Spinning reels make up the majority of my time as a kid, out fishing with my family. When dad would take us down the river, it was always a simple spinning reel fishing pole.
In fact, when I was about 10, I even threw an entire spinning reel and rod into Lake Ontario, never to be seen again. Luckily for me, it was a cheap pole and my dad didn’t throw me in after it!
Of course, there are extremely nice spinning reels, and there are entry level spinning reels. We’re going to take a look at all the different types of spinning reels most anglers will want to consider.
We’ll talk a bit about what to consider when choosing your spinning reel. If you’re looking in to choosing the next spinning reel, or even your first spinning reel, this is the place to be!
Quick Answer: The Best Spinning Reel
- PENN Spinfisher V Spinning Reel
- Shimano Stradic FK Spinning Reel
- KastKing Kodiak Saltwater Spinning Reel
- Pflueger President Spinning Reel
- Abu Garcia Revo SX Spinning Reel
- Daiwa BG Spinning Reel
- Okuma Ceymar Lightweight Spinning Reel
First lets take a look at the reels, then we’ll talk about how to choose a spinning reel for you. Here is a feature overview of my top 3 overall picks with full reviews and our buying guide below.
Best Spinning Reels
Spinning Reel Reviews
Penn’s Spinfisher rocks a solid 5+1 bearing system which could really be more robust but for most fishermen you won’t have a problem. I like the anodized aluminum spool and full metal body.
While it won’t be as light as a graphite reel, the added bulk isn’t much and it’ll stand up to just about any catch with ease.
It features a sealed drag system which is a cool innovation that prevents corrosion and failure of the drag system over time due to water contamination.
This is just another way to ensure that your investment and purchase will really last a long time.
Instant antireverse is basically a no-back-reeling feature that locks the handle every few degrees as you reel. Most anglers consider this a must-have.
There are a handful of different variations on this model so when it comes to capacity, gear ratio, and technical specs specific to your needs, you’ll be able to find the model for you. The PENN Spinfisher is one of the best freshwater spinning reels available.
Just make sure to look for the model that really seals the deal for you!
Available in five models this spinning reel adds to our growing list of reels that are versatile enough to meet just about any need. What you’ll get here is a drag range of 7-24 pounds of resistance on a set of reels that balance power, weight, and durability.
Shimano has centered these reels around their X-Ship technology which is aimed at improving the durability and longevity of the internal drive system.
With improved reliability around the drive and pinion gear, there’s lower friction and less warpage under load. This means a smooth and efficient retrieval whether you’re landing a trophy fish or reeling in a grass-bass.
The Stradic reel features Shimano’s Hagane body which is a full metal body. They opted for the heavier weight in order to support their high precision internals.
A lighter weight body might reduce fatigue on the angler during casting, but when you’re landing a large fish and body warp can cause severely increased reeling friction. No need to worry about that here. In my opinion the Schimano Stradic is the best spinning reel under $200.
This is another solid aluminum reel with a machined spool made to tackle some big fish! With a 10+1 bearing system and up to 40lbs of drag, you’ll want to consider this reel if you like long fights with heavy fish.
They’ve aimed this reel directly at the saltwater crowd seeking serious power and control. I would recommend this for saltwater fishermen looking to land some fat fish in the net for dinner.
Brass gears and carbon fiber drag both help to dramatically reduce the potential wear impacts of saltwater corrosion on your investment in your fishing gear.
Shielded stainless steel ball bearings add on to the list of components designed to stand up to the harsh wear of saltwater fishing.
This is a high capacity, low gear ratio beast that could nearly pull a jeep out of a mud pit and do it all without a spot of rust.
It’s clear that KastKing put some thought into the components and has been designed to be one of the best saltwater spinning reels on the market.
There’s something that really does feel presidential about the presentation of this graphite body spinning reel. With silver, gold, and blue anodization it almost says “executive” right on it. It’s a lightweight, nimble reel for those that like a quick cast and a good fight.
I like the large handle and easy textured grip mounted on top of a 10-bearing system for smooth recovery of any line. With a stainless steel and felt drag system you’ll have smooth application of friction and long life out of your internals.
Depending on which model you choose, you’ll be able to move all the way up to 12lbs test if you so choose. Again, this is another one of those reels that you can really just buy over and over again to suit any conditions or target fish you might want to tackle.
If you fall in love with this reel, there’s a model for every encounter and probably the best spinning reel for the money.
Abu is a brand that knows how to make great reels that look as sleek as the perform. They look and attack like the James Bond of fishing reels.
With a 9-bearing system and computerized machining of gears and internals, there’s little room for error. Of course, what isn’t made by a computer these days?
We’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, though, and assume they engineered it from the ground up to meet the Abu Garcia standard of quality.
Carbon body and graphite rotor combined with stainless steel bearings and a few splashes of aluminum make for an overall solid build where each component is optimized for its job.
They’ve really brought the weight down by using heavy materials only where they’re really needed to balance lightweight and durability in one reel and in my opinion the Revo is the best spinning reel for bass.
Yet again, this is a reel that you’ll be able to find a model to suit any need. From lightweight to beefy, Abu has got one of these sexy black and red reels for any situation you’ll encounter.
Another great line of spinning reels that you’ll be able to find in any size or capacity you might need.
These reels are made for freshwater fishing and rock a black and gold design reminiscent of a might bee! Aluminum spool and body are made for rigidity and power first, lightweight second.
