Parts of A Fly Reel

Parts of A Fly Reel
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Do you know the key to successfully catching fish? It’s like making friends with your fly fishing equipment and getting to know it better than a spouse! I’m an angler, therefore I’m constantly on the lookout for knowledge on my gear. And advise all novice fishers to do the same. This article will explain the various components of a fly reel and their respective purposes.

However, let me first give a little explanation of what a fly reel is and what it performs in order to set the stage for my dissection of the fly reel elements.

What Is A Fly Reel?

The circular piece of gear that rests next to the end of your fly rod is called a fly reel.

Fly Reelss

What Is The Function Of A Fly Reel?

There are three basic functions of a fly reel;

  • Keeping lines in reserve
  • Taking the stray lines back
  • using its braking system to stop an escaping fish

What Components Make Up A Fly Reel?

There are several components that work together to enable a fly reel to do its job. In order to maintain your reel and get the most out of it, you must comprehend the physics and construction of these components. 

List of Fly Reel Parts

I am going to start by naming every component of a fishing reel. I’ll talk more about them later;

  • Exterior Structure
  • Reel Spool
  • Drag Knob
  • Drag System
  • Reel Handle
  • Reel Foot
  • Clicker/Pawl
  • Arbor

Diagram of Fly Reel Parts

The components of a fly reel are better explained by this fly fishing reel diagram:

tibor series digram

Here’s a quick introduction to each component of a fly reel before we get into detail:

Parts of Fly Fishing Reels: An Explanation

I’ll go over each component of a fishing reel in detail, starting with an explanation and moving on to the function. 

1. Exterior Structure

Let’s begin with the exterior structure of a fly reel, which is the first thing you notice when you handle it.

All the remaining components of a fishing reel are housed within the framework, which is the iron skeleton of the reel. 

It is mostly made of metal, however it is not required. In order to save weight and cost, many contemporary fly reels have skeletons made of plastic or acrylic. 

You have two options for the metallic reels: die-cast or machined. Die-cast reels are created by pouring molten alloy into a mold, whereas machined reels are carved from a solid metal block, usually composed of aluminum. Better strength and longer durability are provided by machining, while die-casting offers significant cost savings.

Exterior Structure fly reels

Function Of Exterior Structure

The function of the reel structure is equivalent to that of your body’s bones. They shield and support the internal components. Its middle contains the more sensitive braking mechanism known as the drag, which supports the other reel components.

2. Reel Foot

The reel foot refers to its wide base. It consists of a front end and a rear end. The front end inserts into the fly rod’s fixed hood, a section with a cutout. The movable cover slides or screws onto the back of the reel foot.

Reel Foot fly reels

Function Of Reel Foot

One of the components of a fishing reel that fastens the reel to the rod is the reel foot. The reel seat, often known as the sleeve, is the location on the rod where the foot is positioned.

3. Reel Handle

The lengthy protrusion on one side of the reel is called the handle. Most reels include a handle that you may turn to face the direction of your hand. My handles are on the left hand since I reel with my left and cast with my right.

Reel Handle Fly reels

Function Of Reel Handle

Its only function is to wind loose lines by rotating the reel spool. It can be done when a fish hooks and you have to land it, or after you have thrown and want to bring the excess back.

4. Reel Spool

You’ve probably heard the word “reel spool” a few times. What’s that?

The base, where all the fishing lines go, is round. For every reel model, there is often the opportunity to swap out the spool for an extra one. These make switching lines during a fishing trip easier and faster.

Additionally, a spool in a large arbor reel might be larger than one in a conventional arbor reel. Arbors: what are they? Let’s talk about them next!

Reel Spool Fly reels

Function Of Reel Spool

The backing, main fly line, tippet line, and leader are all stored on a spool.

5. Arbor

The arbor measures the separation between the fly reel’s center and the spool’s base. Because of their various benefits, the majority of modern reels come in enormous arbor diameters. They are more costly than the typical or mid-range arbor reels, but they create less line memory, have higher storage capacity, and pick up lines more quickly. The conventional arbor size, which was more prevalent in the past, is currently thought to be the smallest.

Arbor Fly reels

Function Of Arbor

The base of the spool is connected to a spindle on the inside of the arbor. This spindle rotates the reel when the reel handle is rotated.

6. Spool-Release Mechanism

Spool Release Mechanism Fly reels

A spool-release mechanism might be as easy as pulling the reel’s two rims apart or as complex as a latch, push button, or screw.

Function Of Spool-Release Mechanism

This mechanism does exactly what its name suggests—it releases the two spools of a reel so you may replace the fly lines.

7. Braking System

Braking System Fly reels

Its braking or drag mechanism is the most important and cleverly designed component of any fly fishing equipment. This is the reason reels are used for much more than just storing fly lines these days. By the way, what is a drag system?

The drag system refers to the fly reel’s internal gear that helps halt fish when they are going after a line.

The two most popular kinds of drag systems are disc drag and click-and-pawl. The components of a click-and-pawl reel are made of a plastic tooth that meshes with a metal gear. It is the less advanced of the two and provides very little or no braking force adjustment.

The disc drag is a more sophisticated mechanism with many gears and other intricate pieces. It is nicer. You may adjust the drag force to any desired level because of the drag dial (which we will talk about next).

Function Of The Braking System

As previously mentioned, a fly fishing reel’s brakes assist in stopping a fish that has been hooked and is attempting to escape. Additionally, the brakes provide the lines a specific amount of tension, which makes it easier and more accurate to wind the lines.

8. Drag Knob

Drag Knob Fly reels

How can you now adjust the drag on your fly reel? by using the drag knob. A drag knob is a movable dial with indentations on one side of the fly reel that indicate the drag force. The drag force may be adjusted using preset settings, while some fly reels come with a free dial that allows you to adjust the drag force in minuscule steps to find your sweet spot.

Function Of Drag Knob

The drag force you apply to the lines is adjusted via the drag knob.


What is the purpose of the drag system?

The drag system provides controlled resistance to the pulling fish, preventing the line from breaking and helping the angler manage the fight.

How do I adjust the drag on a fly reel?

Use the drag knob to increase or decrease the resistance according to the size and strength of the fish.

Why is arbor size important?

A larger arbor allows for faster line retrieval, reduces line memory, and provides a more consistent drag.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, a fly reel is an essential tool for fly fishing, serving the dual purposes of storing the line and providing a controlled drag system. Understanding its components and functions can enhance the angler’s experience and effectiveness on the water. Regular maintenance and proper adjustment of the drag system contribute to the reel’s longevity and optimal performance.

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