The best spinning reels are used for a small and large catch. River fishing or ocean fishing might require fishing tools of different sizes, but with the top spinning reels, both large and small fish are easier and fan to catch.
Popular reel sizes vary from 2000 to 8000 and most offer varying gear ration from 6.2:1 to 5.3:1. While there are many types of spinning reels to consider today, many can be a waste of money as they don’t hold past beyond 1 or 2 fishing seasons. The following fishing reels have been selected both for their performance and their durability.
With a graphite frame, Valiant Eagle offers an interesting design with a retrieve feel hard to match by plastic and metal alternatives. It’s available in sizes such as 1000, 2000, 3000, and 4000.
These have different drag according to their size. Drag varies between 17.6 and 22lbs. This also means their weight is different. The 1000 version has a weight of just 8.6oz while the 4000 version weighs 10.1oz.
11 steel bearing provides an incredible feeling when it comes to fast retrieve. Together with an aluminum spool that features a carbon drag system, it manages to offer constant drag pressure considerably better than most of its entry-level alternatives.
Based on a lightweight EVA handle, it is also comfortable even when the catch offers quite a fight. With so many ball bearings, it offers leverage with complete control in all types of water and retrieves conditions.
- Top saltwater choice
- The 2000 version can be used with 7ft rods
- Quality steel ball bearings
- Heavy outside saltwater use
Based on an HT 100 carbon fiber drag washers, the fishing reel is available in 2500, 3000, 4000, 5000, 6000, and 8000 sizes. A 4+1 stainless steel bearing system is added to the spinning reel for smooth operation.
It offers instant anti-reverse which makes it practical and prevents losing potentially-interesting catches. This system is not unique but it offers value for the money. Those interested in saltwater fishing reels are certainly going to find it a good return on investment.
The affordable spinning reel also proves easy to disassemble, clean, and lubricate. Given it uses carbon drag, it might be one of the leading first reels to be considered for saltwater fishing.
- Available in multiple sizes
- It can be disassembled by the user
- Compatible Fierce and Battle spinning reel components
- Not compatible with all rods
Lancelot is one of the most respected series in the fishing world. It features 5 ball bearings with an instant anti-reverse bearings system with solid hooksets. With stainless steel ball bearings, it can be one of the freshwater options to rely on either as a main spinning reel or as a backup competition reel.
Rigid and lightweight, Lancelot is a KastKing iteration made to be affordable. Those spending hundreds on a fishing rod normally don’t have much left to get a reliable spinning reel. These are the perfect users for the Lancelot.
- Tight drag
- It can be paired with a KastKing rod
- The best affordable spinning reel
- Not the most unique design
Convenient and Practical Design
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 fishers keep the line on the spinning reel.
Designed with four ball bearings, the smooth operation of the reel matches its practical design. Made for those seeking improved comfort and durability, it is a primary system that works with its large grip.
A large grip has been added to 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.
- Smooth retrieve
- Made with an oversized grip
- Lightweight construction
- Not the most complex ball bearings system
As one of the spinning reels with a futuristic look, it can be a fishing gear option made for those who like how their fishing rod looks. It is now made in 2000, 3000, 4000, 5000, and 6000 sizes. It is still lightweight given these options are mostly useful for saltwater. Its heaviest 6000 version only weighs 13.4oz.
With pro-level high-quality zinc-alloy drive gear, it also offers good durability in all of its versions. Using 7+1 stainless steel bearings only completes the durable construction. Even the robot-like CNC machined aluminum handle looks completely different than most of its alternatives.
With a unique design rotor, the spinning reel is also one which draws the attention of other fishermen. Those into gear know they get a lot of questions and compliments, which improves their overall fishing experience.
- Made with a unique Megatron design
- Based on 7+1 ball bearings
- Reversible left/right retrieve
- Mostly known for freshwater performance
The spinning reel is available in multiple sizes from 1500 to 6500. Using a screw-in handle, it is also practical for travel. An air rotor with and an ABS spool, it is lightweight and easy to hold for the whole day.
With different sizes, the spinning reel is available in 5.6:1 and 5.7:1 gear ratios. All of its versions come with 15% less weight than ordinary rotors. With waterproof construction and 6 ball bearings, the smooth spinning reel in all of its sizes is comparable with some of its premium alternatives.
Some users say its biggest advantage is its oversized Digigear system which increases the toot contact points with a smoother retrieve. With a line capacity of between 8/240 and 12/170, it is also very easy to use with different lines.
