Spinning reels come in many varieties but they are not all created equal. I remember the first spinning reel I was given as a child. It was an old secondhand reel. Despite the age of this reel and the fact that it had been well-loved, it performed great.
The moral of my little rant about how old I am is that all a reel must do is work. Many spinning reels today are made of good quality parts and their design is very thought through but not every reel is good for certain fishing styles and environments.
When fishing saltwater, for example, a corrosion-resistant reel is essential. Not just for the saltwater but also the humidity in those areas. On the other side of the spectrum, landlocked freshwater fishing may not require this detail, but I recommend getting these types of reels anyway.
You cannot overstate the importance of a good, quality reel – it can make a huge difference to your success fishing. I was taught that anything worth doing is worth doing right, and I always consider products that I only have to buy once.
So, do not be shy about buying the best spinning reel that you can afford for your rod. If you do that, you will have a solid, reliable outfit for many years to come. That old reel that I talked about above is a reel I still use today in my 30’s.
With that said, let’s have a look at 10 of the best spinning reels available on the market today based on the quality of construction, design features and affordability and see what makes them great bargains. We’ll also look at a few things that may not make some of the models here a good fit for everyone to better help you make the right decision the first time.
Pflueger President XT
Pflueger has been in the game for a long time and they make a quality product to be sure. The President XT is a great all-around fishing reel for a general-purpose angler making it a great choice for fishing in multiple environments.
To start, this reel has a semi-perforated spool wall for enhanced breathability as well as debris and corrosion protection which is a very appealing feature.
The EVA/foam knob provides comfortable all day handling but doesn’t feel mushy like on some other reels. I like it, but understand that others may prefer something a little more solid such as cork or rubber.
The spool size is on point and can handle fishing styles that call for more yardage such as trolling or river fishing, especially at lighter tests. The reel itself is made from quality bearings and has a good drag that will last.
The XT holds up well and can make a particularly good all-around reel for seasoned anglers or a good starter reel for kids and newcomers. This reel is also low profile which is great for storing and carrying comfortably. The Pflueger President is an all-time best seller.
- Slotted spool wall
- Low profile
- Reverse crank
- Multiple size options
- Slotted spool for weight-savings/water drainage
- The low profile is great for storage
- The reverse crank makes fishing easier
- Some anglers might not like an EVA knob
Penn Battle II
The Penn Battle II is a great spinning reel made with high-quality components. It is a heavy-duty full-metal body and sideplate construction. The drag is of high quality with a carbon fiber drag system that offers strong stopping power while remaining smooth.
Another feature of this reel that I really like is the reel is made with multi-sealed ball bearings that resist corrosion and other elements. Because of these factors, this reel is a good candidate for saltwater fishing as well as freshwater fishing.
Due to the drag’s high stopping power, try this reel with a rod with a higher modulus for even more stopping power. Or if action is important to you, stay in a lighter modulus area for a good all-round setup.
A slight concern for those looking for a lightweight setup is that with its all-metal frame design (which is a plus in many situations), it is a little a the heavy side for any given size compared to some of the other reels on our list.
- Carbon fiber drag system
- Multi-sealed bearings
- Indicator lines on the spool
- Full metal body
- Full-metal body/sideplate build for durability
- Extremely water-resistant
- Carbon fiber made drag
- Matches well with high modulus rods
- Weight (a little heavier than comparable reels)
Daiwa BG Spinning Reel
When you are looking for a good saltwater reel, you should consider the material your reel is made of. Many reels are made with carbon fiber or aluminum material that is great for saltwater. The Daiwa BG Spinning Reel is a good all-around reel made from both aluminum and carbon fiber.
Aluminum and carbon fiber are both good materials for resisting corrosion from the ocean itself but also the salt content that can be found in the air. The BG is a great reel for the surf.
Ocean and coastal regions will naturally have more humidity than landlocked regions. Because of this, always choose corrosive resistant metals and carbon fiber for fishing to protect your investment. The BG has these areas covered well.
This reel is not exclusive for saltwater fishing, however. Try this reel for trolling in freshwater as well because of its spool size and durability.
The BG really excels with braided line, but don’t let that fool you – this reel can handle any type of line easily.
- Carbon fiber/aluminum build
- Multiple size options
- Air rotor
- Waterproof drag system
- Exceptionally durable
- Great line retrieval
- They run big – will need smallest size for bass/freshwater
Cadence CS8 Spinning Reel
The Cadence CS8 reel frame is made from a magnesium frame that offers great durability for those who may accidentally be hard on their gear. It also offers 10 bearings for ultra-smooth operation which can make fishing that much better.
