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Best Fishing Reels

Best for Saltwater
Shimano Baitrunner D Spinning Reel

Best for Baitcasting
KastKing MegaJaws Baitcasting Reel

Best for Bass
Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel

Written by James Cooper
Last Updated
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Depending on the type of rod, the best fishing reel is at least as important. There are a few types of fishing reels which include spinning, baitcasting and fly fishing reels. Most of them are now made with better materials such as aluminum and even steel. Here are the best to use for all types of fishing.
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  • 1

    Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel

Made with a full metal body, the fishing reel is made for saltwater game fish. It’s available in various versions where its 5000 release is a popular option. But even its smaller versions have been proven successful with saltwater fish. For example, the 3000 iterations have been known to help reel in small sharks.

5 stainless steel bearings offer smooth action in this fishing reel. They are among the most durable and they can be used for the instant anti-reverse block as often as needed. Together with an aluminum bail wire, it is known for solid durability.

For a big game, any of the 5000, 6000 or 8000 options are going to be a very solid choice. But for simple lure use, smaller 2500, 3000 or 4000 spinning reel version is going to work well.

Then there’s the price example. Not many other alternative spinning reels can compete on price with the Penn Battle II. It proves very useful regardless of fishing skill level. One drawback which has been heard among fishermen is regarded as its weight. It’s not the lightest fishing reel and the manufacturer could have made cuts with the materials.

PROS

Made for pure saltwater game

Plenty of power in all versions

Smooth 5 ball bearings system

CONS

Not the most lightweight design

  • 2

    KastKing MegaJaws Baitcasting Reel

Made for large catch fishing, the baitcasting reel is a true saltwater performer. Made with solid materials and clever design, it supports easy water drainage as well as easy access lubrication. Inspiring for those in a smaller game, it supports long casts, short casts, pitching, and everything in-between.

A color-coded gear ratio has also been cleverly implemented. The red reel comes with 9.1:1 gear ration, the black reel has 7.2:1, the blue reel has 6.5:1, and the silver reel has a 5.4:1 gear ratio. As expected, the design comes with one of the most impressive hear ratios on the market.

Fishermen can expect one of the best Amazon reels with its 11+1 bearing system. It’s going to offer a different feel to anyone coming from entry-level performers and a true workhorse for those seeking the extra power and smoothness.

Stopping power is not bad either. Based on premium carbon fiber drag, the powerful washers are made to eliminate inconsistent drag. The maximum drag power has been tested at 17l.6lbs so that even the largest catch is not going to getaway. 8 magnets and 10 levels of control are implemented in its braking system. The spool also comes with click adjustment stops for extra braking flexibility.

PROS

Impressive gear ratio

11+1 shielded steel bearings

Quick lubrication access

CONS

Requires proper maintenance

  • 3

    KastKing Valiant Eagle Spinning Reel

A graphite frame and rotor have been implemented on the fast-spinning reel. It turns it into one of the fastest in its class and one of the top performers for a low price. This has been one of the approached KastKing was after. The company was mainly into creating innovation and keeping prices low.

With 22lbs fighting power, the spinning reel is truly capable of given its size. It’s at the same level if not better than many other similarly-priced reels. It even includes 10+1 stainless bearings. But its biggest advantages lie in its patented design implementations which make it hard to replace.

For example, it comes with patent-pending sliding stabilizer rod designs. With stable main gear, the durability of the spinning reel is improved. Anyone looking for versatility and durability without having to spend hundreds is going to find the Valiant Eagle interesting.

The spinning reel is also easy to recognize. Those walking into a fishing store are going to notice it immediately due to its green reflective strips. Inspired by emerald stones, the green trims make it stand out the most.

PROS

Made with patent-pending expanded pinion system

Designed with a patent-pending sliding stabilizer rod

Made with a patent-pending spool design

CONS

A bit too heavy

  • 4

    KastKing Royale Legend Baitcasting Reels

Made to abide by bass tournament regulation, the baitcasting reel is a true performer. Among its unique benefits, many find its design to be the most attractive. It’s the smallest baitcasting reel in its class and it represents a leader in performance for anyone looking for a compact reel with an ergonomic twist release design.

But there are many other areas of innovation for the spinning reel. Among them, there’s a practical magnetic braking system. 10 levels of control are easily accessible from the outside. All users can avoid overruns and backlashes with the right retrieving technique.

