Fly Rod & Reel Glossary


Beginner’s Guide to Fly Rod/Reel Terms

Action – Describes the flexing/bending characteristics of a fly rod (Slow, Medium, and Fast).

Anodizing – Anodizing increases the thickness of metal parts.

Arbor – refers to a fly reel. The Arbor is the center part of the spool where your tippet, line, and backing are stored.

The arbor is the portion of the spool between the two sides.

Arbor Knot – this knot is used to attach the backing to the spool of a fly reel.

Arbor knot – backing to spool.

Backing -Backing is the material used to connect your fly line to your fishing reel. The backing is normally made of spun or braided Dacron. The backing is the first thing that’s placed in the arbor of the fly reel, before the fly line. When fishing for larger game, the backing is important because the larger fish could take out all your fly line, and you don’t want to lose your expensive line or the fish. Backing also serves to take up the space on the arbor before attaching the fly line. See our page about backing.

from raw stock to a finished rod.

Bamboo – Bamboo is the oldest rod building material still in use.  Some anglers revere bamboo rods as the best material for manufacturing fly-rods.

Blank – Rod blanks are rods before the reel-seat, guides, and other components are attached. Blanks can be manufactured from Bamboo, Carbon-Fiber, Fiberglass, Graphite, Steel, or Wood. Generally, rods are no longer made of wood, except for bamboo, and the cork on grips; and Steel was used for a short time in casting rods, in the early 20th century.

The butt section holds the reel seat and the grip, and sometimes the stripping guide, which is the guide closest to the reel. This is not a fly rod but the sections are the same.

This is the Blade section of a rod. The blade section runs from the tip (the top guide), to the top of the grip.

Click and Pawl reel

Click Drag – refers to one of the methods used in some fly reels to increase friction to slow the efforts of a fish to take pull out line. May also be referred to as click and pawl.

a 1200 ft spool of 20lb Dacron Backing

Dacron – Braided nylon line used for backing.

One type of disc-drag reel works somewhat like the brakes on your car or truck.

Damping – a term used for a process used in the building of a rod to reduce vibrations in the rod when unloading line during the cast.

Disc-Drag – refers to one of the methods used in come fly reels to increase friction to slow the efforts of a fish to take out line.

Examples of graphite rod ferrules and fiberglass/bamboo ferrules

Ferrule – the part of the fly rods where sections of that fly rod are joined.

a basic fly reel

Fly Reel – the mechanism that holds backing, line, and leader/tippet to the fly rod.


Graphite – the most popular rod building material in use today.

Grip – the handle of the fly-rod, placed in the butt-section of the rod. Usually made from foam or cork, and in different configurations  such as Half-Wells grip, cigar-grip, fine grip.

examples of palming the reel.

Grips – you can make your own fashion statement – or not.

Palming – refers to the use of the palm of the hand against the spool of a fly reel to increase friction to slow the efforts of a fish to take out line.

When building a reel seat, it’s all about fashion

Reel Seat –  the mechanism in the butt section of the fly rod that holds to reel to the rod.

Spool – refers to the part of the fly reel that holds the backing and fly line. Additional spools may be available for reels so that anglers can load different types or weights of fly lines.

The tip section of a four-piece Allen fly rod. The bottom cork piece is called a fighting butt, which s normal on most rods sized above 6WT.

the spool attaches to the reel. Spools may be sold separately so that the angler may use different types of line. Floating/sinking, weight-forward, etc.

Tip Section – the top section of a fly rod.