Spinning reels are, nowadays, the most popular kind of fishing reel you can find on the market. Their general approval comes from the fact that they are quite easy to operate, allowing new anglers to start out with them while also providing enough accuracy to be used by professionals, too.
Because there are uncountable manufacturers, spinning reels can be bought in different sizes, prices, and with diverse features which can range from enhanced balance to a powerful drag that will help you catch the biggest fish.
Still, this is precisely what can turn the buying task into a complex or frustrating one: with so many brands, models, and series, how can you know for sure which one will be the perfect match for you?
With this in mind, we have selected 11 of the best spinning fishing reels you can purchase, in addition to a buying guide with invaluable information and tips that will escort you throughout your search.
Daiwa BG Spinning Reels
This Daiwa BG fishing reel is among the best of its kind and its performance speaks for itself. It’s a well-balanced, stable, and durable spinning reel that you will unquestionably enjoy using.
Among this spinning reel’s best features is its anodized aluminum body which stands out for being hard enough to survive bumps, scrapes, and scratches. It’s of higher quality than a normal anodization so the reel will definitely last longer.
The handle is set in place with a screw allowing the whole body to feel much more solid when you’re cranking the handle than in other models. It also has an Air Rotor design that distributes the stress all throughout the reel, making it feel much more balanced.
This is a braided line-ready reel and it is engineered with an Over-Sized Digigear System that provides several advantages: it not only increases the reel’s torque but it also extends your fishing line’s life as the oversized gear puts less pressure on it.
Lastly, this model has 7 ball bearings, all anti-rust, and a carbon ATD drag system that performs nicely from beginning to end.
This is not a fully sealed model so it’s best to take it to places where you know it won’t fall into the water. However, this is still a high-quality reel that can drag almost 18 lbs so it can be your companion if you feel like catching a big trophy.
Pros & Cons
- This is a surprisingly smooth reel
- It can drag up to 17.6 lbs of weight
- Its oversized gear undoubtedly gives it more stability and balance
- Painted spool can peel off
- It can be on the heavy side because of its big size
Shimano Stradic FK Spinning Reel
The Shimano Stradic FK is one of the most reliable spinning fishing reels you can get. Although it’s a slightly pricey option, its features and long life will prove worthy with use.
This spinning reel has a full metal Hagane body and X-Ship technologies that make it an impact resistant item with enhanced cranking power and reduced flexing. All Hagane gear are manufactured from a 3D design and later created with the brand’s signature cold-forging system to make it a high-quality, irreplaceable reel.
The bearings on each end of the gear keep the whole reel balanced and it also helps remove friction, allowing you to cast better and at longer distances. This model also features a Propulsion Line Management system with a spool lip that reduces possible backlashes and wind knots.
As for its retrieval performance, the Fluidrive II design comes with all the gear polished through a wrapping process. The reel has 6 ball bearings and 1 roller bearing, and it features an Anti-Reverse Sure Stopper that offers instant hook-setting power.
Lastly, its Dyna-Balance technology lessens vibration and augments sensitivity for an even greater fishing experience.
This Shimano Stradic FK is a very smooth reel that also comes with a super drag power: this is the main reason why it’s so good at everything. But because it is also so balanced, it performs with excellence when fishing medium-heavy to heavy fish species.
Pros & Cons
- Its design offers great balance
- Exceptional line retrieval
- Tough construction makes it long-lasting
- The spool is perforated and might let some water spray inside
- Some parts might chip with use but it doesn’t affect performance
Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel
A Penn affordable model, the Battle II is just as great as many of their most expensive reels but for a better price. It’s an anti-corrosion and very durable fishing reel that can easily satisfy most of your needs.
This fishing reel is built with a full metal construction and a heavy-duty aluminum bail wire, all especially designed to provide durability and improved control over each action. It features an HT-100 carbon fiber drag system that offers a silky-smooth drag even under heavier loads, so you can definitely catch big fish with this one.
To manage this, the reel uses not one but both sides of all the drag washers, allowing you to fight against hard-pulling fish species. It also has a fluid cranking thanks to its five stainless steel ball bearings, and it comes with an instant anti-reverse bearing that aids in the elimination of rotor backplay.
Likewise, its spool presents a rubber gasket that keeps the fishing line steady even under pressure, which also lets anglers use braided line if preferred. It comes with line capacity marks that show 1/3, 1/2, and full line so you can know how much you have left.
