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

by Darby @ Fly Fish And Camp | Last Updated: March 28, 2020

Shows what the best fly fishing reels of 2020 are.

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.

Now, a reel is one of the most important gear pieces that you can purchase for this upcoming season.  You don’t want it to suck, bottom line.  Let’s get into it!

Here are the 11 best fly fishing reels for under $300

Best Fly Fishing Reels for Under $300

A couple of different factors that play into choosing the right reel are, quality, size, material, weight, noise and performance in general.  My recommendation, buy something nice.  Each fly reel on this list is going to provide awesome performance and quality.

Obviously, the higher end ones are going to be better, but each reel is going to be the best in the price range that you will pay.

That being said, be cautious about any fly reel that is on the lower end of the spectrum.  Fly reels are important and they need to be one of the cleanest running machines in your setup, don’t overlook this aspect of it.

And, if you can avoid it, stay away from any reel that is not metal.  They are ok for a beginner, but I wouldn’t recommend them for long lasting durability.

With that being said, let’s look at what I believe to be are the best fly fishing reels for under 300 dollars available in 2020!

Ross Animas Fly Reel

This reel is a game changer on the river.   Ross designed this reel specifically so that it would provide some of the best performance while fly fishing, but also mix up the look from previous Ross reels.   Not only is it extremely easy to use and does a great job, it’s also very durable.

picture of ross animas fly reelThis Ross design of fly fishing reels is different from their other models.  In this reel, the spool release was improved to be more efficient allowing for quicker turn around times.  The drag is made of composite, although that was most definitely on older models.

The Animas fly reel is very lightweight.  It feels as though you are simply just carrying a twig to the water when this thing is attached to a rod.  If you have a super lightweight rod, this reel is going to match that perfectly.

Bottom line, this reel is a machine.  And because it comes with a lifetime warranty, you’ll have no questions about whether or not the company behind the product believes in it.

Check out the latest price on Aventuron.

Galvan Rush Light Fly Reel

The Galvan Rush Light fly reel is another one of the best fly reels that you can get for only a couple hundred bucks.  It’s corrosion resistant, balanced, has a large arbor and is simply one of the better performing reels that you can buy for only a couple hundred dollars.

picture of galvan rush fly reelThe Galvan Rush reel has an easily adjusted drag and changing the reel from lefty to righty is very easy.  Also, because it has a large arbor, retrieving fish is far more efficient than other fly reels on the market.  The one downfall of a large arbor reel, is that it makes the entire reel a bit bigger.  But, in my opinion, it is better to have a reel that can retrieve fish quicker than worry about the little extra bulk that it might add to your setup.

This reel is also made of machined aluminum which is the top performing material for any reel.

The Galvan Rush is sealed to keep any extra junk out of the important functioning parts of this reel.  You are going to have the ability to take this reel anywhere and be ok if it gets dropped in the sand or mud.  Just clean it out in the river and you should be good to go.

Bottom line, if you are looking for a smooth and durable fly reel for a reasonable price – I recommend this one.

Check out the latest price on Fishwest.

Related Article: Best Fly Rod and Reel Combos Under $300

Hardy Ultralite CADD Fly Reel

Here is another one of the best fly fishing reels available today.  The Hardy Ultralite is made of 6061 alloy (that really good stuff that last a long time) and is two tone anodized.  Basically Hardy made this reel lightweight, strong, and protected from extra crap that might mess up a trip to the river.

The drag on this reel is extremely easy to adjust.  Plus, it has a color system on it which shows the user what the drag is set at.  When that giant Rainbow Trout is yanking your fly out into the river, just a quick little twist of the dial and you’re set!  Just like that.  Start yanking that fish back in!

This reel has a large arbor also.  Which is cool.  Just sayin.

One little side note, if you do buy this reel, know that the black reel is made for line sizes 3,000 – 7,000 and the titanium color reel can hold line sizes 3,000 – 10,000.

