The art, skill, and technology around fishing continue to change. And as you would expect, the advancements remain consistent since ancient days when people could catch fish with bare hands. Now, there’s an unlimited supply of technology, devices, and gadgets that make fishing a lot simpler. And the best fishing reels are among the phenomenal developments.
Of course, fishing reels, too, have evolved tremendously over the decades. New brands, varieties, and models continue to flood the market. Spinning reels are among the most popular reels among novice and expert anglers, partially because they are flexible and have remarkable usability features. You will also find a myriad of baitcasting reels.
Choosing a fishing reel to buy is one of the most challenging tasks due to the abundance of options. In addition, a reel’s price varies a lot based on its features, usefulness, durability, style, and warranty. And since you’re unlikely to put a high-end reel on a low-cost rod, it’s a good idea to split your spending between the two. Alternatively, you can go for rod and reel combo options that we review elsewhere on this website.
Everyone has their favorite fishing reel; however, we set out to find the top reels in the market right now. So, is your first choice on the list? Let’s have a look. But, before we get into each option, let’s go through the basics.
Top 8 Fishing Reels
Editor’s Pick: Abu Garcia Revo SX Low Profile
The Abu Garcia Revo SX (now in its fourth generation) is a classic reel that will get the job done. Undoubtedly, it is a high-end reel that does not cost as much as its competitors. And as you will find out, its price tag is well under $200. That’s incredible by all standards, mainly based on its outstanding features.
It is a high-end reel with excellent build quality that provides anglers with top-notch performance. And despite this, the company does not exaggerate its price. Many fishermen have remarked how strong the Revo SX’s drag is and how smooth and constant it is over the whole drag range.
This baitcasting reel will not let you down. The reel’s frame is amazingly light while still very sturdy and durable, thanks to its aluminum frame, making it a genuinely fantastic piece of tackle.
Key Features and Benefits
The X2 – Craftic alloy frame of the Abu Garcia Revo SX low-profile baitcasting reel delivers a highly robust but exceptionally lightweight frame with a rigid base for high drag pressures and enhanced corrosion resistance.
It features a 90-millimeter handle with large PVC knobs. Such a feature gives you greater leverage to fish for more extended periods and much more calmly during the day.
Another outstanding feature of the Abu Garcia Revo SX is the Power Stack Carbon Matrix Drag System lies in its weight. The reel’s weight conveniently evokes the pressure over the whole drag range for a smooth experience. The Revo SX has a maximum weight of up to 24lb, which is enough to tag the big prize-winning fish.
The Revo SX is equipped with the Infini braking system, consisting of a centrifugal brake that controls the first half of the case and a magnetic brake for the second half of the case. This incredible dual brake system is fantastic since it allows for a broad range of modifications, making it suitable for every style and ideal for individuals who want to mix things up.
The impressive Abu Garcia Revo SX features and benefits don’t end there. The company incorporates an Infini II spool design ideal for carrying very high loads. Any big game fisher will love that, and it also increases flexibility during casting.
The Abu Garcia Revo SX also has a DuraClutch system, which boosts longevity significantly. When casting heavier baits, the DuraClutch also helps to lessen thumb bar resistance, resulting in enhanced engagement with the turn of the handle.
Finally, it features nine stainless steel ball bearings and one roller ball bearing for super-smooth retrieval and castability.
- The Infini braking system is particularly notable, combining a centrifugal brake with a magnetic brake.
- It is lightweight while being very sturdy, making it ideal for any fisherman.
- Larger PVC knobs provide you with additional control and leverage.
- Accidental openings of the side plate quick-release might result in side plates going overboard.
- The cost is relatively high.
The Abu Garcia Revo SX has many beautiful features, a fantastic feel, and fair pricing. Of course, the editors picked this reel for the overall position due to the incredible balance in price, feel, longevity, and performance. I would highly suggest this excellent reel; it gives you a lot of bang for your cash. So I can confidently recommend that you acquire this reel and give it a try on your next fishing excursion.
Best Fishing Reel for Light Tackle: Best Shimano Stradic
The Shimano Stradic spinning reel has been there for a long time and has been through various modifications, the most recent of which is the FK.
As a result, the Shimano Stradic has earned a well-deserved reputation as a light tackle fishing staple — the series is refined, robust, and has always been available at a price that experienced anglers and intermediates could appreciate. In addition, each new series has provided a practical size range and great functionality, making them a go-anywhere, do-anything reel.
Key Features and Benefits
The new Stradic, like the Stella FJ, has reduced the color palette to a primary and beautiful silver and chrome style that looks fantastic. It’s the kind of reel you’d want to purchase just because it’s attractive.
