Best Spinning Fishing Reels

Introduction

Pflueger Supreme XTSpinning gear—it’s one of the most versatile types of fishing equipment there is. Except for a few specific techniques where a baitcasting rig is a must, spinning equipment can work with almost any lure or technique you choose.

In addition to being extremely versatile, spinning reels are very easy of use. It’s much simpler for a novice angler to learn how to cast with spinning gear than with baitcasting tackle.

If you’ve walked past a case of spinning reels at your local tackle store or checked them out at one of the big online tackle vendors, you know there’s a dizzying array of choices. There are tiny spinning reels that fit in the palm of your hand, big-game fishing reels, features that you’re not familiar with, and a wide range of prices. It can be hard to decide which spinning reel to buy!

In this article, we’ll help make the decision easier for you.

We’ll break down all the factors you should consider when picking out a quality spinning reel and give you important details about ten popular fishing reels that we recommend.

For anyone who’s in a hurry and wants to dive right into our suggestions about which reel to buy, we’ve included a quick reference that matches popular lure types with spinning reels that would work for those applications. Check out our Spinning Reel Cheat Sheet to get a quick tip on which spinning reel would be right for the type of fishing you have planned.

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What Is A Spinning Reel?

Before examining what makes a spinning reel good, we first need to discuss how a spinning reel operates.

A spinning reel has an open-faced design that’s made up of a fixed spool located in-line with the rod. A rotor turns around the spool, and the spool oscillates forward and backward as you crank the reel. This is how the reel is able to lay line on the spool in even wraps across the length the spool.

A spinning reel is mounted on the underside of a spinning rod.

To make a cast, you perform four steps:

  1. With one finger, pick up the line just in front of the reel and press it against the rod’s handle.
  2. Open the bail.
  3. Make your cast.
  4. Crank the handle to close the bail.

You’d be surprised how often even experienced anglers skip Step 2!
You just caught a fish and are eager to get your bait back out there. You haul off and make a huge, sweeping cast, and your bait stays right there at the end of your rod. It happens to the best of us; when your buddy in the back of the boat sees it happen to you, expect some laughter!


What Makes A Good Spinning Reel?

Spinning reel for fishingAnyway, back to how you can tell if you have your hands on a quality spinning reel. One thing that matters a lot when you’re assessing a spinning reel’s quality is the way the bail operates; it will tell you a lot about the reel’s engineering. The movement of the bail as it opens should feel smooth, with a satisfying mechanical click when it’s fully open. When you crank the reel, you should feel only a tiny amount of resistance as the internal mechanism trips, causing the bail to close with a snappy action.

Spinning reels are great for casting tiny lures that weigh almost nothing, but to accomplish that, the line needs to come off the reel with zero friction. That’s why the spool of a good spinning reel has a finely engineered lip that’s ultra-smooth and made of tough, nick-resistant material. Every good reel manufacturer has figured this out, but it’s worth mentioning as a critical element in spinning reel quality.

Other important features to look for include a powerful, smooth drag, lightweight construction, and a rock-solid anti-reverse mechanism.

If you are looking for the best open face reel, limit your options to spinning reels that have all these features covered, then you can fine-tune your buying decision by focusing on how you plan to use the reel. That will help you select the right reel based on the type of lures you plan to use and the fish you’re trying to catch.

A spinning reel can be used for almost any kind of fishing, including freshwater and saltwater. As this article will show, these powerful, light-weight machines are suitable for everything from bass fishing in your local lake to inshore angling for huge redfish. Ultralight models are ideal for ice fishing or anytime you want to fill a cooler with panfish.

 

Spinning Reel Cheat Sheet

The chart below is a fast-track to spinning reel selection. We’ve eliminated all the guess work by taking eight common lures and matching each with a high-quality spinning reel that would work for that lure.

The idea is to save you time, so you can find the right spinning reel for the way you plan to fish. You can be sure that we factored in all the important considerations, like size, gear ratio, drag, and others.

If you’re interested in all those details, check out the topics in our Buying Considerations section. Otherwise, feel free to use this cheat sheet to make a quick, but well-informed, buying decision.

