Best Spinning Reels For Fishing

Spinning reels are possibly the most common type of fishing reel used for both freshwater and saltwater fishing. A good spinning reel is incredibly versatile, able to handle all types of tackle as well as live bait and lures. Many fishermen just love the spinning reel, especially with casting as you only need to throw the weight of the line, no gearing or moving the spool to add friction to your cast, meaning with practice longer and more accurate casts.

Spinning reels are relatively easy to learn how to use and don’t take that long to master casting with these types of reel. Often the first reel a beginner comes into contact with is a spinning reel, this does not by any means, mean that they are only for beginners. This being said there is a multitude of spinning reels on the market, and whether you are a beginner or a seasoned fisherman or angler buying the right spinning reel is important. This guide takes away the pain and worry of buying the wrong spinning reel. What to look for, gear ratios, body types, and drag systems. What you need for the type of fishing and type of fisherman you are. Tale a look at the best fresh water or salt water and sometimes both spinning reels.

Our Top 3 Picks

Shimano Sustain FG
  • Shimano Sustain FG
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Lightweight
  • Good saltwater reel
  • Price: See Here
Pflueger Supreme
  • Pflueger Supreme
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Reversible handle
  • Lightweight
  • Price: See Here
Okuma Makaira
  • Okuma Makaira
  • 4.7 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Very strong
  • Corrosion resistant
  • Price: See Here

6 Best Spinning Reels

 

Shimano Sustain FG SA5000FG

Shimano Sustain FG SA5000FG
Material: Aluminium
Weight: 10.6 oz
Barrings: 8
Gear ratio: 6.2:1
Salt or fresh water: Salt
Maximum drag pressure: 20lb
Front or Rear drag: Front
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Shimano Sustain family of reels offer excellent performance throughout the 7 models in the range. All are suitable for salt water, although the SA1000FG model maybe more suitable for smaller rods.
The reel is incredibly lightweight but powerful and rigid from it X-Ship which supports the pinion gear on both ends with bearings, which enables the pinion gear to remain in alignment with the drive gear, this will enable better and longer casting. The bearings themselves are shielded on both sides of the bearing, which shields them from salt, sand or any other foreign bodies from inhibiting the rotation of the bearing. The reel stand is a nice feature allowing the reel to be rested on the ground without the possibility of damaging the reel.
Pros
  • Good salt water reel

  • Lightweight

  • Fast ratio and 30 to 41 IPR

Cons
  • Bit large for free water fishing

Pflueger Supreme 40XT

Pflueger Supreme 40XT
Material: Magnesium
Weight: 8.7 grams
Barrings: 10
Gear ratio: 6.2:1
Salt or fresh water: Both Salt and fresh water
Maximum drag pressure: 6.3kg
Front or Rear drag: Front
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The Pfueger Supreme is the lightest spinning reel from Pfueger. It achieves this from the manufacturing materials but does not lose any strength, The main body and rotor are made from Magnesium, which is incredibly light with a strength similar to steel, the rotor is aluminium and the crank handle is carbon fibre. This means that Pfueger have used the lightest and strongest materials available in the construction on this reel. The inner workings of the reel are also of equal if not higher quality. The bearing system is a 10 stainless steel sealed and corrosion resisting unit, which will enable a smooth and even retrieval of the line on to the spool. The spool is suitable for braided lines as well as standard line, great if you are looking to hook some big fish or small sharks from the beach. The Front drag system is a seal carbon drag washer system. Washer drag systems use washer discs in a stack on the spool shaft, then pressure is applied to the washers or discs to increase and decrease the drag. The crank handle can be reversed to be left or right handed.
The look of the reel is good in black with orange details, although I’m sure the colour of a reel is not forefront in your mind.
Pros
  • Both salt and fresh water

  • Lightweight

  • Reversible handle of left or right handed

  • Sealed carbon fiber front drag

  • 38-inch IPR

  • Instant anti reverse

Cons
  • Magnesium not the best for salt water

Okuma Makaira MK-20000LS

Okuma Makaira MK-20000LS
Material: Aluminium
Weight: 32.5oz
Barrings: 9
Gear ratio: 5.8:1
Salt or fresh water: Salt
Maximum drag pressure: 66lbs
Front or Rear drag: Front
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This reel is for giant fish, Amberjack, Yellowtail, Marlin, Bluefin and Yellowfin Tuna. Is is definitely not for fishing in a lake, although it would work. The main body is machine cut forged aluminium with an aluminium flow rotor and stainless steel gearing. The main spool shaft is also stainless steel for added strength. The Spool shaft is supported by nine ball bearings and a roller baring enabling smooth line retrieval no matter what the pull on the line. The front drag system is a Dual force drag system, meaning that instead of applying drag to just one surface area of the spool, this drag system has been designed to apply drag to all surface areas of the spool therefore maximizing drag and heat dissipation. The whole reel is sealed to prevent salt water ingress, with 23 different oil retaining O-rings and gaskets making all the internal mechanical parts are water tight. The body is forged aluminium and then machine cut, this is how they make a car engine, so imagine the strength of the body over a pressed aluminium body. The handle is non reversible but reel is available with either right handed or left handed.
Pros
  • Forged machine cut aluminum body

