A successful journalist and news reporter in the past, George is now focused on freelance work to be able to dedicate more time to the most important things in his life: family, friends, his dogs, and fishing.
John is an avid traveler, hiker, and RVer. Moreover, it seems like he knows everything when it comes to fishing and hunting: his father started sharing all the tips and tricks he knew when John was a kid. No wonder we trust his opinion every time a new article is being created.
Last updated: February 20, 2021
Outdoorsly is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here
Spinning reels are perfect for casting numerous types of tackle and are used by millions of anglers around the world. Finding the best spinning reel, however, can be difficult. There are many different uses for them, whether it’s for your favorite hobby or hunting various species of fish.
To find the best spinning reel, we have scanned through the market and came across 38 different models. In our research, we have found that the Pflueger President ticks all the right boxes. It’s extremely smooth, has a brilliant build quality and excels in all the key tests. If you’re looking for something a bit different, then we also have nine other fantastic spinning reels for you.
If you wish to work out which spinning reel fits your needs, there is plenty for you to think about. The size, capacity, number of bearings, gear ratio, max drag weight, and overall weight are all vitally important. Thankfully with our countless hours of research, we make it as easy as possible. We have contacted several expert sources, checked official websites, and taken into account fishers’ reviews to give you the best information available. To make this easy to digest, we’ve created a comparison table, detailed product reviews, a comprehensive buying guide, and FAQs. Let’s get started!
"For fishers looking for long-distance casting, we introduce this spinning reel with a hybrid drag system and instant anti-reverse mechanism. Furthermore, it doesn’t weigh much and provides precise action."
Pflueger makes many great fishing reels, and this is another incredible example. As soon as you get it in your hand, you can feel the level of quality that it has. It feels light, but the quality of the materials helps to make it extremely durable.
It weighs 8.8oz, which provides a good balance. This is their 30 size reel, but they also have them in sizes of 20, 25, 35, and 40. Their line capacities are noted on their page if you were looking for something different. Whichever you choose, you’ll get a brilliant performance.
If you’re looking for the best spinning reel for bass, then this would be a great option. It has a medium-speed gear ratio, and the drag and casting of the reel are both exceptionally smooth every time.
A bit of grime can get into the reel, but thankfully, it’s easy to take apart, and, therefore, maintenance is fairly simple. You want a reel that you’re going to be able to rely on, and this model does its job extremely well in that regard. It’s excellent value for money, and you’re sure to love it.
Lew’s Fishing has been able to make an affordable reel that has a very stylish design. While the great color may catch the eye of many anglers, more importantly, the reel is going to allow you to catch plenty of fish.
It’s a great option for those looking for the best trout spinning reel, and it has a marvelous level of durability despite weighing only 9 ounces. It comes in sizes from 30″ to 35″ depending on your preference, and they all have a good line capacity.
The only issue with the reel is that it can be a little noisy with a little bit of a grind, but it doesn’t seem to affect how it performs. The action of the reel is extremely smooth, and it helps to make it easy to cast over quite long distances.
The gear ratio allows for quick retrieval, and the fully adjustable drag system provides the flexibility you need to catch various types of fish. The strong materials make this a good option for anyone fishing in challenging environments.
Shimano is a well-respected name in the industry, and that reputation is backed up with premium models such as this. There is a great selection of sizes available depending on where you’re fishing and what you want to catch.
An impressive aspect of this spinning reel is the max drag of 24lbs. It makes it the best catfish spinning reel as well as being ideal for fish that are bigger than most other spinning reels can handle.
An annoying aspect of this reel is that there are a few plastic parts that do bring down its quality a little bit. We presume it’s to save weight, but at only 8.1oz, they could have added a bit more durability for that price. That being said, it’s still an excellently made spinning reel.
If you do like to make long casts, then you’re going to fall in love with this reel straight away. It’s very smooth, and you won’t find any of the frustrations that you can get with other reels. While being high in max weight, the drag is also reliable and easy to adjust.
The Valiant Eagle 4000 is a beast with a mono line capacity of 420/6, showing what it’s capable of. They also have 3000, 2000, and 1000 models available, which are progressively smaller but with the same level of quality.
