Best Saltwater Fly Reels

The Best Saltwater Fly Reels

We get it, fly fishing in saltwater still isn’t the most popular pastime. We took a while to catch onto the idea, as well, though we grew to love it. After all, it is tough to beat the gorgeous views and variations in fish species that go along with this sport.

The thing about saltwater fishing, though, is that you need an entirely new set of gear. In particular, you need to have the best saltwater fly reels. As we soon found out, though, these aren’t readily available.

So, if you want to ensure that you are equipped with the top saltwater reel for your fishing expedition, here is what you need to know.

Top Saltwater Fly Reels

Here are our top picks:

The Piscifun Crest Fly Reel

Piscifun Crest Fly Fishing Reel Large Arbor Fully...
  • Lifetime Warranty - Piscifun offers Life Time Warranty for all Crest fly reels without Human Damage...
  • Fully Sealed Carbon-to-STAINLESS DRAG - Impervious to water, sand and grit, requiring no maintenance...
  • Precisely Cnc Machined - Strong yet lightweight anodized 6061 T6 aluminum, sports a heavily...
  • Large Arbor Design - The U-shaped arbor limits line memory and, paired with the large, flared...
  • Click Drag And Silent Retreive - Click drag design provides accurate adjustment. The Crest reel...

If you want a fly reel that is going to offer up a reliable performance every time, then the Piscifun Crest is for you. It has the additional benefit of being rather long-lasting to boot!

What We Like:

  • Fully Sealed System: the fully sealed drag system means that absolutely no sand or saltwater is getting in, automatically increasing the lifespan of the reel.
  • Well-Machined: made from cold-forged and tempered 6061-T6 aluminum alloy, this is an incredibly tough and durable material that has been designed to be lightweight.
  • Corrosion Resistant: the reel is completely corrosion-resistant, allowing you to use it for longer without incident.
  • Click and Drag Retrieval: the silent click and drag retrieval allows you to make accurate adjustments that can be repeated as necessary.

What We Don’t Like:

  • Smaller Backing Capacity: if you are going after big fish, you may find that this reel doesn’t have as much backing capacity as you need.

Orvis Hydros Reels

Orvis Hydros Reels
  • Refined, lighter weight large arbor fly reel
  • Improved fully-sealed drag clutch bearing
  • Radiused reel foot for kink-free leader protection
  • Ergonomically improved, easy to use drag knob
  • Zero start-up inertia

This is arguably one of the best saltwater fly reels on the market. Its sealed design, combined with top-notch engineering means that this reel ticks all the right boxes.

What We Like:

  • Improved Drag Seal: the design has been revolutionized to ensure that the clutch bearing is protected even further, reducing the risk of performance issues.
  • Carbon and Stainless Steel Drag: the drag is completely corrosion-proof, allowing you to use in saltwater without having to resort to tedious cleaning rituals.
  • Zero Startup Inertia: the transition from when you have hooked a fish on your line to when you move it onto the reel has become as efficient as possible.
  • Ergonomic Drag Knob: the drag knob is more accessible than before and, as such, is more comfortable to use.
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What We Don’t Like:

  • Smaller Drag Knob: while ergonomic, the size may be a lot smaller than what most anglers are used to.

If you want great value for money, look no further than this fly reel. The materials have been carefully chosen and the design has been perfected by engineers, boasting an impressive performance.

What We Like:

  • High-Quality Materials: with a combination of aircraft-grade aluminum and stainless steel, this reel is strong, durable, and safe from corrosion.
  • Large Arbor Design: you will have no trouble reeling in larger fish found in saltwater with this reel.
  • One Way Clutch Bearing Design: this allows for a smooth and efficient drag engagement which reduces the risk of line backlash.
  • Easy Hand Change Feature: you can change the reel from the left hand to right-hand position (and vice versa) without any tools.

What We Don’t Like:

  • Seal Not As Efficient: although the company claims that the reel is fully sealed, this seal isn’t efficient. As such, you will need to clean it after every use.

