Every fall, anglers travel from around the globe to visit the marshes of Louisiana. While Redfish can be found elsewhere, Louisiana is known for prolific numbers of fish in a pretty epic size class. If you're fanatical about saltwater fly fishing you've probably heard New Orleans called 'the Redfish capital of the world'. If you're a serious angler, go there. But Redfish are also found along the Texas coast, Florida, and throughout the southeastern US.

Regardless of where you target these big-headed predators, there are a few things that can increase your chances of success on the water. First, if you're new to targeting Redfish with a fly rod, do your research and go with someone who knows what they're doing. Guides are invaluable when traveling to fly fish. Second, practice casting to targets with a saltwater fly rod and a larger fly. There's nothing worse than getting out on the water and being uncomfortable with your rod/reel/fly line/flies.

And last, and perhaps most importantly, choose the equipment that'll help you catch more fish. You can't catch a big Redfish on a 5wt fly rod, and you probably shouldn't choose the Hardy Duchess Fly Reel, either (although it's a beautiful reel and you can check it out here). If you want some advice about choosing the right fly rod for Redfish, we've covered that here. If you want some advice about choosing the right fly reel for Redfish, well, you've come to the right place.

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Reel Features that Don't Matter

There are a lot of people out there that will advocate choosing a reel with an insanely strong drag system or crazy backing capacity. For species like GT, Tarpon, and others, these things are important. For Redfish, not so much.

  • 30lbs of drag is nice, certainly, but it's not really necessary. Redfish are often hooked close to the boat on heavier tippets and can be brought in quickly. Reel-screaming runs aren't very common.
  • Don't worry about start-up inertia. Most contemporary fly reels have minimized start-up inertia anyway, but heavier tippets make low start-up inertia a luxury, not a necessity.
  • Backing capacity follows the intuition asserted above about drag. Redfish are heavy and lazy so a rod with lifting power is more important than a reel with a huge backing capacity.
  • Looks and feel is a preference thing. If you prefer a purple reel with a flashy frame and the latest fly reel technology, you've got plenty of options. Personally, I prefer a reel with quiet looks and simple design.

Reel Features that Do Matter

So what does matter? When you're looking for Redfish reel, here are the features you should prioritize. These features aren't completely necessary, but they'll increase your chances of success on the water.

  • Reel finish/durability is something that could go in either category. If you're a serious Redfish angler and you're going to use an 8wt reel for Bonefish and other species, durability matters. If you're going to chase Redfish once per year, you're probably alright with a reel that's less durable (forget about Type III Anodizing and aircraft-grade aluminum).
  • High retrieval rates are good. A reel with a large arbor design and high retrieval rates will help land fish more efficiently, especially partnered with a rod that has some lifting power.
  • Ergonomics and drag adjustability are key when targeting Redfish. The ability to quickly adjust your drag and access your reel handle could be the difference between a landed fish or some broken equipment.

Great, so which reels fit the bill?

If you prioritize looks and feel, the Taylor Revolution Z is a great saltwater reel. If you prefer simple reel design, are alright with a little extra weight, and want high retrieval rates, choose the Hatch Gen 2 Finatic.


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