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Fishing Reels

10 Best Freshwater Spinning Reel 2023 – [Buyer’s Guide]

Sportfishing has taken off in the last century beating any other invention by yards. It is not only about actually catching fish. The camaraderie and the deep satisfaction of being in a quiet secluded spot. It is about the wait, that adrenalin high of the huntsman.

The invention of the first spinning wheel was by Albert H Illingworth, 1st Baron of Illingworth. A British politician, and businessman, who, in 1905, put together the fixed-spool spinning reel.

The spinning reel made it to American shores in the 1940s courtesy Bache Brown, a wealthy American sportsman. The Airex Bache Brown Spinster was one of the first spinning reels available.

Spinning reels come in all shapes and sizes, the features that are provided being purely functional. Whether you are a newbie or a grizzled veteran, there is a reel available that suits your needs.

The question here is how do you narrow down the choice? To make it a lot easier for you, we have compiled this guide so you can zero in on the best freshwater spinning reel that suits your needs.

Our Top 10 Freshwater Spinning Reels (Quick View)

Pick Name Thumbnail Product Name Price
Best Overall Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel Check Price
Also Great PENN Pursuit III Spinning Fishing Reel PENN Pursuit III Spinning Fishing Reel Check Price
Best Value KastKing Sharky III Drag 10+1 Fishing Reel KastKing Sharky III Drag 10+1 Fishing Reel Check Price
4th PENN Spinfisher V Spinning Fishing Reel PENN Spinfisher V Spinning Fishing Reel Check Price
5th Daiwa BG Spinning Reel Daiwa BG Spinning Reel Check Price
6th Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 4000 XG FB Spinning Fishing Reel Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 4000 XG FB Spinning Fishing Reel Check Price
7th PENN Fierce Live Liner Spinning Fishing Reel PENN Fierce Live Liner Spinning Fishing Reel Check Price
8th SHIMANO STRADIC HG, Freshwater Spinning Fishing Reel SHIMANO STRADIC HG, Freshwater Spinning Fishing Reel Check Price
9th Abu Garcia Revo SX Spinning Reel Abu Garcia Revo SX Spinning Reel Check Price
10th SHIMANO ULTEGRA Freshwater Spinning Fishing Reel SHIMANO ULTEGRA Freshwater Spinning Fishing Reel Check Price

Best Freshwater Spinning Reel You Can Buy

1 Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel (Best Overall)

Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel

The Penn Battle II is a rod and reel combo. It’s a sure bet for hooking those large game fish. The combination provides you with a full metal body fishing reel and a very responsive rod. Strength and sensitivity are the results of this merger. The material is sturdy and is bold enough to take on those big fellas.

The Battle II is meant to last. The drag design of this reel is a carbon fiber system (the HT-100 Versa Drag.) Achievement of the greatest possible drag is by using either side of the drag washers. The washers have a special grease that can withstand the demands of time. The provision of an anti-reverse bearing wipes out pullback. As a result, any interruption when reeling is absent.

The spool has a rubber gasket so that the line does not slip when under pressure. Hence, a braided line without monofilament backing is usable here. Capacity rings are provided. The building material is graphite composite with aluminum oxide guides.

  • We found that the reel had the solidity of a tank and was sure to put in years of service.
  • An observation of ours was that the drag system was great and functioned without a hiccup.
  • The reel is on the heavier side.
  • We liked the design of the handle that was super comfortable and the bail closed well.
  • We were impressed that the bearings run extra smoothly and the responsiveness was as promised.
  • The 5000 is a great choice for hassle-free fishing with a 25lb drag

We compared the PENN Battle II and the Daiwa BG since the price point was close. The Daiwa gives 17.6 lbs of smooth drag from the carbon ATD drag system. The Penn does 15 lb drag with the HT-100 system.

Because of the oversized gears, the Daiwa again scores over the Battle II in smooth retrieval. The Battle II is a quality reel but the Daiwa BG edges ahead.


  • A superb combination
  • Very agreeable price
  • Anti-reverse bearing
  • Full metal body
  • Drag system of carbon fiber


  • Unsuitable if you only need the reel but not the rod

Our Verdict

If a composite reel and rod combination is what you seek, the PENN Battle II spinning reel ends your search. Our feedback and the mentioned pros and cons put up a strong case. We really liked its solidity and trouble-free operation. The Battle II is a stellar freshwater spinning reel. A point in its favor is the affordable cost factor. This is a top-class buy and so do check it out.

