There are two schools of thought when it comes to trout anglers and fly reels: Those who believe that a fly reel for trout fishing is nothing more than a spool to collect line, and those who think a little braking power to be found through disc drag technologies is key to fighting fish effectively.
I bounce back and forth myself.
A classic click and pawl is beautiful in its simplicity. Did you know that some of the reel companies actually invest money in deciding the right “pitch” those reels make when line is stripped away. I personally prefer my trout tugs in the key of “G major” but that’s just me.
On the other hand, a butter-smooth drag never hurts. I once tied a bunch of reels to the back of a motorcycle (one at a time) just to feel what those disc drags did at 40 mph. I don’t think I learned anything important or relevant with regard to trout fishing (trout swim 9 mph, max) but it was fun. I might do that again.
Tell the truth… have you ever, ever fought a trout that required drag performance of any kind, and if so, how much? In saltwater, sure, drag is key, but I’ve never lost a trout during a fight because the drag on my reel failed. At least I don’t think so. It’s usually operator-error in my case.