10 Best Spinning Reels + Buying Guide [Tried & Tested]


There is nothing I love more than heading down to the water and spending a few hours fishing. But ensuring you have top quality equipment is crucial to make sure you don’t come home empty handed.

I have put together this buying guide of the best spinning reels to help you sift between the marketing hype and the proven technologies that pro anglers care about.

I have evaluated high-quality spinning reels over the last decade of my fishing journey to help you avoid wasting your time and money on a dud. These reels are tried and tested and I am sure that you will be able to find a spinning reel that suits your target species and particular circumstances.

Based on my own personal testing experience, I evaluate each reel based on its performance, durability, price, value for money, and comfort.

If you are looking for a matching fishing rod then read through my buying guide for the best spinning rods.

Let’s dive in.

Quick Summary – Best Spinning Reels

okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel Size 10 - 5Lb Max Drag Pressure
Best Value for Money
PENN Fishing Battle II & III Spinning Fishing Reel (All Models & Sizes), Black Gold, 2000...
Pflueger PRESSP20B President Spinning Fishing Reel
Ball Bearings
Line Capacity
70 yds at 6 lbs to 320 yds at 15 lbs
270 yds at 8 lbs - 165 yds at 12 lbs
280 yds at 14 lbs
Max Drag
5 to 35 lbs
15 lbs
14 lbs
6.0 oz to 20.7 oz
12.8 oz
11.5 oz
Gear Ratio
5.0:1 to 4.8:1
okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel Size 10 - 5Lb Max Drag Pressure
Ball Bearings
Line Capacity
70 yds at 6 lbs to 320 yds at 15 lbs
Max Drag
5 to 35 lbs
6.0 oz to 20.7 oz
Gear Ratio
5.0:1 to 4.8:1
More Info
Best Value for Money
PENN Fishing Battle II & III Spinning Fishing Reel (All Models & Sizes), Black Gold, 2000...
Ball Bearings
Line Capacity
270 yds at 8 lbs - 165 yds at 12 lbs
Max Drag
15 lbs
12.8 oz
Gear Ratio
More Info
Pflueger PRESSP20B President Spinning Fishing Reel
Ball Bearings
Line Capacity
280 yds at 14 lbs
Max Drag
14 lbs
11.5 oz
Gear Ratio
More Info

How We Quantitatively Score

I go through a rigorous review of individual reels to measure their performance, durability, and value for money. This flows into an overall score that I give to all products. To see more details, please read the full guide.

10 Best Spinning Reels

Let’s explore the best options available on the market for spinning reels.

These have been ranked based on my personal tried and tested experimentation over many years of angling based on performance, durability, and value for money.

1. Pflueger President Spinning Reel – Best Overall Reel

Overall Score – 5/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Bestseller No. 1
Pflueger PRESSP30X President Spinning Fishing Reel
  • 10 bearing system: Corrosion resistant stainless steel ball bearings
  • Graphite body and rotor: Lightweight graphite reel construction. Braid ready spool - Allows Braid to...
  • HT 100 carbon fiber drag system provides powerful drag without sacrificing smoothness

The Pflueger President series is one of the most popular products on the market and is designed for anglers who need high performance without spending a lot of money. Though this option is not a budget-priced reel, it still comes within the budget that most serious anglers can afford.

The President is built to last with a metal body, high-quality handle and metal-cased rotor. I genuinely believe that the best way to get value for money is to pick a reel that will last for years to come.

The high-quality machined bearing system is cased in steel to better protect the reel in the saltwater.

The feature I like most about this reel is that it comes with Sure-Click bail – this makes a solid snap sound when the bail is opened so you always know what position it is in. It also has an on/off instant anti-reverse bearing.

Also, each of the models are extremely lightweight, which can eliminate some muscle soreness after a full day of fishing – this I can tell you from personal experience.

