Spinning reels – Buying guide, Reviews and Comparison
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 spinning reel. After analyzing a lot of feedback coming from both amateur and professional fishermen, we have concluded that the Penn Battle II is the best because it comes with 5+1 bearings that provide excellent performance, while the 5.2:1 gear ratio allows you to manage the retrieve and keep control of fighting fish. In addition, this Penn model can be had in a variety of sizes so you can find just the right model for your needs and preferences. If the Penn Battle II is not available, you should consider the Okuma Trio High Speed as it is a reliable alternative both in terms of performance and quality.
Our top choices
The Penn Battle II Spinning Reel is one of the models with consistent stellar reviews from users that you should take into account when shopping around for a medium speed model. The particular design of the model includes the company’s HT-100 Versa-Drag washers attached to the spool in such a manner that both sides can be used for better drag. In case you are looking for a model capable of offering you consistent higher drag, a longer range and smoothness on par with much more expensive models, than you will find everything you need in this spinning reel.
As far as bearings are concerned, this model comes with a 5 + 1 configuration that offers enough stability and smoothness on casting. Since the minimum recommended for ball bearings is 4, this spinning reel is a good choice even for more pretentious anglers.
The gear ratio of this model is 5.2:1, which makes the Penn Battle II Spinning Reel fall in the category of medium speed reels. Your style of fishing should always have the last word when you are shopping for a good quality reel, and it is always good to know a bit about specifications, so you can choose the best possible model for your needs. A recommended course of action for those who do not know whether they will need a high speed reel or a slow one is to simply go for a medium speed model that will work just fine regardless of the situation you may find yourself in.
Another aspect that must be mentioned about this particular model is that its signature washers are greased with the proprietary manufacturer’s grease that adds to its longevity. Scoring high in anglers’ preferences, the Penn Battle II Spinning Reel is the type of fishing gear that will serve you well, regardless of your style of fishing. Because of its superior versatility, many anglers prefer it, even if just as a backup to their favorite spinning reel.
This fishing reel is equipped with remarkable aesthetics that make it an awesome addition to any fishing gear collection. The two-tone construction makes this fishing reel look impressive in any setting.
The five sealed stainless steel ball bearings impart a high level of durability while ensuring smooth cranking every time. The instant anti-reverse bearing ensures effortless line release without the ugly bird’s nests inside the Superline spool.
Thanks to the reel’s rotor and metal body sideplate construction, precise gear alignment is maintained even under the most demanding fishing situations. The carbon fiber drag washers deliver dependable performance every time. The rotor is designed to enable smooth retrieves.
To keep the Superline from slipping, this fishing reel comes with a rubber gasket. This element also ensures effortless control and handling.
The size and weight of this fishing reel make it unsuitable for beginners. It is too bulky and weighty for beginners to manage effectively.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($92.33)
In case you are looking for a spinning reel with a unique design, the Okuma Trio High Speed Spinning Reel fits the bill quite nicely. Its crossover construction combines the sturdiness and reliability of aluminum with the advantages presented by graphite, a lightweight material often used for making high quality reels. Basically, this spinning reel is a mix of power and convenience, as it does not put unnecessary strain on your wrist and forearm during casting, without sacrificing durability.
Another aspect that you may be much interested in having in your spinning reel is smoothness. Because the spool of this particular model has an aluminum chamber for the drag system, you will have the best experience when casting the line. The special build of the spinning reel adds stability, as well, which means that the Okuma Trio High Speed Spinning Reel is a good choice for casual anglers, as well.
The spool design is what you should look into when shopping for a new spinning reel. In this case, the spool is a hybrid between a graphite arbor and an aluminum lip. The special Precision Dual Force Drag System employed on the model maximizes pressure, while increasing overall efficiency.
The presence of 9 BB and 1 RB bearings made of stainless steel is another great advantage offered by this spinning reel. Ball bearings are important for smoothness and stability and the more you have, the better your experience when you go fishing it will be. Seasoned anglers recommend having at least four ball bearings and this particular model comes with 10. The quick anti-reverse roller bearing is another important benefit of the particular construction of this spinning reel from Okuma.
Last, but not least, the attractive pricing of this spinning reel is a selling point that many of those who have tried it mention. For the build quality and the superior drag offered, you will feel hard pressed to find another model that can compete on the same footing with this one.
Made with a hybrid spool design, this fishing reel ensures smooth line release and retrieves because of its advanced spool features. The spool has an aluminum lip and a graphite arbor that promote easy cranking and easy release of the fishing line from the spool while preventing knots or tangling.
The reel comes with a crossover aluminum and graphite hybrid body plus a revolutionary rotor design for protection against chipping and corrosion due to water exposure. The graphite body is lightweight and is also protected from corrosion for lasting use.
The reel is equipped with a Precision Dual Force Drag System (DFD), which utilizes both aspects of the spool to make the most of the top-rated drag pressure for efficient functionality and total smoothness.
This model comes with 9 ball bearings plus 1 anti-reverse bearing, all made of stainless steel to withstand water exposure without rusting over or chipping, for perpetually smooth cranking.
