Summer is here, and you know what that means: It’s time to get out to the lake and catch your first fish of the season (unless you’ve been ice fishing all winter).
There’s nothing better than spending a relaxing morning standing on the dock, looking out over a glittering lake, listening to the peaceful sounds of nature as you work on catching what will perhaps be tonight’s dinner – or maybe just a quick session of catch-and-release.
Either way, fishing is probably one of your favorite pastimes.
But you know what, before you get fishing this summer, you deserve to treat yourself to a brand new fishing reel.
Every fisherman (or woman) deserves the absolute best when it comes to a fishing reel.
No matter what type of fishing you like to do, or your experience level, there is a reel out there for you – and chances are we’ve already found you the best fishing reel.
We compiled a list of the best fishing reels to make your mornings out at the lake go as smoothly as possible.
How We Chose Our Ratings for the Best Fishing Reels
There are a lot of fishing reels out there, and it can be difficult to determine which ones are actually worth it.
It’s not like you can try twenty different ones out and then decide which one is right for you.
That’s why we primarily looked for fishing reels that fishing experts have repeatedly tested and approved, and then looked specifically into the various features of each.
These fishing reels are the best because they work hard, cast a long line, and provide durability so you can have a truly excellent fishing experience.
We also looked for fishing reels made with both aluminum and graphite bodies to suit both fresh and salt water fishing, as well as to provide options for weight.
But no matter the material of the body, we did our research to make sure that these reels are highly durable. The last thing anyone wants is a flimsy reel when you’re trying to reign in a big bass.
Other important factors that we analyzed were the reel size, gear ratio on spinning lines, and overall performance, quality, and value.
Of course, there are tons of different types of fishing reels.
Pretty much any fishing specialty (like ice fishing, fly fishing, saltwater fishing, etc.) has a reel that suits it best. So, that makes our pool of reels to choose from quite expansive.
That’s why we decided to focus primarily on one type of reel: the spinning reel.
What is a Spinning Reel?
You probably used a spinning reel the first time you ever went fishing, and for a good reason.
A spinning reel (also knows as a fixed-spool reel) is perhaps the easiest to master – which makes it the best fishing reel for beginners.
This type of reel was first invented and used in the UK during the 1930s and was then brought over to the United States after World War II.
Since that time, the spinning reel has evolved dramatically (for an in-depth history, click here), but the general concept behind the mechanism has withstood the test of time because of its operational simplicity.
To operate, all you have to do is flip the bail, cast the line, close the bail, and then turn the handle when you’re ready to reel in a catch.
It’s pretty easy.
But that doesn’t mean that spinning reels are “low-tech.” There are plenty of high-quality modern spinners out there that deliver excellent performance no matter what level of fisherman you are.
And that is precisely why we decided to focus on spinning reels on our quest for the best.
The Top 10 Best Spinning or Fixed-Spool Fishing Reels
After review, we determined that these are the best fishing reel options out there if you are looking for a spinning reel.
Whether you’re a beginner or a more seasoned fisherman, these reels will make you smile.
1. Shimano Stradic CI4 + 2500
First let’s just say this: you’re going to see a few Shimano fishing reels on this list.
The Stradic C14 + 2500 is an ultra-lightweight (6.7 ounces to be exact) spinning reel crafted using a Magnumlite rotor, which provides high-performance retrieval and line lay.
It’s also designed with seven bearings to make retrieval smoother than silk, aided by a comfortable knob material.
This reel is intended for the ultra-fine angler using lightweight fluorocarbon, braided or monofilament lines. It’s got a responsive drag, and offers great ergonomic handling.
It’s definitely one of the best spinning reels with excellent ratings from both professionals and amateurs.
2. Okuma Helios SX 30
This Okuma reel is great for both freshwater and inshore saltwater fishing.
The advanced design includes C-40X long-strand carbon fiber construction to deliver both incredible handling and exceptional strength. It’s a well-built, powerful reel that provides high-end quality at a mid-level price.
Internally, the Helios SX fishing reel uses eight stainless steel and corrosion-resistant high-performance bearings and on roller bearing to make retrieval as smooth as possible.
And though we’ve listed the SX-30 here, the model does come in two other sizes to accommodate various fishing needs.
3. Shimano Stella FJ 2500 Spinning Reel
Yes, another Shimano fishing reel – but hey, if you want a precision-made, high-performing fishing reel then you can’t go wrong with this brand.
Smooth and silent, the Stella FJ 2500 is one of the best fishing reels because it runs on seven ball bearings and is machined to the tightest possible tolerances.
The Stella line includes reels with a range of gear ratios from 5.1:1 to 6.2:1, and retrieval speeds ranging from 25 to 40 inches per crank. This makes it very easy to tune to suit a variety of fishing styles and applications.
The drag system is very sensitive, the casting is long and effortless, and the design is sleek and elegant. What more could you ask for?
4. Daiwa BG 3000
- 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: 37.4"
If you want a reel that will last you for many, many years – then get this one.
The Daiwa BG 3000 just might be indestructible.
Both the body and the side cover of this spinning reel are made from Daiwa’s Hard Bodyz material – a black anodized aluminum that’s both super tough and lightweight. It also has a waterproof drag system, which you will find adds to its longevity and durability.
It uses seven ball bearings, is quite smooth on the retrieve, and casts fairly well. And best of all, it does all of this at an affordable price point.
Plus, the 3000 model is also heavy-duty enough to handle inshore saltwater species.
