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Best Budget Fly Reel: Top Picks for Anglers on a Tight Budget

Updated on March 3, 2024

Fly fishing requires the right equipment, including a crucial component, the fly reel. Despite budget constraints, it’s possible to find a high-quality reel offering excellent performance. We’ll discuss the best budget fly reels considering factors like fishing type, reel size, and reel material.

Different fish require specific reels, so choose wisely based on your target species. The reel size should correspond with the fly line weight you’ll be using to avoid holding too little line or being too heavy. While many budget reels are plastic or composite, high-quality aluminum options exist.

This article reviews the top budget fly reels, considering performance, durability, and value for money, catering to both beginners and seasoned anglers.

Best Budget Fly Reels

We understand that not everyone can afford to break the bank on a fly reel, but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice quality. Our team has researched and tested various budget-friendly fly reels to bring you the top picks that won’t disappoint. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned angler, these reels offer smooth performance, durability, and affordability. Check out our list below for the best budget fly reels on the market.

Aventik HVCE Graphite Fly Reel Center Drag System Classic III Graphite Large Arbor Sizes 3/4, 5/6, 7/8 Fly Fishing Reels

Aventik HVCE Graphite Fly Reel Center Drag System Classic III Graphite Large Arbor Sizes 3/4, 5/6, 7/8 Fly Fishing Reels

If you're looking for a budget-friendly fly reel that performs well, the Aventik HVCE Graphite Fly Reel might be the perfect choice for you.

Pros:
  • Lightweight and durable polymeric material construction
  • Rugged central disc drag for smooth and consistent drag control
  • Large arbor design for backing capacity and fast retrieve
Cons:
  • Drag can be a bit touchy
  • Sizes run a bit small
  • Finish quality could be better
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We’ve been using the Aventik HVCE Graphite Fly Reel for a while now and have been impressed with its performance. The polymeric material construction makes it both lightweight and durable, and the large arbor design allows for plenty of backing capacity and a fast retrieve. The central disc drag is rugged and provides smooth and consistent drag control, though it can be a bit touchy at times.

One thing to note is that the sizes run a bit small, so you may want to order a size up. Additionally, the finish quality could be better, but for the price, it’s hard to complain. Overall, we think the Aventik HVCE Graphite Fly Reel is a great budget-friendly option for fly anglers.

Aventik FLK Fly Fishing Reel Aluminum Trout 3/5, 5/7, 7/9wt Large Arbor Freshwater Fly Reel Blue 3/5

Aventik FLK Fly Fishing Reel Aluminum Trout 3/5, 5/7, 7/9wt Large Arbor Freshwater Fly Reel (Blue, 3/5)

If you're in the market for a budget-friendly fly reel, the Aventik FLK Fly Fishing Reel is definitely worth considering. It's not perfect, but it's a solid choice for those who want a reliable reel without breaking the bank.

Pros:
  • The Aventik FLK Fly Fishing Reel is made of aircraft T6061 aluminum, which makes it both strong and lightweight. It's also hard anodized for surface protection and corrosion resistance, ensuring that it will last for a long time.
  • The smooth timely drag system is a standout feature of this reel. It uses a composite disc and stainless steel one way clutch bearing system to engage the drag smoothly and reduce line backlash.
  • The 3D spool design is another great feature. It's computer optimized for a large-arbor design, which strikes a good balance between fast line retrieve and spool capacity. The palming rim is also designed to be quick release, making it easy to change spools.
Cons:
  • One of the downsides of this reel is that it's not the most durable option out there. While it's made of high-quality materials, it's not built to withstand heavy use or abuse.
  • Another issue with the Aventik FLK Fly Fishing Reel is that it's not the easiest reel to adjust. Some users have reported that it takes a bit of trial and error to get the drag set correctly.
  • Lastly, the reel is not particularly versatile. It's designed specifically for freshwater fly fishing, so if you're looking for a reel that can handle saltwater or other types of fishing, this might not be the best choice.
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Overall, the Aventik FLK Fly Fishing Reel is a solid budget option for those who want a reliable reel without spending a lot of money. While it’s not perfect, its smooth drag system and 3D spool design make it a great choice for freshwater fly fishing.