This is a great spinning reel for saltwater as it truly delivers in design and engineering. It will not only hold against corrosion but also against strong and hard-pulling fish.
Pros & Cons
- Non-corrosive metal makes it ideal for saltwater fishing
- Very solid and it performs smoothly
- It has an anti-reverse switch
- Small in size but still powerful
- Not easy to take apart and put back together for maintenance
Pflueger President Spinning Reel
This President spinning reel is a great mix of affordability and effectiveness. It is specially designed to provide anglers with a low budget a reliable fishing reel they can get a good catch with.
This spinning reel not only has an elegant design but it is also made of the best materials: with an aircraft grade aluminum, you can rest assured that this reel will last a long time. Its body and rotor are made of graphite, making it responsive but rigid at the same time.
Completely corrosion free, it ensures an effortless operation with its nine ball bearings and one anti-reverse that offer you even more crank control. This highly durable reel won’t flex but it can still handle a lot of pressure.
It features a multi-disc drag system with oiled felt and stainless steel washers that let you drag different weights, depending on the model number you buy. And as for the item’s total weight, it’s around one pound placing it among the lightest of spinning reels.
Lastly, its anti-reverse system provides with a one-way clutch bearing that brings a sure-click bail technology. This system makes a sound to let you know that it’s been closed properly.
The Pflueger President’s drag depends on the series you buy, but they are all quite good for catching trout, panfish, and even medium-sized catfish or bass. However, it is not recommended for offshore or even inshore saltwater.
Pros & Cons
- It is super light and small in size, very portable
- Very smooth drag
- Great customer support from the manufacturer
- Not a very fast line-retrieval
KastKing Kodiak Spinning Reel
Named after the Alaskan bears that catch salmon up in the north, this Kodiak spinning reel is an exceptional item that will improve and simplify your fishing experience.
This saltwater spinning reel has been designed with an aluminum spool and rotor structure that allows you to use it in sandy places as it won’t let any water or sand inside. Its body is made of zero-flex aluminum, and its spool is CNC machined of the same material.
It is a strong reel made of an enhanced 15% thicker stainless steel main body, brass gears, and a carbon fiber drag system that can hold up to 39.5 lbs. This offers an outstanding power that will give you the chance to catch even the strongest and fattest fish.
It also features 10 + 1 stainless steel ball bearings, which makes it reel so smooth that you’ll be amazed. On the inside, it has carbon matrix washers and stainless steel drag washer while also presenting a waterproof design.
Its handle is aluminum, too, and it has an EVA knob for a better grip. Likewise, it can be interchanged from one side to the other making optimal for both left and right-handed people.
Its amazing waterproof features allows you to use this spinning reel in saltwater without worrying about its durability. In addition to that, its incredible drag power makes it ideal to catch big fish species.
Pros & Cons
- Incredible drag power has a capacity of almost 40 lbs
- The 10 + 1 ball bearings make it surprisingly smooth
- Saltwater-ready thanks to its waterproof design
- Slightly low line capacity
- The unused handle socket doesn’t bring a cap and could be uncomfortable for some
Penn Spinfisher V Spinning Reel
The Penn 4500 model is a watertight spinning reel that offers incredible drag and an anti-reverse bearing feature that makes its low price undoubtedly worth it.
This spinning reel features a highly durable construction made of a full metal body, a sideplate, and a techno balanced rotor that has a heavy-duty aluminum bail wire. It has been equipped with a HT-100 Slammer drag system that offers an extreme drag range and smooth operation.
This model has a large diameter drag knob that allows you to drag to the max without your line breaking. Similarly, each of its washers have been treated with a particular grease that lets the reel perform effortlessly for a long time.
The reel has five stainless steel ball bearings and an anti-reverse bearing that, put together, ensure that its cranking is fluid. This reel comes with a friction trip ramp for cases where precise and long-distance casting is needed.
Likewise, its spool has a rubber gasket that avoids possible slipping of the Superline, and it shows you how much line you have left thanks to its line capacity rings, which are market at 1/3, 2/3, and full.
Because the Penn Spinfisher V is a watertight spinning reel, it’s the perfect choice for those who like to fish in saltwater and sandy environments. It’s reliable and will perform adequately in such places as it has been designed to endure difficult saltwater fishing.