There are three difference models in this series:

  • 3000 – Weight of 8.3 oz, Mono Capacity of 145 yards of 6 lb line, and Max Drag of 10 lbs
  • 3500 – Weight of 10.7 oz, Mono Capacity: 225 yards of 6 lb line, and Max Drag of 12 lbs
  • 4000 – Weight of 11.3 oz, Mono Capacity: 225 6/225 8/175 10/140, and Max Drag of 14 lbs

Why I Like It:

Let’s dig into the benefits and features of this great reel. Have a look:

  • 9 stainless steel ball bearings + 1 roller bearing
  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Smooth haul system with oil coated washers
  • Graphite body
  • Soft rubber knobs


  • Durable
  • Easy Casting
  • Smooth Drag System
  • Quite A Reliable Spinning Reel


  • Drag isn’t enough for large gamefish


The reason I have selected the Pflueger President as the number 1 in my list is because this Crafted Spinning Reel is a well-built reel and among the lightest on the market. 

2. Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel – Best Value for Money Reel

Overall Score – 5/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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 Spinning Reel is my choice for best value for money spinning reel.

With the help of a good spinning reel, fishing will be more fun and you will lose less fish. The Penn Battle Spinning Reel is one of the best spinning reels I have used that combines performance with ease of use.

The Battle II is one of my favorite reels and is often our top recommendation, depending on your personal circumstances. I have spent many fishing trips fighting trophy fish with a Penn Battle in my hand.

This Penn Battle comes with different sizes ranging from 1000 to 8000.

However, the gear ratio of 2500-4000 is 6:2:1, the other versions 5000 and 6000 have a 5:6:1 gear ratio, and the largest model 8000 comes with the gear ration of 5:3:1. All of the models have six ball bearings.

  • Penn II1000 – features Mono line capacity: 275/2; 135/4; 105/6 and Max Drag of 9 lbs
  • Penn II1000 – features Mono line capacity: 255/6; 175/8; 140/10 and Max Drag of 12 lbs
  • Penn II3000 – features Mono line capacity: 200/8; 165/10; 120/12 and Max Drag of 15 lbs
  • Penn II4000 – features Mono line capacity: 270/8; 220/10; 165/12 and Max Drag of 15 lbs
  • Penn II5000 – features Mono line capacity: 225/12; 200/15; 135/20 and Max Drag of 25 lbs
  • Penn II6000 – features Mono line capacity: 335/15; 230/20; 210/25 and Max Drag of 25 lbs
  • Penn II8000 – features Mono line capacity: 340/20; 310/25; 230/30 and Max Drag of 30 lbs

Why I Like It:

Let’s dig into the benefits and features of this excellent reel:

  • This reel comes with 20% extra drag
  • Smooth retrieve and suitable for saltwater with six stainless steel ball bearings
  • Large Line Capacity Ring
  • Improved corrosion resistance 


  • Smooth Drag System
  • Solid, Durable Reel
  • High Line Capacity
  • Anti-Reverse System


  • Heavier than some other alternatives

What is the difference between the Penn Battle II and Battle III?

The Battle III comes with the upgraded body, rotor and bail design of the Slammer III. This gives the Battle III both improved durability and improved performance albeit at a higher cost. If you can afford the difference then I recommend you go for the newer option.


Don’t let the weight of Penn’s Battle II spinning reel trick you – this reel is no lightweight. The Battle II range is a solid workhorse reel that suits freshwater and saltwater anglers.

3. Pflueger Supreme XT Spinning Fishing Reel – Best Long Casting Reel

Overall Score – 5/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Bestseller No. 1
Pflueger SUPXTSP30X Supreme XT Spinning Fishing Reel
  • 10 bearing System - Corrosion resistant stainless steel ball Bearings
  • Magnesium body and rotor - feather light design
  • Braid ready spool - allows Braid to be tied directly to spool

The Pflueger Supreme XT is my recommendation for best long casting spinning reel.

