Fishing Reels

Best Freshwater Spinning Reels (2021) : Top 10 Freshwater Spinning Reels Review with 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.

Top Freshwater Spinning Reels: Comparison Chart

Pick NameThumbnailProduct NamePrice
Best OverallPenn Battle II Spinning Fishing ReelCheck Price
Also GreatPENN Pursuit III Spinning Fishing ReelCheck Price
Best ValueKastKing Sharky III Drag 10+1 Fishing ReelCheck Price
4thPENN Spinfisher V Spinning Fishing ReelCheck Price
5thDaiwa BG Spinning ReelCheck Price
6thShimano Stradic Ci4+ 4000 XG FB Spinning Fishing Reel With Front Drag, STCI44000XGFBCheck Price
7thPENN Fierce Live Liner Spinning Fishing ReelCheck Price
8thSHIMANO STRADIC HG, Freshwater Spinning Fishing ReelCheck Price
9thAbu Garcia Revo SX Spinning ReelCheck Price
10thSHIMANO ULTEGRA Freshwater Spinning Fishing ReelCheck Price

Our Top 10 Freshwater Spinning Reels

1 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.

Specifications

  • Gear Ratio: 5.6:1
  • Drag System: HT-100 Carbon Fiber
  • Weight: 19.8 oz.
  • Bearings: 5+1
  • Max drag: 25 pounds
  • Line retrieve: 36 in.
  • Line capacity mono: 225/12
  • Line capacity braided: 420/20

Pros

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

Cons

  • 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 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.

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

Specifications

  • Gear Ratio: 5.6:1
  • Drag System: HT-100 Carbon Fiber
  • Weight: 19.7 oz.
  • Bearings: 5
  • Max drag: 20 pounds
  • Line retrieve: 36 in.
  • Line capacity mono: 225/12
  • Line capacity braided: 420/20

Pros

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

Cons

  • 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 reel. 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 Best Value: KastKing Sharky III Drag 10+1 Fishing Reel

best freshwater spinning reel: KastKing Sharky III Drag 10+1 Fishing Reel

Though the Sharky III hit the shelves in 2018 it is still a bestseller till 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 with 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 the 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

Specifications

  • Gear Ratio: 5.2:1
  • Drag System: Triple Disc Carbon Fiber
  • Weight:10.5 oz.
  • Bearings: 10+1
  • Max drag :39.5 pounds
  • Line retrieve: 33.4 in.
  • Line capacity mono: 12/220
  • Line capacity braided: 50/140

Pros

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

Cons

  • 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 fresh water is of no concern. This will last you many years of fun-filled fishing.

4 PENN Spinfisher V Spinning Fishing Reel

best freshwater spinning 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 the 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.

Specifications

  • Gear Ratio: 6.2:1
  • Drag System: HT-100 Carbon Fiber
  • Weight: 14 oz.
  • Bearings: 5+1
  • Max drag: 25 pounds
  • Line retrieve: 34 in.
  • Line capacity mono: 300/8
  • Line capacity braided: 365/15

Pros

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

Cons

  • 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-round stability when in operation. Whatever your level of expertise, we urge you to look this reel up.

5 Daiwa BG Spinning Reel

best freshwater 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 over-sized 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 the 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 freshwater 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.

Specifications

  • Gear Ratio: 5.7:1
  • Drag System: Carbon ATD
  • Weight: 22 oz.
  • Bearings: 6+1
  • Max drag: 22 pounds
  • Line retrieve: 43.1 in.
  • Line capacity mono: 14/350
  • Line capacity braided: 40/340

Pros

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

Cons

  • 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 With Front Drag, STCI44000XGFB

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.

Specifications

  • Gear Ratio: 6.2:1
  • Drag System: Waterproof Drag
  • Weight: 8.1 oz.
  • Bearings: 6+1
  • Max drag: 24 pounds
  • Line retrieve: 39 in.
  • Line capacity mono: 8/240
  • Line capacity braided: 15/280

Pros

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

Cons

  • 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

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.

Specifications

  • Gear Ratio: 5.6:1
  • Drag System: HT-100 Carbon Fiber
  • Bearings: 4+1
  • Max drag: 20 pounds
  • Line retrieve: 36 in.
  • Line capacity mono: 225/12
  • Line capacity braided: 420/20

Pros

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

Cons

  • 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

best freshwater spinning 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.

