Spinning reels are the most common kind of reel you can find. They range from high-quality to budget-friendly.
If you’re looking for freshwater reels or saltwater reels, the cheapest, most efficient, or ultralight reels, in this article, we’ll review the best spinning reels on the market and provide you with a helpful buying guide.
Whether you’re a beginner looking to purchase your first spinning reel or a pro that’s looking to upgrade, you’re going to find this guide useful.
The 11 Best Spinning Reels for 2019
Shimano Stradic Ci4+
Abu Garcia Revo SX
Pflueger President XT
Shimano Stradic HG
Penn Spinfisher V & VI
Shimano Stella FI
Penn Pursuit II & III
KastKing Sharky III
Penn Battle II
Daiwa BG 3000
Top Rated Spinning Reels Reviews
1. Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 2500 FB
The Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 2500 FB’s innovative design and utilization of a Magnumlite (MGL) rotor make it 25% lighter than previous models.
Starting and stopping your retrieve is extremely easy, so you’ll need less inertia to operate the reel, which makes it very smooth.
The center of gravity of the reel has been moved nearer to your hand’s position as it’s closer to the rod.
This improvement maximizes your comfort and minimizes the fatigue and strain on your wrist thanks to the G-Free body design.
The Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 2500 FB’s design emphasizes your feeling of the strike as well as the fight against your catch.
Moreover, the Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 2500 FB is capable of enduring all different situations and different kinds of weather.
This is thanks to its advanced CoreProtect 360-degree water resistance that extends the durability and longevity of the reel.
The fact that its body is made of carbon fiber makes it super light at just 6.7 ounces –a lightness that is typically found on higher-end and more expensive reels.
Its gear ratio is 6:1 and it retrieves 35 inches of line per crank. This makes it great for quick action.
It gives you plenty of room to fish for bigger-sized fish as it can handle drags up to 20 pounds.
The cold forged aluminum spool and super-hard Hagane drive gears make it more powerful and beat the die-cast aluminum or graphite ones without compromising the smoothness or fluidity of the reel, even under bigger loads.
Furthermore, the Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 2500 FB comes with X-ship components that provide it with more accuracy and a smoother gear system with a bearing on the pinion.
This addition is very helpful when you’re fighting against more stubborn fish.
The pinion gear is supported by 2 Shimano A-RB roller bearings that increase the stability of the reel and decrease the gear twist as well as the deflection of the rotor.
In addition, the 6 S A-RB shielded stainless steel ball bearings prevent any salt, dirt, or water from getting into your reel.
So you can take your Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 2500 FB fishing in saltwater with no worries.
The Stradic Ci4+ 2500 FB also has a Super Stopper II anti-reverse switch that ensures the most solid hook sets and eliminates any back play.
- Amazing line management
- Almost completely water-resistant
- Smooth operation
- Lightweight and portable
- Can be a little expensive for some
- The anti-reverse switch could be a bit bigger
The Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 2500 FB is generally a superb reel. Combining lightness, strength, durability, affordability, and smoothness, it provides you with great value for your money.
2. Abu Garcia Revo SX
The Abu Garcia Revo SX comes with 8 stainless steel ball bearings and a roller bearing that work together to maximize its smoothness of operation.
Thanks to its IM-C6 body design and its graphite rotor, the Abu Garcia Revo SX weighs only 6.66 ounces but still has the capacity to drag 11 pounds.
This enables you to easily catch medium-sized fish with it like Trouts.
Moreover, the Abu Garcia Revo SX comes with a Rocket Line management system and a Rocket spool lip design as well as a machined aluminum braid ready spool.
It also comes with a Flat EVA knob that ensures a solid and comfortable grip on your reel that helps you last through longer fishing sessions.
Furthermore, the K-Clutch anti-reverse helps you secure your hook sets.
The Abu Garcia Revo SX has a gear ratio of 6.2:1 which makes it great for quick retrievals –especially with the 33-35 inches of line per crank.
The brake system on the Revo SX uses magnets which absolutely eliminates backlash during battles. It also guarantees a quiet performance with no noise.
