Top 5 Best Steelhead Fly Reels of (Reviewed & Compared)

Top 5 Best Steelhead Fly Reels
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When it comes to chasing the elusive and powerful steelhead, having the right fly reel can make all the difference between a successful angling adventure and a frustrating day on the water. These iconic fish are known for their breathtaking beauty and impressive strength, and they’re a prized catch among fly anglers. To ensure you’re well-prepared for your next steelhead fishing expedition, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of the best steelhead fly reels specifically designed to handle the demands of these magnificent creatures. Whether you’re a seasoned steelhead angler or a newcomer to this exciting pursuit, this guide will help you choose the perfect reel to maximize your chances of landing that trophy steelhead. So, let’s dive in and discover the top contenders in the world of fly reels for steelhead fishing.

1. Redington Run Fly Reel, Lightweight Design for Trout

Freshwater Fishing
Redington Run Fly Reel, Lightweight Design for Trout, Freshwater Fishing, Carbon Fiber Drag System

Product Details:

5 star rating
5 star rating
5 star rating
5 star rating
5 star rating
BrandRedington
ColorBlack
Model Name‎Fly Fishing
Product Dimensions‎5.24 x 4.76 x 3.19 inch
Item Weight0.23 Kilograms

The Redington Run fly reel, the latest addition to their die-cast reel lineup, exhibits promising qualities in terms of both affordability and performance, following the success of the Behemoth model. Its lightweight design is achieved through extensive porting, while the spool base incorporates deliberate openings to reduce excess weight, resulting in an attractive aesthetic. The overall craftsmanship is commendable, although a few minor irregularities and unfinished lines may be observed. Notably, the drag system operates smoothly and with impressive power, owing to its carbon fibre construction that ensures a seamless experience without any noticeable bumps or startup inertia. Furthermore, the spool-release mechanism is straightforward, featuring a user-friendly push-button design.

However, it’s worth noting a potential concern with the reel handle, as its elevated height, intended for ease of gripping, could inadvertently lead to line winding around it. Learn More….

Product Features:

Lightweight Design

The reel boasts excessive porting, reducing weight and enhancing overall movability. This is particularly advantageous during long fishing sessions.

Stylish Appearance

With its open spool base and sleek black finish, the Redington Run Fly Reel not only sheds unnecessary weight but also offers a stylish and modern look.

Smooth Drag System

The reel features a smooth and powerful drag system constructed with carbon fibre. This ensures seamless and bump-free operation while preventing startup inertia.

Tall Reel Handle

The reel handle is designed for ease of gripping, but its taller profile may present a potential issue with lines inadvertently winding around it during use.

Available Size

The Redington Run Fly Reel is available in the 3/4WT size, catering to the needs of anglers looking to target a variety of fish species.

Redington Run Fly Reel, Lightweight Design for Trout
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Pros

  • The Redington Run Fly Reel offers excellent value for the price, making it accessible for a wide range of anglers.
  • Its excessive porting reduces weight, making it easy to carry and handle for extended periods on the water.
  • The carbon fibre drag system delivers a smooth and powerful performance, helping you control fish effectively.
  • The sleek black finish and open spool design give the reel a modern and appealing look.
  • Suitable for targeting various fish species, including trout and small to medium-sized freshwater game fish.
  • The push-button spool release system simplifies line changes and adjustments.

Cons

  • Some users have reported minor irregularities and unfinished lines in the reel’s design, which could affect its overall aesthetics.
  • The taller handle, while designed for ease of gripping, may lead to issues with lines inadvertently winding around it during use.
  • The Redington Run Fly Reel may not be suitable for anglers targeting larger species, as it is available primarily in smaller sizes like the 3/4WT.

Buyer’s Review:

The Redington Run Fly Reel in the 3/4WT size, finished in Black, has been a delightful addition to my fly fishing setup. It’s a budget-friendly gem that doesn’t compromise on performance. The lightweight design, thanks to extensive porting, makes long days on the water a breeze. Its carbon fibre drag system operates smoothly and powerfully, handling everything from trout to smallmouth bass with finesse. The sleek black finish and open spool design give it a modern, stylish edge. The user-friendly push-button spool release system simplifies line changes. While I noticed minor craftsmanship quirks, they haven’t affected its functionality. However, it’s worth noting that line management can be a bit challenging in windy conditions. Overall, it’s a solid choice for small-water adventures and offers great value for the price.

