Best Spinning Reels: Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

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Choosing the best of something is always difficult. You spend hours and hours looking at the specs, features, pros, and cons of the reel you need. However, the final decisions are yours.

But don’t despair. Here we bring you an in-depth selection of the 10 best spinning reels that you can get in the market. Additionally, we added our recommended reels at the end to ease your decision.

And, if after reading you still have any doubts about which is the best spinning reel, we also made a buyer’s guide with all the important aspects that you should look at when seeking your next spinning reel. 

10 Best Spinning Reels Comparison Table

Table 1/2
ReelKastKing Summer and CentronPflueger PresidentPenn Battle IIDaiwa BGPiscifun Flame
Drag Power (pounds)**11 to 17.58 to 149 to 304.4 to 3313.2 to 19.8

Graphite, plastic, and aluminumGraphite and aluminumAluminum with protective paintingAnodized aluminum Graphite and plastic
Gear ratio4.5:1 and 5.2:15.2:15.3:15.6:16.2:15.6:15.7:15.3:15.2:1
Inch per turn (IPT)**Up to 33.8Up to 31.6Up to 44Up to 53.3Up to 30.7
Mono Capacity (yards)*Up to 270Up to 425Up to 340Up to 550Up to 330
Braid Capacity (yards)*Up to 260Up to 260Up to 490Up to 730Up to 400
Weight (oz)**6.9 to13.58.8 to 10.78.1 to 30.28.5 to 308.5 to 13.2
Table 1/2
RodSHIMANO Stradic FKOkuma Ceymar Abu Garcia Revo SXCadence CS8Penn Spinfisher VI
Drag Power (pounds)**6.6 to 246.6 to 3510 to 1711 to 2015 to 50

AluminumGraphite, aluminum, and zincGraphite and aluminumMagnesium and aluminumAluminum
Gear ratio6.1:6.2:14.5:15.1:16.2:15.2:16.2:14.2:14.7:15.6:16.2:1
Inch per turn (IPT)**Up to 41Up to 38Up to 44Up to 38Up to 40
Mono Capacity (yards)*Up to 240Up to 360Up to 230Up to 220Up to 480
Braid Capacity (yards)*Up to 220Up to 250Up to 260Up to 845
Weight (oz)**6 to 11.371 to 217.2 to 9.26.3 to 8.510.7 to 38.6

* Depending on the line weight and reel model

**Depending on the reel model

10 Best Spinning Reels Reviews

KastKing Summer and Centron

We start our review with this beauty. The Kastking summer and centron is one of the best spinning reels under 50 bucks. Therefore, if you are looking for a reliable and affordable spinning reel, you are in for a treat. 

The reel comes in two colors; black (Centron version) and white (Summer version). However, the performance is the same regardless of the color. 

There are five versions of this KastKing spinning reel, which are labeled as follows: 500, 2000, 3000, 4000, and 5000. The difference between each one is the amount of line the spool can handle, maximum drag, and the reel weight. The 500 version accommodates less line, is lighter, and has lower drag than the 200 and so on. 

But let’s tear this reel down and see its details. 

Frame materials and construction 

The reel is quite light, thanks to its graphite core. But it felt strong and flexible. Furthermore, the carbon fiber is resistant to corrosion, which decreases the reel wear down due to the elements. However, this reel is not marine-proof. 

The reason is that the reel features an aluminum spool. Thus, don’t use this reel over saltwater, unless you wish to destroy it. 

The reel has 9 stainless-steel bearings, which translates into a smooth performance for the price. Additionally, the spool has a launch lip to increase casting distance. 

The handle has a graphite kernel and is interchangeable. Additionally, it has a plastic grip, which might be a little uncomfortable for some anglers.

Both the 4000 and 5000 variants have an impressive 17.5 pounds maximum drag with a 4.5:1 gear ratio. It is more than enough for most freshwater game fishes. 


  • Graphite body, feet, and handle.
  • Plastic grip.
  • Aluminum spool. 
  • Weight: 6.9 to 13.5 oz depending on the model.
  • Maximum drag: 11 to 17.5 pounds depending on the model. 
  • Line capacity: 
    • Monofilament: from 235 to 270 yards depending on the line weight and the model. 
    • braid: from 125 to 260 yards depending on the line weight and the model.
  • Gear ratio: 4.5:1 and 5.2:1
  • Anti-reverse system. 
  • Front drag dial. 
  • IPT: 21.3 to 33.8 inches depending on the model. 