SF Large Arbor Fly Fishing Reel

SF Large Arbor Fly Fishing Reel 5/6wt Aluminum Alloy Body Die-Cast Matt Black Pre-Loaded Fly Reel with Line Combo Fluorescent Yellow Fly Line

If you're looking for a budget-friendly fly reel that can handle a variety of fish, the SF Large Arbor Fly Fishing Reel might be the one for you.

Pros:
  • The large arbor design makes for quick line retrieval, which is helpful when you're trying to reel in a big fish.
  • The reel body is made of durable aluminum alloy and has an anti-corrosion treatment, so it should last for a while.
  • The disc drag on this reel is strong and can put serious pressure on the fish, which is important when you're trying to reel in a big catch.
Cons:
  • The reel isn't as smooth as some higher-end models, so you might notice some jerky movements when you're reeling in your line.
  • The pre-loaded line isn't the highest quality, so you might want to replace it with something better.
  • The reel can be a bit noisy when you're reeling in your line, which might be a turn-off for some anglers.
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We took the SF Large Arbor Fly Fishing Reel out for a spin and were impressed with its performance. The large arbor design really does make for quick line retrieval, which can be a game-changer when you’re trying to reel in a fish that’s fighting back. We also appreciated the anti-corrosion treatment on the reel body, which should help extend the life of the reel.

That being said, we did notice that the reel wasn’t as smooth as some higher-end models we’ve used. There were some jerky movements when we were reeling in our line, which could be a bit frustrating. Additionally, while the pre-loaded line is fine for beginners, more experienced anglers might want to replace it with something better.

One other thing to note is that the reel can be a bit noisy when you’re reeling in your line. This might not be a big deal for some anglers, but if you’re looking for a quiet reel, this might not be the one for you.

Overall, we think the SF Large Arbor Fly Fishing Reel is a solid choice for anglers who want a budget-friendly reel that can handle a variety of fish. It’s not the smoothest or quietest reel out there, but it gets the job done and should last for a while. Plus, with a three-year warranty, you can feel confident in your purchase.

Piscifun Sword Fly Fishing Reel

Piscifun Sword Fly Fishing Reel, CNC-Machined Aluminum Alloy Fly Reel, Light Weight and Corrosion Resistance Design 5/6wt Gunmetal

If you're looking for a budget fly reel, the Piscifun Sword Fly Fishing Reel is definitely worth considering.

Pros:
  • Lightweight design makes it easy to handle for long periods
  • Smooth drag system ensures a seamless and enjoyable fishing experience
  • Corrosion-resistant, ensuring that it lasts for a long time
Cons:
  • The drag system may not be as strong as some other more expensive models
  • The reel may not be as durable as some other options on the market
  • Some users may find the reel to be too small for their needs
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We’ve been using the Piscifun Sword Fly Fishing Reel for a while now, and we’re impressed with its performance. The CNC-machined aluminum alloy construction is both durable and lightweight, making it easy to handle for long periods of time. The mid-arbor design also helps to reduce line memory while facilitating quick line pickup.

The drag system is silky smooth, thanks to the multi-disc premium carbon and stainless steel drag system. We particularly like the one-way clutch bearing, which provides immediate drag engagement. The accurate click drag and silent retrieve also make for a more enjoyable fishing experience.

One thing to note is that the reel is hard anodized for surface protection, which enhances abrasion resistance and weather resistance. This makes it corrosion-resistant, ensuring that it lasts for a long time. However, some users may find that the drag system is not as strong as some other more expensive models.

Overall, if you’re looking for a budget fly reel that performs well and is built to last, the Piscifun Sword Fly Fishing Reel is definitely worth considering.