Made with extra braking power, the reel features a carbon drag resistance of 17.6lbs. 5-element magnetic brakes with 10 adjustments haven been installed as well. It uses the same braking levels of the more expensive KastKing reels. Clever design attributes also include a connected side plate which is hard to lose

PROS

The smallest design in its class

Made with a connected side plate

Made with a color-coded gear system

CONS

Not the smoothest carbon fiber spool

  • 5

    Penn Pursuit III Spinning Fishing Reel

The compact 3rd generation Pursuit is a truly versatile performer. It includes a few interesting technologies and with its lightweight design, it can also be used for easy casting for the whole day. Anyone looking for a versatile performer that balances responsiveness with a low weight is going to find it appealing.

Smooth drag is not an issue for the fishing reel. It uses HT-100 carbon fiber in the drag washers to offer proper responsiveness. Of course, it’s also where it’s going to generate a bit more noise than others but it’s not something which can’t be overlooked.

Line capacity rings have also been implemented. Users always know just how much there’s left on the fishing reel. 2 rings announce their presence for this purpose. The first marking ring is set at 1/3rd and the second at 2/3rd line load. Fishermen can estimate how far their bait can go with this simple system.

Made with a lightweight body, the spinning reel is not going to overpower the rod. Designed with corrosion-resistant graphite, it’s one of the most durable products in its class. It even stands out with its graphite body which uses 4+1 bearings for a smooth retrieve.

Designed with a superline spool, it also prevents the rubber gasket from slipping. With a more secure cast, it can be used by most fishermen regardless of the casting distance. But still, it remains one of the most affordable saltwater spinning reels which can make it a must-have for anyone into occasional fishing or for those who don’t necessarily go for big fish.

PROS

Easy to disassemble

Affordable saltwater fishing reel

Made with a carbon drag

CONS

No anti-reverse switch

  • 6

    Shimano Baitrunner D Spinning Reel

This fishing reel comes in four models, but the Shimano Baitrunner 8000D is considered the most popular due to its functionality as versatile when it comes to handling different varieties of fish. It is also considered as one of the best fishing reels for saltwater as it is geared with three anti-rust bearings shielded on both sides. This fishing reel also has a special coating on its bearings that also minimizes damages that saltwater might cause.

Aside from being best used in saltwater, the Shimano Baitrunner 8000D has a secondary drag system that allows free spooling while the bail is closed and allows you to move your bait freely. Its oval oscillation gear provides a consistent spool which results in an even line lay that provides exceptional casting. If you worry about the wobble during the retrieve, this Shimano model will end it, as it offers dyna-balance technology that eliminates this altogether and enhances sensitivity and smoothness while eliminating unnecessary vibrations.

The baitrunner of this Shimano model is one of the most important features; it is activated by just easily flipping the switch and the desired line setting of resistance with the knob.

PROS

Offers dyna-balance technology that eliminates wobble during the retrieve

The reel has 3 anti-rust bearings shielded on both sides

Has a higher max drag and wider range of baitrunner settings

CONS

It could be a bit too heavy

  • 7

    Penn Fathom Lever Drag

With full metal body construction and metal side plates, the Fathom is a responsive fishing reel. It represents a durable setup that can be used in all weather conditions. Those worried about possible UV light damage needs to know its metal construction is going to keep it safe for years

A 2-speed system for quick high or low gear shifting is implemented on the Fathom. It certainly represents one of the interesting releases for anyone looking for simple gear changes for the fast and slow retrieve.

Fluid cranking based on the 5 ball bearings makes its operation smooth. It’s not the largest number of bearings but it certainly works for anyone simply needed a smooth quiet performer. Those who need a bit more retrieving help will need to go up for a multiple-bearings alternative, however. But in general, for large fish and heavy-duty lines, the sliding lever mounting reel is going to be a top performer.

PROS

Made for a large catch

Suitable for heavy lines

Designed with a sliding lever

CONS

Small for some users

  • 8

    KastKing Brutus Spinning Reel

Made with a handy line keeper, Brutus is also known for its convenience. It keeps the line in place and it offers one of the best small design implementations which help fishermen keep the line on the spinning reel. Designed with 4 ball bearings, the smooth operation of the reel matches its practical design. Made for those seeking improved comfort and durability, it a basic system that works in conjunction with its large grip.