Specifications

  • Gear Ratio: 6.2:1
  • Drag System: FD
  • Weight: 320 gm.
  • Bearings: 6+1
  • Max drag: 11 kg
  • Line retrieve: 105 cm
  • Line capacity mono: 4kg/130m
  • Line capacity braided: 20lb/220 yards

Pros

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

Cons

  • 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

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.

Specifications

  • Gear Ratio: 6.2:1
  • Drag System: Carbon Matrix
  • Weight: 9.2 oz.
  • Bearings: 8+1
  • Max drag: 17 lb
  • Line retrieve: 40 in.
  • Line capacity mono: 230/10
  • Line capacity braided: 250/14
Pros
  • Extremely light in weight
  • Durable due to rocket spool lip
  • Slippage reduced
  • Stainless steel bail
  • Can be used right or left-handed

Cons

  • 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

best freshwater spinning reel: SHIMANO ULTEGRA Freshwater Spinning Fishing Reel

The Shimano Ultegra freshwater spinning reel is the last word in versatility. It is the best option for those who prefer or venture out for fishing in rough conditions. Of course, the Ultegra comes with the proprietary Hagane gear. This by itself is a guarantee of the durability of the reel. It is tailormade for fishing offshore and inshore environments.

This Shimano product incorporates CoreProtect technology. The aim is to make the main housing impenetrable and water-resistant main housing. By restricting water seepage, the gears and bearings stay dry. Fish tend to venture out when the weather is rainy. Also, the use of this rod can in rough and choppy waters is snag-free.

A wonderful feature is the Wrap Oscillation that allows particularly long casts. Also, it is great for line winding as it irons out all the knots and twists in the line. Another noteworthy feature in the Ultegra is X-Ship technology. This boosts the longevity of the gear. Friction between the spool and gear shaft lessens making for longer casts.

  • We pretty much liked the T-shaped handle for its comfort and great grip.
  • Since it has CoreProtect, its use in saltwater is safe without fear of any corrosion caused by seawater.
  • It is pretty light in weight, the drag is great and has good geometry for cranking. We, but, noticed a slight play in the spool. And some looseness and flex when pulling against the drag. We put this down to the plastic construction.
  • The balance is awesome and retrieval is smooth without any knotting or tangling.
  • We loved the casting capabilities. The line keeps sailing on to unbelievable distances.
  • A downside is the absence of an anti-reverse mechanism.

Specifications

  • Gear Ratio: 6.0:1
  • Drag System: FD
  • Weight: 7.1 oz.
  • Bearings: 5+1
  • Max drag: 20 lb
  • Line retrieve: 35 in.
  • Line capacity mono: 6/200
  • Line capacity braided: 10/150
Pros
  • Great value for intermediate anglers
  • Easy operation
  • The design is sleek
  • Robust Hagane gear
  • Lightweight and compact
  • CoreProtect technology

Cons

  • Using light lures may cause the line to loosen
  • No reverse

Our Verdict

A Shimano product comes with the assurance of quality. The Ultegra also enjoys its position as a durable, versatile spinning reel. Packed as it with advanced features that work, it is one reel that is an all-rounder. We took to the Aero Wrap Oscillation technology after seeing its effectivity. Other than the plastic body, this is a little gem and one you will treasure.

Why Use Spinning Reels For Freshwater Fishing

When it comes to light-tackle fishing, traditional spinning gear scores over baitcasting gears. Spinning tackles enjoy favor in the sportfishing industry.

  • A lighter lure can be thrown farther using spinning tackle.
  • A spinning tackle’s advantage is greater when there is a strong wind. Casting across the wind or into it is more foolproof with a spinning reel. This is more so when the lures are light. Baitcasters being cast into the wind result in backlashes.
  • To skip the lures under over-hanging cover like piers, docks, or bushes, spinning tackle comes up tops.
  • The line on a spinning reel uncoils freely without much resistance. Hence the lure sinks straight. It is not subjected to a ‘pendulum effect’ that occurs using a baitcaster. This is because of the resistance from the rotational spool.
  • Are you left or right-handed? It makes little difference with spinning gear. The majority of spinning reels have a swappable reel handle. It fits on either side. Baitcasting gear does not have this option and you have to buy an exclusive reel to suit your needs.
  • A major advantage of spinning reels is that the drag is easily adjustable when you are having it out with the quarry. Never mind where the drag is located, front or the rear of the reel, the drags are readily accessible. They offer a full-range change during the fight.