Our search to find the best spinning reel for you still is not over. Pflueger is a great manufacturer worth including in this list for the best saltwater reels.

The Pflueger Supreme XT Spinning Reel is highly rated by the experts.

The reel is extremely lightweight and at the same time has first class gearing and ball bearing features. It is very durable and high performing during drags, casts, and cranks.

It is ideal for a wide range of fish and angling applications. It is exceptionally light at a price range very affordable.

From my experience, the Plueger Supreme XT also has the longest line capacity of all in this list of the best spinning reels to assist you cast further and fight big fish for longer.

The Supreme XT Spinning reel has four models weighing only 9.6 ounces! It has a sealed carbon system that always remains lubricated.

Why I Like It:

  • 10 Corrosion Resistant Stainless Steel Ball Bearings
  • Magnesium Body Rotor
  • Sealed Carbon Drag
  • Carbon Handle that is 21% lighter than aluminum
  • Braid Ready Spool


  • Extremely Light
  • Braid Ready Spool
  • Smooth Drag Performance
  • Affordable


The Supreme XT spinning real will give you a smooth casting experience. It is extremely versatile and suitable for a wide range of fishing applications.

4. ​Shimano Stradic Ci4+ Reel – Best Saltwater Reel

Overall Score – 4/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Bestseller No. 1
Shimano STC3000XGFL Stradic C3000 FL Spinning Reel
  • Hagane Gear - Boasts amazing strength and durability
  • Cross Carbon Drag: The ideal material for the high drag pressure setting, with smoothness and...
  • Long Stroke Spool - less turbulence going through the guides for a smoother and longer cast

The Shimano Stradic Ci4+ is our recommendation for best saltwater spinning reel.

If you are looking for the best spinning reels under $200, then the Shimano Stradic CI4+ front drag is the top contender. Shimano are renowned for making high quality products with leading edge technology. They are my favorite brand for fishing reels.

This lightweight spinning reel is designed for fishers who want an affordable option. However, it also gives high performance and looks good with great aesthetics, at least in my opinion. This combines into one of the top spinning reels.

This spinning reel comes with 6:0:1 gear ratio and weighs only 5.6 ounces.

Why I Like It:

  • 6 ball bearings for smooth operations
  • Max Drag of 7-24 pounds depending on the model
  • Line Retrieve of 31 inches per crank
  • Line capacity of 65 – 95 yards depending on the line thickness
  • Front Drag
  • Long casting range


  • Extremely Lightweight
  • Very Affordable
  • Looks Great
  • Well Crafted
  • Designed For Saltwater Use


It is one of my favorite spinning reels for small fish- it also works well in salt water. The Shimano Stradic is one of the most popular reels throughout the United States and has a good combination of low weight, affordable price, high performance, and high quality manufacture.

Note – the Stradic has recently been replaced by the Shimano Vanford that you might be interested in checking out.

5. Okuma Trio High-Speed Spinning Reel – Best High Speed Reel

Overall Score – 4/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Bestseller No. 1
Okuma Trio Standard Speed Spinning Reel (190yards/10)
  • Made using the highest quality materials
  • Tested for reliability and quality
  • Used by professionals worldwide

Enjoy a heavy-duty performance in a lightweight reel – Okuma presents us with exactly this in their Trio High Speed option. And the best part is it is under 100 bucks. The Okuma Trio High Speed comes in two colors – black and orange.

There are three different versions – Trio 30S, Trio 40S and Trio 55S.

Why I Like It:

Let’s dig into the benefits and features of this excellent reel. Have a look.

