Top Fishing Reels Reviewed and Compared
If you want to find the best fishing gear, but you don’t have time to go through the buying tips and reviews prepared by our research team, this short paragraph should tell you everything you need to know about the best fishing reel. After analyzing a lot of feedback coming from both amateur and professional fishermen and women, we have concluded that the Okuma Trio High Speed is the best choice out there, especially if you’re interested in getting a spinning option. This model is affordable, easy to utilize, and convenient, and above all, it has been constructed out of materials that render it durable. Available in three sizes and designs, this reel will inevitably serve you when you need it the most. It’s versatile and well-balanced and features plenty of ball bearings. If the Okuma Trio High Speed is unavailable, you should consider the Abu Garcia BMAX3 as it is a reliable alternative for baitcasting.
With so many types and styles to choose from, finding the right reel can be confusing. In our article you will find information explaining the differences between the various types of fishing reels, along with brief descriptions detailing the best uses so you can confidently choose the best fishing reels.
Our top choices – Find the best reel for your needs
Best spinning reel
The Okuma Trio High Speed Spinning Reel is one of the best products in the line. It is affordable, easy to use, convenient and has been manufacturing with high-quality materials. Furthermore, it is recommended by a large number of consumers who claim they have gotten surprising results ever since they started using the reel.
The unit features a special crossover construction, as it has a sturdy one-piece aluminum reel stern and rotor arm. Both of these are completed by side plates made with graphite. The plates do wonders when it comes to offering the strength required occasionally. They do the same when the main goal is to save weight.
The model can be purchased in three main variants: Trio-30S, Trio-40S, and Trio55S. The main difference between these alternatives consists of the 9 BB and 1 RB stainless steel bearings, which are shared by the 40-S and 55-S varieties. The Trio-30S has 10 BB + 1RB bearings.
As is the case with any other product you ever might feel tempted to buy online, the recommendations of other consumers matter a great deal. Let’s see what the buyers of the Okuma Trio High Speed Spinning Reel had to say about the product.
Firstly, many of the individuals who have chosen this alternative were satisfied with what they got, so much so that they provided 5-star ratings. Secondly, the item has been praised for gathering the line in a timely fashion and for being as smooth as glass. According to other buyers, the Okuma reel offers an excellent value for the price.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($72.99)
Abu Garcia BMAX3
Since this is a baitcasting reel, it might be worth noting that you may have to deal with a somewhat long and, perhaps, tedious learning curve if you have no prior experience with working with such tackle.
The BMAX3 is a fortunate choice, however, especially as it has been made out of durable materials which ensure that you can enjoy it for many angling seasons to come. Based on the user feedback, it is both comfortable to use and entirely efficient.
Another reassuring detail about this unit is that it comes with four stainless steel ball bearings, as well as one other that can ensure that the operation is completely smooth. From what we have gathered by going through some of the reviews garnered by this choice, it appears that it is capable of providing more than enough value for the price.
While the performance of the reel can remain a matter of personal preferences and expectations, the value it offers cannot be denied. Despite being a baitcasting reel, the BMAX3 will not exhaust you. In fact, it will entice your experience and make you feel sorry that you haven’t tried other baitcasters manufactured by the same brand in the past.Buy from Amazon.com for ($48.65)
Abu Garcia Black Max
Compared to other units in the line, the Abu Garcia Black Max Baitcast Reel is considerably more affordable. Some online marketplaces offer it for as little as fifty dollars. Believe it or not, Amazon customers can buy it for an even fairer price, as the retailer is well-known for its seasonal discounts.
What’s so special about this baitcast reel?, you may ask. For one, it has been designed and built using the highest quality of materials available nowadays. It has been tested both for quality and for durability and has been proven to do what it is supposed to do, and even more.
The 4+1 bearing system in the unit is what makes hardcore fishing a breeze. Since the frame of the product has been produced using graphite, the reel weighs in at just 7.9 ounces. As for usability, the Abu Garcia Black Max couldn’t get better than this. The compact handle turns the operation of the reel from a hassle into a walk in the park.
Unlike other models, the spool of this one has been manufactured with aluminum, which contributes to the overall item durability without adding too much weight.
The manufacturers are offering a 1-year warranty on this unit.
After analyzing the reviews of the Abu Garcia Black Max, it’s safe to say that it is one of the best products in the line. Some consumers claim that they should have bought it in the first place instead of trying out other models.Click to see the price on Amazon!