2. Orvis Clearwater Large Arbor Fly Reel

Casting Fly Fishing Reel
Orvis Clearwater Large Arbor Fly Reel

Product Details:

5 star rating
5 star rating
5 star rating
5 star rating
5 star rating
BrandOrvis
ColorGray
Handle MaterialAluminum
Product Dimensions‎4.8 x 4.72 x 3.78 inch
Item Weight‎0.24 Kilograms

Orvis Clearwater Large Arbor Fly Reel, a tool that has earned its place as a reliable companion for anglers of all levels. Whether you’re a seasoned angler with countless hours on the water or just starting your journey into the mesmerising world of fly fishing, you’ll soon discover that the right reel can be your greatest ally. The Orvis Clearwater Fly Reel has garnered attention for its combination of performance, affordability, and craftsmanship, making it an attractive option for those who demand excellence without compromising on value. Join us as we dissect every aspect of this remarkable reel, from its robust construction to its impressive drag system, and explore how it can enhance your fly fishing adventures on streams, rivers, and lakes. Whether you’re targeting elusive trout in mountain streams, pursuing the majestic steelhead in remote waters, or simply looking to escape the everyday hustle with a peaceful day by the water, the Orvis Clearwater Large Arbor Fly Reel might just be the key to unlocking unforgettable moments on your next fishing expedition. Learn More….

Product Features:

Large Arbour Design

The large arbour design of this reel allows for quicker line retrieval, reduced line memory, and smoother drag engagement. It’s particularly advantageous when dealing with fast-swimming or hard-fighting fish.

Die-Cast Construction

The reel is constructed using die-cast technology, which helps keep costs down without compromising on durability. While it may not have the premium feel of machined reels, it offers excellent performance for its price range.

Smooth Drag System

The Clearwater Fly Reel features a smooth and reliable drag system. It offers consistent performance and can handle fish with varying levels of strength. The drag knob provides easy adjustment, allowing you to fine-tune your settings on the fly.

Powder-Coated Finish

Despite its budget-friendly price tag, the reel maintains an attractive appearance thanks to its powder-coated finish. This finish not only adds to its aesthetics but also contributes to its corrosion resistance, ensuring a longer lifespan.

Versatility

The Clearwater Large Arbor Fly Reel is suitable for a wide range of fishing applications, from pursuing trout in freshwater streams to targeting steelhead in more challenging environments. Its versatility makes it an attractive option for anglers who fish in various settings.

Orvis Clearwater Large Arbor Fly Reel
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Pros

  • It offers excellent value for the price, making it accessible to a wide range of anglers.
  • Smooth Drag: The reel’s drag system is smooth and consistent, capable of handling a variety of fish species.
  • The large arbour design provides faster line retrieval and reduced line memory, which can be advantageous in various fishing situations.
  • Suitable for different fishing environments and species, from trout in streams to steelhead in larger rivers.
  • The reel’s powder-coated finish not only looks good but also helps protect it from corrosion.
  • The audible click when adjusting the drag settings adds a tactile element to the fishing experience.
  • It comes in various sizes to accommodate different line weights and fishing preferences.

Cons

  • While durable, some anglers prefer the feel and perceived quality of machined reels over die-cast ones.
  • Depending on the size, it may be slightly heavier than some high-end reels, which could be a concern for those who prioritise ultralight setups.
  • It lacks the premium aesthetics and high-end materials of more expensive reels, which may not be visually appealing to some anglers.

Buyer’s Review:

I recently acquired the Orvis Clearwater Large Arbor Fly Reel, and after putting it through its paces on several fishing trips, I felt compelled to share my thoughts on this budget-friendly option. First and foremost, Clearwater’s affordability is a major selling point. As an angler who appreciates quality gear without breaking the bank, this reel exceeded my expectations. Its die-cast construction, while not as premium as machined reels, proved to be surprisingly durable. It has taken a few knocks against rocks and branches without any visible damage, which speaks to its ruggedness

3. Redington Behemoth Fly Fishing Reel

Casting Fly Fishing Reel
Redington Behemoth Fly Fishing Reel

Product Details:

5 star rating
5 star rating
5 star rating
5 star rating
5 star rating
BrandRedington
ColorBlack
Handle MaterialCarbon Fiber
Product Dimensions‎5.16 x 4.8 x 3.23 inch
Item Weight‎0.24 Kilograms

The line capacity of this reel is commendable, and its retrieval rates are impressively swift, thanks in part to its triangular spool design. It manages to reel in nearly 9 inches of line with each turn, which is quite a respectable rate, especially for steelhead fishing. Considering that this reel is constructed through the die-casting method, the craftsmanship is fairly solid, albeit with a few minor irregularities scattered here and there. While my initial impression wasn’t particularly positive due to its noticeable weightiness, it’s worth noting that this attribute actually renders it well-suited for use as a spey fly reel, which is a distinct advantage in certain fishing scenarios. Learn More….