If you’re fishing with…The best type of spinning reel is…Example
Topwater plugs
  • Line Capacity: Mono 175/10, Braid 15/20
  • Gear Ratio: 5.2:1
  • Features: Fiber reinforced graphite body
KastKing Sharky III
Buzzbaits
  • Line Capacity: Mono 200/10, Braid 190/20
  • Gear Ratio: 5.7:1
  • Features: Trigger casting
Shimano Spirex FG
Plastic shrimp jig
  • Line Capacity: Mono 275/12, Braid 140/20
  • Gear Ratio: 5.4:1
  • Features: Saltwater-ready
Okuma Azores Saltwater reel
Spinnerbaits
  • Line Capacity: Mono 155/10, Braid 140/20
  • Gear Ratio: 6.2:1
  • Features: Long cast reel
Pflueger Supreme XT
Shallow crankbaits
  • Line Capacity: Mono 120/10, Braid 100/20
  • Gear Ratio: 5.1:1
  • Features: Smooth operation
    & unique ball design
Mitchell 300
Panfish jigs
  • Line Capacity: Mono 200/4, Braid 150/10
  • Gear Ratio: 4.3:1
  • Features: Compact, lightweight 
    composite body
Quantum GenX Ultralight Reel
Platic worms
  • Line Capacity: Mono 140/10, Braid 170/10
  • Gear Ratio: 5.6:1
  • Features: Digital gear design, 
    8-bearing system
Daiwa Revros
Cut or live bait
  • Line Capacity: Mono 185/10, Braid 150/20
  • Gear Ratio: 4.5:1
  • Features: Secondary drag system
Okuma Avenger Baitfeeder

There may be other lures and techniques that you plan to use, but keep in mind that spinning reels are versatile. If you buy one that’s perfect for one type of fishing, it will be useful in other scenarios too.

Top Picks Overview

In this section, you’ll find a quick overview of some of the top spinning reels on the market.
Each reel is also described as part of our reviews that appear later in this article.

 ProductOur RatingPrice
PENN Spinfisher VPenn Spinfisher V
Check Best Price
Okuma Azores Saltwater Spinning ReelOkuma Azores
Check Best Price
Shimano Spirex FGShimano Spirex FG
Check Best Price
Okuma Avenger ABF B Series BaitfeederOkuma Avenger ABF
Check Best Price
Pflueger Supreme XTPflueger Supreme XT
Check Best Price
Shimano Sustain FI Spinning ReelShimano Sustain FI
Check Best Price
kastking sharky IIIKastKing Sharky III
Check Best Price
Daiwa Revros Spinning ReelDaiwa Revros
Check Best Price
Quantum Fishing GenX Ultralight Spinning ReelQuantum GenX
Check Best Price
Mitchell 300 reelMitchell 300
Check Best Price

Top 10 Spinning Reels Reviews

This section contains our top picks—ten high-quality spinning reels.
If you’re shopping for a spinning reel that’s right for you, check out these reel reviews.

1

Penn Spinfisher V Spinning Reel

PENN Spinfisher VThe Spinfisher V Spinning Reel from Penn is one of the finest reels you can find for inshore fishing, or even light surf fishing.

Its watertight design is what makes it so good for saltwater conditions, and its power and long casting ability are best in class. Full metal construction, Penn’s Slammer drag system, smooth operation—you get it all with the Spinfisher V.

And just because it’s made to withstand saltwater use doesn’t mean it won’t work nicely when you head inland for a little catfishing. In either scenario, you’ll appreciate this reel’s rear drag system. With the adjustment knob located on the back of the reel body, it’s easier to tighten or loosen while you’re battling a fish. When you’re in that exact situation, you may be very glad you have a rear drag spinning reel in your hand!

If you’re looking for a tough, high-quality reel that can handle massive fish of any species, look no further than the Penn Spinfisher V Spinning Reel. It’s not what we would call cheap, but this is the best spinning reel under $200 that we looked at; the high quality speaks for itself, and this reel is well worth the money.

