The single most important thing to consider when buying a fly reel is to make certain it matches the weight of your line and fly rod; this total combination must also be suited for the type of fish you want to catch and your fishing style. The reel becomes part of a balanced system when combined with your fly rod and line. The following are the three main types of drag systems; these are the basics and will help you make a better decision on what is best suited for you.

Spring-and-pawl Simplest and most affordable drag system, a spring pushes the pawl into a gear on the reel spool to create drag. As this is the simplest drag system it is a good choice for the beginner. This is best suited for lighter fishing such as trout and pan fish but will also work on larger fish should you want a challenge and are skilled at working a reel by palming, a technique where you press the palm of your hand against the spinning creating more drag on the spool as the fish takes line.

Caliper Similar to the brakes on a car, a caliper pad pushes against the braking surface on the spool creating drag and this friction then slows the reel spool. This type of drag system falls between the spring and pawl and disc system, both in how it performs and what it costs.

Disc - Found on more expensive reels, a disc drag pushes a large diameter pad against the reel spool's braking surface, the pressure is applied directly which increases control and the overall efficiency of the drag. Cork or synthetic materials such as Teflon are used in disc drag systems and will provide smoother and consistent pressure that can be adjusted more precisely. This will give you a significant advantage over the other drag systems when it comes to fighting bigger more powerful fish.

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