The high-speed gear ratio works perfectly for those who prefer it, but the handle can start to come loose over time, and you may well find yourself tightening it often. Apart from that, the build quality is excellent, which makes it a worthy purchase.
Next, we really love how well-sealed the spinning reel is. It helps to give it long-term durability and allows you to get a lot of use out of your reel. The high max drag helps to give you the versatility that is needed for different types of fish.
You can also rely on that drag as it’s going to be smooth and consistent. The casting is simple, and you’ll be able to have full control over your line. If you’re on a budget but still looking for a premium quality reel, then your search can probably end here.
If you’re looking for the lightest spinning reel out there, then you’ve come to the right place. At just 7.1oz, this is going to feel like a feather in your hand, but when it comes to fighting fish, it is still able to pack a punch.
There are also other sizes available, which are all incredibly light. One thing that can be a little annoying is that the bail arm can be a little awkward to use for some. Other than that, it’s a high-quality reel with great features.
The max drag on this spinning reel is quite high at 13.2lbs. Moreover, it is smooth, meaning you have the lowest risk of losing your catch or snapping the line. With the 9 bearings it has, the action is going to be very impressive.
The gear ratio is on the slower side, which is important to consider. If you prefer to have it that way, then you’ll find this ultralight spinning reel to be perfect for your needs. You’ll be able to catch a large variety of different fish with ease.
Daiwa has been able to make one of the most attractive spinning reels out there with this model that has many excellent qualities. It has a fantastic level of strength both in this model and the seven other sizes available.
Unfortunately, this product is quite heavy. This version weighs 22oz, which may be too much for some people looking to do a full day of fishing. There may be others, however, who prefer the feel of a heavy spinning reel.
With a gear ratio of 5.6:1, this reel finds a good middle ground, and it might be ideal for those who find a ratio of 6.0:1 a little too fast. The action is very balanced, and you’ll find it to be very responsive to any adjustments that you want to make. You get a perfect line lay, which adds to the ease of use that you get from the reel.
If you’re hoping to get many years of use out of your freshwater reel, then this would be a good option for freshwater fishing. With the anodized machined aluminum housing and other high-quality materials, it will be able to stand the test of time, even in harsher environments.
If you’re looking for a durable reel with a high level of max drag, then this is going to be a great option. You get 20lbs of play with that drag, and it comes with a knob that is very easy to adjust in order to get the response you want.
A key design flaw to note here is that the handle is a wide diamond shape. It’s not something we liked, but this will be down to personal preference. It can just be a little hard to grip instantly when you get a bite if it’s at the wrong angle.
We’ve put that down as a con, but in reality, there is very little to complain about with this model. If you’re going to be fishing near saltwater, then the IPX5 sealing on the reel is going to be appealing. This ensures that nothing will get in to damage it. That enables it to have long-term durability and be easy to maintain.
There is a vast range of sizes available with this model, so you’re certain to get the perfect fit for you. While they may not have the number of bearings others boast, they all offer a reliable and comfortable action. All of the reel sizes have great specifications, and they will work perfectly on many different types of fish.
The President model from Pflueger was our Editor’s Choice, but this Supreme XT model from the same manufacturer could have easily have taken that crown. The build quality is breathtaking, and it has all the features you’d expect from a premium quality model.
That quality does come at quite a high price, but many people will see that as a price worth paying as it still represents great value for money. Features, such as the strong carbon handle, are indicative of the overall quality that you see throughout the reel.
If you’re looking around for the best surf spinning reel, then this would be a great option. The versatility also makes it the best spinning reel for salmon and steelhead, as well as many other types of fish. The max drag is 10 lbs, which is important to note if you’re looking for something a little bigger.
If that’s the case, then their 35″ and 40″ may be a better bet. Additionally, they have a 25″ model if you want something a little smaller. All of these surf fishing reels have a lubricated system with low weight and very high performance. The 10 bearing system is excellent and helps it to have a brilliant level of smoothness.
Abu Garcia has been able to make a spinning reel that is packed with great features. One of them is the instant anti-reverse to increase your chances of making the catch, and the other is their outstanding hybrid drag system that works very well in different situations.
If you’re looking for the best inshore spinning reel, then this would be a good option. The quality control issues have been mentioned by some users, but this is rare. Most people are going to fall in love with the precise action you’ll get from its 9 bearings.
