Spinning reels have been improved throughout the years. They have always been the ultimate option for naïve anglers then how do they become best for professionals? Now the reels’ drag system, gear ratio, and line capacities all these features are set by fishing locations and specific targets in each reel model. It is no secret that every angler wants one of the best spinning reels to land with zero chance of missing a fish.
The main point of confusion pops up when brands are offering tons of different models with many different ranges of prices then how to pick the best one? Many factors are considered before buying a reel but to declare them as the “best spinning reels” we scaled them based on line control, smooth drag, construction material, line capacity, and also the price as many of the best spinning reels are under $100. All these factors will be discussed in detail but let’s first check some of the top-rated spinning reels.
Top 3 Picks for the best spinning reels
- Metal reel body
- 6+1 stainless steel ball bearings
- IP6 sealed reel body
- Dura Drag system
- Metal Body
- 7 ball bearings
- X-protect – water repellent coatings on reel parts
- Cross Carbon drag system
- Aluminum reel body
- Reel body with Flush and drain port
- 7 stainless steel ball bearings
- 6.2:1 gear ratio
List of best Spinning reels 2023
best spinning reel for saltwater
For serious anglers who are in search of durable spinning reels, especially for saltwater fishing, PENN Slammer spinning reels are the ideal pick for them. Each of its quality features left its impression on the price tag.
The reel is a full metal body so durability and strength are the top-mentioned features. The main reason of mentioning it top of the list is its tendency to load a heavy fish game ideal for saltwater fishing.
Its IP6-sealed body offers excellent protection from dirt and salt particles. This feature increases its life span as it is safe from corrosion.
Offering smooth line release and retrieval with special a Dura drag system. The main advantage of the slammer’s drag is that the drag washers (friction plates) are also protected from water exposure. The major advantage to this is you don’t have to grease these parts.
PELL slammer is a true warier suitable for both freshwater and saltwater fishing. Just pick the right size and be ready for a memorable experience.
Its well-built structure, smooth drag, and 6+1 ball bearings are all set to improve its casting performance. My personal favorite is the 6500 reel size with enough spool capacity for heavy loads.
The automatic bail is present with 3500, 4500, and 5500 reel sizes but above these sizes, you have to flip the bail manually.
PENN slammer is available in 9 different sizes and two different colors, so it’s a versatile reel suitable for different fishing situations.
- A durable reel capable to fight rough salty water environments
- Available in a variety of different sizes
- Well-greased parts
- Expensive spinning reel
- Having metal body it is heavier than other spinning reels
best spinning reel for the money
Shimano is a well-known brand because of its durable and high-performing fishing gear. Shimano Stradic wasn’t popular in the start but with a little improvement to the drag system, it’s just a durable spinning reel without adding any additional weight.
It is generally experienced that heavy monofilament fishing lines aren’t a good choice for spinning reels but Shimano Stradic FL. These medium-range reels are ideal for both beginners and professionals.
Although we do not recommend high-price reels as startup reels but I am personally impressed by their performance. The smoothest drag you will ever get and I mean it.
With the metal reel body, it is suitable for both freshwater and saltwater fishing. Offer long casting distance and with a little bit of care, it will last for decades.
The reel parts are properly greased so you don’t have to grease them before first use and with the x-protect feature, the reel parts especially the water-proof drag are highly water resistant and saved from corrosion.
The reel is ideal for those anglers searching for high-performance saltwater reels with lightweight structure although the price may be higher but performance is exceptional. It is one of the best spinning reels for bass.
The reel wouldn’t disappoint you from pan fish to big-sized fish just be conscious about the right size. The only drawback we found is the reel isn’t available above 5000 sizes. But they are fast retrieving reels with a 6.0:1 and above gear ratio.
- Lightweight reel
- Smooth drag
- High performing spinning reel
- Suitable for both freshwater and saltwater fishing
- Not available in sizes above 5000
- Expensive reel
best spinning reel under $150
Not every time you need a big bulky spinning reel for a big fish catch. For targeting medium-sized fish from inshore to shore and boats Lew’s Custom Inshore spinning reel offers a smooth casting experience.
