When fly fishing the use of a reel can be quite different than some fisherman are used to and picking the right fly fishing reels for your excursion can be critical. Many fly fishermen use very different techniques depending on the type of fish they are catching. In some cases the reel can be very important, and in other cases the reel can be more of a backup device. Let’s look at the techniques used in catching trout and salmon.
When catching trout many fishermen simply hand strip the line rather than using the reel. They can hand strip the line in faster than can be done on the reel, and striping the line provides a very positive feel. For catching trout the reel is really just a device that helps the line when it has not been let out yet, but there are times that the reel is used. The reel can help get rid of snags and can be used to follow a big fish. The reel can also give you more movement opportunities. Since trout reels tend not to be used very hard, or often, a simple clutch is all that is needed. Do not waste money on a fancy or expensive clutch system. Your rod to reel weight ratio should be chosen so that it is comfortable. A light rod is a good thing, but if the reel is too light it can prevent you from getting a good balance with the rod. You may want to use a heavier reel to help maintain a certain feel.
When fishing salmon you should almost always use the fly fishing reel rather than striping the line by hand. Salmon tend to run out further than trout, so even though you can still technically strip the line back in, the chance of a tangle or snags is much higher than with trout. Salmon reels tend to be larger in diameter than trout reels and more better at bring in a fighting trout. A salmon reel requires a decent clutch. The screw type is very common, but will not last longer under heavy use. The disk type will last longer but some fishermen say they tend to slip more when wet. Since salmon fishermen are often standing in the water, the clutch getting wet is a distinct possibility. Salmon fishing reels can be expensive but will not stand up to super heavy use, so do not use them for fishing that should require a more heavy duty unit. Also, salmon fishing reels are not meant for use in saltwater, so if you are going to use a salmon reel in saltwater you should wash it thoroughly at the end of the fishing session. Oiling the gears and pivots helps maintain good action as well as prevents rust by keeping the saltwater off of the surfaces. Be sure not to get any oil near the clutch, though.
Fly fishing reels vary so much because the intended uses vary so much. Make sure you get a reel that is designed for your intended uses, and be careful not to ask your reel to do things it was not intended to. Remember that not every reel is heavy-duty, and that heavy-duty reels do not work well on smaller fishes. So do not buy a heavy-duty reel if you intend on fishing smaller fish as it will not only waste your money, but make your job harder as well.