Best Fly Reels for Salmon – 2024 Buyer’s Guide

Last updated on January 3rd, 2024.

Leonard Schoenberger
Latest posts by Leonard Schoenberger (see all)

One of the most popular types of fly fishing is salmon fishing. However, if you want to enjoy it to the fullest, you need to invest in the right type of equipment.

This primarily includes a fly reel. In this comprehensive fly reel buying guide, we’re going to talk about the best products available from a myriad of brands in the market.

You see, because there’s so much variety, it can be a bit overwhelming to pick and choose the best fly reel for salmon. Fortunately and through diligent research, we’ve been able to compile a list of some of the top-most fly reels in different price ranges. This guide is all about the functionality and features of sought after reels for salmon fishing. We’re going to discuss some critical factors that go into buying the right product – for example, value for money, the weight of the fly reel, drag, line capacity, etc.

But first…

Salmon Fly Reels and Rods
Salmon Reels and Rods rigged and ready to go

Important Features to Look for in the Best Fly Reel for Salmon


There are different species of salmon – and they come in different sizes. This means you’ll need a fly reel that is optimal for the type and weight of salmon you’re fishing for. King salmon, for example, is a heavier species, which means you’ll need a heavy fly reel combined with a sturdy fishing line to ensure you catch the fish with minimal effort as soon as it bites. 


The fly reel you use should always be balanced in line with the rod. You can only compromise on balance when you use a spey reel, which is when it becomes critical to go for more rod length. If you want to use a spey rod, it’s better to opt for a heavier reel. 

Streamlined Drag 

Always choose a fly reel that offers maximum and durable drag. You need something that remains functional all year round. For example, conventional cork drags will end up quickly freezing when temperatures drop or fluctuate in performance when the weather is mild or hot. So, it’s vital you go for a product that has an enclosed drag mechanism. 

Good Backing Capacity

When targeting bigger and heavier types of salmon you need to have a fly reel that has maximum spey capacity with adequate backing. For example, some fly reels come with a backing capacity of 230-360 meters, which is ideal for bigger salmon fishing. 

A double handed salmon fly rod with a big salmon fly reel 9/10: Best Fly Reels for Salmon

Best Fly Reel for Salmon Fishing: Entry Level (Under $500)

Taking into consideration these important factors, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 best fly reel for salmon. All these products come with multiple features and great design. So, let’s jump right into it. 

Notice: We take part in affiliate programs such as the amazon associates program. If you click on one of the links in the text and end up purchasing a product we earn a small commission at no extra cost for you. We only recommend products we are convinced of. Thanks for supporting our business. All images courtesy of the manufacturers.

Hardy Ultradisc Fly Reel

Hardy Ultradisc Fly Reel
Hardy Ultradisc Fly Reel

Key features:

– Precisely adjustable drag

– Lightweight

– Large arbor design for quick line pickup

Why we picked it:

Hardy has earned a global reputation for crafting some of the most iconic fly reels in the history of fly fishing—think the Duchess, the Princess, Marquis, emblematic of British heritage. However, in recent times, Hardy has undergone a transformation into a thoroughly modern fly fishing brand, producing cutting-edge gear. Among their latest offerings is the Ultradisc reel (read our hands-on review here), a testament to their contemporary approach. If you’re in the market for a large arbor reel, prized for its quick line pickup, that is both lightweight and designed for saltwater adventures, the Ultradisc is definitely worth exploring.

Available in a diverse range of weight classes, the Ultradisc caters to salmon anglers that are looking for a lighter setup and who might be fishing smaller rivers for salmon. Additionally, if you’re contemplating a spey setup and need a slightly larger reel to harmonize with your double-handed rig, the Ultradisc is worth a look as well.


– Excellent value for money with the 3000 model starting at $350

– Multiple sizes available

– Low weight and big arbor


– Due to its lightweight design this reel is not the ultimate workhorse that you can abuse and it will still keep working



Orvis Hydros Reel

Orvis Hydros: One of the best fly reel for salmon
Orvis Hydros

The Orvis Hydros edition provides a stronger and a completely machined reel structure, offering impressive drag capability. It’s safe to say that the 2020 Orvis Hydros is a massive improvement over their previous products. The new Hydros offers more features and improvements compared to the SL edition, which is now discontinued. 

The Orvis Hydros comes with newly designed drag seals with a rounded reel foot, which enables anglers to quickly and safely wrap the leader around the rod. It also features a Delrin handle – providing even more tolerance. The reel is lightweight and is also designed with a unique rib channel to help maintain the structural integrity of the spool, adequately allowing for enhanced back-knot positioning. The new drag mechanism offers rapid turning from min to max. 

