Top 10 Best Spinning Reel (Dec. 2019): Review & Buyer’s Guide
- Immanuel Baranov
Fishing has been our family’s occupation over the years. I remember when, as a young boy, how I assisted my dad in retrieving the catch but never tried casting myself. But when I wanted to try things for myself, my hands were always shaky, especially when tackling a big fish; mostly, I’ll lose the catch. When I turned 18, after many trials, I noticed that the perfect way to improve my skill was by using a spinning reel.
At first, my major problem was finding the best spinning reel for me. but with a little research and experience, I finally found one. Now, I can cast and retrieve easily with either a baitcasting or spinning reel in any water condition.
No matter if you’re a beginner or a professional fisherman, it’s a hard task finding the right reel for you. If you’re yet to make a choice, don’t worry; my team and I have spent time to review the trendiest and most reliable models on sale so you can easily find what you love.
What You Will Get Here
- What makes a great spinning reel, and what are the benefits?
- Spinning Reel – Buyer’s Guide
- Our Top 10 Product List
- Editor’s Choice: PENN Spinfisher V Spinning Fishing Reel
- Best under $100: Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel
- Best under $50: KastKing Sharky III Fishing Reel
- Best for Trout: KastKing Sharky Baitfeeder III Spinning Reel
- Best Lightweight: Okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel
- A List of 5 Other Products We Reviewed
- Other Tested Products
- How to clean a spinning reel?
- Final Words
What makes a great spinning reel, and what are the benefits?
Your preferred spinning reel should be smooth, accurate, powerful, quiet, and capable of making long-distance casts. It should have a sturdy build with either aluminum or graphite body. Its gear should be from stainless steel with high-quality bearings for smooth operation.
A lightweight reel will prevent your hands from tiring quickly while making repeated casts. You should also look for the one with a sealed drag design, carbon fiber washer, user-friendly handle, rigid bail, and other great qualities.
You’ll need a good spinning reel in live bait casts for preys like bass, walleye, and panfish. They are easy to use and rarely experience a backlash, having better ability to handle lightweight lures and light lines.
So, with these benefits, as a beginner angler, you would always appreciate the spinning reels for learning how to cast and fish before upgrading to the complex models.
Spinning Reel – Buyer’s Guide
Consider Where You’ll Fish
You can engage any spinning reel in freshwater fishing, but for saltwater, you need one with a rust-resistant makeup and water-resistant seals for optimal performance and longevity.
You'll get a better insight into spinning reels if you have basic knowledge about the parts of a spinning reel.
- Spool – It holds the line, determines the cast distance and ensures smoothness of the cast. The spool doesn’t move with the line, but it can unwind when the tension on the line is greater than the drag force. It’s made of either aluminum or graphite, but the former is heavier but more durable than the latter.
- Reel Body – Since every other component attaches to the body, it should be sturdy to bear the load, while also matching your hands and fishing style.
- Reel Foot – You need the foot to fix the rod to its position. Mostly, the foot is made from the same material with the reel’s body, but it should be secured to the seat.
- Handle – Always look for reels with a comfortable handle. EVA grip gives a soft feel and is more durable than plastic. The handle should spin freely with little effort. Besides, it’s critical to consider the left/right handed issues, especially if you’ll spend long hours in the water. However, most of the trendy reels allow you to change the handle position to your comfort.
- Bail – This is a metallic arm that wraps around the spool and occupies either open or closed position for casting or retrieving the line. When it’s free, the line flows out. Then you can close the bail, rotate the handle to retrieve the line.
- Power Roller – It serves as a path for the line. If you’re using a braided line, then opt for reels with metallic rollers since they last longer.
- Drag System – You need the sufficient drag to defeat the tough fighting fish. You need to consider the amount of drag you can comfortably handle. For example, most anglers cannot go only to take the pressure of 15 to 18 pounds without tiring.
- Anti-Reverse Switch – This is a locking feature for your handle and prevents it from turning backwards, keeping your hookset fixed.
