A spinning reel is designed for fishermen who yearn for efficiency during their fishing hours. It’s the best choice if you want to forget about your gear and focus on catching more fish.
I’m sure by now you realize that there are a lot of options on the market in terms of spinning fishing reels. The price points vary immensely as well. While you can get an amazing reel for $1000, you can also get some great reels from $75 – $300.
Beyond that, you have to compare sizes, line capacity, gear ratio, drag ability and more. It’s just a lot to take in, especially for new fishermen.
Reviews of Top Spinning Reels
In order to save you some time and headache, this article will show you 10 spinning reels that you will be happy to bring with you on the water. The chosen size for this roundup will be in the size 2 – 3 range (200 – 300, 2000 – 3000). These reels are well designed and priced where most folks can afford them. I will even include a budget spinning reel that generally comes in at a price around $75.
Let’s jump straight into the review and see what each model has for you. After that, you can decide which model you prefer for your fishing needs and buy it.
The maximum drag of 11 lbs is substantial for fishing
Ergonomic handle with a knob for easy spinning
Comes with a spare spool
Bearings made from steel to prevent corrosion
You need some skills to operate the unit
Great quality but slightly costly
The Abu Garcia Revo MGX Spinning Reel Ambidextrous Model REVO2MGX30 comes from a unique X-Mag magnesium alloy one-piece gearbox design, aluminum, and carbon. All these combine to make it a long-lasting reel capable of withstanding powerful waves while fishing. Once you have this reel, you won’t want to fish with anything else.
It features 11 Stainless Steel Ball Bearings + 1 Roller Bearing (11+1). These reduce the friction between the moving parts and the gears that result in a smooth action when you spin the fishing reel. The advantage with the steel bearings is that they never rust or corrode and, therefore, are suitable for years of freshwater fishing.
You will love the One-Way K-Clutch system, which comes with Instant Anti-Reverse System for safety and durability.
Also, the Abu Garcia Revo MGX features a gear design that is computer optimized, making it the most efficient gear system. The gear ratio is 6.2:1, which is superb for a fishermen who wants to retrieve the bait faster. Additionally, it has the advantage of slow oscillation, which provides even line lay with all types of line.
Another awesome feature is the Rocket Line Management System, which offers fishermen better control with different types of fishing lines. This is rare in other competing reels in the same bracket.
The Carbon Matrix™ drag system maximum features 11 lbs max drag, which is something many fishermen love. Other than smooth fishing, the system also enhances consistent drag pressure across the entire drag range.
The reel weighs 193g, which is great for carrying from place to place without feeling the bulkiness.
Top performance courtesy of the high-speed gear ratio
Striking good looks
New Magnumlite Rotor for super-light feel as you spin the rotor
The features are fewer for the price
No anti-reverse lever option
We have picked on Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 2500 FB HG Spinning Reel because it is among the few reels under the $250 that are super high-quality. This is on the upper end of the freshwater fishing spinning reel spectrum.
The Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 2500 FB HG Fishing Reel features an all-carbon construction body with a rotor. This means that you will get a high-quality product at affordable prices.
Something unusual is that the model never rusts and hence, is an excellent deal for long-term use. Also, you will love the 6.0:1 gear ratio, which makes your reel rotation work smoothly and friction-free.
It’s a 2500 size model which is a good multi-purpose reel suitable for fishing any target species. At this size, you can still get enough 10 mono on the reel to cast long distances.
The incredible power of a 20lb multilayer carbon fiber drag is an incredible weapon in the hands of a fisherman. It means you have the reel power to bring in those giant lunkers.
The 6+1 steel bearings are excellent since they enable your unit to work smoothly and deliver consistent performance. You will also love the lightweight nature of this unit. At 6.7 oz, you will be able to carry it anywhere for your fishing trip.
Features a smooth operation due to the excellent gear ratio
Comes from quality magnesium materials for durability
You have a friction-free product since it comes with quality bearings
Has a powerful drag
Bail spring can have issues
The handle isn’t that durable
The manufacturer describes this unique reel as the only product with something for every angler. This gives you more reasons as to why you need to buy it regardless of the price. You will steadily get the benefits as you use it over time. Well, in other words, the reel ages with you.