Overall, you will not go wrong with the Hardy Ultralite CADD fly reel.

Check out the latest price on Trident Fly Fishing.

Waterworks-Lamson Guru S Fly Reel (2020)

Alright, this has to be one of the coolest looking fly reels of the year.  Very, very clean look, 10/10.  Not only that, but it’s made of 6061 machined aluminum.  The drag is a conical design and it’s also sealed up, so no worries of getting it jammed with sand.

This is the 3rd generation of this reel.  The first two were incredibly popular so for 2020, Waterworks-Lamson decided to up the technology and performance for the third one.   Which seems pretty understandable… usually how that works.

Anyhow, the Waterworks Lamson Guru 2020 edition is a sweet machine.  Smooth, strong and durable.  Looks play a large part here, but this reel is one of my favorites.

I should note that this reel is also extremely light weight.  Very, very lightweight.

At the end of the day, you’ll be getting a smooth, lightweight, clean reel that’ll last you a minute – with a price that isn’t going to break the bank.

Check out the latest price on Trident Fly Fishing.

Related Article: Best Fly Rods Under $400

Redington Grande Fly Reel

The Redington Grande is one of the best fly reels on this list for a reason.  It’s made with CNC machined aluminum and the reel is fully sealed.  Nothing is going to break this reel or get stuck in it, unless you smash it with a hammer and pour mud into it!

redington grande fly reel

This reel is a sleeper reel that performs like a reel that is worthy of a $500 dollar price tag.  It’s super smooth and the drag is very easy to adjust.   It’s very balanced on the rod and it just feels like it belongs on your rod.

Because it’s made of the some of the best quality and the design of this reel is to provide strength, you’ll have no issues worrying about durability.  Even years down the road, this might be one of the better fly reel purchases that you can make, especially for the price.

ALSO, bonus points for the clean look!

Check out the latest pricing on Trident Fly Fishing.

Orvis Hydros Large Arbor Fly Reel (2020)

If you have never heard of Orvis I’m going to assume you are probably new to fly fishing.  That’s cool – they make some of the best fly equipment in the world, and I’m not sponsored (no ads, ever).  Back to what I was saying,  the 2020 Hydros reel is one of the best reels to purchase, especially if you are just starting out (it’s predecessor is the very popular Hydro SL, if you are wondering).

The 2020 Hydro is a very simple machine – looks simple, nothing crazy to it, but is also dynamic reel on the river.  It has a carbon and stainless drag system, which is very easy to adjust.  The reel is a larger arbor reel, my go-to.

One of the biggest upgrades from last the Hyrdos SL, is that it’s lighter and more balanced on the rod.  So if you have a lightweight rod and need something to match that – consider this reel.  Like I said earlier, Orvis is an extremely popular brand in the fly fishing community, for good reasons.

I’m going to put this reel in the middle in terms of looks.  Nothing crazy, just gets the job done, and done nicely.

Check out the latest price on amazon. 

Related Article: All Redington Rod and Reel Combos Reviews

Redington Rise Fly Reel

The Redington Rise is another one of those reels in the 100 to 200 dollar range that will perform at an elite level.  It’s made of CNC anodized aluminum (6061) and has a massive arbor (as I always say, the bigger the arbor the bigger the fish!)  Nah that’s not true actually – but I would recommend this reel if you are a big fan of very large arbor reels.

The performance of this reel is again, one of the best (don’t get mad at me!  All of these reels are top of the line!)   Because it’s made of CNC aluminum, this sucker is going to last you a while.  And if it doesn’t, it has a lifetime warranty so you’re covered!

But then that would look bad on me if the reel breaks – which is why it isn’t going too, unless you drive it over with your car.

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.

Check out the latest pricing on Aventuron. 

Sage Spectrum C Fly Reel

The Sage Spectrum C is made of machined die cast material.  Which is ok, definitely not CNC aluminum though.  This, like a lot of reels on this list, has a large arbor.  One cool feature on this reel is, the drag knob has numbers on it.  This will show you what your drag is set at with a quick glance down.

