Choosing the best spinning reel for your needs is doubly tricky. On the one end, you have to select one model from the hundreds available on the market. On the other hand, you’ve to ensure that the reel you end up picking is made for your fishing environment.
You also have to verify how the reel you’re looking at performs in metrics like features, operations, and line control. You then need to check out its ball bearings, line capacity, maximum drag, gear ratio, among other things. Feel like giving up?
In this article, we’ve rigorously tested the top 15 spinning reels on the metrics mentioned above.
Related: Best Baitcasting Reels of 2021
Spinning Reels Comparison Chart
Penn Slammer III
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Abu Garcia Revo IKE
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Shimano Vanford F
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Penn Battle II
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KastKing S & C
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Lew's Pro Speed Spin
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Quantum Cabo PT
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PENN Pursuit III
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Shimano Baitrunner D
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SHIMANO Stradic FL
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|Who It's For||A favorite choice for fishing charter captains||Saltwater anglers||Advanced Bass Anglers||Anglers targeting smaller catches||those looking for durability/quality under $100||Anglers target inshore species||Anglers looking for a budget price tag||Recommended for surfcasters||Trout anglers||Freshwater fishing from shore or land||Adventurous offshore anglers||Those targeting species of catfish||High-speed reel for live baiting||Those enjoys light tackle fishing||Anglers hitting long range spots|
|What It Is||PENN Slammer III has few peers as far as durability is concerned and it's virtually maintenence-free.||The Daiwa BG Spinning Reel has an infinite anti-reverse system, protects its internal parts with an anodized machined aluminum housing and ensures a fast retrieve.||The Abu Garcia Revo Ike is an affordably priced reel that offers power, comfort and control. It has all the features to be a must-have for average and professional anglers alike.||You can use the Shimano Vanford F in all sort of environments. These include sweet water, fresh water, saltwater and ice-cold water.||Because of its sealed drag system. Anglers also appreciate the fact that it exposes their hands to minimal line twist, even when dealing with heavy catch.||The Penn Battle II is equipped with a superior construction, has a superline spool and anti-reverse switch, and is braid ready.||The KastKing Summer & Centron offers a bigger fishing line capacity than their predecessors, feature a high-powered drag system and have still managed to keep them lightweight.||The Tsunami-Shield is an ideal reel for anglers who like to search for large-size catch in large-size water bodies.||Because of its strong and lightweight magnesium frame, an ergonomically-friendly EVA knob and a carbon fiber drag system that delivers under pressure||This is an excellent reel for anglers who like high-strength gears and like a reel with a Speed Keeper hook keeper.||The Quantum Cabo is an ultra-powerful reel with an upgraded drag clicker and a three-year warranty. Anglers who can afford to spend over the odds on a reel won’t regret buying it.||The Pursuit III has a competitive price but offers high-end features. Including a lightweight & corrosion-resistant graphite body, the immensely popular HT-100 drag system.||Given the fact that this spinning reel is available in four models, most people can easily find the right sized model for the type of fish they want to target.||The Daiwa Saltist comes in multiple models and covers a wide spectrum of baits and lures. Its users love this mid-priced reel that helps them target mid-to-large-sized pelagic fish.||The Shimano Stradic FL reel features various impressive technologies, has addressed the shortcomings of its predecessors, and can easily be switched to left or right-hand orientation.|
|Pros||Easy to maintain; improved version of best-selling reel; preferred choice of pros||Smooth retrieval; solidly built; rust-resistant; anti-reverse||Pocket-friendly; won’t vibrate; highly responsive||Inhibits corrosion; bold design; seamless operation||Sealed against water/dust; zero line twisting; lightweight||Smooth drag; braid-ready; durable bearings||Eye-catching; long line capacity; powerful drag||Keeps water out; won’t let rust creep up; budget-friendly||Rust-resistant; comfortable handle; lightweight||Speed hook keeper; stainless steel bearings; sturdy gears||Upgraded drag clicker; extended warranty; rust-resistant body||HT-100 drag system; durable; effortless assembling/ disassembling||Wobble-free operation; backlash-proof casting; anti-reverse||Smooth; durable; dirt- and water-resistant||Extended casting range; lightweight; responsive operation; easily adjustable|