- Gear Ratio – The gear ratio determines the speed which you can retrieve the line. A proportion of 6:1 indicates the bail spins six times per each turn of the handle.
- Number of Bearings – Since bearings provide support to the line, the more they are, the smoother the performance. Ideally, a good spinning reel needs about four to five bearings for effective operation.
- Type of Bearings – Most manufacturers still use stainless steel bearings though ceramics are becoming popular since they are more corrosion resistant.
Reel Capacity and Size
You need to know your target species, water, and size of line before choosing your ideal reel. Always bear in mind that the line’s capacity increases with the spool’s size. However, you’ll need a bigger reel to accommodate the more massive and stronger line for tackling larger species.
Since you don’t have steel arms, you’re likely to tire when spending long hours fishing with a heavy reel. As a rule of thumb, always go for the size you can comfortably handle.
The two things to consider in the reel’s material are weight and strength. It means that it should be light but sturdy enough to withstand a big fish. Spinning reels are made of plastic, graphite, copolymer, and metal.
- Plastics – These are light and inexpensive, so they’re the choicest for most beginner anglers who’re preying on freshwater fish species like bluegill or river trout.
- Graphite – tougher than plastics but is lighter and more portable than metals.
- Copolymers – They work well in both saltwater and freshwater applications though not as durable as metals.
- Metals – Every serious angler would prefer a metal reel because of their extra durability and strength.
Reels are designed to work for specific species you might want to catch. For example, if you’re going to tackle a panfish or crappie, you’ll need a 4 to 6-pound line. Also, massive species like bass or walleye would need around 8 to 10-pound reel.
Matching Your Reel to the Rod
There’s the way you can enjoy optimum performance without using the right rod. You should choose a spinning rod that matches with your line weight and lure range as well as your style of fishing.
Line Recovery Rate
This value measures the amount of line that goes into the spool with a complete turn of the handle.
Don’t fail to check the guarantee that the company offers. Note that you’ll only enjoy the benefits if you’re using the reel per the manufacturer’s instruction.
Most of the models from the top-quality brands are expensive, but you’ll always enjoy the aftermarket purchase. However, going through the comments from the previous buyers will provide clues about the products from the less popular brands.
Our Top 10 Product List
Since its creation in 1932, millions of anglers over the years have benefitted from products like the Spinfisher reel that uses the PENN’s engineering specs.
It’s made of metal and completely sealed to prevent saltwater, sand, waves, etc. from damaging the internal parts. With this, you can use it for fresh and ocean water fishing. The gearing system runs smoothly, which allows for superb casts while eliminating wind knots that would dull your performance.
The Spinsfisher allows you to close the bail manually without cranking the handle, which is a smart innovation by the manufacturers to increase its lifespan. It features five stainless steel bearings which are highly robust for tackling big sea creatures. Fortunately, no assembly is needed, only that you’ll fix the handle after unboxing.
However, most users complained that it’s heavy, but that’s not an issue except you’re planning on casting all day.
On Amazon, this model scored 4.5 stars, which was highly commendable, especially when looking at 745 reviews at the time of the research.
At around $160 to $300, it’s a little expensive for buyers on a tight budget. However, the Spinfisher is our best choice due to its unbeatable performance and durability.
This is an amazing reel with high-quality parts such that you can use it frequently in the harshest waters. However, try to rinse it in clean water after each day use to clear off the debris.
The Penn Batttle II is just as great as our first choice but is more affordable. It has a full metal body which combines with a heavy-duty aluminum bail wire for better durability and ease of control for each cast.
This reel comes with an HT-100 carbon fiber drag system and uses both sides of the drag washers so that you can easily overcome the drag from tough fighting species.
The spool can also accommodate braids, and the line capacity markings will help you to know what is left after the cast.
The Penn Battle II measures at 5 x 4 x 3 inches and weighs 1 pound, so it’s smaller and lighter than our previous choice though it was still heavy for most users.
While reviewing the user ratings on Amazon, we found that this reel was the trendiest on sale, having received 4.6 stars from 1085 customers. With such a figure, it just proved how many people were loving it. Amazingly, it came around $80 despite the features.
