A List of the World's Best Fly Reel Makers

Best fly reels as listed by IFGA

Fly fishing at sunset, Loch Thom, Clyde Muirshiel
Fly fishing reels are an extremely important part of the hobby. VWB photos / Getty Images

Who makes the best fly reels? The question is, of course, debated hotly by different fishermen, and even more vigorously by the manufacturers of fly-fishing reels, each of which believes devoutly that they make the very best reels in the world. 

One way to judge the best reels with some degree of objectivity is to look at which manufacturer's reels have produced the most number of world-record fish. 

The page that follows gives a quick look at the list of the top fly fishing reel brands used by record holders who have earned places in the World Record Game Fishes book, published by the International Game Fish Association, current at the time of publication. 

Abel's mission statement is to design and build the best, most dependable gear in the world and give world class customer service. 

Founded in 1987, Abel Reels began in Steve Abel's aerospace machine shop. At a time when most top fly reels were arriving from overseas, Abel gained a reputation for domestically manufactured reels with precise tolerances and very lightweight. 

Tibor is the self-proclaimed maker of "The World's Finest Fly Reels." These reels are pieces of art, and they catch fish, too. 

Tibor is a family business owned by  Tibor “Ted” Juracsik. Juracsik revolutionized the saltwater fly fishing reel industry with the introduction of his first anti-reverse Billy Pate Fly Reel in 1976 and has continued to revolutionize the fly fishing world with his reels.

A household name for outdoorsmen across the country, Orvis carries plenty more than fly rods. 

Founded by Charles F. Orvis in Manchester, Vermont, in 1856, Orvis is America’s oldest mail-order outfitter. 

Founded in 1973, Ross is recognized as a leading fly tackle manufacturer in the United States.

Based in Colorado, Ross strives to build the highest quality products available and is known for technical innovation and customer service. 

Fin-Nor makes everything from bass rods and spinning reels to saltwater combos, leading to more than 380 world records in the process.

Originating in Miami, the first Fin-Nor reels came out in 1936 and immediately revolutionized saltwater fishing by providing anglers with reliable, strong reels perfect for catching the largest game fish.

Based in Idaho, Waterworks-Lamson isn't your average fly fishing company, with outdoor roots that trace back to the bicycle industry, of all things. 

Their success with fishing reels may well be due to their experience with the strength-to-weight critical in bicycling, and the company is renowned for light, precisely designed and mechanically simple reels with innovative drag systems. 

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Based in Sweden, Loop was founded in 1979 by two young fly fishers who were eager to explore and fish areas that were previously impossible to reach.

Loop's innovations include fishing rods designed for two-handed and underhanded casting. 

This Washington-based company was founded in 1992 and produces both performance- and value-based rods. Its self-proclaimed mission statement can be summed up with a line from their official company profile: 

We believe that good quality doesn’t have to mean over-priced. From experienced anglers to beginners just getting their feet wet for the first time, we give you what they want. Every time.

In a "think green" move, Sage has recently downsized its print catalog and is focusing more of its resources on its Web site, where you can find a new rod along with helpful resources like a cast analyzer.

Sage is based in Bainbridge Island, WA. It was founded in 1980 by renowned rod designer Don Green, who gained his experience and knowledge during his years at Fenwick and Grizzly rod companies. After being joined by Bruce Kirschner, the company revolutionized the fly fishing world.