Best Spinning Reels Reviewed & Rated for Quality
Criteria Used for Evaluation
This can mean a lot of things when it comes to a reel, but we’re going to focus on the materials used to make it first and foremost for this segment. But know that it goes far beyond that. But with that said, when you have a device whose purpose is to fight against the fore of both the water and the fish you’re pulling on, then you want to make sure that the thing is made from the best materials and built competently.
In particular, you want to make sure that the main shaft, the metal part that you bolt onto the fishing pole, is made of top-notch material. After all, if it breaks off in the heat of fishing, then you have a lot of problems on your hands pretty much immediately.
The power of a spinning reel all depends on the gear ratio thereof. The gear ratio determines how much pull the reel has and how much force with which it pulls. This is especially vital if you have your sights set on a more massive game such as big mouth bass and other such large fish.
A lesser gear ratio, which means that the bail goes around line fewer times around the spool per crank turns, will give you way more torque, so if you are hunting large fish, then a gear ratio you want to shoot for is around 4:1. Meanwhile, a higher gear ratio, like 6:1, tends to retrieve faster. This means that it will help reel in fish much quicker than lower gear ratios, which is paramount for smaller fish who would otherwise get away with the lower gear ratios working against them.
Ease of Use
Because of their open-face design, a spinning reel will rarely, if ever, face any real resistance. Resistance is basically how much trouble it is to cast out and pull back in your line, and generally how hard it is just to maintain control of your reel and thus, your rod.
Something you don't want to deal with is a fish trying pulling you into the water at the same time that your fishing rod has decided to be complicated. The number of ball bearings in the spindle determines the smoothness in your reel and how much resistance you’re likely to face. The standard is that there should be at least five.
If there aren’t, don’t worry, buying and installing more is incredibly easy. So, long as your wallet can handle the price. However, if you have five, you’re pretty much set. They’re like modern video game graphics. They’re so good at their job that only the most experienced trained eyes can tell the difference between them.
We know we went on and on about how lousy resistance is, but despite the two being synonyms, in this instance, drag and resistance are two entirely different things, and drag is the one you want to have. Drag is responsible for laying outline when you’re pulling on the fish.
Too much resistance and the line runs the risk of being pulled taut and then breaking. So, no matter what the tension is, your reel needs to be consistent and smooth. You’ll mostly find a drag system to be sealed and waterproof since contact to the elements has proven to be the downfall of many a drag system in the past.
The final criterion we used for this list was the price of each item. One thing you need to accept about spinning reels is that, if you want the really good ones, such as the ones on this list, then you need to have a lot of money set aside because these things are expensive. Even the cheap ones usually cost somewhere around the $60 range, and the expensive ones are well into the hundreds of dollars range.
However, those are the prices you have to pay if you want the best of the best. But even so, we made sure to judge each entry by how well they justified the prices they were asking for. After all, it doesn’t matter how high or low the price tag is, if the customer doesn’t feel like the features they’re getting out of the bargain are worth the money they’re spending, then they’re going to believe they’re wasting their money. So, after you look at the price segment, take a look at the features being offered, and then judge for yourself and see if you’d be getting your money’s worth out of it.
10 Best Spinning Reels
1. Quantum Cabo PT
The first spinning reel on this list is the Quantum Cabo PT spinning reel. This may be one of the priciest entries on this list, but that’s because this reel is precisely engineered to best even the toughest oceans, brave the saltiest seas, and overcome even the most stubborn fights your prey can dish out. If you want excellent, you think of Quantum Cabo.
Carbon Fiber Rotor
The spool is just part of what helps move the line back and forth. The other half is the rotor. And for the right rotor, you need a lightweight but durable material that can stand up to intense friction. For this, you look to carbon fiber, one of the best articles on the entire market. Which makes this reel have one of the strongest rotors out there right now.
SaltGuard Corrosion Protection
When dealing with anything meant to work by the sea, you have to take into account the fact that the ocean is chock full of salt. And salt mixed with water is one powerful acid in large enough supply, which is why this reel is coated in Quantum Cabo’s patented SaltGuard 2.0 multilayered corrosion protection. This coating protects it against even the worst of the worst the ocean has to throw at it, keeping it as fresh and new as the day you first bought it.
Cost and Value
If you thought the previous entry was pricey, this reel laughs in your face. While it earns its place on the price spectrum with incredibly high value. That doesn’t change the fact that you will have to pay a lot of money for a single spinning reel.
2. Pflueger President
Here we have the Pflueger President Spinning Reel. The Pflueger president is easily among the most famous and well-regarded spinning reels out there, and for a good reason. So, on that note, let’s go over those reasons, shall we?
