Trouts Journal

The 3 Best Fly Reels Under $300

Ivan Orsic / Mar 15, 2022

There are a lot of fly reels on the market today. From high-end sealed drag systems to half ported or fully ported frame designs, picking and choosing fly reel options can quickly rack up a hefty price tag. Whether looking to upgrade or diversify, today's post is for you. At Trouts, we are proud to carry a wide variety of fly reels with a few stand-out options priced below $300.

Any one of these fly reels makes an excellent first "investment" fly reel and is a noticeable step up from those found in a pre-packaged fly rod and reel combo. Moreover, with their proper variation, any of these fly reels are perfectly capable of putting the breaks on just about any freshwater species. So let us cut to the chase and go over our three top-selling fly reels under $300.

The TFO NTR Fly Reel: $130 - $169

While NTR is short for No Tools Required, that is far from what makes this fly reel an excellent option for anglers of all types. Designed for an angler looking for a high-quality machined aluminum fly reel at a friendly price, the NTR is an efficient and powerful fly reel ready to put the brakes on just about every freshwater species an angler can imagine.

TFO NTR fly reels are fully CNC machined from lightweight 6061-T6 aluminum and feature a smooth cork disc drag system (draw bar design). This is an incredible accomplishment at their sub $200 price point. Designed with a one-way stainless-steel spindle bearing with an internal cap and O-ring seal. Additionally, the NTR series reel features an out-going check for quick drag assessment and is easy to change from left to right-hand retrieve.

Coming in 4 different sizes, the NTR is happily at home on a large variety of rod weights. TFO has packed an incredible amount of value into this fly reel and has given the budget-conscious angler a terrific option for fly reels that will work on single or two-handed fly rods. If you are looking for a fly rod set up that will get you out the door and hooking fish without the need to remortgage your house, consider pairing the NTR with a TFO rod, like the Temple Fork Outfitters Pro II Fly Rod, for an enjoyable day on the water.

Shop The NTR

The Hardy UltraClick Fly Reel: $250

The Hardy Ultraclick serves as a fantastic option for those looking for an ultralight fly rod set up. The Hardy Ultraclick--which is 30% lighter than the Hardy FWDD--is the new standard for ultralight fly reel design. The Ultraclick 500 - one of the most popular models - rated for ⅘ line weights comes in an incredible 2.4oz!

Outfitted with an incredibly adjustable click style drag (up to 1.5lbs) system, the Hardy Ultraclick meets the demands of modern Nymphing Techniques, especially Euro Nymphing. This is expressed through a closed reel cage design. The closed cage design allows anglers to fish ultra-thin fly lines and leader systems effectively without getting caught within the reel cage. Why is this important? Well, typically, if an angler were using modern nymphing techniques with a non-closed reel cage, their fly line, leader, and tippet would end up wrapped around the back of the fly reel. Not fun.

In short, the Ultraclick provides an angler with a high-quality fly reel when smaller water situations arise or when spooky trout are present. For a quality built reel that will last many outings on the water, look no further than the Hardy Ultraclick. Oh, and if you are looking to balance out your ultralight set up perfectly, think about pairing the Ultraclick with a Hardy Ultralight LL!

Shop The Ultraclick

Orvis Hydros Fly Reel: $249.99 - $279.00

For those looking for a perfect blend of fair price and performance, the Orvis Hydros Fly Reel is one of the best options. The Hydros fly reel is geared towards the beginner or intermediate angler and a step up from the previous Hydros SL. The Hydros also comes equipped with many features typically found in fly reels well above its price range. One of those features is the radius reel foot, which allows anglers to wrap long leaders around and up to a hook keep without kinking or damaging your leader.

Additionally, the Hydros has zero start-up inertia which is perfect for protecting those 6-7X tippets the reel also has a large arbor design that allows for excellent retrieval rates.

A vital factor for many anglers is the weight of the Orvis Hydros fly reel. The reduced weight of the fly reel comes in at 5.5oz and is a perfect option for anglers who are looking for a lightweight fly reel to pair with the wide variety of fly rods on the market, like the Sage Trout LL or even the G. Loomis IMX-PRO. As we mentioned before, the Orvis Hydros reel is a fantastic option for those just starting in the sport or those looking to invest in a higher-quality fly reel. Perfect for western trout or pond hopping, the Orvis Hydros is your new workhorse this summer. Eh, more like a mule. Nevertheless, you get the idea.

With a fully refined lightweight large arbor and an improved fully-sealed drag clutch bearing, the Orvis Hydros Fly Reel is an excellent option and packs the most value at the sub $300 mark on our list.

Shop The Hyrdos

For the angler looking to level up their fly reels or simply looking for one to purchase for someone new to the sport, the fly reels recommended above are your bread and butter for both price and performance.

As anglers, many of us are always trying to find that unique middle ground of price and performance, and I think every one of these fly reels meets certain criteria the beginner or intermediate angler is looking for in a fly reel. Want the most value at the lowest price? Go for the TFO. Looking to dip a toe into a new fly fishing technique for a low cost? Go for the Ultralick! Looking for a reel that can do everything well and looks great while on the water? The Hydros it is!

While each reel we discussed brings something different to the table, you must try and understand what you want out of your fly reel as an angler. By understanding what you want out of your fly reel, you can better understand how to find the best tool for the job, and the fly reels mentioned above are a great place to start.

Are you looking for more information on the fly reels mentioned above? Or are you looking for more information on other fly reels? Come swing by the shop, and we will make sure you are ready to go for your next time out on the water!

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