Our 11 Best Fly Fishing Reels For Under 300: [2020]

In the market for a new reel?  There are a ton of options to choose from right now so to help you out, I created this article about what the best 11 fly fishing reels for under $300 are.

Reels are an extremely important piece of fly fishing equipment.  You’ll use it nearly as much as you would your rod, so it shouldn’t be taken lightly.

A lot of fly reels will work, only some of them will perform great.  Especially when you are getting a budget reel.  You want to make sure that you are buying something of high quality, before you pay for it.

Here’s a quick list of the top reels if you’re in a hurry.

Best Fly Fishing Reels for Under $300

There are a few things to keep in mind when looking for a new fly fishing reel.  Where are you going to be fishing?  How often do you plan on going out?  What size fish are you trying to catch?  What is environment that you will be fishing in?  What is your budget?

For many fly anglers, the best fly reel to get will be there 4/5 weight reel.  It can be used for fishing Trout, Bass and most average sized fish.  If you are fishing for large fish, obviously get something a bit bigger like a 7/8 weight.  If you’re fishing for Panfish, a 3/4 weight reel is best.

With that being said, let’s look at what I believe to be are the best fly fishing reels for under 300 dollars.

Shows what the best fly fishing reels of 2020 are.

Ross Animas Fly Reel (Best Overall)

Best Overall Reel (Under $300)
Ross Animas Fly Fishing Reel

The Ross Animas fly fishing reel is the best reel you can get in its price range. It's a lightweight and smooth rig that comes with a lifetime warranty.

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If you are looking for the best of the best right off the bat, here you go.  This is the number one fly fishing reel that you can get for this price range, and surely one of the top reels in all price ranges.

The thing that this reel has to offer over other top end reels is that it’s able to fish both salt and freshwater.  You are unlikely to find that in many different fly reels.  This is because salt is likely to erode a lot of different reels because of the material being used.  You can’t go wrong with this one if you ever plan on fishing both.

Now that’s cool, but that’s not everything.  It’s also very lightweight and balanced in the hand.  Casting and reeling are smooth and controlled.  Go as quickly as you want and have no issues with it keeping up effectively.

Some other features on this reel is that the drag is adjustable and made of composite and the spool release has been improved on from previous models.

Pros: 

  • Lightweight (80z)
  • Durable (machined with new structure design)
  • Very balanced on the rod
  • Composite drag
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Made in the USA

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • There are other reels that look better

Sage Spectrum C Fly Reel (Best For The Money)

The Sage Spectrum C fly reel is the top fly fishing reel for the money.  The reason I put it up here is because it’s in the middle in terms of expensive reels and cheap reels, yet it performs like something at the top.

It’s made of machined die cast aluminum which is a durable material that is likely going to last you a long time.  Now, it’s not CNC machined but regardless still very strong.  The concave design in this reel strengthens it as well.

This reel has a large arbor on it, allowing for quick retrieval times of your fish.  The large arbor is pretty standard amongst fly fishing reels in this day and age however.

Weight-wise this reel is fairly light.  It’s a touch heavier than the previous reel on the list weighing in at 9.7 ounces, but that’s still light compared to other options on the market.  You definitely won’t feel as though you are carrying a sack of rocks to the river.

On the drag there are numbers telling you how tight or loose your drag is.  I really like this feature although it doesn’t seem like much.  You’re unlikely going to accidentally have your drag set too loose and miss out on an opportunity to reel in a giant.

Pros:

  • Sturdy reel
  • Concave design increase durability
  • Balanced
  • Lightweight

Cons:

  • Not as crisp as other top reels

Redington Zero Fly Reel (Best Budget)

If you’re new to the fly fishing game, Redington is known for their quality products at low prices.  Not to put them in a category of any sort, but many people that are just getting into fly fishing typically start with a Redington product.  Whether that be a reel, rod, or even a vest, Redington is a good choice for beginners.

The Redington Zero fly reel is going to be the best choice for fly anglers that are on a budget of some sort.  The reason being is that it’s (well duh), inexpensive.