There are a lot of factors that make a good spinning reel, but one of those factors that stands chief among them all is the weight and construction of the reel. A spinning reel should be as light as it possibly can be, to not interfere with the cast. And this spinning reel is equal parts durable and lightweight thanks to its graphite body construction.
Slow oscillation gearing
Line lay is another incredibly important part of any good spinning reel. Line lay refers to the role of casting where the line hits the water and lays there, and how much noise it makes on the water upon impact. You’re trying to fool the fish into thinking your hook is a delicious morsel. So, if they know something hit the water, they won’t be as likely to snag on, which is why this reel comes with slow oscillation gearing. This gearing improves the line lay, making it less conspicuous and helps you get that perfect catch.
Cost and Value
The price may at first seem a bit high, but when you consider the cost of many of its contemporaries, then you realize that this spinning reel is quite affordable.
3. Shimano Stradic C14+ FB
Next, we have the Shimano Stradic C14+ FB Spinning Reel. Quite the mouthful, isn’t it? This reel takes what was already regarded as one of the best spinning reels in the high powered market and makes it even better.
The rotor is one of the parts of the reel that is going to provide the most weight under normal circumstances. So, a lot of effort goes in on the part of manufacturers to make sure that the rotor is as lightweight as possible. The rotor of this reel is made from magnumlite, a patented material that’s both lightweight, durable, and power all at the same time.
When handling a fishing rod, there’s one thing that all of the different factors are coming together to try to achieve: balance. A balanced rod is one that isn’t going anywhere, even when faced with the most stubborn fish. And even under those circumstances, you retain complete control, because you’re not fighting with the rod always to keep it on point. Inertia is also something you need to have under control as a result of this. This reel is designed in a way that reduces both of those things significantly.
Cost and Value
The big problem with this one is its price. Not the priciest on this list, once again, but it’s probably the second priciest on this list so far.
4. PENN Battle II
Coming in next, we have the PENN Battle II Spinning Reel. Penn has always turned in excellent, if not inexpensive, products, across the entire breadth of fishing gear. But their spinning reels have always been particularly attractive, which brings us to the Battle II.
HT-100 Versa Drag Washers
The spool of this spinning reel has been outfitted with HT-100 Versa Drag Washers. What do these washers do? These carbon fibers drag washers to give the coil the ability to use both sides of each washer, to achieve a higher maximum drag, more extended range, and a smoother startup, especially when compared to a traditional reel. And on top of that, every washer receives PENN’s proprietary grease for added longevity.
While we’re on the topic of things attached to the spool, let’s talk about the reel itself. This is what’s known as a Superline spool, which can hold more line, spins faster, and reverses twice as quickly as other spools out there. So, if you want optimal performance, then this is the reel for you. Except that there’s one little hurdle you have to get over first.
Cost and Value
The biggest problem with this entry is the price. No, it isn’t close to the priciest listing on this list, but it is a sneak peek of what’s to come. If you want the best of the best fishing reels, then you’d best get ready to pay up.
5. Shimano Nasci
This Shimano entry is the Shimano Nasci Spinning Reel. The Nasci got itself on the map for being the first reel priced under $100 to feature gears, some of the most potent speeds on the entire market. Of course, that’s not the only reason it’s on this list.
A reel has three core areas: the roller clutch, the body, and the line roller. The rotation for these areas must remain as light as they possibly can be. Unfortunately, making a reel completely watertight can add unnecessary weight to those three area’s rotations. The risk of added weight is why this reel is made with CoreProtect technology, a design flourish that makes the coil watertight, without sacrificing lightweight.
AR-C Spool and line management system
Casting and retrieving are what the name suggests; they are the processes of throwing out and pulling back in your line. And ideally, this process is smooth and effortless. However, sometimes, this can be tripped up for several reasons. None of which apply to the Nasci, as it is equipped with the AR-C Spool and line management system. Both of these systems combined make casting and retrieving as quick as a breeze and just as smooth.
Cost and Value
Like we said, this was the first reel of its kind, featuring what it does, that cost below $100. Except, depending on the retailer you consult, you may end up just barely below that margin, to be quickly crossed by tax and shipping.
6. Abu Garcia Revo SX
Next, we’re looking at the Abu Garcia Revo SX Spinning Reel. This reel is famous, not just for its sleek design and red and black color scheme, but also for the variety of features it has at its disposal. So what features does this final entry have to offer? Let’s close out the list and find out.
Like with all things, a good foundation is the key to the right product, which is why the Revo SX pulled out the thinking cap for this one. Through the use of an insert molded C6 carbon body, coupled with a 1-piece X-craft aluminum gearbox. The team behind this thing of beauty created a durable foundation that is both light and rigid, more so than the previous incarnation of this reel by an extensive margin.