  • Affordable spinning reel. 
  • Lightweight reel. 
  • Great reel for beginners. 
  • Smooth casting and retrieving. 


  • Not suitable for saltwater. 
  • The plastic grip has a weird shape. 

Pflueger President

There is something about this reel that feels right. It might be its blue and gold body that is just beautiful, or its premium construction. Either way, this is a great option if you are looking for a budget reel without sacrificing quality. 

You can choose from five different models depending on your needs. The only thing that changes between each model is the line capacity, the number of bearings, the maximum drag, and the reel size. The gear ratio is the same for either version of the reel, which is great if you ask us. 

Now, let’s talk about what is important, the reel construction. 

Frame materials and construction 

The reel has a graphite blank and rotor, making it both lightweight and strong. As happened with the KastKing spinning reel we mentioned before, this reel has some resistance to corrosion. 

Sadly, due to the aluminum spool, handle, and bail, this reel isn’t marine-proof. Still, this is a perfect reel for those anglers looking for a dependable freshwater reel. 

The Pflueger President spinning reel has a braid-ready spool with a titanium lib to reduce friction and increase casting distance. The line roller is braid-ready as well. 

Additionally, it has 10 stainless-steel bearings to increase the reel smoothness. Such an arrangement allows an even retrieval of the line. And the oiled multi-disc drag system keeps the line thigh, and the hook attached as you muscle with the fish.  


  • Graphite body and handle. 
  • Rubber grip.
  • Aluminum spool. 
  • Weight: 8.8 to 10.7 oz depending on the model.
  • Maximum drag: 8 to 14 pounds depending on the model. 
  • Line capacity: 
    • Monofilament: from 80 to 425 yards depending on the line weight and the model. 
    • braid: from 125 to 260 yards depending on the line weight and the model.
  • Gear ratio: 5.2:1 for all versions.
  • Anti-reverse system. 
  • Front drag dial. 
  • IPT: 20.2 to 31.6 inches, depending on the model. 


  • Ultralight and small size. 
  • Beautiful craftsmanship. 
  • Budget-friendly.
  • Smooth casting.


  • Not suitable for saltwater fishing. 
  • The reeling and drag system aren’t as smooth as they should be. 
  • The reel works better with heavier lines. 

Penn Battle II

The Penn Battle II spinning reel is not the cheapest reel on this review. But it is one of the best for sure. It has the same sleek design as the Pflueger President spinning reel. The only difference is that this one has a black and gold body instead of blue and gold. 

Initially, Penn offered seven versions of this medium-range reel. Each one with a different combination of line capacity, gear ratio, and maximum drag. Every model has a numerical tag, ranging from 1000 to 8000. But, due to the amazing reception, the company added an eighth version of the rod: the Penn Battle II 2500.

But what makes this rod so popular among anglers? 

Frame materials and construction 

The reel sits on the heavy side, mainly because of its full metal body and rotor. But wait, there is more. Penn coated the reel with a special paint to protect it against saltwater. Thus, those extra bucks compared with the previous reels are more than justified. 

Additionally, the reel has a heavy-duty aluminum bail and braid-ready line roller. The spool has an inner rubber coating, which increases its grip on braid fishing lines. 

The handle features a plastic/rubber grip that stays comfortable even during prolonged sessions. Although, the reel is quite stiff and it is not as smooth as a graphite reel of the same price range. 

The Penn Battle II comprises a graphite drag system. It provides smooth drag. And, depending on the model, you can enjoy up to 30 pounds of maximum drag. 

Lastly, the reel has 6 sealed stainless-steel bearings. The arrangement yields smooth casting and retrieving. 


  • Metal body with protective painting. 
  • Rubber grip. 
  • Weight: 8.1 to 30.2 oz depending on the model.
  • Maximum drag: 9 to 30 pounds depending on the model. 
  • Line capacity: 
    • Monofilament: from 105 to 340 yards depending on the line weight and the model. 
    • braid: from 110 to 490 yards depending on the line weight and the model.
  • Gear ratio: 5.3:1, 5.6:1, and 6.2:1
  • Automatic anti-reverse system. 
  • Front drag dial. 
  • IPT: 22 to 44 inches, depending on the model. 


  • The spool has marks that indicated how much line is left. 
  • Marine-rated.
  • Durable and strong reel. 
  • Comfortable grip.
  • Sealed bearings prevent corrosion. 
  • Rubber coating increases grip. 


