Best Spinning Reels for Fishing

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Video best shimano spinning reel

When deciding which spinning reel to buy for fishing, there are options to weigh. So I’m going to run through how I decide if a spinning reel is good or not when I’m at a store. I hope this will help other anglers make good choices when choosing spinning reels.

Smoothness of retrieve

In my opinion, smoothness of the retrieve is the single biggest factor in a quality spinning reel. If you can’t tell what your bait is doing as you fish it because of your reel, then you are at a substantial disadvantage when it comes to fishing with spinning reels. Yes you can catch fish with a low end reel. But you’re also missing a lot more fish that you never knew bit. You’re also not making as precise presentations so you’re not getting bit as much. Disadvantaged. Without even knowing it most of the time.

It’s the first test I do with every spinning reel. I pick up the reel and feel how much pressure it takes to turn the handle. This is known as startup inertia. If it takes more than the slightest pressure, then you are not going to feel your bait very well. The harder the reel is to turn, the harder it will be to feel your lighter lures on a retrieve.

Drag consistency

The next most important component in a spinning reel is the consistency of the drag. So if you hook a fish, you don’t want the drag to “catch” before it starts releasing line. You want it to smoothly and slowly release line under the correct pressure it should start and stop effortlessly when needed and be consistent throughout.

You can do a quick check of the drag by adjusting the tension knob and turn the spool backwards while holding the reel fixed. You want to hear a consistent pinging of the drag as you wind the spool back.

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Learn more about setting the drag.

Castability of spool

A spool that releases line effortlessly is also important. A lot of times this can be overcome by using a bit larger spool. The larger the spool, especially a larger shallow spool will uncoil line better on a cast. Companies like Daiwa and Shimano have perfected their spools for the best casting performance on their higher end reels.

Line management

The other thing that affects casting is good line management. A poorly made or adjusted spinning reel will have the line get up under the spool too much and or criss cross the line too much because the spool travels too fast and too much as the roller oscillates around the spool. So I also prefer reels manufactured to use precision line winding to keep your line tight and clean on the spool so you deal with a lot less loops, knots and line under the spool.

Another thing that helps with line management is closing your bail by hand. If you will close the bail with your hand instead of turning the reel to close the bail, you will get a lot less loops or overruns in your reel on subsequent casts.

Durability

The materials a reel are made out of obviously matter as well. While composite reels are fine, they will have more play over time and they will break easier under too much force. So you have to be mindful. Most of the time as long as you’re not jerking on snags, steping on the reel on the deck or dropping it on the pavement, you’re usually going to be fine.

Now reels need to be cleaned if used in saltwater and the better ones are water sealed to keep saltwater and other corrosion and deposits out of the moving parts. And saltwater reels are generally made with stronger stems. This added strength and durability in saltwater reels usually comes at a premium.

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Brand

Brand has been a good determination of good spinning reels in the past. The big three in spinning reels definitely have to be Shimano, Daiwa and Abu Garcia. But there are a lot of good spinning reels being made by several companies. That’s why we sought to bring some more reels into this guide so you can be more familiar with a larger base of options.

Reel supply has diminshed the last two years. Because of this, you may not be able to get your hands on some of the top reels. So using the other factors we’ve listed above will help you evaluate reels from brands you’re not as familiar with.

Price

My advice with reels, especially spinning reels is buy the best reel you can afford. Good fishing reels will last you a decade if you take care of them. So you’re investing in many years of use. But you can also buy some cheaper reels and just replace them more often as they break or diminish.

Price usually increases as manufacturers add features and components.

Generally speaking, an 11-bearing reel will be more expensive than a 5-bearing reel. But it will also generally be a lot smoother and quieter. A reel that has functionality built into the spool, the gears, the drag, the oscillation systems, and more technologies will obvious increase the price of a reel. And the materials can increase the price as well. A reel frame made out of magnesium will be stronger and lighter but also much more expensive than a composite frame.

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So this best spinning reels buyers’ guide should not only keep you up to date on good reels as we will add more to it as we go, but it will also help you make your own sound decisions on good equipment in the future. Let us know your favorite brands on our social pages.

SPINNING REEL COMPARISON CHART

Model

Price

Bearings

Gear Ratio

Specifications

Shimano Stella FK 2500HG

$749

13

5.8:1

7.4 ounces; 10/120 mono

Shimano Exsence 4000MXG

$549

12

6.2:1

8.6 ounces; 10/195 braid

Shimano Vanford 4000XG

$249

8

6.2:1

7.6 ounces; 10/200

Shimano Miravel 3000HG

$129

6

6.2:1

7.2 ounces; 10/200 braid

Shimano NASCI 2500HG

$99

6

6.2:1

8.5 ounces; 8/140 mono

Shimano Sahara FJ C3000HG

$85

5

6.2:1

8.5 ounces; 10/140 mono

Shimano Nexave C3000HG

$49

4

6.2:1

9 ounces; 10/140 mono

Daiwa Ballistic MQ LT2500D-XH

$229

9

6.2:1

6.9 ounces; 10/250 braid

Daiwa Procyon AL 2500D-XH

$189

7

6.2:1

8.3 ounces; 10/210 braid

Abu Garcia Zenon SP30

$549

11

6.2:1

5.4 ounces; 10/140 mono

Abu Garcia Rocket

$199

10

7.6:1

7.6 ounces; 10/140 mono

Abu Garcia Revo SX30

$169

9

6.2:1

7.8 ounces; 10/140 mono

Abu Garcia Revo X20

$119

7

6.2:1

7.5 ounces; 8/120 mono

Abu Garcia Revo Winch 30

$169

9

4.8:1

7.9 ounces; 10/140 mono

PENN Authority 2500

$499

13

5.7:1

11.9 ounces; 15/220 braid

PENN Clash II 2500

$219

9

6.2:1

8.8 ounces; 8 /175 braid

Pflueger Patriarch 35X

$219

11

5.2:1

7.3 ounces 10/150 braid

Lew’s Custom Lite CL200

$159

11

6.2:1

6.6 ounces; 8/160 braid

13 Fishing Aerois 2.0

$135

10

6.2:1

8.5 ounces; 10/155 braid

Piscifun Viper X 2000

$39

11

6.2:1

8.5 ounces; 15/150 braid

Favorite Phantom 2000

$99

9

5.2:1

10 ounces; 10/175 braid

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Sean Campbell’s love for hunting and outdoor life is credited to his dad who constantly thrilled him with exciting cowboy stories. His current chief commitment involves guiding aspiring gun handlers on firearm safety and shooting tactics at the NRA education and training department. When not with students, expect to find him either at his gunsmithing workshop, in the woods hunting, on the lake fishing, on nature photoshoots, or with his wife and kid in Maverick, Texas. Read more >>