A large grip has been added on the handle. It can take the pressure when needed. But it also works for both right and left hand retrieve. With the versatility to be used on any side of the road, the fishing reel is made for anyone looking for a compact performer.

PROS

Smooth retrieve

Made with an oversized grip

Lightweight construction

CONS

Not the most complex ball bearings system

  • 9

    KastKing Megatron Spinning Reel

Based on a rigid aluminum skeletal frame, the spinning reel is among the most durable in its class. With unique aesthetics, it’s also made for those who want their fishing gear to look apart. Megatron is also lightweight, at least compared to other similarly-priced performers.

The main gear is made from durable zinc alloy and the second gear is made with solid brass. These gears allow the spinning reel to be seen among the durable fishing gear options new users have. But it may also be one of the options seasons fishermen choose as it also features a 30lbs max drag system. With enhanced performance, it even manages the largest fish.

7+1 steel bearings power its mechanism. They support the fishing reel with smooth operation. It’s also one of KastKing’s quiet systems as many users have noted them among the best for mechanism quality under low noise.

PROS

2000 to 6000 size options

Included reversible retrieve

Line capacity of up to 430 yards

CONS

The spool could be smoother

  • 10

    KastKing Lancelot Spinning Reel

Built with a graphite frame, Lancelot is one of the true KastKing performers. It combines durability, responsiveness and lightweight construction to offer a unique fishing experience. Lancelot is available in 2000, 3000, 4000 and 5000 sizes featuring a design that suits all types of users.

Its smooth performance is based on a unique 6 stainless steel ball bearings system. It works for anyone looking for a smooth retrieve and very practical construction. Made with a machined aluminum handle, the spinning reel is among the durable KastKing iterations.

An all-day comfort handle has been considered for anyone into fishing. Its grip features a rubberized anti-slip construction which means it’s not going to be difficult to reel in whenever there’s a large catch on the horizon.

PROS

Made with a graphite body

Available in multiple sizes

Made with a line keeper

CONS

Mainly used for salmon fishing

  • 11

    KastKing Brutus Baitcasting Fishing Reel

Brutus fishing reel is made with an aluminum spool. It holds up to 125 yards of baitcasting line.  It retrieves 25.5in per handle turn and it can be one of the considerable designs for a large marine catch. It also supports 10lbs of fish stopping drag power for bass fishing.

With built-in magnetic breaks, it also stands out as being very easy to use. At just 7.1 ounces, it can seem lightweight. But it’s a durable release just as needed in the marine world. Featuring 4+1 steel bearings, it represents one of the most durable releases in its class. Steel bearings help it maintain its responsiveness even in time. If it benefits from good lubrication, it’s the type of fishing reel which lasts for years.

PROS

10lbs adjustable drag

Only weighs 7.1 ounces

Holds 125 yards of line

CONS

Brass-only gears

  • 12

    Pflueger President Spinning Fishing Reel

With 10 steel bearings, the President is one of the fastest and smoothest performers in its class. With a graphite body and rotor, it delivers one of the best performances when it comes to improved overall dynamics and feel. Its lightweight construction makes it an interesting option for anyone seeking versatility.

Its smaller 3000 version proves efficient for bass. But it’s 4000 version which is just inches taller is suitable for pike and similar species. Made with perfect sealing, it also provides the much-needed corrosion resistance. Ball bearings are properly protected from damaging moisture or water infiltrations.

PROS

Great for bass

Very smooth retrieve compared to Shimano Sedonas

Minimum line twist

CONS

Grinding gears in time

How to choose the best fishing reel

Choosing the next fishing reel is an exciting time. Those into fishing get to upgrade or purchase specialized reels while those new to the sport buy versatile fishing reels. Here’s how to make the most of them.

Understanding the parts of a fishing reel is important. The handle is the part in constant contact with the fisherman. The bail is the part on top of the reel which releases the line as it opens.

A drag is normally found on the top or at the bottom of the spinning reel. It allows the line feed to release some line when a fish pulls to avoid breaking it. The drag can also be adjusted to a locked position where it doesn’t release any line.

Types of fishing reels

Not all fishing reels are the same. Depending on the size of the fish, the setup needs to be able to perform. Over performing is another issue. It can trigger new fishermen to purchase an overly-large reel just for going for the small catch. Here are the various types of fishing reels to consider.