You will also appreciate the 10 bearing count that enables you to turn the unit fast when pulling the line towards you once you get the catch. Besides, the 6.2:1 gear ratio is a true definition of speed. You will love the quick release and quick pull you get when you decide to use it for fishing. This makes your entire experience short and attractive. You will never dream of leaving the water.
The reel size is 35x, which allows you to get enough line on for multiple fishing situations.
Additionally, you will have the best drag when using this model. It comes with a maximum drag of 12 lbs, which is excellent for your day to day operations while fishing.
Lastly, the quality is unmatched as the unit is crafted from high-quality magnesium for durability. This is also one factor that makes it a lightweight model for your work.
If you still want a quality reel for your fishing routine, then we recommend the Penn Clash Spinning Fishing Reel. It’s one of the most sought after spinning reels on the market.
The fact that it is built from excellent materials gives it the durability you would want in a reel. This reel is plenty tough and efficient enough to withstand day to day fishing.
The eight sealed bearings are excellent and work well with the 6.2:1 gear ratio to ensure that all the moving parts are operating at peak performance. This eliminates the doubts that come with friction inconsistencies.
You will like the monofilament line capacity 165/10, which is more than enough for most freshwater fishing.
With the 2500 size reel, you get a flawless operation courtesy of the 15 lbs maximum drag. This will help you take full control of almost any fish you are hauling over the side of the boat on any given day.
For over 80 years Shimano has been a leader in fishing technology and this reel shows the world just that. This spinning reel features the CoreProtect system designed to keep water from getting inside.
The Ultegra 2500 has a large enough line capacity for most circumstances while still being small enough to not feel clunky. This results in a reel that you can efficiently use all day casting.
Another aspect you will love is the 35″ of line retrieved with every crank of the handle thanks to the 6:1 gear ratio. And unlike some other models available in this category, the line will lay perfectly thanks to the Aero Wrap Oscillation system.
The gearing is also an innovation from Shimano called HAGANE and boasts impressive durability. Couple that with a 20 lb drag and this reel is capable of hauling in pigs from the depths with no troubles.
If you were not satisfied with the Penn Clash Spinning Fishing Reel, you could consider this Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel. Just like the most Penn models, this reel is built with durability in mind.
It’s a 2500 size type, which means you can conquer big fish and still not sacrifice casting distance as you would with smaller reel models.
This reel is made from heavy aluminum, and has five sealed stainless bearings for optimum performance. They work together with the 6.2:1 gear ratio to help you take full control of your fishing and get the most out of it.
The spinning reel has a mono line capacity of 200/8; 165/10; 120/12 with an HT 100 carbon fiber drag system and a max of 12 lbs so that you can catch big fish without disrupting the smoothness.
The item weight is 10.3 ounces, which is getting on the heavier side for reels in this category.
The Abu Garcia Revo X Spinning Fishing Reel is a game-changer for fishermen who want results and efficiency. The reel feels great when handling it during fishing. Unlike other heavy models, this one is a lightweight type that will hold through the day as you fish through an extensive area.
It comes with 6+1 high-quality ball bearings, which make the unit friction-free. The bearings work with gears to deliver unmatched efficiency. You will forget about the problematic reels you have been using all along.
The gear ratio of 6.2:1 is plenty fast and among the best in the lineup. You won’t have any problem peeling a spinner back to the boat at warp speed with this reel.
The 8.3 oz weight places this reel right in the comfortable range to allow for all day fishing with ease.
You will also love the smoothest drag performance courtesy of the Carbon Matrix™ hybrid drag System with a maximum drag of 11lbs. While the number is low, the reel will perform well under most circumstances.
The size 30 reel has plenty of line capacity, comparing it to other models.
The Cadence CS8 Spinning Reel suits fishermen who want the ultra-fast fishing reel experience. This is among the few on the market that guarantee you amazing outcomes within the shortest time possible.
The product features a size of 2000 and is crafted from high-quality carbon and magnesium, hence an excellent product for your money so that you will use the reel for an extended period without the worry of breakdown, wear, tear, or bend.
The magnesium construction means that your reel is a lightweight 7.3 oz, making is one of the lightest reels on the list.