Freshwater Spinning Reel: A Comprehensive Buying Guide

best freshwater spinning reel: Freshwater Spinning Reel- A Comprehensive Buying Guide

1. Reel Size and Capacity

best freshwater spinning reel: Reel Size and Capacity

So that you make a good buying decision, you need to be aware of the type of fishing you will be doing. Every angler has an individual style, a preferred choice of bait, and a favored type of fish. This will vary on every fishing expedition. The size of the reel depends on what weight line you choose to pick. The lighter the line, the smaller is the reel.

The line capacity information can be found on the spool. The first is the line test strength and the second is the yardage.

For instance, if you are jigging mainly for smallmouth bass or walleye, an 8-pound line strength is average.

2. Body Material and Construction

The construction and the materials used have to fulfill two conditions primarily. It must be strong and robust to withstand to face up to big fish and also should be light enough to rule out angler fatigue. Manufacturers ensure this by employing hi-tech alloys that are light yet strong. Also by eliminating sections of metal, the weight can be brought down.

Modern reels can be made of plastic, graphite, copolymer, and metal. Plastic is suitable for young or budget restrained anglers. Graphite and copolymer being hardier are more fitting for both freshwater and saltwater fishing. Some reels are made of compound materials to reduce cost and weight. They are only as strong as the weakest link and failure can occur.

3. Weight

If you are something like Hulk, then the weight of the reel is of little consequence. For the average human being, it is much appreciated that your reel is light enough to allow you to fish all day long without getting pooped. Reels come in various sizes to suit different fishing scenarios. This is the riding factor in a reel’s weight.

4. Reel Housing and Body Type

You have two choices here: aluminum and graphite. Both are lightweight. Aluminum will not rust as iron does but it can still corrode and oxidize. Graphite reels have a small flex which some consider a downside. The increased resistance to corrosion and less weight makes graphite a sure bet.

5. Gear Ratio

The gear ratio predominantly governs two things: how fast will line retrieval be and how easy it will be to haul in a big catch. Gear ratios are expressed as follows, 6.2:1. This means that for a full crank of the handle, the reel will turn 6.2 times. A high ratio will allow you to retrieve the line faster. The lower the ratio, the easier it becomes to bring in a heavy load. Again, when considering gear ratios, it is highly influenced by the type of fish you are pursuing.

6. Anti-Reverse Handles

The function of the anti-reverse handles is that once engaged, they prevent the handle and bail from spinning in reverse and the line from jumping off the reel. This permits you to set the line when you get a bite and lets the drag system to operate smoothly.

7. Drag System

A certain amount of resistance has to be imparted to the line when fish attempt to breakaway by swimming away with the bait. You will need to adjust the maximum drag to under the line test strength so that the line yields a little. You don’t want your line snapping bringing that big guy in.

Spinning reels have one of the two drag systems; front drag reels and rear drag reels. Front drag reels are considered sturdy and durable. Rear drag reels are easily accessible and can be operated with ease also. When choosing a drag system we advise not scrimping. A good drag system will pay you back. When letting out the line, it will do so smoothly and not in jerks which increases the chances of the line parting.

8. Ball Bearings

Any appliance or equipment that has moving parts requires bearings. In spinning reels, this is especially paramount. Ball bearings are usually of steel but nowadays ceramic ones are quite popular.

Ceramic bearings are highly corrosion resistant than stainless steel, especially in saltwater. Ball bearings provide support, stability, and smoothness. The greater the number of bearings a reel has, the smoother is the operation. We recommend choosing a reel with the maximum number of bearings that your wallet can afford. At least four bearings are the bare minimum.

9. Bail

The bail encircles the spool. It is a wire loop in a metal or plastic frame. It can be in the ‘open’ or ‘closed’ position. The line flows freely from the spool in the open position. When closed, the line can be retrieved by turning the handle and causing the bail to rotate wrapping the line.

The desired attributes of a bail are that it must be strong with a polished, smooth surface.

An easy-close bail function is highly desirable as it is a lot easier to close the bail manually after casting.

10. Spool

Spools are of two types, internal or skirted. Internal spools are a thing of the past. Skirted reels create less drag. Skirted spinning reels have been modified slightly to give rise to mag spools and long-cast spools  Both of these are capable of longer casts with less friction.