Because it isn’t made with CNC aluminum, Sage had to do some fancy footwork to make sure that the reel is durable.  To do that, they implemented the concave feature to the reel.  Allegedly making this reel super strong.   So that’s cool that they at least made sure that it’s going to last the consumer a while.

Sage is another one of the best fly fishing brands on the market, you aren’t going to go wrong with this one.  At least this reel is going to be better than a bunch of other reels in the same price range.

I honestly couldn’t care a less about which reel you buy – just please do me a favor and buy something that is good.  I really don’t want you to have issues with your reel only a couple times down to the Brooky stream.

I’m not going to say that this reel is better than all of the other reels on this list, or anywhere – but it’s at least one of the best on the cheaper side of the market.

Check out the latest price on amazon.

Orvis Clearwater ll Fly Reel

I’m going to give this reel the award for best budget fly fishing reel available in 2020.  Now, I don’t like recommending reels that are on the lower end of the reel spectrum… they usually blow a gasket within three trips out to the river.  But this one will leave you satisfied for the cash spent.  This reel uses a rulon and stainless drag system for clean, consistent use.

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 made by Orvis so the durability is going to be solid.

Performance-wise, you are getting what you pay for.  It’s surely going to work!  Don’t get me wrong there, but it’s not a premier level of fly reel.  Still super good, actually great, for someone that is just beginning in fly fishing!

Overall you’ll get a decent reel for less than a hundred dollars if you buy this one.

Check out the latest pricing on amazon.  

Related Article: How To Choose The Right Fly Fishing Vest 

These next couple fly reels are going to be for beginner fly anglers looking for a decent fly reel.  These are some of the better reels that you are going to find in this price range.  If decide that you aren’t digging these reels, at least try and make sure that the reel is metal.

There are reels that are made of polymer and while they do work, I wouldn’t recommend them.  Unless you are buying a combo fly outfit.  But if you are buying your rod and reel separate, stick away from any reel that isn’t metal.

Redington Zero Fly Reel

I’ll start with the Redington Zero.  It’s made of die cast material and is quite lightweight.  It’s a large arbor reel and has a spring loaded drag system.  This reel can be changed from left handed to right handed fairly quickly too.

One complaint people have had with this reel is the clicking noise.  So if you are looking for a quiet reel maybe don’t buy this one, but if the clicking sound is cool with you scoop it.  This reel does come with a life time warranty so that’s a huge upside.  Like massive.

Check out the latest price on Aventuron. 

I have one more budget option for you…

Piscifun Sword ll Fly Fishing Reel

The material of the Piscifun Sword 2 is 6061 aluminum! That is a plus.  This sucker is lightweight and it has smooth drag system.  It is corrosion resistant and does have a three year warranty!  If you do want a smaller arbor on your real, this one does come with a mid-arbor design.

A complaint of this reel was that sand and gunk got caught in the mechanical part of the reel, because it isn’t sealed.  Which is a downfall, but also understandable.

For the price of this reel, the reviews are very positive.  I think that it will/can work for you, when you are starting out.

Check out the latest price on Piscifun.

Related: Best Fly Fishing Packs of 2020

In the end, do yourself a favor and pick something up that you will be happy with for a long time.

Listen, I realize that fly fishing can get expensive quickly, and that you want to budget some of your gear, and maybe you want to go with a cheap reel.  Go for it!  Seriously, all the props to you!  Just don’t come whining to me when your reel falls apart in your hands though.

Take a few minutes when you are coming to a decision about buying a reel.  It’s an important piece of the game!  Even if you disagree with my list, I only ask one thing of you; before you purchase a reel ask yourself “is this reel going to work for me? and am I going to be happy with this reel?”.  That’s it.  And if you can answer yes to both questions, buy it!

All in all, I really hope that this list helped you out in some way or shape.  Best of luck this season and tight lines!!