Welcome to our reviews of the Best Fly Reels Under $100.
We know a reliable fly reel is crucial to the success of your fishing trip. But, finding an affordable fly reel that performs well can be a bit challenging. So we have reviewed some of the top-rated reels on the market to find you the Best Fly Fishing Reel Under $100.
If you are in a hurry: Piscifun Crest is the Best Fly Reel Under $100 as per our reviews.
Last update on 2023-11-27 / Paid links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Our Top 10 Best Fly Reels Under $100
Here is our list of the Best Fly Fishing Reels Under $100…
- Piscifun Crest – Overall Winner
- Angler Dream – Best 1/2wt
- Piscifun Sword – Best 3/4wt
- Okuma SLV – Best 5/6wt
- Redington I.D – Best 7/8wt
- Orvis Clearwater – Large Arbor
- Piscifun Platte Pro – For Saltwater
- Maxcatch Avid – Budget Option
- Redington Behemoth – Best Under $150
- Lamson Liquid – Best Under $200
The 10 Best Fly Reels Under $100
Now, let us move to our in-depth reviews.
1. Piscifun Crest
Peaking at the top of the list is the Piscifun Crest. This fly fishing reel is made of lightweight aluminum. It comes in three sizes, 5/6wt, 7/8wt, and 9/10wt. You can buy it in traditional black or bright green. The futuristic bladed design makes for a good-looking reel.
We have extensively tested this reel in different freshwater and saltwater conditions. First, we tested the 5/6wt reel on our bass fishing trip to the Northeast. We paired it with a Piscifun Sword 5wt fly rod. We found the drag easy to adjust, and the reel held up well while we caught quite a few smallmouth bass and pickerel.
Next, we tested the 7/8wt reel on our saltwater fishing trip. The fully sealed drag makes it resilient to tough conditions. We paired the reel with a 7wt fly rod to catch quite a few fish up to 15 lbs including catfish, perch, redtail, and snook. The maintenance was just simple rinsing after each use.
The weight and design are all balanced for performance and ease of use. If you’re starting out, you will find the design easy enough to learn. If you are a hardcore fisherman out fifty to a hundred days a year, you will find the Crest an extremely reliable option.
Piscifun offers a lifetime warranty on this reel. Combined with its durability, it is the fly reel you buy once and fish for years to come.
2. Angler Dream
The Angler Dream is a great value for the fact it comes with both the reel and the line at a modest price. Its aluminum frame makes it a lightweight reel for easy fishing. But the cheaper price means you can only use it for freshwater fishing. Taking it out in saltwater could damage the reel.
We recently tested the 1/2wt reel on a trout fishing trip. The 1/2wt reels are rare, so we were quite happy to get one and test it out. It came pre-spooled with a 2wt fly line and backing. It definitely helped cut the prep time in half.
We paired the reel with our 6ft 1wt fly rod for fishing small streams and creeks. The setup worked out great. The reel itself was excellent. It helped us catch quite a few trout and crappies up to 3 lbs.
The Anglers Dream is an affordable and lightweight reel. Think of it as a starter pack. It is a great pick if you’re a beginner looking for a reel to get started. But even if you’re an experienced angler, you would be able to use it to your liking. It’s a bargain price for an excellent value fly fishing reel.
3. Piscifun Sword
Making the list a second time is Piscifun. This time with their Sword model. Like the Crest, it comes in different sizes. You can order it in black, gunmetal, pink, and space gray.
The Sword is similar to the Crest. It’s crafted from a light aluminum alloy. Both feature a silent retrieve that allows for smoother casting. One difference is the hollow design which cuts the weight.
We recently tested the 3/4wt reel on a trout fishing trip. The reel felt quite well balanced out of the box. We spooled it with 90ft of 4wt sinking line and 70 yards of 20lb backing and paired it with a 7’6″ 3wt rod. Using this setup, we were able to catch over 20 brown trout in the 3-5 lbs range.
The reel itself was smooth and handled all these fish with ease. The drag was easy to adjust and almost instantaneous. The design isn’t so heavy that it’d turn off a beginner. Yet an advanced fisherman could fish comfortably with the reel.