While it might not be as affordable as other reels we’ve come across, the Zebco Omega ZO3PRO is definitely worth having a look at. It’s considered to be one of the excellent alternatives ever to have been manufactured by the brand, which comes as no surprise considering its features. The reel has seven bearings, and as if that weren’t enough, it is among the most ergonomic ones on the market today. It is easy to operate both by left-handed and right-handed individuals.
The Zebco has pretty much anything one might ever desire, from all-metal fears to a ceramic line guide and even an oscillating spool.
The Omega ZO3PRO is backed by a 1-year consumer warranty for both material defects and workmanship.
Close to 70% of the individuals who have chosen this product were satisfied with their purchase and ended up writing 5-star reviews. Most of the consumers recommend that braided line is not used with this model, as it will not provide the needed results. In fact, the buyers of the Zebco Omega ZO3PRO state that braided line does not work with any other spincaster, so there really is no reason it should work on this one.
A detail worth considering if you’re still prospecting the market is that this is a slow gear ration that can be used for slower crankbaits and spinners.
According to some of the ratings that we have analyzed, this product is well-built and offers great value for the price. The higher the quality of the line, the better.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($63.38)
Compared to other products in the same line, this one is something else. First of all, it is remarkably inexpensive, considering the high quality of the materials that compose the item. Secondly, it has been designed and used by professionals all over the world. The reel has been tested for both reliability and quality and has been proven to have an excellent performance.
What’s so special about the Okuma SLV Diecast Aluminum Fly Reel? For one, it features a precision machined brass bushing drive system. Secondly, it has an alumilite diecast aluminum frame. The retrieval conversion is remarkably easy, which makes this unit versatile enough to be used both by left-handed and by right-handed individuals. It goes without saying that the non-slip rubberized handle knobs contribute to enhancing the usability on the part of this model.
Okuma is one of the most reputable brands in the field of building fishing reels. It comes as no surprise that this model is no different when it comes to the brand’s quality standards, particularly judging by the reviews gathered by the unit. Close to 70% of the people who purchased it claim it could not have been better. Some emphasize that it exceeds their expectations in terms of durability and capability.
A number of other buyers claim that the Okuma SLV Diecast Aluminum Fly Reel has helped them catch anything from Carp to Pike and trout.
Consumers are advised that the reel does not come with the line on the spool. However, the line can be loaded from a vast array of Amazon partners, provided that the buyer specially asks for this.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($49.33)
The Okuma Avenger ABF can be purchased in virtually any type of size that might ever cross your mind, from ABF 20 to ABF 90. Each of the sizes is different when it comes to the number of bearings and even regarding the construction and materials. For instance, the ABF 30 has 6 stainless steel bearings, while the ABF 50 has 7 of the same type of stainless steel bearings.
As is the case with any other type of gear, fishers are instructed to choose the one they require and consider their needs and preferences before deciding on a certain size.
Generally, whatever the selected size or type, the Okuma Avenger ABF is corrosion-resistant. The reel features a quick-set anti-reverse roller bearing along with the standard six or seven bearings, depending on the variety you end up choosing. Some of the most acclaimed features of this model seem to be the patented S-curve oscillation system and the machined aluminum ported spool.
The product is backed by a 1-year consumer warranty.
Let’s see what buyers had to say about this reel. Close to 75% of the people who have chosen this alternative were kind enough to grant it a 5-star rating. A number of these buyers claim that they were impressed with the sturdy craftmanship of this unit right after taking it out of the box. One particular individual who chose the Okuma ABF in size 40 claims that he has had incredible results while fishing Snook, Redfish and Trout, all thanks to this reel.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($47.63)
The unit features up to 20 lb of smooth drag, and the fatigue felt by the user is close to nothing, thanks to the oversized non-slip grips. It goes without saying that the KastKing RXA Round Baitcasting Reel not only does what it is supposed to do and does it well, but also looks good while doing it.
Compared to other items we’ve stumbled upon during our research, this one can be bought in an extraordinary variety of sizes, some of which have been specifically designed for left-handed individuals. Thus, consumers have the freedom to choose any size between RXA 40 and RXA 90. RXA 40, 50, 60, and 70 are available for left-handed people.
The reel is made of 100% metal parts and features stainless steel components, which considerably contribute to the overall item durability and to how it performs in the wild. The KastKing RXA Round Baitcasting Reel seems to be the perfect choice for people who want to fish in saltwater, and practice both inshore and offshore fishing. Other activities where the KastKing RXA model can be used include trolling and bottom fishing.
Approximately ninety percent of the buyers of this alternative have provided 5-star ratings, and the rest of the consumers were kind enough to award it a 4-star rating. What this means is that the KastKing RXA variant is one of the most acclaimed reels on the market today.
