A solid fishing reel can be the difference between landing the big one and watching it swim away with your lure in its mouth. Fishing companies know the importance of the right gear, and there are tons of options out there. In this article, we’ll wade through the confusion, explaining technical terms, reviewing some of the best spinning reels out there (for your wallet, too), and ultimately picking the cheap and high-end winners for saltwater, freshwater, and specific fish.
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- 1 Choosing the Best Spinning Reel – Buying Guide
- 2 Top 10 Best Spinning Reel Reviews for 2017
- 2.1 1. Pflueger President XT Spinning Reel – Best Overall
- 2.2 2. Penn Gold Label Series Conquer – Best for Saltwater Spinning Reel
- 2.3 3. Pflueger Supreme XT – Best Freshwater Spinning Reel
- 2.4 4. Abu Garcia Revo S Spinning Reel – Best for Beginners
- 2.5 5. Daiwa Crossfire Front Drag Spinning Fishing Reel – Best for the Money
- 2.6 6. Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel – Best for Drag System
- 2.7 7. Shimano Stradic Ci4+ FB Spinning Reel – Best Reel Body
- 2.8 8. Okuma Avenger ABF Graphite Bait Feeder Reel – Best for Amount of Line
- 2.9 9. Lew’s Fishing Mach II Metal Speed Spin Spinning Reel – Best for Amount of Ball Bearings
- 2.10 10. Sougayilang Left/right Interchangeable Collapsible Handle Spinning Fishing Reel – Best for Weight
- 3 Best Spinning Reel for Bass, Trout, Crappie
- 4 Conclusion
Choosing the Best Spinning Reel – Buying Guide
If you’re looking for a beginner reel for kids, spincast (closed-face) reels are the easiest to operate, or if you’re looking for a precision casting reel for exclusively bass, baitcast may be a better choice. Spinning (open face) reels are a great all-around choice, and that’s what we’re focusing on here today. The fixed, open spools don’t tangle like baitcasting reels and allow feather-light line and lures to be cast with ease.
Here’s what to look for when buying a spinning reel:
1. Quality construction – Higher-quality materials lead to a higher-quality reel. Look for all-metal construction with, if possible, an aluminum body and spool and sealed, stainless steel bearings. A top-of-the-line reel will last a lifetime.
2. Specificity – Different fish and different conditions call for different reels. If you’re not going for a specific fish, or you don’t really know, a good place to start is the size. To find the right one, determine the test strength of the line you’ll be using. The middle line capacity will be printed on the spool; for example, if it says 8 LB/175 YDS, that reel is built to handle 6 and 10 pound line as well. 175 yards is how much normal fishing line (aka monofilament) that spool can hold.
3. Power – The gear ratio of the reel will determine how easily it will get your fish out of the water. A lower gear ratio, meaning the bail wraps line fewer times around the spool for each turn of the crank, will give you more torque for larger fish. 4:1 is a typical low gear ratio. A higher gear ratio, such as 6:1, will retrieve, or “pick up,” faster, bringing in smaller fish quicker. If you’re not sure, look for a happy medium of 5:1.
4. Resistance – With an open-face design, spinning reels naturally have very little resistance. This is important for smooth retrieval, but also for casting; with less resistance, it’s possible to precision cast smaller, lighter baits. A good determinant for the smoothness in a reel is the number of ball bearings it has. Look for at least five, and spring for more if your wallet can handle it. Above five, an inexperienced fisherman likely won’t be able to tell the difference. All of the reels we’re reviewing have over five ball bearings.
5. Drag – While resistance is bad, a proper drag system is a necessity. It’s responsible for letting out line while you’re in the heat of battle. A jerky, restrictive system will raise the probability of the line pulling taut and breaking, so, at any tension, your reel should be smooth and consistent. Exposure to the elements degrades the reel over time, so the best of today’s drag systems are sealed and waterproof.
6. Retrieve – A quality reel won’t move backwards when setting the hook. It will lock tight, allowing you to set the hook, and then it will stack line fluidly and evenly onto the spool. “Birds-nest” is not a word you want to describe your line.
7. Weight – Heavier reels stress your joints and exhaust your hands and arms much faster than lighter ones. More expensive reels aren’t necessarily lighter, because there’s also oftentimes a quality tradeoff here; aluminum, a stronger, more durable, and less flexible metal than graphite, also weighs more. Ultimately, even in the upper echelon of reels, you’ll have to decide whether longevity or weight is more important to you.
Top 10 Best Spinning Reel Reviews for 2017
1. Pflueger President XT Spinning Reel – Best Overall
This reel has the best of every world. This reel features 10 steel ball bearings to make sure that the action of this reel is always smooth.
There are many features on this reel that will make it fit nicely into your arsenal of supplies. In fact, it might become one of the regular reels that you go to whenever you are looking for a good time.
Not only can you get this reel at a reasonable price, but it won’t matter what kind of line you’re using.
One of the nicest features of this reel is the fact that you will be able to directly attach your braided line to this reel. This will take a lot of the work out of getting your reel ready for the day.
2. Penn Gold Label Series Conquer – Best for Saltwater Spinning Reel
While this reel might be one of the most expensive on today’s list, you will understand why you want something that is worth so much after we’re through.
This reel is made of great materials with a design that is meant to last and last. The durability of the reel alone is really worth the money that you will wind up paying to get a hold of this reel.
The material that the entire reel is made of is anodized aluminum which means that it will be able to stand up against all of the saltwater.
However, despite everything that is included in it and all of the systems that are included in this reel, it isn’t that large. This reel is meant to be used wherever and by almost anyone. I’m sure that you’ll find something to like about this reel, even if you’re a little anxious about the price of it.
