Best Spinning Reel 2018 – (Buyer’s Guide)
Make no doubt about it having a good reel paired with the right rod and line is a must if you need to make pin point accurate casts over and over again right to where the fish are hiding.
Pairing a good spinning rod with the best spinning reel you can afford and with the highest quality line will make a huge difference in your ability to throw a lure or bait right where you want it to go.
Sure you can buy a cheap spinning setup from your local Walmart for $20, but lets face it both the quality and the performance will be terrible if you intend to do any kind of serious fishing.
Think of a good quality spinning reel as an investment. A good spinning reel if treated correctly should last years of use and abuse. They require very little maintenance and should reassure you that that your tackle is capable of handling that next big lunker you are in search of.
Why Choose a Spinning Setup ?
For the majority of freshwater fishermen the choice of tackle setup will generally fall into one of three categories:
A baitcasting setup uses a baitcasting rod and reel. The rod has a flatter line eye profile than on a spinning rod and the baitcasting reel is used to flip and toss lures with the flip of a wrist.
For trolling a heavy rod and conventional reel are used in conjunction with heavy line, sometimes lead core line.
A spinning reel can do everything a baitcaster can do and they can also be used for trolling. So a spinning reel gives you a lot of versatility in your fishing.
Spinning reels can throw light and heavy lures and in the correct sizes can also be used for trolling in large freshwater lakes.
Where a spinning setup really shines is when you need to cast light lures or bait. A baitcaster is best suited to casting medium to heavy lures. With a spinning reel in the smaller 1000 and 2000 sizes you can use an exceptionally sensitive spinning rod and very light line in the 1 to 6 lbs range.
You can also use some fairly heavy tackle set ups with a spinning reel. Large crankbaits and heavy jigs are just as usable with a spinning reel as they are with a baitcaster or conventional reel.
Spinning reels are also the easiest to use. If you are just starting out or are teaching a kid how to fish then I would strongly advise that you opt for a spinning reel.
Spinning Reel Reviews
Below you will find a list of the best spinning reels available. All offer great casting performance and durable drags that won't seize on you like much cheaper reels. Budget wise there is something for everyone.
If you are looking for a low cost solution then the Pflueger President is certainly the top choice.
If you are willing to buy then best the Shimano Stradic CI4+ is easily the best spinning reel for the money.
In the middle the Abu Garcia Revo SX strikes a perfect balance between high quality and performance whilst still offering excellent value for money.
Best Spinning Reel
Shimano Stradic CI4+
The Shimano Stradic CI4+ is arguably the best spinning reel available to buy right now and has been for several years.
The Stradic may be a touch pricier than other spinning but it beats the competition in just about every department.
With the Stradic CI4+ you get Shimano's legendary build quality combined with some of the best features and materials ever put into a reel.
Built using their Carbon Infused(CI) technology Shimano claim that the reel casing is one and a half times stronger whilst being some twenty percent lighter than the regular graphite Shimano normally use.
The drag housing on the CI4+ is sealed tight and is capable of maintaining smooth drag pressure even after being submerged in water for up to a minute.
The internal gearing is built from Hagene cold forged steel for maximum rigidity, resulting in less warp and more power being transferred from the reel handle to the bail arm.
- 7 ball bearings
- CI lightweight construction lighter and stronger
- Hagene cut gears
- Highly resilient to salt water and submersion
- Available in high gear model(HG)
Best Budget Spinning Reel
If your wallet can't quite stretch to the Shimano Stradic Ci4+ above then the Pflueger President is a solid choice as best budget spinning reel.
The Pflueger President has firmly cemented itself as one of the best budget spinning reels available. For the money it has a high build quality and comes with a whopping 9 ball bearings.
Who is the Pflueger for ?
If you are on a budget or are just starting out fishing then the President is one of the most reliable and dependable reels built at it's price point.
The President is available in only a small number of sizes:
- 30 - holds 145 yards of 6 lbs line
- 35 - holds 185 yards of 8 lbs line
- 40 - holds 230 yards of 10 lbs line
The President is best suited to use on a light to medium spinning applications and if you happen to keep a spare rod in your truck or car but don't want to keep an expensive reel in there too the President is the perfect reel to keep as a backup.
It's also a pretty light reel too, the spool is drilled to help shave off weight and the side plates and rotors are made from carbon composite.
- 7 ball bearings
- 5.2:1 gear ration
- Braid ready spool
- Great value for money
Abu Garcia Revo SX
The Abu Revo SX Spinning reel strikes a perfect balance of affordability and performance between the Shimano and Pflueger listed above.
With the Revo SX you get near Stradic performance at a lower price point. The SX is the perfect intermediate reel for those that are not able to afford some of the more expensive reels out there.
Where the Revo really shines is in it's line management system. The Rocket Spool lip lets line run effortlessly off of the spool as you cast - meaning longer casts and increased accuracy.
One thing that reduces casting distances on reels is when the line is laid in an uneven manner on the spool resulting in it sticking to the previous layers. Abu have used their Everlast bail system that helps ensure line is laid evenly and flat on the spool as you retrieve.
The body is made from a carbon composite C6 whilst the frame is built from X-Craftic alloy resulting in a reel that is both light, corrosion resistant and sturdy.
- 8 stainless steel ball bearings
- Carbon Matrix Hybrid drag system
- C6 carbon body
- Rocket spool lip
- Everlast bail system
Shimano Stradic FK
With the Stradic FK you get a lot of the same technologies and features used in the Stradic CI4+ at a discounted price.
The Stradic FK uses Hagene in both the internal gears and the body. The result is little to no warp or movement of the internal gears and body when retrieving under a heavy load.
