The Best 7 Weight Fly Reels

Best 7 Weight Fly Reels

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A 7 weight rig is the crossover point between freshwater and saltwater fishing. This article will show you how to buy the best 7 weight fly reel suited to your needs. I also take you through 5 of my favorite saltwater ready fly reels. 

Image Product Details  
flyfisherpro-table__imageBest SaltwaterHardy SDSL 6000
  • Saltwater Ready
  • Fully Sealed Drag
  • Radiused Reel Foot
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flyfisherpro-table__imageMost AffordableRedington Behemoth 7-8
  • Suitable For Large Fish
  • Incredible Stopping Power
  • Smooth Drag
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flyfisherpro-table__imageBest SaltwaterHardy SDSL 6000
  • Affordable
  • Lightweight
  • Durable
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flyfisherpro-table__imageHatch 7 Plus Gen 2
  • Die-cast aluminum
  • Freshwater & Saltwater
  • Wide Range Of Colors
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flyfisherpro-table__imageBest DurabilityGalvan Torque T7
  • Thermoplastic Design
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Saltwater Ready
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Orvis Mirage III

orvis mirage III

Available at: Trident Fly Fishing, Amazon

  • Construction: Machined 6061 T6 bar stock aluminum
  • Finish: Type III anodizing
  • Colors: Pewter or midnight (black)
  • Drag type: Carbon and stainless steel disc drag
  • Weight: 6.2 ounces
  • Diameter: 3.875 inches
  • Spool width: not disclosed
  • Backing capacity: 100 yards 20lb dacron

The Mirage is Orvis’ most premium fly reel. It is saltwater ready, which means you can use it in the salty stuff without any issues. The fully sealed drag utilizes a combination of carbon fiber and stainless steel discs. Turn the drag knob, and you go from free spool to full lock in a single rotation.

One of my favorite features on the premium Orvis fly reels you don’t find on other manufacturer’s offerings is the radiused reel foot. This feature prevents leader or tippet kinks when the line is wrapped around the reel foot. 

The Orvis Mirage III is the lightest 7 weigh flyt reel on our list. The payoff for this is that the backing capacity is only 100 yards. Therefore, I recommend this fly reel for the angler looking for an exceptional quality freshwater reel that he/she can use from time to time on small saltwater species. If you genuinely want a saltwater specific Orvis Mirage for a 7 weight application, I recommend going one reel size up to the IV model. 

The Mirage, like most other fly reels on this list, is made in the USA and comes with a lifetime warranty to the original owner.

Hatch 7 Plus Gen 2

Hatch 7 Plus Gen 2

Available at: Amazon, Wyoming Fly Fishing, Tackle Direct

  • Construction: Machined aluminum
  • Finish: Type II anodizing
  • Colors: Black and silver, Clear and black, clear and blue, clear and green, clear and red, grey and black
  • Drag type: Stacked carbon fiber disc
  • Weight: 8.4 ounces
  • Diameter: 4 inches
  • Spool width: 1.125 inches
  • Backing capacity: 260 yards of 20lb dacron backing with a 7 weight fly line

The 7 Plus is probably Hatch’s most popular model. It’s the perfect freshwater to saltwater crossover fly reel. The 7 Plus handles large freshwater species, such as golden dorado, steelhead, peacock bass, and large carp, with ease. And, because it’s saltwater ready, it handles bonefish, permit, and small trevally like a champ.

The 7 Plus is one of the heavier 7 weight fly reels out there, which is not necessarily bad. It is built like a tank, has incredible stopping power, and will last you many years. Thanks to the large arbor and spool depth, the 7 Plus has a backing capacity of over 260 yards – which is more than ample.

One of the characteristics that stood out the most to me, after using the reel extensively in Seychelles, is the drag’s smoothness. This makes the Hatch Finatic 7 Plus such an exceptional bonefish reel. 

All Hatch Finatic fly reels come with a full lifetime warranty to the original owner, which needs to be registered within 60 days of purchase. 

Hardy SDSL 6000

Hardy SDSL 6000

Available at: Amazon

  • Construction: Machined 6061 bar stock aluminum
  • Finish: Type II anodizing
  • Colors: Silver and blue combination
  • Drag type: Stacked carbon fiber sealed drag 
  • Weight: 8.6 ounces
  • Diameter: 4 inches
  • Spool width: not disclosed
  • Backing capacity: more than 200 yards of 20lb dacron

I’ve always been a fan of the saltwater specific Hardy fly reels. First, the original Fortuna and then the Fortuna XDS had drag capacities of more than 30lbs. The new SDSL model is more affordable and lightweight, with the only real compromise being that it only has 16lb of drag capacity. This “compromise” is the reason why I rate the SDSL 6000 as one of the best 7 weight fly reels on the market. It has enough stopping power for any fish you’ll target with a 7 weight rod, is incredibly durable, and comes in at a welcome price point.

The drag knob, or regulator as Hardy calls it, is color-coded, which means you know exactly how much pressure you’re applying while fighting a fish. This feature allows you to keep the perfect balance between applying maximum pressure on the fish and looking after your tippet.

Hardy provides a five-year warranty to the original owner of all their fly reels, which must be registered within 60 days of purchase.

