Even if you’re new to fishing, it doesn’t take too long to notice the numerous fly reel manufacturers available.
But this guide is for you if you live in the United States and prefer the best fly reels made in the USA.
Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of the top brands to look out for.
Top Manufacturers of Fly Reels Made in the USA
Best Known For
Producing fly reels with excellent reliability and performance
Designing high-quality, simple, and classically-styled fly reels
The oldest fly fishing company renowned for manufacturing superior fly-fishing equipment
Renowned for manufacturing remarkably durable fly reels in the industry
Manufacturing ground-breaking and award-winning fly reels
Top Fly Reel Brands Made in the USA
Sage was founded in 1980 by the legendary rod designer Don Green. In keeping the company’s mission of creating the best performance fly rods, Green pieced together some of the world’s finest fishing equipment using first-rate materials.
The company was originally named Winslow Rod Company. While the name has since changed to Sage, the manufacturing plant is still on Bainbridge Island, Washington State, USA.
From only six employees and a manufacturing space covering about 1,500 square feet, Sage has grown into a company of 175 workers occupying a 30,000-square-foot space.
Although it has only been in existence for a little of four decades, Sage is considered one of the best fly fishing rod companies in America, with a wide range of fishing tools for all skill levels.
Key Terms to Know
To help compare products in this review, we have included a few key specifications for each. Here is a quick summary of what they mean.
- Materials: The materials the reel is made of.
- Weight: The actual weight of the reel.
- Hand Orientation: Which dominant hand the reel is made for.
- Bearing Type and Material: The number or type of bearings inside the reel and also the bearing material.
- Gear Ratio: This tells you the number of times the reel spool turns with each crank of the handle.
- Maximum Drag: The amount of force the reel can withstand without the line slipping.
- Line Compatibility: Which line types the reel is meant to be used with.
Review of the Best Fly Reel Manufacturers
Let's take a look at this year's top picks.
SAGE Trout Reel
Sage Trout Reel is a classic fly reel with outstanding modern performance. Anglers looking for a fly reel that reminds them of the good old fishing days will find the design appealing.
The product comes in a machined aluminum full-frame design. Like other Sage models, the Sage Trout Reel has a Sealed Carbon System (SCS) Drag. It is completely sealed to prevent grit, salt, water, and sand from getting inside the tool.
To make things even easier for the fly fishing angler, the reel design also includes a One-Revolution Drag Knob.
Switching from left- to right-hand retrieve and vice-versa is pretty straightforward.
Other noteworthy features of the product include an ergonomic handle, anodized aluminum hub, and a large arbor that increases line pick-up speed.
Machined and anodized aluminum
Left and Right Hand
Bearing Type and Material:
2wt - 4wt
WF3 + 100 yards, 20 lbs
In 1992, Bonifacio Galvan designed the first prototype for Galvan Fly Reel and that was how the company was born. The founder built the first Galvan fly reel using his machinist skills when he could not afford a quality reel.
He constructed a rugged but lightweight and remarkably smooth reel, with a reliable drag system. But most importantly, when the product was ready for distribution in 1994, it was one of the most affordable options to hit the market without compromising quality.
The company has its headquarters in Sonora California, the USA where all the fly reels are manufactured and assembled.
Nearly three decades later, the brand is still driven by the desire to strive for perfection, while maintaining its original simplicity and notably elegant design.
Galvan Torque Fly Reel
The Galvan Torque Fly Reel now comes in a new and improved look. The product is made from stainless steel material in combination with a one-of-a-kind wear-resistant and heat-resistant thermoplastic.
The reel can be safely used in saltwater without affecting its performance. Plus, it can work in different favorable and unfavorable conditions, including coastal rivers, flats, mountain streams, and more.
The spools feature uniquely designed cutouts, contoured counter balance, innovative drag system, rounded frame rims, and spool, and it is available in several attractive colors, such as clear, green, black, blue, and burnt orange.
The Torque Fly Reel is the brand’s fourth reel series released in 2004. The product comes with a unique Torque drag system, which now features in all of Galvan’s fly reels.
2wt - 3wt
WF3 + 50 yards
Orvis is a family-owned fly fishing company founded in 1856 by Charles F. Orvis. For over a century and a half, the company has established itself as a dominant force in the world of fly fishing equipment and outdoor life.
Headquartered in Sunderland, Vermont, in the United States, Orvis deals in other hunting and sporting goods besides fly fishing.
The brand goes beyond mere marketing to helping people who love the great outdoors to live more fulfilling lives by providing products that create a profound personal connection to the natural world.
The international company has a staff strength of about 1,700 employees with 69 retail stores. It has several outlets both in the US and the UK and boasts of over 5,000 products on its website.