The Orvis Hydros is also built-in with 16 stainless steel and carbon plated discs, ramping up the drag – this means you won’t feel any inertia in the beginning. Although the new edition comes with streamlined consistency, it’s safe to say that it isn’t completely smooth. However, the Delrin handle is thinner, providing a comfortable grip when you start cranking the reel. 



Thinner Delrin handles for comfortable cranking

Rounded drag seals

16 stainless steel and carbonized discs


The drag knob needs massive improvement

Lacks high end features and capabilities 



Redington Grande 7/8/9

Redington Grande 7/8/9 Fly Reel
Redington Grande 7/8/9

The Redington Grande 7/8/9 is a massive improvement over the company’s previous model – the Behemoth. Plus, the Grande comes in different colors such as champagne, black, and marine. It’s beautifully crafted and has anodised finishing. 

The first thing you’ll notice is that the fly reel doesn’t have inward spooling. This means that it’s going to be a lot simpler for you to spool with backing. Moreover, it considerably minimizes the backing bounce when retrieving the fish (the spool isn’t going to tangle when you aggressively retrieve your catch). In addition, the fly reel has an impressive line retrieval and is built to accommodate up to two hundred yards of Dacron. 

The Redington Grande comes with a completely sealed drag mechanism, which means it doesn’t require any maintenance. This is a very important feature for salmon fishers or anglers that fish in murky waters, sandy or messy landscapes. When it comes to stopping power, the new 7/8/9 Grande comes with a powerful, completely sealed “Super-Torque” drag mechanism with carbon plating. While this drag system isn’t 100% water-sealed, it does handle beautifully in saltwater. 

You could even comfortably fish in sandy environments or areas where there’s a lot of grit. Although you’re going to feel some initial inertia and resistance of the spool, otherwise, the Grande handles even big fish flawlessly. The drag feels strong and reliable. 


Beautiful design and aesthetics

Available in different colors

Reliable drag

Plenty of capacity and sealed drag


It’s a bit expensive



Best Fly Reel for Salmon Fishing Mid Range($500-700)

Sage Fly Fishing- SPEY

Sage Fly Fishing- SPEY Fly Reel
Sage Fly Fishing- SPEY

The Sage Fly Fishing- SPEY is another magnificent piece of great engineering and design. It’s one of the few professional spey reels that are made for two-handed angling. The reel is specifically manufactured for wrangling big game fish such as King Salmon and Steelhead. Moreover, the fly reel has a cutting-edge porting design that helps brilliantly balance the overall weight of the rod and has an intelligent SCD drag knob mechanism, undoubtedly making it one of the best fly reels for salmon fishing

Made for two handed fishing action, the spey fly reel is comparatively bigger to help you target bigger fish. The spey reel has a bigger arbor design and comes with long-lasting materials and a better finishing. It has a hard-anodized body, making the rod equally durable. You won’t have to worry about corrosion due to frequent wear and tear. More specifically, the Sage Fly Fishing- SPEY is made from top grade aluminum for increased durability and rigidity adding significantly more resistance. 

The drag system of the spey reel is truly magnificent. It comes with a fully sealed carbon mechanism that helps quickly minimize kinetic energy from when you’re wrangling or putting immense pressure on the drag mechanism. The drag mechanism is built with high-end carbon for extra strength.


Lightweight two handed fly reel

Carbon drag mechanism

Superior control

Designed for tight-space reel casting





Tibor Billy Pate Fly Reel

Tibor Billy Pate Fly Reel for Salmon Fishing
Tibor Billy Pate Fly Reel

The Tibor Billy Pate is one of the best fly reels for big game salmon and professional fishing. The new fly reel comes with an anti-reverse mechanism. For avid and professional anglers, it doesn’t get any better than the Tibor Billy Pate. It’s durable and you can rely on it for an enjoyable fishing experience any time of the day, all year-round. With a top-class precision reel design, the fly reel is made for all sorts of fishing environments. It’s durable and features a sealed drag system and is quite literally maintenance-free. 

By far one of the best features of the Tibor Billy Pate is its top-grade anti-reverse handling. The fly reel comes in Satin Gold (frame) with a black spool. You will also notice the classic Tibor Billy Pate engraving on the spool. Plus, the fly reel also comes with advanced rim control, providing maximum yet smooth braking. 