2 PENN Pursuit III Spinning Fishing Reel (Also Great)

PENN Pursuit III Spinning Fishing Reel

The PENN Pursuit III spinning reel fits the bill as a budget reel that gives you the best bang for the buck. Durability is the hallmark of this spinning reel. It notches up those stars for its spectacular high-end drag system. The smooth and popular HT-100 is met with wide admiration by anglers.

The ultra-lightweight and corrosion-resistant Pursuit III is made of graphite. It comes in 6 sizes starting from 2500 up to 8000. There is a specific size available to fulfill the fishing needs of every angler.

Penn has also thrown an instant anti-reverse system into the mix. The result – elimination of back play to help facilitate fast and immediate hook-ups.

This spinning reel has a smooth retrieve. The four shielded stainless steel bearings do the job.

The spool sports line capacity rings so you are always aware of the remaining line in your spoil.

  • We do make it a point to see how easily can the reel be opened up for cleaning. This is important for smooth operation. The Pursuit III is a piece of cake.
  • We loved the HT-100 drag system. It was everything promised and more.
  • We did find it strange that the 4000 model had no warranty coverage.
  • This reel is suitable for both freshwater and saltwater. From the second generation, it has been upgraded. The housing seal ensures that there is no ingress of water.
  • Solid body due to the use of thick bail wire.

Battle II and the Pursuit III are both like peas in a pod. The glaring difference is that Battle II is a reel and rod combo. The body is full metal whereas the Pursuit III sports a graphite body. Battle II has an extra bearing. The tags are both affordable with the Battle II being a bit higher.


  • Amazingly affordable
  • Corrosion-resistant graphite
  • Ultra-lightweight
  • HT100 carbon fiber drag washers


  • Not as advanced as some other inshore reels

Our Verdict

Seldom do you get a budget spinning reel that is of any quality? Most reels below $60-$70 are not quite worth it in the long run. Penn has hit this concept straight out of the park. The inclusion of the HT-100 drag system is a game-changer.

This has made the Pursuit III one of the best, if not the best, budget reels. These reels are at home with small species and mighty bass too. So, if your need is reliability and quality. and you are budget bound, the Pen Pursuit III comes recommended by us.

3 KastKing Sharky III Drag 10+1 Fishing Reel (Best Value)

KastKing Sharky III Drag 10+1 Fishing Reel

Though the Sharky III hit the shelves in 2018 it is still a bestseller today. An upgrade from the Sharky I and II, it transforms fishing into loads of fun. It is a trouble-free reel and will perform pretty well in any fishing condition.

This top-notch KastKing reel sports K.I.S.S protection, a patented Shield System. This is an exceptional one-of-a-kind safeguarding system. It preserves the body and spool of the reel. The rotor is well shielded and void from damage due to water ingress and dirt. Needless to say, this increases its performance and the durability of the reel.

Be it casting from a pier, seaside shore fishing, or fishing in a stream, the reel will whet your appetite. minus any glitches involving corrosion. The design of the Sharky III remains smooth in any fishing environment pretty much. There are also 10 double-shielded stainless steel-protected ball bearings. Ultra-smooth operation and a glitch-free fishing experience is certain.

KastKing has thrown in a line roller that is anti-twist to keep at bay line snarls or tangles.

  • We were somewhat shaken up by this awesome spinning reel. This feature-laden reel is everything it claims.
  • We loved the grips of hi-density EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate). They make sure you stay in full control even in the wettest situation.
  • The Sharky III is made for big fish. Loaded with an ultra-strong system up to 39.5 lbs, it is enough even for a shark.
  • Another impressive find was the smooth and quiet operation of the rig. The aluminum spool is braided-ready and is smooth. It also provides for effortless line retrieval. There is little need for a backing line.
  • The line capacity is a lot more than other reels


  • Available in multiple sizes
  • Can handle large fish
  • Suitable for both saltwater and freshwater fishing
  • Graphite body keeps out corrosion
  • Very affordable


  • Line retrieval not smooth enough

Our Verdict

The Sharky III from KastKing is an exceptional fishing tackle.  Few reels can perform well in all fishing environments. This inexpensive reel trumps the competition. It also sports a line capacity greater than most reels. Being waterproof, damage by salt or freshwater is of no concern. This will last you many years of fun-filled fishing.

