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Last updated: June 11, 2021
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Spinning reels are a good choice for beginners and those who enjoy fishing casually. They are versatile, they offer good value-for-money, and are a great option for anglers looking to catch small to medium-sized fish. They’re more affordable than options like baitcasters, and in this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at the most modestly-priced of the bunch. So, if you do happen to be after the best spinning reel under $50, read on, as we’ve selected top-quality options that won’t break the bank.
Our review has focused on the most important features for a good quality spinning reel. This includes the number and quality of bearings to assist the spin, the maximum drag capacity (this will be a guide to the size of fish you can catch) and other features such as line capacity, and whether they have built-in anti-reverse. Our editor’s choice, the SHIMANO Sienna SN4000FE, is an example of a spinning reel with a fantastic anti-reverse system.
Our team has done a lot of research to find the best spinning reel under 50 dollars, using the information provided from the manufacturers as well as first-hand experience and consumer reviews of the spinning reels on the list. We’ve included multiple manufacturers and brands and nominated what purpose the reels are best for. The information is provided as a simple overview table before we head into detailed reviews and a buying guide to help you to better understand how to purchase the best option.
Shimano is an excellent brand with a huge amount of choice in their range. Our editor’s choice, the Sienna SN4000FE, creates a huge amount of power and quality for such a reasonably priced reel. This is a hard-wearing and strong spinning reel and has a Super Stopper anti-reverse system to stop the reel reversing and causing issues with the line.
You can use the Sienna in multiple environments, it is suitable for fishing in saltwater inshore and freshwater. The compact body has been designed so that the oscillation gear is closer to your rod, and this will reduce the chance of fatigue when using over a long time.
This reel also has a line management system, this can help with casting long distances but prevents the line from backlashing in the process.
In spite of only having two bearings, this doesn’t affect how smoothly the reel casts: it is exceptionally smooth to use and also has the added bonus of being pretty lightweight and having high line retrieval per crank. It’s easy to use and wonderful value-for-money. That’s why this product has been so well-reviewed and we’ve nominated it our editor’s choice. For the price, there’s no better option out there on the market today.
Why is it special?
Suitable for both inshore and freshwater fishing
Comes complete with Super Stopper anti-reverse system
Casts smoothly and easily
Reasonable drag considering the weight of the reel
What are the flaws?
Can stiffen up over time as it only has two bearings within
The second best-rated reel on our list is wonderful for a lot of different reasons, but we’ve recommended it especially highly for its drag. It has a drag capacity of 33 pounds, making it suitable for catching larger fish than some of the competing models on this list. If you think you might have a chance to tussle with some bigger fish, this could be worth a second look.
The KastKing Megatron 3000 is another option with an anti-reverse, and it also offers a very smooth casting action with 8 bearings in total. The bearings are made of double shielded steel which makes them very hard-wearing and long-lasting. You can use this reel in either freshwater or saltwater.
The aluminum skeleton of this reel gives it robustness and durability, and the cranking handles can be fitted to either the left or the right depending on which your strong hand is.
The gears consist of a machined alloy main gear, which is combined with a brass pinion gear. These keep the smoothness of the reel. This product is also one of the lowest weight reels to deliver such good drag. The design has been reviewed well by fishermen everywhere.
Why did it make our list?
Excellent drag when you consider the price and weight of this reel
Easy to attach the handle to either side of the reel
Robust and built-to-last with a strong frame
What is not ideal about it?
Some people have commented that this performs better in freshwater rather than saltwater
The Piscifun Flame Spinning Reel 5000 is another solid and well-reviewed option which can be great for beginners and serious anglers alike. The design is a little different to the others and this stands out, but looks aren’t the main thing! This has some top features to back it up.
This has been nominated as the best smooth option. It has 9 ball bearings and one roller bearing and the manufacturers themselves describe it as “buttery smooth”.
This comes in at under 10 Oz., making it one of the more lightweight options on the list, but it still has a decent level of durability with a brass pinion gear and triple washers. This also helps to give it a good drag capacity of almost 20lbs.
Piscifun is definitely designed to be a budget brand, but they claim that their products offer features usually reserved for far more expensive spinning reels. The braid-ready spool is one such feature that the manufacturers advertise.