Solid aluminum frame

Durable and responsive rim control for solid braking

Sealed drag system

Anti-reverse design for double-handed fishing



For professional game fishers



Loop Classic Fly Reel

Loop Classic Fly Reel
Loop Classic Fly Reel

With superior and visually aesthetic design, the Loop Classic Fly Reel comes with an incredible drag mechanism – that offers streamlined durability and handling. It provides a unique and pleasant balance between performance and aesthetics. Whether you’re a professional or an avid angler chasing steelhead or salmon, the Loop Classic is one of the best fly reels out there. 

With a traditional design and modern aesthetics, the Loop Classic Fly Reel has an elegant retro design with cutting-edge Power Matrix Drag mechanism for enhanced handling and matchless braking power. The body’s made of anodized aluminum, which makes for a durable and long-lasting exterior, making the fly reel perfect for fishing in both saltwater and freshwater. Moreover, the screws on the fly reel are water-sealed, tightened with Loc-Tite, adding more durability. The drag disc is made from durable, marine-grade carbon for reliable and powerful braking. The Power Matrix Drag system is completely waterproof, even in saltwater. 


Beautiful aesthetics

Lightweight fly reel for superior handling

Power Matrix Drag mechanism with carbon braking discs

Loc-Tite screws

Made with anodized aluminum





Best Fly Reels for Salmon: Premium ($700+)

Hatch Iconic Fly Reel

Hatch Iconic Fly Reel
Hatch Iconic: Salmon Fly Reel 9/10

One of the best things about the Hatch Iconic Fly Reel is the fact that it’s superbly designed to accommodate the needs for just about every type of angler – from beginner to professional. This is specifically why the fly reel comes in different sizes (3-11). It features a carbon-based drag mechanism with a non-sealed design and provides unparalleled stopping power. The fly reel feels durable and smooth and is quick-drying. 

The Hatch Iconic Fly Reel comes with a one-piece design, which means the body provides smoother and flexible handling. You will never have to worry about reel seat loosening, which is a typical problem with most fly reels because of galvanic corrosion. The fly reel comes with a brilliant Bright Dip anodized finish, different from the company’s previous models. The anodized finishing helps keep corrosion at bay and provide more durability especially for saltwater fishing. 

The drag mechanism is carbon-based. It’s built at the top of the fly reel for added braking and overall smoothness when it comes to big fish wrangling and pulling. The discs are designed to quickly minimize friction. And because the drag system is integrated into the fly reel, it helps significantly minimize axial runout. 


Versatile and large arbor

One-piece body design 

Body integrated drag system for superior handling

Available in different sizes 

Carbon brake discs

One of the best salmon fly reels 9/10





Nautilus NV-Spey Fly Reel

Nautilus NV-Spey: One of the best salmon fly reels
Nautilus NV-Spey Fly Reel for Salmon Fishing

The Nautilus NV-Spey Fly Reel offers prominent balance thanks to its precision-based weighting and design. It’s a durable fly reel for saltwater fishing, making it a strong and long-term fly reel. The spey design is deeply functional with an aesthetic design and it comes in two sizes as well as two retrieval rates. The best thing about the fly reel is the fact that it provides lightweight handling without any compromise on drag power. 

The Nautilus NV-Spey comes in two styles, brushed titanium and anodized black. Both types of styles guarantee minimal maintenance and excellent durability against saltwater corrosion. The body is made with CNC aluminum, which means the fly reel is both abrasion-proof and corrosion-free. So, even if you have to dip your reel or ding it a little, you won’t have to worry about any abrasion. Plus, both types of finishing are weatherproof. 

The Nautilus NV-Spey Fly Reel features one of the strongest drag systems in the market. The brake discs are carbon-based and incredibly strong, perfect for wrangling bigger salmon and steelheads. The fly reel also has a bigger arbor, known as the “Giga”, which provides enhanced line pickups allowing you to comfortably fight the fish and win. With superior line management technology, you won’t have to fret about where your line ends up on the reel when wrangling the target. 


Carbon braking discs 

Available in two finishes

Large arbor 

Abrasion and corrosion-free design

Lightweight handling

Weighted balance


For professional or avid anglers




Hardy Cascapedia Fly Reel

Hardy Cascapedia Reel Fly Reel
Hardy Cascapedia: One of the best fly reels for salmon fishing

The Hardy Cascapedia Reel is a perfect and precision-based tool for catching the aggressive Atlantic salmon, featuring a carbon disc drag mechanism with a top class click-check system to give a more classic feel. Plus, it features an indent calibrated system that helps maintain your drag exactly where you want it. 