Redington Behemoth 7-8

redington behemoth

Available at: Trident Fly Fishing, Amazon, Wyoming Fly Fishing, Tackle Direct, Cabelas, Bass Pro Shop

  • Construction: Die-cast aluminum
  • Finish: Not disclosed
  • Colors: Black, Gunmetal, Desert, O.D. Green, and Hunter Orange
  • Drag type: Carbon fiber disc drag
  • Weight: 7.5 ounces
  • Diameter: 4 inches
  • Spool width: Not disclosed
  • Backing capacity: 200 yards of 20lb braid

Are you looking for an affordable yet capable 7 weight fly reel? The Redington Behemoth is the one for you. Redington has done an incredible job to offer this fly reel at the price point. It is very popular and comes in a wide range of colors to suit your fly rig.

Redington uses the die-cast process to construct the Behemoth. In the past, this was a severe problem because the tolerances were poor. The Behemoth’s looks to be solid, with no wobble or noticeable gaps between the spool and cage. Keep in mind that the die-cast process makes a reel more brittle, so don’t drop it on a rock or other hard surfaces.

The Behemoth 7-8 makes for an exceptional freshwater fly reel and will perform well in the salt if you mostly fish off the bow of a skiff. 

Galvan Torque T7

Galvan Torque T7

Available at: Trident Fly Fishing, Amazon

  • Construction: 6061 T6 bar stock aluminum
  • Finish: Type II anodizing
  • Colors: Green, Clear, Black, Blue, Burnt-Orange
  • Drag type: Thermoplastic and carbon disc drag
  • Weight: 6.3 ounces
  • Diameter: 3.875 inches
  • Spool width: 1.1 inches
  • Backing capacity: 150 yards of 20lb dacron

The Galvan Torque is also featured in our Best 4 Weight Fly Reel post. This, the T-7, is the exact same fly reel with the same drag system, except everything is much larger. The Torque has been around for almost 20 years, yet it remains competitive compared to fly reels introduced more recently.

But, it’s not just the specs that make it such an appealing fly reel. It is incredibly durable, especially for a saltwater reel. The main reason for this is the way Galvan incorporates thermoplastics in the design. This material is used in the drag instead of stainless steel, which other brands use. 

Galvan also doesn’t use stainless steel bearing in the Torque. The use of thermoplastic bushings that are self-lubricating and do not rust or seize over time when exposed to regular saltwater use.

Galvan offers a lifetime warranty to the original owner. However, warranty repairs cost $50.

How to Choose the Best 7 Weight Fly Reel?

how to choose the best

If you don’t necessarily like one of the five fly reels mentioned above, how do you select the best 7 weight fly reel suited to your needs? This section will show you the primary considerations to keep in mind and questions you need to answer. This process will ensure you get the right tool for the job and save you money in the long run.

Price

When you buy fly reels intended to be used on 3 or 4 weight rigs, you can afford to opt for a cheaper option as the reel will mostly be used in the freshwater environment, and drag levels are generally relatively low. However, fly reels that are to be used on 7 weight and heavier rigs need to be of the best quality you can afford, especially if you intend to use them in the salt. 

That being said, there are still some good quality fly reels that offer great value, like the Redington Behemoth, for instance.

Here is my recommendation. If you’re buying a complete saltwater 7 weight setup and you have a strict budget, buy the best reel and line you can afford and throttle back slightly on the rod. 

Application

For a 7 weight reel, there are generally two main applications, namely salt water, and fresh water. Although both types can cross over, they aren’t necessarily the best tool for the job.

For instance, a good freshwater 7 weight reel will be lightweight and have slightly less backing capacity (to keep the reel light). On the other side of the coin, a solid choice for a saltwater reel will have corrosion-resistant features, a large backing capacity, and powerful drag. 

A thirds application could be if it is used as a primary or backup reel. A primary reel will most probably be more expensive, whereas a backup reel could be more affordable for those “you never know” moments.

Being honest about the intended application of the reel is crucial to ensure you buy the right reel. 

Drag Strength and Adjustment

How much drag do you need from the reel? The answer to this question is determined by the intended application, the quarry, and physical location. In my opinion, a drag capable of delivering more than 30lbs of pressure is only usable in the 12wt plus region. For a 7wt rig, 15lb is more than enough. 

The other choice you need to make is whether you like a drag knob that’s calibrated and can go from free spool to maximum drag in one revolution. Or do you like a drag that’s strength increases more gradually, and you have to turn the knob around a couple of times.

Backing Capacity

backing capacity

A 7 weight fly reel intended for freshwater applications does not need more than 120 yards of backing. If you get anywhere near that distance, you should have started running downstream a long time ago.

A good saltwater 7 weight reel should be capable of holding more than 200 yards of backing, in my opinion. 

Arbor Size

I prefer large to ultra-large arbors. The benefits, to me, outweigh the cons by a mile. A large arbor design helps with fast line retrieval and eliminates memory build-up. 

Most 7 weight saltwater fly reels have an arbor diameter in the region of 4 inches. This gives a line retrieval rate of up to 12 inches per revolution. 

Weight

Do not buy a reel only because the salesperson has convinced you the lightest is the best. Yes, an extremely heavy reel is uncomfortable to cast the entire day, but other considerations are equally important. For instance, I would rather fish a slightly heavier reel with a reliable drag and corrosion-resistant design than an ultra-light reel that might fail on me. 

You’ll notice that the 7 weight fly reels leaning more towards the freshwater side of things are lighter. This is because they have a smaller backing capacity, they are not as robust, and the drags are, generally, less powerful.

Conclusion

Thank you for taking the time to read the article. I always recommend that anglers purchase the best quality gear they can afford, especially when you’re heading over to the salt. Buying the correct 7 weight fly reel will ensure your rig lasts you many years to come and that it performs dependably.

Please leave any comments or questions below.

Until next time. 

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