Skip to main content

Rewind: Exciting New Fly Reels for 2024

New looks for the hardware that says a lot about you and your fishing personality.

Rewind: Exciting New Fly Reels for 2024

(Jay Nichols photo)

Affiliate Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. We earn from qualifying purchases.


There is a world of difference between the Sage Enforcer and the Native Series of reels from Ross. One has the power to smoothly control the charging run of a false albacore, the other is as light and airy as a spiderweb with a click-and-pawl system that sings sweet music when a 14-inch Colorado River Cutthroat grabs your dry fly. Both perform perfectly in specific situations, but reels are far more than functional. This shiny hardware is also a chance to dress up your tackle with colors and themes that suit your personality or show support for your favorite causes. Here are some of the best looking forward into 2024.

Cheeky Spray Fly Reel

Studio photo of a silver and orange fly reel with an award badge superimposed.
$399-$499 | tridentflyfishing.com

Cheeky hosts the biggest open fly-fishing “tournament” in the world of fly fishing, and I’m putting that in air quotes because the word “tournament” doesn’t tell the whole story. It’s much more than a catch-and-release competition. The Cheeky Schoolie Tournament held on Cape Cod each May is actually a multi-day party with a lot of money going toward striped bass conservation and science, as well as effort going toward consumer-facing public education.

But let’s not forget the Massachusetts-based Cheeky has also been making high-performance reels with a low entrance barrier since 2009. For 2024, they have discontinued their flagship Mojo reel series and brought out a new high-performance fresh- and saltwater reel called the Spray series that is fully CNC machined, with a double-gasket fully sealed drag system with six stacked carbon disks for maximum stopping power and smooth, graduated transitions.

The frame and spool have a fresh multi-axis beveled design that maximizes rigidity but drastically cuts down on weight compared to the Mojo. It has a deep backing channel within the large arbor and comes in three sizes for line weights 4/6 (3.5" diameter), 7/9 (4.0"), and 9/12 (4.5").

The integrated reel foot is now slotted in the frame and screwed on—instead of just screwed on for greater strength—and the base of the reel foot is curved to reduce leader kink when you wind your line around the base of the reel.

Of course, the Cheeky Spray comes in bold, almost anti-establishment colors of bright orange and platinum, or royal blue and gold. We used the Spray in salt for striped bass and in fresh water for smallmouths and it did more than look sharp. The large, knurled drag knob made it easy to smoothly turn up the pressure, or turn it down for stripping line off, and the large aluminum reel handle gave enormous cranking power.

$399-$499 | tridentflyfishing.com


Ross Reels  Native Series Colorado River Cutthroat Fly Reel

A fly rod and reel sitting on top of a pile of flies.
$495 | rossreels.com

In early 2023, Ross introduced the new Greenback Cutthroat Native Series reel, and has now followed it up with a reel designed to raise awareness of the plight of Colorado River cutthroat trout and to raise funds for research, enforcement, and habitat improvements to help preserve the species. It’s a perfect match for the Montrose, Colorado-based Ross Reels, and for their flagship small-stream, lightweight Colorado reel. The Colorado River Cutthroat reel is a limited-edition Colorado 4/5 reel with anodized native trout colors. Each one is numbered from 1 to 495 with the word “Colorado” inscribed on the reel foot. Ross Reels donates $75 from the sale of each reel to Colorado TU’s Clear Fork East Muddy Creek Project to remove nonnative species such as Eastern brook trout, and preserve the watershed for native fish species. The Greenback Cutthroat Native Series reel has already raised $31,125 for Colorado TU and the Colorado River Cutthroat reel will raise another $37,125 once all the reels are sold.




$495 | rossreels.com


Ross  Cimarron Fly Reel

A fly rod and reel laying on the surface of a creek next to a hand holding a brown trout.
$295 | tridentflyfishing.com

Cimarron has a few different definitions. In Spanish, cimarrón means “wild or untamed” and it’s formed from the root cima, which means peak or summit. Fly fishers, however, equate it with Colorado’s Cimarron Creek and more frequently, with the classic Ross Cimarron reel, which was first introduced in the 1980s, and helped build the company’s reputation for bedrock-tough, made-in-America reels. Many of the originals are still out there catching fish, and many others have been squirreled away as keepsakes for grandchildren.

With the new 2024 Cimarron, there’s no need for hand-me-down reels. This one is a gateway for newer fly fishers who want a machined, anodized reel, made in Montrose Colorado, for under $300. It has a dependable disk-drag braking system borrowed from the more expensive ($385) Ross Animas reel, and a textured Cerakote drag knob and handle that are easy to grip when wet, and they stand up to any abuse you can throw at them. In an age when everything is getting more and more expensive, it’s refreshing to see a company like Ross master the logistics of making bulletproof fishing tackle at an affordable price.

Recommended


$295 | tridentflyfishing.com


Sage  Enforcer Fly Reel

A fly angler holding a large barracuda for the camera, in a boat on emerald water, with a Sage Enforcer fly reel and award badge superimposed.
$575 | tridentflyfishing.com

Giant trevally have been nicknamed “gangsters of the flats,” and the best way I can think of to deal with a gangster is to have a powerful Enforcer on your side. Sage introduced the ENFORCER reel family this year to replace the Spectrum Max. The core of the new reel design came from Sage’s big-game THERMO reels, but is sized down from marlin and tuna, to a flats-specific reel suited for everything from tarpon and GTs (the 11/12 size); permit, ’cudas, and redfish (9/10); and double-digit bonefish (7/8). These are not delicate instruments designed to protect 6X tippets—the Enforcer is built to travel anywhere, withstand rugged abuse, and put a stop to the antics of any speedsters with thoughts of getting away.

