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V5 3D Printed Reel Files

  • 3D Drawing showing the improvements in the version 5 design.
  • This is the list of files included in the downloaded zip package.
  • One of the almost unlimited combinations of reels you can print.
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Product Description

PLEASE NOTE - I have no way of sending you the files if you enter the wrong email address and also enter fictitious phone numbers and address. I have no way of contacting you in this situation. If you register and do not hear back from me in 5 days or more, please email me directly do not reregister as there is probably an issue with your email address. That way I'll have a valid email address. DO NOT email me directly without first registering first though!


The instructions and STL files in a zip file will be emailed to you - usually within 24 hours - after you register. I made this change because over the last year a few individuals (actually more than 100) filled in the form with inappropriate comments or gobbeledygook. This raised the concern that they did not read (and agree to) the reasonable CONDITIONS outlined below (PLEASE READ THEM).

The 1000s of folks who provided their email addresses can confirm that I have only sent two email updates to the list over the course of the year. One email announced the availability of the updated version 5.1 reel files and the other a new ultralight 3D fly reel in development.

Unfortunately, this new process might result in a delay before you receive the files and for that I apologize. While you wait, I encourage you to read the Printing and Assembly Instructions.

If you are in a hurry or if you would like to support this project and my innovative work in 3D printing and fly fishing, you can make a small donation and the files will be available for immediate download here: 3D Printed Reel Plans - $5 Donation

If you've already downloaded the files and would like to make a donation (even $1 would be great), please use this PayPal button: 


Although the 3D Fly Reel STL files and instructions are free, there are a few conditions you must agree to:

  1. Please register using your actual information - at least your first name and state/country and email address. I will not spam you but I do like to know where my design is going. Another reason to register is that I publish updates and provide pre-releases of new designs to registered users - like the new Ultralight Printed Reel I'm working on now. NOTE: you may enter a fictitious street address and other required fields if you so choose, my store software does not allow me to make these fields optional.
  2. You may not post or give the files away to others. If someone asks you for them, just send them to this page please.
  3. You may not sell reels you create with this design, derivative of this design, or files.
  4. You may post as many photos of your printed reels as you'd like, I love to see what people have done!

You can download the instructions without registering to see what's involved in printing and assembling the reel.

I like to print the reel in PLA. I have also printed them in ABS. Nylon should work also. The design and clearances were optimized for PLA and ABS, Nylon may be different. If you succesfully print a reel in Nylon, let me know.

These files are standard STL files that can be opened in your slicer application or most CAD programs. I like to use KISSlicer but most any slicer will work.

The reel weighs in at 45 gms / 1.6 ounces. It is 3" in diameter and designed to hold up to a 5 wt line with backing. 

Version History

  • 1/22/2015 - Version 5.1 released
  • 6/8/2015 - an email update with a tip on how to use a common Zip Tie as the clicker was emailed to everyone that registered with a legitmate email address. See below for the tip.


I'll post helpful tips here as I discover better ways to do things. Of course, if you register with a legitimate email address (which I will never spam or let out of my possesion) you will get these tips and more via email).

Tip 1: Use a Zip Tie for the click check

As I continue to refine and develop new printed reel designs I learn a thing or two. I also listen to the great feedback I get from many of you. The one thing I hear frequently is that the 1/16” (1.75mm) Nylon™ rod for the click check is the most difficult item to obtain and is relatively expensive when mail ordered. I have good news! I've been searching for a more effective check material as a refinement. I’ve always found the round nylon rod to have a rather heavy, harsh, sound. Also, it can sometimes get trapped between the click wheel and the back plate. I’ve also had some reports that some sources of this material is brittle and snaps in cold temperatures. That got me experimenting and I’ve found a great substitute that you may even already have laying around - small Zip Ties! Zip Ties are made of Nylon formulated to be pliable and come in many sizes and colors. They are frequently used for packaging in products and can be found at any hardware or discount store. You want the narrow ones - .08” or 2mm wide. I buy mine from Amazon and they are much cheaper (and more useful!) than the Nylon rod. You probably have one or two laying around your house!
You can make several check pawls from one of these Zip Ties. Simply cut it to approximate length. Then, trim one end a little so it will fit in the round hole printed in the back plate. The attached drawing provides more detail. After trimming, test the fit and then attach with a bit of super glue.


To insert, put a dab of medium CA glue on the tapered end. I use a pair of needle nose pliers to hold the Zip Tie close to the tapered section, this makes it easy to push into the hole in the Frame Back Plate.

Tip 2: Print an extra Click Spindle to use as a Sander

I printed an extra Click Spindle (part #4) and glued a disk of sandpaper (600 grit) to the bottom to use to sand the reel Back Plate. A couple of twists and the Back Plate is nice and smooth so the reel works with not glitches.

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Product Reviews

Showing reviews 1-10 of 23 | Next

  1. Print your own fly reel! 4 Star Review

    Posted by on 8th Feb 2017

    The reel was rather easy to print and was really forgiving if the print wasn't perfectly accurate. Overall, the instructions for printing and assembling it were pretty good. Good job designing this printable reel. Thank you for sharing your creation, I look forward to catching some fish on it this spring.

  2. superb! 5 Star Review

    Posted by on 7th Dec 2016

    So nice you offer that for free!
    Really good reel for really light setup

    The man

  3. Fun 3DFly..... 4 Star Review

    Posted by on 22nd Oct 2016

    Very nice job. Thanks for the public opportunity to access very fun project. I am finally getting to run smoothly. Thanks!
    Michael's reply. Glad you like it. I still don't understand why people take the time to submit a review for a completely FREE product, say nice things, and give it 4 starts. It defies explanation.

  4. 3d reel 4 Star Review

    Posted by on 16th May 2016

    This is a great product. I saved a lot of money ordering the files. 60 bucks to be in fact. Thank you for making this free to the public

    Michael's reply. Glad you like it. I don't understand why you only gave 4 stars though? That just doesn't make sense given your review comments.

  5. Reeely good 5 Star Review

    Posted by on 14th Apr 2016

    Excellent product. It's obvious how much work has gone into producing this. I have made the fishing reel and am just waiting to try and catch my first trout of the season on it.

  6. 3D Fishing Reel 5 Star Review

    Posted by on 21st Mar 2016

    This was a very simple project to print and to assemble. The parts fit together extremely well. The only suggestion I would make is that the instructions should include photos of the parts to make the project simpler. As a non fishing person I did not quite understand what part was what when gluing them together.

  7. Sweet Reel!! 5 Star Review

    Posted by on 20th Jan 2016

    This is awesome. We got our printer dialed in and the reel prints flawlessly. The only problem we had was using PLA or ABS for the click drag, they would break or wear down quickly. But we started using zip ties and problem solved. Thanks for the great design!!

  8. Attention grabber 5 Star Review

    Posted by on 3rd Nov 2015

    The files worked great and our students love watching the printer in operation. Thanks for your generosity!

  9. Outstanding Fuctionality 5 Star Review

    Posted by on 26th Oct 2015

    This product is not only functional, but generated with 3-D files that are very usable with minimal support structures.

  10. Great!! 5 Star Review

    Posted by on 22nd Oct 2015

    I love building stuff that I can use, I love fishing, and I just got a 3d printer at work.
    This is an awesome design that I'm having a lot of fun making! Thank you so much for the willingness to share!

Showing reviews 1-10 of 23 | Next


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