The alloy frame provides it with resistance against corrosion and its carbon handle side plates, housing, and body materials extend both its power, durability, and lightness.
In addition, the Abu Garcia Revo SX integrates a Carbon-Matrix technology into the hybrid drag system that consists of a group of carbon washers that work on maintaining the consistency of the drag pressure.
- 9-ball bearing system ensures smoothness
- Magnetic brake system
- Both left and right-handed retrieve
- A bit pricey compared to rivals
The Abu Garcia Revo SX is an ideal reel for freshwater fishing. Its strength qualifies it to be used to catch tough fish.
You can even use it in saltwater if you thoroughly wash it before storing it for the next fishing trip.
3. Pflueger President XT
The Pflueger President XT SP35X is made with high-quality components and integrates some effective fishing features.
The Pflueger President XT SP35X’s gear ratio is 6.2:1 while its mono line capacity is 185 yards per 8 pounds, its retrieve rate is 35 inches per crank, and its maximum drag capacity is 9.10 pounds.
It comes with a sealed drag system that features sealed drag washers which are well-lubricated to provide you with smooth performance.
This smooth performance is further extended by the bearing system that has corrosion-resistant stainless steel bearings
Moreover, its main shaft is made of aluminum so it’s 30% lighter than stainless steel ones and is quite durable and stable. The aluminum pinion gear is also 60% lighter than traditional brass gear.
The Pflueger President XT SP35X comes with a braid ready spool that allows the braid to be tied directly to the spool.
Finally, its anti-reverse switch works on securing your hook sets and the rubber cork knob ensures a comfortable, no-slip grip.
- Satisfactory maximum drag
- Fast and smooth performance
- Good value for the money
- Affordable price
- Not suitable for saltwater fishing
The Pflueger President XT SP35X’s is a great spinning reel for freshwater fishing, whether you’re doing it inshore or offshore.
It can handle a good range of weights and provides you with the smoothness and stability you need.
4. Shimano Stradic HG
The Shimano Stradic HG comes with a premium quality Hagane body that makes it durable and rigid to withstand any situations.
Its housing isn’t 100% metal which makes the precision engineering process easier to produce a smoother reel.
The Shimano Stradic HG integrates X-ship that increases the accuracy of the gear system by placing a bearing on the pinion.
Bringing the pinion gear closer to the center line of the large diameter drive gear channels the power to the rotor instead of the handle, thereby maximizing the efficiency of the reel.
The Shimano Stradic 2500 HG’s gear ratio is 6:1, its line retrieval rate is 35 inches per crank, and it only weighs 8.3 ounces.
Its twists and deflections are minimized thanks to the two Shimano A-RB roller bearings that provide the reel with stability.
The fact that it's treated with Coreprotect ensures a 360-degree resistance against corrosion and protection from all weather conditions.
Furthermore, the line management on the Shimano Stradic HG is perfectly functional thanks to the clever AR-C cold forged spool design that has a smooth lip which reduces line twists and wind knots.
- Smooth casting
- Amazing line management and line capacity
- Fluid drag and rotor
- Great gear system
- Heavy compared to reels of the same size
- The highest drag range sometimes reduces the smoothness of operation
The Shimano Stradic HG is an affordable reel for the features and performance it has to offer. Its line management and gear systems are great and easy to use, so it’s great for beginners as well as pros.
5. Penn Spinfisher V & VI
Both the Penn Spinfisher V and VI have protection against water. The former has a water design using 5 sealed or shielded stainless steel ball bearings and a sealed drag system while the latter has an IPX5 sealed body and spool design with 5 + 1 sealed stainless steel ball bearings.
Both models also have the reliable sealed HT-100 slammer drag systems where the Spinfisher V uses keyed carbon washer instead of felt ones to give you the most stable performance while the VI utilizes carbon fiber drag washers that give you a stopping power that is more than enough to stop big fish like bass from escaping with your line.
Their full metal bodies, side plate, and techno balanced rotors provide you with durability and smoothness.
While the superline spool incorporates rubber inlayed into the spool so you can directly connect it to a braid of your choice without having to back it with mono and has capacity rings to keep you aware of how much line you still have left.
