Whether you’re new to fly fishing or you’ve been casting a line for decades, choosing new gear and equipment can be a difficult process. Generally, making the decision to purchase something like a new fly fishing reel or rod requires a great deal of research, lots of reading of reviews and forum posts, and numerous conversations with fly shops. The good news is, once you find a quality fly fishing reel that you enjoy to use and that suits your style of fishing, you can stick with this brand for years to come and not have to go through the complex decision making process of choosing another reel. To help make the initial decision easier for you, we’ve outlined some of the big players in the fly reel field below.
Sage was initially founded in 1980 with one goal in mind – to create the best fly rods in the world. In the last 30 years, Sage has risen to be not only a world leader in rods, but also in fly fishing reels, gear and accessories. Founded and still based on Bainbridge Island, WA, Sage came from humble beginnings (six employees in a small warehouse) to rapidly become a leader in producing quality fly rods. Shortly after establishing a reputation and loyal following, Sage branched out into fly reel design, and we’re glad they did. Although still most famous for their rods, Sage fly fishing reels are of exceptional quality, and incorporate a diverse range of reels including fresh and saltwater, from entry level to luxury models. This band is such a staple name throughout fly fishing that you’re almost not a legitimate angler if you don’t own at least one piece of Sage equipment. And who can stop at one?!
Like Sage, Redington is located in the Pacific Northwest where some of the best river fly fishing in the US can be found. Redington was founded in 1992 and began as a rod and reel specialist, and this remains their area of expertise today. Redington make a lot of entry level, reasonably priced fly fishing reels that are still great quality, and these provide a fantastic introduction for anglers to Redington gear. If you purchase an affordable, entry level reel from Redington, chances are you’ll be hooked and find yourself upgrading to their more luxurious items before you know it. Redington say that they are dedicated to making fly fishing more fun, which sounds like something no angler would argue with.
Forget the 1980s – Orvis was founded by Charles F. Orvis in Manchester, VT in 1856. As a result, Orvis is now America’s longest continually operating fly fishing business. The century and a half of experience has taught Orvis a thing or two – their products are of exceptional quality. Although Orvis has branched out into sportswear, home furnishings and more, their primary products are still their fly fishing equipment. Predominantly known for rods and fly fishing reels, Orvis offers fantastic quality and has a wide selection of reels to suit almost any budget and skill level. Owning an Orvis fly fishing reel is almost a rite of passage to becoming a seasoned fly angler.
Each of these brands supplies a quality product and has developed a reputation as a leading brand in fly fishing. By purchasing a fly fishing reel that has one of these names emblazoned onto the side, you know that you are investing in a quality product that should last you for years to come. What’s more, you can purchase an entry level fly fishing reel from one of the above brands, and if it works well for you, you can upgrade when you feel ready and upgrade, knowing that you can expect the same quality from your trusted brand. It is also worth noting that there are of course lots of other brands of fly fishing reel to choose from – take your time, try a few, and see what works for you.