For that reason they, like rods, are rated by the A.F.T.M. line rating they are expected to hold. This is more difficult with fly lines as, on the reel, it is the volume of the line that concerns us rather than its weight.

In order for a floating line to float, it has a much lower density than a fast sinking line and therefore far greater bulk to load on your spool. Most manufacturers therefore tend to rate their fly reels by the A.F.T.M. number of the floating line that it holds rather than sinking line. In more practical terms, this means that when you load your reel up with sinking line, more backing will be required to get your line to fill the spool. When loaded, your line must be clear of the outside cage and must not foul it. If it does, unload the line and remove some backing.

The spool can be either be wide with a small diameter or narrow with a large diameter. As a coarse angler specialising in using centre pins, I know the advantages of the larger diameter reel in faster line retrieval and the less kinked line leaving the spool.

In fly fishing the kinking aspect is even more critical but as the fly line is so bulky you are in effect down to a low diameter when 15 to 20 yards are off of your spool. I therefore tend to go up in size of reel and, like with coarse fishing, prefer a large diameter, fairly wide diameter reel to get good line recovery with less kinks in the line. I know some will say that this means that I am using a heavier reel but remember, another function of a reel is to balance that fly rod and this slightly heavier reel can often help out. Remember too, you can also have a fly reel that is too light and not balance the rod.

No matter what the size of the reel it is always a good idea to give the line a stretch before fishing. This helps to reduce the plastic memory so that it is no longer in coils.

Many modern fly anglers make a lot of fuss about playing fish off the reel. Traditionally a fly reel has just one handle and is not counter balanced like a top quality centre pin. Therefore you can not 'bat in' your line like the coarse angler trotting the stream with a centre pin. Most fly reels have a drag which is often a simple ratchet to slow the reel down. More modern and, naturally, more expensive fly reels do have better drag systems involving discs but I believe these are no substitute for sensitive fingers on an exposed reel rim. I bet these comments will cause a stir in some circles but I believe you can see my logic.

When fishing a long way out and deep in reservoirs, I use a coarse fishing wide-drum large diameter centre pin. These hold plenty of line, give excellent line recovery and you can play a fish with confidence from of the reel.

As regards price, the range is unbelievable. At the top end of the market I have seen hand-built top quality American reels costing the best part of 500 that are a testament to American engineering at its best. These in my view are a rich mans toy. Great to own but do they give 500 worth of practical advantage when fishing? I think not! At the other end of the scale there are plenty of practical average quality reels that are well designed and will do the job more than adequately costing less than 20. Certainly these reels are good enough for a start.

Finally, it is a good idea to buy a reel that comes with two spools so that you can have a floater on one and a sinking line on the other. To put matters into perspective, the reel I have used for the majority of the trout reviews in this magazine where I have had salmon to 281b 12oz, rainbows well into double figures and some nice brown trout cost me 18 with two spools.