8 Best Spinning Reels for Catfishing in 2023 – Buyers Guide

Video best spinning reels for catfish

Catching a catfish can be a very exciting experience.

Among numerous catfish species, some specimens are known for their huge size and hard fighting personality.

To make your catfishing experience even better, you should get the right fishing tackle that will be able to do the job. There is nothing more frustrating than a piece of equipment failing in the crucial moment.

One of the most important items is, of course, a proper fishing reel.

After testing a lot of models, in various conditions, I decided to list the best spinning reels for catfishing. Hopefully, this will make your choice easier.

You can read more about the best spinning reels for catfish, and find the answers to some common questions, in the following chapters:

What Should I Look for When Buying a Spinning Reel for Catfishing?

Choosing the right spinning reel for catfish can be a tedious task, especially if you don’t know exactly what you are looking for.

The first thing I am going to mention, is that you should always choose reels made by reputable manufacturers. Depending on your personal preference, you can choose among variety of models. You can get them for a good price, and saving a few dollars to buy some shady reel is not worth it.

Among reel features, consider the following:

Reel size in accordance with targeted fish

Catfish come in all shapes and sizes.

Average anglers, and beginners, who use spinning reels for catfishing, usually catch smaller and medium sized specimens. You do not need the same reel as a professional going for a monster size wels catfish.

But, although you may be targeting smaller ones, avoid light freshwater reels, as those will not be sufficient. Avoid those smaller than size 4000. You can choose among saltwater reels, because those are usually more resilient and sturdier.

Line capacity

Catfish are heavy and strong fish, so you will probably use heavier fishing lines.

Those will occupy a lot of space on your spool, due to their diameter. Choose reels that can accommodate a lot of line length. You are going to need for catfish.


Drag is crucial for catching big catfish. Those will cause large shocks to your line and equipment and pull your line hard.

Drag system can prevent the line from snapping and it enables you to control the fish better. Drag has to operate smoothly under tension, and cheap reels usually do not have a smooth drag.

Gear ratio

Slow reels are not going to be sufficient for catfishing. You will be required to reel in a lot of line when fighting a large catfish, and for that, you need faster reels.

If you are searching for a reel for occasional catfish fishing, and you plan to catch smaller specimens, than you can get away with the slower model. Check out more about what does the gear ration on a fishing reel mean …

Ball bearings

The more the merrier is some general rule, however, it is not always true. Reels with fewer ball bearings can outperform those with more bearings, if they are quality made, instead of cheap ones.

Ball bearings enable precise and distant casting, and smooth reel operation.

This are the most important features to look for in quality reels that will withstand long-term use and larger fish.

8 Best Spinning Reels for Catfishing

Here is a list of the best spinning reels for catfishing.

I am going to mention basic features, together with some pros and cons of each reel. These details should help you make an informed decision, based on your personal needs and wishes.

#1: Daiwa BG Spinning Catfish Reel

Daiwa is known for dependable and well-made reels, suitable for all experience levels, at an affordable price. And among best catfish spinning reels this one must be mentioned.

This Daiwa catfish reel is quite sturdy and strong. The body is made from aluminum.

Drag system is waterproof and well protected.

This reel is also braid ready so that you can use the line you want with ease.

The 6+1 ball bearings are enough to ensure smooth reel operation, and models above 4500 have manual return bail. Maximum drag for this size is 22lb/10kg, and for larger models like 8000 it is 33lb/15kg.

This reel is a bit on the slower side, with gear ratio 5.6:1.

Line capacity is quite well, and for a 4500 size it is 20lb/210 yd for mono. For 8000 size line capacity is 20lb/550yd.

Daiwa BG spinning reel – in my opinion, this reel feels, looks, and performs really well (#ad).

It is a bit heavy so beginners could find it a bit uncomfortable (size 4500 weighs 1lb/0,45kg), but keep in mind that this is a reel you will use for quite powerful fish.

For more info and prices check the following links – Amazon (#ad) or eBay (#ad).

Best Spinning Reels for Catfishing Catfish - Daiwa BG

#2: Shimano Stradic FL Spinning Catfish Reel

If you are looking for Shimano catfish reel, then this model is for you.

Stradic FL is quality spinning reel and a great fishing tool to have..

Hagane body is one of the best-known innovations from Shimano, and because of that, this reel is very strong and rigid. It is so stiff and resistant to impacts that you won’t notice any flexing.

This reel is a bit lighter than the previously mentioned one.

Another innovation made by Shimano on their reels, including this model too, is that the center of gravity is moved closer to the rod. This will enable you to fish longer with less stress on your wrist. It will also make casting much easier.

The reel has 6+1 bearings and it is incredibly smooth.