Moreover, Shimano had softened the aggressive G-Free body design that drew criticism when it first debuted, making it more comparable to the Shimano of old, which is straighter and more symmetrical — something that many will like.
Other features are available in the new FL. It comes with X-Ship, X-Protect, Silent Drive, Micro Module II Gearing, Hagane Gear, Hagane Body, SA-RB (bearings), AR-C Spool, and a larger spool design for improved casting distance. These features are all vital for top-notch performance and flexibility.
The Stradic is now available in diameters ranging from 1000 to 5000 and is suitable for ultralight to moderate lines with a weight range of two pounds for monolines to 50 pounds for braided lines.
- It’s a lot lighter than a lot of other reels in its class.
- The Long Stroke Spool is a significant benefit, providing more throwing distance while retaining accuracy with small pin-point shots or long-distance throws.
- The Hagane Body is made of an alloy with high sensitivity, allowing you to keep a close eye on how the lure is doing.
- It features a more extended spool, allowing it to cast a bit far.
- After 12 or 14 years of usage, the line roller usually fails.
- It is costly.
Shimano reel’s expertise with saltwater gives total confidence in its longevity. In addition, the new FL has all of the most significant features at a very reasonable price for its quality level. Without question, this is the greatest Stradic ever, Shimano’s most excellent mid-range spin reel, and arguably the most excellent spin reel on the market at this price point.
Best Fishing Reel for the Money: Avet HX
The Avet HX traditional reel completes our list since these little powerhouses feel kind of like an extension of the body in your hands. But don’t be fooled by the size. Even the tiniest versions may generate 28 pounds of drag pressure, with more powerful ones reaching 50. Plus, these reels come in up to three speeds, which is a unique feature.
Key Features and Benefits
This reel comprises 6061 T-6 marine grade aluminum and stainless steel components that have been anodized for enhanced corrosion protection and a beautiful appearance.
For a genuine one-piece lightweight and sturdy construction, the frame is CNC produced from a solid block of metal. Also, the off-set handle is machined to prevent perpendicular drag and crank wobbling.
The reel’s stainless steel harness lugs may be reversibly stored within the reel when not in use. A pleasant soft-touch grip knob and a machined corresponding aluminum rod clamp are included with the reel.
Avet reels are made to a very high standard in the United States and provide a degree of quality and dependability not seen in other multiplying reels. So, like most US-manufactured products, the Avet HX is very dependable.
- Components are made of precision machined 6061 T-6 marine grade aluminum and stainless steel.
- It has a powerful lever drag mechanism with a pre-set adjustable strike.
- Stainless steel gears that have been precision machined.
- The most dependable anti-reverse system in the business
- Dry carbon fiber drags from Avedrag are known for their high stopping power, smoothness, and wear resistance.
- The clickers have a pitch and loudness that some may find irritating. However, some anglers do not see this as a big problem.
- The cost is relatively high, but it is a premium model with unbeatable features.
The Avet HX Reels will work best while fishing 50-60lb lines; after a few expeditions with them, we can safely claim they are even more adaptable. Of course, 50-60 is excellent for the angling needs of most people we have talked to. Anglers pursuing species like tuna, wahoo, and many forms of billfish might consider the Avet HX.
Best Budget Fishing Reel: Pflueger President
In 1954, the Pflueger spinning reel was introduced, making it one of the world’s premier rod and reel makers. The President Spinning Reel is no exception to Pflueger’s reputation for creativity, durability, and meticulous attention to detail.
While there are smoother, lighter, and more durable reels, the Pflueger President has a loyal following because it offers a lot of bang for your buck. They are competent, and they are so cost-friendly that they provide many folks with an affordable way to get into the game with light to moderate spinning reels.
Key Features and Benefits
The ten-bearing system on the reel features corrosion-resistant stainless steel bearings for an exceptionally smooth retrieve. This model series’ maximum drag rating is equivalent to that of other high-quality reels.
The procedure is quick and straightforward, making it an excellent alternative for novices. It’s also an impeccable option for more experienced anglers searching for flexibility.
The body, rotor, and rod are composed of a lightweight graphite body that is quite robust for its size. Even more, it features a more substantial drag and a more significant area for line retrieval.
The reel’s handle is ergonomically designed to fit in your hands comfortably. The handle has a soft touch, allowing for a comfortable and solid grip on the knob. In addition, the knob’s dimpled shape provides a firmer grip and fits your hands precisely.
Despite being more beneficial than other reels, the reel’s weight is 10% lower than prior Pflueger reels. It also has an anti-reverse bearing that may be activated and deactivated.