  • Forged aluminum and EVA knobs
  • Like other Okuma reels, the gearing system is elliptical and precise
  • The pinion gears feature ensures long-lasting performance
  • Precision Dual Force Drag System
  • The narrow blade body design gives it maximum control
  • The aluminum component keeps it extremely lightweight.
  • The 9 BB + 1 RB Stainless Steel Bearings


  • Smooth Handle
  • Longer Lasting
  • No Slippage
  • Suitable For The Toughest Fish
  • 9 BB + 1 RB Stainless Steel Bearings


  • Has a different style to normal reels


This reel will not only give you a professional performance but is also incredibly durable and reliable. That’s why this reel has made my list of recommendations for your next fishing trip. 

6. Okuma Ceymar Lightweight Spinning Reel – Best Reel Under $50

Overall Score – 4/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Bestseller No. 1
okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel Size 10 - 5Lb Max Drag Pressure
  • Multi-disc, oiled felt drag system, Max Drag Pressure - 5-lbs
  • Quick-set anti-reverse roller bearing
  • Precision machine cut brass pinion gear

If you are searching for a reliable reel under fifty bucks, this Okuma Spinning Reel is undoubtedly on the top of that list. Compared to the other reels, it has a smooth retrieve, is beautifully designed, and is precise in its operation.

The best thing about this spinning reel is it comes in five different styles. These styles are classified according to the purpose – Each style is designed for specific work:

C-10: Great For Small Ice Fishing Outfits

This reel is the smallest Ceymar in this family. It is great for 2 to 6-pound test fishing line. This reel is designed for fishing for sunfish, trout, bluegill, and crappie. For best performance, pair with an ultra-light fishing rod.

C-30, C-40: A Versatile Performers In Freshwater

Intermediate sizes are the most versatile anglers. It suits steelhead, bass, carp fishing, walleye, and more. Therefore, the size 30 is designed for finesse applications. It is perfect for jigging walleye or drop-shotting bass with 6 to 8 pound fishing line.

On the other hand, C-40 comes with larger capacity. It designed for bigger fish like catfish, steelhead, and bigger lures. It can hold a 10 to 12 pound line.

C-55: Great For Fishing In Inshore Saltwater

When it comes in Inshore Saltwater fishing, C-55 is brilliant – It’s a highly capable reel. It is capable enough to hold bigger fish like snook, striped bass. redfish and shallow water bottom fish. It will hold 15-pound monofilament line of roughly 240-yards. Thus, using braided line of 20 to 30 pounds can fit similar lengths.

C-65: Great For Jetty, Pier, & Big Water Fishing

The size 65 is made in such a way to hold oversized fish. It is equipped with higher cranking power and max drag. In saltwater, it is perfect for casting from jetties and piers. In freshwater, the C-65 will be best for casting big river and lake fish like catfish.

Why I Like It:

Let’s dig into the benefits and features:

  • It comes with a multi-disc drag system – This system makes it pretty powerful
  • 7 ball bearings and 1 roller bearing
  • The company offers a 1-Year Limited Warranty
  • Machine cut brass pinion gear
  • It is made up of 2-tone machined aluminum spool
  • The C-65 comes with Ergo Grip handle


  • Anti-Reverse Roller Bearing
  • Dynamic Design
  • Supremely Comfortable


  • Only comes with a 1-Year Warranty


The Okuma Ceymar is a brilliant entry level reel. It performs well and is lightweight and reliable compared with the other reels in this category. If price is an object then certainly look at this option, I would certainly recommend it for budget conscious beginner anglers.

7. Penn Fierce II Spinning Fishing Reel – Best Offshore Saltwater Reel

Overall Score – 3/5 ⭐⭐⭐

Bestseller No. 1
Penn FRCIII2500 Fierce III 2500 Spin Reel RH/LH Front Drag, 5 BRG
  • Full metal body and sideplate keep precise gear alignment under heavy loads
  • Techno-balanced rotor gives smooth retrieves
  • Instant Anti-Reverse bearing

From the very first impression, this Penn spinning reel will impress you with its amazing looks. One of the things I love about the Penn is the fact that this spinning reel has a smooth retrieve. For anyone who has never tried a Penn reel I would recommend giving it a go – it is like no other reel manufacturer.

