The Best Saltwater Fly Fishing Reels
If you are in the market for the best saltwater fly fishing reel, you have a lot of choices. Like the sport they’re made for, fly fishing reels have a certain aesthetic, almost artistic quality. These reels are simple but elegant. They look good, and they even sound good when you operate them. Of course, when you select a fly fishing reel, you want more than just aesthetics.
You want the best reel that will provide you with reliability for use in saltwater as well as durability that will make it hold up for years. This becomes even more important when you are shopping for saltwater fly fishing reels, which in addition to all the pressures of fly fishing are also subject to the corrosive influences of the marine environment.
We list the best selection of high-quality saltwater fly fishing reels that look and sound good. More importantly, they will work smoothly and reliably, performing under the stresses of harsh saltwater conditions and the tough, toothy critters that live there.
What to Look For in the best saltwater fly fishing reel
There are some things you should pay special attention to when selecting a saltwater fly fishing reel. You want a reel that is well put together, of course, and made of materials that will help it withstand corrosion. A quality, smooth drag is important in any fly reel, of course, but it becomes even more crucial for saltwater angling, where big, tough species like tarpon, sailfish and marlin can and will make withering runs that will put your equipment to the test.
You should also consider saltwater fly fishing reels with large arbors. They give you the increased line retrieval that will help you attract the attention of fast-moving saltwater gamefish. These reels also have higher line capacity, which you’ll need for playing tough saltwater species.
We list saltwater fly fishing reels from leading manufacturers such as Abel, Hatch and Temple Fork Outfitters. We have reels suitable for every saltwater fly fishing pursuit, whether you’re targeting false albacore, stripers and blues or going after big game like sailfish and marlin. You’ll find fly fishing reels here to suit any skill level, from beginning to advanced, as well as any budget.
Van Staal VF
Introducing the all new Van Staal VF Series Fly Reels, engineered to be the lightest yet strongest fly reels with 3 models ranging from a 8HD capable of targeting smaller fish in the flats to a 12HD able of taking down tarpon, sailfish, and monster GTs.
VF Fly Reels are based on the same foundation as all Van Staal Reels, machined from 6061-T6 aluminum and fully sealed and waterproof, creating an incredibly durable and reliable product. Van Staal purposely engineered the strength into each reel and then machined the weight out by using a unique pentagon shape and machining the drag cartridge into the frame.
The sealed drag is uniquely supported by two radial bearings top and bottom with an additional anti-reverse bearing resulting in a reel that is incredibly rigid. Available in 3 saltwater models VF8HD, VF10HD and VF12HD, there is a Van Staal VF Fly Reel to suit any of your fly fishing needs.
Van Staal VF Questions:
How much drag pressure for the Van Staal VF8HD?
The VF8HD model has 30+ pounds of drag.
What type of drag is used in the VF10HD?
Stacked disk is the breaking system for this reel.
Can you switch hand retrieve on the Van Staal VF?
Yes, the hand retrieve can be switched.
Tibor Signature Series
Once again, Tibor Reels sets the standard for quality, design and innovation with the Tibor Signature Series. 2011 marked the 45th Anniversary of Tibor Reel Corporation, and to celebrate, Tibor introduced a revolutionary new line of reels that are the pinnacle of 45 years of designing and manufacturing the world’s finest and best saltwater fly fishing reels.
Completely ventilated spool and frame. Robust incoming and outgoing clicker sound. Innovative, waterproof sealed drag system. Easy change from left to right hand retrieve. Will never overrun while stripping line.
Signed by Master reel designer and fly fisherman Ted “Tibor” Juracsik, the elegant and efficient design of the Tibor Signature Series consists of very few parts. It features a completely ventilated spool and frame that keeps the reel cool during long, smoking runs and provides a robust incoming and outgoing clicker sound. Available in five sizes, the Tibor Signature Series delivers the same tough standards that have earned Tibor over 950 world records – more than any other fly reel.
– The completely ventilated spool and frame keeps the reel cool during long, smoking runs.
– Boasts a robust incoming and outgoing clicker sound.
– Unique mechanical clutch system allows easy change from right to left hand retrieve.
– Features Tibor’s QuickChange™ spool system which involves only a single moving part.
– Innovative sealed drag system is waterproof, self-maintaining and still the strongest in the industry.
– The drag system constantly applies seal pressure while in free spool so the reel will never overrun while stripping the line.
– Comes equipped with our legendary silky smooth micro grain cork that is constantly lubricated. On the rare occasion that maintenance is necessary, the system can be easily disassembled, yet still remain under warranty – unlike many other sealed-drag reels on the market.