Pros & Cons
- Considering that it has been made for saltwater, it will still work smoothly even if it’s fallen onto the sand
- Its gasket seals protect the reel with excellence
- The drag is great and very strong
- This spinning reel is a bit too heavy for its size
- It loses its smoothness with time and use
Shimano Stradic Ci4+ FB Spinning Reel
This technological spinning fishing reel by Shimano is made with the most demanding anglers in mind. Its parts have all been engineered for specific purposes that range from durability to water protection, and you can know them in detail below.
This lightweight, sturdy fishing reel comes with a front grad and offers an ultra soft reeling experience that few other models can. It features many reel technologies that make it unique, such as its Magnumlite Rotor which allows you to turn the handle so easily that you won’t even feel it.
This model is 25% less heavy than similar Shimano products, and its carbon body and cold-forged aluminum spool ensure that it will last for a long time. Its maximum drag capacity is of 20 lbs and it has a G Free Body that refines angler experience.
This last feature centers all the internal components, which ends up balancing the entire reel. In addition to that, its Coreprotect function keeps the water out of its body cavities.
The Shimano Stradic Ci4+ has 6 ball bearings and one roller bearing, and it can be bought in different models depending on your weight and line capacity’s needs.
This sturdy fishing reel performs nicely when used for fishing small species like trout, pikes, zanders, and perch in freshwater lakes. However, it can still do great at near-shore saltwater fishing.
Pros & Cons
- An overall durable and sturdy item
- It offers a super smooth reeling
- Its rubber handle allows you to get a good grip even with wet hands
- Tremendous cranking power and little flex when reeling
- Extremely lightweight
- Inability to turn off the anti-reverse switch
Penn Pursuit II Spinning Fishing Reel
This low-budget Penn model is the perfect solution if you are looking for a durable yet inexpensive spinning reel. It performs nicely and has such a construction and functionality that you won’t believe its marked price.
The Penn Pursuit II’s top feature is how little it costs: you won’t find anything similar on the fishing reel market for any time soon. It’s still a Penn product so you can rest assured that it’s high-quality, as well.
This reel’s durability comes from its graphite body, aluminum side plate, and graphite rotor. This last one makes it turn easily if needed. Its oiled felt drag system allows for enough drag pressure when battling against a strong fish.
Likewise, it works smoothly and its cranking is smooth. It has 4 shielded stainless steel ball bearings, and features an instant and infinite anti-reverse bearing to help you out when you most need it.
As for the spool, it is made of anodized aluminum. Lastly, the whole body is corrosion-resistant and it comes with an ergonomic handle that lets you hold it without feeling discomfort for a long time.
The Penn Pursuit II is best for all anglers out there who are on a low budget but would still like to acquire a high-quality fishing reel that will perform almost like an expensive model. It’s best when used for inshore fishing although it is also sold as a saltwater reel.
Pros & Cons
- A solid anti-reverse system
- Impressively strong reeling
- It can be bought for a very low price
- No anti-reverse switch
- Its body can scratch easily
Abu Garcia Revo SX Spinning Reel
A solid-looking fishing reel, Abu Garcia has exceeded expectations with its nine ball bearings fishing reel that is equally weightless and strong.
This spinning reel weights only 6.66 ounces and can still drag a maximum of 20lbs. It is a lightweight model that will gladly offer a lot of pressure when fishing, allowing you to throw small lure to catch mid-size fish.
The Revo SX has an adjustable, magnetic brake system, which is not only super easy to use but it also prevents backlash if the fish fights back. Likewise, it’s a quiet reel and it makes almost no sound when being used.
The frame of this reel is an alloy one, making it very resistant to corrosion. It also has a carbon handle sideplate and a nice, sleek-looking black-and-red design. Its housing and body materials make it a strong, durable reel.
Its drag system features the Carbon-Matrix technology, which is but a set of carbon washers that ensure consistent drag pressure, even in the middle of a hard-to-catch fish.
As for the ball bearing, you’d be surprised to know that the Abu Garcia Revo SX has nine stainless steel ball bearings plus one roller that makes its operations even smoother and freer.
The Revo Sx is great at baitcasting, especially in freshwater. This is a very strong reel that will give you a chance to catch fish that offer a hard fight. If used in saltwater, make sure that you wash it properly before putting it away.
Pros & Cons
- Its 9 ball bearings ensure that the reel is running freely
- The magnetic brake system makes sure that the reel doesn’t backlash when casting
- Its ultra lightweight
- Not as smooth as other reels can be, even with its nine ball bearings
Penn Fierce II Spinning Fishing Reel
Almost as affordable at its Pursuit cousin-model, this Fierce II fishing reel by Penn is another great example of performance and durability in an inexpensive item, because you can certainly have them both at the same time.