- Made with 6 ball bearings
- Designed with a lightweight ABS spool
- Made with a reversed taper
- Short warranty
The Main Benefits of Using a Spinning Reel
A spinning reel is an enhanced mechanical tool attached to a fishing rod for launch and retrieve. Before spinning reels were invented, fishermen had to pull the line with their hands, which was considerably limiting.
The line used to be placed on hooks that were added to the rod. Today, spinning reels automate this process, they hold more fishing lines, they help with the retrieve, and they don’t cut the fingers when retrieving by hand.
It holds the line
The main purpose of the spinning reel was to hold the extra line, at least at the beginning. With a spool that opens, it can be used for easy lightweight baitcasting, and after closing, it can be used to retrieve the bait or the fish. Since the line is always guided on the spinning reel, this means it doesn’t tangle and when it does, it is easy to reel the line back in.
Popular with small fish of up to 10 pounds, spinning reels are very versatile. While there are many specialized versions such as fly fishing reels or baitcasters, the classic spinning reel can go far when it comes to versatility and it may even be used for all types of fishing. Most spinning reels made today can be used in different fishing conditions.
Even in extreme examples, a spinning reel can be used for fly fishing when there’s no fly fishing reel to count on. Beginners now have more options than ever before as the gear is made to be more versatile.
They are easy to use by beginners
Casting with a spinning reel is very easy. While there is a learning curve to the technique, it doesn’t mean a spinning reel makes casting difficult. To cast with a spinning reel, users simply need to raise the spool, hold the line, and releasing.
Types of Spinning Reels
There are different types of spinning reels that are used for different types of fishing. Spinning reels are just a part of a larger picture and in most cases, fishermen end up owning one or multiple types of reels from the following.
The spincast reel remains a true classic at a very affordable price. It is the type of fishing reel many fishermen grew up with. It offers a versatile option for those who want to enjoy a simple design with no retrieve mechanism other than the reeling itself.
In terms of drawbacks, these designs lack the smoothness of ball bearings and the housing which allows plenty of lines to be stored. With only a fraction of the line on the fishing reel, it means many users don’t have the capacity to go after the big fish. With a limited line, they also can’t cast very long even when fishing from a boat. But for learning purposes, it remains one of the must-haves and one of the most fun to use.
The baitcasting reel is used for bait, as its name suggests. It doesn’t include a line twist and it is used to cast heavy bait out into saltwater. Since it is so different, it also features the longest learning curve.
Those who want to enjoy the best results when it comes to distance need to learn how to handle it properly. It has been named the most difficult baitcasting reel to master multiple times.
There are 2 basic types of baitcasting reels. The round baitcasting reel is used for large fish such as tuna. It holds a considerable line and it can be used on some of the most impressive species. The low-profile baitcasting reel is its opposite, mainly made for its lightweight profile. Made with an ergonomic design, it is also a lot easier to master. It can be a step up from the classic spinning reel and an in-between step moving forwards to the round baitcasting reel which is heavier and which holds more line.
Related reading: Guide to the Best Baitcaster Reels in 2021
Spinning reels which have been exemplified above are among the most popular tools for retrieving and casting. Anglers use it all the time and for what it offers, it’s one of the best ratios of investment to return. A metal bail wire is flipped up to cast and then flipped down to lock the line. Then the reel spins on the return as its name suggests.
There are many types of spinning reels to consider today. However, they need to be categorized according to the type of fishing to be made. As listed above, they come in sizes from 1000 to 6500 and they offer a solid option to both freshwater and saltwater fishing. An unwritten rule of fishing recommends spinning reels above 3000 to be used for saltwater fishing. At the same time, they can be further categorized by componentry, as detailed in the following section on how to choose the best spinning reel.
Most importantly, spinning reels are easy to use. They have a beginner-friendly quality to them which makes them hard to replace. Furthermore, there are plenty of people considering spinning reels even as a solution for baitcasting as they’re considerably easier to use.
Then there’s the advantage of the popularity. Since plenty of fishermen use these spinning reels, there’s a lot of information online on how to maintain them together with useful tips or tricks. Fishermen can find detailed tutorials on how to disassemble, clean, and grease these spinning reels in their thousands.
Surf Fishing Reels
The surf spinning reel is a type of specialized design made to withstand the harsh conditions it is used in which includes exposure to salt water, sun, and even sand. With better sealing and durable materials which are often anti-corrosion treated, the spinning reel of those who like surf fishing is a hybrid between the freshwater design and the saltwater spinning reel.
Related reading: Best Fishing Poles and Whips – 2021 Reviews
Offshore reels are also very similar to surf fishing reels. They might be used for large fish but this is not necessarily the case. It stands out with better construction made to deal with potential saltwater damage. At the same time, the spinning reel is clearly made to resist potentially harmful UV lights as there’s often no shade to hide in when fishing offshore.