5. Pfleuger President Spinning Reel
- Durable spinning fishing reel ideal for both seasoned anglers and casual hobbyists
- 10 bearing system with 9 corrosion-resistant stainless steel ball bearings and instant anti-reverse bearing
- Aircraft-grade aluminum handle and graphite body and rotor offer extreme durability
Thanks to its graphite construction, the Pfleuger President is both super lightweight and ideal for saltwater fishing (graphite can withstand the corrosive properties of saltwater).
The reel has a smooth and controlled drag because it uses 10 ball bearings, ensuring that you can pull in any fish without snapping the line. It also has a mid-speed gear ratio to retract the line at a reasonable speed without adding any unnecessary stress on the line.
In short, it casts like magic and reels in fish smoothly and quickly.
And, with its anti-reverse handle, you can rest assured that your hook will set in quickly and securely.
6. Penn Spinfisher V Spinning Reel
- Watertight spinning reel performs reliably in saltwater and sand environments
- Durable construction with full metal body, side plate, and rotor and heavy-duty aluminum bail wire
- Sealed HT-100 Slammer drag system provides robust, silky-smooth drag, while friction trip ramp prevents premature bail...
Another contender for the best fishing reel to use in saltwater fishing is the Pen Spinfisher V – though you can also use it for freshwater fishing.
The reel’s watertight and full metal construction makes it able to handle years of saltwater exposure.
However, the real star factor of this reel is the excellent drag system. The HT-Slammer drag system provides super smooth retrieve with five stainless steel ball bearings and medium-speed gear ratio.
The Spinfisher V has very long casting range, a super line spool, and an instant anti-reverse handle to ensure the hook latches onto the fish tightly.
7. Shimano Nasci 2500 Reel
Another quality reel from Shimano, the Nasci 2500 spinning reel provides a decent overall performance and smooth retrieval.
It features Shimano’s high-performance Hagane Gear and CoreProtect to increase the gear strength and ensures an exceptionally smooth reeling experience – no matter the fishing conditions.
The four stainless steel bearings and single roller bearing offer smooth, assured performance – especially since the GFree body technology move the center of gravity closer to the rod and to the angler’s hand position.
Basically, the winding is efficient, the retrieval is smooth, and the overall performance is ideal.
8. Lew’s Mach II Metal Speed Spin Fishing Reel
This Lew’s reel is a low-cost reel that doesn’t look, feel or perform like a low-cost fishing reel.
In fact, this fishing reel is one of the best because it feels solid, casts a long range, and is constructed with durable aluminum – and both the body and skeletal rotor are made with aluminum to add to its durability.
That being said, this reel doesn’t have the smoothest retrieval. However, it makes up for it in other areas.
For example, the knob is slightly oversized and made with Lew’s Custom SoftTouch for comfortable control over the reel. It’s also lightweight, yet strong with its C40 carbon skeletal rotor, and has a stainless steel bail wire.
Basically, it’s a great reel considering the very low price. So if you’re on a budget, then this is the best fishing reel for you.
9. KastKingSharky III 1000 Spinning Reel
- NEXT-GEN - The brand new design KastKing Sharky III spinning reels are built tough to land trophy fish in all fishing...
- PURE POWER - You will love Sharky III spinning reel's amazing best-in-class up to 39.5LBs / 18KG of smooth, reliable...
- K.I.S.S. - Sharky III spinning reels are sealed with a KISS! Sharky III has a unique protection water resistant design...
Made to handle both fresh and saltwater use, this reel is powerful yet affordable.
The body of the reel is carbon-reinforced graphite, which can handle a heavy load. It has a 15-pound triple-disc carbon drag, heavy bail, and a precision manganese brass alloy gear train.
It’s also braid ready, well sealed, and runs smooth and quietly under moderate loads. However, under heavy loads, it does get quite noisy, and the line tends to twist.
Otherwise, it’s a solid, low-cost spinning reel for mid-weight use.
10. Abu Garcia Revo S
- Lightweight spinning fishing reel with X-Craftic gearbox design and a durable C6 carbon body
- 7 stainless steel HPCR bearings and 1 roller bearing offer long-lasting durability and smooth operation
- IM-C6 body design provides exceptional durability without excess weight
Last but not least is the Abu Garcia Revo S fishing reel – a mid-range spinning reel that delivers solid performance all around.
The body of this particular reel is crafted with C6 carbon, which helps maintain gear alignment even when it’s pulling in a tough fish.
It’s also engineered for precise casting with slow oscillation that results in an even line lay and a Rocket Spool Lip design that controls the rate at which the line comes off the spool.
The maximum drag on this reel is about 12 pounds, but it is possible that it can go higher. The Carbon Max drag system is very popular because of this – plus it’s very smooth.
Overall, it’s a lightweight reel with solid components and a decent drag at a reasonable price.
These are just a handful of the top-rated fishing reels available to you.
We recommend giving one of these a try because of their excellent features and ratings, but that doesn’t mean you can’t explore other options. The most important thing is that you find a fishing reel that suits your fishing preferences and style.
When looking for the best fishing reel, just be sure to keep an eye on the drag systems, spool size and line capacity, frame material, weight, line recovery rate, and bearings.
That perhaps seems like a lot to look for, but just think about how you fish and then jot down some notes about what you want and don’t want in a reel based on your experiences, where you fish and what size fish you usually catch.
From there, you can easily narrow down which fishing reel is right for you and make your days spent fishing the best they can possibly be!
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