This budget-friendly spinning reel has tons of premium features that make it an ideal choice for amateur as well as professional anglers.
Proving with the facts that it is a recommended alternative to some of the big names’ expensive reels. It has 7 stainless steel ball bearings. It is highly lightweight with an aluminum body and carbon skeletal speed rotor.
This lightweight spinning reel is ideal for those anglers who want affordable spinning reels without compromising on performance. From freshwater to small saltwater fish catch Lew’s custom is optimal for the pick.
To get rid of one of the most frustrating activities i.e. cleaning the reel after saltwater fishing, especially for beginners as spinning reels comprises many parts. Its flush and drain port made this task much easier than ever before.
This reel has a sealed carbon multi-disc drag system. The main advantage of sealed drag systems is low maintenance. All you have to do is just rinse with clean fresh water. These drag parts are less prone to corrosion and last longer.
Overall it’s a well-built spinning reel with a comfortable handle knob that can be swapped from left to right.
- Budget friendly fishing reel
- High performance reel for both fresh water and small saltwater catches
- Lightweight reel
- The reel works for both right and left hand applications
- The plastic used on the knob can be improved
- Not recommended for big saltwater fish catch
- The maximum size reel is 4000
best spinning reel for trout
Pflueger President is many anglers’ favorite product due to many reasons. First of all its graphite body makes it a lightweight reel and ideal for a small saltwater catch. Many anglers prefer the Pflueger spinning reel over Lew’s Custom as both have the almost same features with two differences in price and body construction material.
It has a graphite body and rotor. To fulfill all the premium features of a saltwater spinning reel it has a sealed drag system. The drag washers are protected from saltwater bruises and offer long-lasting smooth drag, also saving from corrosion.
As you increase the size of the reel, the no of ball bearings also increases. As we know a greater number of ball bearings is always an angler’s priority and getting a maximum of 10 bearings at this price point is a bang for the buck.
For having a stronger hold on the target fish it has a braid-ready spool. It has an easy switching handle from left to right with a rubber knob offering a strong grip on the handle.
Pair it with 7 feet ultra-light spinning rod and experience exceptional fishing experience. Its click bail and anti-reverse switch all enhance the angler’s experience and being lightweight allows multiple hours of fishing without any fatigue to the dominant hand.
Either casting from shore or jigging from a boat supports fishing the way you want.
- Lightweight reel
- Affordable price range
- Highly corrosion resistant
- Can bear saltwater bruises
- Perfect with braided fishing lines
- With maximum 40 reel size not ideal for big fish catch
- Line twist might be issue with this reel
best spinning reel for inshore saltwater
A smooth retrieving spinning reel for inshore fishing is PENN Fierce an upgraded version of PENN Fierce II. Its aluminum body and machined aluminum spool are durable and can load large saltwater fish catches.
It has HT-100 carbon fiber drag washers that offer smooth line release tackling high-strength fish. The reel has 5 ball bearings which might be not liked by many anglers because many brands offer up to 7 ball bearings at this price point.
However, we didn’t notice any major drawback in its performance due to its ball bearings. Its Techno Balanced rotor makes sure for smooth line retrieval.
To prevent line twisting and for enhanced line control its heavy-duty aluminum bail wire is just present there. The reel features a 5.2:1 to 6.2:1 gear ratio so pretty fast reel.
The reel is available in 1000 to 8000 sizes, a much variation is available. Make sure to check the line capacity for both mono and braided before buying.
The reel is not only the best in quality and performance but also has attractive cosmetics. The combination of red and black give this reel an attractive look.
Perfect reel with longer-length spinning rods for surf fishing. Although we didn’t use the bigger sized reel, tried the 3000 sizes with Ugly stick Elite spinning rod and landed many pan fish, it performed great.
- Attractive cosmetics
- Its 8000 size is perfect pick for long surf fishing rods
- Its drag system holds pretty well
- A bit heavier than other saltwater spinning reels
best spinning reels under $100
Okuma Ceymar series can be a solution for your many fishing conditions if you are right with the reel sizes. The reel is ideal for entry-level anglers as the product description has already categorized each reel size according to the target fish. Just match your target and pick the reel size.