– Made from solid bar stock aluminum.
– Each reel is serialized for identification and protection. The serial # is located UNDER the nameplate on top of the frame next to the reel stand.
– Features a personalized Nameplate engraved free.
– Our Delrin Handle offers positive gripping and quick release. The Signature 11-12S standard with our Gorilla Handle. SpeedHandle™ Spool option available.
– Comes with an extra thick Neoprene Case for convenient storage and transportation.
– Finishes: Frost Silver, Frost Black, Satin Gold, Jet Black, Royal Blue, Crimson, Aqua & Graphite Gray
– Available in 5 sizes.
– Made and assembled in the U.S.A.
After each use, Tibor Signature Reels should be rinsed thoroughly in fresh, warm water. Periodically, especially after extensive exposure to saltwater, the line and backing should be removed and wiped down with a wet cloth to remove salt. To disassemble a reel for cleaning, the only tool required is a penny. All reels are lubricated at the factory prior to assembly and relubrication is generally not necessary. Tibor Graphite Lube may be used to lubricate the cork drag disc.
Please note: Exceeding the recommended capacity by over-filling the spool and/or putting line on too tightly or with too much tension may damage the spool and is not covered under warranty. Please refer to the capacity chart above as your guide. Monofilment line is not recommended for use on Tibor reels. Should you have any questions about backing for your reel, please contact your authorized Tibor Dealer.
Conversion from Left to Right Hand Retrieve
Tibor Signature reels are shipped from the factory with right hand retrieve unless specified. An authorized dealer can easily convert any Tibor reel from right to left hand retrieve for you. You may also convert the reel yourself by reversing the Clutch Dogs. Complete warranty, maintenance and conversion information is included with each reel.
Tibor Signature Series Questions:
Can I re-finish my reel?
Sorry, but this cannot be done.
Where is the serial number located on my reel?
The serial number for the Tibor Signature Series is located UNDER the nameplate at the top of the reel frame next to the reel stand.
Billy Pate Anti-Reverse
The standard for the high performance fly fishing reel.
1975 was a hallmark year for the fly fishing world. It was then that Ted Juracsik introduced his first Anti-Reverse Tarpon Reel designated the Billy Pate.
No other reel has matched the Pate’s durability and dependability day in day out, year after year, regardless of conditions,locale or species. This precision piece of equipment is designed to withstand the most demanding saltwater fly fishing environments.
This series now includes three Anti-Reverse models, for rod weights 6-12. No other reel has matched the Billy Pate’s durability and dependability day in day out, year after year, regardless of conditions, locale or species. This precision piece of equipment is designed and constructed to withstand the most demanding fly fishing environments. As with all reels that leave Ted’s shop, the Billy Pate is virtually maintenance free.
While there are over 350 World Records that attest to its performance, you don’t have to be interested in records to appreciate this reel. If you know your fly fishing history, you know this is the reel that set the hook.
– Classic Anti-Reverse design.
– Large diameter impregnated Main Drag insures ulta-smooth and long wearing performance.
– Double clickers provide two distinct tones to designate line entering or leaving the spool.
– Double anti-reverse dogs provide positive, fail-safe action on all models.
– Rim control for additional braking on all models.
– Our own Backing Groove on each spool helps anglers accurately determine backing capacity.
– Made from solid bar stock aluminum.
– Easy grip, impact resistant Delrin Handle.
– Corresponding Gamefish on each model. Custom engraving is also available.
– Comes with an extra thick Neoprene Case for easy storage and transportation.
– Finishes: Satin Gold Frame / Jet Black Spool
– Each reel is serialized for identification and protection.
– Available in 3 sizes
– Made and assembled in the U.S.A.
After each use, Billy Pate reels should be rinsed thoroughly in fresh water. Periodically, especially after extensive exposure to saltwater, the line and backing should be removed and wiped down with a wet cloth to remove salt.
All reels are lubricated at the factory prior to assembly and relubrication is generally not necessary. Tibor Graphite Lube may be used to lubricate the cork drag disc. Complete warranty and maintenance information is included with each reel, or download complete instructions and a parts list in PDF format here.
Service Tool Information
A service tool is included with all new Billy Pate Fly Reels. This tool facilitates quick spool changes or futher takedowns. Features of the Service Tool include:
– A wrench for the star nut over the handle on anti-reverse models.
– A properly sized screwdriver blade to prevent screw head damage.
Please note: Exceeding the recommended capacity by over-filling the spool and/or putting line on too tightly or with too much tension may damage the spool and is not covered under warranty. Please refer to the capacity chart above as your guide. Monofilment line is not recommended for use on Tibor reels.
