3 Best Fly Reels for Smallmouth Bass

Hey there my fellow Bass fishers and welcome to my post where we will check out my three best fly reels for smallmouth bass to hit the surface with this year. Smallmouth Bass is a common fish for both recreational and competition angling and known to be one of the most challenging fighting fish to catch.

And obviously one method that is utilised to catch these beauties is fly fishing so for those of you looking to try something a little different, or after a new reel, let’s check out three good options below…

My three recommended fly reels for Smallmouth Bass

I will review these in more detail below however if you just want to get moving without all the carry-on, my recommended products are listed here for your convenience:

 Fly Reel For Smallmouth BassPriceGet it
best fly fishing reels for smallmouth - Echo Ion Fly ReelEcho Ion Fly Reel$CURRENT PRICE
best fly fishing reels for smallmouth - Orvis Battenkill Disc Drag Fly Fishing ReelOrvis Battenkill Disc Drag Fly Fishing Reel$$CURRENT PRICE
best fly fishing reels for smallmouth - Waterworks-Lamson Guru S Series Fly ReelWaterworks-Lamson Guru S Series Fly Reel$$$CURRENT PRICE

What are fly reels for Smallmouth Bass?

Although they can certainly take some getting used to, a fly reel is considered the most basic of all fishing reels. It is composed of a drum to wind the fly line and some thinner braided line known as backing by using a small handle on the side.

Fly fishing reels are single-action, which means that one revolution of the handle produces one revolution of the spool – Although multi-action or “multiplier” fly reels have been developed and marketed.

best fly fishing reels for smallmouth - Fly Fishing reel

What should you be looking for?

Fly reels dedicated to smallmouth bass angling require specific qualities including…

  1. Arbor size
  2. Drag system
  3. Reel size
  4. Construction material
  5. Additions

Arbor size

A fly reel’s arbor is the diameter of the spool where the backing is attached. Essentially, the larger the arbor, the faster the retrieval of the line. Arbor sizes are classified into three categories: standard, mid-arbor, and large arbor.

The majority of modern fly reels one can find on the market today are mid-arbor or large arbor reels. A large arbor reel is required when fishing for Smallmouth Bass. One practical advantage of a large arbor is that you have a larger frame allowing you to hold more backing while still being able to retrieve your line quickly.

Drag system

The drag system prevents the arbor from spinning too quickly when the line is pulled off. On most reels, there is usually a tiny drag knob on the side that the user can turn to tighten or loosen the drag. This provides the necessary adjustment, such as making it harder or easier to pull off the line.

Two kinds of drag systems are available: click drag and disc drag. For smallmouth bass fishing, you should choose the latter. A disc drag system works by applying pressure to the central spool to slow down a fish, so there is not much struggle on your part as you reel in the fish.

Reel size

Size is an essential factor to consider when it comes to fly reels. The main reason for this is that the fly reel must be large enough to hold the type of fly line you intend to use. The reel should also be able to balance your rod.

Suppose you will use a 6 or 7-weight rod to catch Smallmouth bass, a large arbor reel in the 6 or 7 weight range can hold 100 to 200 yards of backing and 30 yards or so of a fly line. This amount of line is recommended for Bass species.

best fly fishing reels for smallmouth - Man Fly Fishing

Construction material

This feature is instrumental to the durability of any fly reel you will purchase. For this quality, fly reels can be made using bar stock aluminum, cast aluminum, or composite.

  1. Cast aluminum: It is a less expensive material for producing fly reels. Flaws in the reel components of cast products can occur due to the introduction of outside grasses or particulates in the casting process. If this happens, there will be a weak spot at the point of contamination.
  2. Composite: These reels are typically very light. Because composite reels generally are molded rather than machined, they share some of the same issues as cast aluminum reels and composites can crack or break in frigid temperatures.
  3. Bar stock aluminum: The best quality aluminum reels are bar stock reels. They are made from single aluminum blocks with a tough finish. They are generally lighter, more resistant to drops and can withstand wear and tear.


  1. Hand orientation: The natural way of retrieving for most people is with the opposite hand of the casting hand. However, certain fly reels have ambidextrous orientation, which is an excellent feature for providing flexibility.
  2. Cloth bag: Some products include a storage bag, such as a cloth bag. This item becomes handy for keeping your fly reel.
  3. Handle: It is best to shop for fly reels with ergonomic handles since they provide you comfort and leverage.

My three recommendations broken down

So based on the information above and my own experience, I recommend the following options:

1. Echo Ion Fly Reel

My first option may be a lower in cost, but it will not disappoint with a reliable drag system, fast line pick-up, and ergonomic handle. See its specifications below:

  • Brand: Echo
  • Material: Stainless Steel
  • Arbor size: Large (6 sizes available)
  • Weight: 0.56 pounds
  • Dimensions: 5 x 5 x 3 inches

Other inclusions it has:

  • Cloth bag
  • Spool release knob

Why have I chosen it?

The reel has stainless steel internals and a large arbor. Such construction allows for a quick line pick-up and reduced fly line memory and is equipped with a low-maintenance disc-drag system. The spool-release knob is a good addition and it is effortless to turn even with cold, wet hands making spool swapping quick and straightforward. This is a great budget friendly option for novice and veteran anglers alike

2. Orvis Battenkill Disc Drag Fly Fishing Reel

This next reel is another competitive product that is lightweight, dependable and hard wearing. Its sealed, carbon and stainless stacked drag system promotes excellent tension when battling hard-fighting Smallmouth as well. See its specifications below:

  • Brand: Orvis
  • Material: 6061-T6 aircraft aluminum with black nickel anodizing
  • Arbor size: Medium (sizes II to VI available)
  • Weight: 0.56 pounds
  • Dimensions: 6 x 5 x 6 inches

Other inclusions:

  • Spool release hatch
  • Sealed drag system
  • Adjustable left and right-hand retrieve

Why have I chosen it?

The reel is straightforward to use with an adjustable hand retrieve so that you can use it with either your right or left hand. The fly reel has a sealed drag making it highly durable and long-lasting with instant positive-click adjustment for ease of use and sensitivity.

3. Waterworks-Lamson Guru S Series Fly Reel

My final fly reel is impressive with a fully sealed drag for protection, a large arbor and wide open porting to reduce the overall weight allowing your line to dry quickly. See its specifications below:

  • Brand: Waterworks Lamson
  • Material: Machined 6061 aluminum and stainless steel with a Type II anodized finish
  • Arbor size: Large
  • Weight: 0.45 pounds
  • Dimensions: 5 x 6 x 4 inches

Other inclusions:

  • Ambidextrous hand orientation
  • Fully sealed drag system
  • Integrated counterbalance

Why have I chosen it?

This reel is built to last with a machined aluminum frame and internals made from anti-corrosive stainless steel. It has an open porting feature that gives the angler for quicker line drying and the drag system is ultra-smooth and easy to clean. This is a great option for the avid fly fisher in all conditions.


There you have it, my three fly reels to handle those aggressive Smallmouth Bass. I would be pleased to know how this article helped you, and as usual, let me know of your experiences with them.

Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, corrections or would like me to check anything else out for you.

Until next time

Have fun


3 Best Fly Reels for Smallmouth Bass - Pinterest
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Hi, I'm Paul

I am a passionate fishing, camping and four wheeled driving hobbyist who researches, tests and educates around issues and equipment relevant to them.

I am by no means a professional however my passion is to assist you in making informed decisions about buying and using awesome gear that will give you the best chance of success at whatever you are doing for the best price.

Please get in touch if you have any questions.