|Cons||Heavy; doesn’t come cheap||Painted not anodized||Heavy; uses out-of-favor EVA foam grips||Poor quality washers; some models like carbon-cross drag||Not easy to retrieve||Costly to maintain||Can’t resist rust from creeping up||Overkill for small fish||Could have been stronger||Pricey||Expensive||Noisy drag||Retrieves slowly||Not waterproof||Needs regreasing; post-saltwater-use rinsing needed|
|Bearings||7+1||7||9+1||6+1, 7+1||7 to 10||5+1||9+1||5||10+1||11+1||7+1||5||3+1||8+1||7|
|Drag||30 to 60 lb|
13.6 to 27.2 kg
|4.4 to 33 lb|
2 to 15 kg
|7 to 24 lb|
3.17 to 10.9 kg
|6 to 14 lb|
2.7 to 6.3 kg
|9 to 40 lb|
4.0 to 18.1 kg
|11.0 to 17.5 lb|
5 to 8 kg
|20 to 35 lb|
9 to 15.9 kg
|11 to 20 lb|
5 to 9 kg
|8 to 24 lb|
3.63 to 10.9 kg
|30 to 50 lb|
13.6 to 22.7 kg
|10 to 25 lb|
4.5 to 11.3 kg
|15 to 25 lb|
6.8 to 11.3 kg
|15.4 to 33 lb|
7 to 15 kg
|7 to 24 lb|
3.2 to 10.9 kg
|Weight||13.9 to 43.1 oz||8.5 to 30 oz||6.8 to 7.6 oz||4.9 to 7.8 oz||6.2 to 11.5 oz||7.8 to 38.8 oz||6.9 to 13.5 oz||9.5 to 18.8 oz||6.3 to 8.5 oz||7.3 to 10.1 oz||13.4 to 25 oz||9.8 / 29.1 oz.||13.5 to 30 oz||9.5 to 30 oz||6.5 to 10.4 oz|
|Braid Capacity||310/10 to 540/80||8/220 to 80/440||175/8 to 180/10||5/135 to 50/120||200/4 to 200/20||160/6 to 490/80||15/220 to 65/130||10/220 to 80/220||10/165 to 20/260||100/10, 200/30||30/270, 65/380||240/10, 345/80||15/270 to 80/230||20/240 to 80/440||10/150 to 40/185|
|Mono Capacity||480/4 to 255/50||4/155 to 30/370||120/8 to 175/8||2/270 to 14/165||220/2 to 195/12||275/2 to 230/50||4/240 to 16/245||220/2 to 380/12||6/160 to 10/220||90/6, 190/12||10/230, 20/330||255/6, 230/30||8/240 to 20/265||6/210 to 30/370||2/270, 14/165|
|IPT||37 to 48 " |
94 to 122 cm
|28.3 to 53.3 "|
71.9 to 135.4 cm
|33 to 35 "|
84 to 89 cm
|25 to 40 "|
63.5 to 101.6 cm
|20.2 to 31.6 "|
51 to 80 cm
|22 to 47 "|
56 to 120 cm
|19.7 to 29.1 "|
50 to 74 cm
|25 to 42 "|
63.5 to 106.7 cm
|25 to 38 "|
63.5 to 96.6 cm
|25 to 37 "|
63.5 to 94 cm
|33 to 41 "|
84 to 104 cm
|33 to 43 "|
84 to 109 cm
|28 to 37 "|
71 to 94 cm
|33.2 to 53.3 "|
84.3 to 135.4 cm
|30 to 40"|
76 to 101 cm
Top Rated Spinning Reel Reviews
Best Overall Spinning Reel
1. Penn Slammer III
Technologies: CNC Gear™, Sealed Slammer®, Dura-Drag™
Gear Ratios: 6.2:1, 4.7:1, 4.2:1
Models Offered: 6
✅ Improved Version of iCast 2016 ‘Best Saltwater Reel’
✅ Preferred by fishing charter operators
✅ Suitable for beginners & experienced fishermen
✅ Easy maintenance
⛔ Overkill for going after smaller fish
⛔ Heavy for prolonged use
⛔ Does not fit every fisherman’s budget
The Penn Slammer III has undergone one massive upgrade since its release. Unlike its predecessor, which featured a bushing in the line roller, all the Slammer III models that hit the market after 2018 have bearing in the line rollers. This allows the upgraded versions to perform better while dealing with ultra-heavy fish under exceptionally high drag.
This spinning reel comes with a full metal body, rotor, and sideplate. All three prepare this model for those tough offshore battles. Its double CNC Gear technology enables it to maintain efficiency and smoothness while retrieving trophy fish.
An IP 67 sealed body, meanwhile, helps keep water out of its drag system and gearbox to ensure maximum performance on every trip. You also get an instant anti-reverse switch to prevent the handle from rotating backward, letting you set the hook with more power.
The Penn Slammer III performs excellently in saltwater environment due to its strong shaft and gearing and waterproof body. These features also make this reel a favorite of anglers who regularly do light tackle fishing.
The double GNC Gear technology and IP 67 sealed body have made this spinning reel much durable than similar priced counterparts. You can leave it in constant neglect night after night and it will still keep on running smooth like it did right out the box.
Best for Saltwater Fishing
2. Daiwa BG
Technologies: Air Rotor, Digigear, ATD Drag
Gear Ratios: 5.3:1, 5.6:1, 5.7:1
Models Offered: 10
✅ Very smooth retrieval
✅ High-end manufacturing quality
✅ Durable anodized aluminum body
✅ Dual anti-reverse system on larger models
⛔ The spool is painted not anodized
The Daiwa BG features a black anodized finish that protects its aluminum housing against rust and corrosion. It is also equipped with a waterproof ATG drag system to provide you with a jerk-free drag and has an oversized, CNC machined gear to help you get a smoother retrieve.
The seven stainless steel ball bearings in this model are all rust-resistant. Plus the models 1500 to 4000 have an anti-reverse system to prevent any back play while you’re setting the hook. The larger models of the BG (4500 and above) have an additional mechanical anti-reverse too.