  • Heavy reel, especially the 6000 and 8000 models. 
  • Difficult maintenance. 

Daiwa BG

Like the Penn Battle II, we just reviewed the Daiwa BG is another great option for those anglers looking to stay below the $150 price tag. The reel has the same black and gold paint. But it doesn’t look as premium as the latter. Still, don’t let this deceive you, as this reel is truly amazing. 

There are ten models available with different sizes, line capacity, maximum drag, and gear ratio. However, all models sit under the 6:1 ratio.

Frame materials and construction 

The entire reel has an aluminum body. But Daiwa put the reel through an anodization process to protect the reel against corrosion and scratches. This method works better than a protective painting because it sticks to the core of the aluminum, not the surface. 

It features an aluminum spool with ABS technology that reduces the friction. Thus, enhancing casting distance. Furthermore, Daiwa has maximized the spool diameter to prevent tangling when casting and avoid memory coils in the line. 

The reel has six ball bearings and one roller bearing for the infinite anti-reverse system. Plus, the carbon fiber drag system allows a jerk less reeling while keeping the line tight and the hook fixed in the fish mouth. 

Lastly, the screwed handle and oversized gear teeth reduce the play between the gear and the handle. We love this feature as it maximizes the use of torque, taking less effort to reel the fish. 


  • Anodized aluminum body. 
  • Rubber grip.  
  • Weight: 8.5 to 30 oz depending on the model.
  • Maximum drag: 4.4 to 33 pounds depending on the model. 
  • Line capacity: 
    • Monofilament: from 100 to 550 yards depending on the line weight and the model. 
    • braid: from 130 to 730 yards depending on the line weight and the model.
  • Gear ratio: 5.6:1, 5.7:1, and 5.3:1
  • Automatic anti-reverse system for 4000 and smaller versions. Dual anti-reverse system for 4500 and bigger variants. 
  • Front drag dial. 
  • IPT: 28.3 to 53.3 inches, depending on the model. 


  • High line retrieve per crank. 
  • The reel is marine-rated. Although, the 4000, and greater, are most suitable for saltwater.
  • Incredible line capacity. 
  • Smooth drag system with great drag power.


  • The gear ratio is rather slow. 
  • Heavy reel. 
  • The spool isn’t anodized. 
  • Quite expensive for a first rod.

Piscifun Flame

Now, we bring you another affordable reel for beginners or occasional anglers that aren’t looking to break the bank to get a reliable reel. 

The Piscifun Flame comes in a black matte with red accents and five different versions. Each one with a different line capacity, maximum drag, weight, and line retrieve ratio combination. Still, the gear ratio is the same with either of the reel variants. 

Frame materials and construction 

Piscifum flame reel features a hollowed graphite body, which keeps it strong and light. However, as we previously said, graphite is not as sturdy as aluminum. So, treat it carefully. 

The reel has an aluminum braid-ready spool, with a textured surface to prevent the line from slipping. Additionally, the zinc gears effectively transfer the movement form the handle to the rotor. Although the reel is not completely marine-rated, you can use the bigger model for saltwater angling. 

10 stainless-steel ball bearings reduce the friction and provide a smoother, longer cast. The sealed drag system and the stainless-steel main shaft with brass pinion yield an impressive 13.2 pounds of maximum drag. It might not be the best system. But the line reels easy for a reel in this price range. 

We didn’t like the handle grip. The plastic feels fragile. Besides, it feels uncomfortable after some time. 


  • Graphite construction. 
  • Plastic grip.  
  • Weight: 8.5 to 13.2 oz depending on the model.
  • Maximum drag: 13.2 to 19.8 pounds depending on the model. 
  • Line capacity: 
    • Monofilament: from 110 to 330 yards depending on the line weight and the model. 
    • braid: from 165 to 400 yards depending on the line weight and the model.
  • Gear ratio: 5.2:1 for all versions.
  • Anti-reverse system.
  • Front drag dial. 
  • IPT: 25.2 to 30.7 inches, depending on the model. 


  • Affordable.
  • Ultralight.
  • Decent drag power. 


  • Works better for freshwater fishing. 
  • Not the best reel for big-game fish or extended sessions. 
  • Clicking noise in the handle area. 


If it has SHIMANO in the name, it has to be a great product. And the SHIMANO stradic FK spinning reel is not an exception. The FK is one of the new additions to the world-famous stradic family. 

