If you’re a hardcore angler, then you’ll already know that having a really impressive spinning combo in their toolkit is a huge asset. It’s possible to find spinning reels in pretty much any retail store but truth be told, they’re not all that great.
They are more like children’s playthings, and yes they may be just fine when you find yourself in a situation where you need a reel on the fly, such as when you’re on a vacation, they aren’t too great for when you’re wanting to do some real fishing. You absolutely need better.
We’ve written this guide to point you in the direction of the best spinning reel for you that’s good for when you may not have the money to spend on something incredibly expensive.
If you’re just starting out in your angling journey there are a lot of different technical specifications that you should brush up on that we’ve covered here. There’s no need to feel intimidated by these specifications!
If you already know a lot about spinning reels then just skip straight ahead to our product recommendations.
Spinning Reel Reviews
If you are on the hunt for a great spinning reel model, then it’s worth taking a look at the chart above where we’ve compared all of the products. These products that we’ve explored below are the ones that we think are the best spinning reels as far as value for money is concerned. You will be happy with any one of these models.
You should be able to make each model last you a couple of years so long as they are properly maintained. If you do have a little bit more time to spend looking over the finer details of these reels, keep reading this article to see out reviews about the reels listed.
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Best Spinning Reels - Reviews
This spinning reel, the Abu Garcia Revo SX, actually looks quite similar to the Pflueger Supreme XT that we will cover later on in this article.
One of the primary differences between the two lies in the weight and materials used. The Revo SX features an aluminum gear set in addition to a carbon insert molded frame, a sideplate and a handle, whereas the Supreme XT is made of magnesium.
So the question you may have is: is this still a decent spinning reel? The short answer is yes, absolutely! We’ve even tried out some of them myself that we’ve used for lightweight shaky head fishing and drop shot fishing.
These reels are well known for their extremely smooth Carbon Matrix drag systems, and we can say with certainty that this is definitely worth the money.
If you’re looking for one of the best spinning reels on the market, you’ve found it in the Shimano Stradic Ci4+. If you look on pretty much any site that sells gear for anglers, you’re more than likely going to find 5 star reviews for this product from Anglers across the United States.
This spinning reel is without a doubt one of the more expensive models on the market, but with that price you are going to get a precise reel and some impeccable performance in every way imaginable.
The reel features a carbon fiber infused frame and handle that provides great strength and less weight. As there aren’t any metal parts on this model it’s also well suited to lighter saltwater fishing applications.
The reel also features paddle style grips (maybe EVA foam grips were only a temporary thing?) which is where it differs from its predecessor.
These paddle style grips are hollowed out entirely to save a little on weight. They help to minimize the number of times you need to play around with attempting to find the grip of the handle after you’ve had a strike you didn’t expect.
Potentially one of the coolest aspects of the Stradic Ci4+ is the stupendously smooth drag. When a particularly large fish is really using all of its strength to pull back into deeper water, you’ll be pleased to know that your drag is going to be well equipped for your intense battle with the fish.
In fact, it has a 10lb test fluorocarbon line so it’s an ideal suitor to this fantastic spinning reel.
The Pflueger Supreme XT is one of those wonderful rarities that boasts an impeccably high performance all while costing fairly little. It is made of very high quality materials.
As we previously mentioned, the rotor, body and side plate are all made of magnesium which is a bit help in keeping the reel very light and properly balanced as you hold it in your hand.
The handle is made out of lightweight and strong carbon fiber composite. It even has the extremely popular EVA foam knobs on the reel to keep up with the lightweight theme of this reel.
The brand is actually owned by Pure Fishing, the same brand that also owns Abu Garcia. If you are well versed in the world of spinning reels you may be able to notice some of the similarities between the Revo SX and the Revo STX spinning reels.
From a lot of the things that we’ve read online though, the quality is pretty much just as good or even better than the Revo series of reels.
So there are all the fantastic features it has, but how does it handle when you take it to the water? The Supreme XT spinning reel gets fantastically high ratings across the board from most anglers that invest in it.
It feels fantastic, has great castability, and it has a sealed carbon fiber drag stack that is silky smooth.
The Shimano Stradic series of fishing reels is immensely popular among freshwater anglers and has been for a number of years now. The brand has earned a fanstic reputation as a result of their fantastic mechanical design and highly impressive drag system.
Construction - You can recognize the Stradic pretty easily as a result of it’s almost completely white finish. This seemed a little strange when the reel first debuted on the market a couple of years ago, but now they look better than they ever have before when compared to their competition.
Underneath the finish, the reel is made using quality materials throughout and it doesn’t have many plastic components. The handle the the frame are constructed using solid aluminum, and it has a cold forged aluminum spool. The rotor and side plate are made out of a lightweight graphite material.
