Intro to Fly Reels for Montana

Choosing fly reels for Montana is the easy part of tackle selection. There is no reason to spend a fortune on fly reels for Montana or Yellowstone. If you already have a $600 reel, great. it won’t be any more effective than a $150 or $200 reel and only barely more effective than a $50 reel. Just make sure to spool any reels you use when fishing Montana or the Yellowstone area with at least 25 yards of 20lb Dacron backing for light-line reels and 50 yards for five-weights and beyond, just in case you do hook into a monster trout.

The key with all fly reels for Montana is to be sure they are in good repair. They should not have bent rims, should lack any sharp edges (often caused by dropping the reel on rocks) that might damage lines, should have spools that lock into their frames correctly and do not free-spool, and should be free from grit. A smooth drag is important, but this need not be a strong drag. LIGHTLY oil the spindle and any exposed gearing with a commercial reel lubricant or a product such as Gunslick gun lubricant. Use just a tiny drop of this product.

Ideal Features to Look For

Beyond the above considerations, which all but the most bargain-basement “Walmart Special” reels should possess, here are the features our guides look for in their personal reels. None of the following are absolutely required, though they’re nice to have. All reels we use in the region can be purchased at retail for $250 or less.

  1. Machined aluminum construction (helps durability)
  2. Palming rim. These are critical in adding drag when playing a fish, if required. This Field and Stream post discusses how to palm a reel.
  3. Spool does not flex in its frame when the reel is cranked under pressure. This is most commonly a problem on reels marketed as being among the lightest in their class, including some very high-dollar models.

That’s all! We use large-arbor and normal-arbor reels, those with exposed disc drags, enclosed disc drags, and click drags. In other words, all sorts of reels.

If you already have decent-quality reels, the specifics of your reel are likewise just as unimportant as the details of its construction, beyond the above notes.