The only way the Spinfisher VI is superior to the V is that it starts at a smaller size (2500 while the V starts at 3500) and that it has CNC gear technology that makes the gear system more precise.
- Superb HT-100 slammer drag
- High-quality finish
- Great braking system
- May not be the most durable in terms of paint jobs and the tightness of the components
Whether you’re opting for the Penn Spinfisher V or VI, you’re guaranteed a bang for your buck.
6. Shimano Stella FI
The improved corrosion resistant bearings on the Shimano Stella FI High-Speed Spinning Reel provide it with smoothness while the MicroModule gear system provides it with an enhanced gear alignment, more power, and torque.
It has a solid alloy frame and carbon side plates, a new D2 gear design, solid braking design, titanium line guide, a compact bent carbon handle, and a solid grip EVA knob.
Moreover, the G-Free body moves the oscillation system down below the drive gear and closer to the center of the reel to improve its balance and eliminate any wobbling.
The Shimano Stella FI is provided with protection against water and corrosion with the Coreprotect coating. This greatly extends its longevity.
Finally, the S-Direct drive system enhances the power transfer and minimizes wear and tear on critical parts.
The anti-reverse system also reduces friction and facilitates the rotation of the handle.
- High-quality, durable materials
- Capable of providing strong torque for bigger fish
- Very smooth and balanced
- Substandard drag power
- Not the most affordable
The Shimano Stella FI’s durable components, strength, and stability qualify it to be one of the best spinning reels on the market –as long as you’re not on a very tight budget.
7. Penn Pursuit II & III
Both the Penn Pursuit II and III have graphite bodies and rotors that provide them with lightness besides their durability.
However, they’re still a bit heavy compared to other rivals as the lightest model of the II is 11.9 ounces and the III is 9.8 ounces.
Their metal side plate provides them with extended durability while the machined and anodized aluminum spool provides them with precision and a perfectly smooth line release.
This smoothness is extended thanks to the 4 +1 shielded stainless steel ball bearings.
The line capacity rings also mark the amount of line you have left at 1/3, 2/3, and full line capacity.
Penn integrates oiled felt drag systems on their reels to maximize the smoothness of their operation and extends their maximum drags up to 20-25 pounds.
Moreover, the instant anti-reverse ensures your hook sets are solid and with no back play in the handle.
- Great price point
- Trustworthy brand
- Reliable drag system
- Smooth bearings
- A bit heavy
- Not sealed
- Lacks the HT-100 drag system
The Penn Pursuit II and III come at great price points and provide the user with smooth bearings and reliable drag systems.
Although they’re a bit heavier than rivals and may succumb to corrosion as they’re not completely sealed. However, if you take good care of them, they’ll last long with you.
8. KastKing Sharky Baitfeeder III
The KastKing Sharky Baitfeeder III is a very affordable reel that delivers more than what you’d expect out of a reel at such a low price point.
It comes with both the front and rear drag functions. The triple disc carbon fiber drag washers can drag up to 17.6 pounds without compromising the smoothness.
The 10 + 1 shielded stainless steel ball bearings provide the reel with seamless performance. Its gear ratio is 5.1:1 gear ratio, weighs 11 ounces and has a stainless steel main shaft.
Moreover, its CNC aluminum Shark Fin braid ready spool has a graphite body that makes it corrosion-resistant.
The spare high strength graphite spool and computer balanced rotor make its weight lighter and its line alignment uniform.
- Smooth Drag
- Sleek design
- Very budget-friendly
- Comfortable sure grip T-handle
- Only suitable for smaller fish
The KastKing Sharky Baitfeeder III is a great reel that doesn’t break your budget and offers you everything you would look for in a reel.
Its only drawback is that it can’t handle bigger-sized fish, but if you’re going to fish for small to medium sized fish, it’ll serve you well.
9. Okuma Ceymar Lightweight
The Okuma Ceymar comes with a cyclonic flow rotor design that allows more air flow to get into the ported rotor and prevents water from invading your reel, leading to its rust and corrosion.
