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With a fixed, open-faced spool and an under-rod mounting, spinning reels are famously easy to use - making them a popular choice for beginner anglers. More experienced fishermen also appreciate spinning reels for their versatility and for their ability to cast light baits further than most other reel types. Whichever group you belong to, purchasing a spinning reel involves choosing the right model for you based on your intended fishing environment and target species. Want some help picking one out? Below we rounded up the best spinning reels to purchase today.
Best Overall: Shimano Stradic C14+ Spinning Fishing Reel
Guaranteed to turn heads with its metallic shades of silver and red, the Shimano Stradic C14+ Spinning Reel is a beautifully designed mid-range all-rounder. Amazon reviewers love the reel’s silky smooth retrieval, easily adjustable drag and incredible lightness. The latter is the result of its C14+ carbon body and Magnumlite Rotor (which is 25 percent lighter than the rotor on previous Shimano styles). The aluminum spool is cold-forged for long-lasting smoothness, strength and power; while the 6 + 1 ball bearings are fully corrosion-resistant for use in fresh or saltwater.
Similarly, the reel’s CoreProtect technology prevents water from entering the body. The stainless steel bail wire features a one-piece design that reduces the likelihood of your line getting snagged; while the angled lip of Shimano’s unique ARC spool allows the line to leave the spool with less friction, resulting in longer, more accurate casts. If you’re using braid, the likelihood of backlash is also significantly reduced. Choose from a range of different models with gear ratios ranging from a powerful 4.8:1 to a speedy 6.2:1.
Best Under $150: Abu Garcia Revo S Spinning Reel
Featuring a bold monochromatic design, the Abu Garcia Revo S Spinning Reel is a great option for those that want quality at a reasonable price. The C6 carbon body makes the reel both lightweight and strong, while the X-Craftic gearbox maintains perfect gear alignment even under duress. The spool features a unique lip design that controls the rate at which the line comes off the spool for greater casting accuracy and a slow oscillation that allows for an even line lay upon retrieval.
If you’re fishing with braid, you can tie your line directly to the spool to avoid slippage. Other highlights include the Carbon Matrix hybrid drag system (offering a smooth, reliable drag performance), as well as the handle’s large PVC knob. The latter keeps you comfortable throughout a full day’s fishing. The 7 + 1 ball bearings are all corrosion resistant, while the main shaft and components are crafted from durable stainless steel.
Best Under $60: Penn Pursuit II Spinning Fishing Reel
The Penn Pursuit II Spinning Fishing Reel is an excellent budget option that operates well despite its low price-tag. Of the five models, the smallest offers a maximum drag of 10 pounds and a gear ratio of 5.2:1; while the largest has a 25-pound maximum drag and a 4.3:1 gear ratio for ultimate cranking power. An ergonomic handle adds to your comfort during the fight.
All models feature an ultra lightweight graphite body and rotor, an aluminum side plate and a machined anodized aluminum spool. Four stainless steel ball bearings provide smooth retrieval in salt or freshwater, while the anti-reverse mechanism eliminates playback for an instant hook-up. The oiled felt drag system is another key feature, providing plenty of drag pressure without compromising on smoothness.
Best Inshore: KastKing Sharky Baitfeeder III Spinning Reel
Designed with inshore fishermen in mind, the KastKing Sharky Baitfeeder III Spinning Reel withstands saltwater corrosion, thanks to a stainless steel main shaft and 10 + 1 shielded stainless steel ball bearings. The highlight of this reel is its dual drag system. The carbon fiber front drag offers up to 26.5 pounds of drag power, while the rear drag system provides a featherlight setting ideal for drifting cut bait or live bait out into deeper water.
When predators waiting on backline take the bait, the baitfeeder drag switches over to the stronger front drag as soon as you start to crank. Other notable features include the reel’s aluminum braid-ready spool, its T-grip aluminum handle and its eye-catching red and black color scheme. There are four models to choose from with two gear ratios: 5.1:1 and 5.5:1.
Best Heavyweight: KastKing Kodiak Saltwater Spinning Reel
If you’re planning on targeting larger fish species either from shore or from a boat, consider the KastKing Kodiak Saltwater Spinning Reel. Inspired by the raw power of Alaska’s Kodiak bears, it boasts a zero-flex anodized aluminum body capable of standing up to big game fish. The gears are made of fortified brass, while the stainless steel main shaft is 15 percent thicker than other KastKing reels.
The reel’s carbon fiber drag system offers up to 39.5 pounds of drag power (on the 4000 and 5000 models). The 5.2:1 gear ratio strikes the ideal balance between fast line retrieval and the solid cranking power needed to land bigger fish. Lastly, the aluminum rotor and spool are specially designed to prevent saltwater from entering, while the 10 + 1 ball bearings are also corrosion-resistant.
Best Lightweight: Okuma Ceymar C-10 Lightweight Spinning Reel
The smallest reel in the Ceymar family, the Okuma Ceymar C-10 Lightweight Spinning Reel is the perfect choice for two- to six-pound test fishing lines. Pair it with a lightweight rod to keep the fight fun when targeting smaller species such as trout, bluegills, crappies or perch. The Blade Body Design reduces the reel’s overall bulk and size, helping it to tip the scale at just 0.4 ounces.
A multi-disc drag system provides up to 5 pounds of maximum drag, while the computer-balanced rotor system spins without wobbling even at high speeds. Other highlights include 7 + 1 ball bearings, precision cut brass gears and a machined aluminum spool. The handle increases your comfort with a soft-touch EVA knob.
Best Splurge: Shimano Stella FI Spinning Reel
Dubbed “the Bentley of freshwater spinning reels” by one Amazon reviewer, the Shimano Stella FI is the reel of choice when money is no object. As well as being one of the most expensive light application spinning reels on the market, it is also one of the smoothest, most balanced and best-looking options. Its cold-forged Hagane body is a masterpiece of fluid lines, while the G-Free design moves the oscillation system closer to the center of the reel to virtually eliminate wobble.
The MicroModule Gear System is another highlight, offering improved gear alignment for better contact with the lure and unrivaled torque. The handle screws directly into the drive gear for optimum power transfer. The 12 + 1 ball bearings are all corrosion resistant, while CoreProtect technology keeps water out of the reel body. Together, these features make the Stella FI suitable for years of use in fresh or saltwater. Choose from a range of gear ratios, from 5.1:1 to 6.4:1.