This high-end reel has everything you need to catch some bad boys. And it’s surprisingly solid built promises a long-lasting operation. 

SHIMANO stradic FK comes in five different models depending on your drag power, gear ratio, and line capacity needs. 

Frame materials and construction 

SHIMANO uses cold-forged aluminum for the reel. This method enhances the strength and sturdiness of the metal while keeping the reel as light as possible. 

The reel has aluminum gears forged in the same way as the body. Plus, the ball bearings at either side of the main gear grants balance and reduces friction. Additionally, SHIMANO added an aluminum spool with a lip that increases casting distance. 

In contrast with other reels we’ve reviewed so far, this one doesn’t have an anti-reverse switch. However, the reel does have an automatic anti-reverse system that, paired with the felt/steel drag system, keeps the line tight and moving with ease. 

The reel has its interior sealed. So, neither water nor sand can enter, which protects the internal gears and bearings from corrosion. 

This reel comes with corrosion-resistant stainless-steel bail. It is also smooth enough to reduce the friction with the line.


  • Cold-forged aluminum.
  • Rubber grip.  
  • Weight: 6 to 11.3 oz depending on the model.
  • Maximum drag: 6.6 to 24 pounds depending on the model. 
  • Line capacity: 
    • Monofilament: from 165 to 240 yards depending on the line weight and the model. 
    • Powerpro: from 160 to 220 yards depending on the line weight and the model.
  • Gear ratio: 6:1 and 6.2:1 depending on the model
  • Automatic anti-reverse system.
  • Front drag dial. 
  • IPT: up to 41 inches depending on the model. 


  • Sturdier and lighter than similar aluminum reels. 
  • High gear ratio.
  • Fast line retrieval. 
  • Smooth handle operation. 


  • The handle is rather small, which decreases the available torque. 
  • Expensive. 
  • No anti-reverse switch. 

Okuma Ceymar

After breaking the bank with several reels, it is time to get back to the affordable range for the budget-conscious angler.

The Okuma ceymar comes in a sleek polished black body with red circles over the spool. It is a simple design, but in our opinion, less is more when it comes down looks. 

Like many other brands, Okuma offers six different variations of the reel. Each one has different specs and purposes. The C-30 and C-40 are among the best spinning reels you will find in the market.

Frame materials and construction 

This reel is incredible light thanks to its graphite body. However, don’t get fooled by the size, as some versions of ceymar are more than able to handle big fishes. 

The spool has an aluminum core with a corrosion-resistant coating. In contrast, the handle has an anodized zinc spine, which is also resistant to corrosion. However, only the C-55 and C-65 variants are suitable for saltwater angling, since these are stronger than the others. 

The handle features an EVA foam grip. It is very comfortable even after long fishing sessions. 

One of the secrets behind this reel is the elliptical gears. They take less space, and in combination with the brass pinion and shaft, reduces the friction. Thus, allowing you to cast farther and with more precision. 

The felt multi-disc drag system doesn’t offer a magnificent drag power. Still, it manages to keep the line secure without and trembling. 


  • Graphite body.
  • Anodized aluminum spool.
  • Anodized zinc handle with EVA grip.
  • Weight: 7.1 to 21 oz depending on the model.
  • Maximum drag: 6.6 to 35 pounds depending on the model. 
  • Line capacity: 
    • Monofilament: from 110 to 260 yards depending on the line weight and the model. 
  • Gear ratio: 4.5:1 and 5:1 depending on the model
  • Automatic anti-reverse system.
  • Front drag dial. 
  • IPT: up to 38 inches depending on the model. 


  • Extremely light and small. 
  • Affordable. 
  • Corrosion-resistant materials. 
  • Durable as long as you don’t hit the reel.


  • Not all versions are marine-rated.
  • Poor line capacity. 
  • Fragile. 

Abu Garcia Revo SX

Abu Garcia is another brand that always makes everything right. Here, we bring you this black and red spinning reel, which is more on the expensive side. But we look at it as a long-lasting investment. With the Abu Garcia Revo SX spinning reel, you won’t need another reel any time soon. 

You have five versions to choose from depending on your needs. All of them have the same 6.2:1 gear ratio and the same build. 

Frame and construction

Abu Garcia didn’t hesitate to use top-notch materials for this reel. The body and rotor have a carbon-fiber core. It feels both light and strong to the touch. 

The handle and spool have an aluminum built, which guarantees durability and sturdiness. Additionally, the spool and line roller are braid-ready, which is a common feature among reels in this price range. 