Additionally, the maximum drag of 36 lbs is impressive. That is also one of the top marks in the category.
We loved the mono line capacity of 6/110lb/yards, which works well with your fishing rod to make the fishing experience attractive since it’s now easier than before.
Lastly, the gear ratio of 6.2:1 is one of the wonderful things you would want on your reel. This ratio means that your gears and 10 bearings interlink correctly to give you the required speeds for fast fishing. You will never struggle with a slow fishing reel again with this option.
When you are searching for the fastest reel in the industry, you often come across another exciting feature on the same reel, which is power. A combination of speed and power define this KastKing Speed Demon Spinning Reel. You will fall in love with it at first sight.
The gear ratio of 7.2:1 proves the speed is real, you will be able to land fish in seconds when they are cranking in at 38.5″ per crank! In the entire industry, it has been signed up as the fastest model.
It is constructed of high-quality aluminum and only weights 9.6 oz which is on the heavy side for you to carry it from one place to another comfortably.
The 10+1 high-quality bearings feature the best performance for you to love the non-friction feeling when you are using the reel for fishing. This means that you will have a smooth combination of bearings and gears which deliver efficiency.
The powerful ultrasmooth 25lbs carbon drag is what you need so that you get the fish out of the water with ease. This drag makes the entire process smooth with no lag, and you can fish for hammers all day with this powerful reel.
Also, the monoline capacity of 6/220, 8/190, 10/140 is also what you will like about this unit since it works correctly to give your reel the power to become even more useful.
When you are searching for a moderately priced entry level reel that you can afford on a budget, the Shimano Sedona should be your choice. While coming in under $75 generally, you can still get some solid performance.
The gear ratio of 5.0: 1 makes this a serviceable model, and it actually has good line pickup, bringing in 36″ of line per crank.
Coming in at 8.6 oz places this reel right in the sweet spot for strength and overall feel.
The new Propulsion Line Management System has a new lip design that boasts improved casting performance. Additionally, it is said to reduce backlashing and wind knots.
The cross carbon drag on this model comes in at 9 lbs, making it one of the weakest in the category for sure.
The monofilament capacity on this 2500 size reel is in line with most of the others tested, with yardages as follows: 6/200, 8/140, 10/120.
I personally use one of these when I am shore fishing in sandy conditions. I abuse it in places where I don’t want to take my higher end reels. Despite it’s lower price tag and shortcomings when looking at the specs, I can assure you that this reel is pretty solid. It casts well and stands up to the beating that I put it through. That is what makes the Shimano Sedona the top budget spinning reel.
Frequently Asked Questions
Well, you can use the freshwater model for the saltwater fishing even though it’s not encouraged. This is because the salt reels come from high quality corrosive resistant materials, and that’s why they can work well in such conditions.
When you decide to use the freshwater ones in salty conditions, make sure you wash them thoroughly immediately you finish the fishing trip.
Get the saltwater model, which can easily be used in freshwater bodies even though they are expensive.
Well, this depends on the manufacturer who decides to name it that way. For instance, some will name the units as 20, and the same unit will be named by another manufacturer as 200 or 2000. All these are the same, but the only difference is the manufacturer.
The vast majority of spinning reels are ambidextrous, meaning the reel can be switched to either side. Be sure to double check any model being ordered though.
Choosing the Best Spinning Reel – Ultimate Guide
Spinning your head trying to choose the best spinning reel for your next fishing outing?
Many a fisherman (or woman) has come before you with the same look of confusion as they stroll the electronic aisles of fishing reels online.
The Versatile Spinning Reel – You (almost) Can’t Go Wrong
When buying a new fishing reel, none are more popular, versatile or readily available than the spinning reel. An almost limitless range of sizes, brands, features, and prices allow you to tailor your new reel to your next fishing trip.
When shopping for your reel, you will want to start narrowing down your options based on the type of fish you plan on catching and the types of waters you are going to fish. You may be buying a new fishing reel for all-around use, or it might be for a specific fishing trip. Spinning reels are versatile tools that can catch multiple species of fish and be used on many types of waters.
