Choosing the right reel is crucial for fishing. It has to be compatible with your rod, user friendly, and, ideally, long-lasting. Sadly, it is easier said than done. The market is thriving with different reels. So how do you find the one?
The first step is to narrow the search by brand. Thus, to make things easier, we’ve made a summary of the best fishing reel brands. Here you have them:
- Penn- Trusted, top-tier reels
- Abu Garcia- You can’t go wrong with any of their products
- KastKing- Affordable fishing
- Pflueger- Long-lasting reels and rods
- SHIMANO- Precision and technology at your hand
- Daiwa- Innovation at the grasp of your hand
- Piscifun- A good alternative for KastKing
- Zebco- The best spincast reel brand available
- Okuma- The most affordable fishing reels in the market
- Cadence- Fish and give back
Now, if you wish to know a little bit more about each brand, make sure to keep reading a little longer. We will provide links to some of our reel reviews that will be worth your while. Plus, we will share some bits of advice so you can find the right reel for you.
The Penn brand is a synonym of quality. They have been in the market since 1932 when they released their very first reel: The model F. It was a reel specially designed for long casts. Shortly after, they release another iconic reel, the model K. Since then, Penn has created over 200 different models.
But Penn is not one of the best fishing reels in the market because of its many models. It is the built quality and long-lasting materials that make Penn reels stand out for the rest. But don’t take our word for it. The 1400 IGFA trophies and 2006 saltwater fishing reel of the year award prove this fact.
Swimming to the other side Atlantic, we have this Swedish company: Abu Garcia. Like Penn, they have been in the market for a long time. Since 1921 to be exact.
Initially, they only made taxi timers and pocket watches. Both of them require precision to make; the same skill needed to produce reels. So, it is not a surprise when they started to make them.
Abu Garcia reels are known for their exquisite precision and smooth performance. Of course, this comes at a price and is that these reels are among the most expensive in the market. However, Abu Garcia products are long-lasting. Therefore, the investment will pay itself in time.
KastKing is a relatively new company that manufactures all sorts of fishing tackle, including lines, rods, and reels. It all began in 2011, when two college friends thought of making the affordable fishing tackle, without compromising quality. As expected, this was not an easy task. But in 2013, EPOSEIDON was born with a new, revolutionary formula.
Since then, KastKing products are known for being both affordable and reliable. How did they manage to do so? Quite simple. They cut the middle mand, and handle the distribution by themselves. This allowed them to keep their prices down. Hence, make products that any angler can buy.
It only took them a couple of years before they were able to distribute their products across the 50 states. An incredible milestone for such a small company.
Although their products are cheaper than those of the competition, they are of equal quality. Proof of that is their many awards and best-selling reels such as KastKing Summer and Centrum, Brutus, Royale Legend, and Rover Round models, which are our favorites. The first one is a spinning reel, the second is a spincast reel, and the latter two are baitcasting fishing reels.
So, if you are looking for affordable fishing gear, KastKing has your back.
Pflueger is another American company with a long, proven history. They have been in the market since 1881 when Ernest F. Flueger founded the Enterprise Manufacturing Company. Initially, they only produced fishing hooks. But things changed in 1916 when they released their very first baitcasting reel. The rest, as people say, is history.
Pflueger produces affordable rod and reel combos, which are a great option for those starting in the angling world. But if you already have a rod, you can purchase one of their amazing reels. Our favorite products are those of the president line. Here you can check our review of the spinning and baitcasting versions.
Pflueger produces all their reels with the highest level of care. The result speaks for itself; reliable and long-lasting fishing reel.
It turns out that SHIMANO doesn’t only make bicycle gear. They also produce exceptional fishing gear ranging from shoes, rods, and reels. This happened around 1972 when they decided to enter the fishing niche.
All SHIMANO products have a thing in common: Precision. And the reels are no exception. SHIMANO is constantly looking for new ways to integrate the latest technologies into every design. For example, SHIMANO is one of the few brands that produce electronic fishing reels. Allegedly, this line makes fishing easier as you can program different drags for different fishing techniques.
The only downside of SHIMANO fishing reels is that they are quite expensive. Still, any of their reels are likely to endure a whole lifetime of use and more. If you value our advice, check our Stradic FK and Curado reviews.
Daiwa is another Japanese brand responsible for creating some of the most innovative fishing gear available in the market. For instance, they created the very first open-faced fishing reel back in 1965. This product was the precursor of what we know today as spinning reels. They are widely known for their freshwater fishing reels.
Additionally, in Daiwa, they like to experiment with new materials such as carbon fiber. They were one of the first fishing reel brands to use carbon fiber for their reel body and rotors. But their thirst for new ways to improve their products didn’t stop there. For instance, their latest invention is MAGSEALED, a game-changer seal.
Supposedly, this resistant seal keeps water and dust from getting inside the reel. Thus, reducing the need for maintenance and increasing the reel life. We still have to test this new technology to see whether or not it is better than the current seals.
