10 Best Fishing Reels for Redfish [2021 Update]

Redfish is a much-prized saltwater game fish. Earlier they were called a red drum. They came as a big solace when other species are not taking the bite. Redfish bites at several different kinds of lures but when hooked they put up a spirited fight. They are powerful sports fish that can be controlled and brought in only by an equally powerful saltwater-proof reel.

If you have a reel that is good for redfish, it can be good for other saltwater fish such as cobia and black drum as well. Here, we have put together Fishing Reels for Redfish Buying Guide for you. This will walk you through all important aspects of the best fishing for redfish and similar other saltwater fish.

Click here for the best fishing rods for redfish

Quick Summary – Best Fishing Reel for Redfish

Bestseller No. 1
PENN Fishing Battle II & III Spinning Fishing Reel (All Models & Sizes), Black Gold, 2000...
5,101 Reviews
PENN Fishing Battle II & III Spinning Fishing Reel (All Models & Sizes), Black Gold, 2000...
  • Full Metal Body and sideplate
  • CNC Gear technology
  • HT-100 carbon fiber drag washers

Fishing Reels for Redfish Buying Guide

Redfish are the most popular saltwater fish species for anglers in North America with 2.1 million fishers annually (source).

Choose good-quality components

Internal components of the reel give it strength or vulnerability. So while shopping for a fishing reel, you should check and examine the components to understand how strong or durable the unit is. The materials used to make the reel and the number and kind of bearings used in it, for example, can a thing or two about its quality.

Similarly, look at the size of the rivets on the reel knobs. Thinner and lighter rivets can become lose and break under pressure. Thicker rivets are a better choice.

Does the Spool braid well? The best quality reels will have a rubbery material in the spools that grips the braid but won’t affect its spin. A spool having fill rings can indicate when you need to re-spool. This is particularly important when you have a big fish with no intention to stop its run.

Proper Gear Ratio

Redfish is a strong species and they take cover in underwater structures such as rocks. If your reel does not have enough gear ratio, it might get snagged and you may lose the catch.

If you want to fish redfish, you must choose reels that have a minimum 5.0:1 gear ratio. With this and above gear ratio, you can be able to drive your redfish catch away from weeds and rocks that can break off the line. 

How Much Drag Do You Need?

Redfish are powerful that should not make you overly obsessed with max drag. Most anglers won’t be able to hold on to their rod safely beyond 20 pounds of pressure for more than a few minutes. It is like you have pulled up and stay hanging there!

Shopping for a reel that is capable of handling 40 pounds of drag pressure is not worth it for redfish. An adult angle can feel comfortable with a maximum of 15-20 pounds of drag pressure. This is sufficient for most recreational fish species except for the largest of them. 

Buy at least mid-range quality

When fishing redfish or any on its ilk you know your gear is going to get marinated in saltwater. This means you have no option but to sacrifice it after one or two seasons. So why buy an expensive high-quality reel? But this is not right thinking. It’s okay if you don’t buy top of a line reel but a mid-range is a must.

If you buy a poor quality reel, it will have persistent performance-related issues such as drag. But if you buy a high-quality reel and care for it, it can last much longer than you think it can. A high-quality reel can travel with you just anywhere and in some places, you may need to count on it.

Corrosion protection

When fishing in saltwater, corrosion to your gear is a real and serious challenge. Some reels have better sealing than others. This is possible when internal components have a protective coating, gaskets, and sealed bearings.

Some may not have one or the other corrosion-resistance feature. Before buying a reel for redfish fishing, you should read the corrosion-protection features it has. You should go for the one that offers maximum protection to the reel from saltwater corrosion.

Does it fit and feel well?

You are at the shop and planning to buy a reel for fishing saltwater redfish. You should not judge the reel just by what the label says about it. Those are of course important criteria but after you are satisfied with the specifications, material, and overall quality, you check the gear how it fits on your gear and how it feels to your hand.