Its gear alignment is quite accurate and provides you with the maximum casting ability and the highest durability. This durability is extended by the graphite body that’s corrosion-resistant.
The gearing system works on reducing the friction and increasing the casting distance while giving you more accuracy.
It also makes the performance smooth and while maintaining a uniform drag pressure.
The Okuma Ceymar lightweight has 7BB and 1RB bearings. Its gear ratio is 5:1, its maximum drag is about 13 pounds, and it weighs 10 ounces.
It’s not the lightest reel around, but it combines several great features.
The handle is made of zinc diecast to provide you with strength and torque.
- Resists corrosion
- Great value for the money
- Not suitable for saltwater unless you go the extra mile taking care of it
The Okuma Ceymar Lightweight is one of the best spinning reels you can get for under 50 dollars.
10. Penn Battle II
The enhanced paint quality gives the reel protection against saltwater spray that may lead to corrosion.
The sealed stainless steel ball bearings provide further protection against water intrusion and corrosive factors.
Furthermore, the Penn Battle II employs the HT-100 drag that uses carbon fiber drag washers like the ones found on the higher-end Penn Conflict. Using both sides of the drag washer increases the possible drag up to 20%.
The line capacity rings on the spool always let you know how much line you have left on the spool. The rubber inlay also enables you to spool directly with a braided line without having to back it with mono.
- Affordability of price
- Solid build quality
- Effective drag system
- Relatively heavy
- Prone to wind knots
The Penn Battle II comes with a lot of size options to suit all your fishing needs. Although its prone to wind knots, its build quality is solid and it has an effective drag system.
11. Daiwa BG 3000
The Daiwa BG 3000 has an anodized aluminum body that beats the painted one and extends the durability of the reel.
The oversized Digigear system makes space for more teeth to come in contact at any point in time which means your retrieve will be a lot smoother.
It also increases the torque and gives you more power to reel in larger fish.
Furthermore, the Daiwa BG 3000 has an air rotor design that’s 15% lighter than conventional ones and that maintains the reel’s balance while distributing the stress across it.
The ABS spool has a dynamic cut that extends the reel’s castability and the seamless flow of the line.
Moreover, the Daiwa BG 3000 comes with a carbon ATD drag system that consists of a group of cross-cut carbon fiber washers that make the drag of the reel as smooth as can be.
The 7 stainless steel ball bearings contribute to this smoothness. Unlike the ones on higher-end Daiwa models, however, they’re not shielded.
- Extremely smooth performance
- Hard anodized body
- Powerful drag
- Not the lightest
- The spool is painted but not anodized
The Daiwa BG 3000 is the best spinning reel you can find if you’re not going to need a fully sealed reel.
How to Choose a Spinning Reel:
When it comes to buying a spinning reel, there are some main things you should consider.
The Body and Weight
Typically, you’ll find a spinning reel made of aluminum or graphite.
If you’re looking for the durability and strength, go with the aluminum. If you’re looking for the lightweight and portability, go for the graphite.
In other words, if you’re going to be fishing in saltwater and off-shore, you should get an aluminum one as it would endure longer in those circumstances.
If you’re going to fish for long periods of time and move around a lot, go for the lighter graphite ones.
The Size of The Reel
Depending on the fishing line you’ll be using more often, you should pick a matching reel size. A rule of thumb is that the lighter the line is, the smaller the reel should be.
To phrase it in a more tangible way, if the average line you’re going to use is 8 pounds, go for a reel that’s rated for 6, 8, and 10.
Usually, you can find these numbers on the spool or in a chart if you’re shopping online.
The Reel’s Gear Ratio
Depending on the type of fish you’ll be catching, the speed of the battle will be determined. Based on the latter, you should pick the reel’s gear ratio.
The gear ratio is the number of times the bail rotates around the spool with every crank of your handle.
Smaller gear ratios (4:1 or 5:1) should be for the heavier and more stubborn fish. Whereas larger gear ratios (6:1) should be for smaller fish or the ones you can easily catch.
The Drag System
Drag systems are important because they apply pressure to a hooked fish and release the line during battle.
The two types you’ll find are front drag and rear drag. Simply, they refer to the location of the drag controls.