The Sword lives up to the signature Piscifun quality and design. The quality is definitely matched by the price tag. The premium construction and unique design make it one of the best fly reels under 100.
4. Okuma SLV
We have extensively tested Okuma SLV in streams, creeks, and fast-flowing rivers. It has always performed and we have found it up to the task whether we are targeting trout, bass, or any other species.
Recently, we took the SLV 56b model (5/6wt) on a fly fishing trip to Madison River, Montana. We spooled it with a 5-weight line for trout fishing.
The first thing we noticed was how easily we were able to cast with accuracy in the large open waters. We were also impressed by its drag system, which managed to pull in even the craftiest fish. We were able to catch quite a few trout in the 5-6 lbs range with this reel.
Another thing we really like is Okuma SLV’s ability to handle different fishing lines. Over our many trips, we have used a variety of lines – from floating to sinking – without any issues or hiccups.
Overall, we find Okuma SLV a solid reel with excellent specs. The biggest draw is the price tag. But it’s much more reliable than other bargain reels. So, if you’re on a budget, this is an excellent reel to take out on a boat.
In fact, Okuma SLV is the best 5wt fly reel for the money as per our reviews. But don’t try to land a swordfish with it. It’s suitable for fishing streams, rivers, ponds, or lakes.
5. Redington I.DNo products found.
The Redington I.D is a minimalist reel. It’ll do exactly what it’s designed for. It is a quality, no-frills design that would suit just about any level fisherman. So, if you’re eager to just get out and fish, the Redington I.D may be your best bet.
It comes in three sizes 3/4wt, 5/6wt, and 7/8/9wt. The colors are listed as Black and Olive Drab Green.
We recently tested the 7/8/9wt reel during our “bull reds” fishing trip to Louisiana. We spooled it with a weight-forward floating line and 9-foot leader and paired it with a 10′ fly rod. Using this setup we caught several 15″-25″ redfish up to 20 lbs. The drag was perfect and easy to adjust.
Compared to the other reels, we feel Redington I.D strikes a stronger balance of quality to price. It comes to less than if you were buying a similar quality reel from another brand.
The only downside is the simple design. But it doesn’t suffer in performance or effectiveness. So, if you’re looking for a high-quality reel on a budget, it’s a fine one to pick.
6. Orvis Clearwater
Orvis Clearwater comes in two sizes: 4-6wt and 7-9wt. Like many other reels on our list, it uses a high-quality aluminum alloy to make it lightweight.
We picked the 4-6wt reel to test it out during our recent fishing trip to Pensilvania. Out of the box, we were impressed by its quality and workmanship. We paired the reel with one of our 7ft 4wt fly rods and we were pleasantly surprised by how well-balanced it felt.
The arbor is large but not obtrusive. We loaded it with a weight-forward fly line and some 20lb backing for fishing Class A trout streams. We used this setup to catch several brown trout and smallmouth up to 5 lbs without any hiccups.
Overall, we found Orvis Clearwater an easy-to-use reel. So if you are a casual angler or beginner, you can pick this reel to get the job done. But even if you are you’re a seasoned fisherman, you will find the reel advanced enough to your liking.
It is an excellent bargain without hedging on the quality. It’s a nice easy reel, but the price without a doubt is its biggest selling point. We are happy to recommend Orvis Clearwater as the best fly reel for the money.
7. Piscifun Platte Pro
Piscifun Platte Pro is one solid large arbor reel that comes at a very affordable rate. Don’t let the low price fool you away from the high quality of this reel. It is one of the best fly reels under $100.
We recently picked the 9/10wt reel to test it out. Out of the box, the design, machining, fit, and finish all feel top-notch. All components are high-quality, and nothing seems cheap.
The reel is built with CDC-machined anodized aluminum. The fully sealed drag system protects the reel from sand and grit. So you can use this reel for saltwater fishing as well.
We extensively tested the 9/10wt reel during our saltwater fly fishing trip to Florida. The reel is quite lightweight, so it balanced well enough with our 9′ 10wt rod.
The large arbor spool offers plenty of line capacity. So we spooled it WF9 and 200 yards of 20lb backing. We used this setup to catch many redfish, snook, tarpon, and speckled trout.