Our rating: 4.8/5

Specifications

  • New heavy duty aluminum bail wire for added strength
  • Enhanced gear ratios on smaller sizes
  • Friction trip ramp works around premature bail trip on casts
  • 5 stainless steel bearings
  • Stainless steel mainshaft
  • Alloy main gear
  • Infinite instant anti-reverse functionality (back up ratchet included on 7500-10500 models)
Models Overview

Model name definitions:

  • LL – Live Liner feature for live bait fishing
  • BLS – Bail-less model
  • LC – Long Cast – designed with the avid surf fisherman in mind
ModelMono CapBraid CapBearingsMax DragGear RatioRetrieveWeight
3500390/4
250/6
210/8
230/10
215/15
165/20
5+120 lbs6.2:130 in14.4 oz
4500300/8
250/10
185/12
365/15
280/20
200/30
5+125 lbs6.2:134 in15.4 oz
4500LL300/8
250/10
185/12
365/15
280/20
200/30
5+125 lbs6.2:134 in16.2 oz
5500360/10
270/12
240/15
420/20
320/30
250/40
5+130 lbs5.6:135 in20.4 oz
6500330/12
300/15
210/20
430/30
340/40
280/50
5+130 lbs5.6:139 in21.3 oz
6500BLS330/12
300/15
210/20
430/30
340/40
280/50
5+130 lbs5.6:139 in23 oz
6500LL330/12
300/15
210/20
430/30
340/40
280/50
5+130 lbs5.6:139 in23.8 oz
7500440/15
300/20
210/30
430/40
360/50
320/65
5+135 lbs4.7:136 in26.9 oz
7500LC480/12
370/15
300/20
500/30
400/40
350/50
5+120 lbs4.7:136 in27.2 oz
8500440/20
300/30
250/40
650/40
540/50
470/65
5+135 lbs4.1:132 in29.5 oz
8500LL440/20
300/30
250/40
650/40
540/50
470/65
5+135 lbs4.1:132 in29.5 oz
9500360/30
300/40
220/50
630/50
540/65
490/90
5+140 lbs4.2:139 in38.3 oz
10500415/30
350/40
255/50
750/50
670/65
580/80
5+140 lbs4.2:132 in39.8 oz
Demonstration Video

2

Okuma Azores Saltwater Spinning Reel

Okuma Azores Saltwater Spinning ReelInshore fishing calls for a large- or medium-sized spinning reel so it will have enough line capacity. A moderate to low gear ratio and powerful drag will help you control late surging fish. One fantastic spinning reel with all those features is the Okuma Azores Saltwater Spinning Reel.

It’s made from high-quality materials and includes Okuma’s precision Dual Force Drag system, with a click adjustment and a multi-disc design. It features 6 ball bearings and 1 roller bearing made from corrosion resistant stainless steel.

If you’re looking for a great all-around spinning reel that’s just as capable in saltwater as it is in fresh, the Okuma Azores Saltwater Spinning Reel would be an excellent choice.

Our rating: 4.7/5

Specifications

  • Quick-set instant anti-reverse roller bearing and ratchet system
  • Precision Dual Force Drag system
  • carbon mechanical stabilizing system
  • Corrosion-resistant coating process
  • Heavy duty aluminum bail wire
  • 1-year  limited warranty
  • Multi-disc carbonite & felt drag washers
  • Aluminum 2-tone anodized spool with LCS lip
  • Machined aluminum handle arm
  • Rigid diecast aluminum body, sideplate and rotor
  • Elliptical gearing system for increased precision
  • Hydro block drag seal
Models Overview
ModelGear ratioBearingsWeightLine RetrieveMax DragMono Cap (mm)
Z-40S5.8:16BB+1RB341 g90.9 cm13 kg0.30/180,0.35/135,0.40/105
Z-55S5.8:16BB+1RB508 g104.6 cm13 kg0.35/250,0.40/190,0.50/125
Z-65S5.4:16BB+1RB724 g110.2 cm20 kg0.35/390,0.40/300,0.50/185
Z-80S5.4:16BB+1RB748 g120.4 cm20 kg0.45/310,0.50/250,0.55/210
Z-90S5.4:16BB+1RB741 g120.4 cm20 kg0.45/350,0.50/280,0.55/240

3

Shimano Spirex FG Spinning Reel

Shimano Spirex FGThe Shimano Spirex FG Spinning Reel is a great choice for those who like a trigger-activated bail. Historically, reels with that feature have had balance problems, and sometimes the trigger assembly got in the way while cranking the reel.