Best for the Money:
Orvis Clearwater Large Arbor Reel
This is an entry-level fly reel with amazing features that beats the expectations of most people. First, it is a highly affordable option, but that doesn’t take away from its sturdy build, exceptional ergonomics, and powerful disc drag system. The model is quite popular among fly fishing anglers.
Orvis Clearwater Large Arbor Reel is made from a diecast aluminum material with a disc drag engineered using stainless steel. The frame is light yet robust and the reel itself has impressive anti-corrosion elements.
This is not the most aesthetically pleasing reel available, but what it lacks in beauty, it possesses in practical application. In other words, this is your best bet if you are looking to own a good-quality fly reel from the top brands in America without hurting your bank account.
Left and Right Hand
Bearing Type and Material:
4wt - 6wt
WF5F +100 yards
Ross Reels was founded in 1973 by renowned aerospace engineer Ross Hauck. About a decade later, the company shifted base from California to Montrose, Colorado.
In nearly five decades in operation, only very few of the brand’s fly reels have come back for service out of the hundreds of thousands shipped out. That’s a huge testament to the reel’s durability.
The secret to the brand’s success is its rigorous product testing procedure, which must be adhered to before any reel leaves its doors. In addition to this meticulousness, each product goes through human testing where the clicker and drag system is manually tuned.
This is one American brand that doesn’t rush products into the market. This creates confidence in anglers when shopping for fly reels from Ross.
Ross Reels Evolution LTX
We think the Ross Reels Evolution series is a great fly reel because it tops the modern trout reel. The brand combined the performance of the Evolution R with the feel of the original Evolution LT to create an award-winning fly reel – the Evolution LTX.
The tool comes with an improved drag system that is exceptionally smooth, and it’s all thanks to the brilliant engineering ingenuity of the folks back at Ross Reels.
With a drag that is four times more robust than previous versions, it is easy to see why the reel is very durable.
The design includes a large arbor spool that features a unique line channel, which completely conceals knots.
The handle is built from a canvas phenolic rod for increased grip and less weight.
Stainless Steel and Aluminum Alloy
Left and Right Hand
Bearing Type and Material:
3wt - 4wt
WFT + 60 yards, WF4 + 50 yards
Hatch Outdoors is a fly fishing manufacturer that only recently came into existence. The family-owned business was founded in 2003 by Andrew Dickinson and operates from its plant in Vista, California, United States.
The brand has a goal of raising the fly-fishing manufacturing bar very high for all other companies to strive towards. Indeed, it has set the pace with award-winning and ground-breaking products, such as the Nomad Pliers and Nippers.
The company pride itself in using first-rate materials and state-of-the-art machining methods to carefully craft unique fly fishing reels that will compete favorably with other products and also stand the test of time.
Although Hatch Outdoors is the new kid on the block, it continues to leave an indelible mark when it comes to premium-quality fly reels.
Hatch Outdoors Gen 2 Finatic 5 Plus
The Gen 2 Finatic 5 Plus is a workhorse. If you are looking for an all-around reel that works well with 5 to 7 line weights, you will find it in this model.
The drag system is nothing short of spectacular. The waterproof feature is really solid to prevent issues of corrosion, dirt, and grime that can get in the way of the reel’s performance.
The spool size is roomy enough to accommodate 8-weight lines and even more. The reel is solid in terms of ergonomics, especially when it comes to the handle and the impressive drag knob and.
The Gen 2 Finatic 5 Plus dons a sexy look, as far as fly reels are concerned. It comes in a wide range of beautiful colors.
Bearing Type and Material:
5wt - 4wt
WF5F +120 yards, WF6F + 100 yards WF7F + 80 yards
Top Considerations When Choosing an American-Made Fly Reel
Factor in the following if you are planning on buying an American-made fly reel.
Weight of the Reel
Fly reels are available in heavy and lightweight models.
A heavier option would be ideal if you want to increase stability, while a lightweight model will prove more practical for lighter fly fishing rods.
If you plan to cast for an extended period, you may want to cut down on the reel weight.
It is equally crucial to match the weight of the fly reel to the fly line. For example, if you own a five-weight fly rod, it is best to choose a fly reel that can hold fly line weights in the range of four to six.
The drag system is one of the most important features that distinguish a $50 fly reel from a high-end model.
Here’s the thing: The fish species you plan to catch and the type of fly fishing you do will determine whether to opt for an expensive reel with a solid drag or an inexpensive model.
Whatever you choose, it is best to opt for a reel with a good disc drag instead of a click and pawl system.
That’s because a click and pawl system might not provide the type of outstanding performance available with the disc drag system.
Type of Water You Will Be Fishing In
If you plan to fish in saltwater, consider buying a reel designed specifically for that type of water. Keep an eye out for fly reels with a sealed drag system.