The Okuma SLV Fly Reel

Okuma SLV- 5/6 Diecast Aluminum Fly Reel, Light Silver
  • Made of highest quality material
  • Manufacturer: Okuma
  • Okuma slv Super large arbor fly reel 1 RB 5/6 wt 12/140
  • Multi-Disk Cork and Stainless Drag Washers
  • Roller Bearing Engages Drag in One Direction

If you are going for affordability but don’t want to compromise on quality or features, this SLV fly reel is an ideal catch.

What We Like:

  • Aluminum and Stainless Steel Components: these components are surprisingly top-notch for this price point. As an added bonus, they reduce the risk of corrosion.
  • Precision Machined Features: each part has been carefully designed and produced to ensure a smooth and efficient performance every time.
  • Super Large Arbor: with this in hand, you should be able to go after even larger prey in saltwater areas.

What We Don’t Like:

  • Not Sealed: since the drag system isn’t sealed, you will have to carefully clean out the reel every time it is used, particularly in sandy or saltwater locations.

Redington BEHEMOTH Fly Reel

Redington Behemoth Fly Fishing Reel, Multipurpose Fly...
  • BEHEMOTH FLY REEL: Combines the most powerful drag in its class with stunning aesthetics that push...
  • QUALITY DESIGN: The unique, un-machinable, die-cast construction is coupled with a durable,...
  • HEAVY DUTY DRAG: A super-heavy duty carbon fiber drag package brings the utmost in drag strength,...
  • EASY RETRIEVE: The large arbor is designed for speedy line retrieval and reduced line memory. Twin...
  • BACKING CAPACITY: [5/6] 125 yards / 20 lb, [7/8] 200 yards / 20 lb, [9/10] 200 yards / 30 lb,...

If you are on the lookout for a fly reel in a league of its own, check out the BEHEMOTH. With just a glance, you can tell that the aesthetics and features of this reel are unique.

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What We Like:

  • Unique Die Cast Construction: the features that are considered a disadvantage with other reels are a plus point here. Die-cast construction provides strength, durability, and smooth performance.
  • Excellent Drag System: the carbon fiber system is powerful and boasts excellent stopping power. At the same time, it has low startup inertia.
  • Large Arbor Design: improves retrieval speeds while simultaneously reducing line memory.
  • Oversized Drag Knob: this allows you to make adjustments quickly and easily.

What We Don’t Like:

  • Unsealed Drag System: the lack of protection means that you will have to be very thorough about how you clean this reel after use.

The Aventik Z Fly Reel

Aventik Z Fly Reel Center Drag System Classic III...
  • Aventik C-III, Classic III, is new graphite large arbor fly reel, light weight and strong. Polymeric...
  • Rugged central disc drag for extremely smooth and consistent drag control. One-way bearing for easy...
  • Size info: 3/4 dia 76mm Weight 4.2oz/120g Line capacity, WF3F+60m backing. 5/6 dia 86mm Weight...

Are you a weekend warrior with saltwater fly fishing?

If so, you will enjoy what this reel has to offer. It is affordable, lightweight, and has just enough useful features to keep you interested.

What We Like:

  • Corrosion Proof: despite being made from graphite, this reel is still completely corrosion-proof and safe to use in saltwater conditions.
  • Large Arbor Design: this increases the retrieval speed of the line while simultaneously improving the backing capacity of the reel.
  • Central Disc Drag: you get efficient and reliable drag control every time you use the reel.
  • One Way Bearing: you can switch the reel from one hand to the other with minimal hassle.

What We Don’t Like:

  • Unsealed Drag System: the reel will need to be rinsed out after each use for continuous optimal performance.

What Is The Best Saltwater Reel?

While all the saltwater reels on this list are spectacular, there is one that truly deserves the title. This would be the Piscifun Crest fly reel. I

t is made from durable and reliable materials that are corrosion-proof and can stand up to use and abuse.

These components are well-machined and boast excellent performance. Last, but not least, the sealed drag system ensures that the reel can easily take on saltwater conditions.