Front drags usually have many large washers the make the reel durable and help it perform better.
On the other hand, rear drags are easier to access –especially during the fights.
The Ball Bearings
Ball bearings provide the reel with smoothness, support, and stability.
The more of these bearings you can find, the smoother the operation of your reel will be. So you should go all out on them.
Spools hold your line, control the casting distance, and provide smoothness.
There are two types of spools: internal and skirted.
Internal ones are a little out-dated, however, some models still keep them for the hardcore anglers. The major issue with them is that they can get entangled with the body of the reel.
On the other hand, skirted spools spare you this struggle.
The Anti-Reverse Switch
If your reel has any backward motion, look for a different model.
Anti-reverse switches are important because they prevent the handle from spinning backward in order for your hook sets to be accurate and solid.
Spinning Reels: FAQs
What Type of Line is Best for a Spinning Reel?
Well, it depends on the kind of fishing you’ll be doing.
The four types of line are monofilament, copolymer, fluorocarbon, and braid.
Monofilament has a good amount of stretch and delivers strongly-tied knots but doesn’t respond to lighter bites like fluorocarbon.
The copolymer has more or less all the characteristics of monofilament but can endure abrasion a bit better as it’s thicker.
Keeping fluorocarbon clean is quite a challenge because it often springs when you wound it or work it tightly. It doesn’t stretch as much as mono so it’s less visible.
Finally, braid line has the best braking strength. It’s prone to backlash and knotting when you cast, however. It’s pretty visible and resists abrasion well.
What is The Best Ratio for Spinning Reels?
Faster-moving fish or smaller fish should be caught using bigger gear ratios as they’re quicker in action.
On the other hand, bigger or tougher fish should be caught using smaller gear ratios to be able to lure them in gradually.
How To Clean A Spinning Reel?
The outside cleaning is pretty easy. You simply set the spool aside and turn the reel handle to lower the axle.
Then, holding the reel in a way that the interior rotor is away from you, spray with a cleaning spray (like WD-40).
Make sure none of it gets into the rotor housing or on the axle of the spool.
Finally, clean the spray off with a soft towel or a rag.
Interior cleaning can be a tad bit harder. You’ll need to remember what parts you removed and how to get them back into place.
You’ll probably need some Q-tips and toothpicks to reach into the tighter areas.
Remove the handle and the screws that hold the body cover onto the body of the reel.
Usually, all you’ll need to do is apply some grease to the gears by soaking one end of the toothpick in grease and then placing it on the teeth of the gears.
However, if you’ve dropped your reel and you need to remove the gears for further cleaning, make sure you remember the place of everything you remove.
Why Do Spinning Reels Have An Anti-Reverse Switch?
Because anti-reverse switches stop the reel from turning backward and engage the drag. This ensures that your hook sets are secure and solid.
How Does A Spinning Reel Work?
A spinning reel works by employing a fixed line spool with a safeguard and roller framework (or wheel) that goes around the spool to handle and discharge of the fishing line.
This allows you to cast the rod and the line at varying distances to catch differently-sized fish.
Why Are Spinning Reels Left-Handed?
Many manufacturers are starting to produce ambidextrous spinning reels. They were initially left-handed to make the cranking easier for the prevailing crowd –the right-handed anglers.
Who Makes The Best All Around Spin Reels?
The most well-known and reliable brands on the market are Shimano, Daiwa, Okuma, and Abu Garcia. Penn, KastKing, and Pflueger also hold a good place on the list.
With the many options on the market, it’s quite hard to answer the question of which one is the best.
To get the most accurate answer, you have to ask yourself what it’s best relative to.
If you’re looking for the best in terms of speed and efficiency, you should opt for the Pflueger President XT SP35X.
If you’re looking for the best in terms of affordability, the KastKing Sharky Baitfeeder III is the way to go.
The Penn Spinfisher V & VI and the Shimano Stella FI are the best overall spinning reels as they combine a lot of great features at an affordable price.
While if you’re looking for the best value spin reels, either of the Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 2500 FB or the Abu Garcia Revo SX would be great for you.