Product Features:

Behemoth Fly Reel

Merging the industry’s most potent drag system with cutting-edge aesthetics that redefine the boundaries of fly reel design. Whether paired with your beloved 5-weight trout rod or stepping up to sizes suitable for saltwater and formidable big-game pursuits, this reel delivers.

Premium Craft

The distinctive, non-machined die-cast construction is complemented by a robust, interlocking large-arbour spool design. This combination not only imparts an appearance of premium quality but also delivers functionality on par with top-tier reels.

Robust Drag System

Featuring a super-heavy-duty carbon fibre drag system, this reel stands as a paragon of drag strength, reliability, and performance within its class.

Efficient Retrieval

The large arbour design is meticulously engineered for swift line retrieval and diminished line memory. Equipped with a twin moulded handle that boasts a comfortable and responsive ergonomic grip, it provides invaluable feedback when battling larger fish species.

Backing Capacity

To ensure you’re prepared for various fishing scenarios, here are the backing capacities: [5/6] accommodates 125 yards of 20 lb backing, [7/8] holds 200 yards of 20 lb backing, [9/10] supports 200 yards of 30 lb backing, and [11/12] provides room for 250 yards of 20 lb backing.

Redington Behemoth Fly Fishing Reel
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Pros

  • It offers excellent value for the price, making it accessible to a wide range of anglers.
  • The reel’s drag system is smooth and consistent, capable of handling a variety of fish species.
  • The large arbour design provides faster line retrieval and reduced line memory, which can be advantageous in various fishing situations.
  • Suitable for different fishing environments and species, from trout in streams to steelhead in larger rivers.
  • The reel’s powder-coated finish not only looks good but also helps protect it from corrosion.
  • The audible click when adjusting the drag settings adds a tactile element to the fishing experience.
  • It comes in various sizes to accommodate different line weights and fishing preferences.

Cons

  • While durable, some anglers prefer the feel and perceived quality of machined reels over die-cast ones.
  • Depending on the size, it may be slightly heavier than some higher-end reels, which could be a concern for those who prioritise ultralight setups.
  • Due to the die-cast construction, there may be minor imperfections in the finish, although they typically don’t affect performance.

Buyer’s Review:

I recently added the Redington Behemoth Fly Fishing Reel to my fly fishing arsenal, and it’s been quite the journey. Here’s my take on this reel. This reel offers tremendous value for the price. As an angler who doesn’t want to break the bank for quality gear, I found the Clearwater to be an excellent choice. Its die-cast construction, while not as premium as machined reels, has proven to be surprisingly robust. It’s endured its fair share of bumps against rocks and branches without showing any significant signs of wear and tear, which is a testament to its durability

4. Okuma Sheffield Centerpin Float Reel

Okuma Sheffield Centerpin
Okuma Sheffield Centerpin Float Reel

Product Details:

5 star rating
5 star rating
5 star rating
5 star rating
5 star rating
BrandOKUMA
ColorBlack, Golden
Handle MaterialStainless Steel
Product Dimensions6 x 6 x 3 inch
Item Weight‎0.65 Pounds

If you have a penchant for float fishing, Okuma offers a range of options to cater to your needs. However, when it comes to targeting steelhead, the Sheffield reel from Okuma stands out as a top choice. It embodies simplicity and excels in its role with remarkable efficiency. Crafted from durable stainless steel, this reel not only possesses impressive strength but also boasts resistance against corrosion. Upon initial inspection, several notable features become apparent. The gleaming silver exterior of the Sheffield imparts an air of elegance to its design. Furthermore, its weight falls within a moderate range, particularly if we exclude the spool, which happens to be slightly heavier than the norm. The generous arbour size ensures ample room for backing, while the spool’s relatively narrower profile minimises concerns about excessive line piling. However, it’s worth noting that this design characteristic could potentially lead to lines inadvertently wrapping around the handle, necessitating caution during use. Learn More….

Product Features:

High-Quality Construction

Crafted with precision and durability in mind, this reel is built to withstand the rigours of float fishing. It features a stainless steel construction, ensuring robustness and corrosion resistance.

Elegant Silver Finish

The reel’s shiny silver colour not only adds a touch of elegance but also enhances its aesthetic appeal.

Moderate Weight

With a moderate weight, this reel strikes a balance between sturdiness and ease of handling, contributing to comfortable and efficient casting.

