need help selecting saltwater fly reels - Fly Fishing Forum
Bonefish, Tarpon, and other Obsessions Turquoise water, silver demons on the fly

Thread Tools Search this Thread Rating: Thread Rating: 3 votes, 5.00 average. Display Modes
Old 02-02-2010, 12:25 AM
pteronarcys pteronarcys is offline
Registered User
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Pacific Northwest
Posts: 23
Question need help selecting saltwater fly reels

I have been doing more saltwater fly fishing the past few years and realized on a recent trip to Belize the benefits of having a number of fly rods rigged up in the boat and ready to cast, particularly when fishing for multiple species like bonefish, permit, snook or small tarpon on the same day. For example, It would have been much more efficient to have 10 weight outfits set up with both floating and intermediate lines. I did not like having to switch spools or lines if conditions changed or we targeted a different species. In addition, eventually I plan to fish for some larger saltwater species, such as larger tarpon, giant trevally, dorado, roosterfish, smaller tuna, wahoo, or jacks. I have concluded this means purchasing several additional high-quality saltwater reels. I currently use a Nautilus CCF 10 and older Stratos 380 for bonefish and permit. The Nautilus does double duty on 10 weight outfits for snook and smaller tarpon in saltwater and for silver salmon in estuaries in Alaska on windy days.

I am in position to make a onetime purchase of several quality saltwater reels. My research has led me to exploring different reel manufacturer’s sites, some fly shop web sites, asking around the local fly shops, and also queries to some mail-order fly fishing outfits. I need to buy at least one or possibly two more reels that will be used primarily for 10 weight rods and lines. In addition, I need to buy a larger capacity reel for a 12 weight outfit. Perhaps the 12 weight reel could do double duty also serving as a smaller spey reel. While I realize Abel and Tibor reels have set the standards for saltwater reels, several fishing companions own and fish Abels and Tibors and have had to fuss with their cork drags to keep them from drying out. I have been leaning towards one of the newer reels with a sealed drag system, but this decision is not irreversible. From what I have been able to glean, the following reels are among the ones to be considered: Nautilus CCF and NV; Galvan Torque; Hatch; Bauer Rogue; Tibor QC; or possibly Ross, Waterworks, and Sage reels.

While I am quite satisfied with my Nautilus CCF 10, I am open to other manufacturer’s reels for 10 weight lines. For the larger (12 weight) reel I have been leaning towards a Hatch or maybe a Nautilus CCF 12DD, but I also am open to considering other reels. I was wondering if the Hatch Pulse, Mid-arbor 9 Plus would be too heavy to use on one of my two 10 weight rods? I realize I would need additional backing to fill the Hatch spool if using it with a 10 weight fly line rather than an 11 or 12 line. I believe Nautilus makes a 10DD spool that fits on the 12DD reel frame so the reel also can be used with a 10 weight line. I need to buy durable reels that will last and give me the greatest long-term return on my investment. I am not interested in picking up the newest, lightest reel on the block just for the sake of saying I own one. Because I take good care of my equipment, I would expect the reels to last for a long time. This posting is an effort to determine if there is any consensus about these or other fly reel options among the community of experienced saltwater fly fishermen. Any insight is appreciated.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Sponsored Links
Old 02-02-2010, 07:48 AM
JR SPEY JR SPEY is offline
Registered User
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Just about anywhere
Posts: 624
Upfront confession. I sell fly reels for a living, so my views may be somewhat slanted. However, every reel you mentioned would serve you well. You'll find supporters of every one of them soon enough in this thread. I've used the Hatch Pulse 9+ quite a bit lately and would rank it in the second tier of reels right behind a Mako. For anyone who has used one, they understand there is not a better reel made than a Mako. The only concerns that I've heard regard its weight and the fact that it's a little more expensive than most of the others. The Hatch would be more in line with the other high-end reels you mentioned pricewise and would weigh a bit less than the Mako (and a few others on the list.) Both are completely sealed and have drags far better than one really needs for a ten weight. Just to show I'm not completely prejudiced toward only what I sell, one superb reel left off your list is the Danielsson. It's another reel that's sealed and has an excellent drag. As I'm sure you discovered, there are a lot of really fine reels made today (probably too many in truth.) I also like and fish Shilton, Alutecnos, Wellstone, and Guideline Quadra. Though not as well known, they are also very well made and would serve your purpose well. The first three of those are open concept cork drag reels so it would put them in the same category as the Tibor and Abel. Trust me that cork maintenance is really no big deal. The Guideline is a sealed reel that is quite a bit lighter in weight than most of the others, but has an excellent drag nevertheless. Do yourself a favor and Google up Mako reels. You may not decide to buy one, but at least you'll know what the top of the mountain looks like and then you can effectively decide which way to go from there. It can be a frustrating search, but it's still a lot of fun. Good luck.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 02-02-2010, 07:53 PM
Eric's Avatar
Eric Eric is offline
Registered User
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: Pacific Northwest
Posts: 962
Hey, Salmon Fly,

Don't know much about salt water reels, just want to welcome you to the Fly Fishing Forum community. Hopefully members will chime in and amplify Jr Spey's excellent run down.


Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 02-02-2010, 10:00 PM
sean's Avatar
sean sean is offline
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Rhode Island
Posts: 2,160
For sealed reels I think there are really just a few choices:

mako, danielsson, hatch, nautilus.

for me they are proven and I fish with a reel dunked in the salt a good amount of the time. These reels have faired well and by that I mean never rinsing them and they get fished 4 times a week in season. Currently I am digging the nautilus NV.

Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 02-03-2010, 01:50 AM
petevicar's Avatar
petevicar petevicar is offline
In moderation
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: The seven seas
Posts: 840
Unlike JR Spey I do not sell reels but I am a tackle junkie and own a lot.
Like JR Spey I believe that the Charlton Mako is the best reel on the market and that it's only real drawback is the weight. I use my 9500 on a 10wt rod for mid size tarpon and my 9550 on a 12wt for larger tarpon and GTs.

pteronarcys in you original post you seem to use very heavy equipment to fish for bones etc. I normally use an 8wt for all bone fishing and have caught fish upto 13.5lbs. I would even use this set up for snook and small tarpon (up to about 25lbs). The reels I use are Hatch 7plus, Van Staal 7/8, Tibor Everglades and Abel Super 8.

On a 10wt rod I use the Mako as above, Tibor Riptide and Abel Super 10.

For larger fish on a 11 or 12 wt rod I use the Mako as above, Hatch 9Plus and Tibor Gulfstream.

All of these reels are top quality and do the job of holding enough backing for a strong running fish and having a good smooth brake with low start up inertia.

The Mako, Hatch and Van Staal reels are sealed drag and require little maintenance whearas the Tibors and Abels need a drop of Neat's Foot oil on the cork drag every now and again.

If you will be only sight fishing then the weight of the reel is not so important but if you are doing a lot of blind casting the get a lighter weight reel. In that case I would probably recommend the Hatch.

But at the end of the day buying a reel or a rod is like buying any other branded product.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 02-05-2010, 08:33 AM
Tim D Tim D is offline
Registered User
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Miane coastal and inland rivers
Posts: 51
As an aside if you are looking to get more than one reel, based on your species list, I would get 14wt. I just got back from Panama and can tell you that a 12wt will leave you very underguneed for tuna. We landed some 20lbers on a 12wt and that was the max we could have gone. Had we hooked some bigger 40-60lbers we more than likely would have had some broken rods.

As for the reels, my two large reels are Ross Canyons and I love them. Never an issue. I know they no longer make them and I have had no experience with the new line but I've had many Ross' and have never had an issue.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 02-05-2010, 05:03 PM
nmbrowncom nmbrowncom is offline
Registered User
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: hingham
Posts: 340
i use both nautilus and danielsen. both are great-although i'd give the danielsen the edge for performance, but not by's sleak, much lighter and a fine piece of craftsmanship. however it is a real pain changing the has an overly complicated multi faceted "rube goldberg" set up for changing out the spools. but if you use it regularly-a few days a week-you'll get use to it and it won't be a problem but it will take a good deal longer.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 02-06-2010, 06:54 AM
Jim Miller's Avatar
Jim Miller Jim Miller is offline
fish'n Hobo
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Adirondacks, L Ontario tribs, Salt waters
Posts: 682
I have the line of tibors. everglades, riptide, gulfstream and pacific. I like the drag and weight of the tibors. They do need to be cleaned if in the salt. I also have a Abel super 10 .... feels heavy to me and usually I will grab the Tibor first.

For light weight I have an Orvis Mach reel. You know I really love this reel! It is my first choice for bonefish or freshwater steel heading. It has a very smooth drag.

The Mako's are great reels. But for me; I can buy 2 or 3 of the above reels (online or on sale) for the cost of a Mako. (never seen a deal or sale on a Mako!).