4 PENN Spinfisher V Spinning Fishing Reel

PENN Spinfisher V Spinning Fishing Reel

The PENN Spinfisher V spinning reel is chock-full with wonderful features. One such feature is the IPX5 sealing. This a watertight sealing. The fisher need not fret about water seepage into the gearbox or drag system causing any erosion.

The washers of the drag (HT-100) are enclosed in a sealed spool. This permits stopping power for the mightiest big fish. The operation of the Spinfisher is smooth to perfection. It also sports friction trip ramps to avert bail tripping early when casting. The body and side plates are fully metal. This holds the CNC gears in correct alignment even when tackling heavy loads.

The bearings are shielded, made of stainless steel, and are instant anti-reverse. The Superline spool does not need any backing and comes braid ready. Line capacity rings mark off full, ⅓ and ⅔. The bail is made of heavy-duty aluminum wire. The drag system is Penn’s Slammer rear drag system. This makes it simple to adjust drag while you’re locked in battle with a fish.

  • We loved testing this one out. The cranking was simple and fluid with no catch or jams.
  • We observed that the drag was smooth as silk and easy to manage. The retrieval system functioned as it is supposed to.
  • The handle is reversible and is suitable for any hand cranking.
  • We tried casting with as many models as possible. We found that any size over 4500 places a strain on the arms.
  • It’s suitable for both saltwater and freshwater. If used in saltwater, we recommend that you take a minute off to wash down the reel with fresh water for prolonged life.
  • We love the looks that will floor you. With its stylish black and gold design, it is a head-turner.


  • Waterproof
  • Awesome anti-reverse system
  • Sturdy and durable
  • Fully sealed construction
  • Super-strong drag washers of carbon fiber
  • Proprietary CNC gear technology


  • Quite expensive

Our Verdict

We appreciate the PENN Spinfisher V as a powerhouse among professionals and newbies. Even in corrosive saltwater, this reel holds its ground. There are quite a few versions of the Spinfisher. The fifth-generation reel is loved by many for its versatility, extraordinary capabilities, and all-around stability when in operation. Whatever your level of expertise, we urge you to look this reel up.

5 Daiwa BG Spinning Reel

Daiwa BG Spinning Reel

The Daiwa BG now sports a new form. It is much improved, sporting a slender design. There are ten divergent choices. These range from ultra-light reels for freshwater fishing to bigger game saltwater fishing.

Let’s have a look at some of its revolutionary features. One feature that is a big draw is the ‘Hard Bodyz’ black anodized finish. It shields the aluminum housing by forming a solid armored layer. The drag system is carbon ATD (Automatic Tournament Drag) which is waterproof. The anti-rust ball bearings provide super-smooth retrieval.

The oversized gears are machined.  The patented Digigear System ensures that more teeth have meshed at any given time. This promotes smooth retrieving and also longevity. The stress is not confined to one tooth only. Another edge this system provides is increased torque. Hence more power is available when reeling in large fish.

The air rotor design is a lot more balanced than most other reels. The stress is spread across the entire reel. It is about 15% lighter than a conventional air rotor.

  • We like the Daiwa BG. Why? It is smooth beyond belief and is backed with a lot of power. Most users praise the extraordinary performance of the reel.
  • The Daiwa BG is not waterproof. Only the drag system is. But we found that regular dousing with fresh water does not harm the reel.
  • We also found during our field test that the claim of ultra-smoothness was no idle declaration. It was smooth as butter.
  • The anti-reverse system worked perfectly but the bail roller could corrode, requiring replacement every once in a while.
  • The handle is the screw-in type as opposed to the through handle. This removes any play between handle arm and main gear giving you a solid feel.


  • Smooth operation
  • Durable anodized body
  • Great strong drag
  • Affordable price


  • Weight is on the heavier side
  • The body is anodized but the spool is painted

Our Verdict

Trying this reel out was pretty exciting. With a strong drag and smooth operation, the Daiwa BG is a trophy. The anodized body has great durability but it is a bit disappointing that the spool is only painted. Many veteran jiggers have sworn that the Daiwa BG is one of the best five reels out there. We agree.

6 Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 4000 XG FB Spinning Fishing Reel

Daiwa BG Spinning Reel

The Shimano Stradic Ci4 has stunning looks. Despite its being a lightweight, it has that solid feel about it. This reflects the ultra-smooth functioning and a real cool reeling experience. The integration of stimulating concepts that go into the Stradic Ci4+ will astonish you. These concepts are Core Protect, G Free Body, X-SHIP, flagship Hagane, and CI4+.