Click to see the price on Amazon!
We’re moving into a whole different category with this product, as it is an ice fishing reel. This product can be bought in two variants: the ECILIRB and the ECILIRBL. There are not too many differences between the two, aside from a minor discrepancy in the price. The ECILIRB is considerably more affordable compared to its counterpart. While some online marketplaces offer it for around forty dollars, Amazon customers can benefit from the retailer’s discounts and purchase it for a much fairer price.
Eagle Claw is one of the most popular brands in the industry, and that is not a surprise considering that all of the products designed and built by this manufacturer are crafted in American. Therefore, you’re buying locally and supporting American economy by choosing any Eagle Claw product. Furthermore, a piece of fishing equipment or gear that has been built in the United States is of a higher quality compared to any Asian alternative.
What’s so special about the Eagle Claw Inline Ice Reel? It’s simple and powerful and has an amazing performance when it comes to ice fishing. This is the perfect alternative for jigging and trolling, as it features a nylon body and spool. With 4+1 bearings and a gear ratio of 2.6:1, this one is definitely worth considering if you are still prospecting the market. The handle is made with aluminum, so there will be no issues in terms of durability.
Some of the buyers of the Eagle Claw alternative claim that the large spool keeps the line straight and helps them catch even more fish than they would in other circumstances.
Click to see the price on Amazon!
Not only is the Penn Fishing FRC8000 perfectly capable of doing its job, but it also has amazing looks. The reel has a full metal body and side plate, which certainly has a say when it comes to the overall item durability. The metal parts are well-known for keeping the gear alignment even when the fish you’re catching is extremely heavy.
As is the case with other products in the line, this one has 4 stainless steel bearings and a main shaft that has also been manufactured using stainless steel. The handle is made with aluminum and features a soft touch knob. As if all this were not enough, the manufacturers have designed a special anti-reverse rotor which can make any retrieve as smooth as possible.
The Penn Fishing FRC8000 might not be as inexpensive as other variants that exist out there, but it sure is worth considering if you’re looking for a top-quality reel. Let’s keep in mind that this model does what it is supposed to do even in harsh saltwater conditions.
The Penn Fishing FRC8000 is among the most popular reels we’ve consulted, as over 90% of the individuals who have purchased thought it was worthy of a positive rating. Most of these consumers claim that the reel is easy to adjust and requires no immediate cleaning after having been used in saltwater.
Some of the users state that they have taken advantage of the top-notch quality of the reel by surf fishing every day in the ocean for a week. Even in these conditions, they had nothing to complain as to how the reel performed.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($95)
How to choose the best fishing reels
There is a reel designed for every type of fishing imaginable, which can make it difficult to find the right one. Expert anglers recommend deciding on what you are going to be fishing for, before you try to choose a reel. While some reels can be used in a variety of applications, there are models that feature a specialized design. To ensure you choose the right reel it is important to know what type of fishing you will be doing.
A buying guide – Types of fishing reels
These reels are designed to be easy to use, and often come at an extremely affordable price. As stated in the fishing reel reviews these models are ideal for beginners and children, and usually feature a durable construction. The closed face helps to prevent snarls in the line, and the lightweight design makes these reels easy to control and carry. Perfect for hooking and retrieving smaller fish, a spincasting reel is a great choice for use in rivers and streams.
Featuring an open face design, there are two types of spinning reels designed for fresh or saltwater fishing. Light spinning reels are designed for fresh water fishing, while heavy duty models can handle the rigors associated with saltwater. There only difference between the two types of spinning reels is the weight of the line. These reels also feature a stationary spool, which can be prone to line snarls if you forget to close the attached bail. Anti-reverse handles are extremely important on these reels, and will often mean the difference between landing and losing a fish. The fishing reel reviews generally recommend using spinning models when you are casting for small and mid size prey.
Like spinning reels you can find baitcasting models designed for fresh and salt water. Baitcasting reels come with a durable construction and an exposed rotating spool that is capable of holding larger amounts of heavy line. The multiple gears ensure a smooth and reliable performance, and baitcasting reels are able to hook and retrieve large game fish. Perfect for use in deeper waters, these are the best fishing reels when you are chasing larger prey.
Fly fishing reels
While these reels are not designed for beginners, experienced anglers often prefer its lightweight and well balanced design when they are fishing in streams or rivers. The reels feature a large spool and grip, and casting is done by flicking the wrist. It does take time and patience to master the use of a fly fishing reel, but many anglers feel that the rewards are well worth the extra effort.
