A Complete Guide To Full Cage Fly Reels

For fly fishing enthusiasts, choosing the right reel is crucial to a smooth, unforgettable fishing experience. Full cage reels stand out for their durability, strength, and versatility when fighting larger fish. If you’re wondering what sets these reels apart, you’ve come to the right place.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Full cage reels fully enclose the perimeter of the spool for maximum protection and handling of bigger fish. Their fully-covered design makes them more durable and resistant to sand or grit.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover the pros and cons of full cage fly reels, how they differ from traditional open frame reels, top brands on the market, reel technology, and more. Read on to gain the knowledge you need to select the ideal full cage reel for your freshwater or saltwater fishing needs.

What Are Full Cage Fly Reels?

Full cage fly reels are a type of fishing reel specifically designed for fly fishing. Unlike traditional open cage reels, full cage reels feature an enclosed perimeter design that provides added strength and protection.

These reels are particularly suitable for anglers targeting larger fish species, as they provide enhanced stability and control during the fight.

Enclosed Perimeter Design

One of the defining features of full cage fly reels is their enclosed perimeter design. The reel’s frame extends around the spool, creating a cage-like structure that fully encloses the line. This design offers several advantages for fly fishing enthusiasts.

Firstly, it helps prevent the line from tangling or getting snagged on debris, weeds, or underwater structures. This can significantly reduce the chances of losing a catch due to line breakage or entanglement.

Additionally, the enclosed perimeter design provides a smoother operation, ensuring that the line flows evenly during casting and retrieval.

Added Strength and Protection

Full cage fly reels are known for their added strength and protection. The cage structure not only prevents the line from tangling but also provides a protective barrier against impact and external factors.

This is particularly beneficial when targeting larger fish species that are known for their powerful runs and aggressive fighting behavior. The full cage design adds an extra layer of durability, minimizing the risk of damage to the reel and increasing its overall lifespan.

Suitable for Larger Fish Species

Full cage fly reels are specifically designed to handle the demands of targeting larger fish species. The enclosed perimeter design and added strength make these reels ideal for anglers pursuing species like salmon, steelhead, musky, or saltwater game fish.

The enhanced stability and control provided by full cage reels allow anglers to confidently battle these powerful fish, knowing that their reel can handle the pressure. Whether casting long distances or fighting against a strong current, full cage fly reels deliver the performance needed to tackle larger fish species.

For more information on full cage fly reels, visit www.flyfisherman.com.

Advantages of Full Cage Reels

Full cage reels offer several advantages that make them a popular choice among anglers. These reels are specifically designed to provide enhanced durability, increased retrieve power, and better gear and drag protection. Let’s take a closer look at each of these benefits:

Durability Against Grit

One of the key advantages of full cage reels is their ability to withstand grit and debris. The full cage design prevents small particles from entering the inner workings of the reel, protecting the gears and drag system from damage.

This is particularly useful when fishing in environments where there is a higher chance of encountering sand, dirt, or other abrasive materials. The added durability of full cage reels ensures they can withstand the toughest conditions and last longer.

Increased Retrieve Power

Full cage reels also offer increased retrieve power compared to their open cage counterparts. The full cage design provides more support to the spool, minimizing flex and allowing for a more direct transfer of power from the angler to the reel.

This results in a smoother and more efficient retrieve, making it easier to reel in larger fish or fight against strong currents. Anglers can enjoy the benefits of increased retrieve power when using a full cage reel, giving them an edge in challenging fishing situations.

Better Gear and Drag Protection

Another advantage of full cage reels is their superior gear and drag protection. The full cage design provides a physical barrier around the reel’s components, minimizing the risk of damage caused by accidental impacts or knocks.

This is especially beneficial when transporting or storing the reel, as it reduces the likelihood of any external factors affecting the gear system. Additionally, the full cage design offers better protection against water intrusion, ensuring the internal components remain in optimal condition for longer.

Disadvantages to Consider

Heavier Weight

Full cage fly reels are known for their sturdy construction and durability. However, one disadvantage of these reels is that they tend to be heavier compared to other types of fly reels. The full cage design, which provides added protection to the spool and line, adds extra weight to the reel.

This can make it more challenging to cast for long periods, especially for anglers who prefer a lighter setup. Despite the weight, many anglers find that the benefits of a full cage fly reel outweigh this drawback.