Twisting or warping on a reel is a sure sign of a cheaply made reel built from low quality materials. Given it's highly durable build quality the Stradic FK feels like a spinning reel double or even triple it's price.
Sharing a lot of the same features as it's more expensive sibling the Stradic CI4+ the major difference between the two reels is down to the body of the FK being made from Hagene whilst the Stradic CI4+ is made from a lighter Carbon Infused(CI) material.
- 6 ball bearings
- Hagene gear and body
- Cold forged CF aluminum spool
- Propulsion line management system
- Power Roller II line roller
Penn Spinfisher V
If you are looking for a saltwater spinning reel that can withstand the harsh environment of sea angling then look no further than the Penn Spinfisher V.
Penn probably the biggest name in saltwater reels whether that is their classic conventional reel the Penn International or their highly rated lines of saltwater spinning reels such as the Battle, Conflict and Spinfsher.
The Spinfisher V is as well built a reel as you can find. It is engineered to withstand the corrosive nature of salt water and all of the component and housing are built with this is mind.
Size wise the Spinfisher V starts at a 3500 and goes all the way up to a 10500 so it's clearly not a reel that's aimed at very light weight rigs or lures.
However it really excels in the medium sizes, they give a great balance of weight and power.
The beauty of the Spinfisher V is that it is extremely versatile. Perfect for saltwater spinning and bait fishing. It is also sturdy enough to be used trolling on freshwater lakes for trout. And in the smaller sizes can be use as a pretty decent casting reel for medium to heavy lures.
If you need one reel to wear many hats then the Spinfisher V is surely it - the best saltwater spinning reel available.
- HT-100 Slammer drag system
- 5 stainless steel shielded ball bearings
- Anodized aluminum spool
- Braid ready spool
- Instant anti-reverse bearing
How to Choose a Good Spinning Reel
Most tackle setups consist of a rod, reel and line. Pairing all three of these together to give a perfectly balanced rig is one of the most important considerations when it comes to choosing what tackle to buy.
There are two main types of spinning reel:
- Conventional spinning reel
- Baitrunner or free spool reel
All of the reels listed above are conventional spinning reels with one single drag.
A baitrunner has the ability to set two different drag settings. One setting is to allow a fish to take a bait without it feeling too much resistance from the line/reel. Once the fisherman is confident that it is time to strike the handle is quickly turned a quarter turn and then the main drag setting comes into play.
Baitrunners as the name implies are usually used when fishing with bait rather than lures. If the fish you are after are very easy to spook then it can be a good idea to let then run with the bait in their mouth until you are sure that the have it firmly in their jaws before you strike.
Saltwater spinning reels as the name suggests are built to be used in saltwater fishing. They have much better seals on the reel housing and drag. Using a normal spinning reel in saltwater is possible but you need to be very careful and make sure that you rinse the reel in fresh water thoroughly after use to help avoid saltwater corrosion.
The size of reel you need is largely determined by the type of fishing you are doing and the rod that is required.
You should choose your rod depending on what type of fishing you are going to be doing. The rod will usually have a line rating on it printed on the lower section just above the grip. Once you know what strength line your rod needs you can then choose what size reel you need.
Reel sizes can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer but thankfully the majority of big name brands all use the same or similar line rating system.
The drag on a reel is a measure of how much force the drag break can apply against a fish as it runs away from you and takes out line form the spool.
A smooth drag that will not seize up under load is crucial. With a cheap drag you may well end up with the spool stopping completely which puts you in danger of snapping you line.
A drag allows the fish to tire out as it runs against the resistance of the spool.
What a reel of built out of will have a direct on it's durability. Plastic gears and housing is a serious no-no.
Spinning reels under load put a huge stress on the reel housing and the internal gears. Only purchase a reel that is built from the best materials.
Stainless steel ball bearings, corrosion resistant housing and super strong internal gears are the way to go. Skimping on the quality of a reel is a sure fire recipe for buying a worthless piece of junk that will either need to be replaced quickly or may seize up within the first couple of uses.
The anti-reverse feature on a spinning reel is pretty crucial. If means that once you start to turn the reel handle of a fish hits your lure then the bail arm will not reverse which in turn would turn the handle backwards.
Anti-reverse is a pretty crucial feature if you need to strike once a large fish has taken your lure or bait.
How many bearings a reel has can be a good indicator as to how smoothly it will operate.
For freshwater reels stainless steel ball bearings housed in a sealed body are usually sufficient.
However for a saltwater spinning real all of those bearings need to be shielded and sealed much more rigorously. All of the other elements of the housing and spool mechanism also need to be sealed properly in order to help protect the bearings of the reel.
The retrieval rate of a reel is how much line a single turn of the reel handle will retrieve.
A slower retrieval rate will generally have a lower gearing. With these types of reels you get a lot more torque applied for every turn of the handle. More torque equals more power.
A fast retrieval rate will sacrifice speed of power.
For the majority of fishermen something in the middle is best. It gives a decent amount of power at the crank whilst still allowing for a decent retrieval rate.
Open Face Reel
You may have encounter the terms "open face reel" and "close face reel".
So just what exactly do the mean and are either of them the same as a spinning reel?
An open face reel is a spinning reel. The face or the top of the spool is open. Open face reels are just referred to as spinning reels these days whereas originally the would have be called open face.
A closed face reel is a spincast reel where the entire spool is enclosed in a metal or plastic dome.
Spincast are usually though of as being used by beginners or children. But some of the better quality ones are perfectly fine reels and have actually landed some decent fish.
The have a push button cast system that is extremely easy to operate.