The budget-conscious anglers can rely on these durable reels because getting a spinning reel for pier and jetty fishing for under $80 is nothing else but a treat.
It has a graphite reel body ideally designed for corrosion resistance and a lightweight spinning reel allowing fishing full day long.
The anglers who don’t like big bulky reels should buy these reels Okuma Ceymar spinning reels with blade body designs cut off the fashion of giant reels with these small lightweight reels with enough line capacity.
The reel offers smooth line release and retrieval with 8 ball bearings. Okuma brand just made sure not to compromise the quality over price.
Its powerful multi-disc drag system, machined aluminum spool, and comfortable handles with EVA knob offer strong grip and control over the reel.
For a consistence performance pair it with one of the best spinning rods. The size c-30 and 40 is perfect with ultra-light spinning rods also try your luck on ice fishing with Okuma Ceymar C-10.
- Versatile spinning reel series
- Affordable price range
- Smooth line retrieval
- Smaller sizes are best with ultra-light spinning rods
- The handle tightening nut may become loose after some time
- Not ideal for surf fishing
One of the reliable brands for spinning reels is the Daiwa Regal LT. The reel is lighter in weight and the anglers switching from the Daiwa BG saltwater reel can feel the weight difference.
Daiwa has improved its features in different reel series. Its air rotor stands out for the balance, toughness, and sensitivity of the reel.
It has an aluminum body, a machined aluminum handle, and a spool. Its aluminum metal body is highly durable and the corrosion-resistant ball bearings offer smooth retrievals on every cast.
Although not an option for larger-sized fish it is an ideal reel for freshwater trout and other pan fish. It features 10 ball bearings which ultimately point to its silky smooth performance in the water.
From streams and lakes to light saltwater fishing Daiwa Regal Lt marks its importance. It is one of the durable spinning reels and lasts longer for many years.
A recommended reel for beginners. Daiwa Regal LT is a package of performance and affordability a speedy reel with easy operation.
- Cos effective spinning reel
- Good for small saltwater and fresh fish catch
- Smooth performance with 10 ball bearings
- The retrieving speed might be fast for some anglers although we don’t take it as a major con
I prefer more ball bearings in the fishing reel. The main reason for selecting PISCIFUN Flame is also its total of 10 ball bearings that offer smooth retrieval on each cast.
Its lightweight body structure of graphite and comfortable long handles performs best with ultra-light spinning rods for bass fishing. You can target bluegill, bass, trout, and many other species with Piscifun Flame spinning reels.
Its matt black and red body looks attractive and can bear abuse. These smaller-sized reels have enough drag power to fight against hooked fish strength.
I first take it as my backup reel but its smooth performance with smooth drag forced me to use it as the main reel for my boat fishing. Because of its affordable range, you can have pair of Piscifun Flame reels in different sizes.
Besides all these features, we mainly recommend these reels for freshwater fishing mainly because of the ball bearings which aren’t sealed so if you aren’t good with the maintenance your reel bearings might be rusted after some time.
However, at this price point, it’s fair with its quality performance and braid-ready spool. Piscifun reel makes sure to deliver the smoothest operation with a unique x- shape spool, anti-corrosion zinc drive Gear, Triple Drag washers to reduce line twists with consistent line release, and 10 ball bearings.
- Best cheap spinning reels
- Perfect for everyday freshwater fishing
- Not ideal option for saltwater fishing
- 2000 reel size is heavier than other brand reels of the same size
How we picked the best spinning reels
To make sure to find the right spinning reel for your favorite spinning rod, you must go through some factors before buying. Spinning reels are popular over baitcasting reels mainly because of ease of use and their economic price but they should have the following features for quality performance.
Smooth drag/Drag System
Before diving into what should or what should not you must know what is reel’s drag system. It is the reel’s internal functioning which involves two steel plates (drag washers) that prevents excess line release and let the required line to release under tension. Simply at what speed your line will be released.
The drag system went into action when the hooked fish starts pulling the line with full strength. The reel starts releasing the line while rotating backward. The drag saves the line from breakage as it releases the line before its breaking strength. It’s a simple rule if you tighten the drag the line is hard to be released while the drag set as loose makes it easier for fish to pull the line.