  • Front dual drag system

  • 9+1 bearing stainless steel baring system

  • Corrosion resistant coating

  • Heavy-duty aluminum bail wire

  • Very strong

Cons
  • Heavy

  • Too large for freshwater

Penn Pursuit II

Penn Pursuit II
Material: Graphite
Weight: 11.9 grams
Barrings: 5
Gear ratio: 5.2:1
Salt or fresh water: Both Salt or Fresh water
Maximum drag pressure: 4.5kg
Front or Rear drag: Front
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The Penn Pursuit II 3000 is an excellent all round reel. It has a graphite body and rotor to reduce the weight and enable superior balance, matched with a machined and anodized to reduce corrosion spool. The spool is supported with 5 shielded stainless steel ball bearings. The drag system is an oiled felt disc system, being felt reduces heat and allows a more smooth pull through the line. The handle is reversible to right or left handed. This reel is great value for money for anyone wanting an excellent quality reel for salt water fishing or fresh water course but without breaking the bank. The design and construction will give many years of trouble free angling, from a reel manufacturer with years of experience in reels and fishing.
Pros
  • Graphite corrosion proof body

  • Front drag system

  • Reversible right or left handed handle
  • Value for money

Cons
  • Felt disc drag

Abu Garcia Revo SX

Abu Garcia Revo SX
Material: Aluminium
Weight: 7.2 grams
Barrings: 9
Gear ratio: 6.2:1
Salt or fresh water: fresh
Maximum drag pressure: 4.5kg
Front or Rear drag: Front
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This reel just looks great, its matt black with red and silver details, but is it as great as it looks. So first this reel is designed for fresh water so it doesn’t need to stand up the corrosive conditions of a salt water reel. This enables Abu Garcia to use different materials which reduce the weight while making the performance tailored to fresh water. The body is carbon with an aluminum gear box, which is incredibly light, and offers good feel through the handle, giving confidence to the angler and reel. The spool is supported with 9 stainless steel bearing for smooth line retrieval. The front drag system uses carbon matrix discs, which gives a smooth and reliable performance. The handle is reversible for right or left handed positions. This reel is small but do let that fool you into thinking it can catch good fish, large Bass should be no problem with this reel.
Pros
  • Lightweight

  • Aluminium body and gears

  • Machined aluminium braid ready spool

  • Stainless steel main shaft

  • 9 ball bearing system

Cons
  • Only fresh water. Not really a con.

DAIWA 10 CROSSCAST 4000

DAIWA 10 CROSSCAST 4000
Material: Aluminium
Weight: 23.5oz
Barrings: 3
Gear ratio: 4.9:1
Salt or fresh water: Fresh
Maximum drag pressure: 14lb
Front or Rear drag: Front
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Daiwa Crosscast is a great reel for a beginner in fresh water fishing whether you are going to fish on lakes, course fishing, river bank or canal fishing or even in the middle of a lake in a row boat. It doesn’t matter what type of fish you are trying to catch, Carp, Perch, Pike, or even Bass, this reel will be able to catch them. When you decide that you really want to catch for example Carp then you may choose a different reel for that fish, and even if you do I guarantee that you will still have the crosscast with you on your spare rod, because you know it will always perform. Why am I saying this, well it is a reasonable priced reel and it doesn’t have all the features other reel have, but it has everything you need. The body and reversible right and left handed handle are both aluminium, the spool is aluminium and designed for long accurate casting, if you are able to of course. The spool shaft is supported with 3 ball bearings, which is a lot lower than the other reels I have reviewed here but it is enough for a smooth line return. The drag is front drag. The bail has to be returned to position manually after casting, but this is no great hardship. The reel also includes a spare spool which is always handy to have.
Pros
  • Reasonable priced

