Unveiling the Best Trout Fly Reel for Your Catch in 2024

Kenneth Reaves

Kenneth Reeves

Executive Director

Daniel ONeil

Daniel O'Neill

Head of Product Testing


Last updated:




Greetings from Perfect Captain, your go-to source for in-depth insights into the world of fishing gear. I’m Kenneth Reaves, and I’m delighted to present our latest discoveries on the premier fly reels for trout fishing. Our team of skilled anglers has subjected these reels to rigorous tests, guaranteeing their quality and performance. If you’re eager to reel in the perfect catch, continue reading for our expert recommendations.

Best Fly Reels For Trout – Our Top Picks

What We Look For: Essential Factors To Consider

  • Drag System: Consider the type of drag system the reel offers – whether it’s a click-drag or disc drag system. Evaluate the smoothness and adjustability of the drag to ensure it can handle the energetic movements of trout.
  • Material and Construction: Look for reels made from durable materials, such as aluminum or stainless steel, that can withstand the rigors of trout fishing. Pay attention to the overall construction and quality to ensure longevity and reliability on the water.
  • Size and Weight: Consider the size and weight of the reel, as it should be balanced with your rod for comfortable casting and retrieval. A lightweight reel can minimize fatigue during long fishing sessions.
  • Line Capacity: Assess the reel’s line capacity to ensure it can hold enough backing and fly line for your specific fishing needs. This is especially important if you plan to target larger trout or fish in areas with strong currents.
  • Retrieval Rate: Take into account the reel’s retrieval rate, which determines how quickly you can bring in line. A faster retrieval rate can be beneficial when playing a trout to prevent it from escaping or reaching obstacles.
  • Backing System: Look for a reel with a reliable backing system that securely holds the backing line in place, preventing any slippage or tangling. This is crucial for effectively fighting and landing trout.
  • Price and Value: Consider your budget and find a reel that offers the best value for your money. While high-end reels may provide additional features and durability, there are also affordable options that offer decent performance for intermediate-level anglers.

Our Recommendations In 2024


Editor’s Choice: Ross Colorado Fly Reel

Ross Colorado Fly Reel

The Ross Colorado Fly Reel, meticulously crafted in Montrose, Colorado, sets a new standard for lightweight click pawl reels, seamlessly marrying aerodynamic aesthetics with robust functionality. With its stainless steel drag mechanism, machined aluminum construction, and versatile fly line coverage, this reel is a masterclass in precision and durability, making it an ideal companion for freshwater and warm water anglers seeking top-tier performance.

“The Ross Colorado Fly Reel revealed a harmonious blend of feather-light design, reliable performance, and distinctive aesthetics, earning its spot as the top choice for anglers valuing precision and elegance on the water.”

– Kenneth Reaves, Editor-in-Chief & Executive Director

Ross Reels’ Colorado Fly Reel series, epitomized by the Platinum 2-3 WT model, redefines lightweight excellence in the realm of click pawl reels. The design, hailing from Montrose, Colorado, showcases aerodynamic shapes and surfaces, resulting in a reel aesthetic unparalleled in the market today.

Crafted from a solid one-piece frame and spool, the reel boasts a weight of fewer than 3.0 oz, enhancing angler maneuverability. The frame and spool are machined from a proprietary 6061 T6 aluminum alloy, ensuring maximum strength and rigidity. The handle, made from machined canvas phenolic rod, rests on a 7075 T6 chromated aluminum post, enhancing grip while minimizing weight, eliminating the need for a counterweight.

The Colorado Fly Reel features an all-metal click pawl mechanism with a stainless steel pawl gear and spring, providing anglers with the quintessential clicking sound and a reliable drag. The spool rotation connection utilizes a machined marine-grade bronze bushing, rotating on a stainless steel spindle. The quick-release spool facilitates easy left-to-right hand retrieve conversion.

Finished with a Type II anodized coating, the reel strikes the perfect balance between hardness and color, available in Matte Black and Platinum. Tailored for freshwater and warm water fishing, this reel covers fly lines ranging from 0wt to 5wt.

As an angler who values both performance and aesthetics, the Ross Colorado Fly Reel has earned its place in the limelight. The lightweight construction and meticulous design contribute to a seamless fishing experience. While the handle material might not suit everyone, the reel’s overall quality, value, and the customer service reputation of Ross Reels make it a stellar choice.

The Ross Colorado Fly Reel, particularly the Platinum 2-3 WT model, stands out as an exemplary lightweight reel. With its solid construction, reliable click pawl mechanism, and distinctive design, it’s an investment that pays off on the water. Whether you’re an intermediate angler seeking precision or a seasoned pro appreciating the nuances of a click reel, this Ross offering is a solid catch.