Shimano, one of the best spinning reel brands, figured out how to avoid both those issues, coming up with a trigger design that provides the help it’s supposed to without any drawbacks. That’s what makes the Spirex FG one of the very best triggerspin reels available.

When you cast lures that need to get moving the second they hit the water, like a buzzbait, for example, that’s when the trigger can be a big asset. It can eliminate the need to switch hands after the cast, letting you time your first crank perfectly.

Made with a lightweight graphite frame, with precision-engineered drive gears and bearings, the Shimano Spirex FG Spinning Reel features the usability, power, and smooth operation you expect in a high-quality spinning reel. It’s also one of the longest casting spinning reels in our line-up, which is another reason it would be great for throwing buzzbaits.

The Shimano Spirex FG also made it into our Best Ultralight Spinning Reels list. It’s an absolute pleasure to cast with.

Our rating: 4.6/5

Specifications

  • Solid and reliable high-tech reel
  • Shimano S-Concept: S-Guard & S-Arm Cam
  • Wonderful for walleye & smallmouth anglers
  • Graphite frame, sideplate & rotor construction
  • Cold-forged aluminum spool with extra strength
  • Propulsion Line Mangement System for increased control and overview
  • Dyna-Balance
  • Fluidrive II
Models Overview
ModelPowerpro Line CapMono Line CapWeight (oz)BearingsLine Retrive (in)Gear RatioMax Drag (lb)
SR1000FG10/95,15/85,20/652/270,4/140,6/1108.85+1286.2:17
SR2500FG10/170,15/145,30/956/200,8/140,10/12010.65+1326.2:19
SR4000FG15/265,30/175,50/1458/240,10/200,12/16013.95+1335.7:115

4

Okuma Avenger ABF B Baitfeeder Reel

Okuma Avenger ABF B Series BaitfeederSpinning reels are ideal for live or cut bait presentations where you need to make long casts but ensure that the bait stays on the hook.

The Okuma Avenger Baitfeeder Reel takes care of that and adds a whole lot more. The company’s “Baitfeeder Technology” is a wonder—it includes a secondary drag system that allows fish to hit your bait without feeling any resistance. A simple turn of the reel handle disengaging the secondary drag and re-engages the multi-disc, oiled felt, primary drag system. A machine cut brass pinion gear, six ball bearings, and one anti-reverse roller bearing give this reel smooth operation and incredible power.

The Okuma Avenger Baitfeeder Reel is a good choice for anyone planning to fish live or cut bait for catfish or saltwater species. If you haven’t bought the rod you’ll use with this reel, check out our article on the Best Catfish Rods. The Okuma Battle Cat Spinning Rod would match up perfectly with this reel from the same manufacturer.

Our rating: 4.6/5

Specifications

  • Automatic on/off trip bait feeding system
  • 6BB + 1 roller bearing drive system
  • 1 quick-set anti-reverse bearing
  • Multi-disc oiled felt drag system
  • Diecast aluminum handle
  • ‘Precision Elliptical Gearing’ system
  • Machine aluminum 2-tone anodized spool
  • Corrosion-resistant graphite body composition
  • Corrosion-resistant stainless steel bail wire
  • 1-year manufacturer warranty
  • RESII: Computer balanced Rotor Equalizing System
Models Overview
ModelBearingsGear RatioLine RetriveMax DragWeight (oz)
ABF-20B6BB+1RB5.0:125″8 LBS8.9
ABF-30B6BB+1RB5.0:125”12 LBS9.6
ABF-40B6BB+1RB4.5:129”13 LBS11.3
ABF-55B6BB+1RB4.5:130”19 LBS15.6
ABF-65B6BB+1RB4.5:136”33 LBS22.1
ABF-80B6BB+1RB4.5:140”33 LBS22.9

5

Pflueger Supreme XT Spinning Reel

Pflueger Supreme XTThe Pflueger Supreme XT Spinning Reel is great at covering a lot of water. When throwing spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits, for example, you need not be able to cast a mile and burn that bait on the retrieve. The Pflueger Supreme XT is one of the best freshwater spinning reels we looked at, and one of the lightest reels Pflueger makes, thanks to its magnesium body and rotor.

There’s a sealed carbon drag system that provides smooth, consistent pressure on surging fish, and this reel features a special 10-bearing system made with corrosion-resistant components. A light, carbon handle and EVA knob keep the weight down and ensure all-day comfort.