Most of its users rely on the Daiwa BG to fish in all sorts of environments, including freshwater and saltwater. This shouldn’t come as a surprise given that this model has a rust-resistant body, rustproof ball bearings, and a waterproof drag system.
And the presence of a full body and side cover means you won’t have to worry about water entering where you don’t want it to.
The black-anodized machined aluminum housing has made this spinning reel extremely sturdy. A solid screw-in handle can withstand all sorts of abuse, plus an oversized body and side cover prevents water from coming into contact with its internal parts.
Read Review: Daiwa BG
Best for Bass Fishing
3. Abu Garcia Revo IKE
Technologies: HPCR™ bearings, Rocket Line Management™, Rocket Spool Lip Design™, AMGearing™, Carbon Matrix™ drag, IM-C6™ body
Gear Ratios: 6.2:1
Models Offered: 2
✅ Affordably priced
✅ Suitable for most fishing technique variations
✅ Bold, eye-catching finish
✅ Simple and smooth casting
⛔ Has EVO foam grips even though cork handles is the preference of many anglers
⛔ Stainless steel guides add to the rod’s weight
The Abu Garcia Revo Ike combines power, comfort, and control. Its power emanates from the carbon matrix drag system that produces a whopping 11lb of pressure. The comfort comes from the EVA knob handle – as well as the C6 carbon rotor and IM-C6 carbon design.
All three parts ensure perfect grip and reduce the reel’s weight radically, thereby eliminating any casting fatigue. Then comes control. It owes its existence to the rocket line management system, which has combined oscillation system, bail angle, and spool design to provide easy control for all line types.
Most of the water bodies will be friendly to this spinning reel, with the notable exception of saltwater. The substances in the water, including salt, sand, and dirt, might be this model’s undoing. So if you intend to buy this reel, be prepared to keep it away from saltwater.
The graphite construction of the Abu Garcia Revo Ike is without doubt sturdy and durable. However, it is also prone to scratches. Some users have also complained that their cashing line went off the mark up (by a few degrees) after it encountered heavy catch.
4. Shimano Vanford F
Technologies: CI4+ body, MagnumLite (MGL) Rotor, HAGANE Gear, SilentDrive, MicroModule Gear II, Long Stroke Spool, X-Protect
Gear Ratios: 5.1:1, 5.6:1, 6.0:1, 6.1:1, 6.2:1, 6.4:1
Models Offered: 7
✅ Patented CI4+ corrosion-resistant material
✅ Minimal reel vibration
✅ Offers ultra-quick response in critical situations
✅ Comes in handy in saltwater too
⛔ 2500HG doesn’t come equipped with cross-carbon drag
⛔ Quality of washers could be better
The Shimano Vanford F is equipped with a range of technology upgrades over the Stradic Ci4+, the model it replaced. It has a new MGL rotor that makes this reel almost 50% lighter than its predecessor. Micromodule Gear II and Silent Drive are also features you didn’t get with the Ci4+. Same is the case with the Hagane Gear which provides this reel with added strength.
Vanford F comes with multiple features one can term as outstanding: quality internal parts, smooth casting, corrosion resistance, and lightweight construction. This model’s drive gear, worm shaft gear, and worm shaft pin have been given the smallest clearance possible to eliminate wobble.
Equally notable is its MGL rotor. It has reduced this reel’s weight by 25% and needs 22% less inertia than that of its predecessor, the Shimano Stradic. This allows the reel to offer an ultra-quick response in critical situations, such as when a heavy catch is getting away.
A ‘Propulsion Line Management System’ has equipped its spool with a smoother line lay and a gravity-free body ensures this reel stays comfortable during casting. On top of everything else, the combination of SilentDrive and MicroModule Gear II technologies has reduced the overall reel vibration.
You can use this reel in all sort of environments. These include sweet water, freshwater, and ice-cold water. This reel will come handy in saltwater too, because of its patented CI4+ corrosion-resistant body and a water-resistant roller clutch and line roller.
The Shimano Vanford F is made of its manufacturer’s patented CI4+ corrosion-resistant material. It also features waterproof coated gear materials, made from Shimano’s X-Ship and X-Protect, and has water-resistant line roller and roller clutch.
Best Under $100
5. Pflueger President
Gear Ratios: 5.2:1
Models Offered: 5
✅ Sealed drag system
✅ Minimal line twist
✅ Lightweight and corrosion-resistant graphite construction
⛔ Retrieving is a bit hard
When it was first released in 2015, the Pflueger President spinning reel lacked a sealed drag system that could protect its internal components from external damages. The model we review here has a sealed drag system. So you can count on it to last longer than its predecessor.
A sealed drag system hasn’t harmed the prospects of any reel that contains it and this seal is no different. The sealed drag washers not only stay lubricated all the times. But they also ensure that the reel’s operation stays smooth. Which is some achievement considering this model can rein-in heavy fish. Five different reel sizes also make it suitable for a wide array of fishing styles.
