Greys GTS500 fly reel review

The Greys GTS500 fly reel is the cheaper sibling to the GTS700 cassette fly reel. Made from die-cast aluminium, this budget fly reel is great quality for the price and a solid choice for the stillwater fly fisher.

Greys GTS500 fly reel review
© Fly and Lure
Greys GTS500 fly reel review
Picture copyright © Fly and Lure
Greys GTS500 fly reel review
Greys Fly reels Fly lines Estimated reading time 6 - 10 minutes

What is the Greys GTS500 fly reel?

The Greys GTS500 fly reels are the lower end sibling of the Greys GTS700. While both reels use a cassette spool system, the GTS500 is made from cheaper die-cast aluminium rather than the harder, lighter and more resilient machined aluminium of the GTS700.

However, aside from the manufacturing process and the colour - the GTS500 is black while the GTS700 is grey - the two reels are pretty much identical and the drag and other components seem to be from the same design. That makes the GTS500 a real bargain, as it's roughly half the price of the GTS700.

The Greys GTS500 is pretty much the same as the more expensive GTS700 aside from the manufacturing process used.

What models are in the range?

There are only two models in the range, both of which are aimed mainly at the stillwater fly fisher, as they're a bit on the big side for most river fly fishing done in the UK. There's a #5/6/7 model and one for #7/8/9 lines. I went for the #5/6/7 reel as it's the ideal size for most stillwater fishing, but also have the GTS700 in #7/8/9 size which I use for pike fly fishing.

They're both large arbour reels, so pick up line quickly and retrieve speeds are very good, and lines tend not to get too coiled compared to smaller arboured reels. The GTS500 reels are slightly heavier than the GTS700 ones, but not noticeably so. They're just the right weight to balance the average fly rod.

Model Weight Diameter Capacity
5/6/7 216g 104mm WF #5 + 90 yards
WF #7 + 70 yards
7/8/9 228g 110mm WF #7 + 135 yards
WF #9 + 105 yards

What spools do you get with the Greys GTS500?

While a regular fly reel comes with a single spool, the Greys GTS500 and the higher end GTS700 come with the fitted spool plus two spares. The spools themselves are made from lightweight polycarbonate plastic, rather than the usual aluminium. This makes them lighter, and crucially, much cheaper than buying regular aluminium spools which often cost almost as much as the reel itself.

Does it come with a reel case?

Yes, like the GTS700, the GTS500 fly reel includes a padded reel case which is large enough to hold the reel and the two spare cassette spools provided.

What drag does the GTS500 have?

The drag mechanism seems to be the same one used in the GTS700. It's based on a dual Rulon system and is easy to adjust thanks to the large drag adjuster on the reel of the reel. There's an audible click as the line is being pulled out and on the retrieve. It's a little noisy, but not annoyingly so.

The drag adjuster is very easy to use.

How easy is it to change the spools?

Like the GTS700, the GTS500 has a very clever captive nut in the middle of the reel. To change the spool, you simply loosen this nut pull off the metal part of the spool with the cassette attached and then pull off the cassette. There are small lugs on the cassette which marry up to similar holes in the reel itself. You just push the two together, reattach the reel and re-tighten the nut. It's brilliantly simple.

The reel is supplied with handy coloured pegs which push into the spool to help you mark the spool with the details of the line fitted. Push one peg into the #5, #6 or #7 markers and one into the markers for the line density and you'll be able to find exactly the line you need. If you fish competitions and use loads of different lines, you can also get spare spools for about a tenner each. Cheaper than metal ones, but a bit dear for what is essentially a very cheap plastic component.

Changing spools on the GTS500 is as easy as it gets.

Why did you buy the GTS500?

George (aged 10) is preparing to enter the world of competition fly fishing so is likely to start needing a massive collection of fly lines of various densities. He currently uses a Vision Deep, which is great, but at £50 a time, the spools are just too expensive if you need to buy half a dozen. I've been using the Greys GTS700 for a couple of years and think it's a really good cassette reel, so thought we'd invest in the GTS500 to replace his Vision Deep.

The other thing that really appealed about the GTS500 was the ease of changing the spools. Both the GTS500 and GTS700 use the captive nut system and are well lubricated to make spool replacement really easy. Even for children. Ours mainly get used for reservoir boat fishing. They work well, but like most similar reels, the edges quickly go silver from boat rash. It's also on the heavy side, so can unbalance lighter rods a bit. 

We generally use our GTS500s when fishing from the boat.

How have these performed in long-term use?

George now has three GTS500 reels fitted with a range of competition fly lines. They've performed very well and still work as well as they did when new. He's looked after the reels and tried to prevent them picking up boat rash when he's fished from boats, and they still look in decent condition.

Unfortunately, the reel seat is a weak point. George dropped one of the reels a couple of feet out of the car boot and the reel seat snapped off. These look replaceable, since there are a couple of screws on the top of the foot. We contacted Greys (twice) to see if we could purchase a spare part and both times were met with total silence from their customer service team, which was rather disappointing...

How much do these fly reels cost?

The Greys GTS500 costs £59.99, but as this has now been superseded by a new model, it can be picked up for as little as £45. The reel is a solid performer that is well made, good looking and cost-effective to own. I think it's one of the best budget fly reels around and is a great choice if you need to carry several lines with you.

Available from: Amazon

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