When it comes to gear ratio, it is 5.3:1 for ST4000FL, 5.8:1 for ST4000MHGFL and 6.2:1 for ST4000XGFL model. Maximum drag for 4000 model is 24lb/11kg.

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I am very satisfied with this reel and it is one of the smoothest reels I have tried within this price range.

Line capacity for mono is 15lb/280yd.

For more info and prices check the following links – Amazon (#ad) or eBay (#ad).

#3: Penn Spinfisher VI Spinning Catfish Reel

Spinfisher VI is a great Penn catfish reel.

This reel is available in numerous sizes, up to 10500, which is enough for very large catfish specimens.

It has 5+1 stainless steel ball bearings and operates really smoothly. Balanced rotor ensures steady and precise retrieve.

Body is completely sealed so you can use this reel in any conditions and no impurities will find a way in.

Gear ratio is quite fast, 6.2:1 for a 4500 size. Larger models are slower, going all the way down to 4.2:1 for the largest one.

There is one excellent feature that you may find useful and that is live liner system with 4 positions. These positions increase the rear drag when that is necessary. Each user can adjust it with provided tool, and with one handle turn, you can disengage this mechanism.

CNC gear technology ensures durability and precision. This reel is also quite light, and 4500 size weighs 0,78lb/0,34kg. It is comfortable to use even for a longer period of time. Maximum drag on this size is 20lb/9kg.

Line capacity for the same size is 12lb/235yd for mono.

For a decent price, this reel works really well and I would definitely use it again.

For more info and prices check the following links – Amazon (#ad) or eBay (#ad).

#4: Shimano Sedona FI Spinning Catfish Reel

Sedona FI is a famous Shimano Catfish spinning reel, and it is another Shimano reel on this list.

Shimano used their Hagane gear technology to ensure very smooth reel operation and durability, even after long and rough use.

Large model, 8000 size has cross carbon drag which is an excellent feature for fighting very large fish.

With this reel you can achieve very long casting distance with no effort, and that is one of the things I really like about it.

The 4000 size has 3+1 ball bearings but they are so well made that this slightly lower number has no negative inspects on reel smoothness. Maximum drag on this size is 24lb/11kg.

Line capacity is 12lb/160yd which is a bit less than some of the previously mentioned reels. Gear ratio is 6.2:1 which is great.

Another great feature is that this reel is very light and weighs 0,63lb/0,29kg.

Here you can also check my comparison: Shimano Sedona vs Sahara.

For more info and prices check the following links – Amazon (#ad) or eBay (#ad).

#5: Okuma Avenger Spinning Catfish Reel

Okuma Avenger is the last among the best spinning reels for catfish.

This is an excellent reel, available in different sizes, at more than a reasonable price.

It has 6+1 ball bearings and it feels really smooth and precise. New models have cyclonic flow rotors that create the airflow through the rotor and dries it up fast to prevent any damage or corrosion. This is a cool feature, especially for beginners who often forget that they have to take proper care of their equipment.

Body is made from graphite and the reel is quite light. The 4000 size weighs 0.6lb/0,28kg.

This reel is a bit on a slower side, with gear ratio 5.0:1.

Line capacity is 12lb/185yd, which is enough for the majority of catfishing. Maximum drag is 17lb/8kg, which is a bit low when compared to other reels on this list.

Casting distance that you can achieve is good, but not as good as with some other previously mentioned reels.

I really like this reel because it is simple, well made, and cheap.

For more info and prices check the following links – Amazon (#ad) or eBay (#ad).

#6: KastKing Summer and Centron

These reels are available in sizes from 2000 to 5000. Of course, for catfish, you have to choose from the upper size range.

Summer and Centron are great for beginners as they offer a lot of features for an incredibly low price. Both are very well-balanced and due to graphite body, very light.

Instant stop anti reverse and 9 ball bearings ensure smooth operation. Line capacity is good, 40lbs./180yds for 4000 reel size when it comes to Centron model. The same size model has 17.5 lbs. of drag that operates precisely even under heavy loads.

Gear ratio in larger sizes is 4.5:1, which is on a slower side. Power launch lip enables smooth and distant casts due to low friction. As a beginner, you will appreciate this feature a lot.

Weight of the 4000 size is 12.1oz/0.34 kg, which is good for a strong reel that doesn’t cost a fortune, although it could be a bit lighter. You really start to feel the weight after the whole day of fishing.

Summer model is the same when it comes to all important features, and the only noticeable difference is the color, as this one is white instead of black. Also, Summer weighs 12.5oz.

For more info and prices check the following links – Amazon (#ad) or eBay (#ad).

#7: KastKing Megatron

This reel is well made and very durable, as it is rated for saltwater use. When using it for catfish in freshwater, you can rest assured that it will last for a long time.

Aluminum alloy frame looks nice, but it is also extremely strong. Brass pinion gear and zinc main drive gear ensure excellent performance.