Many anglers opt to use this reel when fishing in seawater or freshwater. Kayak fishermen, therefore, have a lot to gain by opting for this model. Having said that, you can also use it in saltwater provided you have the time (and the patience) to flush the reel with freshwater afterwards.
Lightweight graphite body has always been an important part of Pflueger reels. This reel isn’t any different. Graphite hasn’t only managed to keep a lid on this reel’s weight – it also resists corrosion better than aluminum. That’s why it’s a regular fixture for reels designed to be used in saltwater.
Best for Inshore Fishing
6. Penn Battle II
Technologies: CNC Gear™, HT-100™ carbon fiber drag washers
Gear Ratios: 4.2:1, 4.7:1, 5.2:1, 5.3:1, 5.6:1, 6.2:1, 7.0:1
Models Offered: 12
✅ Carbon-fiber drag washers
✅ Comes braid-ready
✅ Sealed stainless steel ball bearings
⛔ Are high-maintenance
The Penn Battle II has received only one major upgrade since its release in 2014: the addition of the 2500 model. This model fills the gap between the 2000 and 3000 reels. It’s of the same size as the 2000 but has a bigger spool and rotor.
Minor upgrades include the introduction of keyed drag washers. When compared with the washers that they replaced, the new systems provide 20% more drag. These drag washers also let you use both sides, in contrast to their single-side predecessors.
Sealed ball bearings is one of the major draws of this spinning reel. One of the major reasons anglers have to repair their reels is saltwater getting to the bearings. That won’t happen here. The sealed ball bearings prevent the ingress of saltwater, keeping corrosion and scratches at bay.
Then come the line capacity rings. They prove their utility by letting you put the correct amount of line every time on your reel. These rings also offer an easy-to-notice visual indicator to let you check how much line is out when drifting, trolling, or long casting.
The Penn Battle II is designed for saltwater.
That this spinning reel features sealed ball-bearings, full-metal body and heavy-duty aluminum bail wire should tell you all you need to know about its construction. The coming together of these parts helps this reel outlast its warranty period with ease.
Best Budget Option
7. KastKing Summer / Centron
Technologies: MaxiDur ball bearings
Gear Ratios: 5.2:1, 4.5:1
Models Offered: 5
✅ Attractive appearance
✅ Extended fishing line capacity
✅ Ultra-powerful drag system
⛔ Not for saltwater fishing
Many anglers who used the earlier versions of KastKing reels complained of not having as much fishing line capacity as they needed. That is one issue you won’t face with these spinning reels. Their added fishing line capacity would let you knock over much bigger fish.
Moreover, these spinning reels have a much superior drag system than their predecessors. While most of them offer a maximum stopping power of 17.5lbs, this model’s whopping 20lbs stopping power gives you another reason to go after the big catch.
Its power launch lip allows you to cast farther than ever before. Nine quality ball bearings, as well as one anti-reverse switch, help ensure seamless performance. A lighter and stronger CNC machined spool gives it more line lay and is equipped with internal grooves for retaining lube.
We were also impressed with its left/right interchangeable handle, something which you don’t normally get in similar-priced models. An anti-corrosion paint protects it from rust and salt damage, plus a 5.2:1 gear ratio will help you quickly retrieve tube baits or drop-shot rigs.
The KastKing Summer and Centron Spinning Reels are designed for freshwater environment. Keep them away from saltwater because their ball bearings aren’t corrosion-resistant.
CNC machined aluminum spool gives this spinning reel an edge over its competitors. The spool boosts bigger line lay and has more internal grooves (for lube retention) than its counterparts. It’s the reason why this model has been able to provide more fishing line capacity to its users.
Best for Surf Fishing
8. Tsunami Shield
Technologies: CF3 carbon drag system
Gear Ratios: 4.9:1, 5.1:1
Models Offered: 5
✅ 10 to 13 internal seals
✅ Competitive asking price
✅ 5 sealed stainless steel ball bearings
⛔ Isn’t the strongest reel on the market
Tsunami gives you the option to put on bailless kits on these spinning reels. The add-on might be worth spending on if you have experienced issues like the bail giving away in the past. Apart from that, we can’t think of another reason why anyone would get the kits.
One of the most amazing things about Tsunami Shield is that it features 10 to 13 internal seals to provide protection against the ingress of water. Another thing to be aware of is that the 5000 and 6000 models are submersible, making them perfect for fishing in conditions when you’d dunk them in saltwater.
This reel’s carbon fiber drags offer superior heat transfer qualities. This in turn improves the drag’s stopping power and smoothness, enabling you to control a heavy fish with more ease. That’s why experienced anglers prefer carbon fiber drags over stock felt drags.
Depends on the model you pick up. The 3000 version can easily handle the lighter end of saltwater fishing spectrum while the 4000 version is a perfect match for the medium end. Both the 5000 and 6000 models, meanwhile, are a perfect match for tougher fish, stouter rods, and heavier baits.
Precision machined metals supplement this reel’s construction and enhance its durability. Its aluminum spool is an excellent example of this. A CF3 carbon fiber drag system, capable of maxing out at 20lbs of stopping power, is another illustration of this reel’s sturdiness.