When you plan to make hundreds of long casts in search of roaming fish, you need a reel that’s up to the challenge. The Pflueger Supreme XT Spinning Reel can handle it with ease.

To pair this reel with a great rod, check out our article on the Best Bassfishing Rods. The Duckett Micro Magic Pro Spinning Rod would match up nicely with this reel.

Our rating: 4.5/5

Specifications

  • Carbon handle for decreased weight
  • Super smooth Sealed Carbon Drag system
  • High density EVA knob for incredible comfort
  • Slow Oscillation Gearing
  • 10 Bearing System
  • Corrosion resistant stainless steel ball bearings
  • Magnesium Body and Rotor provides a very light design
  • Braid Ready Spool allows for braid to be tied directly to the spool
Models Overview
ModelRetrieveGear RatioWeightBearingsLine Cap. (Test/Yd.)
SUPXTSP25XRight/Left5.2:16.39BB + 1RB4/110, 6/90
SUPXTSP30XRight/Left6.2:17.19BB + 1RB6/145, 8/130
SUPXTSP35XRight/Left6.2:18.09BB + 1RB6/230, 8/185
SUPXTSP40XRight/Left6.2:18.79BB + 1RB8/285, 10/230

6

Shimano Sustain FI Spinning Reel

Shimano Sustain FI Spinning ReelIf you’ve ever picked up a Shimano spinning reel and turned the crank, you know Shimano makes some of the smoothest feeling reels on the market. The Shimano Sustain FI Spinning Reel is a great example of that, and it’s one of the company’s top rated spinning reels.

The Sustain is a high end fishing reel that’s loaded with features you won’t find on lesser reels, and that means better performance. Its rigid body and precision engineered gears give it remarkable power for battling huge fish, and its design is incredibly water resistant, so it will stand up to the harshest conditions.

The Sustain FI is one of the most expensive fishing reels in our line-up, but if you want to treat yourself to the best, this reel would be a good choice, as it’s sure to give you years of awesome performance and trouble-free use.

Our rating: 4.5/5

Specifications

  • G-Free body design optimizes fatigue resistance
  • Rigid Hagane all-metal body
  • Quick-set anti-reverse roller bearing
  • X-Protect system keeps internal components safe
  • Cross Carbon Drag System
  • Hagane gearing with X-Ship support
  • Double-shielded S A-RB ball bearings
  • Super light and strong CI4 material
  • Ultra smooth 8BB+1RB bearing system
Models Overview
ModelPowerPro Line CapMono Line CapLine Retrive (in)Max Drag (lb)
SA2500HGFI10/150, 15/145, 30/1006/200, 8/140, 10/1203520
SA4000XGFI15/280, 30/170, 50/1508/240, 10/200, 12/1603924
SAC3000HGFI10/200, 20/140, 40/1056/230, 8/170, 10/1403520
SAC5000XGFI20/220, 30/200, 40/16010/240, 12/195, 14/1654124

7

KastKing Sharky III Spinning Reel

kastking sharky IIITopwater fishing and spinning gear go together. That’s because many topwater plugs are light compared to other lures, and the way line shoots off the spool of a spinning reel makes them ideal for casting these light, wind-resistant lures.

The KastKing Sharky III Spinning Reel would be a perfect addition to your topwater tackle setup. It’s built tough, but is remarkably light, thanks to its fiber reinforced graphite body and rotor. The smooth, triple disc drag features carbon fiber discs, and the precision-engineered brass pinion gears add incredible power.

Rounding out the feature list is a design that includes 10 ball bearings and 1 roller bearing, all made from rust-proof stainless steel, and an aluminum spool that can hold tons of your favorite braid or mono.