The reel has 8 stainless-steel ball bearings and a roller bearing. Still, we weren’t impressed by the smoothness, as Abu Garcia could have done a better job. However, the casting is good, and the stainless-steel shaft/handle combo works swimmingly. 

In terms of the drag system, the carbon discs and the automatic anti-reverse do a great job securing the line and keeping it flowing as you fight with the fish. We notice not trembling while using the reel, which is always a good sign. 


  • Graphite body.
  • Aluminum spool and handle.
  • EVA knob.
  • Weight: 7.2 to 9.2 oz depending on the model.
  • Maximum drag: 10 to 17 pounds depending on the model. 
  • Line capacity: 
    • Monofilament: from 100 to 230 yards depending on the line weight and the model. 
    • Braid: from 150 to 250 yards depending on the line weight and model. 
  • Gear ratio: 6.2:1.
  • Automatic anti-reverse system.
  • Front drag dial. 
  • IPT: up to 40 inches depending on the model. 


  • Ultralightweight. 
  • Fast reel. 
  • Durable construction. 
  • Noise-free. 


  • Expensive.
  • Low drag power. 
  • Low line capacity. 

Cadence CS8

This reel feels quite premium. But it is a mid-budget reel that stays below the 100 bucks benchmark. The best thing is that Cadence CS8 has a lot of great features, as you will see in a moment. 

Like the other reels we previously reviewed, the Cadence CS8 comes in four different versions with a unique gear ratio, line capacity, and line retrieval ratio. So, you can choose the one that best suits your needs. 

Let’s talk about those great features that we mentioned before. 

Frame materials and construction 

The frame has an anodized magnesium construction, making it lighter and stronger than the average aluminum built. It is also resistant to corrosion. However, the low line capacity could be a problem for offshore saltwater angling. 

The rotor and the drag system are both made out of carbon fiber. This arrangement yields an impressive 29 pounds of maximum drag. That is more than enough for freshwater applications and inshore saltwater. This is one of the best spinning reels for bass in the market11

The reel features a braid-ready aluminum spool. It has a smooth operation, paired with the aluminum bail and the braid-ready spool provides a friction-less casting.   

Now, we ought to say that we were impressed by the smooth operation of the aluminum handle. It has no game, which means that all the force you apply to it gets transferred to the rotor through the aluminum shaft. 

Lastly, the reel has 9 stainless-steel ball bearings and one extra bearing for the anti-reverse system. The latter automatically triggers itself and keeps the line secure. 


  • Magnesium body.
  • Aluminum spool and handle.
  • EVA knob.
  • Weight: 6.3 to 8.5 oz depending on the model.
  • Maximum drag: 11 to 20 pounds depending on the model. 
  • Line capacity: 
    • Monofilament: from 110 to 220 yards depending on the line weight and the model. 
    • Braid: from 115 to 260 yards depending on the line weight and model. 
  • Gear ratio: 5.2: and 6.2:1.
  • Automatic anti-reverse system.
  • Front drag dial. 
  • IPT: up to 38 inches depending on the model. 


  • Lightweight.
  • Impressive drag power. 
  • Big and comfortable handle. 
  • Some versions have an awesomely fast gear ratio. 


  • Low line capacity. 
  • Not as smooth as other reels in this price range. 

Penn Spinfisher VI

When it comes down to reels, Penn is a name that you will hear very often. The spinfisher VI is more expensive than the Penn Battle II we reviewed before. But it comes with other features that worth those extra bucks. 

The Penn spinfisher VI comes in a beautiful black and gold. Additionally, you have a wide variety of reels to choose from depending on your needs. 

Frame materials and construction 

Saltwater anglers got to love this reel. It has a full metal body with a sealed interior, which means that no water will enter into the gearbox. The downside is that this rot is pretty heavy. 

The reel features a heavy-duty aluminum bail wire, handle, and spool with a rubber coating for your braid line. The external construction is awesomely strong and feels tough enough to withstand abuse. 

Reeling and casting with the spinfisher VI is very smooth, thanks to the 6 stainless-steel bearings. Plus, the carbon fiber drag system offers sufficient drag to battle massive fishes. Still, the drag system is smooth and keeps an even line flow. 

We notice no game between the handle and the hard aluminum with brass pinion shaft. Therefore, every inch and pound of strength you put into the handle gets all the up to the rotor and line. 