What to Look for in Saltwater Fly Reels

Here are the features you should pay attention to when shopping for saltwater fly reels:

Corrosion-Proof Materials

The most important element of saltwater fly reels is the materials it is made of. This is because the reels have to be made from corrosion-resistant materials. Saltwater can be incredibly caustic to reels. This is true even if you rinse out the reels thoroughly after use.

Due to this, you should only ever select materials that are proven to be corrosion-proof. Most reels are made of a combination of aluminum and stainless steel. If you want to true protection from corrosion, though, look for those that have been anodized or specifically treated to resist corrosion.

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Strength and Durability

At the same time, consider how durable the material of the reel is as well. When it comes to saltwater fishing, you will often have to contend with larger specimens that tend to put up a fight. As such, you need a reel that can handle that kind of use and abuse.

This is why it is a good idea to invest in a good quality reel right off the bat. Do this and you should be able to use your reel for years to come. Such a selection will more than makeup for the cost.

Drag System

When selecting a drag system for a good saltwater fly reel, there are a couple of different factors to consider.

To begin with, it is best to opt for disc drags rather than click-and-pawl reels. For one thing, these reels tend to have greater stopping power. This comes in handy when dealing with larger saltwater species. For another, disc drags start-up smooth to protect light tippets and maintain consistent pressure throughout the process of reeling in the fish.

Also, when fishing in saltwater, you often have to make more adjustments on the fly. Disc drag allows you to do just that. This makes it far easier to contend with specific fishing conditions.

Now, most experts would also urge you to get a reel that has a fully sealed drag system. When you are fishing in saltwater conditions, there is a greater risk of salt and sand getting inside. Needless to say, this will ruin the performance of the system.

Of course, it can be tricky to find this option on more budget-friendly reels. If this is the case, drag systems that aren’t sealed can still be used. To make up for the lack of this feature, though, you have to be careful about cleaning out the reel.

Make it a point to gently rinse out the reel with fresh water after every expedition. This should help to clear out any sediment that resides within the reel.

Arbor Size

As you will have noticed, all the reels on this list are large arbor reels. So, what gives? A larger arbor reel is known for its fast retrieval and consistent drag. This comes in handy when you are trying to reel a large or fast-moving fish, like those you will encounter in many saltwater environments.

Due to this, a large arbor reel tends to be the way to go. However, not all of these reels are equally as efficient. You should be aware that some large arbor reels tend to reduce backing capacity. Due to this, it is important to find a good balance.

Look for a large arbor reel that has a similarly large diameter. This ensures that you can enjoy a larger backing capacity as well.

Line and Backing Capacity

As mentioned above, line and backing capacity can be important. If you are going after a long-running fish, then you need to ensure that you have enough line to do so. Of course, the exact weight will depend on the kind of species that you are after.

Unless you are after significantly heavy-duty fish, there is no need to require too much backing capacity from your reel. For the most part, 150 to 200 yards – or even less may do just fine for most conditions.


Here are the most frequently asked questions about saltwater fly reels:

Can You Use a Freshwater Fly Reel in Saltwater?

It may be possible for you to use a freshwater fly reel as long as it has the features necessary to function in a saltwater environment. Bear in mind that you will often have to clean out your reel more thoroughly if you do so. Also, there is a chance that the reel may not last as long.

How Do I Choose a Saltwater Fly Reel?

When choosing a saltwater reel, look for corrosion-proof material, well-designed features, and a larger arbor design. It can also help to have a fully sealed drag system to prevent a loss in performance.

What Size Saltwater Fly Reel Do I Need?

The size of the saltwater fly reel will depend on your rod and the kind of fish you are after. For smaller fish, you can opt for a smaller reel, while larger fish will require a larger size.

This is what you need to know about finding the best saltwater fly reels. Now that you are armed with this knowledge, finding the perfect fit for you will be easier than ever before.

This page was last updated on 2022-08-29. Affiliate links and Product Images are from Amazon PAAPI

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