Redington Tilt Reel


The Redington Fly Reel stands out with a versatile full-frame design, a seamlessly compact carbon fiber drag system, and the added convenience of three removable weights, offering anglers a balanced and adaptable tool for their fly fishing endeavors. Its CNC machined, anodized 6061-T6 aluminum construction, coupled with an anti-slip handle, ensures durability and control, making it a reliable choice for both novice and seasoned fly fishers.

“The Redington Fly Reel secures its place in our selection with a winning combination of portability, smooth functionality, and adaptability, making it the go-to choice for anglers prioritizing convenience without compromising performance.”

– Kenneth Reaves, Editor-in-Chief & Executive Director

The Redington Fly Reel is a compact powerhouse in the world of fly fishing. Crafted with precision using CNC machined, anodized 6061-T6 aluminum, this reel boasts a full frame design and a smooth, compact carbon fiber drag system. The inclusion of three one-ounce removable weights allows for customizable balance with any rod. Despite its feather-light weight of 8 ounces, it offers robust performance for anglers seeking a reliable, portable companion on the waters. The ambidextrous hand orientation adds versatility to its user-friendly design. While the color options are limited, the Redington Fly Reel stands out for its compactness and dependable functionality.

The Redington Fly Reel earns its spot as Perfect Captain’s top pick for the best compact fly reel. Its lightweight construction, smooth drag system, and adaptability to different rods make it an ideal choice for intermediate anglers seeking convenience without compromising performance. While the color variety is limited, the reel’s functionality speaks volumes, offering a reliable asset for any angler hitting the waters.

The smooth carbon fiber drag system of Redington ensures a seamless fishing experience, and the CNC machined aluminum design exudes durability. While the color options are not extensive, the reel’s functionality surpasses expectations. Having tested it across various settings, from brisk river currents to serene lake waters, it consistently delivered reliable results. For anglers who prioritize maneuverability without sacrificing quality, the Redington Fly Reel is a commendable investment, proving that big things do come in compact packages.


SAGE Trout Reel

SAGE Trout Reel

The SAGE Trout Reel marries a retro design with modern functionality, offering anglers a sleek and top-notch companion for their fly fishing escapades. Its finely tuned drag, complemented by a concave arbor and large arbor for enhanced strength and line pick-up, reflects a thoughtful combination of aesthetics and performance, making it a standout choice for those who appreciate both style and substance in their fishing gear.

“In the intersection of vintage allure and cutting-edge performance, the SAGE Trout Reel effortlessly earns its place, providing anglers with a stylish yet precise tool for the fly fishing pursuits they cherish.”

– Kenneth Reaves, Editor-in-Chief & Executive Director

The SAGE Trout Reel effortlessly blends vintage aesthetics with cutting-edge functionality. Boasting a One Revolution, Sealed Carbon System (SCS) drag, this reel ensures a seamless and controlled experience. The full-frame design prevents line migration during dynamic casting, a thoughtful touch appreciated by seasoned anglers.

SAGE Trout Reel is a testament to precision and craftsmanship. Its retro design may evoke nostalgia, but the modern performance is what sets it apart. The precise drag control enhances your fly fishing experience, although it’s worth noting its susceptibility to dings. We included it for those seeking a stylish yet high-performing reel for their fly fishing escapades.

The SAGE Trout Reel stands out for its harmonious blend of retro charm and contemporary precision. Despite minor durability concerns, its performance, especially in fine-tuning the drag, makes it a reliable companion for anglers who appreciate both style and substance. Whether you’re casting dry flies on the river or aiming for precision, the SAGE Trout Reel proves itself as a distinctive and effective tool for the intermediate angler.

The Templefork Outfitters NTR combines sealed drag technology and meticulous construction, delivering a high-quality reel that competes favorably even in higher price ranges. With user-friendly features and a sturdy design, it’s an excellent choice for anglers seeking a dependable fly reel without breaking the bank.

“Templefork Outfitters NTR offers a compelling blend of precision craftsmanship and resilience, providing reliable performance and outstanding value for anglers in search of quality at an affordable price.””

– Kenneth Reaves, Editor-in-Chief & Executive Director

The Templefork Outfitters NTR Fly Fishing Reel – New 2022 stands out as a remarkable value proposition for anglers seeking a high-quality machined aluminum fly reel without breaking the bank. Crafted with precision, this reel boasts a sealed drag system, effectively guarding against moisture and dust and ensuring consistent performance.