  • Full aluminum construction.
  • Massive EVA knob.
  • Weight: 10.7 to 38.6 oz depending on the model.
  • Maximum drag: 15 to 50 pounds depending on the model. 
  • Line capacity: 
    • Monofilament: from 140 to 490 yards depending on the line weight and the model. 
    • Braid: from 160 to 845 yards depending on the line weight and model. 
  • Gear ratio: 4.2:1, 4.7:1, 5.6:1, and 6.2:1
  • Automatic anti-reverse system.
  • Front drag dial. 
  • IPT: up to 40 inches depending on the model. 


  • Highest drag power in this list. 
  • Fast reel with a nice line retrieval ratio. 
  • Marine-proof. 
  • Perfect for big-game fish. 
  • Smooth handle and gear system.


  • Expensive.
  • Heavy.
  • Difficult maintenance. 

Our Picks

Like we always say, the decision of which is the best spinning reel depends on your needs. But here we bring you a selection of the best 

Best spinning reel under 50

This decision was very challenging. The contest between the Piscifun flame, KastKing centron, and summer, and the Okuma ceymar spinning reels was very tight. But we chose Okuma ceymar as our winner. 

We must clarify that only the C-40 and smaller versions of this reel are below the 50 bucks limit. Thus, only their features were considered to make the decision.

The ceymar has a corrosion-resistant built with no plastic part. Something that doesn’t happen with the other candidates. Still, the reel is lighter than the other two, making it perfect for trips and long fishing sessions. Additionally, the reel is very small, and the elliptical gear offers smooth casting.

The maximum drag is equivalent to that found in the KastKing. Yet a little lower than the Piscifun. However, the reel has a great gear ratio and line retrieval. And the drag system goes swimmingly with its automatic anti-reverse. 

Overall, the reel is more comfortable than the other two and has better construction. This translates into long-lasting operation. 

Best spinning reel under 100

The Cadence CS8 is our selection for the best reel under 100. It has an innovative magnesium body, which is lighter and stronger than aluminum. As a consequence, this reel is lighter than the Penn battle II. 

Additionally, the reel has an incredible 20 pounds of maximum drag. Whereas the Penn only yields 12 pounds of drag power. However, both drag systems have a similar construction in terms of materials. It is important to establish that some Penn Battle II versions are above the 100 limits.  Thus, such variants were considered. 

Both reels have an aluminum bail wire and spool. We like the Cadence spool better since it has a higher line capacity. 

The gear ratio on both reels is the same. Still, the Cadence has higher IPT. 

Best premium spinning reel 

Here we must choose the Penn spinfisher VI. It is an amazing reel that you can use both in salt and freshwater. Of course, it is expensive. However, with it, you will have a reel for the years to come. 

It is durable thanks to its aluminum construction with a sealed interior and carbon fiber drag system. The spinfisher VI has a similar construction to that of the SHIMANO stradic FK. Still, the first has more drag power and greater line capacity. 

Additionally, the reel has no problems with getting wet, and that an amazingly tight construction. So, neither water or debris will temper with the reel performance. Therefore, this is the best spinning reel for saltwater in this review.

Lastly, you have several versions available of the spinfisher, and each one has a lower price than the SHIMANO. Thus, the decision is only logical. With the Penn spinfisher, you will be getting a similar, or slightly better performance, for fewer bucks! 

Buyer’s Guide.

Buying the best spinning reel is not a question of money. It is a question of purpose. Why? Well, you can surely spend top dollar for a marine-proof spinning reel and only use it on freshwater. But is it necessary? Of course, no. That’s why it is essential to know where you will be using your reel and how you plan to use it.

For instance, an aluminum reel is more than enough for freshwater fishing. But you are better off with a graphite or metal with a corrosion-resistant coating reel if you want to fish in saltwater. 

Another decision that you consider is what type of fish you will be targeting. Depending on it, the gear ratio will be different. Low ratios are better for big fish, whereas higher ratios are most suitable for small fishes that don’t offer too much of a fight. Yes, we know what you are thinking, what in God’s grace is a gear ratio? We will answer that question and many others in this buying guide.

The fishing line weight has an impact on reel size. Typically, the heavier the line is, the bigger the reel has to be. Most spinning reels have a label with the lines that you can use. We recommend checking it before buying it. 

Additionally, you must make sure that your reel and rod are compatible. For example, your reel could work with a thin, light fishing line. But if you have a heavy rod, the line will snap as such rods are not suitable for thin lines. Thus, carefully think about the rod, reel, and line combinations that you wish. 

