Hello all! I am going to start fly fishing, but first, I need to buy a reel. I'll be needing a 5wt but there are so many choices. Obviously, I don't want to break the bank on my starter reel, so I was thinking of spending around $120 give or take. Ive been reading around and have heard alot of good things coming from the direction of the Orvis Battenkill and Lamson Konic, but I'd like to get more input from you guys what brands and models you reccommend. Thank you so much for taking time to answer.
Marv: You have selected a very good setup to start with, I don't think you will be disappointed. Lamson reels have a fantastic drag system so you definitely won't be disappointed with the Konic and Orvis makes some very nice rods as all of the other name brand manufacturers. If possible try to get to a fly shop so you can feel the action of the rod before you buy. Choosing a fly rod is a very personal thing. Good luck with your purchase and your welcome to the wonderful world of fly fishing!
The top two selling value reels at the local shop in my region are the Lamson Konic ($129 for the 5/6 size) and the Redington Rise ($159 for the 5/6 size). Both are large arbor reels. The Lamson Konic has a high end drag system, but it is made from cast aluminum (machine finished though). The Redington Rise is machined from barstock aluminum (benefit - tighter tolerances), but it has a middle of the road cork drag (not like that of Abel, Tibor, or Nautilus, but still smooth enough for trout fishing).
I won't say anything bad about the Orvis Battenkill. The drag system is not the most advanced, but it works well. It is a much lighter reel than the original design because it is now made from machined barstock aluminum.
One of my friends found an Orvis Battenkill Bar Stock attached to a Scott STS 4 weight rod when his fly snagged it. He cleaned the reel up to the best of his ability, lubed it, and changed the backing and line. The reel is very fishable although it feels rough. He's considering sending it to Orvis to be service.
PS Related - Scott refurbished the rod for a reasonable fee even though my friend was not the original owner. When he got the rod back, it looked like a brand new rod.
I've never used a Lamson, but have used the Battenkill Bar Stock alot and love the reel. It is very light so it matches nicely with a light weight rod. I've never had a problem with the drag and their customer service is great. You should be able to pick one up for about $100 (it comes with a nice reel cover as well). if you check their site, they sometimes run specials where the throw in the backing if you buy their line as well. It seems alot of guys pay a premium on reels with drags that would stop a horse. If I was fishing saltwater I would want an awesome drag. However in the 30 yrs I been FF, the drag on a reel (or lack of one) has never cost me a fish (my own screwups maybe have cost me some). The Orvis BBS has a drag that is more than adequate.
You might also look at a Ross Cimarron - they are being discontinued and you should be able to find one for about $100. Made in the USA and a nice reel. Both the BBS and Ross are regular arbor which I tend to prefer. Never quite understood the infatuation some have with Large arbor reels. I can't remember the last time I got into the backing on a trout.
right now on orvis.com, if you buy a BBS, you get a free spool. and i'm pretty sure backing is free on all their reels.
Not only a free extra spool, but the reel is also on sale by $19 to $24 depending on the size. If you buy a fly-line at the same time, they will connect it to backing and wind it on for you, free of charge.
KS - I've got a larger arbor that I use on my Sage when I'm in a drift boat. Never had much problem with coiling, of course when I learned to fish way back when, I was taught to stretch my line out before fishing. I don't seem to see that being done much anymore, but it still works. Regular arbors seem to balance light weight rods better in my opinion, especially 4 wt and below. I fish mostly bamboo anyway and to me a large arbor just doesn't look right on Boo, but to each his own.
For my first set up, I went with a TFO Pro 8' 4wt, and a redington CD 3/4 reel. The rod retails most anywhere for $149.95, and I was in Gander Mountain yesterday, and the reel was $117.00. I got both, plus line and backing, from flyshopcloseouts.com for $208.50. TFO has a great warranty, they will repair or replace a broken rod, for the original owner, for $25. The CD reel is a mid arbor, seems to have a great drag. Have to take the deals when ya find 'em, so it leaves room for other FF goodies!