Fly fishing has a rich history in America. It started on the East Coast, and the sport has made its way nationwide into hundreds of thousands of United States households. Multiple reputable fly fishing companies within the United States make high-quality fly fishing gear. Anglers have various options of American-made fishing reels that work as well as any other fishing reels on the market.
Abel was established in 1980 and is headquartered in Montrose, Colorado. The reels are made and designed within the research and development lab. No parts of the design are made outside of the country. Their reels have won a variety of IFGA world records and are some of the favorites of the best fly anglers in the world.
These freshwater reels were developed in the Rocky Mountains. Testers and developers spend countless hours testing all their designs on the trout streams and reservoirs within Colorado.
Abel also has a line of saltwater reels for anglers to purchase. These were tested in saltwater conditions all over the world. However, saltwater reels are still made in the United States.
Anglers pay for the quality they receive when they purchase an Abel reel. On average, you’ll pay around $600 for the reels. The most affordable option is $495, and you can spend upwards of $1000 for the top-end model.
Abel ensures anglers who purchase a reel from them will be pleased. Their customer service line is easy to reach, and their warranty can solve any performance issues.
The Abel SDS is a part of their saltwater reel lineup. It's one of the best fly reels for anglers looking to purchase a saltwater setup. It won the best new saltwater reel in the ICAST/IFTD show. It is fully sealed and comes in sizes 7-12. It can handle most of the different saltwater fish you target. Anglers will pay around $1000 for the reel.
- 20+ pounds of braking power
- Stacked carbon composite and stainless steel disc drag system
- Quick change spool
Tibor reels are a lesser-known American-made fly fishing reel, but that doesn’t detract from their quality. The company is named after its founder, Tibor Jacsik. Jacsik is of Hungarian descent but met his business partner Billy Pate on a trip to the Florida Keys in 1970.
They started their relationship by working on a method to eradicate the saltwater corrosion on fly reels. Juracsik moved his business to South Florida in 1979, where they began making Tibor fly reels.
Tibor reels are 100% made in the USA, with all their ball bearings made in their Delray Beach Facility. Anglers using Tibor reels caught six new world-record fish in 2019.
While their reels were first created for saltwater fishing, Tibor has branched into freshwater fly fishing with several quality fly reel designs. Whether you’re trout fishing or tarpon fishing, Tabor has something for you.
Anglers will spend anywhere from $600 to $800 on a Tibor reel. For a top-notch reel, anglers will struggle to find one as reputable as a Tibor.
The Tibor Backcountry reel is suitable for freshwater and saltwater conditions. It's made from solid aluminum and has a few parts. Tibor created the reel to have as little go wrong as possible. As a result, the few parts are easy to operate and trust.
- Built for 5-7 weight rods
- The fly reel weight is 6 oz.
- 150-yard capacity for backing and fly line
Bauer fly reels were created in 1995 by a man named Jon Bauer. These reels are designed to be some of the smoothest fly reels on the market. Anglers who have spent time fishing Bauer reels are blessed with easy line handling and retrieval.
Certain parts of the reels are created in the United States, but other parts are sourced out to other countries. All the reels are assembled by hand in Twin Bridges, Montana, in the same place as Winston Fly Rods.
Bauer makes trout reels, euro-nymph reels, spey reels, and more universal options. Anglers should expect to pay anywhere from $500 to $100 for a Bauer reel.
The Baueor RVR reels took two years to design. Bauer created a reel with a 5-axis machine instead of a 3-axis machine like many other fly reels. Now, anglers get phenomenal retrieval rates and smooth drag. Anglers can purchase these in 2/3 weight to 6/7 weight, so it's an ideal trout reel. These reels range from $700 to $800.
- RVR reels weigh no more than 5.5 oz
- The extremely smooth disc drag system
- The reels are double anodized
Hatch began in 2003, and it’s been a favorite for high-performance anglers since it hit the market. Many anglers say it’s the best fly reel on the market. Hatch frontman John Torok reached out to Scott Cameron, the creator of the best golf putter in the world, and Cameron put Torok in touch with his machinist.
From there, Torok has created high-performance reels for whatever challenge you give it. They make saltwater and freshwater reels, so whatever you need, Hatch has a reel for you.
Hatch reels are made within the United States, so anglers get a pure American-made reel when purchasing one. Anglers can expect to spend anywhere from $700 to $1,300 on a Hatch reel.
The Hatch Iconic is fully machined from bar stock aluminum and built to last. The reel is machined in one piece, so you don't have to worry about losing the reel foot. The carbon-filled drag system is ready to take on whatever you give it.
- Hatch reels are heavy
- 11 inches per turn for retrieval rate on 9-weight
- No start-up inertia for drag
Nautilus fly reels are made in Miami, Florida. They pride themselves on pushing the technology of fly reel creation in every possible way. From design to performance, Nautilus has worked to make their American-made fly reels some of the best on the market.
Anglers have saltwater and freshwater choices from Nautilus, depending on what they want. Anglers can expect to spend anywhere from $300 to $1,300 on a Nautilus reel.
Nautilus X-Series reels are an open frame designed to be light, durable, and strong. The Nautilus X-Series has a SCF-X drag system sealed in Teflon and made of carbon fiber. It's one of the strong reels on the market. Depending on the model, X-series reels cost anglers anywhere from $300 to $700.
