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I know you need a great reel for really big fish and deeper water: tarpon.

but let’s be honest, most fish under 6lbs can be caught without a reel at all. And fish under 30lbs can be caught on affordable reels with ease. a fly reel has way more simple mechanics than conventional reels, this should translate to possibilities of cheaper and more reliable products.

I bought the piscifun AOKA off Amazon for 30 bucks 2 years ago. I have fished it hard on my 8wt here in NC and ended up taking it to LA for a week last December. It didn’t disappoint and is still is working to this day. I understand the longevity is not going to stack up to a $400+ reel but for the money it’s hard to beat a $30 reel that will last 2+ years.
 

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Since I can, I buy american made products. I will readily pay more across the board for American made stuff, if I can find it. I have never really had an inexpensive fly reel. I had friends gift me good gear to get started and I have followed that up by purchasinf additional good gear. How mych better is it? I don't know but I have never had an issue with my abel or ross reels!
 

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Not all high priced reels are created equal. I feel that some are worth it and others are not. Sometimes, a tank of a reel isn't necessary for a fish like redfish; however, that well built tank is still running right 10 - 20 years later. Lesser built reels often don't have that longevity.
 

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Depends where they spend their money on the design. Bob White could hand paint a turd of a reel with a tarpon and charge a lot for it. If it is for durability, it is worth it IMO. I definitely don't adhere to fact that if something is made in China must be terrible. If that was case Ford, Chevy, and Dodge trucks would not run since tons of their parts are imported.
You also are going to get some variance in those cheap factory direct Chinese reels, one might work forever, and the next crap out in a few days. The metal in China can be rather inconsistent, and when you are dealing with small parts like springs and pins it can really shine through. But the Chinese have CNC just like us.
 

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I Love microskiff.com!
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I know you need a great reel for really big fish and deeper water: tarpon.

but let’s be honest, most fish under 6lbs can be caught without a reel at all. And fish under 30lbs can be caught on affordable reels with ease. a fly reel has way more simple mechanics than conventional reels, this should translate to possibilities of cheaper and more reliable products.

I bought the piscifun AOKA off Amazon for 30 bucks 2 years ago. I have fished it hard on my 8wt here in NC and ended up taking it to LA for a week last December. It didn’t disappoint and is still is working to this day. I understand the longevity is not going to stack up to a $400+ reel but for the money it’s hard to beat a $30 reel that will last 2+ years.
Nice fish. You're going to wish you had better equipment when the reel that will last 2 years gives out on a fish of a lifetime.
 

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I've bought a piscifun sword fly reel and was given one of their torrent baitcasters for christmas by a family member. Figured since both were cheap/free they'd be worth a try to just experiment with as the have great reviews on amazon, but the sword free spooled fishing for trout in the rockies and the baitcaster literally blew up in my hands on a redfish here in NOLA.

Will one of their reels work anecdotally? Sure... but the variance in their build quality is so bad that if you're going to need to rely on a reel to be anything more than a line holder then you'll need to invest at least a few bucks into something that has a reliable reputation. For $200 new or $100 used you could by an Orvis Hydros that would be substantially safer to fish with.
 

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I've bought a piscifun sword fly reel and was given one of their torrent baitcasters for christmas by a family member. Figured since both were cheap/free they'd be worth a try to just experiment with as the have great reviews on amazon, but the sword free spooled fishing for trout in the rockies and the baitcaster literally blew up in my hands on a redfish here in NOLA.

Will one of their reels work anecdotally? Sure... but the variance in their build quality is so bad that if you're going to need to rely on a reel to be anything more than a line holder then you'll need to invest at least a few bucks into something that has a reliable reputation. For $200 new or $100 used you could by an Orvis Hydros that would be substantially safer to fish with.
This is the problem with the cheap ones. I bought one thinking what's the harm? It was not a Piscifun, but it was in that price range. It stopped working after less than a year. And I get the idea that on smaller fish, it is just a line holder. But you need to be able to strip line off of it without it binding. And then reel it in when you are done fishing. This reel stopped being able to perform those two simple tasks.
 

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I would say a majority of fly fisherman use their reel as nothing but a line holder. In this case, the reel doesn’t matter. If you regularly have fish getting in to the backing, then a die cast reel held together with screws is much more likely to fail than a machined reel. Also, as a guide, I feel my clients expect top of the line tools. I want to have confidence that my things are going to perform for years to come and be backed up by a good warranty. I think the significance of the quality of your tools depends on the person.
 

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This is no different than the discussion on old crappy skiffs versus an expensive high end skiff.
This is no different than the discussion of a quality high end rod versus a cheap off brand rod
Can you catch fish on a cheap reel? Of course you can. But I have had some failures in my few years of fishing. NONE of them were with my higher priced quality gear. They ALL were my cheap stuff.
So I choose to use better equipment. And here's the clincher. You don't know and have no control over when that fish of a lifetime comes along. So I try and do the best I can to control those things I can upfront. My gear is one of those things.

PS - Ancedotal story that is relevant here. Years ago I went on a float trip in Alaska. The body of water we floated was known to have some large dolly varden. So I was prepared to try for a worl record on fly. Followed my own advice. Mostly. Unfortunately it was only mostly. I took a cheap camera with me since I didn't want to haul my heavy and expensive SLR (this was before the days digital). Well guess what. I did land that potential world record. Got all the measurements, weights (certified IGFA scale), and paperwork filled out on the spot. And got all the required photos with that cheap camera. Let the fish swim off happy as can be. Got home and sent the film off for development. Week later got a call from the photo shop to come get my pictures. Stoked! Well until I got there and they said that the camera over exposed every picture to the point where they were totally blurry. So no way to submit my potential world record.
 

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I have a 2 SA reels. I think new they where under $100 that was 30+ years ago. My 7 wt. Has caught everything in Alaska, lots of bone fish, a small shark and bass, reds etc. I'm still using it.
 

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If the true purpose of sport fishing were to catch fish, we'd all be using dynamite and big nets. But, alas, that is not the case. A lot, if not most of the enjoyment we get from fishing comes from catching rarer and harder to catch fish in exotic ways using the most elaborate equipment possible. That's where fly fishing comes in. We enjoy fine quality in all the gear we use, not necessarily because it catches more fish, but because we enjoy having special and expensive equipment. At the deepest level, it's all macho chest thumping...look at me...me caught big fish with expensive shiny reel, special line and long carbon stick. Much chee chee tonight.
 

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You know to each their own. Over the past 35 yrs I have gathered moderately expensive Tibor, Orvis and Ari T Hart reels. Then there are the Lamson's, Ross and such and as well I have lots of others of the lesser cost . I personally prefer the more reliable reels that also require less maintenance. The reliability factor being the key. But in the end it's a personal choice.
 
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