Before you start shopping, you need to know the species of fish you are trying to catch and where you will be fishing, as well as the rod, rig and bait/lures you plan on working with. This information will help you choose the style and type of reel you need, and even help determine whether a spinning reel would be good for you. If you already know you want a new spinning reel, this list of top choices will help narrow your search.
Reel Size Matters – Sorry, it Does
One of the first things to look for when purchasing a new spinning reel is the size that you need. Many times, the size of the reel will depend on the fish you would like to catch and the waters that you are fishing. You don’t want to go after channel catfish with a small reel using 4-pound test line…unless you like heartbreak and struggle, trust us on that.
On the other hand, it would probably be overkill to use 50-pound test line to fish for bluegill or crappie when a smaller, lighter rod and reel combination would be more practical.
When choosing a reel, you will need to know the likely size of the fish you are trying to catch. This can take a lot of guesswork and a little bit of research to know the general size of the fish population in the body of water you will be fishing.
When you’re planning a fishing trip for walleye on a nearby river, you might know that the size range of the fish currently being caught are 2-4 lbs. In this case, 6-8-pound test line would be enough for the fish you are expecting to catch. If you know that the fish tend to be a little bigger in the waters that you’re fishing, you can use a little heavier rod and reel combo.
Suggested line weights for freshwater fish
Bluegill/Crappie: 2-4 lb. test
Trout: 4-6 lb. test
Walleye: 6-10 lb. test
Catfish (lake): 10-20 lb. test
Catfish (river): 25-50 lb. test
Largemouth Bass: 10-20 lb. test
Northern Pike: 12-25 lb. test
Become familiar with the weights of the line that you will need for the types of fish that you are hoping to catch. At first, the size of the line may seem “too small”. However, fishing line has become incredibly durable with new technologies. You are also able to mitigate the risk of purchasing line that is too light by setting the drag on your reel. The drag is a device that allows the reel to unspool line if a certain amount of tension is put on the line. This allows a large, heavier fish to take out some additional line, instead of breaking the line due to the amount of tension that is applied.
Setting the drag could help you utilize a smaller, lighter line that will generally perform better than the heavier line in the same class. If possible, try to buy the lightest line that will hold the size of the fish you are planning to catch.
The weight of the line needed is important when it’s time to buy a reel because the weight of the line and the rod being used will ultimately decide the size of reel you get. The heavier the line you need, the larger reel you need to hold the line. For example, your new reel may hold 200 yards of 12-lb test line, but 230 yards of 10-lb test line. Be sure to a buy a reel large enough to hold enough line to get you through the fishing season.
Bearings – Smooth Operator
If you are a regular fisherman or woman, you have probably noticed that some reels just feel different when you’re using them. Certain reels might require more work to reel and have a slight jerky action while others are smooth and effortless.
What are Bearings Used For in a Reel?
Bearings are used in a fishing reel to reduce friction between the gears and other moving parts. A fishing reel includes several moving parts from the spool that holds the line, to the handle that is turned. The bearing itself is introduced to reduce friction and facilitate the action of the reel to make the retrieval smooth and comfortable for the user.
The main ball bearings on a spinning reel will be contained in the spool that winds the line as you operate the reel. This helps ensure the reel does not tangle the line upon retrieval and is ready to cast smoothly each time.
The bearings for the operating handle you physically turn will help ensure that the reel operates with the smoothness that you expect from the higher quality reels on the market.
More Bearings: Smoother Action
Each reel has bearings that facilitate this action and the feel of the reel when on the water. The general rule is that the higher the number of bearings in a reel, the smoother the action will be when the reel is in use. This can have some big implications, not only on the effectiveness of the reel when fishing but also on the experience for the fisherman.
Other Factors Bearings Play
While the number of bearings will generally lead to a smoother acting reel, there are a lot of mechanics at work inside the reel itself. The placement of the bearings, size and the materials used to make the bearings may also affect the quality and action of the reel. While this topic could cover an entire article on its own, we’ll try to keep it simple and look at the number of bearings in a new reel as a deciding factor. You may decide to do additional research about other factors affecting the bearings in a reel for further information.