  • Reversible right and left handed handle
  • Aluminium body and handle

  • Front drag system
Cons
  • Only fresh water

  • 3 ball bearings

  • Manual bail return

Criteria for Evaluation

Body types

The body of the reel is just as important as everything else. The Body gives the reel strength. Most good quality reels are made from either, Aluminium, Graphite, Magnesium and sometimes steel. You will see spinning reels with plastic bodies, these are to be avoided, they are made mainly for beginners and children’s fishing rod and reel combos, however even if I was buying for a child under  10 I would still buy equipment that the child will have success with. Just imagine you have bought an 8 year their first rod and reel and on the first trip, they get a bite and then their reel falls apart before the fight has even begun. Aluminium and graphite are all very good materials for reel bodies, Stainless steel is strong but heavy and rarely seen in the whole body but rather components inside the body. If you are planning to fish in salt water, graphite will be more durable against the harshness of salt water, but on the whole Graphite, bodies are not as strong as Aluminium. Aluminum is OK for salt water and definitely strong enough, but over time the body will show fatigue due to the exposure to the salt water and to prolong the usable life you should always clear your reel after a trip. If you are only going to be fishing fresh water, lakes and rivers then I would recommend aluminum body as they are strong and often slightly less expensive than graphite. Magnesium is expensive but has as strong as aluminum but a lot lighter. I have not used a magnesium reel, but due to the weight, I feel they might take a bit of getting used to with regards to rod balance. I believe that they would be great for freshwater fishing, but I am concerned about salt water. Magnesium as a metal corrodes readily with salt water, and the magnesium reels sold as saltwater reels all need a thick epoxy coating. If you do use a magnesium reel for salt water I would check the coating and paint on the body for signs of chips or scratches. If anyone wants to send me a magnesium reel to test to destruction I am happy to do so.

Reel size

The reel size needs to suit the size of rod or pole you are using. Although a large reel on a small rod will not cause a major problem but may feel unbalanced, where as a small reel on a long large pole is not a good idea as the reel may be placed under more strain than it is designed for.

Ball Barrings

This is simple the more ball barring then better the reel and the smoother the action. The minimum amount is 3 and up to 10 ball barrings. The ball barrings should be made from stainless steel.

Gear ratios

A gear ratio is a number of turns of the crank handle compared to the number of times the spool turns. You will see gear ratios with numbers such as 6.2:1 this means that the spool will turn 6.2 times for ever 1 turn of the crank handle. The higher the ratio the faster the spool reels in line. Most spinning reels have a gear ratio between 5.0:1 to 7.0:1. But just because you have a gear ratio of 7.0:1 does not necessary mean that it will reel in line quicker than s 6.0:1, you have to factor in the diameter of the reel. A large diameter reel will pull in more line per turn than a small diameter reel. Another set of numbers you might see are IPT (inches per turn) this is a number of inches reeled in per one turn of the handle. I have never found that gear ratio makes a huge difference in the actual job of catching fish, but others swear by a specific ratio for specific fish and waters.

Drag Systems

Drag is important. The drag on a reel will enable you to land bigger fish than the line strength suggests is possible. Fish put up a fight and will pull, most of this strain is taken in the rod bend and flex, but you don’t want the line to break, for one you lose the fish, but also the fish swims away with the hook still in its jaw, which is not good for the fish, and your tackle. The drag system helps to stop this happening. The drag system is a mechanical system which allows pressure to be applied to the line spool, via the use of fiction plates inside the reel to brake the spool. The idea is to give even and constant pressure without jerkiness. As the fish pulls the reel will allow the line to spool instead of braking. This along with good technique can land you some big fish, and big fish is what it is all about.

There are two types of drag systems for spinning reels. Rear or Front drag systems. Front drag systems have the drag adjustment on the front of the spool, they are simpler mechanically and produce a constant drag and usually with higher drag forces. They are easy to set, but not as easy to adjust whilst mid fight. Rear drag systems the adjustment is at the rear of the reel. They have a more complicated mechanically, and not as consistent or smooth a drag as front drag systems, but they are a lot easier to adjust mid-fight. I prefer front drag systems and I  would recommend beginners to use front drag systems, set the drag strength before casting based on your line strength and then just leave it alone.

Most front drag systems use a washer drag systems where washer discs are stacked on the spool shaft, then the pressure is applied to the washers or discs to increase and decrease the drag by the screw on the front of the reel. If you are fishing for big fish which will have a greater pulling power will generate quite a lot of heat in the drag washers. For this reason, drag washers are made from Teflon and Carbon fiber. Steel is sometimes used in reels designed with lower drags.  

How to set up drag

This really depends on the condition, line strength and type of fish you are trying to catch. But as a rule of thumb set the drag to 1/3 the breaking strength of the line, no more than half then the breaking strength. For example, if you have a 10kg line, set the drag to 3kg to 5 kg.

