Best Click And Pawl Fly Reels

Last Updated: January 14th, 2020

Fly reels are available in many shapes and sizes for different scenarios. The type of reel you choose is completely dependent on the kind of fishing you plan to do. There is, of course, a running theme with quality in reels and you’ll want a strong, durable, well-made reel that’s corrosion-resistant. 


At A Glance: Top 3 Click And Pawl Fly Reels


Click and pawl reels are a specific kind of fly reel and the difference is in the drag. Instead of having a sophisticated disc drag system, a click and pawl system uses a clicker that ticks against the teeth of a gear placed on the spool, thus creating some drag. It is not anywhere near as powerful or adjustable as a disc drag and is only really used for small fish in freshwater. Here are some of the best click and pawl fly reels on the market.

OUR TOP PICKS

Ross Colorado LT - 3/4 - Matte Black
Best Overall
Ross Colorado LT Fly Reel
  • Durable
  • Lightweight
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Okuma Sierra Diecast Aluminum Fly Reel, 5/6 WT. Black
Best Budget Option
OKUMA Sierra Diecast Aluminum Fly Reel
  • Durable
  • Corrosion-resistant
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Orvis Battenkill Fly Reels, Ii (3-5 Wt)
Best Allrounder
Orvis Battenkill Reel
  • High-quality reel
  • Durable
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Redington Zero Fly Fishing Reel, Lightweight Design for Trout, Clicker Drag System, Black, 2/3
Redington ZERO Fly Reel
  • Large arbor for a quick retrieve rate
  • Lightweight for long days of casting
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Pflueger® Medalist Fly Reel
Pflueger Medalist Fly Reel
  • Easy to change left to right
  • Durable
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Daiwa Lochmor
  • Well built
  • Durable
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Sage Click Series Fly Fishing Reel, Freshwater Large Arbor Fly Reel, Adjustable Click and Pawl Drag Design, Lime, 3/4/5
Sage Fly Fishing - CLICK Fly Reel
  • Good line capacity
  • Great drag design
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Bodhi Fishing Click Drag Fly Reel CNC Cut Aluminum for Lightweight Fly Rods 5/6 Weight
Bodhi Die Cast Clicker Fly Fishing Reel
  • Smooth
  • Corrosion-resistant
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Top Click And Pawl Fly Reels


Ross Colorado LT Fly Reel

Ross Colorado LT - 3/4 - Matte Black

As will all Ross reels, this was designed, machined and tested in and around the river of Colorado. It is made from machined aluminum for durability while being featherweight in hand.

The reel comes with an extra-large arbor for a great retrieve rate while keeping a good line capacity. The extra-large arbor also gives you a bigger area to palm on when you hook that brown of a lifetime.

The reel features machined marine-grade bronze bushings which rotate on a stainless steel spindle with a quick release spool and easy left-hand to right-hand retrieve conversion. The connection between the spindle and the spool is airtight and creates a seal around the internal mechanism. This will stop any dirt or water getting in there and corroding the inside.

The drag is set to a nice tension and is perfect for freshwater fishing while the handle had been made with a rugged epoxy layered canvas post for increased grip and reduced weight, eliminating the need for a counterweight.

Overall this is an awesome reel and worth the highish price tag.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Lightweight
  • Sealed
  • Extra-large arbor
  • Smooth drag
  • Great handle
  • Good looking

Cons

  • Expensive
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OKUMA Sierra Diecast Aluminum Fly Reel

Okuma Sierra Diecast Aluminum Fly Reel, 5/6 WT. Black

This is a nice little reel from Okuma. It is designed to be very light for easy, comfortable all-day casting. The reel is made from die-cast aluminum and will dent if you drop it but it will be durable over time if you look after it. It comes with a standard arbor giving you an average retrieve rate and a good line capacity.

It features a one-way roller bearing that only allows the drag to engage in one direction so you won’t have any resistance when winding it in. There are no ball bearings in this reel and it uses a brass bushing drive system but is still very smooth.

It converts easily from left- to right-hand retrieve and has a smooth drag that is easily changeable. The drag can fail after a whole and it can start to make some odd noises on the spool.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Good value
  • Smooth drag

Cons

  • Odd noises from spool
  • Drag can fail
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Orvis Battenkill Reel

Orvis Battenkill Fly Reels, Ii (3-5 Wt)

Orvis has always put thought into their reels and this one is no different. The reel comes in a number of sizes and they have even added some for Spey rods, so you can chase salmon and steelhead with a click and pawl.

