Best Saltwater Fly Reels For The Money: Top Reels For Less

If you are in a hurry and just want to find out what the best saltwater fly reel for the money is, then we recommend the Piscifun Platte Large Arbor Fly Reel as the best all around.

There’s no better feeling than getting out on the water and casting the perfect line to hook a stubborn fish. Of course, without a reliable reel, you’ll likely end up wasting hours with nothing to show for it instead. But how are you supposed to find one you can depend on that won’t cost you a fortune?

Lucky for you, that’s what our list and guide are here for! With these, you’ll be given a head start in finding the best saltwater fly-fishing reels for the money

After researching the market and gauging the best value saltwater fishing reels, we’ve compiled a list of the top five that provide the greatest quality for the lowest cost. If you still haven’t found one that suits your needs we have a detailed buyer’s guide that will help you keep looking.

best saltwater fly reels

In a Hurry? Here’s Our Top 3 Picks…

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Buyer’s Guide: What To Look For In A Good Saltwater Fly Reel

top saltwater fly reels

Of course, even with our selections above, if you don’t know what to look for in a good, low-cost saltwater fly fishing reel then you’ll likely be left floundering (pun intended). It can seem like there are always some unknown features and qualities that you don’t know to look for until you’ve already bought a reel and by then it’s too late.

Not to worry though, as we’re here to help you figure out just what you should look for when combing over our list or doing your own research on fly fishing reels. Our buyer’s guide will hopefully answer any questions you have and any questions you didn’t know you needed to ask!

Difference Between CNC Machined And Diecast

If you weren’t aware of the different methods of constructing a saltwater fly fishing reel before reading through our list, you were most likely put off by the jargon of “CNC” and “Diecast” in our descriptions. These are the main two ways in which reels are manufactured and the difference between the two can have an effect on what reel you’re likely to buy.

Diecasting is the easiest and most common method of manufacturing for fly reels. It’s done by pouring the molten alloy of choice into a precast mold until it hardens and sets into the desired reel shape. While this may sound simple, it actually requires a lot of advanced machinery, but the process also allows for many of them to be mass produced efficiently and reliably.

CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machining on the other hand is a direct machining process whereby the reels are formed without a mold and the construction is planned entirely by computer coding. It’s essentially a form of 3D printing and, as you can imagine, is incredibly delicate and complicated. Usually, reels constructed by CNC are more expensive than those that are die cast.

The major differences between the two lie in the quality of the reel produced. While a die cast reel’s design is more flexible and can be altered easily, the trade off is that they can shatter more easily than CNC reels. CNC reels, on the other hand, are lighter and more durable, but often cost more and the design is set in stone.

Does Size (And Weight) Really Matter

In short, yes. If you’re an experience fly fisher, you likely already know this about selecting a reel, but finding one with the right size and weight is probably one of the more important things to consider before reaching for your wallet.

You may think that a certain reel is perfect. It has all of the exact specifications that you’ve been looking for; the perfect material, construction, arbor size, line weight, color, shape, etc. However, when you finally take it out of the package and fit it on your rod, you realize that your reel and rod are not in compatible weights at all.

You should look up the specific weight and size class of your reel and compare it with your rod before making any purchases, otherwise you’ll be left with absolutely nothing to use on the water.

But Does It Matter For Arbors Too

Another long answer made short, yes. However, finding the right size arbor for your fishing goals matters in a different way than finding the right reel weight.

Most reels on the market will have a smaller arbor, which is useful when fishing for freshwater fish. This is because the freshwater fly fishing market is the most dominant one at the moment. However, we’re here to provide reels for the saltwater fly fishers out there, so what we’re looking for are larger arbors.

Larger arbors are essential for hooking and reeling the bigger saltwater fish as they provide more reel length for casting and allow for a quicker pick up. So be sure to look for larger arbors when hunting for your perfect saltwater fly fishing reel.

Listening For The Click

While this isn’t as essential a feature of fly fishing as some of the above categories, the sound and quality of the drag click when casting and reeling is such a big part of the sport that we couldn’t leave it out. Without it, a fly reel just doesn’t have the same aesthetic appeal.