Potential Line Jams

Another disadvantage of full cage fly reels is the potential for line jams. Due to the enclosed design, there is a higher risk of the line getting tangled or jammed within the cage. This can be frustrating and time-consuming, requiring anglers to pause their fishing and carefully untangle the line.

However, with proper maintenance and regular cleaning, the likelihood of line jams can be significantly reduced. Taking the time to keep the reel clean and lubricated will help prevent this issue and ensure smooth operation.

Higher Cost

Full cage fly reels are often considered a high-end option in the fly fishing world, and one of the disadvantages is the higher cost associated with these reels. The additional materials and construction required for the full cage design contribute to the increased price tag.

However, it’s important to note that the higher cost is often justified by the enhanced durability and protection that a full cage fly reel offers. For anglers who are serious about their fly fishing and prioritize longevity and performance, the investment in a full cage reel is often seen as worthwhile.

Key Features to Look for

Reel Foot and Arbor Design

When choosing a full cage fly reel, it is important to consider the reel foot and arbor design. The reel foot is the part that attaches the reel to the fly rod. Look for a reel foot that is sturdy and securely attaches to the rod, ensuring that the reel stays in place during casting and fighting fish.

The arbor design refers to the size and shape of the spool where the fly line is wound. A large arbor design offers several advantages, including faster line retrieval and reduced line memory. It also provides more backing capacity, which is important when targeting larger fish that can take you into your backing.

For more detailed information on reel foot and arbor design, check out this article from Fly Fisherman.

Drag System

The drag system is one of the most crucial features to consider when choosing a full cage fly reel. It controls the amount of resistance applied to the spool, allowing you to easily play and land fish.

Look for a reel with a smooth and reliable drag system that can handle the size and strength of the fish you plan to target.

There are two main types of drag systems: click and pawl, and disc drag. Click and pawl drag systems are simpler and lighter, making them suitable for smaller fish and lighter fly rods. Disc drag systems, on the other hand, offer more stopping power and are better suited for larger fish and heavier rods.

If you want to learn more about drag systems and how they work, take a look at this informative article from Trident Fly Fishing.

Reel Handle and Gearing

The reel handle and gearing are important considerations for comfort and ease of use. Look for a reel with a comfortable and ergonomic handle that allows for a secure grip, especially when wet or when fighting a strong fish.

Gearing refers to the ratio of how many times the spool turns with each turn of the handle. A higher gear ratio means faster line retrieval, which can be beneficial when you need to quickly bring in line or when targeting fast-moving fish.

For a comprehensive guide on reel handle and gearing, visit this article from Yellowstone Angler.

Top Full Cage Reel Brands & Models

Brand Overviews

When it comes to full cage fly reels, there are several top brands that have gained a reputation for their quality and performance. One such brand is XYZ Reels, known for their durable construction and smooth drag system.

Another popular brand is ABC Reels, which offers a wide range of models to suit different fishing needs. DEF Reels is also worth mentioning for their innovative design and attention to detail. These brands have established themselves as leaders in the industry and are trusted by anglers around the world.

Best-Selling and Top-Rated Options

When choosing a full cage fly reel, it can be helpful to consider the best-selling and top-rated options available. One highly recommended model is the XYZ Reels Model A. It has received rave reviews for its lightweight design and exceptional drag system.

Another popular choice is the ABC Reels Model B, which offers great value for money and is suitable for both beginners and experienced anglers. The DEF Reels Model C is also highly regarded for its smooth performance and durability.

These models have consistently received positive feedback from customers and are considered some of the best in the market.

Budget-Friendly Choices

If you’re on a tight budget but still want a reliable full cage fly reel, there are affordable options available. The PQR Reels Model X is a budget-friendly choice that doesn’t compromise on quality. It offers a sturdy construction and smooth drag system, making it a great option for anglers on a budget.

Another wallet-friendly option is the STU Reels Model Y, which offers excellent value for money and is perfect for beginners. These budget-friendly choices provide an affordable way to enjoy the benefits of a full cage fly reel without breaking the bank.


When targeting larger, faster fish that require specialized strength and durability, full cage reels are designed to handle the fight. With the right full cage reel matched to your fishing environment and target species, you can conquer even the most formidable freshwater and saltwater fish with confidence.

Do your research to select the ideal model, and you’ll be equipped with a trusted reel for years of trophy catches.

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