11. Reel Foot

A reel foot anchors the reel with the rod. The foot is a base that is flanged. This fits on the fishing rod in the provided slot. The handle is screwed down tight locking the reel in place. As the foot is an extension of the body, the material is the same. The foot must be durable, should be a good fit into the seat, and securely hold the reel.

12. Drag Adjustment

A common feature of spinning reels is the drag adjustment knob. This can be a single button or a set of buttons that can be manipulated by the finger. The angler can increase or decrease the friction, or drag on the line. When fishing bass especially, which fights back and pulls the line out, this comes into play.

The system consists of a set of metal washers that can vary in number. Once you get the feel of the rod and reel, you can play around with the drag adjustment. The rule-of-thumb is that the drag setting should be maintained at a quarter of the line’s breaking strength.

13. Power Roller

Also known as line roller, the smooth, small cylinder functions as a line guide when the bail’s position is closed. It is made of different types of materials; graphite aluminum, brass, gold, and so on.

A bearing located internally is provided on a high-end roller. Braided lines can cut into softer materials. Hence the choice of a metal roller is the best option. It is most crucial is that is should spin smooth and easily.

14. Species of fish

As mentioned earlier, the identification of the fish you hope to go after should be arrived at before you purchase that spinning reel. Different categories of fish attain divergent sizes and once hooked, behave differently.

For instance, if you are pursuing panfish and crappie, you will want to use a 4-6 lb test line with ⅛ to ¼ oz. lures. If it’s walleye or bass that is your target, you will need an 8-10 lb test line and you might want to pick a heavier spinning wheel. Line capacity is another factor that comes into the reckoning when you pick a model.

You don’t need loads of line scope for bass, crappie of rainbow trout as these hardly make long dashes. It is the big chaps who can take off on long runs for which you will need a bit of line capacity.

15. Line Preferences

When choosing a spinning reel, you need to give a thought as to what kind of line will be used. This is a consideration for jiggers who want to go in for braided lines. Most reels function well with fluorocarbon or monofilament lines. Lines of braided construction can slash the spools of certain reels especially those of inferior materials. Some reel designs are such that the braided line can slide into gaps and then, you are up to your neck in scalding water.

16. Line capacity

Larger reels can store more line than smaller ones. As with the weight, there is much fluctuation among models in a specific size class.

For instance, a spool may hold 250 yards of a 2-pound test line but only 100 yards of the 6-pound test line.

Determination of the line diameter and spool capacity rests on the type of fish you are keen on. For smaller game fish, lighter lines and modest capacities suffice as they don’t make long runs once hooked. Larger fish require heavier lines and more line capacity.  The picture shown depicts the line capacity printed on the spool.

17. Right-Handed, Left-Handed, or Reversible?

Of the two hands, anglers prefer using only one hand always to reel in. Most right-handers prefer using the left hand for cranking the handle and vice-versa. Some designs are such that you can use either hand. If you’re starting you will want to be familiar with left arm cranking as many reels are manufactured thus.

18. Ergonomics

This is a consideration that will differ considerably from person to person. It is basically how the reel feels in your hand. The one problem when you shop online is that you don’t get to gauge this. You can read up on reviews and other information available on the specific reel you have your eye on. This way you will be able to glean some perception of the way the reel feels.

19. Budget and Warranty

Usually, these types of reels come with a manufacturer’s warranty. There are so many different kinds of warranties that it is pointless to generalize. If a warranty is not provided, you can always opt for an add-on warranty. We suggest that for any reel costing over $75, buying a warranty is justified.

Coming to the models that we have picked for our “Top 10 Product List’, the warranty offered on the reel is 1-year from the date of purchase. The Daiwa BG’s warranty offer is vague. They offer 1-year or 200 hours of usage, whichever comes first. That leaves us wondering how do we prove hours of usage.

The price of the featured models ranges from $40 to $250.

Care & Maintenance Tips

It pays to take care of your spinning reel both for best performance as well as ensuring it lasts many years.

Cleaning the Body

best freshwater spinning reel: Cleaning the Body

This is a simple procedure that will take a couple of minutes. It should be done weekly for normal use.

  • Remove the spool and keep it aside
  • Lower the axle by turning the reel handle
  • Hold the reel at an angle with the interior part away from you
  • Give a spurt of WD40 on one side of the reel and then on the other side
  • Be careful not to spray on the rotor housing or the spool axle
  • Using a soft towel and wipe the WD40 all over on the outside of the reel

This easy procedure gets the grime and gunk out and will keep your reel looking good and functioning smoothly.