The sealed system prevents water from getting into the device and causes problems. Besides, if you want the device to last for a lifetime, you will need to spend some time cleaning the reel after every use and generally maintaining it.
Fly reels with standard drag systems will work for freshwater fishing. Most freshwater reels don’t come with sealed drag systems.
Type of Fish You Plan to Catch
Buying a fly reel with a powerful drag setting is not necessary for targeting freshwater bass, trout, and other similar small to medium fish species.
On the other hand, a larger reel with a stronger drag is most suitable for saltwater fishing. That’s because fish species in saltwater typically put up longer fights and harder pulls than freshwater fish.
Larger reel sizes will provide more for backing, which may be necessary when you are dealing with a struggling fish in the long run.
Look for saltwater reels with larger handles, as they make it easier to reel in.
Benefits of Buying a Fly Reel Made in the USA
There’s no shortage of fly rod brands across the world, and there’s no doubt that many of them manufacture great fly reels. Why then should you buy models made in the USA? Here are some benefits of doing so.
High-Quality Fishing Equipment
Indeed, many anglers buy and use fly reels manufactured in places, such as Korea, China, and Mexico among others. But that’s not because models engineered in the United States are poorly built. On the contrary, made in the USA fly reels are usually of the highest quality.
The prices might be more expensive than imported reels, but with the high price also comes superior quality in many cases.
Many of the home-based brands, such as Hatch Outdoors, Ross Reel, and others fabricate and machine their entire reel lineups on American soil. Little wonder they offer limited lifetime warranties, and proudly put their name on every single product.
Supporting American Jobs
Buying quality fishing products made in the USA helps to keep your money in the country and also preserve American jobs.
That’s not to say fly reels from other countries are not worth buying. Instead, getting USA-made fishing gear is the right call if you live in the US and would like your cash to support companies and workers who put in their best to make the fishing community enjoy the best fishing experience.
Support for Fish and Wildlife Management
Besides supporting American jobs, when you buy a USA-made fly reel or other fishing equipment, a certain percentage goes to fish and wildlife management. That’s thanks to two separate excise tax acts (Pittman-Robertson Act and Dingell-Johnson Act) of 1937 and 1950 respectively.
This allows American manufacturers to support hunting and fishing in public lands. In other words, you can feel good about your purchase because your money will go to resource management.
Cons of Buying a Fly Reel Made in the USA
The many benefits of buying USA-made fly reels, notwithstanding, there are still some drawbacks. These include:
High Price Tag
Supporting American jobs is a noble thing to do, and mostly easier to talk about. However, doing so might mean paying higher since the prices of USA-made fishing equipment tend to be more expensive than import options.
It is important to note that fly reeds and other fishing gear from overseas are becoming more popular because they are more budget-friendly. In fact, a few American manufacturers went offshore when international competition pushed prices down.
Exclusion of Other High-Quality Brands
It would be unfair to completely dismiss other high-quality offshore brands. While American-made fly reels tend to be generally well-built with outstanding performance, some brands from other countries, such as Korea, might have innovative features that are difficult to find in USA-made fishing products.
Some fly reels made in the United States might not be readily available when you need them.
Other high-quality options may have been discontinued by the manufacturers. For example, the Sage 3000D, 6000, and Evoke series were all discontinued, although they were excellent fly reels.
Finding these products now might prove difficult, not to talk of the astronomical price they might have.
There you have it – five of the highly-rated brands when it comes to 100% USA-manufactured fly reels.
In addition to great quality and impressive fishing, the fishing tools from these companies are cost-effective, reliable, and built to increase performance on the water. Anyone who loves fly fishing will prefer their quality.
People Also Ask
You might still have some questions about the topic of the best fly reel brands in the USA, regardless of the details presented above.
This section contains answers to a few of the most common questions regarding American fly reel brands. We hope that these will help clear up any remaining question.
Are Zebco Reels Made in the USA?
Zebco Reels are no longer manufactured in the USA. The company was founded around 1949 and was a famous American rod and reel brand working from Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Around 2001, the manufacturer moved to China because international competition made it increasingly tough for the brand to maintain profitable production in the USA.
Are American Made Reels More Expensive?
In most cases, American-made reels are more expensive than imported models. Brands such as Sage, Orvis, Galvan, and more are continuously dishing out high-quality fly reels that can stand the test of time.
Regardless of the increasing popularity of cheaper and low-end import reels, USA brands are better although generally more expensive.
Is Redington Owned by Sage?
No, Sage does not own Redington. Instead, Sage and Redington are both subsidiaries of Far Bank Enterprises. Other brands operating under Far Bank include Fly Water Travel and RIO Products.
Far Bank Enterprises is known for manufacturing high-quality products and providing services that improve the experiences of the fly fishing community.