The angler has to be careful at cranking the unit to prevent the handle from getting bent too easily.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($77.92)
The Shimano Fx Spinning Reel combines the benefits of high quality materials, with perfect drag and smoothness, all for a more than affordable price. In the world of anglers, it is well known that aluminum should be your choice in regards to the material used for your spinning reel, but this durable metal has the downside of being heavier than other materials used in making this type of fishing equipment. Graphite is a common alternative, but it is not as durable as aluminum, although it is very lightweight and you will not feel the fatigue that usually comes with manipulating gear that is too hard on your wrist and forearm.
The model presented here combines the benefits of both materials, the manufacturer cleverly using aluminum and graphite for the components of this spinning reel. On top of the advantages offered by this type of construction, special technologies like Varispeed and Dyna-Balance are employed, in order to provide the user with superior performance. Graphite is used for the frame, the sideplate and the rotor, while the spool is made of diecast aluminum.
Consistent speed is very important for any angler and it is important to know that this is exactly what this spinning reel offers. The fact that superior technology like Varispeed is present on this model contributes to the great reputation the Shimano Fx Spinning Reel enjoys among anglers. Counter-balancing your rotor during retrieval can be a tricky thing, which is why the manufacturer thought of using Dyna-Balance for this model. What this technology foes is that it manages to eliminate the wobbling usually associated with retrieving, so you can enjoy the perfect smoothness and stability of this spinning reel.
Many anglers who have bought the Shimano Fx Spinning Reel praise its very smooth drag, as well as its very attractive pricing. For what it offers, this spinning reel can be compared with higher end models, and the great news is that you do not have to spend a lot of money to enjoy its great features.
Made with a graphite frame, this model is also equipped with a graphite rotor and sideplate for a lightweight structure and remarkable sensitivity. The material makes the reel resistant to corrosion and chipping due to frequent exposure to water.
The diecast aluminum spool is strong and durable. It is also light and easy to handle, which is crucial when you have to do battle with the fish. To enable accurate, long-distance casting, this fishing reel comes with a Varispeed feature.
The Dyna-Balance feature promotes smooth operations and ease of use so every turn of the handle offers solidity and smoothness.
The 4.6:1 gear ratio enables you to quickly work the lure back to your boat or to get rapid line gain when a fish starts charging toward your watercraft. The fast retrieve offers a quicker reaction time plus timely responsiveness.
The reverse cranking may not be as smooth as some anglers prefer but this reel still does what it is designed to do for fishing.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($24.5)
Products for specific needs
Best saltwater spinning reel
Fin-Nor Offshore Spin
This Fin-Nor model is engineered just right to handle the punishment of ocean fishing. Its structure is almost entirely metal, with no compromises being made to cut down on weight by using a weaker synthetic material.
The body, side plates, and rotor are made of aluminum, which gives it great corrosion resistance around that salty air. The gears, drive, and shaft, as well as the bearings, are made of stainless steel, with the latter receiving two additional layers of coating to ensure smooth action and better corrosion resistance.
It has a multi-stack extra-large drag, so it’s easier to put up with aggressive offshore species or big freshwater muskies and the 4.4:1 retrieving ratio will offer just the leverage you need for the task.
Although some parts of it had been machined in order to cut down on excess material and weight, this isn’t exactly a light item, but you can’t expect anything much better without serious downsides in regards to sturdiness.
Built like a tank, with an aluminum outer casing, stainless steel machined gears, drives and shaft, this item should be able to retrieve the largest, most aggressive fish without its parts falling out of line.
It uses only corrosion resistant material, like aluminum and stainless steel, and the bearings had been additionally coated to endure over time to the salty marine environment.
It has a very strong, front mounted drag, with carbon fiber washers, that should provide plenty of braking power for the biggest and most nervous fish out there.
The 4.4:1 gear ratio might make you wait a while to draw the empty line back on the spool, but it more than makes up for it by providing just the right amount of torque to handle big fish.
This product is not exactly light, but neither should it be, given its purpose.Click to see the price on Amazon!
Best freshwater spinning reel
Despite the fact that it’s mostly metal, with brass bearings and stainless steel shaft, crank, and gears, this Piscifun spinning reel manages to keep itself remarkably light, drawing a lot of positive comments in regards to how comfortable it is to use during long days of fishing.
Some sizes come with two different crank handles, that can also be switched from left to right to adapt to the needs of the operator.
A lot of weight had been reduced by machining holes into its aluminum body. Exposure to moist air and potentially salt water doesn’t make the mechanism inside prone to corrosion, however, as multiple users have remarked that the stainless steel and brass hold pretty well.
The drag offers enough stopping power for medium-sized freshwater fish or more docile oceanic species, with 11 to 15 lb of force depending on the size. The gear ratio is also best suited for medium-duty tasks.
The Piscifun garnered a lot of good reviews for being light and comfortable to handle. This is in part because its body had been machine cut to a significant degree to reduce weight.
The cut-outs give it a unique look, that is well appreciated by some users. One might say that this is a cool-looking reel.
With the exception of the brass bearings, all of its internal workings are stainless steel, which gives it good durability and resistance to corrosion.