- Spool lip and line roller are tri-coated, making it excellent for bass fishing.
- It’s ideal for trekking and backpacking due to its incredible portability features.
- The stainless steel bearings are very sturdy and seawater resistant, so you won’t have to worry about the reel being destroyed in the sea.
- The handle is constructed of aircraft-grade aluminum for increased toughness, so it should last you a long time, making it more durable.
- Affordable costing of about $50
- Lines twisting or catching has been mentioned as a concern. However, this is not widespread.
- Gears and bearings have a finite lifetime.
- After a few seasons of usage in brackish waters, metal parts will begin to turn green.
If you are for an economical but practical spinning reel with decent features at a low price, the Pflueger President Spinning Reel model is the one to consider. It is a true testimony that you can still find a functional fishing reel from a top brand without digging too deep into your pockets. Also, you can go for them due to their flexibility and simplicity of usage.
Best Premium Fishing Reel: Daiwa Ballistic
With a redesigned compact frame, body, and housing, the Daiwa Ballistic is a superb spinning reel that fishermen highly recommend all across the United States. It costs between $799-$849, but it is worth the price if you can afford to pay for it.
Fishers have praised the Daiwa Ballistic LT for being light yet durable, and anglers will be able to fish with confidence thanks to the reel’s quality construction. This reel was meant to be light. And based on user feedback, it does feel light and weighs just one pound, which is incredible.
Daiwa’s goal with the Ballistic LT was to produce a new spinning reel that was smaller, lighter, and stronger than previous models, and it seems like they have succeeded with this incredible reel.
Key Features and Benefits
The Daiwa Ballistic LT was designed to be both light and robust, and this is shown in the Ballistic LT’s structure.
At first look, the Daiwa Ballistic LT looks to be a long-lasting and incredibly smooth reel. It lives up to the billing due to Daiwa’s use of a 7-bearing system on this reel. As a result, the reel will undoubtedly serve you for a long time without any significant problems.
The housing, for example, is built of machined Aluminum Alloy DigiGear, which is intended for strength and durability while yet enabling the reel to work smoothly.
Magseal protects the primary shaft that stops water and debris from entering the inner components. The technology significantly increases the reel’s shelf life to last for many fishing excursions.
The manufacturer also incorporates the Magseal technology. The technology uses nanofluids to alter density and form when subjected to a magnetic field.
The corrosion-resistant ball bearings on the Daiwa Ballistic are meant to last 12 times longer than standard ball bearings. Besides, this reel was designed with the LT concept in mind. Thus, it features a smaller, more compact, and lighter frame and a bigger DigiGear, making it the ideal blend of light and touch.
Interestingly, the bigger DigiGear is a precision machine cut and polished component that delivers optimal efficiency, more excellent energy transmission, and fantastic smoothness. The Daiwa Ballistic also benefits from the air rotor, which is 15 percent lighter than conventional rotor designs.
The unusual design of the air rotor helps to decrease extra weight, distribute stress more evenly, and provide optimum strength.
The Daiwa Ballistic LT, which comes in sizes ranging from 1000 to 6000, is intended to tackle a wide variety of gamefish and allows the angler to use various methods. Ideally, you can conveniently choose an appropriate model based on the type of game you want to pursue.
- Low weight with technological advancements.
- It has a 7-Bearing system.
- It is lightweight since it only weighs 1lb.
- It is a top-quality reel.
- The price -for roughly the same money, you could have a set of four excellent reels.
The Daiwa Ballistic LT is a light, adaptable, and powerful reel with a long shelf life since the Magseal prevents water and debris from accessing the main shaft. Furthermore, with a revolutionary air rotor that enables a lighter construction while still providing maximum strength by dispersing stress more evenly, this reel is ideal for freshwater, coastal, and offshore fishing.
I would strongly advise any fishing enthusiast who is passionate about catching fish to get this reel.
Best Fishing Reel for Beginners: Penn Battle II
It is nearly impossible to review the best fishing reels without mentioning a model from Penn. Apart from Shimano and Daiwa, Penn is the other reputable company for the manufacturing of high-quality fishing gear. And the Penn Battle II is an incredible choice.
For under $100, the Penn Battle II fights its way into the top 10 by offering a sturdy metal body spinning reel with seawater parts. Penn has always made strong reels. With its current limitless anti-reverse and HT-100 drag material, the Battle II can handle light tackle fisherman for years in the saltwater.
Key Features and Benefits
The Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel is simple to operate and an excellent choice for beginning anglers.