When it comes to retrieving a lure, this is one of the best spinning reels. The feature we like most about this reel is its max drag.

It comes in several sizes started with 2500-8000.

Why I Like It:

These Features include:

  • This reel comes with premium performance and durability at a very reasonable value
  • Durable construction with heavy duty aluminum bail wire
  • Enclosed in a full metal body
  • Instant ant-reverse bearing
  • 4 shielded stainless steel ball bearings
  • 1/3 and 2/3 marked line capacity rings
  • As it comes with super line spool, it doesn’t require any backing.


  • Smooth Retrieves
  • Durable Construction
  • Don’t Need Any Backing
  • Superior Leverage


  • Lots of options – make sure you select the right one for your requirements


This fishing combo has got everything you want from a reliable reel. The Penn Fierce is a favorite among anglers everywhere. If you are looking for a cheap reel that delivers have a look at Penn.

8. Shimano Sienna Front Drag Spinning Reel

Overall Score – 3/5 ⭐⭐⭐

Bestseller No. 1
Shimano SN500FG Sienna 500FG Spinning Reel, 3+1BB, 4/100 Mono
  • Propulsion spool lip design provides longer casting distances
  • A well-balanced, high performance built reel
  • Ensures reduced wind knots

Are you worried about spending a lot of money to pick a spinning reel that doesn’t come with all of the features?

Well, Shimano paved the way especially for someone like you who wants an amazing spinning reel on a tight budget. Shimano are one of the leading reels brands (and my personal favorite) for their stunning techology and design.

Why I Like It:

Let’s dig into the benefits and features:

  • Propulsion line management system to cast further and reduce backlash
  • Anti-reverse system
  • Graphite reel, frame, side plate
  • Ported handle shank
  • Varispeed oscillation


  • Telescoping Rod
  • Tremendously Lightweight
  • Soft Gear
  • Simple Casting Procedure


  • Doesn’t have all the features of a high-end reel
  • Not suitable for large offshore fish


Shimano are one of the best around, and if you want to get their technology at a decent price then have a look at the Sienna. I would certainly recommend looking at some of the more expensive Shimano reels if you have the budget for it, but this reel will do the job – no question.

9. Shimano IX Rear Drag Freshwater Spinning Reel – Best Freshwater Reel

Overall Score – 3/5 ⭐⭐⭐

SHIMANO IX1000R Rear Drag Spinning Reel with CBS 5'6" Ultra-Light Rod
  • IX reel features QuickFire II for easy, one-handed casts
  • The CBS series of two-piece rods was created for anglers of all ages and skill level
  • Rod is built with Shimano's Aeroglass construction which is lighter and more responsive than...
  • Line Capacity: 6/170, 8/120, 10/100 (lb/yards)
  • Max Drag: 7 lbs or 15 lbs
  • Gear Ratio: 4.1:1
  • SSR 1 – Weight of 9.6 ounces, gear ratio of 4.1:1, max drag of 7 Ibs, and line capacity of 120 yards of 8 lb mono
  • SSR 2 – Weight of 1.5 pounds, gear ratio of 4.1:1, max drag of 15 Ibs, and line capacity of 240 yards of 8 lb mono

Shimano has finally released a spinning model that most anglers or professionals can afford. It is very popular among freshwater anglers and has achieved positive reviews from the customers.

The first thing you will notice first is its sleek blackish look thanks to its stunning mechanical design and excellent drag system. Moreover, Shimano IX Spinning Reel is not only a great spinning reel for the angler but also at a modest price.

