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Home FAQ's Fly Fishing Gear Why Should I Balance My Fly Rod and Reel?

Why Should I Balance My Fly Rod & Reel?

By Doc Trout


     As you view fly reels in a magazine, on a web site, or at a brick & mortar fly shop, you will see that they are made from different materials such as graphite composite, cast aluminum, and machined aluminum and have an accompanying range in price. In addition, fly reels are available with three different sizes of arbor (the post or space in the center of the spool) which are either: small, medium, or large. Consequently, reels with standard arbors have the slowest rate of retrieve but also tend to be the lightest of the three types while reels with mid-arbors have a somewhat higher rate of retrieve and yet are often lighter than fly reels with a large arbor. However, while fly reels with a large arbor have the fastest rate of retrieve, they also often have oversized spools in order to be able to hold the backing and the fly line and thus they tend to be the heaviest of the three types of fly reels.

     But, regardless of which material or arbor size you choose, it is important to find a reel that is neither too heavy nor too light for your particular fly rod. The reason that I mention this is that there are a couple of fly reel manufacturers who make very nice reels but, they are rather heavy. Thus, when you mount a heavy reel on your nice, light, graphite fly rod, the resulting lack of balance can be annoying at best and can adversely affect your castin accuracy at worst. Therefore, before purchasing any reel, try mounting the reel on your assembled fly rod and then hold the rod horizontally, grasp the grip as if you were going to make a cast, then remove your all of your fingers from the grip except your middle finger and see how the rod balances with the reel and line locked in place in the reel seat. If the balance point is forward of you middle finger, then the outfit it tip heavy. Yet, if the balance point is behind your middle finger, then the outfit is butt heavy. Thus, the ideal balance point is directly under the middle finger and by balancing the rod and reel outfit, you will enjoy greater accuracy and much less fatigue in your casting arm.