Cleaning the Internal Parts

best freshwater spinning reel: Cleaning the Internal Parts

This procedure is a little more complicated. You will need to be alert and attentive to the parts that need removal and how to piece them back. It takes about 15 minutes.

  • Keep ready at hand a few toothpicks, some Q-tips, a small clean rag and reel grease
  • Spread the cloth and above it remove the handle
  • Remove the screws that attach the body cover to the reel body. You will need to put them back in the same order.
  • Take a look at the grease in the gears, If it is black and dirty, take a q-tip and remove the grease as thoroughly as possible
  • You may have to dismantle the gears for a good cleanup. Pay close attention to how they are aligned
  • Now add fresh grease
  • Pick up a dab of grease with the end of the toothpick and apply it on the gear teeth. Also the top and bottom of the reciprocating block.
  • Replace the body cover and screws.

Wrapping It Up

We have closely taken a look at what some big brands offer by way of freshwater spinning reels. Shimano, PENN are torchbearers of the industry. Any reel comes with some downsides. This is irrespective of the advanced engineering concepts and their implementation. We tend to treat them as poor workmanship or inherent defects.
The truth is that improper use and a lack of timely maintenance also can be the cause. Subjecting a reel to a lot of stress can induce defects.

The choices available in the market are numerous. Figuring out which one to loosen your wallet for, can be a nerve-wracking situation. We hope this guide has been instrumental in lending some direction to your quest.

Also, your fishing style, need, and skill plays an instrumental role. These will arrive at a safe bet about the right spinning reel for you.

Wishing you good luck with your fishing experience. Enjoy every minute of it.

FAQs:

1. For starters, what size spinning reel should I go in for?

Ans: Freshwater spinning reels are categorized as 1000, 2000, 3000, and so on. The larger the number, the bigger is the reel. For general fishing involving bass and walleye, a 2000 reel fits the bill nicely. For jumbo fish, you will need to go higher.

2. I need to spool my spinning reel. How do I go about it?

Ans: Use a quality line. Here are some handy tips:

  • Get someone to help you
  • Pay heed to the spool direction
  • Stop and check for the line kinking often
  • At the end of your spool, leave ⅛” at least

3. Is Corrosion-Resistant necessary for my spinning reel?

AnsUndeniably so. Corrosion if allowed to set in will first seize up the various parts. The power roller will not be smooth and your line can part. If the housing is not water-resistant, the bearings and gears when corroded will seriously quit operating smoothly, placing a strain on the line ultimately.

4. When is a baitcasting reel preferable over a spinning reel?

Ans: For certain types of fishing, baitcasting reels are better. They also allow better precision and longer casts. Baitcasting reels tend to get fouled up and it can be mighty irksome getting it cleared out. If you are an occasional angler or just starting, you will be better off with a spinning reel.

5. A Part of My Reel Has Worn Out, Can I Replace It?

Ans: Yes it is possible to change any part. If your warranty is still in force, the makers will replace it, or else you may have to pay for it. All part nos. Are mentioned in the provided manual. You can also get the part numbers from the Company’s website and order online.

6. What is the difference between saltwater and freshwater fishing?

Ans: Saltwater fishing refers to any fishing done from a pier or a boat in the sea where you would normally encounter large fish that put up a fight. Freshwater fishing is fishing in waters where the salinity is less than 0.05% such as lakes, ponds, and rivers.

7. Are spin-cast reels and spinning reels for “beginners”?

Ans: There appears to be some stigma attached to the word beginner. True, you start off with spinning reels or spin-cast reels. However, there are many seasoned anglers who have kept using spinning reels. You have to know what to look for in your gear. Weigh the pros and cons. How often will you be using it? Spin-cast reels come with some disadvantages but there is no reason not to keep using one. Spinning reels are affordable and of better quality. We recommend spinning reels for its balance of ease of use, cost, and quality.

8. Can A Left-Hander Use a Right-Handed Reel?

Ans: Technically speaking, there is nothing called a left-handed or a right-handed reel. If your dominant arm is the right one, you cast with it and crank with the left arm. If you want to use your right arm for cranking, then after casting, you switch the rod to your left hand and crank with your right arm.

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.

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