The reel and spool are made from machined aluminum, making it very durable and corrosion-resistant. It will stand up well to bangs and scrapes. The finish is a little rough around the edges but this doesn’t affect the reels performance. While being machined, it is still lightweight and will be a delight on those long days of swinging flies.

The click and pawl drag comes with 4 positions so you can choose the right tension for you. It has been designed to work with the palm of your hand which you’ll use when a salmon takes a blistering run downstream. The drag is smooth but you can only adjust it internally which is very fiddly and annoying to do when fishing.

It has been made with a narrow spool to reduce line stacking and large diameter to up your retrieve rate. The spool is easy to pop out and you can switch the retrieve side without any issue.

Pros

  • High-quality reel
  • Durable
  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Easy to maintain
  • Light

Cons

  • Hard to access internal drag
  • Poor finish
  • Expensive
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Redington ZERO Fly Reel

Redington Zero Fly Fishing Reel, Lightweight Design for Trout, Clicker Drag System, Black, 2/3

This reel from Redington is a stunningly light reel that is perfect for targetting trout. You’ll enjoy casting with this all day. It’s made from die-cast aluminum which is usually not as durable as machined aluminum but this is a little different. Redington uses a special design that can not be machined and retains its durability when die-cast.

It comes with a quick change spool so you can switch from floating to sinking or intermediate lines swiftly and easily. It’s also easy to change from left to right-hand wind.

The drag is a click and pawl, is smooth and easily changed. The reel comes in a large arbor for a quick pick up when winding and has a good line capacity. It’s also covered by Redington’s lifetime warranty. 

Pros

  • Large arbor for a quick retrieve rate
  • Lightweight for long days of casting
  • Smooth drag
  • Corrosion Resistant

Cons

  • Chips easily
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Pflueger Medalist Fly Reel

Pflueger® Medalist Fly Reel

This is a remake of one of Pfluegers original reels. They have done a good job but it doesn’t quite have the same feel and finish. If you’re an enthusiast of old Pfluegers, bare that in mind.

It’s made from machined aluminum which is very durable. It won’t bend or scratch if you drop it by mistake or clip a boulder walking up a river. This does make the reel a little heavy, despite it being noted as being a little small in size for some anglers. This may make it tiring to cast with all-day and unbalance your setup a little.

The reel comes in standard arbor size, or medium. This gives a good line capacity and an average pick up rate which is more than enough for targeting smaller freshwater species. The click and pawl drag is easily adjustable, smooth and not too noisy.

The reel comes with a lightweight and durable polymer handle and is easily changed from left to right-hand retrieve. Overall it is a little expensive but that is due to the machined aluminum and Pflueger trying to recreate one of their classic reels.

Pros

  • Easy to change left to right
  • Durable
  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Well made
  • Will last

Cons

  • It's very small
  • It's heavy
  • Expensive
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Daiwa Lochmor

This a well made reel that comes in at a great price point. The reel is made from aluminum but the process used is not described. Based on the price and look of the reel, it’s most likely been die-cast. This makes it light for easy casting and durable but it will scratch and dent easily.

The drag is smooth and can be changed using a knob on the outside which is much more convenient to have to remove the spool. The spool is large arbor, giving you the best medium between line capacity and pick up rate. You’ll be able to pick up any slack without issue. The reel uses bushing rather than ball bearings but is still smooth while you wind.

The clicker on this reel is very noisy. All click and pawl reels have a clicker but this one is particularly loud. If that kind of thing annoys you then stay clear of this one. It’s easy to change the reel from right to left-hand retrieve and overall it is a good piece of kit at a great price.

Pros

  • Well built
  • Durable
  • Easy to use
  • Changeable retrieve side
  • Smooth
  • Good value

Cons

  • Noisy
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Sage Fly Fishing - CLICK Fly Reel

Sage Click Series Fly Fishing Reel, Freshwater Large Arbor Fly Reel, Adjustable Click and Pawl Drag Design, Lime, 3/4/5

This is a beautiful reel and you’ll love using it and seeing it on the base of our fly rod. It is expensive though as click and pawl reels go. The reel is made from machined aluminum and its very tough. You can drop this and not worry about it, just don’t drop it from too high up.

It comes with a large arbor spool which gives you a good retrieve rate and a sufficient amount of line capacity. This also gives extra space to palm the reel if you need to add some manual drag when you’ve hooked a big fish.

The drag is adjustable using a knob on the outside so you can add some extra pressure to prevent over-spooling. The click and pawl system on this reel is a little different. Usually the clicker slots into a gear on the spool but in this design it slots into the inside of the actual spool. This gives more torque and therefore more drag with less force. 

