Fly Fishing Reels (Large vs Small Arbor)

An Overview of Fly Fishing Reels Large Arbor vs Standard

Large arbor fly fishing reel and a standard arbor in comparison.

Notice the huge difference in the size of the arbor. The large arbor reel will bring line in at nearly double the rate of the small arbor reel. These are both 5/6 weight reels.

There are a couple types of fly fishing reel options to consider before investing your hard earned money into one. There are two major types of reels. These are the large arbor reels and the standard size arbor. There is also is Mid arbor size, you will see that a mid arbor reel will be the middle ground between the large and small (standard) arbor.

Standard Sized Arbor Reels

The Standard sized arbor is a more traditional design, it is the most common type found in older fishing reels. The arbor is quite small and will not be able to pick up line very quickly without loading it up with a lot of backing. Having a small arbor will not really have much for benefits to be honest. They are somewhat outdated and not really a great option unless you are going for the traditional look. One benefit of a smaller arbor reel is potential weight savings. Although most high end fly reels are quite lightweight, some of the smaller standard arbor reels are significantly lighter due to less material being used to make them.

Large arbor Fly Fishing Reels

The Large arbor reel is a vast improvement over the traditional standard design. You will be able to reel line in 2x faster and enjoy the high tech look of the large arbor design. Some downsides of a large arbor reel could be an increase in overall weight of the reel. The modern fly reel (especially high end) reels are made with high end aluminum, they are not really that much heavier than their predecessor the standard arbor fly fishing reel. They are larger in size, therefore a little bit more bulky, but this is a small sacrifice in my opinion.

Mid arbor reels

These are simply an in between choice of the above two options. These are a good safe choice for your fly fishing setup. Before buying a  fly reel you should go into your local fly shop and try things out. They are always happy to answer any questions and offer advice.


Different fly fishing reel types

Note the size difference in the large vs standard reels.

Large arbor

  • Reel in line faster
  • more modern look and design
  • Slightly heavier than smaller arbor designs


  • Lighter weight
  • More classical look and appeal


  • The middle ground between the above two styles.  A safe bet for most fisherman

Choosing the proper fly fishing reel is best done at the counter of a fly fishing shop if you are unfamiliar with the individual reels. You will be able to try out the different types and feel confident you have made the right choice. A fly reel can be a large investment with the prices ranging from 20 dollars up to $1000. The fly reel is less important to your overall fishing than a rod. If you are on a limited budget I would advise you to spend more on a rod than you do on a reel. Most expensive reels will come with lifetime warranties. You can be sure you are buying a quality reel, that will last a very long time if you decide to spend the “big bucks”.

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