M MAXIMUMCATCH Maxcatch Fly Fishing Reel

Maxcatch Fly Fishing Reel with CNC-machined Aluminum Body Avid Series Best Value - 1/3, 3/4, 5/6, 7/8, 9/10 Weights(Black, Green, Blue, Silver, Black&Silver) (Green, 3/4 wt)

If you're looking for a budget-friendly fly reel, the M MAXIMUMCATCH Maxcatch Fly Fishing Reel is definitely worth considering.

Pros:
  • The three-year warranty is a huge plus and offers peace of mind.
  • The patent-pending drag design is innovative and easy to use.
  • The hybrid cork and teflon disc and stainless steel disc drag system provides smooth and reliable drag engagement.
Cons:
  • Some users may find the reel to be too small for their needs.
  • The reel doesn't come with a reel case, which may be a downside for some.
  • The reel may not be as durable as some higher-end options.
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We’ve had the chance to use the M MAXIMUMCATCH Maxcatch Fly Fishing Reel and have been impressed with its performance. The three-year warranty is a standout feature and offers great value for the price. The patent-pending drag design is also easy to use and provides ample stopping power. The hybrid cork and teflon disc and stainless steel disc drag system is smooth and reliable, making it easy to fight even the toughest fish.

One downside of the reel is its size. While it’s great for smaller fish, some users may find it too small for larger species. Additionally, the reel doesn’t come with a reel case, which may be a downside for those who like to keep their gear protected. Finally, while the reel is durable, it may not be as tough as some higher-end options.

Overall, if you’re looking for a budget-friendly fly reel that performs well and comes with a great warranty, the M MAXIMUMCATCH Maxcatch Fly Fishing Reel is definitely worth considering.

Aventik HVCE Graphite Fly Reel Center Drag System Classic III Graphite Large Arbor Sizes 3/4, 5/6, 7/8 Fly Fishing Reels

Aventik HVCE Graphite Fly Reel Center Drag System Classic III Graphite Large Arbor Sizes 3/4, 5/6, 7/8 Fly Fishing Reels

If you're looking for a budget-friendly fly reel that performs well, the Aventik HVCE Graphite Fly Reel might be the perfect choice for you.

Pros:
  • Lightweight and durable polymeric material construction
  • Rugged central disc drag for smooth and consistent drag control
  • Large arbor design for backing capacity and fast retrieve
Cons:
  • Drag can be a bit touchy
  • Sizes run a bit small
  • Finish quality could be better
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We recently had the chance to try out the Aventik HVCE Graphite Fly Reel and were impressed with its performance. Despite its low price, this reel is surprisingly durable and corrosion-resistant, thanks to its polymeric material construction. We also appreciated its large arbor design, which allowed for plenty of backing capacity and a fast retrieve.

The central disc drag on this reel is another highlight. It’s extremely smooth and consistent, making it easy to control even when you’re battling a big fish. Plus, the one-way bearing makes it simple to convert between hands, and the clear clicker sound on drag is a nice touch.

One thing to note is that the sizing on this reel may be a bit off. We found that it was labeled a size or two bigger than it actually was, so you may want to order a larger size than you think you need. Additionally, the drag can be a bit touchy, so you’ll want to be careful when adjusting it.

Overall, we think the Aventik HVCE Graphite Fly Reel is a solid choice for anyone looking for a budget-friendly option. While it may not have all the bells and whistles of more expensive reels, it gets the job done and is built to last.

ANGLER DREAM Fly Reel

ANGLER DREAM Silver/Black (1/2WT 3/4WT 5/6WT 7/8WT) Fly Reel Aluminum Alloy Large Arbor Fly Fishing Reels

If you're looking for a budget-friendly fly reel that gets the job done, the ANGLER DREAM Fly Reel is worth considering.

Pros:
  • The quality-price ratio is excellent, making it a great option for novices or those looking to learn fly fishing.
  • The strong and durable aluminum alloy construction is flexible and has high strength and abrasion resistance.
  • The large arbor design provides quick spool release with easy left to right hand retrieve change, fast fly line retrieval, and reduces lower line memory.
Cons:
  • The right-hand retrieve setup may be inconvenient for left-handed anglers.
  • The spool/reel may make contact with the arbor during rotation, causing a scratchy sound.
  • The reel is not interchangeable, as the listing claims, and is built specifically for people who crank with their right-hand.
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We found the ANGLER DREAM Fly Reel to be a solid choice for budget-conscious anglers. The reel and line are pre-loaded, so there’s no need to tie the line, and the Teflon disc and aluminum alloy drag system with one-way ball bearing engages drag in one direction, providing accurate click drag and silent retrieve.