The 5.1:1 gear ratio provides a good medium between speed and torque, making it ideal for dragging average sized fish and a relatively light drag of 11-15 lb will work well for the task, without adding unnecessary weight and cost.
Some customers complained that the build tolerances on this reel are not up to par with those provided by more well-known brands, but this is somewhat made up for by its lower cost and a large number of bearings used (9+1) which drastically reduces the chances of the shaft misalignment.Click to see the price on Amazon!
Best spinning reel and rod combo
Plusinno Fishing Rod and Reel Combo
Most positive feedback regarding this Plusinno rod and reel combo concentrate on praising the quality of this item’s construction. We are inclined to believe that this impression also translates into good functionality since the Plusinno is one of the bestsellers in its category on retail sites.
Another well-appreciated feature is the large line capacity of the spool, which is one of the most sought-after characteristics for a reel. According to the manufacturer specs, one deep aluminum spool can hold up to 240 feet of thin 0.20 mm line, or 140 of 0.30 mm, which should give you plenty of reach.
It won’t take forever to drag it back either as the 5.2:1 gear ration will give you plenty of speed while the S-curve oscillation system will prevent any mishaps from occurring while you’re winding.
Offering very good quality at an affordable price, this combo from Plusinno is naturally a best seller among items of its kind.
The reel has a very high line capacity for its size, which means you will be able to extend your reach further away and also have plenty of leeway to deal with fish who tend to travel distances with the lure.
The reel also features an instant anti-reverse function, to prevent the line from being dragged by larger specimens when the angler is taken by surprise.
Its gear ratio provides both an adequate line winding speed and sufficient leverage to handle medium to large-sized fish.
There’s hard to find any complaints regarding this product, but some customers considered that the instructions provided by the manufacturer regarding the contents of each package to be misleading (you can buy just the rod and reel but also a full kit with additional items).Buy from Amazon.com for ($333.25)
Best spinning reel for bass
This Pflueger product delivers on all accounts, with a somewhat odd size of 35, which gives it both plenty of line capacity and drag strength while keeping it light enough for you to cast for hours on end.
More specifically, it should hold 140 yards of 8lb test line (which is a realistic weight for large bass) on its anodized aluminum and an anti-reverse action will ensure that the fish doesn’t run away with it. This is plenty of length for freshwater fishing and judging by the feedback this product received, one of its main selling points.
Another one is the smooth action, ensured by the use of 9 stainless steel bearings and a number of XCR bearings in key locations.
A magnesium body construction and an anodized aluminum spool and bail keep this reel remarkably light, with many users being surprised by its weight, even considering the small to medium size.
Despite the low weight, the product is sufficiently sturdy for most medium to large size fish in any water, with stainless steel bearings and an anodized aluminum spool, which are also resistant to corrosion.
The spool can hold a lot of line, up to 140 yards of 8 lb, which will give you plenty of possibilities for deep lake fishing or long distance trolling.
The drag is reported to work well for panfish and up to 20-pound bass, while the 5.2:1 gear ratio will give you plenty of speed when retrieving.
To cut on weight, the arbor is made of carbon, rather than stainless steel, which makes for somewhat poorer tensile resistance, so you wouldn’t want to use this reel for stingray or shark unless an expert angler.Click to see the price on Amazon!
Best trout spinning reel
Plusinno Hong Ying Series
Since only record-breaking trout are heavy enough to put a significant strain on the reel a cheaper model of mid to large size with smooth action and plenty of space for line might be enough to invest in when targeting this fish.
Disregarding construction quality, which can increase the price of the product by factors, the number of ball bearings used will give you a good indication of how smooth and silent the bale action will feel.
The Plusinno Hong Ying series features an impressive number of 12+1 ball bearings, with one for the instant anti-reverse, which is reported to be pretty swift. Expectedly, most customers also find it smooth enough to praise.
Another nice thing about it is the all-metal construction, which should make it sturdy enough for the moving parts to stay in line even under the weight of a struggling 40-pound trout.
Although it is very affordable, it comes with some of the features of a more expensive product, like an instant anti-reverse action and an all-metal body.
It has an unexpectedly large number of bearings, of which around 11 are used for working the main action. This gives it a smooth operation, with little vibration or noise.
Despite its all-metal body, which should give it good endurance, the overall weight of the product is reported to be low, and the level of fatigue when operating it for long stretches of time minimal.
Accounts differ in regards to the maximum amount of line allowed on the spool. The manufacturer and some users claim it can hold 160 yards of 10 lb test line, while other buyers mentioned that 125 yards of 6 lb test fill it to capacity.
The product is made in China, so the build quality is not something to write home about, but the very affordable price should make up for this.Buy from Amazon.com for ($18.99)
Best spinning reel for catfish
Sougayilang Spinning Reel
This series of reels from Sougayilang offers the same functionality as more expensive products but only at a fraction of the cost. This is partly because you won’t be paying for the brand name, and partly because it isn’t meant to handle large lake fish, at least not without its gears or shaft misalignment.
For everything that might be lurking beneath the rivers or lakes of the continental Eastern United States, however, it should do a stellar job.
With 13+1 ball bearings working its drive shaft, instant anti-reverse function, the action it offers is surprisingly smooth, with little in the way of vibration, crackling and bothersome clicking noises reported by customers.