The Hardy Cascapedia Reel has a traditional reel featuring a classic arbor size, designed specifically for fishers that want all the good stuff but in a classic body. The craftsmanship on the fly reel is flawless, it’s truly a masterpiece. 

The body comes with hand-polished and CNC finish for maximum durability and speed. The bar stock is made with aluminum, offering formidable performance when the reel is dinged or dropped in water. Also, with an aluminum forged bar stock, the fly reel offers a more rugged feel, providing all year-round durability and resilience. The drag mechanism is made on bigger reels with carbon brake discs for quick heat dissipation and enhanced durability. Moreover, the click-check drag system is made with titanium parts for added performance and minimal maintenance. 


Click-check titanium system 

Carbon brake discs

Aluminum bar stock

Class arbor size


S-shaped handle


Made for veteran fishers




Abel Rove

Abel Rove Fly Reel
Abel Rove: Best Fly Reel for Salmon guide

The Rove (read our in-depth review here) comes it various sizes (5/7, 7/9, 9/11, 11/12+) to cover a large variety of species. We put our hands on it to fish for Atlantic Salmon in Norway with the 7/9 version.

Abel Rove 7/9 Fly Reel in Action
The Abel Rove 7/9 paired with the Loop ZT 13’2″ #8 6 pcs

The new Abel Rove features state-of-the-art engineering and a functional yet beautiful design with powerful durability. With a light and exceptionally balanced design, the Abel Rove features an incredible cork drag system which is crucial to stop big fish. We also really like the sound of the reel when picking up line. It is subtle, yet distinct.

The Abel Rove is saltwater safe, which means you will never have to worry about frequent wear and tear. The design is corrosion and abrasion-free. You can easily switch it from left to right hand retrieve by opening the fly reel and adjusting the two small knobs attached to the cork break system. The Abel Rove features a caged frame to make sure your line stays where it’s supposed to be. The large arbor makes a quick line pick up easy. The reel is entirely made in USA and comes with a


Lightweight design, yet ultra durable

Strong braking power

Quick change spool

Bigger arbor for picking up more line 





Bottom Line Best Fly Reels for Salmon Fishing

So there you have it – a comprehensive look into some of the best fly reel for salmon in different price categories. When it comes to picking out the best product, it’s important to understand the decision will always be preference-based. Also, it will depend on the type of budget you have. For example, if you’re an avid angler with a low budget then it’s smart to go for the Orvis Hydros.

The fly reel comes with an impressive drag mechanism and comfortable handling yet lacks the finishing, drag power, and durability of high-end fly reels. If you have a big budget, then you should go for the Abel SDS hands-down. The SDS has the best industry rating out of all products and comes with a 20-lbs drag power, it truly remains unmatched.

Frequently Asked Questions: Best Fly Reels for Salmon

What size reel is best for salmon fishing?

The ideal size depends on the salmon species and fishing conditions. Generally, a reel in the 7-9 weight range is suitable for most salmon.

Do I need a specific reel for different salmon species?

While a versatile reel can handle various salmon species, targeting larger salmon like King or Chinook may require a more robust reel with a strong drag system.

What type of drag system is best for salmon fly reels?

A sealed, powerful drag system is crucial for salmon fishing. Disc drags, especially those with carbon materials, are often preferred for their smooth and reliable performance.

Should I choose a large arbor or standard arbor reel for salmon?

A large arbor reel is generally preferred for salmon fishing. It provides quicker line retrieval, reduces line memory, and helps with handling large, fast-running fish.

Is an anodized aluminum reel better than other materials for salmon fishing?

Yes, anodized aluminum is a popular choice for salmon reels due to its durability, corrosion resistance, and lightweight properties.

Can I use a freshwater reel for saltwater salmon fishing?

It’s advisable to choose a reel specifically designed for saltwater use when targeting salmon in saltwater environments. Saltwater reels are better equipped to handle corrosive conditions.

What backing capacity do I need for a salmon fly reel?

Ensure your reel has enough backing capacity, typically ranging from 150 to 300 yards, to handle the powerful runs and long fights associated with salmon fishing.

Are there any specific features to look for in a salmon reel for spey casting?

For spey casting, look for a reel with a large arbor, smooth drag, and the capacity to accommodate the larger spey lines commonly used in salmon fishing.

Notice: We take part in affiliate programs such as the amazon associates program. If you click on one of the links in the text and end up purchasing a product we earn a small commission at no extra cost for you. We only recommend products we are convinced of. Thanks for supporting our business. All images courtesy of amazon.