Best for Trout Fishing
9. Cadence CS10
Gear Ratios: 5.2:1, 6.2:1
Models Offered: 4
✅ Smooth, durable and corrosion-resistant
✅ Comfortable and lightweight EVA handle
✅ Improved line management
⛔ It has opted for a lightweight magnesium frame over the much sturdier (but heavy) aluminum frame
The Cadence CS10 differs from other series in multiple aspects. The first thing that sets it apart is the number of bearings. It is equipped with 10 ball bearings and 1 instant reverse bearing. This means that the CS10 contains at least four more bearings than its immediate predecessor, the CS6.
Also, while most other CS spinning reels have an aluminum frame, the CS10 has managed to keep its weight light by opting for magnesium frame. Its machined aluminum one-piece ball is another feature that sets the CS10 apart from other members of this series.
The CS10 has an ultra-lightweight design, meaning you can fish all day long with no strain to your wrists. Its lightweight design has been made possible by the magnesium frame and the braid-ready aluminum spool, with the latter housing a carbon fiber drag system that delivers under pressure.
Making the most of the weight savings is the ergonomic EVA knob. Plus its availability in multiple sizes makes this reel suitable for a wide variety of fishing styles.
The majority of anglers who have used this reel have done so in freshwater and inshore saltwater bodies. Perhaps that’s due to the fact that neither its ball bearings nor this reel’s magnesium frame are corrosion-proof. The best they can do is resist corrosion.
A strong and lightweight magnesium frame, machined and braid-ready aluminum spool, and an oversized ergonomic EVA handle make this reel more comfortable and durable than ever. A carbon fiber drag system, despite being smooth, adds to this model’s power.
Best for Freshwater Fishing
10. Team Lew’s Custom Pro Speed Spin
Technologies: Zero Reverse®, High strength Speed Gears®, Winn® Dri-Tac knob, Speed Lube®
Gear Ratios: 5.2:1, 6.2:1
Models Offered: 4
✅ Has a Speed Keeper hook keeper
✅ Premium stainless steel bearing system
✅ High-strength speed gears
The Winn Dri-Tec handle knobs have long been an important part of Lew’s Custom Pro Speed Spin and it continues. They give this reel slip-free grip, regardless of how wet your hands are. Equally useful is the Speed Keeper hook keeper.
Instead of forcing you to hook your lures to the reel’s face, you can simply deploy the Speed Keeper and keep the Custom Pro free of scratches. This will be a big plus for anglers who like to buy new reels each year, as the absence of scratches will keep this reel’s resale value intact.
Anglers who have used this reel suggest deploying it in freshwater environments or when you’re fishing in inshore saltwater. This means it’s a must-have for kayak fishermen, who can take full advantage of its high retrieve speed and lighter weight by making longer cuts and smooth retrieving.
Aluminum body and sideplate, combined with a double anodized knurled aluminum spool and a carbon skeletal rotor, make this reel ultra-durable. Though the absence of any waterproof coating means its internal parts might be exposed to salt, dirt, and moisture.
Best for Offshore Fishing
11. Quantum Cabo
Technologies: PT technology, Magnum™ CSC Drag, TiMag® titanium fail-proof bail system, LMS™ line management system, SaltGuard™, SCR™ alloy body and side cover
Gear Ratios: 4.9:1. 5.3:1
Models Offered: 2
✅ Upgraded drag clicker
✅ Three-year warranty
✅ SCR corrosion-resistant aluminum body
⛔ Won’t come cheap
Quantum has recently equipped all its reels with an upgraded drag clicker. The Quantum Cabo is a beneficiary of this upgrade too. The drag clicker is a spring inside the drag that makes a pinging sound every time you click. An audible drag kicker then is an indicator that everything is hunky-dory with your reel.
Thanks to its above-average braided and mono line capacities, this reel will help you catch heavy species from striper to catfish. Part of the reason why that’s is the case is it Magnum CSC drag system, which is capable of holding an astonishing 50lbs of max drag.
The combination of a 4.9:1 gear ratio, 41 inches per turn and C4LF rotor ensure a consistent (and, more importantly) smooth retrieve. Plus, you also get a Maxcast 2.0 handle. It will minimize the friction between the spool and the fishing line while casting.
Given that its name tells you all you need to know as to where to use the Quantum Cabo ‘Saltwater’ Spinning Fishing Reel, we don’t think we need to remind you of the obvious.
Multiple features prepare this reel for catching heavy fish in saltwater. Most notable among them is the SCR corrosion-resistant aluminum body and side cover. Then there is the ‘nickel-titanium bail wire which does extremely well by keeping its shape under pressure.
Also, while other reels using a spring to control ball wire movement, this model uses a magnetic trim system. The powerful magnets save the bail wire from corrosion or wear out, increasing the shelf-life and performance quality of the reel.
Best for Catfishing
12. PENN Pursuit III
Technologies: HT-100™ drag system
Gear Ratios: 5.3:1, 5.6:1, 6.2:1
Models Offered: 6
✅ Penn’s famous HT-100 drag system
✅ Easy to assemble and disassemble
✅ Double-anodized, machined aluminum spool
⛔ Drag is painfully audible when pulling out the line
Penn has equipped the Pursuit III with multiple upgrades from previous models. Most notable among them is the addition of the ultra-reliable HT 100 drag technology. It’s a robust drag system that won’t only hold up to abuse but would also ensure a smooth operation.