Billy Pate Anti-Reverse Questions:
How do I convert my Billy Pate Reel from left to right hand retrieve or vice-a-versa?
To convert Billy Pate reels from left hand to right hand retrieve (or vice-a-versa), the main gear and drag parts must be replaced by our Tibor’s reel technicians.
Set the drag and hold on. This saltwater fly fishing reel is designed to perform when targeting big game.
Limitless Fly Reels are the most technologically advanced fly reels on the planet. Available in 5 sizes, Limitless Fly Reels feature an innovative fully sealed Gasket Drag System (GDS) that is impenetrable by the elements.
All Limitless Reels are fully machined from high-grade aerospace aluminum, and incorporate a multi-axis machining technique that redistributes metal to key stress points.
Limitless Fly Reels offer an all-new integrated reel foot, unbeatable line capacity, easy L/R conversion, an insane arbor size for maximum retrieval rate, and remain some of the lightest and strongest fly reels available.
There’s almost nothing better than the moment when the water explodes and all hell breaks loose. You’re on with a monster tarpon, and that’s never an easy fight. Permit, cobia, GT, roosterfish? It doesn’t get any easier, unless of course you’re fishing with a reel specifically designed for big game inshore fly fishing like the Cheeky Limitless.
Versatility is king in fly fishing and that’s exactly what the Cheeky Limitless is all about. Whether you’re stalking redfish and bones in Florida, chasing blitzing stripers and albies off Montauk, or shaking ice out of the guides in pursuit of steelhead and Atlantic salmon, the Cheeky Limitless is the fly reel of choice for anglers in the know.
The Cheeky Limitless sports a massive spool diameter and utilizes a beveled, multi-axis machining technique, making the Cheeky Limitless stronger without adding unnecessary weight. Couple that with a fully sealed Gasket Drag System to keep the elements out and you’ve got the ultimate all-around saltwater fly reel and the ideal weapon for your big freshwater excursions.
The Cheeky Limitless incorporates several features that make it stronger without adding weight. From beveled, multi-axis machining to the torque-dispersing reel foot, the Cheeky Limitless can handle the toughest fights from the gnarliest fish. Plus, the fully sealed Gasket Drag System provides lock down strength and the ultimate smoothness for those blistering runs. Be prepared with the inshore saltwater fly reel of choice for fishermen in the know.
I picked up this reel like so many others as my go to for saltwater big game. I’d like to say I have put her thru the wringer but I have yet to really tax this reel. I like the drag and the way she handles on my 12wt and see this being put thru the wringer on my upcoming Gulf trip. More on this one later!
I purchased this reel to hunt albys, bonito, bass, blues, tarpon & football bluefin/yellowfin. I’ve made it about halfway through my list of things I would like to catch with this reel in only 6 months. Most impressive part of this reel is how smooth it is and how it can hold the amount of line I need for the larger fish and still feel light enough to fish all day without fatigue. Whatever size reel you get, you know it will be smooth and balance your cast which will allow you to fish all day.
I live in Florida and have fished most fly reels out there. I’ve been fishing this particular reel since it came out in January of 2017 and it’s held up on countless tarpon, and some nice permit too. I have to say I was somewhat on the fence on Cheeky before ordering, but I am a total convert now. Just picked up a boost reel for some of the freshwater fishing I do, as well as a Cheeky Limitless for bones.
Cheeky Limitless Fly Reels are the world’s most technologically advanced fly fishing reels. Limitless Fly Reels are fully machined from high-grade aerospace aluminum, feature a fully sealed, impenetrable Gasket Drag System (GDS), and incorporate a multi-axis machining technique to redistribute metal to key stress points.
Cheeky Limitless Fly Reels offer unbeatable line capacity, an insane arbor size for maximum retrieval rate, easy L/R conversion, and an all-new integrated reel foot, while remaining some of the strongest and lightest fly reels on the market.
Cheeky Limitless Features:
– Fully sealed Gasket Drag System (Cheeky GDS)
– Integrated, torque-dispersing reel foot
– Beveled machining increases strength w/o adding weight
– Fully machined high-grade aluminum
– Retrieve up to 14.75” of line per revolution
– Lightweight design (10.9 oz)
– MAX Arbor (4.75” diameter)
– B2 Backing Channel for extra line capacity
– Quick change spool and simple L/R retrieve conversion
– Reel case included
Cheeky Limitless Questions:
How much does the Limitless 475 Fly Reel weigh?
The Cheeky Limitless 475 weighs 10.9 oz.