Good steelhead reels?


Jim Kaiserman

I've used a Pflueger Trion on my 8 wt rods for two years. Absolutely love it. I don't believe that you'd regret buying one. Like most of you I own a number of reels from Pfluegers to a couple of Hardy reels. If they cost the same amount of money I'd still buy the Trion. Excellent reel for the dollar.

You can get the older model Lamson Velocity for about $150.00 brand new. Just go to and go to the bargains. I'm pretty sure they still have some 3.5's. I have a 3.0 and a 4.0 and they're a pretty decent reel for the money. Same drag as the Litespeed, just a little heavier.
:thumb:I picked up one of the Velocities a month ago, they call it a Hybrid..last years spool with current ported frame. If you don't mind the mis matched colors ( which I don't) it is a sweet reel. $170 for the 4.0. My son has a litespeed, and Lamson has been great to deal with on parts.[/QUOTE]

Or the radius... mrfc has them as well for a bit cheaper... same drag as both the velocity and litespeed I believe

Richard E

Active Member
For where you are in life, and your budget, the venerable Pflueger Medalist, hands down. You can get a reel and at least one extra spool, with a few extra bucks left over. Tons and tons of feisty and hard pulling fish have been caught with Medalist reels, and they just take a licking and keep on ticking . . . I have gobs of reels, and still have my old Medalist reels.

If you stay in fly fishing, you will soon be ready for a move-up reel. So, don't get caught up, at your age, with the 'spend more money and buy it right' approach. Heck ,you'll find that you'll be wanting that next best and greatest item, so expect that you'll be buying new gear throughout your fly fishing career. Get what you need to get the job done, and just 'know' that you'll be getting something different in the not so distant future. ;)

mike doughty

Honorary Member
i dont think that an abel falls into that price range, fyi. i would keep my eyes peeled on ebay and get a good used reel
that's what i was thinking.

i had both the adventure 5 and 7 and although the 7 worked decent for chms i didn't think it was overly smooth, not compared to the 5 anyway

mike doughty

Honorary Member
Although most cabelas reels suck, the Cabelas Prestige plus III reel is a great stealhead reel. I have used it the past several years as my "back-up/loaner" reels and I often find myself fishing them more than my more expensive reels. It has a really decent cork disc drag and good line capacity with a mid-arbor design that holds plenty of backing but still has a decent rate of retrieve. Decent sized hand and large, easy to adjust drag knob. They are one of my my favorite reels at any price. They do run a bit heavy and are cast, not machined. Get one, you won't be disappointed for $50. Stay away from Cabelas SLA, CSR, and LSR, they are all poorly made reels.

After that, I couldn't reccomend much until you hit around $120, with the orvis mid-arbor. There is a lot of junk out there under $100.
my roommate has the csr and had no problems with it landing the one steelhead he caught on it, but how long it will last, who knows
..I have a Teton Tioga and a Cortland Endurance LA and I enjoy both of them. I know they are not the most expensive ones out there, but since I bought the Cortland, 1 month ago, I have landed 5 Steelhead on the Hood River.:p


Well-Known Member

As expected, you've received a ton of recommendations that basically list people's favorite reels. For trout and panfish, there are no bad reels. Anything will do. Almost the same goes for steelhead. I've caught steelhead on $3 reels I got from Goodwill, but they don't last for long. The best value for $ is the often mentioned Pflueger Medalist. I have three; they never wear out, and they are not my favorite. My favorites are Hardys, but they're expensive, and they also last a lifetime. If you're interested in something more nicely made than a Medalist, but less than $100, look for a discontinued Ross Colorado on Ebay. I bought a couple for $65 each, but as they've become less common, they are going for more. The Colorado is well made like a Hardy, and also spring and pawl drag system, and more affordable.


Salmo g.
I have been wondering if the new pflueger Medalist is the same quality as the older ones? Thanks.

I don't have an older medalist to verify, but I just picked up 3 new ones and the rim control 1500s have a plastic ratchet and plastic ratchet spring cover. I think I remember the old ones being metal. Not 100% sure on that so hopefully someone can chime in there. I also have a couple Trions and they are great for the money. The only thing I don't like about it is the handle washer. It is a biatch to get sand/dirt out from inbetween the wood handle and the washer. Replacing it with a washer that is a hair wider would probably do the trick but I'm lazy.


Active Member
I agree with Freedon, for the money(under a bill), the Okuma integrity is damn hard to beat.I own several 8/9 and 10/11s.I also use mid-arbor orvis reels.The money saved can be spent on other spools and lines.If it goes to shit,you arent out a fortune.In fact I use Okumas more than my battenkills.
my roommate has the csr and had no problems with it landing the one steelhead he caught on it, but how long it will last, who knows
Let me elaborate a bit. I and one of my friends each had a CSR crap out within the first 15-20 times out. The drag kept binding. They usually reponded to a good cleaning and lube, but the frequency of the binding kept increasing and even with cleaning the start up inertia became ridiculous, the last thing you want when fighting a large fish. Of course, cabelas sent out replacements. They stand behind their stuff. Pretty much anything that is less than 2 years old they will take back with no questions has been my experience. Well, my friend went out with the new CSR and slipped banging the reel on a rock with his outstreached hand. The spool crinkled. Again, they replaced it. We both sold our replacements.

I suspect that the Cabela's prestige plus reels are made by okuma. They have a simular look, design and feel to the okuma integrity/SLV/magnitude reels. I would go with one of these of a pflueger medalist if you can stand the "vintage" looks.

Charlie S

Confrimed Reprobate
PS: The 7/8 is a killer steelhead, medium salmon, bonefish, permit, striper and small tarpon reel. Fantastic drag. Also, I am not a dealer not do I receive any compensation from Sea Level for promoting this product.