On the other hand, Battle II isn’t only for novices. Its rugged metal body, side plate, and rotor can handle even the heaviest saltwater gamefish. It also features a strong aluminum bail wire, which adds to its incredible quality.
The Superline spool, braided ready, has no backing and has line capacity rings indicated at 1/3, 2/3. Total capacity is another beautiful feature that complements the stainless steel bearings and quick anti-reverse bearing.
The Battle II spinning real comes in series 2000 through 8000, with a weight increase from series 5000, making it ideal for tossing bait and waiting for those monster hooks.
The more giant reels (6000 – 80000) are ideal for battling bigger fish. They feature extra line capacity that allows you to fish at depths of 100-200 inches while still having a fine line if a big fish begins stripping during the fight. In addition, the drag mechanisms on the more giant reels are intended to deal with line stripping.
- It’s simple to use and an excellent choice for beginning anglers.
- Different sizes of reels are available for purchase.
- Both sea and freshwater fishing are possible.
- Fantastic value for money.
- The reel is very smooth.
- These reels are a little heavier.
- The drag isn’t completely sealed, which is to be expected at this pricing range.
I suggest sticking to series 1000 to 4000 if you want to toss lures. Despite the weight gain after series 5000, this fishing reel remains a lightweight device with an HT-100 carbon fiber drag mechanism that doesn’t lose smoothness for power.
Best Saltwater Fishing Reel: Penn International
Penn reels are made by Penn International, a company located in the United States. Despite their high price tags, these reels provide a significant advantage while angling in deep ocean waters.
The prestigious Penn International is a high-end conventional reel designed for large game fish. The single-speed models cost $499-$599.
After the model names, the letter S alternates. For example, an anodized silver reel appears like an S on the title. Aluminum frames with a gold or silver anodized finish are used on all of these models.
Key Features and Benefits
While other manufacturers modify characteristics within same-line reels, Penn keeps the same characteristics on all reels in the same line, making it more straightforward for consumers to distinguish between them.
Penn International’s side plates and frames comprise aircraft-grade aluminum that has been machined and anodized, reducing the weight of the reels. Additional to the anodized finish protection, they are silver or gold in color.
Stainless steel is used for the massive main and pinion gears, adding a little weight to the gear system. Notably, all the components are non-corrosive. This feature, coupled with the advanced manufacturing technology used in the fishing reel, makes this product perfect for saltwater fishing.
The fishing reels include an immediate start Dura drag system, which gives a jitter-free start and allows the drag to simply release once enough force has built upon the drag system. While battling solid marine animals, though, you’ll notice that it may stick when they’re just getting started.
There are three versions of the Penn VI, each having a single-speed transmission. The most miniature model has the quickest gear ratio of 6.75:1. It has 31 ounces, which gives just enough drag to keep the line in place.
The smallest of the three Penn VI versions has a line length of 1510 yards and 10 pounds. It can accommodate a braided line with a size of 985 yards and a weight of 40 pounds.
- Its durability is its most significant advantage, and there are no significant drawbacks in performance. Thus, an International will last a lifetime if properly maintained.
- Covering high-performance features is expensive.
- Anti-reverse bearings are not available. Therefore, while the twin dog method is better than the single dog method in preventing reel reversing, it lacks the bearing that prevents reversing.
- On the fishing reels for saltwater fishing, high-performance reels are an overabundance of choice.
The Penn International is a solid traditional reel that has been popular and widely used, now being in its sixth iteration. While many anglers see it as the ultimate saltwater fishing machine, this product is also perfect for freshwater fishing. For the record, it is a piece of all-around equipment that can withstand beating and abuse in any environment.
Best Baitcasting Reel: Shimano Curado
Many anglers have relied on Shimano baitcasting reels. They are generally ideal for both freshwater and saltwater fishing. The Shimano Curado has been in use for 25 years, demonstrating continuing support for modernizing fishing.
The Shimano Curado baitcasting reel is available in a single size with three gear ratios, costing $180. The gear ratios are divided into three categories: 6.2:1, 7.4:1, and 8.5:1. Additionally, it offers a retrieval option to the left or right, which gives anglers an unprecedented level of convenience.
Anglers need these varied gear ratios because they allow them to experiment with various fishing methods. The three gear ratios are plenty to meet all situations, from pitching small lures to flipping jigs for quick retrieve with your favorite crankbaits.
Furthermore, there is no other way to characterize the handle but to use superlatives. It’s massive and robust, giving you additional leverage when hauling in the drum, trout, or colossal bass—most fishers like the 8.5:1 XG type, which provides enough power handling for those big fish.
Key Features and Benefits
Power Aluminum Frame: Compared to other materials, the frames are aluminum, which provides increased intensity and reduced weight.