Depending on the model, it has either a 5.2:1 or 5.1:1 gear ratio, which will offer a good average between line draw speed and the torque required to drag in sizable fish.
All the four sizes available offer good line capacity, allowing you to cast the lure deep without having to keep close above it.
Its action seems to be smooth and silent, which should be expected given the large number of bearings used to drive the shaft.
This product offers very good value as it’s cheaper than what you would get from better-known brands but still offers good functionality for freshwater fishing.
It has a couple of interesting features that should increase convenience, like a line-lay oscillation system to ensure that your line doesn’t get entangled on the spool and a left-right adjustable handle which allows it to be comfortably used by lefties.
Construction quality is not the best, which is to be expected for the price, but the number of actual malfunctions reported for the product is still low.Click to see the price on Amazon!
Best crappie spinning reel
Shimano Stradic Ci4+
This Shimano product is bristling with innovation to provide a better user experience. As we would expect from this premium brand both reduced weight and better balance have been factored in as means to improve the user experience.
As such, the internal components are distributed around a point directly underneath the user’s hand so that the center of weight falls perpendicularly to where most of his strength will naturally concentrate.
Furthermore, the design features a patented Magnumlite rotor, which decreases the weight of the reel by 17% while also being significantly more rigid than a regular piece. This translates into less play when being subjected to significant outside forces.
A cold forging process called “Hagane”, which naturally increases the steel’s toughness had been employed in the construction of its internal bits. To further reduce weight, some parts are made out of Ci4 carbon, which is tougher than more common varieties of carbon fiber employed.
Advanced technology had been employed in its construction to keep the weight low, such as a patented magnumlite rotor and Ci4 carbon for certain parts.
User comfort is further increased with a G Free Body design, which means that the centrifugal force generated by the reel while casting won’t feel as strong in your arms.
Despite its low weight, the item is surprisingly sturdy, with the gears, shaft and other internal components being manufactured by cold forging.
To add to this, the casing provides a tight seal, keeping water away from the components inside, which combined with the 20lb of drag would make this unit suitable for saltwater fishing.
There aren’t any common complaints with this reel outside of the price, which is found to be a little high for the size.Click to see the price on Amazon!
Best walleye spinning reel
Pflueger established itself as a reliable fishing kit manufacturer for the mid to high price range and its products rarely fail to deliver. The president series does as good a job as one would expect, garnering many positive reviews from customers, especially concerning its reliability and smoothness.
To keep the weight low while not compromising rigidity, graphite was used for the body and rotor, which besides making it sturdy enough for most medium sized fish will also ensure for years of rust-free service.
Other parts, such as the handle and spool are made of aircraft grade aluminum, anodized in the case of the latter so it doesn’t oxidize when the wet line is wrapped around it.
The action is reported to be smooth, driven by 9 stainless steel ball bearings with another one employed for the on/off instant anti-reverse action. Users also comment that the product looks sturdy and holds well to drop tests.
High quality, well-made product that shouldn’t be affected by the strains imposed when fishing in fresh water. Especially good when paired with ultra-light lines for walleye fishing thanks to its considerably low weight.
Graphite was used for the body and rotor to keep the weight down, but this doesn’t seem to have negatively impacted its durability to any significant degree.
Thanks to the materials employed it should also hold up well to sea fishing, with the mention that it’s not really intended to be used for catching large specimens.
The relatively high number of ball bearings for a carefully machined product (9) and the tight gears will ensure a smooth action.
A somewhat common complaint about most reels, this model doesn’t seem to bode well with certain brands of braided line, namely the Daiwa J-Braid.Click to see the price on Amazon!
Best steelhead spinning reel
With the Helios line, Okuma tried to achieve the best strength to weight ratio, primarily by employing a new type of graphite material. Unlike other varieties of carbon fiber, the C-40X is woven from significantly longer carbon strands of various compositions.
This is claimed to increase strength by 50%, while also cutting weight by 25%. Customer reviewers found the product’s weight to be comparable with that of smaller sized reels, so at least the second part of the statement checks out.
Since the only couple of complaints, we found regarding the reel’s durability had to do with manufacturing defects, the first statement might be equally truthful.
Another thing that recommends this product is the good amount of line it can hold on the spool, with as much as 175 yards of 15lb test monofilament for the 40 sized model, and even more than that for braided.
The Helios is significantly more lightweight than other reels of comparable size, which means it won’t impose the same fatigue on your arms and back, allowing you to fish for longer.
Due to the type of carbon mesh and resin used for its construction, it is also significantly more durable than other lightweight reels. Furthermore, both carbon fiber and the aluminum its internal components are machined from naturally hold well to corrosion.
The spool is relatively large and can hold a good amount of line. This is particularly useful if you’re fishing from the shore or targeting for shy species.
It has 9+1 stainless steel ball bearings to ensure a smooth action and carbon fiber inserts have been used for the drag to give it more stiffness.
Some customers bought it under the impression that the new fiber material was used more extensively. We should underline that only the rotor and parts of the body are made of carbon fiber, as specified by the manufacturer.Buy from Amazon.com for ($110.9)
Best salmon spinning reel
The Piscifun Destroyer series appears to be aimed at providing a good medium between lightweight, which is preferable for freshwater fishing, and good tensile strength, which is necessary for handling large offshore fish.
