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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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1 unit(s)

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

Previous | Showing reviews 11-20 of 23 | Next

  1. AMAZING 5 Star Review

    Posted by on 3rd Oct 2015

    Alright I know most of you think this reel will fail. But NO it's amazing, it's durable and well made.

  2. Great Design! Made one to use and one to show off! 5 Star Review

    Posted by on 21st Aug 2015

    Saw the Field and Stream video and knew I had to try to make one. I have built two of these little bundles of joy using red ABSplus material in a Dimension sst1200es printer at the community college where I work. Had zero problems with parts/files, and fit of everything was fantastic. Very little hand fitting.

    Only problem I had was trying to keep my boss from taking them once they were done...

    Michael, have you tried using a piece of model material directly off a spool for the click check instead of a piece of nylon rod?

    Thank you for the time and effort you have put in to the development of this fantastic product!

    Michael's reply:

    Thanks for the review and glad you like the reels! Send photos - especially a "reel & fish" shot!

    Yes, you can use printable filament. I've used Nylon. PLA is too hard/brittle. Some of the modified ABS filaments will work. Did you read the Tip posted on the download page (here) where I use a piece of Zip Tie? Those work absolutely the best. You can print one in Nylon too or just use one laying around.

  3. 21st Century Fly Reel 4 Star Review

    Posted by on 29th Jun 2015

    Great files. We are currently building our second reel. The small post on the back plate are a little fragile, but all in all a great little reel!

  4. 3D printed fly reel is pretty amazing 4 Star Review

    Posted by on 25th Jun 2015

    Even though I am not a "fly fisherman", when I read the article in Field & Stream, I thought it looked interesting. Needless to say I was amazed to see the download was free!

    The instructions for printing and assembly were easy to follow. The reel functions perfectly and now all I need is to go buy a rod and line to try it out.

    Hence the reasons for only 4 stars. Once I catch that first fish, I expect the rating to go to 5 stars.

  5. Had Fun Building the 3D-Printed-Fly-Reel 5 Star Review

    Posted by on 20th Jun 2015

    I not only built a fully functional fishing reel, I learned a lot more about changing print parameters with Simplify3D and my Printrbot printer. I made many attempts printing different parts, but finally settled in on what settings worked best (so far) for the print(s). Thanks for sharing Mike!

  6. Display for now, too cool to risk using 5 Star Review

    Posted by on 12th Jun 2015

    I built one with translucent material on OBJET and a second with Stratasys white ABS back and front ring and translucent ratchet and spool. Both fit beautifully with zero hand work!
    Thank you for a superb showpiece.

  7. fun to use 3 Star Review

    Posted by on 6th Jun 2015

    This was a cool product to make and use just one cool thing yall can add is a bigger reel to catch bigger fish

    Every technology and design has its limits. Perhaps someday a larger reel that could land a Striper or big Salmon could be designed and printed on a consumer level 3D printer but we have to start somewhere. I don't understand why you felt compelled to give a 3 star rating and remain anonymous but I am going to allow this review and rating like I do all reviews and ratings for my products.

  8. My father-in-law might actually embrace 3d printing with this gift. 5 Star Review

    Posted by on 4th Jun 2015

    he's tough cookie, he's my father-in-law. I'm a nerdy nice guy. I'm sure he's happy I married his daughter, but i"ll bet he rather I'd be a hunter and outdoorsman, instead I design and build 3d printers as a hobby.
    This 3d reel may be the bridge I needed to try and reach him.
    Very well designed 3d files, easy to assemble, and I learned a cool trick (no shells) by following the clear directions. THANK YOU!

    Thank you, glad you enjoyed printing it and learning a new trick!

  9. 3D Printed Fly Reel 5 Star Review

    Posted by on 12th May 2015

    I'm such a noob that I haven't built one yet. However the detail of your excellent instructions give me confidence that I'l be able to make one when I have developed the requisite skills. I only received my Lulzbot Taz 5 a little over a month ago, and am still immersed in filtering my way through the myriad variables in making a good print. I might add that your two tutorials on the Lulzbot site are invaluable to my achieving the goal of making perfect prints. I'm highly confident if not highly competent yet... :-)

    Thank you for your efforts to this community...

    Mark -

  10. THE FUTURE, TODAY 5 Star Review

    Posted by on 26th Mar 2015

    The impressive design and the continued development will only push this concept to more advanced designs and materials. I can't wait to see what Michael comes up with next!

Previous | Showing reviews 11-20 of 23 | Next


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