Carbon fiber drag delivers up to 39lbs. of power for fighting strong fish like catfish. Double shielded stainless steal ball bearings are well protected and you can be sure that no dirt will enter your reel. It is also resistant to corrosion. These 7 ball bearings are well-made.

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It is available in sizes 2000 to 6000. Larger, catfish-suitable sizes have gear ratio 4.5:1. Largest, 6000 model, has braided line capacity 65/195, which is enough for almost any conditions.

The only thing that I would like to improve is the bail. On some occasions, the bail flipped in the middle of casting, which can be a bit annoying. This usually doesn’t happen with other reels, so I’m not sure is it my fault or it is a design feature done wrong.

When it comes to weight, it is a bit heavier, and the largest one weighs 13.4oz/0.37kg. The reel is well balanced, and considering its price, I am more than satisfied with its performance.

For more info and prices check the following links – Amazon (#ad) or eBay (#ad).

#8: Abu Garcia Revo X

And last but not the least among catfish spinning reels is Revo X.

Abu Garcia is another excellent brand, and it makes great reels for catfish. Abu Garcia Revo X Spinning Fishing Reel is durable, precise, and long lasting.

It has 6 stainless steel ball bearings and one roller bearing that ensure smooth operation while protected from corrosion.

Stainless steel is used for main shaft and other components too, while the rotor is graphite. This combination makes it resistant and lightweight at the same time.

Hybrid drag system called Carbon Matrix provides excellent drag performance on this Abu Garcia model.

Line management and special spool lip ensure even line distribution across the spool, minimize frequent line problems and reduce drag. The spool is braid ready so you don’t have think about mono backing.

It comes in sizes from 10 to 40. Gear ration is 6.2:1 and max drag goes from 10 to 13 lb depending on a size. Line capacity (yd/lb) is good, ranging from 150/6 to 210/14 for braids.

What I love the most on this reel is casting, which is so effortless and precise.

For more info and prices check the following links – Amazon (#ad).

FAQs about Spinning Reels for Catfishing:

I already mentioned what to look for in a catfishing reel, and listed the best spinning reels for catfishing.

In case you have more questions or doubts, here are a few more answers that could help.

Best Spinning Reels for Catfishing Catfish - Buyers Guide

What Size of Spinning Reel do I need for Catfishing?

When it comes to the size, it really depends on your needs.

I already mentioned this before, however, many new anglers tend to go a bit over the top.

You do not need 10 000 size for an average sized catfish. In my opinion, 4000 or a bit bigger are more than enough. With 6000 size you can catch quite a big fish.

Additionally, those targeting very large fish will have to invest in a serious rod.

Medium sized reels can be paired with many rods, and used in other purposes, not just catfishing.

So, if you want to have one setup for many uses, go with about 4000-5000 size. That is also the reason why I compared this size in all the mentioned reels.

Also, don’t go too small. Some very experienced anglers are able to land a large fish on a 2000 size reel, but this is not something that should be done on a daily basis. Small reels are not strong enough and they can’t hold enough line for a proper catfishing experience.

What is the Best Gear Ratio for Catfishing Spinning Reel?

This is also a bit complicated question and it greatly depends on your experience level and what will you use the reel for.

I already mentioned that slow reel is not the best option, although technically, it could work for smaller catfish.

Some medium gear ratio, around 6.0:1 will be the most versatile. With a bit of technique, you can make it work in both slower and faster presentations.

Slow reels will not be sufficient when fighting a huge specimen, while extremely fast reels will only be useful for certain baits and techniques, which is not something a beginner would use, especially when catfishing.

Is Spinning Reel Really the Best for Catfishing?

The reason why spinning reels are so popular for all kinds of fishing, including catfishing, is that these reels are easy to use, beginners can handle them, and for a relatively small price, you can get a great product.

Some anglers are using baitcasters, and there are a lot of rods to be paired with those. These reels, at least the big ones, have larger line capacity and you can choose almost any gear ratio you want.

You can use both, but keep in mind that you will rarely find a freshwater spinning reel that can withstand a catfish, so you will have to go with sturdier and tougher saltwater reels.

You can use both types, or start with a spinning one to gain some experience if you are a new angler. Some people use spinning reels for decades and are perfectly able to catch a huge catfish with no need for a baitcaster.

If you really want to use a baitcaster, I have a good recommendation for you. Abu Garcia Ambassadeur reel has everything you need. Reasonable price, durability, precision, and quality. It is a round baitcaster reel that comes in two sizes. Abu Garcia 5500 is a smaller version, while Abu Garcia 6500 is a bit bigger. Both are suitable for fighting aggressive catfish.

And the third type, spincasting reels, are not suitable for this purpose and shouldn’t be used for catfishing.