This should make it suitable for salmon fishing regardless the time of year, as this species can be found both in lakes and coastal water, depending on the season.
To give it better resistance against a corrosive environment, the external body and the spool are made of specially treated aluminum while the drag is sealed to prevent water from seeping through. Likewise, the seven stainless steel ball bearings driving the rotor, for which graphite was used as a material to cut down on weight.
The bigger sizes can hold quite a deal of medium-high test line on the spool, up to 180 yards of 12lb test for mono and 250 yards of 14 lb if you’re using braid.
A sealed construction and the material used — mostly anodized aluminum — give it good resistance to corrosion, which is particularly important for saltwater fishing.
The aluminum used for the majority of its external parts and the graphite rotor contribute significantly to cutting down the product’s weight, which you will appreciate after casting for the better part of a day.
Its handle is collapsible to make it easier to carry, and it can also be adapted for left and right-handed people.
All sizes have a relatively good spool capacity, which will give you better versatility for the various methods of fishing you want to engage in.
At only around 16,8 lb. of drag, some might not find this item suitable for larger salmon, but a number of experts consider that angler skill can easily circumvent any downsides caused by low drag, with some recommending a braking force of around 20 lb to be the maximum needed.Click to see the price on Amazon!
Best tuna spinning reel
Shimano Twin Power
Saltwater tunas can get pretty large and the marine environment is punishing on all pieces of machinery, so a well built, heavy-duty spinning reel is what you are going to be looking at if you’re angling for tuna.
Shimano is already well renowned for its high manufacturing standard, and with the Twin Power we’ve looked at they achieved a new level of robustness by employing some new building techniques.
All the load-bearing bits of its body are, of course, made of metal, obtained via a new technological process of cold forging that the Japanese company refers to as “Hagane”. This makes the final material overall less brittle and better able to handle high amounts of stress for a sustained period of time as compared to stainless steel and aluminum that’s been obtained through more traditional methods.
The body also offers a hermetical seal, so that the gears and bearings are better protected from the highly corrosive salty environment.
Somewhat unusual for a heavy-duty model that’s been built with high production standards, the Shimano Twin Power comes with a “full complement” of 11+1 ball bearings, which work to give it an exceptionally smooth bale action.
The metal used in this unit had been obtained through an innovative cold forging process, which gives it extra toughness and allows for fewer imperfections, that can act as weak points where the part would break under strain.
Its corrosion resistant spool can hold plenty of line, to allow for any style of fishing. If you’re using braided, you can fit as much as 120 yards of heavy duty 50 lb test, as well as more versatile, lighter 15lb test diameters up to 230 yards.
The Twin Power has all the specs and features you would expect from a top of the range product, plenty of drag, an anti-reverse switch, a left or right adaptable handle, etc.
It’s not exactly cheap, but the amount of use you’ll get out of it should make it good value.Click to see the price on Amazon!
Best spinning reel under $50
Despite the affordable cost, it has some of the patented features you get with Shimano reels, like a variable speed spool and a counter-balanced rotor that prevents wobbling during a retrieve.
Like other similar products from the manufacturer, it only has 1+1 bearings, with one being used for the anti-reverse.
Both the materials employed and the maximum line capacity should make it suitable for catching light to medium freshwater fish, albeit some users report that it can also be used for light surf fishing over extended periods of time with little problem.
The spool is made of diecast aluminum, which is fairly hard to oxidize under the influence of water or salty air while the frame, sideplate, and rotor are graphite, which doesn’t rust under most conditions.
Great for casual fishing, this item is lightweight enough to be used with little fatigue while catching panfish in rivers and streams.
Longtime users find this model to be pretty resilient, and it should last you for a good while if used appropriately. Some people even employed it under saltwater conditions without encountering significant problems.
It has a number of patented features that ensure a smooth overall operation: vari-speed, which keeps the spool spinning consistently; Dyna-balance, that eliminates wobbling when dragging the fish; and power roller, that provides extra balance when casting.
It is considered to be one of the best reels you can find for the money, although more expensive models might have better specifications.
Although sturdy and smooth, some versions of the FX have a relatively low gear ratio for the purposes of a lightweight reel.Click to see the price on Amazon!
Best spinning reel under $100
The affordable Sienna series from Shimano comes in sizes ranging from 10 to 40 (or 1000 to 4000, depending on the convention you prefer) that can fill the niche from ultra-light panfish angling to medium weight saltwater fishing.
While the build quality is representative of the Japanese manufacturer, the price appears to have been kept (relatively) low by reducing complexity. Some sizes of the series act on just two bearings, with one of them working the anti-reverse action.
Despite this, most users are satisfied by its smooth running action and generally find it comfortable to cast with, thanks to its low weight and good weight distribution. Like other small models from the manufacturer, the oscillating gear is placed closer to the rod, so vibrations aren’t felt as strongly.
Most sizes come with a 9 lb drag, but 19 lb drag varieties can also be purchased.