Another area where this model has improved is the gear ratio. Penn has increased it from 5.2 of the previous model to 6.2. Sure, you might not notice the update if you only casually fish. However, if you take your craft seriously, the improvement in pitching and flipping will impress you.
Two more additions follow. They include the addition of the 2500 reel size and the installation of the super-line gasket. The super line gasket deserves your attention because; a) it has eliminated the need for mono backing, b) is very useful for braided lines, and c) prevents line slippage while you’re spooling up.
The Penn Pursuit III has a corrosion-resistant graphite body which is also much lighter than equally-priced aluminum reels. A sealed drag system prevents the ingress of water inside this model, and a slow-oscillation gearing minimize line twist and improve line lay.
You also get an instant anti-reverse. It eliminates rotor back play and gives you the opportunity to instantly hook up every time you cast. Penn’s world-famous Ht-100 carbon fiber drag washers are also on offer. They are not only sealed but also constantly provide a lubricated smooth drag.
Since this spinning reel is available in many sizes, you can depend on it in all instances, no matter the fishing environment or the fish size. Even in saltwater environments, where most reels give way, this model’s corrosion-resistant graphite body will enable it to keep going strong.
The Penn Pursuit III has a corrosion-resistant graphite body which is as lightweight as it is durable. A stainless steel main shaft and machined (and anodized) aluminum spool, also play their part in helping this model last for years.
Great for use with Live Bait
13. Shimano Baitrunner D
Technologies: One-Piece Bail, Propulsion line management system, S A-RB
Gear Ratios: 4.4:1, 4.8:1
Models Offered: 4
✅ Ultra-smooth and wobble-free retrieve
✅ Wind knot- and backlash-proof crafting
✅ Anti-reversing feature
⛔ Slower retrieve rate
The Shimano Baitrunner D features a secondary drag system that you won’t get with its predecessors. Which is a shame as its presence allows your bait to move naturally. That’s not all. The secondary drag system also allows free spooling, even when the bail is closed.
Shimano further states that this model has better line lay, less line friction, and more comfortable grips than its predecessors. Having used both this model and many of its predecessors, we agree with Shimano on this point. You will too if you are switching from an old Shimano reel to the Baitrunner D.
One of the most outstanding features of this reel is its Dyna-Balance technology. It has managed to successfully counterbalance the rotor, eliminating wobble during the retrieve. The counterbalancing of rotor has also all but removed the vibrations caused by this spinning reel.
This model also features Shimano’s Propulsion Line Management System. You can therefore count on it to flow seamlessly off of the pool during a cast. A special lip design has also managed to successfully reduce its friction during a cost, letting you cast further while preventing backlashes and wind knots.
The Baitrunner D is designed for saltwater. Sure, you can use it in other fishing environments too, but that would be akin to aiming too low.
Apart from having a hard-core graphite body, which makes it durable and at the same time reduces the reel’s weight, the reel features a wind knot- and backlash-proof crafting. This helps it to negate the difficulties caused by windy conditions.
Read review: Shimano Baitrunner D
Best for Light-Tackle Fishing
14. Daiwa Saltist
Technologies: Air Bail®, Air Rotor, Corrosion Resistant Ball Bearings, DigiGear, Magsealed Body, Magsealed Line Roller Bearing
Gear Ratios: 5.3:1, 5.6 : 1, 5.7 : 1
Models Offered: 7
✅ Very smooth reel
✅ Durable metal alloy body
✅ Magseal Technology keeps dirt and water out
⛔ Design isn’t fully waterproof
The Mag Sealed technology is what truly sets apart this reel from the competition. Daiwa uses a special magnetic oil, originally developed by NASA, to line this reel’s nooks and crannies. The oil prevents the penetration of dirt, dust, and saltwater between the body and the rotor.
A unique air rotor design brings down the weight by 15%, while also distributing the pressure evenly between the line roller and the line. Its corrosion-resistant ball bearings last 12x longer than their standard steel counterparts, increasing the reel’s shelf life while also making it smoother.
The Daiwa Saltist Spinning Reel is available in multiple styles. While the smaller styles (2500 – 4000) are made for inshore fishing, those on the heavier side, such as the 4000 with 280 yards of 30lbs mono, are designed mainly for saltwater fishing.
A ‘HardBodyz’ body and side cover provides the reel with durability and strength while keeping its weight down to a minimum. Aside from that, the ABS spool maximizes the core diameter, making the entire line 100% usable. With no ‘dead’ line hidden underneath the deep core, you can fill the spool up to the edge of its lip without worrying about tangles.