Generally, this reel gives a good mix of value and quality. If you are especially keen on smooth casting and retrieval and want to fish in freshwater, then you should consider this option.
Why did it make our list?
Smooth cast and retrieval with 10 bearing system
Very lightweight model with low fatigue when using
Offers a fair amount of drag capacity, especially for such a light reel
The Pflueger Trion Tri20x is a good, solid real. While it doesn’t have the most standout features out of the products on this list and might not beat our editor’s choice product on features alone, it has made our list due to being one of the best ultralight spinning reels on the market.
Incredibly, this weighs just 5.9 Oz. This makes it perfect for putting in portable setups and allows you to use it for super long periods of time without feeling any sort of fatigue. Even though it is built to be lightweight, it still has some respectable features, such as an instant anti-reverse.
This is also a pretty smooth reel. It has a seven bearing system with six steel ball bearings which are built to last.
The graphite construction is very clever and this doesn’t feel flimsy at all in spite of being made with such lightweight materials, it also has a quality aluminum spool which is well-made. The aluminum handle is just as well-built, too!
The tiny weight has to come with a trade-off, though, and this comes in the fact that this reel doesn’t have a great deal of drag capacity, which means it is only really suitable for smaller fish. It won’t handle tussles with larger fish.
For a portable and easy spinning reel to take with you in your tackle box, this could be worth considering, especially if smaller fish are your target.
Are you looking for a reel which is the cheapest acceptable spinning reel under $50? Well, acceptable is probably doing the KastKing Lancelot a disservice. This reel outperforms its price and is just as good as some of the options twice the price. It comes in well under the $50 budget we set at the start of this article.
While this reel doesn’t quite have all the luxury and drag of some of the others, it is incredibly well made.
The components include a quality aluminum spool and an instant anti-reverse system. It has a reversible handle, which can be used on the left or right, depending which is your strong side.
This also has a fair level of drag power (up to 17.5 lbs) allowing for bass and trout fishing.
It’s pretty smooth, too. The KastKing Lancelot has a total of five steel bearings. Another great feature is the line keeper. This is inbuilt and designed to let you attach the line to the reel after you’ve untied the bait.
Overall, this doesn’t make the very top of our list, as the features, though solid, aren’t as exceptional as some other reels. It is a good middle ground though, and perfect for beginners on a budget.
What do we love it for?
Very smooth casting and retrieving
Exceptional value-for-money as this is one of the cheapest spinning reels out there
Durable and well-made
Suitable for right-handed and left-handed anglers alike
What were we disappointed with?
In certain positions can stick after casting and not be quite as smooth as you’d like
We’ve listed the Abu Garcia Black Max Spinning Fishing Combo as our best rod and reel combo under $50. To be able to get both rod and reel for this price is impressive, and Abu Garcia is one of the best-known brands in the world of fishing!
A 14-pound drag is decent, and makes this a good beginner option for catching small to medium sized fish.
This is relatively hard-wearing and should last long enough for beginners until they wish to upgrade to other models. Though we don’t recommend it for professionals, as a way to save money on a beginning option, this Abu Garcia reel is worth considering.
It is not the smoothest product on the list, it has just two bearings and though these are steel so should last a fair amount of time, more bearings would help with the smoothness of casting and retrieval.
The combo is made with a graphite frame to keep its weight quite low, and many have said that it feels like a combination that should cost more than the very low price it can be purchased for.
What makes it special?
No need to purchase a separate rod, reel and rod fit perfectly together and are shipped together
What cons did we find?
Only really suitable for beginners
Not as smooth to cast as many of the other reels on the list
Things to Consider
As well as listing some of the top options for spinning reels under the $50 price mark, we’ve included a buying guide that can help you to work out the best for you. Some people need a saltwater spinning reel under $50, whereas others will get by with a freshwater model. Some need an ultralight option, whereas others won’t worry too much about the weight. The important thing is choosing a model that fits your unique set of needs as an angler or fisherman. In the buying guide, we’ve covered features and what they mean, so even if you are a beginner, you can make the right choice.
Is it worth getting a spinning reel under $50?