The reel is lightweight but strong, and the drag system works well. However, the right-hand retrieve setup may be inconvenient for left-handed anglers, and the spool/reel may make contact with the arbor during rotation, causing a scratchy sound. Additionally, the reel is not interchangeable, as the listing claims, and is built specifically for people who crank with their right-hand.

Overall, if you’re looking for a budget-friendly fly reel that provides good quality and value, the ANGLER DREAM Fly Reel is a solid choice.

Kylebooker Fly Fishing Reel Large Arbor with Aluminum Body Fly Reel 3/4wt 5/6wt 7/8wt Black with Red 7/8wt

Kylebooker Fly Fishing Reel Large Arbor with Aluminum Body Fly Reel 3/4wt 5/6wt 7/8wt (Black with Red, 7/8wt)

If you're looking for a budget-friendly fly reel, the Kylebooker Fly Fishing Reel is definitely worth considering.

Pros:
  • The all-aluminum construction makes the reel lightweight, corrosion-resistant, and durable.
  • The large arbor design provides quick spool release and easy left to right hand retrieve change, allowing for fast fly line retrieval and reducing lower line memory.
  • The disc brake system ensures smooth and stable power release output, with powerful release adjustment that won't break the lines.
Cons:
  • Some users have reported issues with the hub coming loose while fishing.
  • The quality of the reel is not as high as more expensive options.
  • The reel may not be suitable for larger fish species.
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We’ve had the opportunity to try out the Kylebooker Fly Fishing Reel in a variety of freshwater fishing scenarios, and overall we’ve been impressed with its performance. The all-aluminum construction is definitely a standout feature, making the reel both lightweight and durable. We appreciated the large arbor design, which made it easy to quickly retrieve our fly line and get back to fishing. The disc brake system also worked well, providing smooth and stable power release output.

That being said, we did experience some issues with the hub coming loose during use, which was frustrating. Additionally, while the reel is a great budget option, it’s important to keep in mind that the quality may not be as high as more expensive reels. Finally, we found that the reel may not be suitable for larger fish species, as it struggled to handle heavier fish in some cases.

Overall, we would recommend the Kylebooker Fly Fishing Reel to anyone looking for a budget-friendly option for freshwater fly fishing. While it may not be perfect, it’s a solid choice that provides good value for the price.

M MAXIMUMCATCH Maxcatch ECO Large Arbor Fly Fishing Reel

M MAXIMUMCATCH Maxcatch ECO Pre-Loaded Fly Fishing Reel Aluminum Body with Fly Line, Backing, Leader(3/4wt 5/6wt 7/8wt) (Silver ECO Reel with Line, 5/6 wt)

If you're looking for a budget-friendly fly reel that offers great value for money, the M MAXIMUMCATCH Maxcatch ECO Large Arbor Fly Fishing Reel is definitely worth considering.

Pros:
  • The reel is made of strong and durable all-aluminum construction, making it resistant to wear and tear.
  • It features a large arbor design, which allows for rapid line retrieval, making it easier to reel in your catch.
  • The rugged disc drag provides serious pressure on the fish, making it easier to reel in larger fish.
Cons:
  • Some users have reported issues with the drag becoming jerky after prolonged use.
  • The machining quality could be improved, as some users have reported side slop between the spool and frame.
  • The pre-loaded fly line, backing, and leader may not be of the highest quality.
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We’ve had a chance to use the M MAXIMUMCATCH Maxcatch ECO Large Arbor Fly Fishing Reel, and we’re impressed with the overall quality and performance of the reel. The all-aluminum construction feels solid and durable, and the large arbor design makes it easy to retrieve line quickly.