So you have to set the drag before the cast. Once you are in action and got a fish hooked you can’t adjust your drag at this point.
Share a little tip you can check the smoothness and consistency of your drag by turning the spool in a backward position on a fixed reel in your hand. Smooth drag is one of the major factors for the best spinning reels. But for this, you must know how to set the reel drag.
A quick tip for setting drag for desired results set the drag at the one-third of the fishing line’s breaking strength. This indicates the drag power to hold the fishing line against the fish’s strength.
Learn how to set the drag with this video
To be aware of your reel’s retrieving speed you must be familiar with the gear ratio of your term. The gear ratio tells how many times the spool rotates with one crank of the handle. Generally, it is mentioned as 5.7:1, which means that 5.7 times the rotor will rotate around the spool when you turn the handle.
The greater the gear ratio, the faster your reel is. So if you want to retrieve your lure fast, use the high gear ratios 5:1 and above. All the reels with gear ratios more than this are considered fast-spinning reels.
If you aren’t sure about the gear ratios you can easily follow the general principle that for throwing artificial lures, higher gear ratios are optimal pick and for live baits, when you need more power the slow spinning reels are recommended.
High-gearing fast reels are better suited for inshore, offshore, and bass fishing. You can also make the fast ones, and retrieve lines a bit slower so they are more versatile than the slow-spinning reels.
Spinning reel Size
Selecting the right size spinning reel is the crucial point and most of the time a confusing step. The anglers become frustrated at this point especially the beginners with so many sizes available at the same time.
Selecting the reel size, you first get the answers to these questions
- The type of fishing you are up to
- The target fish you want to catch
- The fishing line pound test
Now if you have 7 feet long ultra-light spinning rod or less with a maximum of 10 lb. for mono and 14 lb. for braided fishing line test then small-sized spinning reels i.e. 1000 to 3000. Small-sized spinning reels are mostly recommended for freshwater fishing.
For medium-sized catches with fishing rods of 7-9 feet in length, the spinning reels of 4000 to 6000 size are the optimal choice. They mostly work with fishing lines of line strength 8-25 lb. for braided and 8-14lb. for monofilament fishing lines.
For saltwater fishing, you mostly require longer rods and big sized spinning reels. Many brands are now producing saltwater spinning reels which are normally bigger in size than regular one.
The spinning reels of 6000 size and above are all the bigger-sized reels and are used for bigger catches. You can ideally pick the braided fishing line of 50 lb. pound test on 6000 or 7000 spinning reel.
All these readings are mostly mentioned in the product descriptions so make sure to read the details first.
All of the reel’s features are interlinked with each other. It’s an obvious rule that larger sized larger-sized spinning reels will have more line capacity than smaller ones.
Again line capacity depends on the size of your target. To catch a larger fish you need more lines on the spool with higher gear ratios so all equal to a bigger-sized spinning reel.
Monofilament fishing lines being thick in diameter will offer less line capacity as compared to braided fishing lines.
Ball bearings are responsible for the reel’s smooth operation and reduce friction between all the moving parts. The latest spinning reels comprise mainly two types of ball bearings. Open ball bearings are also a category but they are not a recommended choice.
As the name suggests these ball bearings are shielded with metal or plastic material. The main purpose of shielding them is to save them from salt and dirt. You have to properly and regularly oil the bearings to save them from corrosion. As saltwater may affect these parts.
Rather than the shield, these bearings are sealed with material like rubber. These sealing not only save bearings from dirt particles but are also waterproof so more protection from salt particles and corrosion. They are the top recommendations for saltwater fishing. All their positive ratings also raise the price tag.
The greater number of ball bearings is a good sign for reel performance. The more ball bearings smoother your reel retrieves. Professional anglers advise that there should be at least 5 ball bearings in a fishing reel and more than this are always top recommended.
The spinning reel’s weight and durability both depend on the construction material of the reel. Normally two types of materials are used for the reel bodies Aluminum and graphite or sometimes a combination of both.
Aluminum reel bodies are more durable than graphite but heavier in weight. They are available at relatively cheaper rates than graphite ones. Whereas the graphite spinning reels are lighter in weight and more corrosion resistant.
