Outdoor Empire top pick as affordable fly reel
The Piscifun Sword fly reel is one of the best entry-level reels currently on the market. To the untrained eye, it is hard to tell this affordable fly reel apart from reels costing twice as much. Though it is a great reel for the money, it’s far from being perfect.
Over the last few years, the entry-level fly reel market has been flooded with cheap, Chinese-made knock-off reels that do their best to look high-end but tend to come short in more ways than one.
But the Piscifun Sword stands out among the sea of bargain bin reels and needs a closer examination. In this review, we’re going over every detail to help you decide if it’s a worthy match for your fly rod.
While Piscifun is better known for producing entry-level spinning reels and bait casters, they have a small series of fly reels that appear to be well-made. The Sword is their middle-of-the-road offering and seems to be one of the better deals of the bunch.
To keep things simple, this review is focused on the Piscifun Sword 5/6 fly reel. There are four other reel sizes available — 3/4, 5/6, 7/8, and 9/10.
These days, mid-arbor reels are by far the most common design, and for a good reason. With a mid-arbor, you get more line capacity than a large-arbor reel and a decent line retrieval rate in a relatively lightweight reel.
The concave shape of the spool gives the reel its overall strength and offers greater line capacity than a level arbor spool.
Disc Drag System
To be honest, the Piscifun Sword has the same run-of-the-mill drag system found on every other entry-level Chinese-made reel. It uses cork and stainless steel drag washers.
Aside from this slows down a running fish, it’s not very smooth. It requires significant startup inertia and is prone to jamming.
The drag on the Piscifun Sword is completely unsealed, which means water, dirt, grit, and grime can enter the drag housing and damage the system. So it’s not advisable to use the Piscifun Sword in saltwater.
But with extra care taken not to dunk the reel or grind it in the sand, the drag should hold up for at least a few seasons of fishing.
Frame and Spool Material
One of the most intriguing aspects of the Sword is that it looks like a high-end reel. Plus, it’s made with the same machining technology that’s used to make high-end reels.
Both the frame and the spool are made of 6061-T6 aluminum that’s cold forged and tempered for increased strength and rigidity.
In a side-by-side comparison with a higher-end machined aluminum reel, you may notice that the Piscifun Sword doesn’t have as tight of tolerances as the high-end reel. Unless you’re fighting a 100-pound tarpon, you probably won’t notice.
While the drag is unsealed and shouldn’t be used in saltwater, the anodized finish of the Sword offers some added durability and protection against rust and corrosion. Plus, it is available in three colors: black, titanium, and gold.
Right-Hand or Left-Hand Retrieve
The Piscifun Sword fly reel ships from the factory with a left-hand retrieve. But if you want to switch it to a right-hand retrieve, the procedure is very simple. Detailed instructions are included with the reel.
Reel Bag Included
A basic soft fabric drawstring bag is included with the Sword fly reel.
Spare Spools are Available
If you like keeping an extra spool loaded with a sinking line handy, extra spools for the Sword can be purchased from Piscifun.
Line weight: 5/6 WT
Reel weight: 4.7 oz
Diameter: 3.35 in
Width: 0.91 in
Backing capacity: WF6F/100yards/20lbs
Compare Similar Products
Though the Piscifun Sword is one of the best entry-level fly reels currently on the market, there are two other reels around the same price point that you may want to consider.
|Product:|| || ||
|Weight||4.7 oz||5.5 oz||5.3 oz|
|Diameter||3.35 in||3.50 in||3.23 in|
|Width||0.91 in||1 in||1.10 in|
|Backing Capacity||WF6F/100yds/20lbs||WF6+175 yds||WF5/140 yds/20lbs|
|Cost||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price|
Side-by-side, the Piscifun looks more high-end than the Ross Flystart.
Compare & Contrast
While the Piscifun Sword has a corrosion resistant anodized finish, the Ross Flystart uses Ross’s proprietary APG finish. It might be just as durable, but it doesn’t look as nice.
When it comes to frame and spool construction, the Piscifun Sword has the Ross Flystart beat.
The Flystart has cast aluminum alloy frame and reel — a material that is much weaker than the machined 6061-T6 aluminum of the Sword.
While it seems that the Piscifun Sword is better than the Ross Flystart in every way, the deciding factor comes down to the drag system.
Both have a disc drag system; but instead of cork, the Flystart uses Delrin — a durable, self-lubricating, and heat resistant polymer that’s practically maintenance-free.
All factors considered, it’s a close call between the Piscifun Sword and the Ross Flystart. While the Sword has a stronger, more durable frame, spool, and finish, the Flystart has a better drag system that leads to a longer reel life and be used in saltwater with less worry.
The Okuma SLV has a more traditional appearance than the Piscifun Sword that may appeal more to some anglers.
Compare & Contrast
But once again, the Sword features a more robust machined frame and spool while the Okuma SLV is made of die cast aluminum alloy.
Both the Sword and the SLV have essentially the same drag system — both unsealed, both with cork and stainless steel drag washers.
While these drag systems certainly get the job done, they require more maintenance than more modern drag materials and designs.
Since both reels have similar (weak) drag systems, the win goes to the Piscifun Sword due to its machined aluminum frame and spool that is more durable.
Rating The Piscifun Sword Fly Reel
To give you a holistic view of the Piscifun Sword’s performance, here is a breakdown of the most critical factors of a fly reel and how the Sword scores in each area. This is based on a 1 to 5 stars rating.
Will it slow down a fish? Yes. Will it apply enough pressure to stop a really big fish? Probably not. 2 stars for its drag strength.
Drag Startup Inertia
The drag system on the Piscifun Sword is the weakest aspect of the reel.
Considerable drag inertia is required to pull line off the reel under drag pressure, and worse, it’s inconsistent. Simply put, the drag is not very smooth. This abrupt drag action can lead to broken tippets and lost fish. 2 stars for its drag startup inertia.
Line Retrieval Rate
The line retrieval rate is what you would expect from a fly reel of this size, but it’s nothing outstanding. 3.5 stars for its retrieval rate.
While the exterior of the Sword is anodized aluminum which is corrosion resistant, with the drag being unsealed, the parts that are most vulnerable to corrosion are left exposed. 3 stars for its resistance to corrosion.
It isn’t the lightest reel ever made, but it isn’t the heaviest either. It pairs well with most entry-level graphite rods that tend to be on the heavier side. 4 stars for its weight.
- Machined aluminum frame and spool
- High-quality anodized finish for the price
- Drag start up isn’t very smooth
- Unsealed drag
The Piscifun Sword fly reel got a final rating of 2.9 out of 5 stars. Considering the low price point and the overall decent quality of components, it is a good purchase for anyone new to the sport of fly fishing in search for an affordable but good fly reel.