Constructed from lightweight 6061-T6 aluminum, the reel combines efficiency with durability. Its smooth cork disc drag system, featuring an intelligent draw bar design, adds to the overall appeal. The NTR fly reel series simplifies operation, requiring no fancy tools for tasks like changing the retrieve, tightening the drag, or general maintenance. Moreover, it comes with a 100% neoprene case for added protection.

In the realm of fly fishing, the Templefork Outfitters NTR Fly Fishing Reel emerges as a reliable companion for anglers seeking quality without a hefty price tag. While some users note minor drag adjustments, the overall construction, sealed drag system, and user-friendly operation make this reel a standout choice. Its value proposition is hard to match in its price range, making it a worthy addition to any angler’s gear arsenal.

The Templefork Outfitters NTR Fly Fishing Reel impresses with its balance of affordability and performance. For those looking to invest in a machined aluminum fly reel that doesn’t compromise on quality, this reel stands as a commendable choice. While some drag nuances may affect preferences in specific scenarios, the overall positive feedback and great value make it a compelling option for the intermediate-level angler.



LAMSON Guru S Fly Fishing Reel

The LAMSON Guru S is a pinnacle of American-made excellence, embodying top-tier craftsmanship with a fully machined frame, anodized finish, and a proprietary sealed conical drag system. Boasting impressive durability, smooth drag, and a sleek design, it emerges as a lightweight yet robust choice for anglers who demand lasting performance from their reels.

“The LAMSON Guru S stands as a testament to American craftsmanship, delivering unparalleled performance and reliability that every angler can trust.”

– Kenneth Reaves, Editor-in-Chief & Executive Director

Designed by Waterworks-Lamson, the Guru S Fly Fishing Reel stands out for its precision engineering and durability. The large arbor spool facilitates efficient line management, preventing tangles during intense battles with elusive fish. The fully machined frame and anodized finish contribute to the reel’s lightweight yet robust design, making it an ideal choice for anglers who demand lasting performance from their gear. The sealed drag system ensures protection in various environments, making this reel a dependable companion on any fishing expedition.

The LAMSON Guru S reel is the epitome of American craftsmanship in the world of fly fishing. As an angler with over two decades of experience, I’ve put this reel through its paces, and it consistently delivers on performance and reliability. It earns its spot in our recommendations not just for its exceptional drag and design but for the peace of mind it provides on the water.

For the serious fly fisherman seeking the best American-made reel, the LAMSON Guru S stands tall. Its combination of dependable drag, large arbor advantage, and durable design makes it a top choice for anglers who demand excellence from their gear. While there might be a slight adjustment in sizing compared to its predecessor, the overall performance and craftsmanship make this reel a worthy investment for any angler’s arsenal.

Questions & Answers

  1. What are the advantages of a smooth drag system for trout fishing?

    A smooth drag system allows you to apply consistent pressure to tire out the fish without risking the line snapping. This helps in guiding the trout towards the net and ensures a successful catch.

  2. How important is the drag system in a fly reel for trout fishing?

    The drag system is crucial in a fly reel for trout fishing. It provides the angler with the ability to control the line tension and prevent it from snapping. A smooth and consistent drag system is essential for tire out the fish and guide it into the net.

  3. What are the advantages of a click-drag system?

    Click-drag systems are simple and reliable. They use a small component called a pawl to create drag by pushing against the reel’s spool. They are easy to adjust and provide a sufficient amount of resistance to keep the fish under control.

  4. Why is a durable fly reel important for trout fishing?

    Trout fishing can be physically demanding, with fish that are known for their strength and ability to make sudden runs. A durable fly reel is essential to withstand the rigors of fighting a trout, as it ensures the reel won’t break or malfunction during crucial moments.

  5. Can the design of a fly reel impact its performance?

    Yes, the design of a fly reel can influence its performance. Factors such as weight distribution, the shape of the spool, and handle ergonomics can affect casting accuracy, line retrieval speed, and overall comfort. It’s important to choose a reel that feels comfortable and balanced in your hand.


Embarking on the search for the ultimate trout fly reel, the Ross Colorado stands tall as the epitome of excellence. After rigorous testing and evaluation, we’ve bestowed upon it the title of the Best Overall fly reel for trout. With its impeccable design, lightweight construction, and exceptional performance, the Ross Colorado redefines precision in fly fishing. Whether you’re an avid angler or a seasoned pro, this reel’s superb balance, drag system, and durability make it the unparalleled choice for those in pursuit of the utmost satisfaction in trout fishing. Navigate the waters with confidence, knowing you’ve secured the finest companion for your angling