Fish Library Blog


Choosing a fly reel

Choosing a fly reel can be a personal thing we often get carried away with the flash & bling and forget about the basics. If you’re a new comer to the sport and your aim is to chase trout or small bass or you may even have budget considerations you don’t have to spend a lot of money. However if you are likely to travel overseas to chase the bigger trophy trout, salmon or are considering serious saltwater fishing then you will need to spend a few dollars.

Fly Reels
Fly fishing reels are constructed in two ways: pre-cast and machined. Pre-cast reels are made from liquid metal poured into a mold. These reels are typically heavier and slightly less durable than their machined CNC reels, but they can also be had at a more reasonable price point. The reliable performance and affordable price of pre-cast reels makes them a great choice if you’re looking to get started in fly fishing.

Weight & Size
Like rods, reels are often rated by weight or size. When looking for a new reel you will want to match the reel size to your rod for a correctly balanced outfit; for example, if you’re fishing a 5-weight trout rod, you’ll want to pair it with a 5-weight reel.
Also consider when looking at reel size are the type of line you will be using and backing capacity. Backing capacity is even more important when choosing a saltwater reel. Most reels can handle 2 to 3 sizes of line. For example a size 6wt reel can handle a 5,6 or 7wt line.
Switch and Spey reels are oversize to accommodate larger shooting head fly lines, while salt water reels often feature more backing capacity as those fish are prone to long runs.


Drag is a very important feature of the fly reel. The drag provides the braking power to stop a big fish and take control of the fightl. There are two main drag systems to choose from: click and pawl, and disc drag.
The traditional style is click-and-pawl and offers less adjustability and stopping power than a disc drag system. Because of this, the click-and-pawl is a great system if you are on a budget or chasing smaller fish..
Disc drag provides the smoothest and most efficient drag system. It is a great choice for stopping large game fish, or when you need to smoothly stop a large trout on light tippet.
When choosing a saltwater reel you have to consider not only line capacity and drag system but also the seal of the drag system. If it is not water tight you will have problems with sand and coral contaminating the drag system. If that happens you reel will be seriously compromised then failure is inevitable.
My advice when purchasing a saltwater reel is spend as much as you can afford.


Arbor refers to the cylinder at the center of the reel that the backing and fly line is wound around. Most modern reels feature some type of large arbor as they retrieve line faster and create less ‘memory’ or twist in the line and leader. If you are chasing warm water or salt water species, pick a reel with a larger arbor as this will aid in smooth runs as well as retrieving a lot of line quickly when the fish turns and runs back at you.
Classic trout reels are generally smaller in arbor, as are beginner fly reels. They are usually lighter, less bulky, and less expensive than their large-arbor counterparts.

Top three “must-dos”:
Store your rod on a rod rack that can be mounted vertically or horizontally.
Loosen up the drag in advance of storing your rod and reel, to ensure the line does not break or pull.
Remove the fishing line before storage if you’ve been in saltwater. Find out more about fly fishing at our website

Fly Tying
Effective fly tying is the key to fantastic fly fishing
Fly tying is a hugely popular technique where fly tiers use an artificial fly to catch their fish. You’ll need some basic kit, like a fly pattern to imitate and the right materials to match that specific fly pattern. All you need then, is our awesome top 10 tips!

Here’s your awesome ‘top 10’ tips to ensure terrific fly tying.

  1. Get educated!
    Make sure you get as much information as possible about hatches, baits, fish, tying techniques, materials and fly design. Know-how is critical to becoming an accomplished fly designer and tier.
  2. Keep your tools clean & sharp!
    Bucktail and synthetic kit blunts your scissor blades super-fast. And dull scissors will lead to an annoying tying effort. A small ceramic sharpening stick works wonders for sharpening your scissors.
  3. Mix your epoxy on small, white paper pads!
    A small white pad will fit nicely in your tying space, try cutting a 4×6 scratch pad in half. Each pad is big enough to make two batches of epoxy. This is a tidy, fast and effective system.
  4. Grab a small thread rack from a sewing shop!
    Head down to your local sewing showing buy a small thread rack. You’ll find it a fast, simple way to store thread adjacent to your tying area. Thank us later!
  5. Empty 35mm film cans make excellent storage bins!
    Empty 35mm film cans are excellent for open storage to chuck stuff into as you work. They are two inches deep and stop mess making its way all over your house. Your other half will love it.
  6. Store your fly-tying tools in a tool box!
    It’s radical idea, but you’ll like it. Tool boxes can store any kind of tools, including fishing tackle. It will hugely enhance the storage efficiency, and protects against wear and tear damage, and loss.
  7. Flatten your hackle quills before tying!
    A hackle quill is an oval shape, which means when tied in place it can often slip sideways under the thread torque instead of lying flat against the fly. Flattening the quill first stops this problem.
  8. Learn to whip lash by hand!
    A hand whip-finish is more flexible, faster and enables much more control than a whip-finish tool. Make sure you whip-finish from the back of the wrap to the front.
  9. Rejuvenate your kit with steam!
    Steam your equipment and flies to rejuvenate them. Hackles, bucktails, and many other bits of kit warp when in storage. Run them through a column of steam from a kettle to straighten them.
  10. Cut dear hair with a double-edged razor blade!
    When cutting spun deer hair, exact your first cut with a double-edged razor blade, then keep the trimmed area over steam – this makes fibre erect so your second cut will be super clean.

Dubbing is the true “body” of your fly, so do it properly!
Put simply, dubbing is the material applied to the tying thread when it’s wrapped over the hook, creating the ‘body’ of your fly. To be ‘dubbed’ simply relates to the twisting motion required in application to the thread.

Get the industry leading-low down on Dry Fly Dubbing!
Any material that is applied to the thread and then wrapped as a fly body is regarded as ‘dubbing.’ When it comes to Dry Fly Dubbing, new tiers often confused about dubbing because it appears that there are seemingly just endless choices on the market.
And you know they’re right… the choices are literally endless! However, just because there’s big choice, it’s only confusing if you don’t know what you’re doing.