But we all know that just because something doesn’t cost a lot of money, doesn’t mean that it’s worth it.  You will find a lot of fly fishing products that are cheap and don’t last a long time.   That’s not the case with this reel.

In this reel, you’re getting something that is built to last.  It isn’t made of CNC machined aluminum, but rather a die cast construction.  So it doest have a bit of additional weight compared to the best of the best, but that’s ok.

We know going into it that this reel isn’t meant to be a premium level fly fishing reel.  This is your quality starter setup reel that’s going to get the job done.  It isn’t as smooth nor balanced as the best reels out there, but it will last.

And that’s really all you can ask for when you are getting a new fly fishing reel at a great price.

Pros:

  • Get the job done kind of fly reel
  • Die cast material
  • Inexpensive
  • Large arbor
  • Life time warranty

Cons:

  • Slightly louder clicking
  • Not as quality as other fly reels

Galvan Rush Light Fly Reel

Galvan Rush Light Fly Reel

This is one of the highest performing fly fishing reels of the year. It's very sensitive and quick, perfect for fast reaction situations on the river. Which we know as fly anglers happen often.

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The Galvan Rush Light fly reel is the next best reel for less than $300.  It’s corrosion resistant, balanced and has a large arbor design.  It’s made of machined aluminum and is also sealed for better protection of the working components.  You can adjust the drag super easily on this reel and the rotation of it is super smooth.

Pros:

  • Balanced
  • Large arbor
  • Machined aluminum
  • Easily adjustable drag
  • Sealed
  • Built in the USA

Cons:

  • Price

Related: Best Fly Rod and Reel Combos Under $300

Hardy Ultralite CADD Fly Reel

Hardy Ultralite CADD Fly Fishing Reel

The Hardy Ultralite CADD reel is another high end fly fishing reel for this year. It's made of stock 6061 aluminum which is the strongest material you can get in a fly reel.

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The next best fly fishing reel under 300 dollars is the Hardy Ultralite CADD.  In my opinion, this is one of the best looking reels that you can get on the market.  But looks aren’t the only reason why you should get a reel.

It’s also very strong.  The material used to create this reel is 6061 alloy which is the strongest material that you can possibly get in a fly reel.  You aren’t going to have to worry about it bending after it accidentally gets dropped in the river and bounces off a rock.

That’s not the last of this reel though.  It’s also lightweight and also sealed for protection from dirt and rocks.  Which is a whole lot better than some companies can say about their reels.

Overall, Hardy is a brand that you can trust.

Pros: 

  • Large arbor
  • Machined aluminum
  • Color system on drag
  • Durable
  • Sealed
  • Two tone anodized

Cons:

  • Price

Waterworks-Lamson Guru S Fly Reel – 2020

Waterworks-Lamson Guru S Series Fly Reel - 2020

This is the newest model of Guru Series reels from Waterworks-Lamson. It's made of 6061 alloy and is surely one of the lightest reels you can get, weighing in at only 4.41 oz.

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If you are looking for a fly reel that is incredible lightweight, this is the way to go.  Weighing in at only 4.41 oz for the 4,5,6 weight option this is the lightest reel on this list.  I would recommend matching this reel up with a Sage X rod (if you have the cash obviously) for a sweet one, two combo.

This reel is also made of 6061 alloy so it’s built to last.  No bending here.

Another nice feature that this fly reel has to offer is that it’s sealed up.  Probably one of the most unfortunate things to happen with cheaper reels is that they will get jammed up from rocks and grime.  You won’t have that issue in this reel.

Lastly, if you are into modern looks, this is the best fly reel for you.  While I do like the design and shape of many reels on this list, this is surely my favorite.

This is also the 3rd generation of this reel.  The first two were incredibly popular so why not keep the trend moving along?  Waterworks-Lamson decided to up the technology and performance for the third one.   It’s smooth, strong and durable.  Looks play a part here, but this is one of my favorite reels from 2020.

Pros:

  • Very lightweight (4.41oz)
  • Sealed
  • Durable
  • Machined aluminum

Cons:

  • Price

Redington Crosswater Fly Reel

Redington Crosswater Fly Reel

The Redington Crosswater is a solid budget option for many fly anglers. It's the type of reel that is meant for people that just want to spend a little time on the river. Nothing crazy, but gets the job done.