This is a heavy-duty spinning reel fully constructed of metal for its body and sideplates, and durable aluminum for the bail wire. It’s a great-looking reel that offers fluid cranking thanks to its four shielded, stainless-steel ball bearings.
It also features anti-reverse bearing instantly, and its techno-balanced rotor outshines when leveraging. This model’s Superline spool requires zero backing; it is also braid-ready for the braid lovers out there, and it shows how much line you have left through its capacity rings marked at 1/3, 1/2, and full line.
The 3000 Fierce II offers enough strength to catch a 25-pound fish, and it can hold around 300yd/15lb of braided line, or 220yd/8lb mono line. Models with higher numbers can catch and hold bigger fish and more line, respectively.
Fighting against mid-sized, fast fish. The reel and drag in this Penn model is just excellent and it will handle any saltwater or freshwater fishing without any problems.
Pros & Cons
- Incredible durability stands out when fighting against big fish
- The reel case is well sealed
- The drag is accessed easily and can be adjusted with the top dial, even in the middle of a catch
- The bearings are not the smoothest you can get
- It can require frequent maintenance such as cleaning and greasing
Shimano Sienna Fe Spinning Reel
Shimano is an excellent fishing reel manufacturer and this Sienna Fe is not an exclusion: designed with the best spinning reel technologies, this is a one-of-a-kind item as you’ll notice below.
This Shimano Sienna Fe undoubtedly presents certain improvements from other Shimano fishing reels. One of the main examples is its M-Compact body, which brings the rod and the oscillation gear much closer thus adding balance to the whole reel.
It also features a Propulsion Line Management System that lengthens the casting distance while it also prevents wind knots or backlashes. Similarly, its Dyna-Balance technology helps to counterbalance the rotor which reduces dragging and retrieving vibration.
In addition, the Sienna Fe has an anti-reverse Sure Stopper II design which removes back-play through its one-way roller bearing. This reel brings only one ball bearing, too, although that doesn’t make it perform less smoothly.
As for the line capacity, it can hold 270 yards of 2lbs monofilament or 85 yards of 15lb PowerPro line. It can easily drag up to 9lbs and it weights 7.04 ounces.
This is a spinning reel especially designed for freshwater fishing so it’s best to use it for that. Likewise, it can only drag up to 9lbs so it won’t perform well when trying to catch bigger fish.
Pros & Cons
- Because the oscillation gear is closer to the rod, this reel offers unbeatable balance
- Its technology provides longer casting distances and less backlash
- Ultra smooth rotation thanks to the Dyna-Balance rotor
- AR-C spool makes the line to come off faster and in smaller loops
- The drag this reel offer is not as smooth as other Shimano models because of its 1 + 1 bearings
Best Spinning Reel Brands
The number of spinning reels and other fishing gear manufacturers is huge, although not all of them are as distinctive as others. Among the brands that create high-quality spinning reels, you can find:
Shimano is a Japanese company well-known for selling high-quality items, all sports-oriented. This huge brand manufactures products for cycling, rowing, fishing, and other gear that can be useful for anyone who leads an adventurous life.
In the fishing niche, they produce unbeatable spinning reels, fishing rods, lures, and lines, as well as clothing and other equipment you might want to add to your collection. Their reels are popular for providing great performance for a reasonable price.
Penn is one of the favorite brands among most anglers. Their reels have been used in fishing tournaments for years now, always performing with superiority and distinction. Their reels are all made with the best of materials and have a long-lasting life.
Because the Penn reels’ construction usually include anodized metal and other technologies, they are the best choice for fishing in saltwater.
Daiwa is a brand that has been manufacturing and selling fishing equipment since 1955. From then on, they have been recognized as one of the top spinning reels’ sellers thanks to their featured technologies and ground-breaking construction methods.
Daiwa spinning reels are often praised for using materials that make them much lighter, or for their nine-bearings system, available on their most expensive models.
Although Pflueger has been selling fishing reels since 1881, their first spinning reel came out in 1954, and they haven’t stopped making or enhancing them ever since. Their reels are characterized for being lightweight but strong, although smoothness is frequently their best feature.
Founded in 2013, KastKing is a start-up that deserves to be looked at. Created from the minds of a group of grad level students from the United States, this brand is recognized for its impeccable technologies featured in their finishing reels, lines, and rods.
In less than a decade, KastKing has positioned itself among the top spinning reels’ manufacturers although, knowing the quality of their products, this comes as no surprise.