Our rating: 4.5/5

Specifications

  • Built to land trophy fish in all fishing conditions
  • Lightweight built with fiber reinforced graphite
  • Up to 39.5 lbs drag power
  • Reliable and smooth triple disc carbon fiber drag
  • Precision mesh managanese brass pinion gears for improved power
  • KISS (KastKing Intrusion Shiled System): Keeps out water and dirt. Completely resistant spool, body and rotor
  • Shark Fin Braid Ready aluminum spool for silky smooth retrieval
  • 10+1 saltwater rated double shileded stainless stell bearings
  • Instant anti-reverse functionality
  • High-end aluminum handle
Models Overview
ModelBearingsGear RatioDrag PowerWeightLine Cap (lb/yd)Line Retrieve
SP 100010+15.2:133 lb6.9 oz6/197
8/164
10/131
26.2 in
SP 200010+15.2:133 lb9.2 oz6/218
8/185
10/142
27.5 in
SP 300010+15.2:133 lb9.4 oz8/218
10/175
12/131
29.4 in
SP 400010+15.2:139.5 lb10.5 oz10/218
12/196
14/164
31.5 in
SP 500010+15.2:139.5 lb10.5 oz12/218
14/185
16/153
33.4 in

8

Daiwa Revros Spinning Reel

Daiwa Revros Spinning ReelFishing with plastic worms doesn’t always mean baitcasting gear. If you’re trying to skip a small worm under a dock or low-hanging tree limb, spinning gear will make it a lot easier. The Daiwa Revros Spinning Reel is one of the best freshwater spinning reels on the market and would be a fine choice for anyone interested in fishing soft plastics with spinning gear.

You want a lightweight but beefy reel for fishing soft plastics—one you can fish with all day with but still has the power to muscle fish away from cover when you need it to. The Daiwa Revros Spinning Reel is a lightweight workhorse, thanks to its Air Rotor, ABS Aluminum spool, composite body, high-tech digital gear design, and 8-bearing system.

If you’re looking for a value reel to pair with your favorite worming rod, the Daiwa Revros would be a great choice.

Our rating: 4.4/5

Specifications

  • Composite body, cover and rotor
  • Lifetime bail spring
  • Digigear digital gear design
  • ABS Aluminum spool
  • Machined aluminum handle arm
  • Quality EVA handle knob
  • 8 Bearing System
  • Infinite quick-set anti-reverse
  • Air rotor for decreased weight and increased sensitivity
Models Overview

Model

Action
FW / SW

Bearings

Gear Ratio

Retrieve

Weight
(oz)

Line Cap (lb/yds)

Drag Max

REV2000H

L / UL

7BB, 1RB

5.6:1

29.7”

8.3

MONO: 6/135, 8/110, 10/90

4.4 lb

REV2500H

ML / L

7BB, 1RB

5.6:1

33.2”

9.3

MONO: 6/210, 8/170, 10/140

8.8 lb

REV3000H

M / ML

7BB, 1RB

5.6:1

37.4”

11.1

MONO: 8/240, 10/200, 12/170

13.2 lb

REV4000H

H / MH

7BB, 1RB

5.7:1

39.9”

13.8

MONO: 10/300, 12/260, 14/210

13.2 lb

9

Quantum GenX Ultralight Spinning Reel

Quantum Fishing GenX Ultralight Spinning ReelJust because bluegill and crappie don’t grow that big doesn’t mean you can get away with a low-quality reel. When fishing for them, you need casting ability to hit the right target, and a good drag is essential to make sure those slabs make it all the way back to the boat, and into your cooler. If you want a great crappie spinning reel, look no further than the Quantum GenX Ultralight.

A 4-bearing system is made up of 3 ball bearings and one clutch bearing, giving this reel a smooth feel and solid anti-reverse operation. The compact, lightweight composite body and rotor make it perfect for mounting on smaller, ultralight rods. The multi-stack drag is easily adjustable.

Anglers going after panfish often throw lures as light as 1/64 oz, and they need a reel that’s suited for such tiny offerings. The Quantum GenX Ultralight is just such a reel, and one of the best small spinning reels we found. If panfish are your target, this reel would be an excellent choice.

Our rating: 4.3/5

Specifications

  • 4 Beating (3 plus Clutch)
  • Adjustable multi-stack drag
  • Infinite quick-set Anti-Reverse clutch
  • Ultra lightweight composite body and rotor
  • Sturdy stainless steel bail wire

10

Mitchell 300 Spinning Reel

Mitchell 300 reelA smaller, high-quality spinning reel is perfect for tossing small crankbaits near cover. You need to make precision casts in that scenario, and the Mitchell 300 Spinning Reel is a durable, lightweight reel that would be the perfect tool for the job.