Yet, the most compelling new concept is the Magnumlite Rotor that imparts an ultra-light feel on a turn of the handle. The build of the Stradic Ci4+ is such that it lasts long. The up to date Shimano technology has been absorbed in this reel. But it still retains all the top potential features serious anglers dig.

The entire rotor system is simply amazing.The Dyna-balance rotor and its fluidrive mark II, and the propulsion line systems. Along with the casting system, these qualities make the reel smooth. All issues about managing the line are avoided. The spool is made of cold-forged aluminum while the body is made of tough Ci4+ carbon.

  • This was an outstanding reel that met all our expectations.
  • The makers have left out an anti-reverse switch. The reason for this we do not know but this is a downside for the reel. On an expensive reel like this one, the exclusion of an anti-reverse we find a bit difficult to understand.
  • When we took it for a field test, yes it was very smooth, the casting was clean and reeling in was flawless.
  • The casting capability is astonishing. It can go distances.
  • This reel is not only lightweight but functions without any noise. The drag functions superbly even in considerable currents.
  • The machined aluminum handle sports EVA grips so your hands will never slip off.


  • 25% lighter than earlier models
  • New rotor system
  • Ultra-smooth casting
  • A strong carbon fiber body
  • Remarkable quality


  • Pricey

Our Verdict

The Stradic Ci4+ has us very impressed. Starting from the lightness to the Magnumlite rotor it is a win situation. This modern classic is packed with new-age technology and it is a spinning beauty to boot. Sure, it is a bit rough on your wallet but you will get every penny’s worth with this buy. Arm yourself with a Stradic and get out on the water.

7 PENN Fierce Live Liner Spinning Fishing Reel

PENN Fierce Live Liner Spinning Fishing Reel

The PENN Fierce Live Liner II is an excellent reel that will have you asking for more. It comes in a wide range of sizes ranging from 1000 to 8000. All Fierce reel models are of full metal body and sideplate. The drag system utilizes the PENN proprietary HT-100 drag washers of carbon fiber. It is suitable for near-shore or inshore use.

Employing a 4+1 stainless steel ball bearings system that is shielded. The Fierce Live Liner rocks when it comes to smooth retrieves. It has a Superline spool and the aluminum bail wire is super strong. This reel is designed for managing a catch without fuss.

The spinning reel design is diverse and is for casting different baits. The drag is robust and adjustableble at anytime during a catch, the reel’s top dial allowing easy access. The PENN Fierce gives the rod correct the exact bend letting go with a defined amount of extra drag. This removes bounce and furthers smoothness.

The handles are large and oversized for ease of simpler handling. The spool can hold a significant amount of test line.

    • We did like the PENN Fierce spinning reel. It may not be very hitech but it accomplishes its task with perfection.
    • We found that the large handle grips were a boon. They felt solid and slip-free.
    • A bit disappointing was the lack of an anti-reverse switch.
    • These reels boast of being rugged. That easily outdoes other more expensive reels even when going after big fish. They perform darn well and are of robust build.
    • The gearing we found to be tight offering little to no-back movement. Great.


  • Designed by a leading brand
  • Maintenance is minimal
  • Adjustable drag
  • Suitable for beginners
  • Huge choice of models and sizes


  • Potential for lower performance with heavy lures
  • Initial tension on the retrieve

Our Verdict

The PENN Fierce is a cool reel. It is an honest performer without making a big deal of it. Light yet vigorous, it packs a powerful punch. It is capable of deployment with heavier bait. It outdoes the competition with its affordable pricing. Now all these wonderful qualities in a reel, one does not come by often. So what are you waiting for?

8 SHIMANO STRADIC HG, Freshwater Spinning Fishing Reel

SHIMANO STRADIC HG, Freshwater Spinning Fishing Reel

The Shimano Stradic HG is a current development from the house of Shimano. It is their business where innovative technology of spinning reels is concerned. The focal point of the Stradic HG is the notion of ‘Hagane’. Hagane means reliability, robustness, and durability in fishing reels.

At the core of the reel is the gearing.  Employing the latest technology, the Stradic HG has the power to penetrate to the heart of the gears. High resistance is imparted to the materials by cold-forging techniques. The outer Hagane shields the internal mechanisms to perfection.