That allows you to make long casts with ease. There are four different size options available, and they are all exceptionally light. It’s perfect for those who like to spend the full day with the reel in their hands.
The low weight is partially achieved by its carbon body, which has a great level of strength. The handle is quite longer than on many other fishing reels. It’ll come down to your own personal taste on whether or not this is a good thing, but it can surely help when battling against larger fish.
If you’re looking for the highest number of bearings, then the 11 that you get here are going to be appealing to you. It leads to one of the smoothest actions out there, and you’ll be able to control your line easily.
One issue with this reel is that the line can often get caught under the spool, which can be a little annoying. Other than that, it has a lot going for it. The gear ratio is high, allowing you to retrieve your line quickly and efficiently.
There are four different size options available, but they are all quite light, and you’re not going to have any problems using the reel for a long time. With a low price, it also represents brilliant value for money when compared to other cheaper reels out there.
If you wish to get the highest quality drag, then it will be hard to find one better than this. There are six carbon disks in the system, which allow it to be very accurate and give you the control that you’re looking for. You can easily adjust it, and that will enable you to catch a wide range of fish.
What we liked:
Six carbon disks for better accuracy and control
What could be better:
Line can get caught under the spool
Things to Consider
Getting the best spinning reel for you can be a tricky decision. They all have slightly different qualities with many different features to consider. In this section, we go into further detail about all the key features that are going to affect your choice. Once you’ve gone through this guide, you should have clarity of what is going to be important to you.
How to choose the best spinning reel
In order to get the best spinning reel, you should decide where you’re going to be fishing and what type of fish you are going to be trying to catch. Larger fish will need a larger reel, and if you’re going to be saltwater fishing, then you need a saltwater spinning reel that can cope with that harsh environment. As we go through each section here, make a note of how each feature relates to the type of fishing you plan on doing. That way, you’ll get a picture of the best spinning reel for you.
Working out the reel size can be a little confusing at first. You will see numbers such as 40 or 4000. A good starting point is to note that 30 = 3000, 40 = 4000 and so on. They relate to how much line can be held on the spinning reel.
There are many reels out there with a great range of sizes, such as the Okuma Helios HSX.
The right reel size for you will depend on the type of fish that you plan on catching.
If you plan on fishing small lakes and ponds, then you’re only going to need a smaller reel. If you’re fishing off a boat or a beach, then you’ll need a larger reel. It’s a good idea to check the line capacity to see which size is going to be ideal for your needs.
With line capacity, you’ll see figures such as “12/120”. The smaller figure relates to the weight that the line is going to be able to take in pounds, and the other is how many yards that you’re going to be able to get on the line.
This is important when determining the weight of fish you want to catch, how far you’ll be casting, and also the amount of drag you’ll set on your reel. If you need a thick fishing line, you want to make sure your reel is large enough to hold enough of it.
Then we get on to the argument of mono vs. braided line. Mono is by far the more commonly used line as its much cheaper. The downside is that it’s much thicker than the braided line, and, therefore, you won’t get as much on your reel.
As a general rule, the more bearings the reel has, the smoother it’s going to be. This can lead to some anglers to jump for the reel with the most bearings without looking at other features. The reality is a little bit more complicated than that.
There’s no point having loads of bearings in the reel if the overall build quality is poor, and also, there are different grades of bearings. You want to make sure that your reel has the build quality to justify the bearings that it has. The Pflueger Supreme XT is a good example of this as it has 10 bearings and also features brilliant build quality.
In a spinning reel, you want it to have a good amount of drag weight. This refers to the amount of pressure that can be applied to the line before it lets loose to prevent the line from breaking. At 24lbs, the Shimano Stradic Ci4+ has a great max drag, which will enable you to catch a wide range of fish.
When the line weight hits the desired point, the line is released from plates. You want this release of the line to be as smooth as possible, and you also want to adjust the amount of drag easily depending on the type of line you’re using and the fish that you wanted to catch.
The gear ratio relates to how many rotations of the reel you get from one rotation of the handle. For example, a ratio of 5.0:1 means that for every turn of the handle, the reel is going to spin around 5 times. This ratio is seen as a good balance at a medium speed. The Okuma Helios HSX is a great example of a reel with this ratio.