With these simple decisions, you’ve shortened the possible list of candidates. Now, it is time to set the budget. Most people think that expensive is a synonym of quality, and most times it is. But like we said before, there is no need to break the bank if you are an occasional angler, or you only fish over freshwater. Therefore, by setting a budget, you will make sure to get the best spinning reel for the money. 

Now, there are other extra considerations and reel features that you should keep in mind when buying a spinning rod. Here we’ve summarized them for your convenience:

  • Gear ratio.
  • Reel bearings.
  • Line capacity.
  • Materials.
  • Drag.
  • Handle position.

Understanding the Reel Anatomy.

Before we start explaining each one of the items, we will like to explain the reel anatomy. This way, you will be familiar with all the terms, and you will get the most out of this buyer’s guide. 

Reel body

Think of it as the reel spine. It has to support the reel in place and withstand the tension while battling the fish. 

Most reels either have an aluminum or graphite body. Aluminum is heavier and stronger than graphite. Thus, if you are looking for a durable reel, you should go with aluminum.

However, aluminum has a problem; it is not suitable for saltwater angling. Unless it has some protective coating. Therefore, you should consider buying a graphite reel. The downside is that graphite is fragile and not as strong as aluminum. Therefore, graphite reels aren’t suitable for offshore angling. 

Reel foot

To simply put it, the reel foot is the part that connects the reel with the rod. As it is an extension to the reel body, it has the same construction.

When assembling a spinning rod, you should put the reel feet against the reel seat. Then, both are screwed together. 


The spool is the place that holds your fishing line. Its size depends on the amount of line and its weight. 

In contrast with other types of reels, spinning reels move up and down as you cast or retrieve the line. This guarantees the even distribution of the line in the spool.  

As you might expect, spools have an aluminum or graphite core. Like before, aluminum spools are more massive than graphite. But the latter has a higher resistance to corrosion. 

The spool has a notable influence over casting distance. For instance, longer and thinner spools increase casting distance. 


Do you see the C-shaped piece of metal that is around the spool? That piece is the bail. Because this is such a simple piece, its construction is quite the same among different reels. All that you need to do is check that the biding is strong, and the metal is smooth. 

You will be able to either cast or reel the line in depending on the bail position. If you want to wrap the fishing line, you must pass the bail to the close position. In contrast, it has to be in its open position for casting. 


The handle is the simplest, yet most critical part of the reel. With it, you can reel the line or muscle the fish to shore. 

The size of the handle and the grip section tend to change from reel to reel. A common rule of thumb is to buy a reel with a big handle if you are targeting massive fishes. The reason is simple; the larger the handle is, the more leverage effect it will produce. Thus, the less force you need to apply to spin the reel. 

Plastic, aluminum, and graphite are the most common materials used. Of course, plastic and graphite are lighter than aluminum. Still, the latter is more robust and more long-lasting than the other two. Keep in mind that aluminum and saltwater don’t get along. 

One last consideration about handles, choose the one that feels right!

Anti-reverse control

In time, this will be your new best friend. Its job is to lock the bail and handle from spinning backward, preventing you from manually releasing the line. However, when a fish is on, the drag system will automatically release the line. The difference is that with the switch engaged, the line will always be as tight as possible. Thus, the fish will stay hooked as it can’t shake the hook off. 

But if you are a seasoned angler that prefers to rely on your guts, you can turn-off the anti-reverse control. In this case, the handle can spin in either direction, and you can reel the fish in, on release line depending on your needs. Beware that newer reels don’t have an anti-reverse switch. 

Drag selector

Some people use drag and drag power as synonyms while they are not. The drag refers to the two small plates that prevent the spool from releasing the line. And the drag power is the minimum force at which the spool starts releasing the line. Of course, there wouldn’t exist drag power without drag.  

Setting the correct drag is crucial to have a successful catch. You can adjust it with the dial, which is either at the front or rear of the reel. Most newer reels have front drag selectors, as it requires fewer parts. 

Line roller

It is a little bearing that connects with the bait at the top of the reel. The line roller will work with the bail to wrap the fishing line around the spool. 

Commonly, the line roller has a bearing to increase its mobility. But not all reels have this feature. Thus, try to invest in a reel that has a bearing in the line roller. 

Line rollers typically have a graphite or aluminum core. But you might find reels with brass or even rollers made with gold. Regardless of the material, you should always verify that they spin without problems. 