No matter what type of fishing you plan on doing, there is a reel designed specifically for you. Whether you want to land a largemouth bass or wrestle a marlin into the boat, you can find a durable and smooth performing reel that will also fit your budget. There are even cheap fishing reels that are sturdy enough to go ice fishing, if you are willing to brave the freezing conditions.
Size is important
The size of the fishing reel is another important consideration, and this is usually determined by where you are going to use it. Spincast reels are ideal for smaller fish in streams and rivers, while spinning models can reel in mid size salt and freshwater prey. Baitcasting reels are an excellent choice when you are getting ready to fight a powerful bass or catfish, and there are also models designed specifically for larger saltwater prey. Fly fishing reels are generally recommended for experienced anglers casting for trout, though you do want to choose one that comes with a single action or automatic retrieval system.
Fishing reels – An overview
How to choose a freshwater spinning reel
If you are a novice or experienced freshwater angler, a spinning reel might be the perfect choice for you. While there are heavy duty models, these are mainly designed for saltwater fishing and function much the same as ultra and medium-light spinning reels.
Ultra light spinning reels are perfect for use along streams, and the compact size makes it easy to pack with the rest of your gear. These reels are ideal for catching trout and pan fish, and are capable of holding 2 to 6 pound line. Since most of the popular companies manufacture a type of ultra light spinning reel, it is also extremely easy to find one that fits your needs and budget.
Light-medium spinning reels are priced slightly higher, but you do have the advantage of its versatile design. These reels feature a lightweight and stable construction, and are able to provide a smooth and reliable performance. The reels are compatible with lines ranging from 8 to 15 pounds, making it an ideal choice for lakes, streams, and rivers. With a quality light-medium spinning reel, you can easily cast for anything from small, fast trout to powerful bass and catfish.
How to choose a saltwater reel
Baitcasting and spinning reels can both be used for saltwater fishing, and the right one for you will usually depend on personal preference and the size and type of fish. The main difference between a spinning and baitcasting reel is the spool, along with the amount of control you have on the line. Spinning reels come with a stationary spool and are also recommended for beginners. Most chartered fishing boats also stock extra spinning reels for their customers.
Baitcasting reels feature a rotating spool that is also exposed, which can be prone to back lash if you are not an experienced angler. This design does give you more control over the resistance in the line, which can make a difference between landing a fish and explaining how it got away.
Baitcasting reels are also designed to hold a larger amount of heavy line, which makes it the ideal choice when you are going after larger saltwater fish.
How to choose a fly fishing reel
While this type of reel may feature a simple design, using it properly takes plenty of time and patience. The reel basically consists of a large spool which releases the line during the cast, which is controlled by flicking your wrist. The weightless lure tied to the end of the line is what gives fly fishing its name, and there are two important factors to consider when you are choosing this type of reel.
The drag system will determine how smoothly and efficiently the reel casts and retrieves the line, and most models come with a disc drag system. This system uses a small internal pad to apply tension to the line, and you have the advantage of being able to adjust the resistance as necessary.
The other factor to consider is the type of retrieval mechanism used in the reel, and this will also affect its performance. While single action retrieval systems are effective and inexpensive, most anglers perform the convenience of one that is automatic. Fly fishing reels with an automatic retrieval will instantly begin winding the line in as soon as the trigger mechanism is released. This not only helps to prevent lost bait, it will also ensure the hook is securely set in the biting fish.
Understanding where the different types of reels are designed to be used will make it easier for you to find the best one for you.
The features and characteristics of fishing reels
While all fishing reels contain a frame and spool, the features and characteristics can vary from type to type. Along with ensuring the reel comes with a durable construction, there are a few other factors you should consider.
The body of the reel should be constructed from durable aluminum or graphite, and this is especially important in saltwater models. Reels with graphite frames are durable and sensitive to line movement, while aluminum bodies are lightweight and often priced lower. Both metals are resistant to corrosion, and can be easily cleaned with a damp rag to ensure maximum performance.
The design of the spool will usually depend on the type of reel. Baitcasting reels use a rotating spool to hold, release and wind the line, while spincasting and spinning models use one that is stationary. Rotating spools have the advantage of providing you with more control over the tension in the line, while stationary ones have less of a chance of snarling.
Other factors to consider include the size and materials used in the construction of the spool. The size of the spool will determine the weight and amount of line the reel can hold, and larger ones are generally necessary when you are casting for bigger fresh and saltwater fish. Graphite spools can be slightly more expensive, but are designed to work with all types of line. Aluminum spools are generally recommended when you are fishing with a braided line.