Despite the fact that its workings only operate on two bearings, the action of the Shimano Sienna is smooth in the hand and you won’t be bothered by any unpleasant clanking.
There is a wide variety of sizes to choose from, all of them highly affordable. For whichever style of fishing you prefer, a workable Sienna is available at a reasonable price.
The 5.0:1 gear ratio that most models offer will prove a good mean between drawing speed and torque, allowing you to tackle both medium-sized fish and panfish without feeling the need for a more specialized unit.
The 40 sized unit has a surprisingly strong drag for its price range, namely 19 lb. This should keep your line safe from snapping even if you’re not the most careful angler.
The line capacity on the 9 lb models is a little less than what the closest competition offers. Don’t expect for it to hold more than 110 yards of 6 test mono.Click to see the price on Amazon!
Best Okuma spinning reel
The particular Okuma B series we’ve looked at is perfectly suited for all freshwater fishing applications and just rightly priced for the (relatively) undemanding duties of dragging walleye, catfish or bass.
It also has a unique feature, called the Okuma Baitfeeder which should help you out when fishing with live bait. This basically allows you to disengage the drag at a press of a button so that the fish will allow the hook to get a better hold by eating the bait before it feels any force from the line.
The action was found to be smooth enough by users and comparatively less noisy than other reels of similar size (30), while the amount of line its spool can hold definitely places it in the upper ranges. Expect to be able to fit around 230 yards of 15 lb test braided, as one customer reports of doing.
The good line capacity will allow you a lot of freedom when choosing the style of fishing, whether it is bass, catfish, walleye, or if you’re feeling adventurous, freshwater trout.
It has a very smooth action and a good amount of bearings for the size, 6 ball bearings for spinning the main shaft and 1 roller bearing for the anti-reverse.
It comes with the Okuma Baitfeeder feature, which basically allows you to switch off the drag at will so that the fish won’t feel anything out of the ordinary as it is munching on the bait and hook.
The inside components are machined out of brass, which gives it good corrosion resistance and good tensile strength for a relatively low cost.
The most common complaints don’t seem to center around the reel itself but around the information provided by the manufacturer regarding its specs, especially the amount of line it can hold. We recommend you pay close attention when looking into this product.Buy from Amazon.com for ($43.43)
Best Daiwa spinning reel
Despite being relatively small, all the members of this Daiwa series employ a front drag — which is mainly used for off-shore, heavy duty models. This solution seems to have been adopted to provide better ease of use since most customers find the frontal knob placed at the top of the unit very comfortable to access.
The smallest unit in the series, the CF500 was found to be especially pretty pleasant to operate, with a smooth retrieve offered by 3 ball bearings and a swift anti-reverse action worked by one roller bearing. It also allows for a lot of reach and precision when casting thanks to a gyro-spin balanced rotor.
This particular unit might work well for ultralight fishing, with a relatively small gear ratio of 4.9:1 allowing for great control when dragging smaller game. The spool isn’t exactly sizable, accommodating only 190 yards of 2 lb test mono and 60 yards of 6 lb, but this isn’t such a great drawback considering the type of fishing it is intended for.
This product is reported to be very comfortable to operate, thanks to its reduced weight and size, coupled with an easy to reach front drag.
The rotor and bale put very little drag on the line, allowing you to cast lighter lines over considerable distances.
Very well suited for catching panfish in fresh water. When coupled with the appropriate equipment, like some light line and a fast action rod you can use it for hours on end without tiring.
While keeping to an affordable price range, the overall construction was found to be pretty solid, with aluminum being used for the body.
The CF500 doesn’t seem to be suitable for onshore fishing, with sand and salt water severely affecting its internal mechanism in relatively short spans of time.
Its spool has a limited capacity, but this isn’t so much of an impediment when using small diameter line.Click to see the price on Amazon!
Thousands of years ago the only way to catch a fish was with your bare hands or by using a net or primitive fishing pole. While there are still people who enjoy the challenge these methods present, most anglers prefer using a rod with an attached reel. In this buying guide you will find all of the information you need to confidently choose the best spinning reel to manage your line and catch your targeted fish.
What is Spin Fishing?
Spin fishing is a popular method used by novice and experienced anglers to catch rainbow trout and other freshwater fish, and the only gear that is needed is a rod, reel, fishing line and some small lures. This method of fishing is also referred to as “threadlining”, since the lures attached to the line are designed to imitate small bait in hopes of encouraging the fish to bite.
The rods used in spin fishing generally range in length from 1.80 meters to 2.40m, and most experienced anglers recommend using a monofilament line. When it is time to choose the reel, there are a few aspects you will want to consider.
Choosing the Right Spinning Reel
Choosing the right type of spinning reel is critical for a successful fishing trip. Most spinning reels are designed for casting in fresh water and there are two types to choose from.
Ultra Light Spinning Reels
These compact reels are designed to work with 2 to 6 pound lines and are an excellent choice when you are fishing in small streams.
Light-Medium Spinning Reels
Generally preferred by experienced anglers, these versatile reels are ideal for fishing in streams, lakes, and rivers. The reels are capable of holding 8 to 15 pound lines, and can smoothly bring in anything from trout to catfish and bass.