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The Crosswater is probably the cheapest fly reel that I’d actually recommend to someone.  And if I’m being honest with you, I don’t even love this pick.  But the reason that I put it on here is because I know that not everyone can afford ridiculous fly fishing prices and this reel is the opposite of ridiculous prices.

Now being that this reel isn’t the most expensive one out there, it does come with some more downfalls compared to other options.  It isn’t sealed, nor is it made of aluminum.  It’s a composite material that is likely not going to last forever.

But that is perfectly fine if you don’t need it to fish 4x a week during the summertime.  If you do plan on fishing that much, get a metal reel.

You do however get a limited one year warranty with this reel so that is a major plus.

And not only that but you get the ability to fly fish without investing too much money.  You can learn how to cast, reel, etc before you decide to jump into the higher quality fishing equipment.

Overall if you want to learn the game of fly fishing, this is one of the best reels to do it with.

Related: Redington Rod and Reel Combo Reviews

Orvis Clearwater ll Fly Reel

Orvis Clearwater Fly Fishing Reel

The Orvis Clearwater fly fishing reel is a quality budget option for fly anglers. The performance of it greatly outmatches the price you will pay for it.

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Another great fly fishing reel for less than $300 is the Orvis Clearwater.  Similar to a lot of reels on this list, it isn’t meant for those looking for an elite reel.  This is your standard quality and performance fly fishing reel that is going to give you the chance to have a lot of fun on the river.

It’s made of die cast material and has the ability to take a little beating.  Now, it’s not CNC aluminum, but it’s still very strong.  Which is really all you can ask for.

Performance-wise you are still getting a high level of performance mainly because it’s made by Orvis.  The reeling is smooth and balance-wise it feels good.

Pros: 

  • Price
  • Die cast material
  • Orvis brand
  • Large arbor
  • Rulon and stainless drag

Cons:

  • Not CNC machined
  • Not fully sealed

Redington Rise Fly Reel

Redington Rise Fly Fishing Reel

The Redington Rise fly fishing reel is meant for the budget fly angler. It's made of 6061 alloy and has an ultra large arbor for quick retrieval of your fish.

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The Redington Rise is another solid budget fly fishing reel on the market today.  It’s made of 6061 aluminum alloy and features an ultra large arbor on it.  I wouldn’t recommend this reel to someone planning on fishing panfish, but definitely would recommend it if you’re fishing large fish.

Performance-wise this reel is going to get the job done.  It does feel a little bit less balanced than other reels on this list because it’s so big, but not too bad.  This reel is super fast at retrieving fish however.

Performance wise, you aren’t going to find a bunch of reels better than this one at this price range.  That’s just the bottom line.

Pros: 

  • Lightweight
  • Great performance
  • CNC machined
  • Fair price

Cons:

  • Very large arbor adds bulk

Piscifun Sword ll Fly Fishing Reel

Piscifun Sword ‖ Fly Fishing Reel

The Piscifun Sword ll fly fishing reel is one of the most popular fly reels on amazon because it's a quality rig for well under $100. It's very smooth and comes with a 3 year warranty.

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The final fly fishing reel on this list of under $300 is the Piscifun ll.  It’s made of 6061 aluminum alloy like many other reels and comes with a three year warranty.  Which is very good for a reel that doesn’t even break the $100 mark.

Not only that though it’s quite smooth.  Not as smooth as the Hardy reel above (obviously), but still very good nonetheless.  The problem that this reel has is it doesn’t come sealed nor does it have a large arbor.  It’s a medium arbor fly reel.

And because of this, retrieving line is going to take a touch longer, but if you’re fishing in close quarters it won’t matter either way.  Overall this is a solid fly reel for many anglers just getting into fly fishing.

Related: Best Fly Rods Under $400

Conclusion: Top Reels

That will wrap up this post on the best fly fishing reels for under $300.  Thank you for reading and tight lines my friend!

 

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