The water tightness of this reel is not as good as some of the other brands on our list. The drag has a rubber gasket to prevent water intrusion but seals are lacking elsewhere, however, making it a good option for freshwater fishing but perhaps not a good choice for saltwater. The drag system is rated to 36 pounds of stopping power which is great for larger fish.
This reel is available in multiple sizes and because it is very lightweight, you can go up in size with minimal weight difference. I typically do not mention warranties in my reviews, but this has a stellar warranty policy.
You can use this reel for 90 days and get a full money back refund if you do not like it. It is also covered for an entire year for defects and any other issues that can arise.
The reason a warranty like this is great is that you can try it before you commit to keeping it. This is great for novice anglers just getting into the sport who may not know what to look for.
- Magnesium frame
- 10 Bearing build
- 36-pound drag system
- Lightweight design
- Lightweight design allows more size options
- 10 Bearing build for smoothness
- Great warranty
- Lack of robust water sealing throughout
SHIMANO SOARE BB Spinning Reel
The SHIMANO SOARE BB is a great little freshwater spinning reel for many reasons. The largest reason is its size. This reel is on the smaller end making it light and useful for bass and trout fishing and exceptional for creek fishing. The 4.3 lower gear ratio also makes the Soare a great finesse fishing reel.
Have you ever reeled in a spinning reel and it wobbled like it was off balance? This reel will not have that issue with its magnumlite rotor that is designed to be perfectly centered for smooth reeling.
SHIMANO makes terrific fishing gear and it is what I use for most of my fishing here at home. From their rods to their reels, you can count on their performance.
The only issues with this otherwise great little reel are spool size and availability.
Because of its size, the spool is small, and you will not have as much line to work with. This makes it a poor choice from trolling or any other situation where you may need more line.
Secondly, the Soare is essentially a JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) reel. That means, that while you can still get it through scarce JDM sellers, they are not widely available in the U.S. and have to be shipped from Japan. But the good thing is that the guy fishing next to you will likely not have a reel like yours.
- Magnumlite technology
- 5 Bearing design
- 4.3 Gear ratio
- Lightweight design for smaller rods
- Exceptionally smooth reeling
- Magnum lite tech makes casting smooth
- Exceptional for finesse fishing
- Small spool sizes
- JDM import
Okuma RTX Light Weight Spinning Reel
The Okuma RTX is available in more than one size as with most brands and is made from high-quality materials. The frame itself is made from solid aluminum that makes it very durable. This durability makes this reel a good match for kids and others who are hard on gear.
This reel is simple in design that can be compared to other brands and models but offers better quality materials. This reel is a good match for those with a budget of around $100 who want functionality and durability.
The sizes that are available are the RTX-25, RTX-30, and the RTX-35. Each can hold more line at higher pound tests. One thing that I really think is good about this reel is the cost of each reel as you climb the models is very reasonable.
The sizes available are great for different styles of fishing such as trolling, pond fishing, or shore fishing. Though this reel holds most types of line such as monofilament, fluorocarbon, and braided, it excels with monofilament.
- Aluminum Materials
- 7+1 BB
- 225 Yard rated spool
- Large grip handle (larger models)
- Large spool capacity
- Large grip handle for better control
- Moderate cost considering its quality and durability
- Designed specifically for monofilament
Penn Spinfisher VI Spinning Reel
When a reel has all the features you are looking for, you must have a second look at it. The Spinfisher V is a great reel that offers incredible durability, waterproofing, and smooth action.
This reel has an all-metal body and sits on 5 bearings for a smooth experience while also offering the HT-100 Slammer Drag System. The drag is both smooth and has great stopping power. Reel sizes 2500-5500 have machined aluminum main gears; models 6500 and up come with machined brass main gearing for added strength.
This reel also offers IPX5 drag and gearbox sealing to keep out water and other harmful elements as well as a friction trip system that prevents bail malfunction when casting. It also has line capacity markings to help you with applying your line as well as monitoring its output.
The Spinfisher VI, in addition to being offered in the standard configuration, also comes in live liner, long cast and bail-less models.
- HT-100 Slammer Drag System
- Friction Trip System
- IPX5-rated watertight sealing
- Hardened aluminum bail wire
- Completely sealed reel
- Machined brass main gear on larger models
- Line capacity indicators
- Braided line ready
- Metal construction makes it heavier
- No perforations on spool wall
Dr. Fish Saltwater 10000 Spinning Reel
The Dr.Fish Spinning Reel is designed with saltwater in mind and can be utilized in a boat or fishing surf. The drag on this reel offers an incredible 48-pounds of stopping power. This is a good reel for saltwater fishing, but it can be hard to apply this reel to any freshwater situations.
This reel is made for far casting and its smooth action is crucial to successfully getting your cast out there as far as it can. Because of the need for farther, smother casting, the spool itself is CNC machined metal capable of holding exceptionally large amounts of line.
