Part VIII: Fly Fishing for beginners – Reels

Posted by Christopher Paine on

The reel is one of the things that you seldom think about when out fishing, I take the stance that it is just there to hold line. But when it breaks in the middle of landing a large salmon than it gets you thinking. Reels are very well designed and made well for the most part. With very little care the reel can last a lifetime.

The reels function is two main ones:

  • Store line, salmon are known for long runs, and you need every inch of that line when fighting a large salmon.
  • Like the first point it is fun to see that fish take line off the reel. Back in the day the old timers were limited to only 20 feet of line and even farther back in time where the line was tied to the end of the rod.

Of course as you get better and better at landing or catching fish, you do not need heavier tackle like heavier line or rod. You can land the larger fish with lighter tackle as you skills improve…

You can find plenty of free advice at the tackle shop. One shop wanted to try to sell me a $1600 fly rod? I asked does it catch more fish and the salesman replied “No, but I love selling them!” So if you buy cheap equipment like reels and or rods the will fail. The more expensive will last you a life time. I fish with big guns #8 nine foot rod. That just me, I grew up on the coast and using deep sea fishing gear, so I like heavy gear. But if you skimp on the cheap stuff it will not last long…

Fly Reels

The fly reels is a very simple tool many times similar than a spin casting reel. Just a handle and a drag. The reel can be reversed for left and right handers. I like to hold my rod in my right hand and reel with my left hand. I am right handed some prefer the opposite. Instruction come with the reel to change it hand or ask the sales counter if they can help you with the task.

Fly reels job

As a boy in the country woods of Maine I had a favorite fishing hole behind the house tucked back in the woods. When I first was allowed to venture out there I just had some line and a stick. Never caught a thing but still was fun. I would wind any extra line on the butt end of that stick. When it was time to fish just unwind and flick the hook and bait out there.

The first purpose for a reel is to store line I keep reminding you of this obvious fact. I still remember also as a boy my dad had an old bamboo pole on the porch, with this thick coarse line tied to the end. I don’t think I caught anything with that rod either. The reel has another purpose too tire the fish down to land. A device called a drag is built in to provide some resistance to the fish when he is trying to run long distances. Many times I will have a pile of line at my feet and will crank on the reel as fast as I can to get all that line back into the reel. That way the fish is fighting the drag which makes the landing a lot more delicate.

Choice of reels

So basically the fly reel is a single action reel, one turn of the crank handle is equal to one revolution of the spool. Some reels are built with an anti-reverse after the fish takes the line the spool does not turn, does not sound like a good idea to me. You can buy a reel with multiplier reels that act just like a spin casting reel. But the simple single action reel is the most popular and is all I need, keep it simple…

Fly fishing can be a reel drag
Most reels equipped with a drag which is set at the factory, can be heard by a simple clicking sound when you line is tight to the fish and he is taking off. This also keeps the reel from turning too quickly and tangling line. Some drags are like disc brakes as the reel turns a leather pad presses against the spool. The reels with disk drags are mainly use to fight big fish like salmon, which with the disc drag it is applied in a more smooth and fluid way. The goal is to provide very steady tension on the fish to prevent the line from breaking.

Hand is a tool

You can use a combination of tools including your hand to produce drag on that fish:

  • Reel drag
  • Holding the rod tip up high, the spring of the rod acts as a tensioner to increase drag
  • Your hand as a brake pad

You should quickly get a grasp on how important all three of these bullet points are and how to apply them all at once. You do not want to grab the line, may be at first once the hook is set but then quickly get the fish on the reel to apply these techniques. So good luck with these techniques.

Tight Lines




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