Sage’s reel designers beefed up the O-rings and used larger stacked stainless steel and carbon fiber drag plates, increasing the maximum drag by 50% compared to the Spectrum Max. There is a maximum of 8 pounds of drag in the 7/8 size, 15 pounds in the 9/10 size, and 17 pounds in the 11/12 size. The drag is measured at the arbor, and is not dependent on the amount of line you have on the reel at the moment.

The one-revolution drag knob is numbered 1 through 20, with 40 detented settings. Those settings don’t reflect an actual measure in pounds of friction, but they do help you quickly return to an exact drag setting after stripping line. It helps you see that your drag is set right where you want it.

The new reel foot design has rounded corners to prevent kinking and abrading your leader or tippet; the concave, ported arbor provides strength and greater backing capacity; and the fully machined frame and spool design maximizes rigidity so you don’t get any twist or warping while big gamefish are pulling against your maximum drag.

$575 | tridentflyfishing.com


Hardy  Sovereign Fly Reel

Studio photo of a Hardy Sovereign fly reel
$595 - $650 | purefishing.com

Hardy is hailing the reintroduction of the Hardy Sovereign fly reel as the “return of a legend.” Conceived in the 1980s, the original Sovereign was renowned for its attractive looks, high-quality craftsmanship, close-tolerances machining, and silky-smooth drag. The Sovereign ultimately became one of Hardy’s best-selling products.

The “reimagined” (Hardy’s term) Sovereign retains the features that made the original a favorite among anglers, including its famed half-cage design. But the remastered version isn’t resting on its laurels. Meticulously engineered in Alnwick, England, it’s packed with modern innovations.

One of these is the sealed, self-lubricating disk drag system, which can exert more than 5 pounds of pressure while remaining smooth and reliable. This drag lets you manage every hook-up with confidence, control, and precision. Also new is the on/off clicker, which not only provides ease of adjustment, but also allows you to silence the outgoing clicker if you prefer. (Hardy calls this a “poacher’s switch.”) The new Sovereign also boasts dual stainless-steel bearings for an ultra-smooth, ultra-fast retrieve.

“With the reintroduction of this best-selling Hardy reel, we’re merging the design of the past with the technology of today,” said Jim Murphy, Hardy’s director of fly fishing. “We believe in celebrating our history while constantly innovating for the future, and this reel stands testament to that philosophy.”

Machined from bar-stock aluminum and deep anodized, the new Hardy Sovereign is available in four sizes, for line weights 5/6, 7/8, 8/9, and 9/10 and in two colors, Spitfire and black. It comes with a Hardy neoprene reel pouch.

$595 - $650 | purefishing.com

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

Indigenous people and salmon have been intertwined for thousands of years in Bristol Bay, Alaska. Today, kids learn from...
How-To/Techniques

How to Fight Trout Effectively and Get them in the Net Quickly

Indigenous people and salmon have been intertwined for thousands of years in Bristol Bay, Alaska. Today, kids learn from...
News

Patagonia Advocates for Dam Removal

Indigenous people and salmon have been intertwined for thousands of years in Bristol Bay, Alaska. Today, kids learn from...
Destinations/Species

Science in the Thorofare

Indigenous people and salmon have been intertwined for thousands of years in Bristol Bay, Alaska. Today, kids learn from...
How-To/Techniques

How to Tie the Picky Eater Perdigon

Indigenous people and salmon have been intertwined for thousands of years in Bristol Bay, Alaska. Today, kids learn from...

Fly Fishing the Plunge Pools of Yosemite Falls

Indigenous people and salmon have been intertwined for thousands of years in Bristol Bay, Alaska. Today, kids learn from...
Gear

Scientific Anglers Launches Reimagined Tropical Saltwater Fly Lines

Indigenous people and salmon have been intertwined for thousands of years in Bristol Bay, Alaska. Today, kids learn from...
Gear

Check Out Grundens' New Vector Wader!

Indigenous people and salmon have been intertwined for thousands of years in Bristol Bay, Alaska. Today, kids learn from...
Gear

Fly Fishing the Plunge Pools of Yosemite Falls (trailer)

Indigenous people and salmon have been intertwined for thousands of years in Bristol Bay, Alaska. Today, kids learn from...
Gear

Fly Fusion Trout Tour Sizzle Reel

Indigenous people and salmon have been intertwined for thousands of years in Bristol Bay, Alaska. Today, kids learn from...
Gear

Introducing Orvis's New 4th Generation Helios Fly Rod

Indigenous people and salmon have been intertwined for thousands of years in Bristol Bay, Alaska. Today, kids learn from...
How-To/Techniques

How to Tie Dorsey's Top Secret Baetis Fly

Indigenous people and salmon have been intertwined for thousands of years in Bristol Bay, Alaska. Today, kids learn from...
News

Orvis Presents “School of Fish” Full Film

Fly Fisherman Magazine Covers Print and Tablet Versions

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Fly Fisherman App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Fly Fisherman stories delivered right to your inbox.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Fly Fisherman subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Get a Full Year
of Guns & Ammo
& Digital Access.

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now