We can let this point as a matter of personal preference because some prefer weight over strength and vice versa.
The latest fishing reels both spinning and baitcasting have a unique feature of an “anti-reverse switch” which can be turned on and disengaged on personal preference.
This feature prevents the reel from turning backward, the bail can’t even make the slightest backward movement, and this helps in setting strong hook sets and also prevents line tangles as the reel is locked to spin in the wrong direction.
Other factors affecting the best spinning reels’ performance
Spool of the spinning reel
The Spool of the spinning reel has a greater impact on the reel performance it not only holds the line but the casting distance is also affected by the spool style.
Just like the reel bodies, reel spools are also made from aluminum or graphite with the same features of strength, durability, and low price rate for aluminum spools and lightweight graphite spools.
However, its construction material doesn’t affect the performance as much as the spool style does. Mainly two spool styles are available internal Spools and skirted spools.
Internal spools are much more prone to line tangles however for longer casts and smooth line release and fast retrieves these shallow reel spools i.e. skirted spools are the recommended ones.
They are long, flat, and wide line spools that uncoil the line fast and in smooth action.
Price reflects a significant influence on the reel performance. For example it’s every angler’s wish to spend quality hours in the water for fishing without any fatigue to arms, this requires lightweight tackles. So graphite reels are the best lightweight spinning reels but expensive ones.
The reel with 5 balls bearing no doubts rotates and retrieves a line but as the ball bearing increases in number, the line retrieves more fast and smooth. Hence remarkable performance with 8 or more ball bearings which also raises the price tag.
With each advanced feature, the price raises. But it’s a general rule that you get what you paid for. If you are okay with changing spinning reels often then cheaper spinning reels are good to go. But for durability, reliability, strength, and smooth performance you have to raise your budget a bit.
A brief introduction to Spinning reels
What are spinning reels?
Spinning reels are an ideal pick for lighter tackles and work perfectly with small baits. For spinning rods, these are the reels with spool facing downward. They are the optimal choice for beginners and are relatively more economical in the budget than baitcasting reels. Choosing the best spinning reel is always challenging but once you are fully familiar with the reel and its features that will not more a bigger task.
Get familiar with the terms line capacity, gear ratio, reel body, anti-reverse switch, drag system, reel weight, and drag adjustment half of your work will be done.
Spinning reels are different from other types of fishing reels for your knowledge there are many other different types of fishing reels
- Spinning reels
- Baitcasting reels
- Fly Fishing reels
- Conventional reels
We wouldn’t go into the details and will just highlight the different types available.
Advantages of using Spinning reels over baitcasting reels
Spinning reels are best for beginners
The best part about the spinning reels is that they are ideal for beginners. Even if you are in your learning phase spinning reels are the optimal choice. Especially because of their easy design these open face-reels are easier to use and less prone to line tangles as compared to bait casting reels.
Spinning reels are prefect for lightweight tackles
Spinning reels are the ideal choice for lightweight lures. For casting small baits and lightweight lures these open-face reels uncoils the line smoothly and are the optimal choice for small to medium-sized fish catch with much longer casting distance.
Spinning reels are cost effective
The major advantage of using spinning reels is they are budget-friendly as compared to other types of fishing reels.
Spinning reels are versatile
Many anglers prefer fishing gear one for all. Although it’s not possible in every case but quite possible with spinning rods and reels.
In comparison to other types, baitcasting reels are a bit difficult to use and require experience to work with. Fly fishing reels are exclusively bounded to fly fishing rods whereas conventional reels are much heavier in weight and mostly used with trolling fishing rods when drop casting.
Spinning reels are the bang for the buck, they are available as both saltwater and freshwater fishing reels. You can target each size fish of any fishing location. Just pick the right spinning reel size by the target.
Frequently Asked Questions
Spinning reels are one of the easiest fishing gear to buy and even use. Just follow the buying guide and you will have one of the best spinning reels in your gear collection. So best of luck!!
An interesting question arises in many novice anglers’ minds “Can they use a spinning reel on a baitcasting rod?” You can check our guide on this question to learn everything in detail.