If you want to be able to reel your fish in a little faster, then you’ll want to have a higher ratio. The 6.2:1 ratio found with 13 Fishing Creed GT is very quick, but some may not like the feel of it. This depends on personal preference and the type of fish that you want to catch.
All these features are fairly pointless if the overall build quality of the spinning reel is lacking. You want to ensure it is made from the highest quality materials and has a solid construction that isn’t going to let you down.
Having a sealed reel is a great feature as this helps to protect the inner components and keep them lubricated.
A lightweight reel, such as the Pflueger Supreme XT, uses carbon fiber and other premium materials to give it that low weight while not sacrificing on quality. These features are going to be even more important in harsh environments, such as boat fishing.
The overall weight of the reel is going to be important, especially for those people who will have that weight in their hands for a full day of fishing. Some people prefer to have a heavier reel, such as the 22oz Daiwa BG, as they feel it offers more stability and balance.
Others like having as light a reel as possible with a model such as the Pflueger President at just 8.8oz. While a low weight is great, you don’t want to compromise on durability. If that weight is achieved through cheap materials and not carbon fiber, for example, then it won’t be as strong.
There are a few additional features that can add some quality to the reel.
Instant anti-reverse – You only want your reel to go in the direction you need it too. The instant system will prevent it from speeding into reverse.
Adjustable drag – There are times when the drag on a reel is going to be too high for your needs. You want to be able to set it to your needs.
Comfortable handle – It’s a great idea to check the handle as it’s an often overlooked feature. Make sure it’s going to be comfortable and easy enough for you to use.
Sealed system – On higher-end models, the inner working of the reel is sealed to prevent water intrusion and grime intrusion, which can cause rust and reduce smoothness.
As with many other products, price is an essential consideration. In this list, we have shown some premium price options, budget options, and everything in between.
At the top end of the scale is the Shimano Stradic Ci4+ at a little over $200. It has impressive quality with all the features that you’d expect from a high-end model.
If you’re looking for a balance between budget and quality, then the Penn Spinfisher VI is an excellent option. It is light and has a smooth operation with a drag that is very easy to adjust.
If you’re looking for incredible value for money, then you’ll find that with the Lew’s Fishing Mach 1. It is a brilliant option that costs around $50, so you can’t complain about minor flaws. It features a wide range of features, while also being made of high-quality materials.
The reels that we have looked at here have a great range of versatility and fit a wide range of rods. That being said, you do want to get a rod that matches what fish you’re trying to catch and also one that is set-up for a spinning reel. The likes of fly rods are specifically set-up for fly fishing, and surf rods are extremely long. Therefore, make sure you have a spinning rod. Match its strength with the type of fish you want to catch to get the perfect spinning reel for your needs. Generally, the bigger the reel, the bigger the rod you’ll be able to use.
One of the reasons spinning reels are so popular is due to the type of fish that you’re going to be able to catch. With smaller spinning reels, you’re going to be able to catch the likes of beam, trout, and whiting in the likes of rivers, bays, and harbors. If we are talking about large reel sizes, then you can catch the likes of snapper, cod, kingfish and other fish around that size. It is recommended to check the spinning reel size to get the most out of your fishing.
Yes, but there are a few caveats to that. Firstly, if you’re going for bigger fish, then you want to make sure you’re getting a reel size that is able to cope. A 20 sized reel on a fishing boat, for example, will only be able to catch a small range of fish. The other big factor is durability. The salt can corrode almost anything, and, therefore, you want to look for a reel that is both corrosion-resistant and sealed. If you’re unsure, check the product descriptions to see if it can survive the harsher environment.
There are many different sizes of spinning reels, and they all have slightly different features and qualities.
For overall brilliant performance, it’s hard to look past the Pflueger President. It simply excels in every single category there is, especially considering how cheap it is.
Do you want something even more affordable? The Lew’s Fishing Mach 1 is a great option with its solid construction. It will allow you to cast over long distances.
If you don’t care about money and simply want the premium product, the Shimano Stradic Ci4+ is a truly fantastic spinning reel. Its build quality is excellent with smooth operation and great drag.
While these three are all excellent spinning reels, the other seven we’ve looked at here are also worth considering, and we hope that you will be able to find the best spinning reel that matches your needs.