Read Review: Daiwa Saltist
Best Long Distance Casting
15. Shimano Stradic FL
Technologies: Aero Wrap II, Cross Carbon Drag, G Free Body, HaganeBody, Hagane gear, Long Stroke Spool, MicroModule II, One Piece Bail, Propulsion Line Management System, S A-RB, Silent Drive, Waterproof Drag, X-Protect, X-Ship
Gear Ratios: 6.0:1,6.2:1, 6.4:1
Models Offered: 5
✅ Taller spool helps extend casting range
✅ Lighter weight for its class
✅ Easily adjustable and consistent drag
✅ Highly-responsive bail operation
⛔ Drag washers periodically need regreasing
⛔ Should be rinsed after saltwater use
⛔ No shallow water spool size options
The Shimano Stradic FL 2500 has received an upgrade in the form of a long stroke spool, which is much larger than what other Stradic FL models possess. This allows the FL 2500 to boost a huge casting distance and create a huge array of benefits in real fishing scenarios.
Overall, the Stradic FL series, released in 2019 in Florida, received multiple improvements over the previous models of the flagship Stradic series. Gone are the roller bearings that tend to became too stick and noisy after saltwater intrusion. A new design prevents water from entering.
The felt drag washers, known for failing after a few hard bouts with the fish, have met a similar fate. They have been replaced by cross-carbon drag washers in the three larger sizes of Stradic FL reels (3000 and higher). Stradic FL users state that the new washers can handle the stress and strain much better.
Arguably the most crucial part of the Stradic FL reel is the Hagane Gear. It contains absolutely no cutting work, which is probably why the reel’s smooth feeling lasts for years. An ‘X-Ship’ works extremely well in ensuring that the gears stay in their position, even when dealing with heavy loads.
Next comes the G-Free Body Technology. It keeps the reel’s center of gravity as close to the rod as possible, thereby reducing the effort you must put in during casting. The SA-RB bearings are protected by shields on both sides against the ingress of sand, dirt, or saltwater.
Having seen it clinch the ICAST 2019 ‘Best Saltwater Reel’ award, it’s safe to assume that the Stradic FL is indeed a saltwater or freshwater fishing reel.
The Hagane Body of this reel equips it with good stiffness, high rigidity, and strong impact resistance. This means you won’t have to worry about the reel’s body flexing. Also, with its weight less than that of previous models, and warm and distortion taken care of, the Hagane body is as sturdy as they come.
4 Tips for Buying a Spinning Reel
- Decide your fishing environment
Where are you going to be fishing most of the time? While almost every reel could help you fish in freshwater, only a few, including the Penn Slammer III, can withstand the conditions in brackish or saltwater. That’s because this reel has the rust-resistant bearings that can stand up to saltwater.
- Pinpoint your targeted species
The species you’re targeting will determine your reel’s line capacity. For instance, if you’re going to fish large species such as tarpon or muskie, you need a reel with a sizable line capacity. One which could allow for long runs and give you the drag system capable of handling heat.
- Identify your method of release (ball bearings)
Ball bearings made of a combination of chromium and stainless steel are smoother, harder, and more rust-resistant than others. Top-quality reels also provide their bearings with a higher grade of lubricant to extend their life and make them smoother during retrieval.
- Pay attention to reel’s material of construction
We can divide reel frames into three categories based on the best, better, good scenario: best (metal); better (a hybrid of graphite or co-polymer with a faceplate); good (co-polymer or graphite). Keep this classification in mind when you go shopping for a spinning reel.
How to Choose a Spinning Reel
So, you have decided to get into the world of angling? Great! Let’s start off with Spinning Reels, shall we?
First off, are you angling for pleasure or competition? What kind of fish (and size) are you looking to catch? To pick out the appropriate fishing reel type, let’s start by taking a quick look at the components of spinning reels. That’s right, it’s “Reels 101” time.
Top Things to Consider When Buying a Spinning Reel
Drag systems are found in all fixed spools. Found in the front of the reel or in the back ( front and rear drag ) Rear drag systems on reels are the most desired with novice anglers and front drag systems on a reel are considered ideal by more professional fishermen. The 2 drag system perform in the same way, they restrict or loosen the movement of the spool, much like a car’s braking system does to the car wheels.
The smoothness of the reel is really determined by the number of bearings it has. The more bearings the better. High-quality bearings made of stainless steel also assist with the lifespan of the reel as well and absorb a lot of the wear and tear inside the spools mechanism.
What you should look for in a line lay is that the flatter it is the better. Distance and accuracy are dependent on how flat the line lays on the spool.
How fast the reel retrieves the line you cast out is managed by the retrieve ratio of the design. The most common fixed spool reels are usually designed with a retrieve ratio of around 5.2:1. What you will find when you shop for fishing reels is that in general, reels will have a retrieve ratio that is found between 4.8:1 and 5.4:1.
This comes down to personal choice and what length and shape you personally find desirable.
A spinning reel can be used to catch many different types of small fish like bluegill all the way to giant tuna weighing over 100 pounds. Making sure your spinning reel has the right line and rod combo are critical to the success you will have with fishing.
The line size you choose needs to be correct for the spinning reel you have decided on and the type/size of fish you want to catch.