The Penn Battle II spinning reel is an excellent choice for anglers on a budget who’re looking for a reel for all fishing conditions. This model has everything to help you get a pleasant fishing experience. But, you'll be able to make the best of your reel only if you know how to set up a spinning reel.
This is another excellent reel with outstanding cranking power and stability. Though the Sharky III 1000 series has a smaller spool diameter when compared to the Penn products, it casts just fine especially when hunting smaller fish. Its compact size is a considerable advantage as it allows it to pair with an extensive range of rods. So, this can go with light, middle range, and heavy rods.
What’s more, this Sharky III features an aluminum handle with a high-density Eva grip that allows you to hold it comfortably even under wet conditions. You’ll also appreciate the braid ready aluminum spool and the anti-twist line roller that works to eliminate the slipping and tangling of the line.
It has a carbon fiber drag system that can hold up to 40 pounds. So, it has enough power for you to catch the most energetic fish.
It currently retails a little under $50. It’s therefore, hugely cheaper than our editor’s choice. It received many positive reviews as it scored 4.5 stars out of 750 ratings.
This spinning reel is pretty affordable in addition to its superb drag power which makes it ideal for luring big fish species.
The Baitfeeder III has a strikingly similar design to the Sharky III though the most significant difference is in the handle design. This Baitfeeder III allows you to change the handle position making it easy for left and right-handed anglers to use. Still, the grip has a T-design such that it fits perfectly in both hands.
It has a maximum drag rating of 26.5 pounds and a gear ratio of 5.5:1 to deliver the power you need for dragging with dominant fish. With this, it’s not as powerful as the Sharky III. It’s, therefore, the most preferred choice for trout fishing.
The brass gear, stainless steel bearings, and carbon fiber drag system are all corrosion-resistant components, making it the right investment for a saltwater fishing gear.
The Baitfeeder III was also a popular choice among anglers as it had an average Amazon rating of 4.3 stars, for a total of 569 customers. It retails around $55 depending on the size, so it’s a good bargain if you’re on a limited budget.
This model is equipped with all the features you’re looking for in a pocket-friendly spinning reel. Its main attraction is the interchangeable handle and high-quality construction.
The Okuma Ceymar is manufactured to serve us that need a lightweight reel for occasional use. It comes with an aluminum body, anti-reverse, and 7BB + 1BB ball bearing system for a smooth and quiet performance.
This model measures at 5 x 4 x 4 inches and weighs at 8 ounces, so, it’s the perfect reel for handling anything around 3 to 6 pounds. Since it has an oiled felt drag system, there’s no need to worry about rust, meaning you can use it in saltwater.
However, it’s drawback was the reel foot became unstable when paired with certain rods, though keeping to smaller species will keep it in check.
This Okuma Ceymar is sold around $35, making it the most affordable option on this list. On Amazon, it was given 4.5 stars by 315 buyers at the time we checked last.
The Okuma Ceymar is made to deliver superior accuracy and performance while making a distance cast. It’s the perfect option those that are looking for a lightweight, portable, and durable spinning reel.
A List of 5 Other Products We Reviewed
Daiwa is one of the best brands to go for when looking for a top-notch spinning reel. Like other models we’ve reviewed, this Bg is available in various sizes to suit your needs.
The Bg’s body is covered with a machined aluminum metal that protects the internal components while giving it extra strength and durability. Besides, the exterior is anodized to prevent scratch and untimely decay.
So, what makes it unique?
This Bg model features a screw-in handle design that aligns the main gear to the handle arm, providing the angler with confidence when cranking. Besides, the spool is just designed to accept braid at any time, which is a feature you will only find in most of the expensive models.
With the seven bearing system, waterproof Carbon ATD drag system, extensive Digigear system, manual return bail, and infinite anti-reverse, you can always expect a robust and super-smooth performance.
However, we noticed that it could be a little heavy because of the extra size.
With a price tag of $78 to $200 depending on your selection, this product offers more than you can ever imagine. It received 4.5 stars from 629 ratings, indicating that it’s value matched the pay.
