Best Saltwater Fly Reel For The Money

Best Saltwater Fly Reel For The Money: Top 7

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Not all fly reels are built to handle saltwater, in fact, not many are. This is a problem because a freshwater fly reel is going to break down real fast if you use it in saltwater.

There are some good fly reels built for saltwater use out there but it’s important to look out for the right features which will cover in detail in the article, we have also hand picked 7 reels that we feel are strong contenders for the title of best saltwater fly reel for the money (this is our top pick).

What Makes A Good Saltwater Fly Reel?

Before you go out and buy any saltwater fly fishing reel, there are some main considerations to keep in mind. Here are the most important factors and features to keep in mind before you go out and make a purchase.

1. Corrosion Resistance

The number one most important thing to look out for when buying a fly reel for saltwater fishing is that it is corrosion resistant. A freshwater fly reel that is not specially designed to handle saltwater, when used in saltwater, will rust and degrade really fast. The best material for this is anodized aluminum.

Aluminum may corrode a bit, but it won’t rust, and the anodized finish will stop corrosion in its tracks anyway. On that same note, you need the reel to be fully sealed, which goes for the bearings and the drag, in order to keep out saltwater from the main components.

Keep in mind that stainless steel is ok, but it might corrode after a while. Either way, if you have a stainless steel fly rod, plus if it is not fully sealed, make sure that you don’t submerge it.

2. Drag System

First off, you want the drag system to be totally sealed. Once again, when fishing in saltwater, this is necessary in order to stop the reel drag system from corroding.

Next, you also want to think about the maximum drag. Some reels can have 2 pounds, some 5, some 10, some all the way up to 40 and more. It really depends on the size of the fish you are going for, but either way, the higher you can set the drag, the better.

Also, you want to make sure that the drag system comes with an easy to adjust feature. A simple knob will do fine here, but make sure that you can adjust the drag to suit your needs. There are two types of drag to go with, but the only one you really want is the disc drag, as it offers the best resistance for larger fish.

3. Frame Durability

Simply put, you want something really strong to match the size of the fish you are going for. Once again, anodized aluminum is usually your best bet here.

Anodized aluminum has a lot of impact resistance, it’s hard to bend, it resists the corrosive effects of saltwater, and it looks pretty nice too.

4. Weight

Generally speaking, the lighter the reel you get, the better off you will be. You might think that a lighter reel is less durable due to there being less material involved. However, while this is sometimes the case, if you get a high quality fly reel, you can easily find one that is both durable and lightweight.

A lighter saltwater fly reel will cause less fatigue, be easier to maneuver, and allow you to fish for longer at any given time.

5. Arbor Size

Yeah, a smaller arbor is fine for small river fish. However, here we are talking about fly fishing in saltwater, which means that there are usually going to be some pretty big fish around.

The larger the arbor, the faster and more effectively you will be able to reel in that big catch. When it comes down to it, a large arbor size is important for a fast retrieval, to hold a lot of line, and for smooth casting too.

Our 7 Saltwater Fly Reel Picks For The Money

In our opinion, these 7 are the main contenders to consider if you are looking for a decent quality saltwater fly reel, let’s take a look at each in more detail.

1. Redington RISE Fly Fishing Reel

This option is made out of CNC machined anodized aluminum, so you know that it is tough, plus it can definitely deal with the corrosive effects of saltwater. It’s a strong reel no doubt. Moreover, here you can choose from various sizes including ¾, 5/6, 7/8, and 9/10.

The largest size here can hold around 200 yards of some pretty strong line. Therefore, a fish won’t easily run away with your line, plus long distance casting is doable too. We do like how the arbor here is very large, which allows for super-fast line retrieval.

The Redington RISE comes with a smooth and compact carbon fiber drag system that is easily adjustable. The twin molded soft-touch ergonomic handle is comfy to use and durable too. The spool here is a quick release spool, so you can quickly swap it out for another if you see fit.


  • Durable construction.
  • Large arbor – comes in various sizes.
  • Large capacity for line.
  • Sealed carbon drag system – adjustable.
  • Comfortable handle.
  • Ideal for saltwater use.


  • Drag adjustment is a little clunky.

You can check the current price on Amazon here

2. Lamson Guru Series II Fly Reel

This thing is made in the USA, which is always a big bonus. This is a large arbor fly reel, which allows for really fast line retrieval. Here you can also choose from various sizes, ranging from the smallest to the largest, this allowing you to customize your saltwater fly fishing experience.

Speaking of salt, this reel is made with stainless steel and machined aluminum. This means that it is resistant to the corrosive effects of saltwater, plus it is just quite durable in general.

This reel has a sealed conical drag system that is adjustable, which means that you can easily control how fast the line comes off the spool, plus being sealed is great for saltwater fishing anyway.

This reel is also specially modified to be very lightweight, while also allowing your fishing line to dry really fast. In terms of structural stability, this reel comes with a curved cross section for some added backbone. What is also cool is that you can change the retrieve from left to right very easily.


  • Very high quality construction.
  • Perfect for saltwater fishing.
  • Sealed adjustable drag system.
  • Right and left handed retrieval.
  • Large arbor for fast retrieval – comes in various sizes.


  • Handle is not very comfortable.

You can check the current price on Amazon here

3. Orvis Hydros Sl Fly Reel

Something that we definitely like about the Orvis Hydros is that it comes in a large variety of sizes so you can customize your saltwater fly fishing experience. Here you can choose from 1 to 3 weight, 3 to 5 weight, 5 to 7 weight, 7 to 9 weight, and 9 to 11 weight.