Buying Guide – How to Choose the Best Spinning Reel
The importance of your spinning reel when fishing is undeniable. However, it is so simple to acquire an inadequate model according to your fishing methods and styles that a great number of people end up with a reel that doesn’t serve their purposes.
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For this reason, we’ve compiled what we believe are the essential features that you should check on every spinning reel before buying it. These are:
The body of the reel is a vital part as it must be strong and durable enough to handle sudden shocks and hard-pulling fish. Reel bodies are normally constructed of cast aluminum or graphite.
Some models have holes in the body to make the reel lighter in weight. Although this doesn’t compromise its quality, you should never buy a reel that feels too light and unstable as it will no be able to withstand strong pressure or pulls.
Finally, depending on what it has been designed for, some reels are waterproof or corrosion-resistant. You should opt for one of these if you are planning on fishing in saltwater.
The anti-reverse system is the one that prevents your fishing line from slipping away, and it’s usually in a place where both right and left-handed people can make use of it. This switch can sometimes come in the shape of a handle, and although it’s quite useful for anglers that have just started out, you also want to be able to switch this anti-reverse off so make sure that the reel you’re looking for gives this possibility.
Spool and Line Capacity
The spool is the piece that holds the fishing line and it plays a very important role when casting. Spools can be made of aluminum or graphite. If you are looking for a durable spool, no matter its weight, aluminum is the best choice.
However, if you want a more lightweight reel, keep an eye out for graphite spools. Likewise, the line capacity will depend on how much you’d like it to hold, and because models are all different, this is another feature you should pay attention to.
Lastly, some spools are braided line-ready which means that if you frequently use this type of fishing line, your spool should be able to adapt to it easily.
The drag in a reel is what prevents the fishing line from breaking if a fish pulls back too hard. This system works through large washers placed inside the housing which allow more line to be released under pressure.
You want the drag capacity of your reel to be a good one or else you might end up losing the big catch. Likewise, you also want to be able to adjust the drag on your reel as this will offer even more control when pulling for the fish you’re trying to get.
Availability on drag power differs greatly and this will determine if you can use a specific reel to catch certain fish species that tend to pull harder or faster than others.
The amount of bearings in a reel allows you to know how smoothly it will operate. The ball bearings are inside the reel’s body in order to avoid slips but you can easily know how many bearings a spinning reel has by checking its main features.
As for saltwater reels, verify that they have at least 6 or more ball bearings. This is because reels that are used in these environments normally need a little more help to perform as nicely.
The gear ratio is what lets you know how fast you’ll be able to retrieve the fishing line. It is usually presented in measures such as 4:1 or 6:1, where the first number makes reference to how many times the line goes around the spool for each full turn of the handle. The higher this number, the faster the lure will return to you.
The bail is a small, thin, curved part that is placed on top of the rotor. Its main function is to stop the fishing line from moving off the spool, and guiding it back onto it in other occasions.
The bail can be opened and closed, and some models feature a lock-on system that allows you to hear a loud “click” so you can know it’s been closed properly.
Fishing Rod Compatibility
If you already own a fishing rod or know which one you’ll be purchasing, it is important to check that the reel you like is, in fact, compatible with it. Rods come with a weight holding capacity and it should match the reel’s weight limits, as well.
Frequently Asked Questions
The ideal spinning reel for you will be greatly determined by your fishing methods and where you like to go. While some of the reels listed above are designed only for freshwater, a couple of them are also saltwater-ready, meaning you can go offshore without hesitating or putting your reel’s quality in doubt.
The best spinning reel for those who are on a low budget is the Penn Fierce II. This model offers performance and durability, both for an incredible price. Likewise, it’s a well-balanced reel that is braided line-ready and will stand strong against pulling fish.
However, if your budget can afford a more expensive reel, the Shimano Stradic FK is an outstanding model that is definitely worth its price. It features a rigid and resistant body along with reduced vibration and improved smoothness. Similarly, it’s designed to avoid wind knots and backlashes, and it is a durable reel that will stay with you for many fishing seasons.
Lastly, in technology, the KastKing Kodiak takes the first place. This reel is the perfect combination of great price and even greater engineering: its zero-flex aluminum body, 10 + 1 stainless steel bearings system, and 39.5 lbs of massive drag power are enough evidence to sustain this claim, not to mention that it is specially designed so that neither water nor sand enters the housing. The perfect saltwater companion!