The rugged disc drag system is a nice touch, and it provides plenty of stopping power when reeling in larger fish. However, some users have reported issues with the drag becoming jerky after prolonged use, so it may not be the best choice for more experienced anglers.

The pre-loaded fly line, backing, and leader are a nice touch, but they may not be of the highest quality. Some users have reported issues with the line tangling easily or not casting as smoothly as they would like.

Overall, the M MAXIMUMCATCH Maxcatch ECO Large Arbor Fly Fishing Reel is a great budget-friendly option for novice anglers or those looking for a backup reel. While it may not be the best choice for more experienced anglers, it offers great value for money and is definitely worth considering.

Piscifun Sword Fly Fishing Reel

Piscifun Sword Fly Fishing Reel, CNC-Machined Aluminum Alloy Fly Reel, Light Weight and Corrosion Resistance Design 5/6wt Gunmetal

If you're looking for a budget fly reel, the Piscifun Sword Fly Fishing Reel is definitely worth considering.

Pros:
  • Lightweight design makes it easy to handle for long periods
  • Smooth drag system ensures a seamless and enjoyable fishing experience
  • Corrosion-resistant, ensuring that it lasts for a long time
Cons:
  • The drag system may not be as strong as some other more expensive models
  • The reel may not be as durable as some other options on the market
  • Some users may find the reel to be too small for their needs
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We’ve had the chance to test out the Piscifun Sword Fly Fishing Reel, and we were impressed with its overall performance. The CNC-machined aluminum alloy construction gives the reel a solid and durable feel, while the larger CNC hollow design makes it surprisingly lightweight.

The drag system is smooth and accurate, with a one-way clutch bearing for immediate drag engagement. We did find the drag to be a little sensitive, but it’s still effective for most fishing situations.

One of the standout features of this reel is its corrosion resistance. The hard anodized surface protection enhances abrasion and weather resistance, making it a great choice for saltwater fishing.

The mid-arbor design reduces line memory and facilitates lightning-quick line pickup, which is especially useful when you’re trying to reel in a fast-moving fish. And if you encounter any issues with the product, the three-year warranty provides added peace of mind.

Overall, we would recommend the Piscifun Sword Fly Fishing Reel to anyone in the market for a budget-friendly option that still delivers solid performance.

Buying Guide

When it comes to buying a budget fly reel, there are a few key features to consider to ensure you get the best product for your needs. Here are some factors to keep in mind when choosing a budget fly reel:

Drag System

The drag system is an essential feature of any fly reel, as it helps to control the fish when it’s hooked. A good drag system should be smooth and easy to adjust, allowing you to fine-tune the resistance to match the weight and strength of the fish you’re targeting. Look for a budget fly reel with a reliable drag system that can handle the size of the fish you plan to catch.

Material

The material of the fly reel is another important factor to consider. Most budget fly reels are made of either aluminum or graphite. Aluminum is a more durable and long-lasting material, but it can be heavier and more expensive. Graphite, on the other hand, is lighter and more affordable, but it may not last as long as aluminum. Consider your budget and the type of fishing you plan to do when choosing the material of your fly reel.

Arbor Size

The arbor size of the fly reel refers to the diameter of the central spindle around which the fly line is wound. A larger arbor size can hold more line and allows for faster retrieval, making it a good choice for larger fish or longer casts. However, a smaller arbor size can be lighter and more compact, making it easier to transport. Consider your fishing needs and preferences when choosing the arbor size of your budget fly reel.

Weight

The weight of the fly reel is an important consideration, as it can affect your casting and overall fishing experience. A heavier reel can be more durable and provide better balance on heavier rods, but it can also be more tiring to use for long periods. A lighter reel can be easier to handle and more comfortable to use, but it may not be as durable. Consider the weight of the fly reel in relation to your rod and fishing needs when making your choice.

By keeping these factors in mind, you can choose the best budget fly reel for your needs. Remember to consider your budget, fishing style, and the type of fish you plan to catch when making your decision.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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