What you want to listen for is a click that is smooth and satisfying when the reel is rotating. If the click has a tinny, metallic, erratic, or jarring sound, then you’d be best off looking for another reel. Of course, if you don’t mind having a grating, unnerving, and absolutely unpleasant sound while you’re trying to enjoy a relaxing day of fly fishing, then by all means, ignore our obviously good advice.

How To Find The Best Drag

Finally, one of the more important things to look for when purchasing your saltwater fly fishing reel is the drag system. For those who may not know, the drag system on a reel is what controls the speed of the reel when a fish is pulling line off of it in its mad swim for freedom. As you can imagine, having a good drag system that will slow the catch down is a must and the more powerful the drag system the better; especially in the case of saltwater fishing.

Of course, how are you supposed to know which drag system is the most powerful? Well, in that case, it usually depends on the quality of the reel itself. A high-quality reel will undoubtedly have a strong, durable, and dependable drag system.

There are some other things to look for as well though that can help you notice a good drag system when you see. One of the main signs is that the drag system is sealed. This means that there is no chance of dirt, dust, or water getting into the system and degrading it over time.

Reviews: Best Saltwater Fly Reels For The Money

Piscifun Platte Large Arbor Fly Reel

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The first reel on our list comes from PISCIFUN, one of the top brands in the fishing market. The Platte Large Arbor Fly Reel comes with its unique arbor design that picks up the drag fast and smoothly with an oversized drag knob for easy adjustment. With a custom carbon to stainless drag system that resists dirt, sand, and water, this reel is a durable and effective one.

It comes with an anodized, strong, and lightweight vented spool that is made of precise CNC high grade aluminum. The rim is easy to palm and the knurled grip of the drag knob provides you with the maximum amount of control while casting. You also have the most control over your reel’s look with the Platte as it comes in three distinctive colors; Black, Gunmetal, and Ice Blue!

The Platte also comes in a large variety of line weight options so you can choose the perfect option for your fishing goals. It comes in 5/6, 7/8, and 9/10 line weight options, though if you’re planning on using it for saltwater fishing you’ll most likely want to get the 9/10 option to reel in the bigger fish. Of course, the reel is a bit heavy to compensate and manage the increased line weight.

If you’re looking for a satisfying click with your reel too this model has a loud clicker adjustment for enjoyable casts. Overall, this is a great reel that provides a maximum amount of control.


  • Built out of CNC machined high grade aluminum
  • Resists dirt, sand, and water
  • Grip affords you a large amount of control while casting


  • Reel is heavy

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PISCIFUN Sword Fly Fishing Reel

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This next value fly fishing reel also comes from PISCIFUN with the same signature quality and power! The PISCIFUN Sword Fly Fishing Reel is much more of a value buy though, not being as powerful as the PISCIFUN Platte, but coming in at half the price!

It’s constructed out of a strong and durable high purity 6061-T6 aluminum alloy that gives it a sturdy structure, while the large, CNC machined hollow design keeps it lighter than other models. On top of that, the metal has been coated with an anodizing treatment that increases its ablation resistance, increasing its longevity. While the arbor design isn’t as large as the Platte, it’s still a comfortable medium size that will still provide a quick line pick up in saltwater areas.

Another great part of this reel’s design is its powerful drag system that is composed of multiple disks of cork and stainless steel for reliability and smoothness. It still provides that satisfying click as well with its adjustable drag knob. You also have a large variety of customization options over color and size, with color options including pink, black, gunmetal, and space gray, along with size options of 3/4, 5/6, 7/8, and 9/10 line weight.

One of the major problems with the lighter versions however is that the drag can be a little unpredictable and form into bird’s nests. The higher weight you go through the less this problem seems to occur, so for saltwater fishing this shouldn’t be much of a problem at all.


  • Built out of durable 6061-T6 aluminum alloy
  • CNC machined hollow design helps lessen weight
  • Large number of customization options


  • Drag can be unpredictable on the lighter versions

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REDINGTON Behemoth Fly Reel

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REDINGTON has been coming up with innovative additions and products for the angling market since 1992 and the Behemoth Fly Reel is no exception. A sleek and powerful fly reel that will stand out as one of the best saltwater fly reels for the money.

One of the most noticeable features of the REDINGTON Behemoth Fly Reel is the unique die-cast construction. When you purchase this reel you’ll be getting something that stands out among others with its sleek and specific design. It has a pair of soft-touch ergonomic handles for reeling and a larger arbor design for quick and easy line pick up.