Large Arbour Design

The generous arbour size provides ample space for backing, allowing for increased line capacity and reducing the need for frequent line changes.

Smooth Operation

The reel is engineered for smooth and reliable performance, ensuring seamless line retrieval and control while targeting steelhead and other species.

Versatile Application

While ideal for steelhead fishing, the Sheffield S-1002 Float Reel can also be used effectively in a variety of float fishing scenarios.

Corrosion Resistance

Thanks to its stainless steel construction, this reel is highly resistant to corrosion, making it suitable for both freshwater and occasional saltwater use.

Okuma Sheffield Centerpin Float Reel
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Pros

  • The reel is built with stainless steel, ensuring durability and resistance to corrosion, making it suitable for various fishing environments.
  • Its shiny silver finish adds a touch of sophistication, making it visually appealing.
  • The reel strikes a balance between sturdiness and user-friendliness, offering comfortable handling and casting.
  • The generous arbour size provides ample room for backing, reducing the need for frequent line changes during extended fishing sessions.
  • Engineered for smooth performance, the reel offers consistent line retrieval and control, enhancing the overall fishing experience.
  • While designed for steelhead fishing, it can be used effectively in various float fishing scenarios, adding to its versatility.
  • Its stainless steel construction makes it highly resistant to corrosion, ensuring a longer lifespan and suitability for both freshwater and occasional saltwater use.

Cons

  • The spool’s narrower design, while preventing excessive line piling, can increase the risk of lines wrapping around the handle, requiring careful management during use.
  • The reel may be available primarily in a silver finish, which could be a drawback for anglers looking for a broader range of colour choices.
  • Depending on the user’s budget and preferences, the price of this reel may be considered relatively high compared to other float reels in the market.

Buyer’s Review:

I recently added the OKUMA Sheffield S-1002 Float Reel in Silver to my fishing gear, and it has exceeded my expectations. The stainless steel construction not only gives it a robust and corrosion-resistant quality but also adds a touch of elegance with its shiny silver finish. Its moderate weight strikes a great balance between durability and ease of handling during casting. The large arbour design has been a game-changer, offering ample room for backing and reducing the hassle of frequent line changes. The reel operates smoothly, ensuring consistent line retrieval, and it’s versatile enough for various float fishing scenarios. The only thing to watch out for is the narrower spool, which can lead to line wrapping around the handle if not managed carefully. Overall, the OKUMA Sheffield S-1002 Float Reel is a solid investment for both its quality construction and performance, making it a reliable companion for any angler’s adventures.

5. M MAXIMUMCATCH Maxcatch Sparta Fly Reel

Lightweight Expert Fly Fishing
M MAXIMUMCATCH Maxcatch Sparta Fly Reel

Product Details:

5 star rating
5 star rating
5 star rating
5 star rating
5 star rating
BrandM MAXIMUMCATCH
ColorIce Blue
Handle MaterialStainless Steel
Product Dimensions‎4.76 x 4.69 x 3.7 inch
Item Weight‎0.3 Kilograms

Introducing the Maxcatch Sparta Fly Reel, a standout in the world of fly fishing gear. Designed to offer anglers an exceptional combination of performance, aesthetics, and versatility, the Sparta Fly Reel has gained recognition for its buttery-smooth drag system, impressive line retrieval capabilities, and impeccable craftsmanship. Whether you’re pursuing steelhead in the river, casting for trout in serene streams, or engaged in classic spey fishing, this reel is ready to elevate your angling experience. In this comprehensive exploration, we’ll delve into the key features and real-world performance of the Maxcatch Sparta Fly Reel, helping you discover why it has become a go-to choice for discerning fly fishermen and women. Learn More...

Product Features:

Durable Construction

Machined from T6061 aluminium bar-stock, the Sparta combines engineering strength with a lightweight profile. It’s hard anodized finish enhances durability, making it suitable for extended use in saltwater environments.

Proven Versatility

Tested against formidable adversaries like trevally, snapper, and sharks, this reel has demonstrated its ability to handle challenging saltwater fishing scenarios.

Maintenance-Free Drag System

The patent-pending Maintenance-Free, Fully Sealed Stacked Disc Drag System (MAX SDS) incorporates carbon, cork, and stainless steel drag discs, offering both power and smooth, seamless drag performance.

Large Arbour Spool

The large arbour design facilitates swift line retrieval, a valuable feature when targeting and landing larger fish species.

Easy Retrieval Change

The reel allows for convenient left and right hand retrieval change without the need for tools, enhancing its adaptability to different angler preferences.

Tippet Holder

Equipped with a tippet holder on the spool, the Sparta ensures that loose ends are neatly managed during your angling adventures.

