I suppose I'm asking for it- but I don't get the exspensive reels. I'm just starting out fly fishing- and I "get" the differences, debates, and prices on rods. But. to me, the ROD Is the point. Its the rod and line that seem to me to make the difference in casting and playing the fish (the rod, anyway). I've got three inexspensive ( 30.0 to 60.00) Redington reels, and other than weight and balance---why would I want a 2oo.oo plus reel? I'm sure there is a good answer- I'm just wondering what it is. I've had nice spinning reels over the years, and bait casting reels, and I understand nice action on them- but, I'm USING those alot differently. If I am casting for muskie or Pike- I'm throwing a spoon or bucktail all day and using the reel to impart action to it. So I "get" a nice, smooth action reel for that-but I don't do that fly fishing. With a fly rod, I never use the reel unless I have a fish on, which I admit is rare . Though, no more rare than me fishing Muskie- but, again, I'm still using the reel all day in that case. When I don't catch fish fly-fishing- i don't use the reel at all.
In the beginning, I always seemed to bring my fish in with the fly line alone - the reel seemed to serve no purpose other than storing line - as you said; probably because I ended up with a pile of slack line on the water at my feet! That changed about the time I hooked my first steelhead. The reel and especially the drag system were 'real' important! Now I generally put most of my fish on the reel, if for no other reason than to make sure that when I really need it, I won't be too awkward getting in that position. Plus, there are a lot of pretty decent reels out there for well under $200.
I just replaced most of my reels with Okuma SLVs: cheap, well-built, and
hold line in larger loops. The local fly shop suggested Abels and Lamson
Velocity reels. After I finished laughing, I asked why the ultimate drag was
necessary for the fishing in SouthEast PA. "You need 6x-7x tippet to catch
trout on these streams." Really? I had just caught rainbows on a 3x leader
the day before...LOL! "One head shake, and the tippet will snap." I gotta
be honest, and say I've never had a fish break off on freshwater. I did have
a musky bite through a line on the Delaware 20 years ago, but that's a
different story. I typically use 4x and 5x tippets for trout (I tie my own
leaders), and it's a real bear to break them when I get a fly hung up on
a branch. Maybe the extruded tippets are weaker....I couldn't say.
Charlie Meck was doing a book signing at a local fly shop, and I brought a
new STH reel in to get some backing. The shop guy said, "That reel has
to much start up intertia." I said it was smooth as silk, and asked Meck
what he thought. Charlie said, "I love those reels!", and the salesman put the
Lamson back in the case. That shop is currently trashing Ross reels in order
to sell Lamson. They tell everyone that asks for a new reel that Ross has
too many parts, and the drags seize up "All the time." ?!?!??!?
I guess the margin is better on Lamsons.....
Before getting into why a fine reel with a great drag is really necessary in some situations, I'd like to thank you for adding a little perspective to the situation.
To metaphorically read into your post, it seems like you're saying that a spinning or casting reel is a more integral part of the process of catching a fish using those methods, while a fly reel is more like insurance to keep you attached to a fish you have managed to hook. Based on this thinking, which is essentially correct, it makes sense that the quality and functionality of a spinning/casting reel will have more effect on your fishing than that of a fly reel, and thus dropping $220 (or whatever it is nowadays) on a Shimano Calcutta is a more necessary investment than equipping your trusty 8wt with a Abel Super 8.
I cannot argue with that logic at all. It is also true that most of the fish hooked in freshwater in North America on a fly rod will be brought in without using the reel at all, and thus can be landed on a rig with a reel classified as adequate and no more.
The situations when a good/great fly reel are needed are the exceptions to that rule, and are also the fishing situations we tend to get most excited about: 18# steelhead on 3x and a 6wt, 9lb brown trout on 5x and a 4wt, 7lb bonefish, 24# carp on 4x and a 6wt, 80lb Tarpon on 16lb and a 10wt. etc.
These are situations where the beast is more than the rig is set up to handle, and the need for a reel that feeds out line smoothly with a high quality drag can mean the difference between the snap being the tippet and the snap being the shutter of a camera capturing an image of a Piscatory Pig and a Ginourmous Grin.
In some situations, the need for a fine reel on a fly rod is not in the form of a wondefully delicate and consistent drag, but rather in a reel that is manufactured so precisely, it can spin at a ridiculous rate and not get out of balance. Reels that are machined from barstock aluminum are generally much better balanced because they are starting from a much more consistent point, and can then be refined before hitting the market. (right now you're likely thinking, "sure, that happens with a hot-rod modern washing machine, or a tricked out Honda Civic, but not a fly reel) The fish than can do this are: Bonefish, Permit, Tuna, and a few others.
Bonefish are not a tasty fish. They are not an especially large fish, in general. But what they do is hang out in water less than 3' deep, and take off at dumbfounding speed once a hook bothers their little mouths. Bonefish are the reason a decent fly reel drag was made in the first place, because folks like Ted Williams (go Bosox!) wanted to be able to catch this little critter without their reel making smoke and all sorts of other problems. (yes, SMOKE, for real)
So, storal of the mory, that's why really pricey fly reels exist. They're generally not necessary. But there absolutely are flyfishing situations where they are the difference between cussing and landing.
Fly fishing is my passion. I just spent $175 for my SLA reel and $100 for my SharkSkin line!
I don't need it, a $40 reel probably has a better drag, and the $40 line is all you really need, but I will spend money on what makes me happy.
The SLA is super light and has a "sexy" look! The SharkSkin is the latest and greatest line from Mastery, even better than the GPX!! So that's what I'll use.
You have to enjoy every minute of your life. It doesn't get much better than fishing.
I'll bet that you don't hesitate when the lying doctor tells you you need some expensive medicine. You will spend five hundred to get a tooth fixed, but you won't spend two hundred to get a quality reel that will last you a lifetime! LOL The lying doctor has a Orvis Helios and the best reel that money can buy and he can only support his rich life style if the masses, like you, will willingly give your money to him rather than spend it on flyreels!
Different strokes for different folks!
Give your paycheck to your wife..... she will buy another pair of shoes. You really don't need a good flyreel. Fishing is for the Rednecks, just go to work, pay your taxes and your wife will tell you what you need.
Well- thank you, Cliff, for thanking Me, for adding perspective. And, yes, that Is where I was headed. And, though I haven't fished salt water species with a fly rod, I have with light spinning gear-and I "get" that. If I ever go after muskie on a fly-rod, and I may, I suspect I may find my self in the situations you are all alluding to. So, I thank you all for the fore-warning. And I get everybody else's rationale on nice gear- I agree you should get what you like. I own eight canoes and kayaks- and some of them I own because they are "classics" , or they just paddle nice. I only use one or two on a regular basis.
Again, Thanks for the replies.