There are also heavy spinning reels that are designed for saltwater fishing, and it is best to speak with an expert before you make a decision.
Lures are another important consideration, and the right one for you will often depend on the type of fish you are trying to catch. Some of the commonly used spinning lures are generally constructed from metal, rubber, plastic, feathers, or wood, and all have the ability to turn, float, and hopefully entice a fish to bite. While some lures will work better in certain situations, finding the right one often comes down to simple “trial and error”.
There is a different set of requirements imposed by a fresh or saltwater environment on a fishing reel. Arguably the most important of these has to do with the far higher corrosive potential of saltwater, which can very easily rust unprotected steel pieces, such as the bearings, making the reel virtually unusable.
Stainless steel or anodized aluminum is used for saltwater models, and often times the bearings are made out of chrome-steel alloys that are nearly impervious to oxidation. Some models also have parts of their bodies hermetically sealed to prevent water from seeping in, which also offers good protection against sand when fishing from a beach.
Another aspect has to do with the greater mechanical forces a saltwater reel is expected to handle, as oceanic fish tend to be bigger and more aggressive than their lake and river dwelling counterparts. Consequently, saltwater reels are made to be sturdy, with metal being preferred in their construction over lightweight composites. This makes them both physically heavier but also gives them a higher weight rating than freshwater models.
More often than not, this also translates into a higher cost, which can be considered an inescapable downside when angling for deep-sea fish. You can get away with using a small, lightweight and inexpensive unit on a lake, but not so offshore.
Construction quality affects overall durability but also user experience. A reel with poor quality bearings will give out a lot of noise and vibration, which will prove bothersome over long periods of time while making it harder to cast and retrieve properly.
Some consider the number of bearings as a general indication of quality, but this is not necessarily so. Manufacturing tolerances can have a greater impact on how smooth the action will feel and a high-quality 4-bearings reel will often handle better than a poorly made 10-bearings one.
Poor machine work is easy to spot if the various bits and pieces of the reel have any play. If the spool wobbles on the shaft, then it’s not far-fetched to assume that the internal gears won’t fit any tighter.
Good construction quality comes at a high cost, however, which might not always be justifiable for a casual angler who doesn’t put his tackle through considerable strain, since cheaper units tend to offer the same degree of functionality as more expensive ones.
Size and weight
Tackle sizes can get a little confusing, as each manufacturer tends to rate the size of their reels and rods following internal conventions. Luckily, the values are close enough to give you an approximation of the weight class a product fits under.
To denote size, either two or four-figure number is used. These are basically equivalent to one another, meaning a size 1000 will be the same as a size 10, and both of them smaller than a 25 reel.
Another way to appreciate size is the test rating of the line the reel is intended to be paired up with. Although it’s measured in pounds, this doesn’t refer to the line’s actual mass (although closely connected to it), but to the amount of weight it can hold before snapping.
The line’s test weight is proportional to the reel size, for example, a size 10 works best with lightweight lines, between 2 lb and 6 lb test, while a 40 is usually good with 8 lb to 15 lb test. These figures are also useful when deciding what reel one should buy for the fish he or she is targeting since the test figures are roughly equivalent to the maximum weight allowance of the game.
When pairing with the rod, a factor to consider is balance, as the center of weight should ideally be as close to your hands as possible. This means that a top-heavy rod will feel more natural, and will allow for better dexterity when balanced by a large reel, although adding extra weight to an already sizable set-up might seem counter-intuitive.
Lightweight rods are generally used for panfish like smaller bass or crappie, and they are best combined with an equally lightweight reel, that won’t cause fatigue over long periods of time. Specifically for this type of casual, light fishing, many manufacturers sell rod and reel kits together as a combo.
Besides the size rating of the spool, the species you are targeting also dictates the line capacity that will be needed, as well as the force of the drag.
For example, aggressive oceanic species like stingrays, but also large freshwater fish such as muskies or pikes will require a lot of large diameter line to be extended and also enough drag to keep it from breaking under their sudden moves, so a high capacity spool and forceful drag are a must.
In the case of smaller fish, the weight of the gear should be kept to a minimum, so that the angler will more accurately be able to register a bite. The need for a longer reach, such as when angling for bass during summers, is solved in this case by opting for a lower test line, with a smaller diameter, rather than going for a high capacity spool.
Spinning Reels Described
Spinning or open-faced reels consist of a body, spool, handle, bail, gears, and adjustments for the drag. All spinning reels are able to be attached to a rod, which can vary in length and width. Most experts recommend using a spinning reel for fresh water, though it is important to consider the size of the fish you are chasing. Lightweight spinning reels are ideal for perch, trout and other small game fish, while heavy duty models are recommended for larger species.
The best fishing reel reviews state that while the size will often be determined by the type of fish you are casting for, the characteristics you want to look for in a reel will remain the same.
The materials used in the body will often depend on the price of the reel, though it should be noted that this can affect its performance. Spinning reels constructed from cast aluminum and graphite materials are generally lightweight, durable, and often resistant to rust and corrosion.
Spools are generally constructed from sturdy aluminum or graphite, and it is the part of the reel that keeps your fishing line neatly wound. The spool spins to release or wind in the line, and it can be found in varying sizes. The size of the spool will determine the amount of line it can hold, and there are some that are designed specifically for longer casts.