As you can see, there is plenty of choice here, so whether you want a smaller or larger option, this reel gives you all of those choices. Either way, the arbor here is made large in order to allow for some fairly fast line retrieval.

This reel is made with a narrow spool which helps with line stacking, plus it has an increased backing capacity too. This reel also comes with an ergonomically designed asymmetrical drag knob, plus the drag here is three times stronger than your average fly reel, not to mention that it features zero startup inertia.

The drag system here is sealed, so you don’t have to worry about the corrosive effects of saltwater. On that same note, this is a highly durably anodized aluminum reel, so it does have a high level of durability.


  • Very strong.
  • Smooth function.
  • Great for saltwater use.
  • Sealed and adjustable drag.
  • Comes in many weights and sizes.
  • Large arbor for fast line retrieval.


  • Not the most comfortable handle.

You can check the current price on Amazon here

4. Piscifun Platte Fly Fishing Reel

The Piscifun Platte is another one of our personal favorites to go with. Here you can choose from various sizes including ¾, 5/6, 7/8, and 9/10. The largest of these can hold 150 yards of 20 pound line. This is alright, but it’s not as good as it could be.

We’d like to see a bit of added line capacity here, but other than that, this is a great reel. The high grade CNC anodized aluminum here is about as tough and saltwater resistant as can be. The rim here is very strong yet lightweight, and it is designed to help your line dry as fast as possible.

The large and flattened drag knob is easy to use, and it allows for precise drag adjustments. This is a carbon and stainless steel drag system that is durable, plus it is sealed for saltwater use. No sand, saltwater, or anything else of the sort is going to get into this thing.

The click drag and retrieve is definitely quite useful. The arbor here is made super large to allow for really fast line retrieval. It holds a lot of backing and fly line, plus it helps to reduce line memory too. The knurled knob is designed for comfort and easy gripping, it’s made of damage proof metal, and features a quick change design.


  • Extremely durable.
  • Perfect for saltwater fishing.
  • Vented for line drying.
  • Sealed drag that is easily adjustable.
  • Really nice handle.
  • Comes in various sizes.
  • Large arbor for fast line retrieval.


  • Could hold a bit more line.

You can check the current price on Amazon here

5. Hatch Gen 2 Finatic 7 Plus Fly Reel

This is a brand new updated 2018 saltwater fly reel that will give any other reel a run for its money. One thing that does need to be mentioned here is that this thing weighs close to 9 ounces, so it’s definitely not lightweight.

Although it might not be lightweight, it certainly is quite durable and beefy. Also, keep in mind that you don’t really get a choice of size here, although it is designed for any 8 weight fly line. The arbor here is quite large and allows for close to 10 inches of line retrieval per handle turn.

The Hatch Gen 2  does look super nice, plus it has a hard anodized fishing for top notch durability. Moreover, it comes with a sealed hatch drag system that is very durable and saltwater resistant, plus easy to adjust as well.

The drag maxes out at around 5.5 pounds, which is not great. This fly reel also comes with a nice handle that is easy to hold and ergonomically designed for long term use.


  • Easy to adjust drag.
  • Very durable.
  • Great for saltwater use.
  • Ergonomic handle.
  • Fast retrieval.
  • Great for 8 weight fly line.


  • Quite heavy.
  • Only comes in the 1 size.
  • Only 5.5 pounds of drag.

You can check the current price on Amazon here

6. Wright & McGill Sabalos Fly Reel

This reel is fairly lightweight, coming in at just over 6 ounces. It’s more than light enough to be used all day long without fatigue. This item is also built for superior balance. Now, something to keep in mind here is that this option does only come in the 7/8 size
which is pretty standard, and it’s the size that many people go with.

The Wright & McGill Sabalos Fly Reel can hold 200 yards of 20 pound backing, which is not bad at all. Whatever the case, the arbor here is designed large to ensure a fast line retrieval rate.

The 6061 bar stock aluminum frame is quite resilient and durable, plus the cork and Teflon dual drag system is sealed for saltwater resistance. The frame is made with sealed ball bearings and comes with a waterproof anodized fisnish.

Speaking of the drag system here, it is highly reliable and adjustable to provide you with some versatility.


  • Very durable.
  • High all around saltwater resistance.
  • Very smooth.
  • High quality adjustable drag system.
  • Fast line retrieval.
  • High line capacity.


  • Only comes in 1 size.

7. Sage 2200 Series Fly Reel

Here you can choose from various arbor sizes including 3.3, 3.6, 4, and 4.3 inches in diameter. The faster you want to retrieve the line, the larger the arbor size you should go with. This reel is made with machined die cast aluminum, which means that it is quite durable, plus it is saltwater resistant too.

The Sage 2200 comes with a smooth and adjustable drag system so you can control how fast the line comes out. The largest spool here, the 4.3 inch arbor, can hold up to 200 yards of 20 pound line for some fairly big fish.

The concave spool keeps line exactly where it is supposed to be, and it can fit quite a bit of it. This item also comes with a large machined handle for easy retrieval. This reel even allows for both left and right handed use, plus it’s fairly lightweight too.


  • Comes in various sizes.
  • Fast retrieval rate.
  • Can fit lots of line.
  • Durable and saltwater resistant.
  • Machined drag knob – adjustable.
  • Lightweight.


  • Handle could use some grip.


Just keep in mind when buying a fly reel for saltwater, that it should be made with anodized aluminum and a sealed drag system for corrosion resistance. Other than that, the weight and the size of the reel should be whatever works best for you. The bigger the arbor, the faster you will be able to haul in your next catch!