In combination with the Shimano X-Ship, the reel is the most rugged and smooth out there. The Stradic HG is a powerhouse. A reduction in fatigue is also achieved as the body of the reel is sleek. The G-free transmits a fine sense of balance.

The entire goal is to make angling an exciting experience as best as it can get.

  • We were pretty impressed. Holding and manipulating the reel reveals its potential. It feels solid, casting is a cinch and retrieval smooth and effortless. We now understand Hagane.
  • The Stradic HG disappoints in that there is no anti-reverse. If the omission was made to keep costs down, we disagree as a few more bucks would not dent pockets much.
  • The reel we tested was a bit noisy and could have been smoother. We dissembled the reel and found that there was no grease on the gears or it had dried out. Once we added a little grease, it performed without any trouble.
  • It was pretty responsive when reeling while we enjoyed the far-reaching casting since it was lightweight.


  • Extremely smooth gears
  • Propulsion line management
  • Cold-forged gears, Hagane
  • Hagane know-how for body strength
  • Rigid rotor


  • No anti-reverse
  • Some parts are plastic

Our Verdict

The ticket for freshwater fishing is the Shimano Stradic HG. It combines the many new Shimano tech features. For instance, the X-Shield and X-Ship along with Shimano’s proprietary Hagane materials and gearing. Its strength and smoothness are matchless in open water.  The price is pretty affordable. With four models to choose from, your collection of reels would be incomplete without a Stradic HG.

9 Abu Garcia Revo SX Spinning Reel

Abu Garcia Revo SX Spinning Reel

The Abu Garcia Revo is a slick piece of engineering making it an invaluable reel for anglers. It boasts of the terrific HPCR (High-Performance Corrosion Resistant) bearings. The rocket line control system makes it a hot little buy.

The SX is rugged, and effortless to operate because its AM (Automatic Manual) gear system. The alignment is bang on and gives the angler an edge to overcome hard pulling prey. The body being of C6 carbon is quite light and handling is easy cheesy. The rocket spool has a lip that renders casting accurate and simple.

It has a great grip completely ruling out slippage. You can fish the whole day without any fatigue or discomfort. The cranking is continuous thanks to the K-clutch system for anti-reversing. The stainless steel bail ensures longevity.

The Revo SX is not that well-known which is no reason for not giving it a go.

  • We found this spinning reel super comfortable and smooth. Even after a full day on the water, we did not face any fatigue.
  • The casting is pretty accurate and line handling quite troubleless.
  • The Revo SX is one helluva buy. Great feel, lightweight, superb balance, and butter-smooth cranking and retrieval. Did we miss anything? It impresses.
  • The drag system functions without a flaw.

Because of the proximity in the price point, we decided to compare the Abu Garcia Revo with the Stradic HG. The Stradic enjoys the Shimano stature and the state of the art technology that has been put into it. The Revo SX cannot be humbled and holds its ground with some very innovative engineering.

The Shimano yields ground for its lack of an anti-reverse mechanism.  Some parts are plastic. The bail of the Revo SX is also superior. In all honesty, the Revo SX has the lead here.


  • Extremely light in weight
  • Durable due to rocket spool lip
  • Slippage reduced
  • Stainless steel bail
  • Anyone can use by right or left-hand


  • No spare spool

Our Verdict

Despite its lightweight, we can tell that the Revo SX is a rugged and durable spinning reel. The carbon body and the spool lip add a lot of value. The almost absent slippage and that fishing for extended spells does not tire you, get it some more points. Overall, the Abu Garcia SX is a splendid find and worth acquiring. Good luck with your fishing.

10 SHIMANO ULTEGRA Freshwater Spinning Fishing Reel

SHIMANO ULTEGRA Freshwater Spinning Fishing Reel


About the author

Immanuel Baranov

My life is pretty much defined by my avid outdoor activities. I’m generally obsessed with fishing, skiing and occasional hunting and whitewater paddling. I’ve been active since my early years. I inherited my passion for fishing from my father who made frequent family trips to the banks of Sacramento River. Growing up, I did a lot of fishing in the vicinity. Now that I have two sons, our weekends are full of fishing activities. I would say, you need good spots where you can go out a lot for the thing you love. I had the privilege to grow up near numerous water bodies and I’m proud to say that I made good use of them. It’s also great to do something with kids that helps them learn patience, endurance and preciseness.