Why I Like It:

  • The frame and handle are constructed of solid aluminum. The combination of graphite and solid aluminum makes it extra durable.
  • Shimano designed this reel for saltwater. To survive and protecting damage all graphite material like side plate, frame, spool, rotor.
  • More than anything, these spinning reels are light. One of them is 9.6 ounces, and another is 1.5 pound. So you will not be getting fatigued casting for extended sessions.
  • The handles made as traditional T shaped. At the same time, paddle-shaped are depending on which size you prefer.
  • This reel is an easy casting and level winding reel. The Propulsion Line Management System that allows flowing off the spool gently. It ensures longer cast, without making huge backlashes.
  • The S A-RB bearings come with shielded on each side and protect from dirt.


  • This Spinning Reel Is Quite Lightweight
  • Rear Drag
  • It Gives Effortless Casting


  • Can have trouble casting in rough weather
  • Take care of the graphite

10. Shimano Baitrunner D Spinning Reel – Best Heavy Duty Reel

Overall Score – 3/5 ⭐⭐⭐

Bestseller No. 1
SHIMANO Baitrunner 8000D, Saltwater Spinning Fishing Reel
  • This classic live bait reel features a secondary drag system that allows free spooling with the bail...
  • Utilizes an oval oscillation gear that provides a consistent spool speed which results in an even...
  • Better casting; better line lay; less backlash wind knots or tangles; less friction on the line;...
  • Line retrieve: 36 in
  • Maximum drag: 20 lb
  • Item weight: 1.7 pound

Last on our list of the best spinning reels is the Shimano Baitrunner D. If you are worried that spending less than $200 means you have to pick a spinning reel without some superb features, then have a look at the Shimano Baitrunner.

Shimano paved the way for new fishing technology, especially for someone who wants an excellent saltwater spinning reel on a tight budget. You will get everything you want from this ideal spinning reel.

Shimano are one of my favorite fishing brands, because of the attention to detail they put into everything – from the design to the materials and everything in between. Shimano are a byword for quality and durability.

This Baitrunner D series from Shimano offers several medium-sized reels for saltwater. At the same time, these are readily available in four other model from 4000-12000. However, the line capacity of this model starts from 8 Ib mono and 15 Ib in the braid. As it goes high, the line capacity also is shown as 20 Ib mono and 80Ib in braid on the 12000 model of D series.

Make sure you pick a reel size that suits your needs, depending on the type of fish – predatory fish like mackerel tend to run hard and require longer fishing line spool lengths, while tarpon fight hard and require stronger and thicker fishing line.

Why I Like It:

Let’s dig into the benefits and features of Shimano Baitrunner D Spinning Reel:

  • The first noticeable features is its anti-reverse mechanism. It comes with a Super Stopper II, where one of the bearings is used to eliminate any back play. This will help to avoid any bird nesting or spooling your line out when you don’t want it to.
  • It also has the Shimano SA-RB anti-rust bearing. This is referred to as ‘Metal Shield’ and is one of the ways that Shimano build in corrosion resistance.
  • The spool is made from cold-forged Aluminum, which gives it superior durability but also low weight.
  • It also has good balance with Shimano’s Dyna which maintains the reel’s stability during retrieval.
  • Finally it also has Shimano’s Propulsion Line Management, which helps to give longer casting distance by spooling the line on neatly. This also helps to fit more line onto the spool and prevents backlash.


  • Affordable
  • Long Casting Distance
  • Excellent Line Lay
  • Comfortable Grips
  • Able to tackle Lake Trout, Salmon, Crappie Or any large sized Saltwater Species
  • Shimano produce high quality products with the latest and greatest technology available

Specification Comparison

It can be difficult to tell the difference between all of these features and benefits. So let’s focus entirely on the data and the specifications. All of this information is based on a size 3000 reel model.