Like some of our other reels we’ve reviewed, this spool is ready to accept braided line which is a feature you may not find on every reel.
You’ll have no end of trouble if you attempt to use braided line on a reel that’s not designed for it. Let’s just say, it’ll leave you frustrated.
With a 6+1 bearing system, anti-reverse handle (double anti-reverse on the larger models), and manual return bail, it’s sporting all the features you need to be a sportsman. In my opinion the Daiwa BG is the best spinning reel under $100.
There’s really nothing you won’t find in this line of reels from ultralight freshwater to beefy saltwater models at the high-end.
Now we’re going to check out a small reel made for lightweight catches and precision fishing. This small spinning reel comes in a sexy red and black anodized body made from machined aluminum.
Anti-reverse reel and 7+1 ball bearing system are standard and I think there’s more than enough smoothness in the reel to go around.
This reel is available in 5 different models with varying capacities and gear ratios. I really like when manufacturers do this because once you find a brand you love, you can simply keep variation of your favorite reel on hand for any type of fishing
They made this reel to handle anything from 2lbs test to 6lbs test so it’s definitely a lightweight made for quick jabs.
With an oiled felt drag system, there’s not much to worry about with corrosion and the maximum drag pressure of 5lbs should warn you that this reel won’t be for landing the type of fish you might handle with something like the KastKing Kodiak.
This is a fun, playful, lightweight reel and with its budget price tag, the best spinning reel for beginners.
How to Choose the Best Spinning Reel for You
- Consider Where You’ll Fish
- Reel Housing and Body Type
- Reel Capacity and Size
- Gear Ratios
- Drag Systems
Consider Where You’ll Fish
Will you be heading to small inland lakes and rivers, or coastal saltwater? Are you fishing in the open waterways and inlets of the Great Lakes where fresh water and big fishing are common?
Knowing where you’ll be fishing is important to making a few decisions in buying your spinning reel. For the casual fisherman who will be fishing freshwater, spending top dollar on saltwater resistant reels might not be totally necessary.
For those of you planning to put your reel through some harsh conditions, consider opening up your budget for a reel with a proven ability to stand up to nasty conditions such as a graphite body reel.
Reel Housing and Body Type
Commonly your choices will be either graphite or aluminum body reels. Aluminum tends to be more rigid and is a good choice for freshwater fishermen that don’t mind a little more weight. While it won’t “rust” like iron will, aluminum can still corrode and oxidize so be careful.
Graphite reel bodies are lighter and, for the casual fisherman, you won’t notice the slight increase in flex that some consider a downside. In my opinion, the lighter weight and increased corrosion resistance for something made to be covered in water make graphite the sure choice. Unless budget dictates, this would be my choice!
Reel Capacity and Size
Understanding what type of fishing you’ll be doing is important to making an intelligent buying decision. Each angler has a preferred bait, style, and fish of choice and that will vary on every fishing trip. Consider what weight line you’ll want to use before simply choosing a reel off the shelf. This will determine the overall size of reel you’ll pick.
Reading the technical specs for the reel you’re looking to purchase will reveal the line test the reel is suited for as well as the yardage capacity of the reel. Often you can safely move one step up or down from the recommended line test in the charts but remember to expect an adequate adjustment of line capacity overall.
Gear ratios affect two main things. First, how fast will your reel retrieve the line? Second, how east will it be to haul in heavy catches?
Gear rations are listed as follows (6.4:1) First up is the revolutions of the spool, second is the number of turns of the handle. So, for this example, the spool will spin 6.4 times per handle turn. Higher that ratio, the faster the retrieval. The lower the number, the slower your spool will retrieve but the easier it will be to haul in a heavy load.
It can be important to consider gear ratios when choosing a reel for certain types of bait. Consider how fast you want to be able to move your bait and for what purpose! This will be heavily influence by the type of fish you’re after and the method of jigging you may use.
Today you’re most likely to encounter the ever-popular skirted spool reel. These are the image of spinning reels that you likely envision when someone mentions the name. Skirted spinning reels create less drag on line than their older relatives which have gone by the wayside.
Within the last few years several innovations have piqued the curiosity of anglers. Mag spools and long-cast spools are slight variants on the spinning reel’s skirted spool design. Both of them report longer cast distances and decreased friction. Unless you’re a real pro, however, it’s pretty unlikely you’ll really notice a difference.
Drag refers to the amount of resistance given to the line when a fish tries to take off swimming away with your bait. On spinning reels, you’ll encounter two main style of drag application.
Front drag reels, while similar to rear drag, are often considered more robust and durable. Rear drag systems, in my opinion are just as effective for most anglers and are overall easier to access and operate. I recommend the rear drag system unless you need something different for a specific reason.
Best Spinning Reel Brands
As always choosing the “best” brands of reels is subjective and truth is, with modern manufacturing and technology most all brands are pretty good. There are always a few brands that keep coming up among experienced anglers and personally I have had good luck using all these brands:
Most of the reels we’ve reviewed are offered by reputed manufacturers offering large lines of models for any need. Whether you’re looking for cutting edge tech, or budget minded proven reels, there’s something you can rely on here.
It’s up to you to research what type of fishing you’ll be doing and what reel is the best for your choice. Just jump up to the top and read through our buyer’s guide to get a great sense of what reel will meet your needs!