Generous Warranty

Backed by a TWO-YEAR WARRANTY and a Lifetime Repairing Warranty, Maxcatch provides peace of mind and assurance of long-term performance and customer satisfaction.

M MAXIMUMCATCH Maxcatch Sparta Fly Reel
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Pros

  • The Maxcatch Sparta offers outstanding performance and features at an attractive price point, providing excellent value for anglers.
  • The fully sealed drag system is designed for heavy-duty use and ensures long-term reliability even in harsh saltwater environments.
  • Machined from T6061 aluminium bar-stock with a hard anodized finish, the reel is built to withstand the rigours of saltwater fishing while maintaining a lightweight profile.
  • Tested against a variety of formidable fish species, the Sparta has demonstrated its versatility and ability to handle challenging saltwater scenarios.
  • The patent-pending Maintenance-Free, Fully Sealed Stacked Disc Drag System (MAX SDS) offers both power and smooth drag performance, reducing the need for regular maintenance.

Cons

  • Maxcatch may not have the same brand recognition as some established fly fishing equipment manufacturers, which could deter anglers seeking more familiar brands.
  • Depending on the size and model, the Sparta reel may be slightly heavier than some high-end options, which could be a concern for anglers who prioritise ultralight setups.
  • The reel may have limited colour choices, which could be a drawback for anglers looking for a specific aesthetic or colour preference.

Buyer’s Review:

I took a chance on the Maxcatch Sparta Saltwater Fly Reel, and I couldn’t be happier with my choice. It’s a real gem in the world of affordable yet high-performing fishing gear. The fully sealed drag system has been a game-changer, providing me with reliability and smoothness, even in challenging saltwater conditions. The reel’s construction is impressively durable, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by its lightweight design given its resilience. It’s been put to the test against some feisty fish, and it hasn’t disappointed. The large arbour spool makes line retrieval a breeze, which has come in handy when dealing with larger fish. Plus, the fact that it offers both left and right hand retrieval change without any tools is a thoughtful touch. The tippet holder on the spool adds to its practicality. And with a generous warranty package, Maxcatch demonstrates their commitment to customer satisfaction and the longevity of their product. All in all, the Maxcatch Sparta Saltwater Fly Reel is a fantastic find for anglers looking for top-notch performance without breaking the bank.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Best Fly Reel for Steelhead Fishing Among These Options?

Steelhead fishing preferences can vary, but all of these reels are known for their unique features. The best one for you depends on your specific needs and budget.

Are These Reels Suitable for Both Freshwater and Saltwater Steelhead Fishing?

While some of these reels are designed for saltwater use, others may require additional care and maintenance when used in saltwater environments. It’s important to check the manufacturer’s recommendations.

What Is the Difference Between a Large Arbour and a Standard Arbour Reel?

A large arbour reel has a larger spool diameter, allowing for faster line retrieval and reduced line memory. It’s advantageous when dealing with fast and powerful fish like steelhead.

Can These Reels Accommodate Different Line Weights?

Yes, many of these reels come in various sizes to accommodate different line weights and fishing scenarios. Make sure to choose the right size for your specific needs.

How Do These Reels Perform in Terms of Drag Strength and Smoothness?

Each reel has its own drag system, and their performance can vary. Consider the maximum drag strength and whether it provides a smooth and consistent drag when targeting steelhead.

Are There Any Specific Maintenance Requirements for These Reels?

Maintenance requirements can vary by brand and model. Some reels may require occasional lubrication or cleaning, while others are designed to be maintenance-free. It’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s maintenance guidelines.

Can These Reels Be Easily Switched Between Left-Hand and Right-Hand Retrieval?

Most modern fly reels, including the ones listed, are designed for easy conversion between left-hand and right-hand retrieval. However, it’s advisable to check the reel’s specific instructions for this process.

Are There Any Warranty or Repair Options Available for These Reels?

Many reputable reel manufacturers offer warranties and repair services. It’s a good idea to inquire about the warranty coverage and any repair options when purchasing a reel.

Do These Reels Come Pre-Spooled With Backing and Fly Line, or Do I Need To Purchase Them Separately?

Typically, these reels are sold separately from backing and fly lines. You’ll need to purchase backing and fly lines separately and then spool them onto the reel according to your preferences.

Can I Use These Reels for Other Types of Fly Fishing, or Are They Specifically Designed for Steelhead?

While these reels are well-suited for steelhead fishing, many of them are versatile and can be used for various fly fishing applications, including trout, salmon, and more. Check the reel’s specifications for its intended use and versatility.

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