One of the most important features to look for on a handle is its anti reverse capabilities. If the handle cannot be locked quickly and easily in place after you’ve cast the line and closed the bail, you should consider a different reel. Anti reverse spinning reel handles prevent the line from running out and keep it taut, along with ensuring your hook is securely set in the fish. Handles should also be durable and comfortable to grip.
Almost all spinning reels feature a bail, which prevents the line from continuously running through the spool after you have cast. It should be easy to snap open and closed, and durable enough to withstand frequent use.
The gears allow the reel to spin, and help the line wrap smoothly around the spool to prevent snarling. The number of gears in a spinning reel often depends on its price, and experts recommend choosing one with a higher number. You also want the gears to be constructed from durable metal to prevent stripping.
Another important aspect to consider is drag resistance, and this is often determined by the type of fish. You want the line to be able to smoothly play out when a fish is hooked, and easily wind back in without breaking and losing your catch. The best spinning reel will feature minimal drag resistance so you can easily go after large and small game fish.
Ball bearings ensure the reel operates smoothly, and you will always want to choose a rig that uses 4 or more. Stainless steel ball bearings are generally preferred over bushings, and will provide you with a smooth cast and return every time.
Best spinning reel brands
For a mid-priced manufacturer, Okuma certainly punches above its weight, with some of their more popular products comparing favorably to well-established brands like Shimano or Pflueger. Albeit, the Taiwanese firm tends to focus more on freshwater fishing tackle, where the demands for quality aren’t that high.
The overall manufacturing standard offered by the Taiwanese firm is found to be satisfactory, but where they shine is in coming up with novelty solutions for meeting the demands of today’s angler, both through employing new cutting-edge materials and introducing new features to their products.
The Japanese manufacturer is already a household name among fishing and biking enthusiasts alike. Their products run the gamut from simple and affordable to top quality pieces fit for international competitions, but they are all considered to display the same level of competent construction.
Shimano tries to stay ahead of the competition through constant innovation in regards to building techniques, new features and materials employed. It follows this philosophy to the extent that even their more modestly priced models can be found to exhibit some of the trademark features introduced by the company.
Penn has earned a nearly legendary status among anglers, with the best spinning reels from this American manufacturer being the go-to for use in fishing competition. The company has been around for a long time, and vintage Penn tackle is can be found on display in antique stores, sometimes still in full working order.
It would be nearly unthinkable for a company with such a proud heritage to release something less than top quality products and Penn reels still deliver some of the best performance and reliability to be found in the business.
With a very long tradition in gear manufacturing, Mitchell entered the American fishing tackle market at the middle of the 20th century. They quickly established themselves as a top brand, with their products earning rave reviews for their toughness and performance.
The Saltist series of reels is still considered to be one of the most durable on the market today, especially well suited for heavy offshore fishing applications. The high quality of their drags, built from a patented carbon composite, is appreciated by salt and freshwater anglers alike, while the Exceler’s smooth action often leaves users surprised.
Pflueger has been in business since 1881, long before the invention of the spinning reel although they were some of its earliest adopters, with the first product of this kind bearing the brand coming off in 1954.
Their substantial American following finds Pflueger made reels to be thoughtfully engineered, with a substantial emphasis put on satisfying the actual requirements of most anglers, as opposed to buffing up specs that are rarely relevant when out on the water. The functionality and good value of their products are well appreciated and often times survive for longer than the more expensive competition.
Abu Garcia reels can often be found in the moderately priced category, where they garner rave reviews for their surprisingly good quality and resilience. If you’re looking for good value for money in a product that can still handle regular use over many many years, then Abu Garcia might just deliver.
Their saltwater fishing line is known to endure just as well as premium models and lose very little of its performance with extended use, without reaching the price range of a small second-hand car. Their lighter reels are considered to provide good performance in the less demanding field of freshwater fishing.
Founded in 2012, this American company is a newcomer to the world of fishing tackle, but the fact that it was started by a group of anglers, keenly aware of what the needs of the modern fishing enthusiast actually are, it’s enough to keep it close to the competition.
KastKing reels tend to offer precisely the user requires, with little in the way of added features that might sometimes serve only at increasing retail cost. This often leaves customers surprised at the good quality the company delivers for an affordable price.
To most anglers, Piscifun is better known as a supplier than as a manufacturer of fishing tackle. The products bearing their own company name aren’t to be overlooked, however, as they represent the culmination of years of experience in determining what the modern angler best appreciates in a product.
They tend to aim towards the best buy section of reel reviews, with their products being usually affordable without coming off as cheap. The top of the range saltwater models usually feature an all-metal construction and can keep up with the strains imposed by heavy-duty angling.
The right spinning reel is one that features a durable construction and is able to offer a smooth performance. The number of ball bearings and the gear ratio should be carefully considered, and it is extremely important to ensure that it features anti reverse capabilities. Where and what you are angling for will also affect your decision, along with how comfortable the reel is to use. If it quickly becomes part of your “go to” fishing gear, you’ll know that you’ve found the right spinning reel.