Spinning ReelScoreBall BearingsSuitable for SaltwaterRetrieve RateGear RatioMax DragWeightMono Capacity (6lb)Price Range
Pflueger President5/59+1No31 inches6.2:110 lb7.6 oz145 yards$$
Penn Battle II5/55+1Yes35 inches6.2:115 lb12.3 oz210 yards$$
Pflueger Supreme XT5/510No33 inches6.2:112 lb8.0 oz230 yards$$
Shimano Stradic Ci4+4/56+1Yes35 inches6.0:120 lb6.7 oz230 yards$$$
Okuma Trio High Speed4/59+1Yes32 inches6.0:117 lb10.4 oz200 yards$$
Okuma Ceymar4/57+1No25 inches5.0:115 lb8.1 oz180 yards$$
Penn Fierce II3/54+1Yes35 inches6.2:110 lb11.7220 yards$$
Shimano Sienna3/53+1No28 inches5.0:19 lb8.8 oz110 yards$
Shimano IX3/50Yes21 inches4.1:17 lb8.6 oz170 yards$
Shimano Baitrunner D3/53+1Yes28 inches4.8:115 lb13.5 oz260 yards$$$

Honorable Mentions

There are plenty of other spinning reels that didn’t make our list for a variety of reasons, such as price, performance, durability, and specialist uses.

Best Premium Spinning Reels

Best Under $500

Best Under $200

Best Under $100

Best Under $50

Spinning Reel Buying Guide

Before going to purchase a reel, you should consider some of the key design factors that make it work. This impacts on the performance, durability, longevity, and value of the equipment.

You may not have heard of some of the technical terms we use, but don’t worry – this section is designed for beginner anglers.

So let’s take a look.

Types of Fishing Reels

There are five types of Fishing Reels available in the market:

Spinning Reels:

Spinning reels are the most popular type of fishing reels used by anglers. The internal gears of Spinning Reels give it a high retrieval rate and maximum drag. They provide the furthest casting distance and are the most versatile. You can use spinning reels of anything from small panfish to large gamefish and from ponds to the ocean.

They are also the easiest to use, with a very low chance for your line knotting unexpectedly. We always recommend spinning reels for beginners.

Baitcasting Reels:

The next most common option is a baitcaster. As the name indicates, these reels are designed for casting. They give better accuracy in casting but not as much distance as a spinning reel. They also can have a much higher gear ratio which can suit particular lures that need to be retrieved extremely fast, like a spoonbait lure.

Baitcasters are normally used for a specific purpose, such as fishing with crankbaits for bass.

See our buying guide for the best baitcasting reels.

Conventional Reels:

If you are an avid angler, a conventional reel is for you. Usually, it is engineered with a heavy boat rod. As a result, they are quite durable. They don’t have the ability to cast long distances but are much more suitable for big game fishing from a boat.

Conventional reels are normally used when dropping baits deep onto a reef or trolling behind a boat. We recommend trolling reels for big saltwater gamefish.

See our buying guide for the best conventional reels.

Fly Reels:

Another type of fishing reel is the fly reel, which is made for use with a Fly Fishing Rod. Fly reels generally don’t have gearing or much in the way of drag. They are a purer form of one-on-one fighting with the fish.

Fly feels use a weighted fly fishing line and a light fly as bait. They are commonly used for trout in clear, running rivers.

See our buying guide for the best fly fishing reels.

Spincast Reels:

These types of the reel are closed body. Thus, all the parts are enclosed by a body. However, there is a hole in the reel from which the reel’s fishing line comes out. Spincast reels are recommended for kids – they are simple and easy to use, but do lack some of the versatility and performance of a spinning reel.

See our buying guide for the best spincast reels.

Advantages of Spinning Reels


Spinning reels are the most versatile and popular type of fishing reel (Source). They can be used for casting from the beach, trolling from a boat, bottom fishing, and casting lures or live bait all in one day.

These features make them suitable to catch almost anything including bass, panfish, redfish, tarpon, and walleye.

If this is your first even fishing reel, then we always recommend choosing a spinning reel. You can get other types of reels for specific scenarios, but your spinning reel will always be your go to option.

Light Line, Light Lures

The prime advantage of spinning reels is their capability to cast long distances. The open bail and fixed spool all the fishing line to flow out with no resistance which is funneled through the eyes in the rod.