If it’s not the best fit or comfortable in your hand, all the best features it may have may be of little use. Of course, you can’t take to the sea to just try it. But you can check it well by setting it to move and feeling it in your hand.

Choose an ergonomic handle

While fishing for long hours, comfort is an important consideration. Many manufacturers fail to give due importance to the design of the handle. The reel’s design, especially its handle, must have the best ergonomics. It should feel comfortable as are chasing your fish. It should not stress your hand particularly at a time when you need to stay focused on your trophy.

Ball bearings

Spinning reels that have the ball bearings in their bail line rollers are not the best choice. Ball bearings are more prone to receiving and retaining saltwater. If you don’t have proper precautions, they can start making noise and stop functioning someday. You should check what kind of protection the ball bearings have. After you have bought the reel, the ball bearings need regular checkups and care to keep them rust-free.

Line capacity

Will your new reel hold enough line of the size and quality you are going to use? This is an important consideration especially if you have a long cast and narrow spools. If you have not given this enough though, you may run out of line in tough battles.

We recommend looking at 10 lb braid when reviewing line capacities.

10 Best Fishing Reels for Redfish

1. Penn Battle II Spinning Reel

Bestseller No. 1
PENN Fishing PENN Battle II & III Spinning Fishing Reel (All Models & Sizes), Black Gold, 2500...
  • Full Metal Body and sideplate
  • CNC Gear technology
  • HT-100 carbon fiber drag washers

The Penn Battle II is one of my most recommended reels, particularly for bass, redfish, walleye, and other similar sized recreational fish species.

This American made reel has all of the features you need at a price point that is hard to walk away from.

This reel is the definition of durability. It comes with HT100 carbon fiber drag washers which are the premier in all modern reel designs. It has 5 stainless steel ball bearings that are sealed not just shielded.

Available in the 4000 sized model with a 6.2:1 gear ratio and 37 inch retrieval rate. This is a brilliant redfish reel.

2. Abu Garcia Revo SX Spinning Reel

ON SALE $49.17 OFFBestseller No. 1
Abu Garcia REVO4 SX Revo SX Low Profile Fishing Reel
583 Reviews
Abu Garcia REVO4 SX Revo SX Low Profile Fishing Reel
  • 9 stainless steel ball bearings plus 1 roller bearing provides smooth Operation
  • X2-Craftic alloy frame for increased corrosion resistance
  • C6 carbon side plates provide significant weight reduction without sacrificing strength and...

Next on the list is the Abu Garcia Revo SX. This is a brilliant little reel. It comes with 9 ball bearings, carbon fiber drag mwashers, a 6.2:1 gear ratio and from 10 to 17 lbs in maximum drag.

The body is made from C6 carbon which is lighter than the old model. It has also been upgraded in its design with a rocket spool lip that reduces slippage chances.

The Revo SX also comes with an instant-anti reversing feature which helps to prevent air knots.

3. Daiwa BG Spinning Reel

Bestseller No. 1
GOMEXUS Power Knob Compatible for Shimano Sedona FI 1000-5000 Sahara 500-5000 Daiwa Saltist Back Bay...
  • 【Material】Gomexus power knob is made of one-body aero aluminum cold-forged, much stronger than...
  • 【Control easily】By changing to this power knob that fits in your hand, control performance...
  • 【Direct Fitment for Shimano handle A/Daiwa handle S】Shimano Nasci 1000-5000, Sahara FI...

This ultralight spinning reel is another option for redfish. It is built with Daiwa’s HardBodyz design which makes it more durable.

It comes with 6+1 stainless steel ball bearings, a gear ratio of 5.6:1 and only weighs 8.5 ounces for the 1500 sized model.

It is available in 1500 to 8000 sizes depending on the fish species you are targeting – for redfish we recommend a 3000 sized reel.