This is a good quality spinning reel that can form a reliable companion when hunting for a big trophy. With the large gearing system and anti-rust body, this is the right investment for your fishing needs.
Looking at this spinning reel from Pflueger, you’ll notice that there are many reasons for dubbing it ‘the President’. It’s highly attractive, with a combination of silver and gold coatings, you will always feel like the master of the sea. But you’ll need to pair it to the right spinning rod depending on your style of fishing.
Why do we feel you should buy it?
The President is lightweight, yet sturdy to make a quick cast while withstanding a tough fight. It has a ten bearing system which combines with the soft grip to deliver a smooth line recovery.
Unlike most models on the market, you can easily change the handle from right to left.
Its handle is made from aircraft-grade aluminum while the body and rotor are of graphite, making it highly durable and responsive. It comes with a multi-drag system which pairs with the oil felt stainless steel washers to let you handle different weights.
It has a unique anti-reverse system that makes a click sound to let you know if it’s completely closed. However, it’s not suitable for around saltwater environments.
This model earned 4.5 stars as well as many impressive positive reviews on the Amazon community.
The President is one of the smoothest spinning reels available and has performed pretty well even under heavy use. So, we would recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a dependable reel for a reasonable price point.
The Valiant Eagle is another model from KastKing with a symbol of quality, creativity, and affordability. It features a graphite body and aluminum spool which delivers the right strength to tackle a big fish. There is the 11 bearing system which pairs with the sealed carbon drag system to provide the power you’ll need for taking a 20-pound species.
This Valiant Eagle model has a 6.2:1 gear ratio, which provides fantastic speed and power needed for the hunt. You’ll notice that it’s slightly faster than our previous choices.
This product features the Expanded Pinion System, which helps in stabilizing the gearing operation for improved strength and durability. It also includes an aluminum handle with a soft
Eva grip that offers a comfortable feel for complete control of the casts in all weather conditions.
It costs around $50, so you won’t break the wallet to buy it. Also, it scored 4.7 stars out of an average of 388 ratings at the time of the writing.
Weighing at 9.8 ounces, it’s lighter than our previous choices from KastKing, which is a significant advantage for anglers wanting a lightweight reel.
An excellent quality reel with a smooth operation and rapid retrieval rate. The performance is impressive despite its cheap price.
This is one of the few spinning reels we tested which performed beyond our expectations.
What you should look out for
This Revo Sx weighs around 6 ounces, making it our lightest choice, eliminating the need to worry about the muscles tiring quickly. Despite its size, it can deliver a drag power of 20 pounds which allows you to tackle small to medium-sized preys.
It also features an adjustable brake system which is easier to use when compared with our previous choices that operate with the centrifugal brake system. With this, you don’t need to worry about line twist when spooling, and backlash whenever you’re facing a big catch. It has a 6.4:1 gear ratio and retrieves the line at the rate of 26 inches per turn.
As for the handle, you’ll be surprised that the Revo Sx features two ergonomically designed cranking handles to provide the torque for taking hard pulling fish. Unlike other models on sale, this one is much comfortable to use since you don’t need to change the handle position to suit your hand orientation.
This Revo Sx is equipped with an X2-Craftic alloy frame which makes it more resistant to corrosion.
We noticed that it wasn’t completely smooth in operation when compared to other top models on this list. However, this wasn’t a turnoff for us since we did anticipate such flaws.
It also had many impressive positive reviews though it wasn’t as popular as our previous choices (4.4 stars from 208 ratings).
This is a great spinning reel that offers you the chance to overcome a tough fighting fish with little effort. It is durable and reliable if given the needed care.
The Stradic Ci4 Spinning Reel comes with all the features that every dedicated angler needs.
What are the features?
This model has a Magnumlite rotor which rotates with each crank of the handle, making it easier to operate. It weighs around 5.6 ounces making it one of the lightest on this guide, such that you’ll hardly feel a thing while using it.