FWIW: there was a guy selling new tibors on one of the other forums.

just my 2 cents......happy buying.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 02-19-2010, 08:35 AM
chainlynx's Avatar
chainlynx chainlynx is offline
Registered User
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Upper Delaware
Posts: 19

I own several different reels. Lamson is my favorite and fits a budget...Good luck.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 02-22-2010, 09:34 AM
doctorsteve doctorsteve is offline
Registered User
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: erie
Posts: 92
When I went for GT's in the Seychelles, I bought a Billy Pate Tarpon reel. I wanted to get an antireverse reel so I wouldn't bang up the old knuckles. Being a dentist, I didn't want to have to take a few extra weeks off with a splint on my finger. Not that the spining handle is that big of a deal, just pay attention. But the Billy Pate looks awesome. Heavy too. I've got Abels and Ross's and Lamsons. It doesn't matter what as long as it's good quality. I've tried the Nautilus, and I didn't feel like I could crank down the drag as much as I wanted to. When you fish for GT's, you typically use a 100lb+ leader with your drag tight. It's all or nothing with those f*ckers. That's the first fish that I ever really felt I needed a GREAT reel for. my 2 cents.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 02-22-2010, 12:56 PM
JR SPEY JR SPEY is offline
Registered User
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Just about anywhere
Posts: 624
I've heard of guys running straight 60lb, but 100lb? There's no flyline that I know about with that heavy of a core. The Rio Leviathan has a 70lb core and the Airflo GT line a 50lb core. Running a 100lb tippet almost guarantees that if you break off it'll be your line or backing. I know of no fly reel drag that actually functions at anything much over 20lb. In addition, the amount of slack line involved in flyfishing makes even a 60lb leader extremely dangerous. I guess that's one of many reasons I haven't given much serious thought to fishing the Seychelles.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 02-23-2010, 08:40 AM
Vince's Avatar
Vince Vince is offline
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Western New York Steelhead, Bahamas Bonefish, Wild Western Trout
Posts: 496
no doubt it is very possible you will lose your fly line when using this rig, as we did lose a few fly lines on our trip.

It also can be dangerous if you were to get tangled in the line.

nevertheless, that is what the guides there use, and we did use that same rig.

The goal is to stop the fish as quickly as possible, and the cost of a losing a fly line or two is nothing compared to the cost of the trip.

we used the airflo gt lines, and we actually only lost lines when the coral cut them off.
Vince Tobia
Forum Sponsor
Cattaraugus Creek Outfitters
God does not deduct from man's alloted time the hours spent fishing.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 02-23-2010, 09:29 AM
Gseries69's Avatar
Gseries69 Gseries69 is offline
Registered User
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Vermont
Posts: 225
As mentioned above you'll first have to decide on a cork disc drag or closed system. I have always liked the cork drag systems because of their simplicity and proven construction. When on a trip to a place like Belize where there are no tackle shops to help with problems you may encounter, most cork disk reels are easy to take apart, clean, and put back together. I have been using Islander and Tibor reels for a while now and have had good luck with them.

However, I used a Hatch Pulse 9+ on some good sized albies this summer and could not have been more impressed. The sealed drag system was incredibly smooth and apeared to be impenetrable. They are light weight and the options for spools allows one body to handle a number of line weights by offering mid and large arbors. I really can't say enough about them.

My experience along with two other friends who own them have had a number of issues with the Ross reels closed drag system in saltwater. One had his leader get caught in the drag system some how while in Belize and put it out of commission for most of the week.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 02-23-2010, 10:33 AM
petevicar's Avatar
petevicar petevicar is offline
In moderation
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: The seven seas
Posts: 840
When fishing for big GTs (see avatar) I use a straight 60lb leader. The only reason for this is that the GT will try to break you off on a coral head. You need to set the brake pretty tight and try to steer the fish. A Charlton reel Mako or the original work pretty well as does the Tibor Gulfstream (used on avatar fish).
I have experimented with drag tightness an set one of my reels so that it was almost immovable, I then measure the amount of pressure that I need to move the reel with a bocca grip. It was only about 25lbs.
The important thing with a reel is the smoothness of the brake and also the start up inertia. What I mean here is the reel should start to move smoothly and not require a tug to get it moving.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Fly Fishing Forum forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.
Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.
Email Address:
Home Waters
Your home waters
Current Favorite Fly
If you only had one... (change anytime)


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Selecting bonefish flies josko Bonefish, Tarpon, and other Obsessions 8 06-15-2005 10:58 PM
Hayden saltwater reels of Australia? Henning S Bluewater Extreme 0 04-09-2005 12:37 PM
Need Advice Selecting First 8 Weight sjs Gear Talk - Fly Stuff Spoken Here 10 07-10-2003 07:13 PM
Selecting a new Fly Rod Colin Worldwide Flyfishing Discussion 5 11-28-2000 02:12 PM

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:27 AM.

vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
Copyright (All Rights Reserved)