Trolling reels are specific to ocean fishing and they are used to lure in big fish. As their name suggests, they troll the bait behind the boat. Also called conventional reels in some parts of the country, trolling reels are highly efficient at dealing with heavy loads.
Fishing for large fish such as tuna is not easy with weak tools. This is where trolling reels come in. Usually made from CNC aluminum or graphite, they have immense stopping power. Mostly constructed with 2 gears, these trolling reels offer one of the best solutions when it comes to dealing with brute force fishing in a nosy boat environment.
Loud clicks are audible from these reels. Some of them even come with 2 clicks. Unlike with freshwater fishing where loud noises can scare fish away, the trolling reels are specifically made to be louder just to be heard over the engine of the boat.
Centerpin reels are very simple and they come from the last century. Their design largely remains unchanged and their main advantage is the control over the fish. There’s no reeling power to help as the fisherman holds the line and pulls with the fingers.
Flyfishing is all about accuracy. Flyfishing reels are made to help the fisherman cast to a very specific point on the water, which is often just a few feet away. This means accuracy has to be made possible with a visible line. The thick line is loaded on this reel so that fishermen accurately see where they cast. Based on lightweight materials, it is also one of the few fishing reels which barely sees any rest time during fishing as flyfishing is the most active type of fishing today.
Planning, Water Type, and Fish Species
The main discussion to be had when purchasing a fishing reel is the type of fish the user plans to catch. It’s the specific species that are going to determine the type of fishing gear that works the best.
Types of fished species
The type of fish species you plant to fish for is crucial. Bass fishing spinning reels are different from tuna fishing spinning reels both in line capacity and in power.
As a general rule, it is best to choose a spinning reel of medium capacity for those who want to do all types of fishing. A 3000 spinning reel can be a good option here. However, this type of fishing reel is also limiting in specialized fishing such as trout fishing. Here, flyfishing reels are going to be better than fast and large spinning reels.
It is also a good idea to use the spinning reel which is the most lightweight as a beginner. All manufacturers show the weight of the fishing reel in the product’s description page. This allows those who’re just starting out to enjoy a bit more freedom and shorten the learning curve.
With every rod and spinning reel, there’s a learning curve to consider. It also means most users have to spend the time to develop the skills, but it is a lot easier with a smaller spinning reel.
The line capacity of the spinning reel is also important as it can be very frustrating not to have sufficient lines for the type of fish to be caught. Anglers prefer all types of designs with different line capacities. If you only want to fish at the local pond, line capacity becomes a minor issue.
The same applies to some types of freshwater fishing. However, things are different in saltwater fishing, shore, and offshore fishing. This is where anglers need a lot more line to get the job done. Baitcasting reels are known for their considerable line load capacity.
It’s rare to hear a store clerk advising anglers to stay within a certain budget as many get a large commission with expensive purchases. But as seen from the spinning reels above, they don’t have to be expensive. This also fishermen should know how to budget their purchases.
The most important budget planning timeline is right when starting out with no fishing gear at all. Experienced anglers can simply choose to upgrade their spinning reel and keep on fishing. But those new to the sport need to purchase all the gear together.
The rod is going to be the most expensive purchase for beginners. The fishing reel also needs to be taken into consideration. Then, there’s a long list of accessories to consider which includes line, hooks, bait, flyes, grease, fishing boots, fishing hats, fishing gloves, fishing glasses, etc.
All of these purchases add-up and they need to be taken seriously. If anglers spend all the budget on the fishing reel and the rod, there’s nothing left to purchase these accessories and there’s no way to go fishing without them.
Long-term fishing gear plans
Closely tied to the budget, the long-term fishing plans are also a good indicator to consider, even if mildly accurate. Those who never plan to go freshwater fishing don’t need to choose small spinning reels. At the same time, those who might only want to get involved with freshwater fishing don’t need to purchase large spinning reels.
There’s a direct correlation between initial purchases and the money spent on fishing gear later on. While fishing rods can also be purchased in numbers, many prefer to use the same rod and just change out the spinning reel when going fishing on different waters. This means users should look for spinning reels that can potentially fit their fishing rod.
How to Choose the Best Spinning Reel
To simplify the spinning reel buying guide section of the text, new fishermen can consider the fishing gear according to its main characteristics. It’s easier to place certain spinning reels in different categories just by analyzing and comparing their features according to the following guidelines.
You may also read: 12 Best Fishing Reels – 2021 Reviews
Arguably the most important aspect for durability, the body of the spinning reel remains the most important. It is here that users need to choose between aluminum, graphite, and magnesium designs. Some manufacturers combine these materials while others only manufacture the body using only material only.