The drag system is very powerful. The extra large drag control makes it easier to adjust and set the drag. The large arbor design increases the retrieve rate and line pick-up speed. It also ensures that the line recoil memory stays at a minimum.
8. Maxcatch Avid
Maxcatch Avid comes in multiple sizes to make it suitable for any fish you are planning to catch. The choice of colors makes for a fun variety. You can order one in Gree, Blue, or Matter Black color.
We recently bought the 3/4wt reel to test it out during our small streams fishing trip to North Carolina. Out of the box, the slick, bladed design looks cool but not too fancy.
You may expect a cast aluminum reel at this price. But Maxcatch Avid is CNC machined, which is better than many higher-priced reels on the market.
We paired the reel with a 4wt fly rod. The lightweight makes it easy to balance. The silent retrieve gives you a smooth experience every time you reel. We caught many small brookies in the 3-5 lb range and the reel helped us bring in all of them with ease.
Overall, we are happy with its performance. While it may not be our #1 pick, Maxcatch Avid is one of the best budget fly reels on the market. The sizes are ample for a variety of fish. The variety in colors is a welcome aesthetic. It is a solid choice whether you’re a veteran fisherman or just starting out.
9. Redington Behemoth
Redington is known for making high-quality fishing products in all price ranges. Following their reputation, Behemoth is one of the best fly reels under $150.
We picked the 11/12wt reel for fishing King Salmon in the Lake Ontario tributaries. Out of the box, the die-cast construction seems durable. Weighing around 8 oz, it is lightweight yet heavy-duty enough. The extra weight helps balance the rod and makes it easier to cast.
We loaded our reel with a 12wt heavy line, 10′ leader, and 300 yards of backing. The large arbor offers enough space so you never run out of line in case King Salmon decides to run back to the lake.
We caught quite a few King Salmon in the 15-20 lbs range using this reel. The heavy-duty carbon fiber drag offers so much power to halt even the biggest fish. The powerful drag combined with the large arbor made retrievals fast and easy.
The twin molded handle and a soft ergonomic grip make the reel comfortable. It is easy to hold and even easier to use during the long days out there. We had no issues with catching these powerful fish.
10. Lamson Liquid
Lamson Liquid is a top-rated reel with excellent drag, durability, and performance. It is very appealing due to its glacier blue color and stylish body. But there is nothing as attractive as one of the best fly reels under 200!
It is difficult to find fly reels that perform well in saltwater. The fully sealed drag protects the reel from water and dust. So you can use this reel for both freshwater and saltwater fishing. But, we suggest you rinse the reel after each saltwater trip.
We tested the 6-8wt reel during our recent fishing trip. It can hold around 50 yards of 7wt fly line and 225 yards of 20 lb backing with room to spare. We used this setup for catching fish like reds, silvers, sockeye, and bass on our trip.
The conical drag system is very smooth and powerful. It allows you to halt your hooked fish without even a jerk. Lamson uses the same drag in all their fly reels. So, you are getting the same performance as their top-end fly reels.
How to Choose a Fly Reel Under $100
You don’t need to spend a ton to find the right reel for your fly fishing trip. Here are some key factors you need to consider while choosing a fly fishing reel under $50.
Before you choose a fly reel, you need to consider the species of fish you’re targeting. Different species need different types of reels.
If you’re targeting small trout or panfish, a smaller reel will suffice. But if you’re planning to catch larger fish, we suggest you pick a bigger reel for your trip.
Each fly reel is designed to match a specific line and rod weight. So you must choose a reel that matches the weight of your line and fly rod to ensure a balanced setup.
Look for a reel that balances well with the rod you’re using. A heavy reel can make the setup feel awkward and uncomfortable to cast.
The material of your reel dictates its durability and weight. There are two common materials used to make reels under $100 – aluminum and plastic.
Aluminum reels are stronger and long-lasting, but more expensive. Plastic reels are more affordable, but not as durable in comparison.
We suggest you pick an aluminum reel so that it will last you a long time. A plastic reel may be suitable if you are planning to fish just a few times and looking to save money.