- It comes in 3/4 weight to 8/9 weight
- It is built with extra protection in mind using cross bars that keep your reel safe when leaned up against cars, doors, or rocks.
- The dual palming rim increases spools strength by 35%
If you’ve spent any time researching quality fly fishing gear, Orvis is a company that routinely appears. Orvis was founded in 1856 in Manchester, Vermont, and has been an industry standard ever since. They have significant operations in Roanoke, Virginia, and the United Kingdom.
Orvis reels are built and manufactured in Vermont. While the company is known for its quality freshwater gear, they’ve created a name for themselves in the saltwater world. Their saltwater reels are up to the challenge of handling aggressive saltwater fish.
Its price range sets Orvis apart from some of its other American competitors. Their reels range from $100 to $900. While the prices are more affordable, you’re getting high-quality gear.
Orvis Mirage reels are built to stick with saltwater anglers every step of the way. The anodized aluminum, carbon disc drag system, and aluminum handle are made to help you fight even the most aggressive fish. If you want a reliable, strong, and capable battle companion, the Orvis Mirage is for you.
- Made with 6061 T6 Aluminum
- Type II Anodizing
- Zero Start-up Inertia
Ross Reels are built and manufactured in Montrose, Colorado. Their products are 100% American-made and are considered some of the most reliable and best-looking fly reels on the market.
Ross has been in business for over 50 years. They offer freshwater and saltwater reels, but they’re more well-known for their freshwater reel lineup. If you’re targeting small, native trout in the mountains or lunkers in tailwaters, Ross has a reel for you.
Anglers can expect to spend anywhere from $350 to $800 for a Ross fly reel.
The Ross Evolution is an award-winning reel that is known for its durability. The smaller models work well for freshwater conditions, and the larger reels are built to handle saltwater conditions. Anglers will spend around $600 on the Ross Evolution FS.
- It comes in 4-weight to 10-weight models
- Carbon Fiber Disc Drag System
- Semi-caged frame built to be durable and lightweight with no line slipping
Waterworks was founded in 1996, and they bought Lamson in 1998 and have been together ever since. Their reels are designed in-house, and all models besides the Liquid and Remix use components manufactured by U.S.-based machining partners.
Waterworks-Lamson has reels ranging from $140 to $700, so they’re one of the more affordable fly fishing companies on the list. All Waterworks-Lamson reels have a strong reputation, with anglers of all skill levels choosing to use them.
Whether you want a saltwater or freshwater reel, Waterworks-Lamson has a high-quality option.
The Lamson Litespeed comes in saltwater and freshwater options. These large arbor reels will cost anglers around $550. They're built to be lightweight but capable of handling giant fish. Litespeed is an excellent place to start if you're building a light setup.
- Weigh .8 ounces
- Indexing click drag knob
- It comes in 3-weight to 7-weight models for the freshwater model
Bonifacio Galvan founded Galvan fly reels. In 1994, the first Galvan reel was released. All the reels are designed, manufactured, and assembled in Sonora, California. The Galvan family prides themselves on keeping every part of the process in the United States.
Galvan Fly Reels is a small business that takes pride in every piece of the process, so you know you’re getting a top-notch reel in an industry that every company claims to dominate.
You can get saltwater and freshwater reels from Galvan.
Galvan guarantees quality and reliability, and if you aren’t pleased with the product, you can speak with a representative who will fix your issue.
The Galvan Torque is the premier reel from Galvan. Depending on your size, you can spend anywhere from $400 to $600 on the reel. It looks great, is built to last, and performs phenomenally. Don't let the classic design fool you; it packs a punch.
- Made with 6061 T6 Aluminum
- It has a torque drag system
- You can find it in 2/3 weight to 12 weight
Other US-made Fly Fishing Reels: Aspen Reels, Teton Reels, Avet, IRT
Aspen Reels, Teton Reels, Avet, and IRT fly reels are other solid options anglers should consider when purchasing an American-made fishing reel. These fly reel manufacturers take pride in their equipment and provide top-of-the-line options.
Fly Reel Buyer’s Guide: What to Look For
When you’re ready to purchase a fly reel, you should consider a few things as you decide. While many reels are universal, the more specific you can be with your needs and desires, the better fly reel you’ll find to fit your needs.
A top-notch drag system is vital for a complete fly fishing experience. Ensure it has the pounds of pressure you need for the fish you’re handling. A saltwater reel needs around 20 pounds of braking power, if possible.
A freshwater reel doesn’t need that much, but it needs to be sensitive enough to handle larger fish but still give them the freedom they need to run.
The weight of your fly reel should balance your fly rod. If you’re using a heavier rod, you may want a lighter fly reel and vice versa. Fly reels are vital parts of your setup, so casting and handling won’t feel as natural if the weight isn’t balanced.
Aluminum is the lightest and most common material for high-quality fly reels. Reel manufacturers focus on light and power, so an aluminum reel is always a good choice.
Line capacity needs depend on the angler. Some anglers need 150-200 yards of line capacity for the places they’re fishing and the fish they’re targeting. Trout anglers can get away with 125-150 yards of capacity because the location and fish they target don’t require as much pressure.
A reel with a spare spool is more beneficial than one might think. A quick spool change can allow you to fish with floating and sinking lines and have to do little work to get prepared. Spare spools can be expensive, but they prevent headaches.