A solid fly reel is the foundation of any good fly fishing tackle setup. Quality, durability, brand, design and user-friendliness are just a few of the attributes that fly fishing fanatics are looking focusing on when purchasing the best fly reel under $200. After considering 6 fly reel models and testing three top contenders, we’re confident Redington Rise Fly Reel is the best fly reel under 200 dollars for beginners and experienced anglers.
Best Fly Reels Under 200$
Who is this review for?
For fly fishing anglers that are interested in taking their tackle to the next level. The $200 price range is considered to be suitable for intermediate and experience anglers but for our list we made sure that also beginners can use these reels without any problems.
If you are looking for a fly reel in a different price range, make sure to check out our other reviews:
Reviews of fly reels for certain species:
Why you should trust us
For this guide, I spent six hours researching and comparing different fly reels. Then the King of the Catch review team spent 5 fishing sessions of 6 hours each testing each reel.
Beyond testing fly reels, I’ve been reviewing tackle including fish finders, bait & lures, rods and baitcasting/spinning reels for the last three years at King of the Catch. Every month close to 10,000 unique visitors consult King of the Catch for the latest fishing tackle reviews.
How did we pick?
We scoped out the most popular fly reels under 200$ on Trident Fly Fishing, Bass Pro and Amazon, and looked at models from well-known brands including Lamson, Redington, Orvis, and Seigler to find the best options on the market today.
We asked the opinions from experienced fly fishers from the North American Fly Fishing Forum and Fly Fishing UK, and we combed through subreddits like /r/flyfishing/ and r/troutfishing/ to find community favorites that held up well over time.
Quick overview of the best fly reels under 200$:
- Redington Rise Fly Reel – Winner
- Orvis Battenkill Fly Reel – Runner up!
- Redington Behemoth Fly Reel – Also good!
How did we test?
The King of the Catch Review Team used a seven-criteria matrix for evaluating each fly reel and matching rod:
- Durability: Which stayed most functional during the test period?
- User-friendliness: Can a beginner use it without getting in trouble?
- Materials: How is the overall quality?
- Looks: Because the eyes also want something!
- Design: Old Vs. New features
- Value: Comparing price, features and performance
- Reviews: What did other fishing experts have to say?
Scores were added up after each testing period. In this article you will see the winner, the runner-up and other recommendations regarding fly reels that we have used in the past or that are recommended by other anglers which we respect and trust.
Winner: Redington Rise Fly Reel
What is our final score? The Redington Rise Fly Reel scored a 9.4 out of 10!
Why it is great
First off, we must mention the exceptionally smooth, carbon-fiber drag system that makes this reel a delight to work with. We pulled a few large fishes with it and had zero issues with the drag. The reel works to hold the fish in place and doesn’t result in any broken lines.
We like how the drag is entirely slip-free and provides consistent pressure throughout the adjustment range. However, since it’s not sealed, regular cleaning is essential to keep it in operating condition.
Next, we have to mention the line retrieve, which is cleaner and faster than any other reel in this price range. This is due to the massive arbor and the reel frame that holds the spool tightly to provide better performance.
Another reason we like this reel is the oversized drag knob; its ergonomic design ensures that you can grip it easily. The handles are also ergonomic and soft and work well to protect our hands from bruises while fishing.
The reel provides minimum resistance when changing direction and allows you to switch between right and left without any fuss. The only caveat is that the conversion will produce a clicking sound when you bring in the line. However, it’s nothing unbearable, and we’re more than inclined to let it pass.
Finally, a bit about the build material; the Rise is made using aircraft grade T-6061 aluminum, making for highly durable construction. Perhaps that’s why we were able to pull in a couple of Lake Browns that we thought we’d have to let go of. Overall, one of the best looking, ideally performing fly reels on the market.
Flaws but no dealbreakers
We’ve already spoken volumes about what we like in this reel, so it’s only natural that we talk a bit about its downsides. The first flaw that we noticed was with the brake adjustment, which is a bit too clunky, in our opinion. It’s nothing that should prevent you from buying it, but there’s certainly room for improvement.
Also, there’s the fact that this is a tiny reel and isn’t enough to hold a full backing. This is something that disappointed us a bit, but only a bit. It’s nothing that should stop you from using this reel to its fullest advantage.
What rod can you mount it on?
- Fresh water, moderate action rod
- Dark clay brown blank with matching Rosewood reel seat insert
- Custom Machined reel seat components, Titanium oxide stripping guides
The Redington Rise Fly Reel goes best with the Redington Classic Trout Fly Rod, another quality product from the same brand. This one is a mid-range, moderate-action rod that’s ideal for small water bodies and even boat fishing.