When shopping for a new reel, the manufacturer will generally advertise the number of bearings in each reel. While the higher quality reels may have around 8 or 9 bearings, the magical number to look for is around 5 bearings in a new reel to ensure high performance.
Trigger Spinning Reel
Some spinning reels will have a trigger attached to the bail. This offers ease of use and one-hand casting. A trigger may be useful if you are fishing with a lure that requires constant casting and retrieval.
Without a trigger on your reel, you will need two hands to hands to cast. One hand holds the pole and the line, while the other flips the bail to cast. This trigger allows you to flip the bail with the same hand holding the line.
Whether or not this is a feature that you would like should be considered when choosing your next reel. If your fishing strategy requires a lot of casting or fishing with crankbaits, then you may want to consider purchasing a reel with a trigger.
However, some fishermen prefer a reel without this feature, even when they are fishing with artificial bait. One thing to keep in mind is that triggers can function improperly over time on some of the lesser quality reels, causing the user to revert to using two hands to cast.
Another important thing to look at when purchasing a new reel will be the gear ratio. This information is generally provided in the product description and can be important based on the type of fishing that you would like to do.
The gear ratio for a reel is the number of times the spool turns for each crank of the reel’s handle. This leads to a faster or slower retrieval of the line as you are reeling. The higher the gear ratio of the reel, the faster your reel will retrieve your line.
This is important based on the type of fish you are planning to catch and the water that you are fishing in. Generally, you can retrieve your bait faster if you are fishing in warmer waters than cold waters. If you plan on fishing on a lake in the southern United States, you may want a higher gear ratio than if you are fishing for trout in a cold-water stream.
Some fish will respond to faster moving bait, while others respond more aggressively to a slower moving bait. The gear ratio will also determine the amount of reeling you have to do when hauling in the fish you just caught.
Price / Budget
When you begin to shop for your new reel, you will see an exhaustingly wide variety to choose from. It is important to know how much you would like to spend. Spinning reels range in price from about $10 to $200 or more for the top-of-the-line models. Determining your budget will be one for the first steps in purchasing your new reel.
Just like with anything else, it is easy to expand our budgets more than we originally intended when we see a product that we like. Knowing the price that you are looking to pay upfront will allow you to focus your search on reels in that price range.
What to Look For in the Store or Online…
Once you have researched the possible reels that you are looking at online, it might be a good idea to browse reels in a sporting store before making a purchase. We have all heard of the old battle regarding baitcasters and spinning reels right? You will be able to get hands-on with your reel if it’s in stock.
When shopping for reels in a store, you will want to hold the reel to ensure it feels comfortable in your hand. Spinning reels come in a variety of models and while the size of the reel you purchase will be based mostly on the type of fishing that you want to do, comfort needs to be considered as well.
Remember, you could be using this reel for hours at a time. You want to know that it will feel right in your hands when you are using it.
Demonstrations Can Help
Most stores have a demonstration with the reel mounted on a small rod. This will give you a chance to see how the reel feels and works when you pick it up. The first thing after picking up your reel is to turn the crank to ensure that it has a smooth action. It should feel light and effortless to turn the handle and spin the line spool.
Right Handed or a Lefty?
Make sure that the handle is reversible. If you are left-handed, you will want to make sure that you move the handle to the other side of the reel so that you can operate it properly. Not every reel is reversible, but most of the premium reels can be turned to the left-hand side.
Backspin / Stop
Finally, after you have tested the action on the reel, try to move the handle backward. There should be no backward movement when reversing the direction of the handle. If the handle moves even a fraction of an inch, this can create problems when setting your hook. No one wants to lose their fish because the reel lets out some slack at the worst possible moment.
Finding a Fishing Rod to Match Your New Reel
If you have your eye on a new fishing reel, you will likely also need to purchase a rod to go with it. To the untrained eye, a fishing rod may just look like a stick. However, the variety and types available are almost endless.
Generally, you would want to start with the size of the reel you are purchasing for the types of fish that you hope to catch. If you are fishing for trout in a small stream, then an ultra-light action fishing rod will most likely suit your needs when paired with a small reel that allows you to string 2-4-pound test line.