Keep in mind that you should buy braid-rated line rollers. Otherwise, the line could cut through the roller, rendering it useless. 

Now that you know the basics about each part of the reel, we can dig deeper into the features. It is crucial to understand these basic aspects so you can get the best spinning reel for your money; let’s begin. 

Reel bearings

As you test different reels, you will notice that some of them run smoother than others. The reason is simple, the reel either has more bearings, or they are of higher quality. But what are these so-called bearings? 

They are little metal or ceramic pieces that comprise two rings with little balls in-between them. The balls help to reduce the friction so the two rings can freely spin. Typically, spinning rods have 4 to 6 bearings: one for the gear, another for the handle, one for the anti-reverse system, and one for the line roller. 

Top-notch bearings have a ceramic kernel. Ceramic provides a smoother spin and has a higher resistance to corrosions. The disadvantage is that ceramic is brittle. Thus, if you want a long-lasting reel, try your best nor to drop it or smash it against something hard. 

If two reels have the same number of bearings, you should use the one that has better quality. Remember that quality beat quantity. 

Gear ratio

The gear ratio indicates the number of spins the spool does each time you crank the handle. Reels will come with a label expressing the gear ratio as a numerical relation. For example, a 5:1 ratio means that the spool will do 5 spins each time you crank the handle. 

As you might have guessed, the higher the ratio, the faster is the retrieve. In contrast, lower ratios mean slower retrieve, but more torque. 

The gear ratio selection depends on the fish and your fishing style. For example, if you are targeting massive fishes, you should consider lower ratios. As such reels have higher torque, you will need to apply less power to muscle the fish. 

Line retrieval rate

It expresses the amount of line, in inches, that you can recover per handle turn. It is also referred to as IPT, which stands for inches per turn. 

Materials and construction

As happens with any fishing tackle, the materials have a direct influence on quality, durability, and of course, price. Most reels have a graphite or aluminum core. But you might find plastic reels as well.

Of course, plastic reels have fewer applications, and its usage is limited to young anglers and tiny fishes. Now, aluminum offers durability and strength. But it corrodes in the presence of saltwater. Unless, the fabricant adds a protective coating.

Additionally, aluminum reels are heavy. It might not look like a big deal, but after some hours, you will regret buying heavy equipment. Some brands make holes in the reel body to reduce the weight. As long as the roles aren’t too big, or too many, they shouldn’t compromise the strength and durability. 

Most mid-range reels have a graphite core. They are lightweight, durable, and more than capable of handling the corrosive nature of saltwater. The only drawback is that graphite is fragile. 

You can find other reels made with metal alloys. These tend to be quite expensive. However, their versatility is worth the extra bucks. 

Line capacity

The spool has a maximum capacity, and it depends on two factors: the spool size and the line weight. For example, take a spool that can accommodate 200 yards of 4-pound line. If you wish to use a heavier line, it will hold less than 200 yards. 

The line capacity is important because some fishes fight more than others. For those fighters, you should pair your rod with a reel with a high line capacity. The same applies if you are practicing deep-water fishing. 

Most spools, if not all, have a label that indicates the line capacity for different line weights. Make sure you check it before buying it. If your budget allows it, go with the biggest spool possible; better be safe than sorry. 


As we said in the previous section, selecting the right drag is essential. Otherwise, your battle will be harder than it needs to be.  

All reels have a label indicating their drag capacity, and it is known as reel rating. You can find reels with a 50-pound rating. However, these are only suitable for real monsters, and the chances are that you can’t handle so much drag by yourself. 

Therefore, our recommendation is to choose a drag according to the line test strength. For example, if you only use 5-pound lines, there is no need to buy a 40-pound rated reel. 

Another important feature of the drag system is how smooth the drag is. High-quality reels have extremely even release of line. And, as long as the money allows it, you should buy such a reel, mainly because they won’t produce vibrations and have a long-lasting build.

Handle position 

Most people neglect this when buying a reel. But it is quite important as it affects the comfort of the reel. There are right-handed, left-handed, and reversible handles 

Typically, right-handed anglers prefer to use left-handed reels. Why? Well, it is easier to manage the rod and weight with your strong arm.

Although uncommon, you can also find reversible reels. 

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Hi! I’m Steven!

I am an avid life long fisherman, having caught over 25,000 fish over the years. My life-long passion for fishing began when my father taught me how to fish at the age of ten. I started to share my extensive knowledge of all things fishing.

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