The reel seat of this rod has a beautiful rosewood insert that matches the deeper brown of the rod’s blank. It even has an anodized aluminum locking mechanism that helps to keep the reel in place.
Add to that the long-term warranty provided by the brand, and there’s no reason not to go for this rod-reel combo.
Runner-up: Orvis Battenkill Fly Reel
What is the final score? The Orvis Battenkill Fly Reel scored a 9.1 out of 10!
Why it is great
Despite being made from modern materials (it’s made of fully machined bar stock aluminum), the Battenkill is durable, solid, and lightweight. The look is a bit old-fashioned, and we feel that only adds to the appeal of this reel.
The design is exceptionally lightweight, and the ported jewel finish provides it with a retro feeling. True, it doesn’t have an adjustable drag, but that can be easily rectified using a bit of careful palm work. In fact, if you’re using this reel primarily for trout fishing, then the default drag is ideal; you really don’t need to go for any further modification.
We used it with an Orvis Clearwater 5WT, and the results were more than satisfying! The entire setup is relatively light, and the click-and-pawl system works better than a disc drag. At the same time, the clicking noise helps to give you that old-world feel while reeling in the catch.
The arbor is mid-sized and suitable for trout as well as larger species. And as we mentioned earlier, if you’re trout fishing, then this reel is more than ideal since a trout isn’t going to bring you down to the backing.
At the same time, these reels are extremely easy to clean, and you can also get replacement parts if you need them. Plus, they have durable and rugged construction, and even after extensive use, we found only minor scratches on our piece.
Certainly, recommended if you’re going to focus on trout.
Flaws but no dealbreakers
As far as flaws are concerned, the most significant problem you’ll face with this reel is the loud clicking noise. Now, we actually enjoy it, but it might be a bit distracting for those who like a quieter fishing environment.
It’s also slightly smaller than the images suggest, but it can easily hold about 100 yards of 3WT line with a significant amount of backing. And though it does not have a drag built-in, we recommend applying the required amount with your hand on the bottom of the spool. At the end of the day, there’s nothing that should prevent you from getting this reel.
What rod can you mount it on?
- The micro-Spey has its own action for swinging and mending smaller trout...
- The two shortest trout rods have a slower action designed for short casts...
- The basic saltwater models have a faster action designed for bigger flies,...
If you’re looking for a rod to go with this reel, then look no farther than the Orvis Clearwater Fly Rod. This rod series is best for freshwater fishing and comes in multiple line weights and lengths for any sized waters.
An ideal combination of precision and strength, these fly rods from Orvis allow you to cast tiny dry flies as well as heavy streamers with equal ease. Plus, they are backed by a 25-year guarantee, which speaks volumes about the brand’s confidence in their products.
Also Great: Redington Behemoth Fly Reel
Now, apart from the massive fish-stopping power, its larger arbor lets you get the fish to hand pretty fast. The adjustable drag makes reeling in larger fish much easier; we could land larger catches such as Northern Pike and Salmon with it without much trouble.
Why It’s In Third Place
So, if this reel is so good, why did it land in third place? There are a few reasons for this, the first being the weight. Despite contributing to the drag, it can feel very tiring on the hands and make waiting for the catch a tiresome task.
Another drawback that we have to mention is that this is a die-cast reel instead of the CNC machined construction of our top contenders. Since CNC machined reels are digitally designed from solid bar stock aluminum, they have high tensile strength. At the same time, they can also be anodized to protect against regular wear and tear.
All of this ensures that CNC machined reels have a longer operational life as compared to die-cast reels. Die-cast options have a reputation for being lower in quality and can easily break. And though we haven’t yet faced any such problem with this reel, the possibility can’t be entirely ruled out.
The next drawback of this reel is that it’s unsealed, which means it can easily get dirt and debris in the system. To be frank, we were a bit surprised to find that the drag was simply capped and left unsealed.
This means you’ll have to put in a significant amount of maintenance to ensure its long-term usability.
However, if you’re looking for a low-cost reel with massive drag, then you can’t go wrong with this option.
And that’s all from us for now! We’re sure you’ve been able to take your pick from among the above three options. If not, then we recommend you go through the reviews once again and decide carefully.
To help in your decision-making, we suggest that going with the winner, i.e., the Redington Rise Fly Reel is your best bet. However, if you’re looking for something a bit more affordable, then the Orvis Battenkill can meet your needs, and then some. And if massive drag is your only concern, then nothing beats the Redington Behemoth.
Niels Thomas is a wildlife expert and fishing fanatic that works with major fishing brands like Deeper Sonar, Abu Garcia, Berkley, PENN, BassPro and Pure Fishing. Through sharing the best fishing tips, tricks, gear reviews, locations and much more he hopes to inspire fishing fanatics to start their own journey towards becoming the King of the Catch!