Accuracy, Control, and Action
The smaller and lighter the rod and reel you use, the more accuracy and control you will have while fishing. Fishing in small streams involves a lot of precision to position your bait where the fish are. Plus, catching even small fish on an ultra-light rod and reel set up is a lot of fun because you feel a lot more of the action!
A larger, heavy action rod and reel combination used for river or saltwater fishing will not allow this accuracy; but will allow for the heavier weights needed to fish in a current and heavier line for the fish that you can expect to catch.
Just like shopping for your new spinning reel, you will see a variety of fishing rods at multiple price points. Once you have an idea of the size class of your rod and reel, you will want to choose a rod that matches your reel in performance and price.
Learning to Fish With a Spinning Reel
I remember the day I got my first spinning reel. It was my 10th birthday. Until this point, I had gotten proficient from a young age using the classic spin casting reels. You know these, they have a button on the bottom and were probably the first rod and reel set up that we all had as children.
When I unwrapped my first spinning reel, my dad explained that when he finally learned how to use one, he finally felt like a “real” fisherman. Now, I would be a real fisherman too! I was excited. What I did not expect was that it was a little different than using the spin casting reels I was used to and had used pretty much since I learned to walk.
If you are using your first spinning reel, having used spin casting reels exclusively, plan on taking some time getting used to it. The principles behind casting are the same, but there are some differences that you will need to master. I recommend trying a weight on the line and practicing in the backyard (best to steer clear of any windows to start). Don’t worry though, it isn’t as difficult as learning to use a fly reel.
When using a spin casting reel, you push down a button on the reel and hold it while you complete the action of swinging the pole in the direction that you would like to cast. At the precise moment, you let go of the button to release the line where you want to cast.
A spinning reel uses a similar process to cast the line where the fish are. You will start out by holding the rod ‘backwards”, so the reel is facing down and away from you.
If the reel that you are using does not have a trigger, use the pointer finger of the hand you are using to hold the rod to hold the line down while the other hand flips the bail. This is comparable to pushing the button and holding it before casting your line.
From there, the motion will be familiar as you swing the pole back and then thrust it forward before releasing your hold on the line to cast the bait where you would like it to go.
While it takes some getting used to, practice makes perfect. The first several times you cast with a spinning reel, it will feel awkward and the accuracy will take time to learn. You will probably even get your finger caught on the line when trying to release it.
Don’t give up! Eventually, you will be able to cast your spinning reel with the same accuracy that you’ve become accustomed to seeing with your spin casting reel. Soon, you too will feel like a “real fisherman”.
Caring For Your New Reel
Your new fishing reel is complex and has a lot of moving parts. It is also made to use outdoors where dirt and water can get inside the mechanical parts of the reel. To ensure that you new reel is operating correctly, you will need to perform maintenance so that is cleaned and properly lubricated.
Cleaning Your Reel
A few things that you will need are some reel grease, reel oil, some small screwdrivers, and a soft cloth. Be sure that you do not disassemble your reel any further than you are comfortable you can put it back together.
As you open your reel, you will see several gears and other moving parts. As you remove each of these, you, be sure to use the cloth to wipe any moisture and dirt from each part. Apply the grease and the oil to the parts as needed before re-assembling the reel.
Storing Your Rod and Reel
Unfortunately, we are unable to fish year-round in most of the country. You will need to store your reel for the offseason. Try to find a place that is both dry and clean. Many people will store their reels in the garage during the winter. Dust and dirt can work its way inside your reel. If you decide to store your reels in the garage, be sure to disassemble the reel and clean it before its first use of the year.
When you are preparing for the fishing season ahead, you will not only want to clean the dirt and water away from your reel, you will also want to change the fishing line before your first trip. Over time, the line can be degraded and weakened. This will impact the integrity of the line and could cause you to lose a fish if the line breaks.
Closing Thoughts on the Top Spinning Reel Models
Choosing the best spinning reel for your 2020 is now an easy task. We have shared with you the best reels to make your selection a breeze. if you need to learn a bit about spinning reels before choosing one though, check out this guide.
The biggest thing to keep in mind is quality. You don’t want to purchase, get accustomed to, and then throw away a spinning reel every year. Purchase one of high quality and keep it for years to come. Now get off the internet and go catch some fish!