3. Pflueger Supreme XT – Best Freshwater Spinning Reel
Just as a different model of this Pflueger is great for every kind of fishing, this one is perfect for freshwater fishing.
This reel has a really smooth cast and is made to stop fish from getting away with your line. An anti-reverse can do you a lot of good in any kind of water, but you will probably find it very useful in freshwater.
This may be a more expensive reel, but you will understand why it is so expensive after you use it a couple of times.
This reel is incredibly well made and you’ll be able to get tons of fish with it. It will definitely improve your game when you’re out on the water.
4. Abu Garcia Revo S Spinning Reel – Best for Beginners
This reel has 7 ball bearings and a drag system that makes sure that your experience is nice and smooth.
Although this reel is a little bit more expensive, it is a great reel for beginners. This reel has great performance and it is very sturdy.
This means that if you start out on this reel, then you’re going to have a reel that you can use for a very long time.
This reel will always be a great part of your fishing arsenal, so the money that is spent on it won’t be wasted. Even if you don’t fish all the time, this reel will do very well when you get around to it.
5. Daiwa Crossfire Front Drag Spinning Fishing Reel – Best for the Money
When you look for a reel, you may want to focus on the best that you can get for your money.
Instead of looking at all the features, you’ll be focused on what you can save. You might want a cheaper reel to try out a new kind of reel or maybe you just don’t have the budget for a better reel.
Whatever your reason, this reel is going to fit you well. This reel can be found for under 50 dollars for the most models, which makes it one of the least expensive reel on the list.
There are obvious downsides to this reel like the fact that it only has three ball bearings. But it is a light and sturdy reel made of aluminum. While it may not be the best, it won’t break the bank.
6. Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel – Best for Drag System
The drag system in your reel can make a world of difference when you are actually out on the water and especially when you are dealing with larger fish that can pull your line hard.
If you’re struggling to keep those big fish coming in, then you might need to get a better reel. This Penn reel has got you covered.
This reel has a system that will make sure that your line doesn’t get let out while you are fishing. This means that you will be able to keep hold of those fish that were just too tough for your other reel.
The reel is on the more expensive side, but you’ll find that you’re just paying for the quality of the reel that you are getting.
7. Shimano Stradic Ci4+ FB Spinning Reel – Best Reel Body
While every reel has their strong suit, you will find that a well-designed reel with nice materials and features will be able to help you out a lot. This Shimano reel has a lot of great things going for it.
The design of the reel looks nice, but it is also very functional. It has six ball bearings which is neither the most nor the least about of ball bearings that you will find in a reel. There are many different options to pick from, which means that you’ll be able to find one that has the line capacity and extras that you really want.
This reel is expensive, but the design of the reel and everything that you can find on this reel makes it worth the money. You’ll be able to hold plenty of line and catch all the fish you want with this line.
You will find that this reel will be one of the best additions to your fishing gear lineup. It’ll work well until the end and make sure that you can catch all the fish that you hook.
8. Okuma Avenger ABF Graphite Bait Feeder Reel – Best for Amount of Line
For some fishermen, the amount of line that you can have on your reel is incredibly important. Whether you need it for deep sea fishing or just to make sure that you will have plenty of line left if something happens while you are out on the water.
This reel has six ball bearings, which isn’t bad for a reel, but it’s not the most that you can get. It is also might not be the sturdiest reel that you will ever use.
However, for the price that you can get it for is incredibly reasonable. You will be able to hold a lot of line, even if the reel won’t hold up forever.
9. Lew’s Fishing Mach II Metal Speed Spin Spinning Reel – Best for Amount of Ball Bearings
The number of ball bearings in a reel can really affect how well the reel works.
For some people, the number of ball bearings can really affect whether or not you are going to purchase a reel. However, the number of ball bearings is just a small part of what makes this reel truly incredible.
The reel has 10 ball bearings, but you will also be able to use this reel for any hand. You can give this reel to anyone without worrying about whether or not they will be able to really utilize it. They will be able to adjust it so that it works for their fishing style.
This reel is also fairly inexpensive. You might find some noise problems with the reel, but those issues aren’t going to take away from the smooth casting and reeling that you will have with this reel.
10. Sougayilang Left/right Interchangeable Collapsible Handle Spinning Fishing Reel – Best for Weight
You’ll find that the lightest model of this reel is really nice and light.
There’s a lot about this reel that you will enjoy. Not only is it light, but it has a lot of ball bearings. Because it’s light and doesn’t use a ton of materials, this means that the price is lower than you would expect.
Even though this reel is light, it has a lot to offer you. The price is nice and many of the components are things that you would see on a much more expensive reel.
However, you will find that some components will wear out sooner than you would like. But that’s the price you pay for using a reel like this a lot.
Best Spinning Reel for Bass, Trout, Crappie
1. Best Bass Spinning Reel – Bass typically hang around in hard-to-reach areas, so a reel that can cast with precision and pull off some difficult techniques, like flipping or pitching, is a must.
2. Best Trout Spinning Reel – Trout can be found in so many different conditions, like deep down for lake trout or below rapids for brook trout, that you need a variable reel to handle them all.
3. Best Crappie Spinning Reel – Crappie have a sensitive bite and a soft lip, so it’s important to feel everything that’s happening in the water. Look for a small reel with the ability to retrieve quickly and maintain a taut line so the fish can’t shake it free. Less important is a high maximum drag and line capacity.
Even with so many options out there, finding the right reel doesn’t need to take hours of research. If you’ve made it this far, hopefully we helped you understand some of the technical terms that come with buying a reel, while also helping you come to conclusions about which reel is right for you. Good luck out there!