It also comes with a wide variety of customization and performance options from color to line weight. You can choose anywhere from 4/5 to 11/12 line weight and have a choice of black, dessert, gunmetal, Hunter Orange, and O.D. Green in terms of color. On top of that, the aluminum oversized drag knob allows for a greater drag range and optimal control when reeling in your big catches.

In terms of the drag system itself, the REDINGTON Behemoth Fly Reel comes with an easily adjustable, carbon-fiber drag that can compete with the most powerful systems in its class. However, unlike our other selections, this reel’s drag system isn’t sealed. While not necessarily a deal breaker, it means that you will need to subject it to thorough cleanings and risings after use (especially if you’ve dunked it).

Overall though, the Behemoth is a unique, sleek, and powerful reel that anyone can pick up easily and depend on. If you don’t mind having to clean it a bit more often than other models, then is a perfect value saltwater fly reel.


  • Unique die cast construction
  • Large number of performance options
  • Sleek design


  • Reel’s drag system is not sealed

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RIVERRUNS Z Fly Fishing Reel

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Next up is RIVERRUNS Z Fly Fishing Reel which is the second generation of RIVERRUNS carbon disc reels. Designed by fly fishing engineers and guides specifically to succeed and provide top quality for a lower price, this reel is a top contender on the market.

Constructed out of aircraft aluminum that has been cold forged and tempered for additional strength, this reel is sturdy and strong for any sort of conditions you’ll face. The metal is anodized and made with stainless components as well to provide corrosion resistance and unbeatable high impact durability. You can also order it in varying line weights from 3/5 to 7/9 and it comes in three different color options: green, black, and silver.

The design is meant for easy palming while still maximizing the arbor size and capacity. You can count on a fast and easy line pick up while also retaining distance for those important long casts. Another interesting and helpful feature of this reel is its ability to easily transition between hand usage as it doesn’t need any sort of equipment to be switched from right to left reeling.

While the reel is advertised as being sealed however, it isn’t. It has a good deal of shielding and protection so that it could be considered semi-sealed, but there is still a chance for dirt, sand, or water to slip into the drag system. If you’re careful and make sure to clean and rinse the reel after use though, this shouldn’t become too great of a problem.

If you’re looking for a reliable and durable reel for under $100 then you should definitely consider looking into the RIVERRUNS Z Fly Fishing Reel. While it may not be of as high quality as a more expensive model like the PISCIFUN Platte, it is half the price and the perfect value option.


  • Cold forged and tempered for additional strength
  • Constructed out of aircraft grade aluminum
  • Cost effective and a great value overall


  • Reel has shielding but is not fully sealed

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OKUMA SLV Diecast Aluminum Fly Reel

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Rounding out our list of the best saltwater fly reels for the money, the OKUMA SLV Diecast Aluminum Fly Reel is perhaps the least expensive model you will find. If you’re really looking to save as much money as possible without sacrificing too much quality, then this is the perfect reel for you!

In terms of the actual quality of this model, the SLV is manufactured out of high quality aluminum with a diecast frame. The spool and washers are made out of durable stainless steel for smooth performance and increased longevity. With its large arbor shape too, this reel can carry a large capacity and allows for quick, efficient line pick up.

You can purchase this model in a number of different line weights, anywhere from 2/3 to 10/11, but in terms of other customizing options you won’t have very many with the SLV. It comes in one color (though that is just the color of the aluminum material so really it has no color options) and the design is nothing unique. However, for the low price losing those customizing options is not as heavy a blow as it may seem.

One of the only big problems that people seem to have with the OKUMA SLV reel is that it is on the heavier side. It comes in at a whopping 11.2 ounces, which doesn’t sound like much on its own, but trying to hold and maneuver that weight long enough to catch anything can definitely count as an intense workout for some. If you don’t mind the extra weight, or if the lower price outweighs that concern, then you’ll definitely love casting with this value reel!


  • Inexpensive and cost effective
  • Built out of high quality aluminum
  • Available with a number of different line weights


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Hopefully now you’ve got a good idea of what you’ll need from a saltwater fly fishing reel! If you weren’t able to find one you liked in our list of best saltwater fly reels for the money (that we spent so much time compiling after researching hundreds of models on the market), then the buyer’s guide ought to have given you a head start on looking for one.

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