Graphite is known for its lightweight premium profile, but it is not as rigid and durable as aluminum. However, one of the major advantages aluminum has is that it comes at a low price. This is why it offers good durability at an affordable rate.
Premium body construction is seen on spinning reels such as Penn Spinfisher V, Pflueger President Spinning Reel, Supreme XT, Shimano Stradic CI4, Okkuma Reels, Abu Garcia Revo SX, Okuma Ceymar, etc. These are still made with an aluminum body and a graphite body in some cases.
The size of the spinning reel is also important. As seen above, all listed products are available in multiple sizes. Anglers who only need the short line to be added to the reel only need a small size design. Those who need more lines can choose the large spinning reel alternatives.
It is also true that many larger best reels are also easier to use when it comes to large fish. As a result, the size of the spinning reel is also closely connected to the size of the catch. The size of the spinning reel can be categorized by numbers as well. The 1000 spinning reel is the smallest option. The 6500 spinning reel is the largest option among those listed above.
The gears of the spinning reel are also important in the general durability equation. Today, there are thousands of plastic gear and brass gear designs. Plastic is the lightest and it is also considerably more affordable. Plastic gearing is seen on many entry-level spinning reels. However, metal gearing is the most durable option and it might be the only way to go for anyone taking fishing seriously.
The bearings are also important. They are responsible for the smoothness of the retrieve. From 1 bearing and up to 11 bearings, there are plenty of spinning reels to consider. Within a set budget, anglers can simply go for the option with more bearings to ensure smoother operation.
Adjustable drag is a must in the world of modern fishing. The drag is what keeps the line in place once the fish goes for the bait and hooks in. However, a perfectly closed drag is certainly putting a lot of stress on the line which makes it prone to ripping. At the same time, beginners should choose spinning reels with low drag at first until they learn the ropes and start to use different drag settings for different fish.
The sealed drag system is something most new fishermen don’t think about too much. But as those who’ve lost potential large fish might recall, the max drag is what could have made the difference, even with inshore fishing. Large fish take longer to retrieve and the adjustable drag system is used to prevent the line from snapping. This is where the years of experience fishermen go through with retrieving start to pay off.
The spool is the part of the spinning reel which holds the line. It rotates both on casting and on retrieve as it holds the line. There are so many types of spools today that even experienced users get confused about which of them is the best.
Starting at the low end, plastic spools are the norm. Lightweight and affordable, they’re used on most cheap spinning reels. Cast aluminum spinning reels go a step above them as they offer better durability and an enhanced look. Made for all types of fishing, aluminum spools are a popular alternative to plastic spools.
Other options include the stainless steel spool. Made for large fish, it can be one of the premium options which are hard to see showing any signs of wear even after years of fishing. Polished graphite rotor spools are another premium alternative. Lightweight and less rigid, they offer a good solution in combination with the most drag-adjustable freshwater spinning reels.
Most fishermen need to know basic information about spinning reel handles. They need to know there are right-handed spinning reels and left-handed spinning reels. Some of them even support changing the handle from the right side to the left side.
Made from metal with a synthetic grip, the handles are the main point of contact for the user. Today, foam is used on the grip to make them a bit more comfortable. But even plain plastic grips are still reliable when it comes to frequent use.
The size of the handle can also be important. Some handles come with a folding design. This means they are highly efficient at offering a space-saving design that might help during transportation. Safely tucking all fishing gear away is key for its longevity. Other spinning reels come with handles that can’t be folded or removed.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best spinning reel?
Those who like to look deeply at the specs find the KastKing Valiant Eagle Spinning Reel to be the best solution. Based on an incredible setup of 11 bearings, it offers a very smooth and fast operation. Users who fish with such a design rarely go back to setup with fewer steel bearings.
How to clean spinning reels?
Spinning reels need to be cleaned after every fishing session. This is easily done using a mildly damp cloth. Anglers should cover all the visible parts of the spinning reel such as the body, the spool, and the handle. Even taking the process slowly to ensure they cover all of the surfaces is a good idea.
This process is particularly important for saltwater fishing anglers. This is where salt particles can get on the spinning reel leading to corrosion issues in the future. When it comes to grease, the spinning reel needs to be disassembled. Simple white grease can be used to coat its moving components.
Are expensive spinning reels worth it?
Expensive spinning reels are worth the investment if the angler has a sufficient budget to purchase the rod and other fishing accessories. Since the spinning reel can be used for years and even decades, it makes sense to invest in good gear and to upkeep it in excellent working condition.