Other Important Factors Worth Considering

Fishing is a great sport and the most popular sport in terms of participants worldwide. But fishing is not just fishing and no two fishermen or anglers are the same. You can’t really even just divide it into salt water and fresh water, as both have multiple disciplines and different types of fish the angler is trying to catch.

For example a  fresh water course Angler might want to catch Carp and is not interested in catching Perch or Pike, and so the Angler will set up their rod and reel to be best for that fish, whereas the Angler in the next swim just want to enjoy catching anything and a more general setup  is used. If you are thinking of competing then Freshwater Bass is the most popular and again you will be looking to set up your rod and reel for this. Whatever your setup it doesn’t mean that you will only catch the fish you are aiming for but just gives you a better chance of landing that type of fish when one bites the hook. And as always you never know what you have caught until you land it.

It’s the same with salt water fishing. If you are fishing off a pier or jetty or off the beach in the surf, or out in the ocean on a boat. Each of these you would definitely use different rods or poles. For example if you are fishing from a pier or jetty you may have a 7ft or 2m pole or rod as you don’t need to cast as far, but if you are on the beach, standing at the edge of the surf you will want a 10ft or 3m pole or rod to give you the leverage to throw the line way out past the breakers.  Then add to this what you want to catch, is any fish OK, or are you looking for snapper, or mackerel or even shark.

Few reels are suitable for everything, but some exceptional reels although designed for one type of fishing be it salt water or fresh water, are able to cross over and be used in the other environment with success. The reels I have reviewed in this best of review, I have tried to find the best all-round spinning reels that will be great for whatever fish you want to catch and where ever you want to catch it. If you are just starting at angling or fishing, don’t let all the choices scare you.

If you know that you are only ever going to fish in fresh water, then the Abu Garcia Revo SX REVO2SX10 and Daiwa Crosscast QDA CC5500QDA are the best choices. If you are only going to fish salt water and are not sure if surf/beach casting or pier/jetty then Penn Pursuit II Spinning PURII3000 or Shimano Sustain FG SA5000FG are both good choices.

If you might fish fresh water and sea water and you want to use the same set up on both then the nest reel is either the Pfueger Supreme 40XT or the Penn Pursuit II Spinning PURII3000 both are excellent all round reels.

Best-Spinning-Reel-Reviews

Fishing reels are devices that hold, release, retrieve, have a handle attached to a spool, engage a braking line which slows a fish from taking all the spool line, and has a bracket for attaching the reel to a rod.

The operation of a spinning reel is easy to learn, and the versatility allows the spinning reel rod to be used throughout a wide range of conditions for all sorts of fish.

The Pflueger Patriarch Spinning Reel is hands down the best spinning reel out there. Spinning reel reviews come in handy when evaluating the product by helping you gain knowledge allowing you to formulate your buying decision. This reel also maintains the best value award.

Review of the reel finds the highest 5-star rating on Quality. The reel is lightweight, operates smoothly including smooth drag, and comes with a braid ready spool. Another positive fact on the reel is slippage has never been an issue. The reel comes with a handy reel cover along with a spare aluminum spool, and the quality of both is excellent.

 

Pflueger takes weight reduction seriously, and it is demonstrated in this reel. Not only does the frame, sideplate, and rotor feature lightweight magnesium construction, the reel makes use of carbon fiber in a number of areas. The carbon in this reel is high quality, not a chintzy painted prototype, but actual carbon based material.

The carbon based material is used in both the spool and handle and is designed to be very solid and durable without the weight of normal aluminum alloy.

The Patriarch makes use of a carbon drag system that is sealed inside the spool. The only way to access this system is by four screws that release the entire spool assembly. The drag system looks very advanced but sheer stopping power is far from full potential.

The range of settings is limited. The reel contains three main settings, wide open, medium and full lockdown. To gain any significant amount of counter pressure you need to wind the drag knob down. Although the drag was effective, and while very smooth, it did not exhibit much stopping power.

Even with the few shortcomings noted, overall the Pflueger is well worth the investment.

An important reminder and handy tip to maintaining the Pflueger Patriarch Spinning reel is to oil, grease and keep the reel tightened with a simple screwdriver adjustment or two.

Final thoughts

Buy a good reel, one of the above. Don’t be cheap, spend some money. If you buy a cheap reel you might get good days out of it, but don’t expect more than that. Fishing is a great way to spend a day, but a bad reel or a reel breaking or failing when you have hooked a fish is the worse thing and it will ruin the entire experience. There are a lot of cheap and low-cost rod and reel sets, sold in all kinds of places, but trust me when I tell you that you might buy a at a low price and maybe catch a fish, but you will in a short time span need to replace everything because it has failed.