Though this reel is not a great choice for freshwater fishing from shore, it does make a good reel for trolling regardless of water types because of the amount of line it can hold. But with the drag being so powerful, set the drag low if you apply it to freshwater fishing.
- Large capacity spool
- 13 ball bearing design
- Large stopping power
- Aluminum handle
- The large spool is great for surf fishing
- Durable drag is great for large fish
- 26-ounce reel is exceptionally light for its size
- Not a great choice for freshwater shore fishing
Quantum Cabo PT Spinning Reel
The Cabo PT model is a great all-around reel for those who want a quality-made reel. This reel’s components are completely sealed making it a great choice for saltwater applications. Along with being a sealed reel, it is made from extremely durable metals that also resist corrosion.
The bail of this reel is what the manufacturer calls “fail-proof” meaning that the smoothness of operating the reel will be greatly improved. Consider this for crank fishing and other fishing where you cast repetitively.
This reel is available in larger sizes as well which can make it easy to match your fishing style. Try a larger size for any deep-water fishing or trolling for a smooth action.
The only drawback to this reel is disassembly can be difficult for cleaning and lubrication. But this is a small issue when you consider that it is a sealed reel. Weatherproof features will always decay over time so look at replacement parts as well before you buy.
- Hardened metal gears
- Watertight components
- Fail-proof bail system
- LMS Line management system
- Hardened metal for durability
- Watertight seal for corrosion resistance
- Line management system resists nests
- The reel may be difficult to disassemble and clean
Abu Garcia Revo S Spinning Reel
Abu Garcia is known for making good reels that have exceptionally smooth actions. I have a few of their reels and they are a good fit for crankbait fishing and jigging because of this smoothness.
The Abu Garcia Revo S is a great reel for this style of fishing or any repetitive reeling type of angling. The drag can be manipulated very easily for fighting fish of different sizes as well for a great fishing experience.
Though this reel is an incredibly good fit for freshwater fishing, it is also made mostly from a carbon fiber which makes it a strong candidate for saltwater as well. Try this reel out on an inlet or the mouth of a river in coastal saltwater situations for good action and performance.
- 7 stainless steel bearings
- Rocket line management system
- Lightweight graphite rotor
- Carbon matrix drag system
- Smooth operation for good retrieval
- Extremely lightweight
- Carbon-based materials are great for saltwater
- Smaller size spool will not hold as much line
Things You Should Consider Before You Buy
Spinning reels are a great tool for any style for fishing but as we have discussed and as well can see above, they are not all created equal.
I grew up on the coast of Washington fishing the Puget Sound and freshwater that was found inland. I remember my grandfather and me having dozens of reels for different applications, but I always enjoyed the reels that could multitask the best.
Any reel will get you fishing anywhere, but a good reel is suited for your style of fishing. I like to have a balance in my reel. It needs to perform in saltwater but can still be a great reel on the river or a lake.
The nice thing about this is that saltwater reels make terrific reels for trolling anywhere because of their capacity for line and customizable drag.
A Few Reel Tips
No matter what reel you decide on, there are a few tricks you can do to protect your investment a little better. Here are a few different things my wife and I do with our reels every time we head out.
Put a Sock on It
Seriously, go to your local superstore and buy a bag of thick, generic socks and cover your reels with them while in storage. Moisture in the air can still corrode metals whether you are on the water or your reel is in your garage.
Following the same philosophy of keeping socks on a gold club, this little trick can make your reel last for an awfully long time. Even the best reels wear after enough time goes by and this is a great way to prolong their life.
Moisture Is a Silent Killer
If you are like me, there was a point in your life where you stored your reel wet after use. This is very detrimental to your reel (especially with salt water) and the line attached but it can be prevented.
For a little over a buck, you can buy a can of air. It is the same thing you clean a keyboard with at the office. Take a minute or two after fishing to give your reel a quick dry to get much of the moisture dry.
When drying this way, consider unscrewing your drag system and give the inside a dry as well. The washers inside a drag are typically a felt material and they will thank you for drying them.
Making the Choice: What’s Important to You?
Making the choice of a new spinning reel is exceedingly difficult, especially when doing it online. Try to remember to keep what you want in your head when shopping.
Sometimes I write down the top 3 or 4 things I am looking for on paper to have while I am shopping so I do not forget what I am looking for. With all the “bells and whistles” that manufacturers will try to show off, it is sometimes easier to focus on what you need before you consider what you want.
The best spinning reel for your money will be the one that’s going to last and does the tasks needed first and the tasks you would like after that. My go-to reel is ugly as sin, but I am here to tell you, that sucker can cast, and that is important to me.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the recommendations and buying tips. As always, stay safe and have fun!
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