Best 10 Fishing Reels for Redfish – Catch More Red Drum

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

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 5.5:1 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 at all. An adult angle can feel comfortable with a maximum of 15-20 pounds of drag pressure. This is sufficient for most saltwater 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.


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.

Look at 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 deeper spots.

Best 10 Fishing Reels for Redfish

Penn Battle II Spinning Reel

ON SALE $27.26 OFFBestseller No. 1
PENN 1338220 Battle II 5000 Spinning Fishing Reel
4,082 Reviews
PENN 1338220 Battle II 5000 Spinning Fishing Reel
  • Durable, high range spinning reel ideal for conquering big saltwater game fish
  • Full metal body, side plate, and rotor and heavy duty aluminum bail wire offer exceptional durability
  • 4+1 stainless steel bearing system

Abu Garcia Revo SX Spinning Reel

ON SALE $27.80 OFFBestseller No. 1
Abu Garcia 1430429 Revo SX Low Profile Baitcasting Reel, 7.3: 1 Gear Ratio, 30" Retrieve Rate, 24 lb...
  • 9 stainless steel ball bearings + 1 roller bearing provides smooth Operation
  • C6 carbon sideplates provide significant weight reduction without sacrificing strength and durability
  • Duragear brass gear for extended gear life

Daiwa BG Spinning Reel

Bestseller No. 1
Daiwa BG4000 BG Saltwater Spinning Reel, 4000, 5.7: 1 Gear Ratio, 6+1 Bearings, 39.90' Retrieve...
2,557 Reviews
Daiwa BG4000 BG Saltwater Spinning Reel, 4000, 5.7: 1 Gear Ratio, 6+1 Bearings, 39.90" Retrieve...
  • Black Anodized Machined Aluminum Housing ("Hard Bodyz" Body & Side Cover), Over-sized Digigear (Digigear System)
  • Solid Screw-In Handle, Air Rotor, Dynamic Cut Aluminum ABS Spool
  • Braided Line Ready Spool, Waterproof Drag System, Carbon ATD, Line Per Handle Turn: 39.9"

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...
1,027 Reviews
PENN Fishing Spinfisher VI Saltwater Spinning Reel, 5500 Reel Size, 5.6:1 Gear Ratio, 39" Retrieve...
  • IPX5 sealed body and spool design
  • CNC gear technology
  • Ht-100 carbon fiber drag washers

Shimano Sedona Spinning Reel

Bestseller No. 1
SHIMANO Sedona 1000FI, Freshwater Spinning Fishing Reel
640 Reviews
SHIMANO Sedona 1000FI, Freshwater Spinning Fishing Reel
  • With its updated design and cold forged HAGANE gears, the Shimano Sedona spinning reel offers a number of significant performance upgrades at an affordable value
  • Incorporates Shimano’s flagship HAGANE gearing that provides long-lasting, strong, and durable performance and smoothness giving anglers the strength for both inshore and offshore action
  • Features double-anodized machine-cut spools for increased line capacity while keeping the body compact

Shimano Stella Spinning Reel

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

Shimano Vanford Spinning Reel

Bestseller No. 1
Shimano Vanford F Spinning Reel, VF500F
  • CI4+ Body: This material is an advanced version of the original CI4. This highly technical carbon material maintains 2.5 times more rigidity than CI4. While improving lightness and rigidity, the body...
  • MGL Rotor: The new design of the MagnumLite Rotor produces unprecedented light rotation. The rotor profile is now asymmetrical. The bail arm mechanism, which was previously situation on the same side...
  • Hagane Gear: With amazing strength and durability, the HAGANE Gear is at the very heart of the reel. Shimano, through the application of state-of-the-art technologies, gives you the long-lasting...

KastKing Sharky III Spinning Reel

Bestseller No. 1
KastKing Sharky III Spinning Fishing Reel,Size 1000
  • NEXT-GEN - The brand new design KastKing Sharky III spinning reels are built tough to land trophy fish in all fishing conditions. Sharky III are superb lightweight fishing reels built with a high...
  • PURE POWER - You will love Sharky III spinning reel's amazing best-in-class up to 39.5LBs / 18KG of smooth, reliable triple disc carbon fiber drag, oversized stainless-steel main shaft, and stronger...
  • K.I.S.S. - Sharky III spinning reels are sealed with a KISS! Sharky III has a unique protection water resistant design for its spool, body, and rotor - K.I.S.S. (KastKing Intrusion Shield System). It...

KastKing Kodiak Spinning Reel

Bestseller No. 1
KastKing Valiant Eagle II Spinning Fishing Reel,Carbon Version,Size 2000
  • VALIANT EAGLE – A symbol of American freedom and strength, the Bald Eagle stands tall in the hearts of American anglers! The new, dynamic KastKing Valiant Eagle Spinning Reel Bald Eagle Edition is...
  • UNIQUE FEATURES– The KastKing Valiant Eagle fishing reel has 1-piece bail that will never rust or snag on fishing line. This is the first time KastKing implements the technology to spinning reels...
  • LIGHTER, FASTER AND STRONGER – Soaring through the sky then ferociously diving to hunt, the Bald Eagle conveys the messages of speed, power, relentless pursuit and fearless spirit. The Valiant Eagle...

Shimano Stradic Ci4+ Spinning Reel

Bestseller No. 1
SHIMANO Stradic 2500FL HG Spinning Fishing Reel, Left/Right Hand Retrieve
  • HaganeBody - The HAGANE Body is a metal reel body with high rigidity. The body stiffness and impact resistance virtually eliminates body flexing. The result transforms the angler's actions directly...
  • X-Ship - provides improved gear durability. By supporting the pinion gear on both ends with bearings, the pinion gear maintains precise alignment with the drive gear. This means the gears will stay in...
  • SA-RB - These bearings have been through the same process as our A-RB bearings, but feature shields on both sides of the bearings that reduce the possibility of salt or sand inhibiting the bearing's...

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.

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!

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.

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