What Company Makes the Best Catfishing Spinning Reels?

The most important thing is to choose a product made from a reputable manufacturer.

By doing so, you can be sure that you got a dependable and long lasting reel, that works in a way it should.

Choosing the best company depends on your preference. Some anglers buy from one manufacturer only and are extremely brand loyal. Some will tell you that Shimano is the best, while others will never buy a reel if it was not made by Daiwa.

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I like to give different products a chance and see what works the best. If I had to pick one manufacturer from this list, it would probably be Daiwa or Shimano, although Penn comes really close with the Spinfisher VI reel.

Modern reels made by these manufacturers will last long and won`t let you down in crucial moments.

What are the Benefits of a Catfishing Spinning Reels?

And in the end, you may want to know what are all the benefits of catfishing spinning reels.

Some of those benefits were already mentioned, however, I am going to list them all here.

Easy to use

Almost any beginner will state this fact as a determining factor when choosing a reel. Having such a reel enables you to focus on fishing instead of the equipment.


Another great thing about these reels is low price and the fact they are widely available. Also, suitable rods for these reels can be purchased easily and they cost less. So, the whole setup will be more affordable.


Yes, large baitcasters can hold a lot of line, but those are a bit heavier and will make your hand hurt quite fast. Smaller baitcasters, similar to same weight and diameter spinning reels, can hold a bit less line. Even the larger spinning reels are easier to balance because they are mounted below the rod.

Easy to cast

Achieving great casting distances is easier with spinning rods. This is especially important for beginners and recreational anglers.

Are There Any Good Rod and Reel Combos for Catfish?

Equipment for beginners should be versatile, affordable, and easy to use. For this reason, combo equipment may be a good option. Your rod and reel have to match perfectly and choosing the right items for a specific purpose can be challenging.

If you are searching for the best catfish rod and reel, think about getting a combo. It is a perfect match made by manufacturer, and it is often cheaper than buying separately. Just make sure that it is strong enough for such powerful fish. Many combos on the market are very light, so choose wisely.

One of the best rod and reel combo for catfish is Zebco Bite Alert (#ad).

This 7 ft rod and size 60 reel are strong enough for catfish. The reel even comes pre-spooled so you can use it immediately. Medium-heavy power and medium action rod is versatile, so you can use it for some other fishing adventures too. The reel has adjustable drag that works excellent, and although it has 2 ball bearings only, it performs well. And the best of all, bite alert will give you both audio and visual signals that a hungry catfish is biting!

Are Penn Reels Good for Catfishing?

Penn reels are very popular and affordable, but many anglers ask are they good enough for catfish. The answer is YES, they are. One is even included on this list.

Of course, some high-end manufactures make better ones, but considering price-performance ratio, Penn is excellent. Models like 525 Mag are great if you know how to use a baitcatser. The same goes for Penn 320GT2.

Of course, if you prefer spinning ones, among best Penn spinning reels is another great model that was not included on the list, and that is PENN Fierce II & Fierce III Spinning Fishing Reel (#ad). Both are available in numerous sizes, and you can get a perfect one for catfish.

These reels are strong, dependable, and some are even saltwater rated. When used in freshwater, they can last for years if you take good care of them. Gear ratio of Fierce models is perfect for catfish, and so is every other feature, including line capacity, and smooth and dependable drag system.

All Penn catfish reels are very reliable.

What Fishing Line to Use on Spinning Reel for Catfish?

Choosing a fishing line may seem easy, but many beginners have problems with it. For catfishing, I would advise you to use mono lines, and there are many reasons why.

First of all, mono is easy to use, spool, and tie knots. If you are new to all this, it is a perfect line for learning.

Secondly, it is almost invisible under water, and there is no chance that it will spook the fish.

But why is it good for catfish? The answer is because of stretch. Mono can stretch more than braided line, and it will behave like a suspension when fishing for large and heavy fish like catfish. It will absorb impacts and won`t transfer them to your rod and reel. Some catfish tend to avoid biting a bait if they feel a lot of tension, and they spit it out immediately. Mono lines can help to avoid this problem.

The only downside is that it is thicker than braided line of the same strength, so you won’t be able to spool as much length.

It is resistant to abrasion, cheap, and beginner friendly.

Of course, braided lines can be used if you want, and in some limited cases they can perform better, but all together, mono is my preferred choice.

Best Spinning Reels for Catfishing - Mono Line


Catching a catfish, especially a large one, is not an easy task.

You have to use strong and dependable fishing equipment, that can withstand such a powerful and heavy fish.

One of the most important pieces of equipment is the reel, and hopefully you found the one you like on the best spinning reels for catfish list.

Spinning reels have a lot of advantages, and anglers like to use them even in the most demanding fishing conditions.

So, choose the one you like and test it on your next catfishing trip!

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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 >>