As a result it is the easiest to cast with the furthest distance. It rarely creates birds nests or get tangled. Spinning reels are ideal for beginner anglers.

Because of the extra distance you can cast, spinning rods can also be more suitable for lighter lines and lures. If you are targeting panfish, then you will want low weight lures.

We also have a guide highlighting the best fishing line for spinning reels that you might find useful.

Great for all Experience Levels

Spinning reels are perfect for teaching someone to fish and cast. The operation is so simple as opening the bail, then finger on the line, and lastly, let the lure sail. So as you gain experience, you can easily upgrade if required. But you should always start with a spinning reel.

Learn how to use a spinning reel.

Features You Need to Know

It can be difficult to see through the marketing hype and understand exactly what you are getting for your money. This section is to give you a brief overview of the main features so that you can understand the differences between a 5 star and a 1 star product.

Ball Bearings

Ball bearings are a key indicator of reel performance and how smooth the retrieve feels. The more ball bearings, the more evenly the load is distributed around the reel frame and internal gearings. You will notice a fairly clear relationship between the price of a reel and the number of ball bearings.

If you are torn between two reels with similar features, then pick the one with more ball bearings.

Gear Ratio

The gear ratio refers to the number of turns of the reel’s spool for each turn of the handle. For example a gear ratio of 5.0:1 means that 1 turn of the handle gives 5.0 turns of the spool. In reality this refers to the retrieve speed of the spinning reel and you need to know how you will be using the reel. If you intend to retrieve a lure extremely fast then you will want a higher gear ratio.

Keep in mind that the higher the gear ratio the less power you can apply. Heavy big gamefish reels often have gear ratios as low as 2.0:1. High speed baitcasting reels can be as much as 10.0:1 gear ratio.

For a spinning reel we recommend selecting within 4.0:1 and 6.0:1 range. This gives the most versatility and allows you to fish more different styles.

Corrosion Resistance

If there is one thing that can destroy metal machines quickly it is water, and in particular saltwater. Anything you can do to avoid rust is worthwhile. But this will be reflected in the price as the materials of construction improve. If you are doing saltwater fishing or even brackish water, then you will want to select a corrosion resistant spinning reel. The best way to get value for money is to increase the amount of time that reel lasts.

If you are only fishing in freshwater and will never venture into salt, then you can pick a cheaper reel that is made from less robust materials.

Line Capacity

The amount of line you need depends on the size and type of fish you are targeting. Panfish need a lot less line then a tuna that is going to swim off at full speed as soon as it is hooked.

The more the line capacity the heavier the reel will be as the spool needs to be physically larger.

You will also want to consider the type of fishing line you are going to use. Braid fishing line has a much higher line capacity than an equivalent strength mono line.

Max Drag

Finally, a key feature to understand is the maximum drag. This showcases how much weight the drag can apply to the fishing line and hence the size of fish that it can stop. The larger reels come with higher drags, so you can easily pick a suitable model/size of spinning reel to suit your target species. Make sure you get a large enough reel to handle the largest fish you are likely to hook.

The last thing you want is to hook a trophy fish and only then discover that your drag is too light.

Specific Buying Guides


To wrap the best spinning reels up, we could say that a great reel can be your best friend in your adventurous fishing experience. However, each spinning reel on our list also comes with an amazing specification. But we can understand that buying decision is related to various aspects like affordability, purpose as well as preference.

Finally, you are the decision maker. So it’s totally up to you.

We hope you enjoyed our article. Thanks for being with us.

Last update on 2022-01-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Russ Egan

Russ is an avid fisherman. He has fished all over the world for more than two decades, primarily for saltwater game fish but also for local trophy fish. Russ writes reviews for all of his fishing gear to help others achieve their own fishing goals. His favorite reel is a Shimano Curado Baitcaster. His dream is to catch a Black Marlin.