4. Penn Spinfisher VI Spinning Reel

Bestseller No. 1
PENN Fishing Spinfisher VI Saltwater Spinning Reel, 5500 Reel Size, 5.6:1 Gear Ratio, 39" Retrieve...
  • 5+1 shielded stainless steel Bearing system
  • Ht-100 carbon fibber drag system for smooth - LONG lasting drag even at extreme drag pressures
  • NC gear technology - Brass pinion gear on all models

The upgrade of the Penn Spinfisher VI compared to the V model is the introduction of IPX5 sealing. This means that if you let your reel stay in saltwater spray for the ride home, then it won’t get any saltwater into the gearbox or drag system. It comes with HT100 carbon fiber drag washers.

Available in 2500 to 6500 sizes, and max drags from 15 to 30 lbs. There are also a wide variety of gear ratios available, so you can select the reel that suits your fishing style and the type of lures you intend on using.

5. Shimano Sedona Spinning Reel

Bestseller No. 1
SHIMANO Sedona 1000FI, Freshwater Spinning Fishing Reel
884 Reviews
SHIMANO Sedona 1000FI, Freshwater Spinning Fishing Reel
  • With its updated design and cold forged HAGANE gears, the Shimano Sedona spinning reel offers a...
  • Incorporates Shimano’s flagship HAGANE gearing that provides long-lasting, strong, and durable...
  • Features double-anodized machine-cut spools for increased line capacity while keeping the body...

The Sedona from one of my favorite manufacturers, Shimano, comes with Hagane gearing and has received a significant upgrade in a redesigned rotor and improved drag output.

It is saltwater ready with X-Ship and comes with a 10 year warranty.

It only comes with 3+1 ball bearings, but is available in both 5.0:1 gear ratios and high speed options at 6.2:1.

It also has Shimano’s G-Free body which puts the center of gravity closer to the the angler’s hand. While you won’t notice this on a single cast, it significantly reduces muscle fatigue after a long day of casting.

6. Shimano Stella Spinning Reel

Bestseller No. 1
Shimano Stella Sw C Saltwater Spinning Reels, STLSW14000XGC
28 Reviews
Shimano Stella Sw C Saltwater Spinning Reels, STLSW14000XGC
  • Platinum Premier Service Plan
  • Hagane Body
  • IPX8 Waterproof Body

The Shimano Stella is the best of the best, the premier Shimano reel containing all of the technology that Shimano has developed over the last few decades. It is high performance, durable, and will last a lifetime. If you are looking for the choice reel and budget is no limit then have a look at the Stella.

With 14+1 ball bearings, this reel has a noticeable improved smooth retrieve feeling. It is available in 14 different models so you can certainly find the gear ratio, maximum drag, and retrieval rate to suit your needs.

7. Shimano Vanford Spinning Reel

Bestseller No. 1
Shimano Vanford F Spinning Reel, VFC3000XGF
  • CI4+ Body: This material is an advanced version of the original CI4. This highly technical carbon...
  • MGL Rotor: The new design of the MagnumLite Rotor produces unprecedented light rotation. The rotor...
  • Hagane Gear: With amazing strength and durability, the HAGANE Gear is at the very heart of the reel....

The Shimano Vanford is the replacement for the people’s favorite the Stradic Ci4+. It has all the features that everyone loved about the Stradic and has eliminated its few weaknesses.

It is perfect for saltwater with Shimano’s X-Ship and X-Protect technologies.

Available in 1000 to 5000 model sizes and higher gear ratios of 5.5:1 to 6.4:1. This is perfect for faster retrieving lures like small bladed spinnerbaits.

The Vanford also comes with MGL rotors with reduces the weight of the rotor by 25%. Its Cold Forged Hagane Gears give it extreme durability for long term performance.

8. KastKing Sharky III Spinning Reel

Bestseller No. 1
KastKing Sharky III Spinning Fishing Reel,Size 3000
  • NEXT-GEN - KastKing Sharky III spinning reels look great. They are built tough to land trophy fish...
  • PURE POWER - You will love Sharky III spinning reel's amazing best-in-class up to 39.5LBs / 18KG of...
  • K.I.S.S. - Sharky III spinning reels are sealed with a KISS! Sharky III has a unique protection...