It’s a stunning reel that will last a lifetime but it’s a little expensive.

Pros

  • Good line capacity
  • Great drag design
  • Large surface for palming
  • Durable
  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Well made

Cons

  • Expensive
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Bodhi Die Cast Clicker Fly Fishing Reel

Bodhi Fishing Click Drag Fly Reel CNC Cut Aluminum for Lightweight Fly Rods 5/6 Weight

To start with, this reel is very pretty. Bodhi has made a beautiful reel here, but does it do the job, or should it just sit in a display. First off, it is light for easy all-day casting and is made from die-cast aluminum. It’ll stand up well to corrosion and be durable if you don’t bang it around.

It comes with a medium arbor which is good for your line capacity, pick up rate. The reel can easily be switched from left to right-hand retrieve, handy for change lines quickly.

The drag is of course click and pawl, it is smooth to start with but when you increase the drag it becomes rough and coarse. Overall the drag system feels a tad fragile and may not last very long.

Pros

  • Smooth
  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Nice finish
  • Light
  • Good value

Cons

  • Comes in 1 size
  • Coarse and rough drag on the increase
  • Drag system feels weak
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What To Look For In The Best Click And Pawl Fly Reels

Here’s a guide to the key factors you need to consider when you’re looking for a fly reel.

Weight

Whenever you’re buying rods and reels, you need to make sure they match up and the same goes in fly fishing. I’m sure you’re already aware of this, but for any beginners out there, make sure you buy the right weight reel for your rod.

In fly fishing, the rods and reels use the same weight system so it’s really easy. If you have a 7wt rod, then you’ll need a 7wt reel.

The weight of your rod and reel are linked to what you’re trying to catch. The higher the weight, the more powerful the rod and reel will be and therefore the bigger the fish they can handle. Here’s a simple guide for weights to species for a click and pawl set up.

  • River trout fishing – 3/4wt
  • Lake Trout Fishing – 5/6wt
  • Large trout/salmon/bass – 7wt

Arbor Size & Line Capacity

Arbor is fishing speak for your spool. Fly reels can come in a range of small to large arbors and the best choice is usually large. The larger the arbor, the larger the diameter of your spool, the faster you can wind your line in and the more line you can fit on there. This means your retrieve rate and line capacity are both increased by having a large arbor, making it the obvious choice.

It’s not always necessary to have a large arbor though. If you’re fishing for small fish and don’t need the retrieve rate or the line capacity, a medium to small arbor reel will be fine.

Drag

Most fly reels these days come with drag but some don’t. Whether you need a drag or not and how powerful it needs to be, depends on what you’re fishing for. If you’re fishing for trout in a river, you probably will never use your drag, but it’s useful to have a little pressure on the spool, which is where click and pawl comes into play. If you plan on fishing in saltwater, without a good drag, you won’t land any fish and click and pawl will not be enough.

Durability & Frame

Almost all fly reels today are made from aluminum. There are two ways to shape aluminum, either by die-casting or CNC machining. Reels made from die-cast aluminum tend to be less durable and prone to dents or scrapes. CNC machined aluminum reels are much tougher and can handle being bashed around. That being said, there are a few exceptions to the rule but generally speaking, CNC is best.

The last thing you want is to drop your reel by a river, dent the spool and be done for the day. You’ll want a reel that can shrug that kind of stuff off.

Sound

Fly reels can come with a sound or without and the choice is up to you. Personally, I don’t need a sound and prefer not to have one. If you love the sound, then go for it but don’t buy a reel based on it, the sound it makes should be your last consideration.

Our Favorites

The all-rounder of the group goes to the Orvis Battenkill. It’s been well made with a lot of thought and will be a valuable addition to your reel collection, especially if you go for the Spey options. It has been designed to work with you as a fisherman and the only real drawback is how you set the drag adjustment. It’ll last a lifetime, be a pleasure to use and it comes in at a good price.

Orvis Battenkill Fly Reels, Ii (3-5 Wt)
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The best on a budget reel is the Okuma Sierra. It’s durable, corrosion-resistant and will help you catch hundreds of trout for a very small price.

Okuma Sierra Diecast Aluminum Fly Reel, 5/6 WT. Black
  • Made using the highest quality materials
  • Tested for reliability and quality

The best of the bunch is the Ross Colorado LT. This reel far surpasses all the others in their design and it’s priced that way too. Everything from the materials. the sealed drag and the extra-large arbor take the quality one or two steps up compared to the rest.