One of the most important aspects to consider on any type of fishing reel is its drag capacity. The drag system on a reel is what allows the line to flow out with minimal resistance, which is important when a fish is nibbling at your bait. If the line cannot smoothly play out it can break or startle the fish before your hook is properly set. Most experienced anglers recommend choosing a reel with an easily adjustable drag system. This gives you the versatility you need to reel in small and large fish. It is important to note that even if the reel has a heavy drag, it still won’t be able to land large game fish if it does not come with a sturdy construction.
While the size of the spool will obviously determine the reel’s line capacity, it is something to consider if you are searching for a baitcasting or saltwater spinning reel. Smaller reels are not designed to hold the larger fish that might require extra line to run with before being brought in, which is why this is rarely a concern with these models. If you are fishing in saltwater or for bass and catfish you might want to consider a bigger spool, which will give you the capacity you need to hold larger amounts of heavy weighted line.
Additional reel features
Some additional features to consider when you are looking for a fishing reel will include:
The bail is responsible for stopping the line from running off the spool, and needs to be closed immediately after you cast a spinning reel. The bail is also designed to open easily for a smooth and even retrieval. The bail is also a convenient mechanism that will help prevent annoying back lash when it is closed.
Most reels have a handle that will conveniently wind the line back onto the spool, and the majority can be mounted on the left or right side. If you are interested in a spinning reel you want to make sure that the handle comes with an anti-reverse system, which ensures a tight line and a securely set hook. Handles with non slip rubber padding are also comfortable to grip even in wet condition.
The bearings ensure a smooth and consistent cast and retrieval, and the more a reel has the better it will perform. There are some less expensive reels that use bushings, but these will quickly wear out and are prone to corrosion. Stainless steel ball bearings are durable in salt and fresh water, and will give you the consistent performance you need even under a heavy load.
Spinning reels use gears to wrap the line around the stationary spool, and ones constructed from metal are durable and long lasting. The number of gears in a reel will also determine retrieval speed and power, and the right one for you will depend on what you are fishing for. It is important to remember to keep the gears well oiled for maximum performance, and to prevent the reel from locking up and potentially breaking.
What are the most popular brands of fishing reels?
Some of the top manufacturers of the new fishing reels for 2019 include the following companies.
Okuma: Fishing is an adventure that lasts a lifetime for team at Okuma, and each rod and reel the company manufacturers is designed to perform to their consumers’ high expectations. The company manufacturers a range of fishing equipment and whether it is designed for beginning anglers or experienced professionals close attention is paid to every detail.
South Bend: For more than a century the professionals at South Bend have been creating innovative fishing gear and tackle. Staffed by avid fishermen, the company prides itself on creating products that are high performing and affordable. South Bend believes that fishing is a great way to build family memories, and since 1906 the company has been manufacturing products geared towards anglers of all ages and skill levels.
Daiwa: With an emphasis on creating quality fishing reels, Daiwa has quickly become one of the leading manufacturers in the United States. Since the first spinning reel was created in 1955 the team at Daiwa has been dedicated to improving fishing tackle. With its innovative designs and attention to detail, you know that you are getting a high quality fishing reel when it is manufactured by this North American company.
Pfueger: One of the oldest and most respected manufacturers of reels and fishing tackle, Pfueger has been helping anglers since 1881. Beginning with lures and manufacturing the company’s first baitcasting reel in 1916, the name Pfueger has become synonymous with quality and performance. In 1956 the company introduced its spinning reel, which has become a standard piece of equipment in many tackle boxes.
Shimano: For over 80 years this Japanese company has strived to manufacture only the best fishing gear. Founded in 1921, the company’s motto is to simply manufacturer the “best products in the world”, and this includes Shimano’s precision engineered fishing reels. With a range of products to choose from, it is safe to say that the company has met and surpassed its goal.
Abu Garcia: One of the most trusted names in fishing reels and gear, this company has been manufacturing high quality products since 1921. With careful attention paid to every detail and using cutting edge design techniques, this Swedish company is producing some of the top performing reels. Designed to provide you with exceptional performance and durability, it is easy to see why generations of anglers have depended on reels manufactured by Abu Garcia.
Piscifun: Founded by avid fisherman Ben Jackson, Piscifun is proudly manufacturing some of the top reels in fishing. Close attention is paid to every detail, and all of Ben’s vast fishing knowledge is applied to each design. While this may be a new company, it is already making a name for itself with its high performing fishing reels.