Surf fishing reels

These types of fishing reels are normally considered for marine fishing. Users can consider them for very large saltwater fish such as sharks. They’re known for their robust physical construction as well as for the more durable drag system, made to handle the larger weight and which is also considerably more important than with smaller alternatives.

Spinning fish reels

Spinning fish reels are seen on small spinning fishing rods. They can come together as a combo or they can be purchased separately. These small fishing reels are the first in line when it comes to handling small fish. They can be recognized in stores on spinning rods. These rods have a large first eye loop which gets smaller towards the tip of the rod.

Spincast fishing reels

The spincast is known for being very easy to use. It features a closed face design which allows fishermen a bit more versatility and freedom of movement. Sales clerks normally recommend this type of spinning reel to beginners who just want to master casting momentum at first.

Baitcasting fishing reel

One of the largest options is the baitcasting fishing reel. In stores, it can be recognized on baitcasting fishing rods for trolling. These rods have similar-size eye loops from the first to the last one on the tip of the rod. Made for extra power, they usually require the most experience to cast. Anglers cast them either from the hands or using a specialized casting belt. In terms of distance, the baitcaster is best as they go the furthest with each launch.

Spinning reel sizes

Apart from the type of fishing used for, spinning reels can also be categorized by size. This categorization represents the type of fish they’re made to deal with.

  • 500-1000 ultra-light spinning reels

An ultra-light low-profile performer is a good option for braid between 5 and 10lbs. It might be a good starting point for anyone looking to get into the sport but who might not feel the fish with a larger fishing reel.

  • 2500-3000 medium spinning reel

Conventional reels are normally found in these sizes. These 2 best spinning reels are made on the same frame. But they are different in the amount of line they can store. A 3000-sized spinning reel can store up to 60 yards extra fishing line. But the most important upgrade from the previous spinning reel is the drag pressure. It can handle 3 times more drag pressure than the smaller 1000 spinning reel. Examples include those above plus the Abu Garcia Revo, the Daiwa Spinning Reel, Shimano Stradic, and Daiwa BG.

  • 4000-5000 large spinning reels

These spinning reels come with even more line storage space and extra drag power. They’re made for deep water fish and they can handle considerable stress. Used on small fish, this would be a wasted investment. Instead, the fishing reels are normally used on saltwater fish where their extra strength guides the extra power such as those from Okuma or Abu Garcia.

Since they need to handle larger fish, such fishing reels are normally made with more ball bearings as well. Steel ball bearings vary from 8 to 12 in these fishing reels and they represent a valuable solution for anyone trying to retrieve faster over long distances which is the case with saltwater fishing.

Frequently Asked Questions


What are the different types of fishing reels?

There are 3 main types of fishing reels. Spincast, spinning, and baitcasting are the main categories of spinning reels sold today. Spincast is the simplest spinning reel. With its closed design, it represents one of the valuable options for anyone just starting.

The spinning fishing reel is the bestseller today. It is used in various types of fishing which includes freshwater fishing, inshore fishing, bankside fishing, pond fishing, ice fishing, and even surf fishing. With various sizes and various drag capacity, the fishing reel needs to be paired with the type of fishing it’s going to be used for. These types of fishing reels are versatile but they’re highly inefficient in baitcasting.

Baitcasting reels are made to lure the fish closer to the boat. These types of reels normally come with gear changes as they need to cover larger areas. But they can also be rated according to the inches they retrieve per complete handle turn.

How to clean saltwater fishing reels?

Clearing of salt from the fishing reel is important to avoid corrosion. There are a few methods of cleaning the fishing reel. Among them, wiping it with a wet towel is going to be the best option. It allows users to completely remove salt from the fishing reel and the spool.

Washing it underwater in the sink is not the best alternative. Water can drive salt around the spool in crevices and eventually damage it in time. But it’s also crucial to find the right clean wet towel for the process as old salty towels are not going to be the best.

If the fishing reel is already showing corrosion signs, then clearing it with a simple polish and old toothbrush can do the trick. The process can be repeated after every fishing adventure. However, this will only eliminate the corrosion on the outer case of the spinning reel.

What do gear ratios mean on fishing reels?

The gear ration description is printed on the fishing reel. It represents the number of turns the spool has to make with one handle turn and it determines the speed of the spinning reel. A 5.3:1 speed means the spool needs to rotate 5.3 times with one complete turn of the handle. Speeds are standard with most fishing reels or adjustable as seen with some of the best baitcasting reels.