The Shimano Curado baitcasting reel, in particular, features a body design that is similar to their flagship Hagane reels. With this design, you’ll be safe from sudden collisions and cutting flex when reeling.
Super Free Spool: You won’t need to whip as hard with this model to get the longest distance. You only need to make a mighty throw, and the spool will stand up to heavier lures and give enough resistance in mild breezes.
Compact, ergonomic body design: Shimano Curado model designs have been reduced by 10% on average in recent years. This decision was made to make a more compact design by including a lightweight reel to minimize flexing.
Furthermore, although lightweight, the ergonomic design delivers a spectacular feeling in the hand, which adds frosting to the cake.
- While casting, maintain consistency in your performance across the board.
- It’s simple to fish at any time of day because of its small and lightweight design.
- Shimano Curado baitcasting reels are made with high-quality elements and are expertly manufactured.
- Shimano baitcasting reels are suited for every angler due to the state-of-the-art technology and microprocessor electronics utilized. In addition, newcomers will like how simple it is to use.
- The price of this fishing reel is relatively high. Not every fisherman, particularly beginners, can afford it. As a result, this reel is not suitable for those on a tight budget.
- Many fishermen complained about the flipping when casting as a learning curve: this increases the spooling speed, which causes frequent backlashes and ruins the fishing experience.
Shimano has built a reputation for pushing the frontiers of technology when it comes to baitcasting reels. It is arguably the most popular manufacturer of fishing reels, fishing rods, and other fishing gear. The company’s expertise is well-known, and they continue to churn out high-quality, versatile, and performance-oriented fishing reels.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Fishing Reel
To wrap off this elaborate fishing reel review, we will now state some of the criteria we explored to arrive at the choices we did. Excellent price and good looks alone do not necessarily correspond to good quality and performance.
There are wonderfully affordable reels with the same characteristics as expensive name brands, but you only need to know what to look for in a decent reel.
Now, consider the following factors when shopping for the best fishing reels;
a. Spool Design
While you may overlook slight flaws in various aspects, a reel’s casting distance and efficiency are factors you should know beforehand. So, it would be best if you could get conversant with your reel’s spool design and size.
If you can add 15 feet to each cast and complete 100 casts, you’ll have covered an additional 1,500 feet of fishable water! The tiny 15 feet is the furthest, away from where the fish are unconcerned about your presence, waiting to strike.
b. Line on Spool
When loading line into the spinning reel, it should be flat and level from top to bottom, with no humps or bumps. Try to avoid purchasing spinning reels that come with shims, particularly if you are a novice angler. That’s a warning sign that the manufacturer wants you to fine-tune the reel to fix problems that might have been resolved at the factory.
A shim shifts the spool’s position on the shaft to match the spool with the bail. However, this should not be a big problem if you are a seasoned angler. Besides, spooling a fishing reels is a pretty straightforward task.
c. Spool Material
An excellent spool is composed of aluminum rather than graphite because aluminum does not break. Graphite may distort when the line tightens on the reel during usage, particularly monofilament, which may contract and tighten on the reel.
d. Number of Bearings
A spinning reel with more bearings will crank more smoothly. In any case, all factors are the same; choose the spinning reel with the most stainless steel or ceramic bearings. When choosing between a spinning reel with more bearings made of lower-grade material and a spinning reel with fewer stainless steel or ceramic bearings, choose the spinning reel with the superior bearing.
e. Drag System
Carbon fiber drag systems are standard on most current reels (or any other similar material). Carbon fiber drags endlessly adjustable, simple to maintain, do not slide, and have few flat places that cause slipping.
f. Gear Ratio
You desire a quick gear ratio for most applications. For example, when you want to skitter the lure over the top, pull out a winding loop, or deal with a charging fish, a fast gear ratio enables quick recovery. The gear ratio is made up of two numbers, such as “6.2:1.” The first number (6.2) indicates the number of times the spool spins with one (1) handle crank. The gear ratios on most spinning reels range from 5.2:1 to 6.2:1, with a handful reaching 7.0:1.
That’s it! Fishing reels are available in various forms and sizes, with a diverse range of types and styles you can consider. While there are many fishing reels, we managed to review eight fishing reels available in the market.
Choosing the right sort of fishing reel depends on the kind of fishing hobbyist you are, the sort of fishing you like, and your budget. Thankfully, things are a lot simpler than they seem since you can pick any of the above options have gone through the buyer’s guide that is provided.
Anthony has been an angler for the past 15 years. His experience makes him an invaluable asset to FISHING GEN and writes on fishing expeditions as well as fishing gear.