This reel features a unique bail design that increases the strength of the rotor, 8 bearings, quality gears that give it a silky-smooth operation, and a multi-disk drag system that provides consistent pressure in any situation.

It’s has a super-strong polymeric body and rotor, with the spool and handle constructed from machined aluminum.

Anyone interested in a spinner reel that would excel when presenting small crankbaits in tight cover should seriously consider buying the Mitchell 300 Spinning Reel.

And, if you don’t have your rod yet, check out our article on the Best Crankbait Rods. Most of the rods we covered in that article are baitcasting rods, but the Lamiglas XP Bass Spinning Rod would pair beautifully with the Mitchell 300, the best value spinning reel that we found.

Our rating: 3.8/5

Specifications

  • 8 Bearings (7BB + 1 RB) with an Instant Anti-Reverse bearing provides smooth operation
  • Innovative Bail Halo improves rotor strength
  • Sturdy advanced polymeric body, aluminum spool & aluminum handle
  • Multi-disk drag system for improved drag pressure
Models Overview
ModelGear RatioRetrieveMax DragWeightLine CapBraid Cap
3005.1:1Left/Right14 lbs9.9 oz12/18014/210
3085.1:1Left/Right14 lbs9.0 oz8/1308/190
3105.2:1Left/Right6.4 lbs6.9 oz4/1006/100

Buying Considerations

Spinning Reel Parts / Construction ExplainedOne of the main factors to consider when choosing a spinning reel is its size, in terms of the reel generally matching up with your rod, and in terms of spool size, which impacts line capacity.

But there are other factors in determining what is the best spinning reel for you.

Whether you plan to use the reel in fresh or saltwater is another important consideration, and the type of lures you’re going to use will help you decide on the right gear ratio.

You’ll want to factor in the how the drag works. For that matter, a full assessment of the mechanical operation is a good idea. Focusing on the material used in a reel’s construction can lead you to some very high-end reels, and that has a huge impact one final factor, which is price.

When we selected the ten rods for our reviews, we considered all these factors. This section will break them down and get into a little more detail about each one.


Matching the Rod

A spinning rod has the reel seat mounted on the bottom, and the guides are also designed to be used facing downward. The first guide is larger than the rest to accommodate the line coming off the spool in swooping, loose coils.

You need to choose a reel that’s matched in size to the rod, so the rig, as a whole, feels balanced and can do the job you need it to. Rods are made to work with certain line weights, and their length, weight, and action all play into which lures and techniques they’re most suited for.

Technique and lure selection is a big part of picking the right spinning reel, and there are a lot of overlapping considerations when matching the reel up with the right spinning rod. If you already have a spinning rod and are shopping for a reel to match, think about these factors before making a purchase.


Freshwater or Saltwater

Where are you going to be fishing? That’s an important factor in picking the right spinning reel. If you’re into saltwater fishing, you need a reel that’s made to withstand the harsh conditions that go along with that. Look for features like rust-resistant bearings; never-fail, water-proof seals; and a rugged design that can tackle the larger species found in saltwater.

It’s not that freshwater reels don’t need to have good bearings and tough construction. They do. But there’s something about the salt that can shorten the life of a fishing reel. The best manufacturers take extra steps to ensure their saltwater models can stand up to the punishment.

One final consideration is that you may need a larger reel for saltwater than you would for freshwater. The expanse of open water often calls for longer casts, plus, larger saltwater species can take much longer runs during a fight than their freshwater cousins.


Line Capacity

An ultralight spinning reel can take line as small as 2-pound test and help you cast tiny lures with accuracy. Spinning reels for surf-fishing can help you heave 8 ounces of bait and weight a huge distance into the surf, no problem.

Those two spinning reels will have extremely different line capacities.

A small ultralight model will hold about 150 yds of 4-pound test line. A typical surf-fishing reel will hold closer to 400 yards of 30-pound test. Line size has a lot to do with line capacity, but in general, smaller spools are made to hold lower pound-test line, while larger models are meant to be used with heavier- weight line.

All reel manufacturers include line capacity recommendations, so make a note of that detail while you’re shopping for spinning reels. Since line capacity will correspond closely with general reel-size, match up the reel with the rod and consider the lures and techniques you plan to use.