- Smaller Sized Fish: 500-1000 line sized reel
- Medium Sized Fish: :2500-6000 line sized reel
- Large Sized Fish: 8000-10000 line sized reel
When it comes down to it, there are quite a few options that you have when choosing the right spinning reel for your needs. Ultimately, it’s about how the rod and reel feel in your hand and what type of fish you want to catch. Once those have been decided you can really start customizing your fishing tool to get the best performance possible.
If you’re having second thoughts check out our baitcasting vs spinning reel comparison!
Saltwater Vs Freshwater Spinning Reels
These 2 reels are designed for their different environments and it’s important to pick the right one for the right job. By taking these factors into consideration you will have yourself the perfect reel for what you want it for.
Materials Used in Construction:
- Freshwater reels are designed with various metals that are built for freshwater environments. Since they are made for fresh water sources, they have minimal protection against corrosion.
- Saltwater reels which need to handle seas and oceans are made with special alloys that prevent corrosion. They are still made with the same materials as freshwater reels but have a protective coating that helps to withstand the abrasive saltwater’s.
- Freshwater reels can feature sealed components. However, it’s not as common and standard issue for saltwater reels. Sealed components, including bearings, gearboxes and drag systems, among others are not as susceptible to saltwater corrosion. The seals’ purpose is really that they are like gaskets and keep the components of the reel safe and free from damage when saltwater fishing.
Line and Lure
- Saltwater reels are can handle and catch heavier fish in contrast to freshwater reels. This obvious capacity difference is due to the environment and fish differences between the 2 water sources.
- Saltwater reels typically cost more considering the difference in manufacturing compared to freshwater reel and the level of protective elements needed when fishing in the 2 different water sources.
Different Reel Types
- Freshwater anglers use spinning, spincasting, and baitcasting when they are on fishing on rivers or lakes.
- In contrast, saltwater anglers utilize different types of reels when fishing in a different scenario. Specialized, high capacity reels are best suited for offshore fishing, inshore fishing can be handled with general use baitcaster or spinning reels.
Check our roundup of the spincast reel reviews here!
Benefits and Drawbacks of a Spinning Reel
Like most fishing reels, there are pros and cons to using a spinning reel and its different variations:
Benefits of a Spinning Reel:
- A key benefit, in general, is the diversity and the many different types of spinning reels to choose from-
- Many choices for all different levels of experience and interest
- Spinning reels are easy to use, mechanics have a small learning curve- push button and flick
- Economical – won’t break the bank and is a perfect reel for beginners to learn on.
- Versatility- You can use many different types of lures, baits, and tackle.
- Hardly any backlash and easy for casting
Drawbacks of a Spinning Reel:
- Not meant for big game fish- you will need to pay to upgrade to a more suitable line if you want to catch the big guys.
- Construction is not as sturdy as baitcasters typically are. Rod could snap from some use
- The line can twist with the wind- don’t have the same quick reaction time capabilities as other reels.
- Shorter casting distance than other reels- limited range.
- Q: How do I know if I need a saltwater or freshwater reel?
A: The answer to that is, where are you going to be fishing? Naturally, if it’s at the cottage or summer house and you are by a lake or stream, freshwater reels are the way to go. If you plan to test out your fishing skills near the sea or ocean, Grab yourself a saltwater reel that has been specifically designed to withstand the salty, corrosive environment.
- Q: What do I need to consider when buying a freshwater reel?
- Weight of the reel:
You don’t want a reel that is too heavy that will affect the fishing experience. You won’t need a heavy one since most freshwater fishing doesn’t require that.
- Ease of use when operating:
Reels operate in different ways depending on the manufacturer. Some manufacturers like to increase the options available on the reel thus causing it to be more difficult to operate.
- Easy to maintain:
Look to purchase a reel that is easy to maintain and easy to clean- it’s going to be exposed to different, dirty environments and the longevity of the investment depends on how easy it is to clean.
Drag is a very important issue for reels- it refers to the amount of resistance the fish will feel once it’s caught.
- Weight of the reel:
- Q: What do I need to consider when buying a saltwater fishing reel?
- How do you fish? Buying the right fishing gear will depend on where you fish from. Is it from a boat? Ashore? Land? Each reel has its strengths and weaknesses depending on where you will be fishing from.
- What type of fish will you be trying to catch?. Your reel and all the options available will depend on what type of fish you are planning to catch. Pairing the right rod with the right reel and with the right reel is critical.
- Experience- different reels require different experience skillsets- don’t choose one that you are not familiar with or don’t plan to learn more about.
If you are unsure of which rod and reel you should buy, find out more here!
As you can see from the information that has been provided in these spinning reel reviews, the world of angling can be extremely overwhelming when choosing the best fishing reel for yourself. From saltwater fishing to freshwater fishing and what environments they consist of, really do help narrow your choices down when looking at spinning reels.
When you have decided on the environment you will be fishing in, you can then choose the best spinning reel that would be appropriate for you based on your intentions, how much money you want to spend and what type of fish you want to catch.
What you will need consist of different types of reels and rods with many options for bait and lures. Do you need a baitcaster reel? A spincast reel or even the best fly fishing reel? These fishing reel buying guides should help you select which one is for you and which one fits best with your personal fishing situation.