

How much should I spend on a beginner fly reel?

It depends on your budget and the type of fishing you plan to do. Generally, beginner fly reels can be found for as low as $50, but you can find higher-quality reels for up to $200 or more.

What weight fly reel is easy to use?

For most beginners, a 5/6 or 6/7 weight fly reel is the easiest to use. This weight offers a good balance between line capacity and comfort when casting.


As a beginner, it’s important to decide on what you want to fish for then choose the appropriate reel weight from there.

I would choose the Orvis Clearwater, it offers me the correct weight reels that I usually fish with. The large arbor and Teflon drag are also features that I like. The MAxcatch Tail and Echo Ion would be my next choices for the best beginner reel.

Bigger outdoor stores like Cabela’s fly shop may offer a fly rod and reel special and is worth looking into. They would also sell various other fly fishing gear.

Photo of author

Kyle Knight

I’m a South African based fly fisherman who has been fly fishing and tying for the past 20 years. I enjoy targeting numerous fresh water species ranging from trout, carp and bass as well as our estuary species Grunter, Garrick and Kob. I have a funny thing that I can only use flies I have tied myself to catch fish.

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