Just because a spinning reel is inexpensive, doesn’t mean it is poor quality. In fact, some of the options on our list are exceptionally good, and stand up to reels which are far more expensive. A $50 budget is a decent amount of money to spend on a reel such as this. Whilst it is not that easy to find a good baitcasting reel under $50, you should find that you have plenty of choice on a budget for a spinning reel.
Features to consider when choosing a spinning reel
The following are the features we’ve picked out as being some of the most important when choosing a spinning reel. When picking out the model for you and reading our reviews, you’re likely to come across these terms and features. Understanding them fully means you won’t slip up when you make a purchase.
The number of bearings makes a big difference to the smoothness in operation when it comes to spinning reels. The bearings help it to smoothly spin around, and the more it has the more likely it is to smoothly and easily cast. The number of bearings is key, but so is the material they are made out of and the design. Stainless steel bearings are very robust and will help the reel to last for a long time before rust and other issues can set in.
The gear ratio is a number to show how the spool and handle interact. The number looks something like 5.9:1 or 6.3:1. This denominates the number of rotations of the spool per rotation of the handle. So, in a 6.3:1 model, every one rotation of the handle (the number on the right) there would be 6.3 rotations of the spool. This can impact how quickly the reeling in process is.
Maximum drag force
Drag force is what is felt by the fish when you have hooked it. The higher the drag force, the better it will be when you’re trying to tussle with larger fish and reel them in. If you attempt to catch a bigger fish and your reel doesn’t have a high drag force then you can cause damage, or the rod can even snap if you aren’t careful. Drag force on a lightweight reel is likely to be lower as their construction can’t handle heavier fish.
The spinning reels on this list all have their own line capacities. This is the length of line that it has space for depending on the type of line and the thickness. For instance, the KastKing Lancelot has line capacity of 12/330, 16/245 for a mono line, and 50/330, 70/245 for braid. These relate to the different types of braid and how much can be held.
Line retrieve rate
This number simply relates to how much line can be retrieved per crank, and therefore how quickly you can retrieve a line once it has been cast. This number varies a lot. The
Though it may seem obvious, checking the reel handle position before you buy is important. There are options that only have a handle on one side. Fortunately, a lot of the options on our list are made with a reversible design so you can attach it to the side you need. Options like the KastKing Megatron 3000 are examples of reels where the handle can attach to the left or the right.
The frame construction has a big impact on the durability, corrosion resistance and the weight of the reel. Materials such as graphite can allow the product to be pretty durable, but also light. It is important that the construction is rugged and built to last. You shouldn’t have to replace your reel due to rust after a few months of use.
The weight of a spinning reel has a big impact on the ease-of-use and portability. A lot of people are looking for a reel they can easily pack up in a portable setup and not have to worry about it being overly heavy. Also, lower weight means longer that you can use it for without starting to experience fatigue. Heavy rods and reels can make it harder over extended periods of time.
Spinning reels are generally easier to cast and preferred by beginners. A spinning reel can also often cast further with more ease. Baitcasting reels, however, can be more accurate if used correctly. Spinning reels are also more likely to be used with either the handle on either the left or the right.
This depends on the model. You should always check if the manufacturer has specified whether it is suitable for using in saltwater or not. Saltwater can make your reel more likely to corrode and if it hasn’t been treated in order to stop this from happening then it is not suitable for use in saltwater. Examples of reels that can handle saltwater include the SHIMANO Sienna and the KastKing Megatron 3000.
The materials are a huge part of the equation here, some more expensive reels are made out of higher quality materials. This can sometimes mean these more expensive reels can be lighter but still have high drag capacities.
Our top choice is the SHIMANO Sienna SN4000FE, this excellent product has all the build quality we’ve come to know from Shimano, and has an anti-reverse feature as well as being smooth to operate and having a decent level of drag capacity. We’ve rated this model 9.9/10.
The KastKing Megatron 3000 is our second choice at 9.8/10. This model has an incredible drag capacity, which far outperforms its price and allows you to tussle with even larger fish out there. To top it all off, it’s extremely durable.
If you’re looking for the smoothest model on the list then look no further than the Piscifun Flame Spinning Reel 5000, which we’ve rated 9.7/10. It has excellent bearings and a zinc coating making this a long-lasting, hard-wearing reel.