The Stradic Ci4 has a maximum drag capacity of 20 pounds, so you’ll pursue the big fish with confidence. On the downside, this model lacks the anti-reverse switch, which makes it a little difficult for most anglers to use.
It has an excellent casting and retrieval rate, but you’ll need to pair it to the right rod depending on your style of fishing.
It performed flawlessly as expected, considering that it costs around $200 to $230 based on the type you pick. It got 4.5 stars from 188 customer ratings at the time of the report.
For the best spinning reel for freshwater and stripers, this is the right pick. It seems expensive! Right? But you’ll enjoy the superb performance, convenience, and durability, so, it’s worth the money.
Other Tested Products
- 01Pflueger Supreme XT Spinning Fishing Reel
- 02Daiwa Crossfire Front Drag Spinning Fishing Reel
- 03Penn Pursuit II Spinning Fishing Reel
- 04Shimano Baitrunner D Spinning Reel (4.8:1)
- 05Abu Garcia Revo SX Spinning Reel
- 06Shimano Spirex FG Spinning Reel (6.2:1)
- 07SHIMANO Stradic FK Spinning Reel
- 08SHIMANO Stella SWB Saltwater Spinning Reels
- 09Abu Garcia Revo S Spinning Reel
- 10Abu Garcia Orra SX Spinning Reel
- 11SHIMANO Stella FI High Speed Spinning Reel
How to clean a spinning reel?
The essential steps in maintaining the spinning reel involve rinsing of the outer body in freshwater and lubrication of the moving parts.
Rinse the reel in clean water after each fishing trip to remove sand and salt deposits.
Tools you need
- Screwdriver – to disassemble and reassemble the parts
- Toothbrush – to scrub the gears
- Toothpick – for applying grease to the gear teeth
- Cleaning solution – washing off contaminated grease
After removing the handle, use the screwdriver to take apart the cover, spool, and clutch ring. You might need a video or manual at hand to help if you’re stuck. Avoid placing the parts together and mark each of them to make the recoupling process easier.
Cleaning each part
Now that the cover is removed, check the gears if the grease is black and dirty. You may want to remove the bearings and gears to clean everything, so pay attention to their alignment. Apply a degreaser or soap water to the gears, then leave it to dry.
Recoupling the reel
After drying the reel, put the parts together. Rotate the handle to check if it’s spinning smoothly. If the operation is smooth, that means the cleaning process was successful.
It’s becoming more challenging to find the best spinning reel with the many options available on the market. Your fishing style and the water body will determine which reel is right for you.
If you’re on a low budget, you should consider the Okuma Ceymar spinning reel. This model comes at a giveaway price, yet compares favorably with other high-end reels like the Shimano and KastKing.
If you can afford it, our first choice – Penn Spinsfisher combines the best features you will always look for in any high-quality spinning reel. While looking for speed and strength, the KastKing Valiant Eagle is the right choice for you. Choose a spinning reel for your needs considering the price and performance of the above-mentioned models. We hope you can make an educated buying decision after going through this review page.
What size spinning reel should I start with?
Ans. Reel’s sizes are 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000 and so on. It’s ideal for beginners to start with the smallest size then move to the bigger models as they become more experienced.
How does a spinning reel work?
Ans. A spinning reel works by discharging the fishing line wrapped around the spool through the safeguard and roller framework.
When is a spinning reel better than a baitcasting reel?
Ans. The spinning reel is more comfortable to use than a baitcasting reel, though the latter allows for accurate and long-distance casts.
Why do spinning reels have an anti-reverse switch?
Ans. The anti-reverse switch prevents the backward rotation of the handle, allowing you to have complete control of the casts.
What type of line is best for a spinning reel?
Ans. You’ll likely use braid, monofilament, copolymer, or fluorocarbon depending on your kind of fishing. Braid is the strongest but its easily seen and also prone to backlash. Copolymer and monofilament have similar characteristics in terms of strength, but they’re not as sensitive as fluorocarbons.
Why are spinning reels left-handed?
Ans. The manufacturers wanted to appeal to the more significant percentage of anglers by designing a reel that’ll enable them to crank comfortably.