There are quite a few factors that play into how well you can control your reel, and thus the rod it’s attached to. This reel checks every single one of those boxes. From a lightweight graphite rotor to the Rocket line management system, a braid ready machined aluminum spool, and a slow oscillation system to top it all off, this reel has some of the best control on the market.
Cost and Value
Considering what the average price tends to be for a reel of this quality, it’s pretty affordable when seen through that lens.
7. Daiwa RG-AB
Next up, we have the Daiwa RG-AB Spinning Reel. If you want something that makes you think that you should have paid more for this than you ended up doing, then you need to go with this excellent spinning reel by Daiwa. So, what does this spinning reel do that makes it so good? Let’s find out.
Computer designed digigear
The gears of this reel have something that sets them apart from the other entries on this list; computers entirely designed them. Well, to be more specific, by someone carefully mapping out what they needed the gears to look like, and then asking the machine to make a couple hundred of those for a couple of hundred reels for them to go into. Because of this, there isn’t a single imperfection in any of the gears in this reel.
Other reels have eight, maybe nine ball bearings for their bearing system. Those numbers work just fine. Nothing wrong with it, but this reel takes it a step even further beyond, by having ten. Words cannot describe the difference this causes. This simple addition results in a silky-smooth operation that you can’t go back from after using even once.
Cost and Value
The best part about this entry is the price, as thankfully we’re back to more manageable costs for now. The price of this reel is even more affordable than the first entry.
8. Pflueger Supreme
Next, we chose the Pflueger Supreme Spinning Reel. Our last Pflueger entry for this list, and we couldn’t think of better entry to cap it off than the Supreme. If you’ve got a freshwater fishing trip planned for the upcoming weekend, then we can’t recommend this one to you enough.
The knob is the part of the reel where you hold onto to reel back the line and pull in your catch. So, this is the part of the reel that, positively, must be the smoothest part of the entire reel, because it spells the difference between catching your game or not. Fortunately, this reel has the right tool for the job, with an ergonomic, soft to the tough, and straightforward to use the knob.
Anti-twist titanium line roller
The line roller is the thing keeping your line straight and what keeps it from tangling up in itself like lines such as these is one to do. So, of course, you want to make sure that the line roller is of considerable quality. And considering that this one is made from solid titanium, and made with anti-twist technology, this line roller will never let you down.
Cost and Value
The reasonable prices were fun while they lasted. While this is still technically in the double-digit range, it’s so close to the other side, that tax and shipping will handle that in short order. Thankfully though, that still makes it much lower than the other expensive entries on this list.
9. PENN Spinfisher V
The next up is the PENN Spinfisher V Spinning Reel. This is our final PENN entry for this list, but don’t take that to mean that we settled for less. Quite the contrary as this is easily one of the most famous saltwater spinning reels, not just from PENN, but in the whole world.
There’s a lot that can mess up a spinning reel, but one of the most common of these, ironically, is getting wet. A wet spinning reel is mostly a problem for saltwater reels, because like we said, saltwater is very corrosive if you don’t scrub it off. Fortunately, you’ll never have to worry about such a thing with this reel, which is 100% watertight.
Stainless steel main shaft
The main shaft of a spinning reel is the base of the device and the part that then connects to the fishing pole. This is the part that you need to be the most durable of them all, for reasons that should be obvious. Luckily, this section of the reel is made from pure stainless steel, ensuring that it isn’t going anywhere when you attach it to your pole.
Cost and Value
Of course, such an excellent and well-regarded piece of hardware would not be cheap, and sure enough, this spinning reel is pretty expensive. Though again, not quite as expensive as it otherwise could’ve been, so it earns points for that department.
10. Mitchell 300 Pro
Next, we have the Mitchell 300 Pro Spinning Reel. Mitchell has long since garnered a reputation for themselves as being the go-to guys for quality, consistency, and innovative design. And the 300 Pro keeps up this tradition, and then some.
Advanced polymeric body
Many different materials can be used to make a good reel out of. From steel to titanium, to carbon fiber, you name it. But there’s nothing quite like the advanced polymeric body the 300 Pro is armed with. It’s tough, it’s lightweight, and it is one of the most balanced materials on the entire market. So, if excellence in build quality is what you’re on the lookout for, look no further.
10 bearing system
Like we’ve gone over so far, we’ve seen plenty of reels with 8 or 9 bearings for their bearing system, and a few that have 10. This is one of the latter, giving you an excellent, smooth as butter control to the whole thing that is matched by no other kind of bearing system out there. And one that will be difficult to go back from.
Cost and Value
For all of its excellent qualities and features, it’s shocking just how cheap this thing is. It isn’t the most affordable on this list, mind you, but it is up there with them.