The KastKing reels are a very interesting manufacturer in the market. Their prices are substantially lower than some of the big name brands.

The Sharky III is built tough. It is made from reinforced graphite body and rotor. With up to 40 lbs of drag, this is more than strong enough for redfish.

It also has a unique water resistant design for the spool, body, and rotor.

With 10+1 shielded stainless steel ball bearings, the retrieve of this reel is extremely quiet and smooth. It is braid ready, so you don’t need to use a backing line to get started.

9. KastKing Kodiak Spinning Reel

Bestseller No. 1
KastKing Megatron Spinning Reel, Great Saltwater Spinning Fishing Reel, Rigid Aluminum Frame 7+1...
  • MOST POWERFUL TRANSFORMER IN FISHING – KastKing MegaTron transforms the industry with the roll out...
  • RIGID ALUMINUM SKELETAL FRAME - The KastKing MegaTron spin fishing reel is built for enormous...
  • PRO LEVEL QUALITY GEARS – MegaTron spinning reels provide maximum performance and strength for all...

The KastKing Kodiak is designed for trophy fish. It has 40 lbs of drag so even bull redfish won’t be able to beat you.

It is available in 1000 to 5000 sizes, and with 10+1 shielded stainless steel bearings, this is suitable for saltwater. This reel also comes with 3 plate carbon fiber drag system.

The spool is made from aluminum and the rotor is computer balanced.

The handle is made from aluminum with EVA knob.

10. Shimano Stradic Ci4+ Spinning Reel

Bestseller No. 1
Shimano ST4000XGFL Stradic 4000 FL Spinning Reel, Ambi, 6BB + 1RB
  • Shimano’s MicroModule Gear II
  • Rotational smoothness and power transfer
  • Silent Drive

The Stradic is the people’s favorite reel. Even though it has been replaced by the Vanford it is still an extremely popular spinning reel. If you pop down to your local fishing hot spot in summer and look around at what reels the locals are using – you will be shocked at the number of Stradics that you see.

This is a hard reel to go past.

This reel is extremely light at only 5.6 ounces for the smallest model.

The X-Ship and shielded anti-rust bearings give it corrosion resistance and longer term durability.

Frequently Asked Questions

What size reel for redfish?

We recommend a 3000 series reel for redfish – either spinning or baitcasting reels do fine. This is suitable even for large bull redfish with a 10lb braid line and 20lb leader.

Do you need a leader for redfish?

We always recommend using a leader for redfish – a 20lb mono leader will do the job. Leaders reduce the risk of braid line getting cut on structure, rocks, or fish teeth.

What gear ratio for redfish?

We recommend between a 5.0:1 and 6.0:1 gear ratio spinning reels for redfish. This gives some versatility in using different size and shaped lures and baits.

What drag is required for redfish?

We recommend a 15-20 lb maximum drag for redfish. This will allow you to haul in even bull red drum.

Final thoughts

Redfish is a strong saltwater sports game. For this kind of fishing, you need a strong reel that has good mid-range features. But more importantly, it should have corrosion-resistant features that can make it last against salty seawater invasions. You should not go for the cheap variety of spinning reels.

These can leave you in difficult spots while fishing. You may shun the top-end products as well, if budget is a consideration for you. But you can safely go with a mid-range range reel that has all other features and specifications perfect for you.

Happy fishing!

Last update on 2021-10-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Russ Egan

Russ is an avid angler. He has fished all over the world, primarily for Saltwater game fish but also for local prize fish. Russ writes reviews for all of his fishing gear to help others achieve their own fishing goals. His favorite reel is a Shimano Tyrnos for an overhead reel or a Shimano Curado for a baitcaster. His dream is to catch a Black Marlin.