Gear Ratio

Choosing a reel with the right gear ratio is all about balancing speed and power, but let’s return to that idea after we’ve taken a closer look at what the gear ratio numbers mean.

Let’s say you have a reel with a 6.3:1 gear ratio, for example. The first number, 6.3, is the number of rotations the rotor makes for every full turn of the handle. That full turn is what the second number is referring to—it’s “1” full turn of the reel’s crank.

So, back to the speed vs. power topic. The gear ratio determines how fast you can retrieve line, and how much cranking power the reel has. A reel with a ratio of around 5.5 or higher is considered a fast retrieve reel, while a reel with a lower ratio, like 4.3:1, is consider a slower, more powerful reel.

Fishing with a crankbait using a high-speed reel is not ideal. Crankbaits displace so much water, there is lot of resistance as you reel. If you use a reel with a lower gear ratio for crankbait fishing, you’ll have a better feel during the retrieve and it won’t tire you out as much as a reel with a high gear ratio would.

Fishing with a spinnerbait or other search bait calls for a high-ratio reel. If you’re cranking a reel with a gear ratio of 6.0:1 or higher, you’ll be able to cover a huge amount of water very fast.


Drag

Every fishing reel, regardless of type, must have a reliable drag system. Its critical in helping tire out a fish while you’re fighting it. A drag system can put smooth and steady resistance on a fish.

Drag systems consist of a series of washers and discs, with the discs typically being made of carbon, graphite, or ceramic. Most spinning reels have a front drag—that design allows for large disks, with more surface area helping to create smooth resistance.

Rear drag systems can be effective too, and they’re a little bit easier to adjust while you’re battling a large fish. With many types of fishing, a mid-fight drag adjustment is part of the plan, for example in saltwater fishing for large species, or when using live or cut bait for giant catfish. Those would be good applications for a rear-drag reel.

In any case, it’s smart to adjust your drag to a moderate to heavy setting before you cast, then fine-tune the resistance when you get a fish on.


Engineering

Many of the critical decision-points when you’re selecting a spinning reel are about the engineering that went into its design and construction.

Manufacturers balance weight and strength by using high-tech alloys and other materials. Some machine the reel’s frame with portions missing as a way to keep the weight down. While you may find graphite or copolymer used in some very good spinning reels, the very best spinning reels will be made almost entirely from metal.

Machining has a big impact on the quality of spinning reels. The machine work is what gives a reel the solid, well-made mechanical feel mentioned in the beginning of this article. All the surfaces that involve bearings must be created with tight tolerances, so the reel will feel balanced and smooth when you crank it.

The bail should move smoothly when you’re opening it, and snap closed easily, with very little resistance as you crank the reel. If the reel features a trigger activated bail, the trigger mechanism should operate smoothly and not hamper the rotational motion of the bail.

The most expensive fishing reels are designed with a lot of attention paid to the bearings. The number of bearings is not quite as critical as the precision with which they’re engineered and the materials they are made of. Alloys like Chromium are added to steel to make the bearings harder and more corrosion-resistant.

Finally, there are features that can affect how comfortable a reel is to use. The ability to position the crank for left- or right-hand retrieve is valuable, and you should consider the size and construction of the handle and grip.


Price

Manufacturers separate their high-end reels from their low-end offerings by building their best reels with stronger, lighter materials and engineering them with extremely tight tolerances. That’s what gives an expensive reel that silky smooth feeling when you open the bail, turn the crank, and activate the internal trip that closes the bail. There will be a solid mechanical feel that’s not present in less expensive reels. Also, the drag systems of an expensive reel will typically be better than the drag on a lower-cost reel.

That being said, you don’t have to drain your bank account to buy a high-quality spinning reel. There are many mid-range reels that will perform up to your expectations. Most of the products we selected to review in the article are affordable fishing reels, and good examples of mid-range reels, but a few are on the more expensive side.

Our advice is to limit your shopping to mid- to high-end reels and avoid low-end reels. That way, you’re sure to find the best spinning reel for the money.

Spinning Reel Selection Made Easy

When you’re shopping for a new spinning reel, there are a lot of important details to consider, and factoring them all in can be tough. We hope this article will help you weigh the decision points and pick the right reel for your style of fishing.

If you carefully consider what you need your reel to do, you should have no trouble finding the best spinning reel for you.

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