This brand is quite similar to KastKing. And have also been in the market since 2013. They are known for making quality reels at an affordable price. Like KastKing, they achieve this by cutting the middleman and handling the distribution by themselves.
But don’t get us wrong. They produce affordable reels, but they are of good quality.
Their success in the reel niche allowed them to expand. Now they make rods, lines, and other fishing tackle, including fly fishing gear.
So, if you ever find yourself a little tight on budget, but you need a reel that you can rely on, make sure to check if there are any Piscifun reels around. We can recommend the Piscifun Flame spinning and the Torrent baitcasting reels. Both of them are of decent built quality and are quite affordable.
Zebco, formerly an electric oil drilling bombs company, started producing reels back in 1947 when they came up with a unique design for a spincast reel. The resulting product was a backlash-free reel, which was something never seen before. Since then, Zebco has been the leading brand in the production of top-notch spincast reels for both beginners and seasoned anglers.
Founded in 1986, this Taiwanese fishing company makes some of the most affordable fishing reels you can find in the market. Okuma’s target is beginners who are looking for cheap gear to take their first steps. However, some pro anglers from all around the world use their gear.
Like Daiwa, Okuma engineers like to try and combine new materials to create their products. Additionally, they have an exclusive gear line exclusively for carp fishing. Thus, if you are a carp enthusiast, you should make sure to check this catalog.
If Okuma is a brand that picked your interest, make sure to check our review of the Okuma Ceymar. It is, hand down, the best reel from this brand.
Cadence gear is getting better with time. They make both spinning and baitcaster reels as well as rods. And, as Pflueger, they also offer affordable, entry-level rod and reel combos for beginners.
All Cadence products come with a one-year warranty. Plus, with each purchase, Cadence gives fishing combos to C.A.S.T for kids. It is a foundation that teaches kids with special needs how to fish. In Cadence, they believe in giving back.
We recommend checking the Cadence CS8 if you are planning on getting a reliable spinning reel from them.
What to Look for When Buying a New Reel
Now, you know ten of the most reliable reel brands in the market, it is time to review some important features that you should look into when buying a new reel.
Like we said before, your next fishing reel should be compatible with your current rod, long-lasting, and user friendly. Most of the reels from any of the brands listed here have all three. So, any of them is a safe bet. Still, we will take some lines to review some important things that you should look into before making any purchase.
This is the first thing that you should look into when buying your next fishing reel. As you might have guessed, the line capacity shows how much fishing line the reel can hold. Of course, this depends on the type of line and the breaking strength. Typically, heavier lines are thicker. Hence, they take more space in the spool than lighter lines. Not all reels can hold the same amount and type of line.
So, the thing that you must consider is to buy a spool that can handle the amount of line that you need for fishing. Bear in mind that you will need heavier lines to fight aggressive fishes. Therefore, your reel, regardless of the type, should be able to handle it
A general rule of thumb is to go for the reel with the largest line capacity possible. As long as the budget allows it, of course.
Most reels have the gear ratio engraved within the body. Most have a numerical ratio like 5:1 or 4:1, or with color codes. Either way, it is important to know what a gear ratio is.
For example, a 5:1 ratio means that the spool will make 5 turns each time you crack the reel handle. Higher ratios mean that you will be able to reel the line faster, but with less torque. Thus, leave faster reels for tiny fishes. And, slower ones for massive species.
Choosing a reel with the right drag is crucial. The systems consist of a series of felt discs that apply pressure to the line. Thus, preventing the fish from taking the line out of the spool and keeping the hook deep in its mouth.
The maximum drag changes from reel to reel. They can go all the way up to 50 pounds, which is more than enough for large fishes. Plus, most reels have a drag selection system. You can choose the amount of drag that you need by merely rotating the dial.
Make sure that the line can handle the amount of drag you are choosing.
Like with everything, the materials are key to determine the reel’s quality. Most reels either have graphite, aluminum, or metallic body. Graphite reels are lighter, typically cheaper, and are resistant to corrosion. In contrast, reels with metallic bodies are heavier, but they can handle more tension as well
Best Fishing Reel Brands
We know that choosing the right gear is not an easy task. But we are here to help. The first thing that you should look into is the reel brand. Why? Well, most of the reliable and long-lasting reels come from a reputable brand, such as KastKing, Penn, SHIMANO, and Okuma.
Which brand you choose depends on your particular needs, and what your likes are. In our opinion, Penn, Abu Garcia, and Pflueger make some of the best reels in the world. If you are looking for a spincast reel, you can’t go wrong with Zebco. And, if you are looking for budget-friendly reels, you should check what KastKing has to offer.
Once you have chosen a brand, it is time to look into the relevant features like line capacity, drag, and construction materials. In the end, the best reel is a relative term, as it depends on how you will be using it.