Choosing the right drag system is essential to fight the fish you catch. The amount of resistance placed on the spool when you’re pulling out the line is determined by the drag system.
A good drag system can tire out the fish without breaking the line. So look for a drag system that’s smooth and prevents your line from snapping under the strain of the fish.
Most reels under $100 come with a click and pawl or a disc drag system. We suggest you pick a reel with an adjustable drag so that you can adjust it to the weight of the fish you’re targeting.
The arbor is the center of the reel where the line is wound. So the size of your reel’s arbor affects how much line you can store and how quickly you can retrieve it.
A larger arbor allows you to store more line and retrieve the line faster. If you’re fishing in larger bodies of water, we suggest you pick a larger arbor reel.
Die Cast vs. CNC Machining
There are two main manufacturing processes for fly fishing reels – die-casting and CNC machining.
Die-casting involves pouring molten metal into a mold, while CNC machining involves cutting a solid block of metal into the shape of the reel. Die-cast reels are less expensive but may not be as durable as CNC-machined reels.
We suggest you look for a reel built with CNC-machined aluminum or alloy. A die-cast or plastic reel can break or crack during your trip.
Saltwater vs. Freshwater
The type of water you’re fishing in also determines the reel you choose. Saltwater can be incredibly corrosive. So saltwater fishing requires a reel that can withstand the corrosive effects of saltwater.
Even if you intend to fish in both saltwater and freshwater, we suggest you get a saltwater reel as it is suitable for both environments.
Finally, the price range or your budget is an important factor. While you may think that spending more on a reel guarantees better quality, there are plenty of options that offer value for money.
Expensive reels typically perform better, but you can often find a quality reel under $100 that meets your requirements. Just keep your specific fishing needs in mind, and choose a reel that fits your budget.
Although, investing in a premium reel that will last for many years will likely save you money in the long run.
Here are some popular questions that we have received from our readers.
Are fly reels under $100 any good?
Yes, fly reels under $100 are good if you are clear about their strengths and limitations. These reels may not have all the features of a high-end reel. But they can perform well for fishing in small water or catching smaller fish.
For instance, you can pick any of the best fly reels under $100 on our list targeting fish in small creeks, streams, or ponds. But, if you’re targeting larger fish in big water, you may need to invest in a more expensive reel.
Here is a video to help you understand some of the key differences between a budget, mid-range, and high-end fly fishing reel.
Does the fly reel need to match the rod?
Yes, the fly reel must match the rod. When it comes to fly fishing, having a matching reel and rod is essential for success on the water.
First, matching your reel to your rod balances the overall setup, improving casting and control.
Second, matching the reel to the rod is crucial in landing the target fish. For example, a smaller reel paired with a heavier rod can limit your ability to reel in the fish as the smaller reel will not be able to handle the fish runs.
So, we suggest you always match the reel to your rod. A reel that matches the rod will give you a balanced outfit that delivers a great fishing experience.
If you’re not sure how to select a matching rod and reel, you can check out our reviews of the Best Fly Fishing Combos Under $300.
We’ve tested a lot of reels in the field, but the Piscifun Crest is the Best Fly Reel Under $100. Let us know if you have any questions about our testing methodology. We are happy to answer all the queries that we get.
Piscifun Crest shares the price tag with many reels on our list, but it offers the highest quality to price. Its sealed drag makes it a low-maintenance, durable reel. It is the reel you buy, take care of, and keep casting with for years!
If you’re eyeing the Crest but looking for a cheaper option, the Piscifun Sword has got you covered. It comes with top features including a lightweight frame, click-drag, and silent retrieve.
If you only plan to fish in freshwater, then you can go with Orvis Clearwater. You may not land the biggest fish with the Clearwater, but it is an excellent reel for small to medium-sized fish.
Angler Dream is an excellent pick if you are looking for a small fly reel. We tested the 1/2wt reel which is suitable for targeting smaller fish species.
Maxcatch Avid is a great budget pick if you want to get out and go fishing only once in a while.
We hope you like our pick of the Best Fly Reels Under $100. If you have your eyes on a reel but it is not on our list, you can let us know via the comments sections. We will include it in our next update.
Last Updated on October 16, 2023 by Blaine Townsend