The whole reel weighs only 9.2 oz for the whole 2500 size, which is very light. Because of this is can be used for days without you needing to worry about your body getting fatigued from holding it. The handles are simple traditional paddle and T shaped, though this can depend on the size of reel that you get.
The drag is made out of a tightly toleranced stack of steel and felt washers. These fit locked together, and are then sealed with a washer inside of the reel. The outcome from this is you get a drag that is very capable of locking down at the higher end of 15 lbs, and it can keep staying smooth on the lower end.
This means you have the right amount of pressure on the fish but yet you don’t need to worry about sudden line breakages on a sudden surge of weight.
Casting - This spinning reel is very easy to catch, and is a level winding spinning reel. It has what Shimano refers to as the Propulsion Line Management System. This is essentially a specially shaped spool that lets the line to flow off the spool efficiently. This means you get much longer casts and a lot less backlashes.
When retrieving the line, you get a well balanced line that doesn’t have all of the wobble in your hands that’s more common in lower quality reels.
The S A-RB bearings are also shielded on either side in order to protect them from any debris that could foul up the operation of the bearings. The SR bail is made to be a one piece system that consists or small diameter metal, and you can flip it open and closed just with a very satisfying click mechanism.
Fishing - This reel has so many great high end features that it shouldn’t be a surprise that this is far from disappointing when it comes to the time when you suddenly find a large school of fish just jumping at the change to take your bait.
The reel has very solid gearing, a stiff frame and handle and when you combine this along with the impeccable drag performance, you get a fantastic reel that gives great quality for money.
You can get it in a range of sizes from 1000 to 8000, and it’s a fantastic choice for saltwater and bass fishing alike.
This next reel on our list is actually yet another white spinning reel, the Abu Garcia Revo S. This is the more affordable alternative to the Revo SX. That does not mean it’s a bad reel however, to the contrary it’s actually a fantastic option.
Construction - The parts that are white in color on the Revo S are the polymetric rotor and body. The matte black parts on the other handed are the X Craftic alloy frame and also the machined aluminium spool.
The body also holds a single piece gear box and a duragear main brass gear which is what gives the cranking power. This weighs roughly 8.5 ounces, so it’s by far one of the lightest reels that we’ve mentioned on our top 5 list.
Casting - The Revo S has a spool that’s made to be used especially for braid. This will flow off the spool with ease when you open the big wired Everlast bail system with a simple click. This click gives a very satisfying and solid audible sound every time you cast.
As a result of the fact the reel uses the alloy frame as an anchor, the Revo S is going to be a very solid spinning reel with minimal flex when you’re trying to fight for your catch, The reel also features a very popular Carbon Matrix drag system.
This drag is advertised and a maximum of 12 lbs, but it can actually go even higher than this. It’s very smooth when you’re trying to fight fish on the lower end too.
As it’s very light weight, has some great components, high quality drag, incredible looks and a fantastic price, the Revo S is a very good choice for any angling enthusiast.
Best Spinning Reels - Buyers Guide
The Benefits of a Spinning Reel
Light Lures, Light Line
One of the main benefits of having a freshwater spinning reel is that they are able to properly handle light line and can cast lightweight lures with easy. This is mainly due to the open and fixed spool, which will allow the line to be able to flow off in coils. This is then funneled through to the guide system on your fishing rod.
This makes them a lot easier to cast. You also don’t often have to worry about tangles or backlashes.
Spinning reels are used most often in finesse presentations or live bait, so they are very popular among anglers looking for bass, panfish and walleye. Spinners, small jigs and small crankbaits are all ideal to be used on a spinning combo, You can use a 6 to 10 pound test line for most freshwater spinning reels to great effect.
Ideal for Anglers at All Experience Levels
Spinning reels are actually fantastic for helping someone to learn how to cast and fish. They are easy to operate because all you have to do it open the bail, put your finger on the line and then you just let the lure sail.
As anglers get more experiences then they can upgrade to a more premium model and are able to appreciate more advanced models that have added features.
Things to Look Out For When Looking for a Good Spinning Reel
There are so many specific mechanical specifications that go with every spinning reeel. They can seem a little tricky to understand at first, but after a while they can get a lot easier to understand once you give them a little bit of thought. Some of them are a lot more important than others are, at least if you ask us! Read on to hear about our explanation of some of the most commonly seen specifications, in order of importance.
The quality of the drag system your reel has is by far one of the most important things to look for when buying a spinning reel, especially those at a larger size when you’re on the hunt for bigger fish.
Having a smooth drag means you are able to fight a big fish using a smaller line. Ideally, you should try to make sure that the drag smoothly engages on your hook set or when your fish tries to make a dive. Having a sticky drag is bad news because it means that the line could suddenly break off just from the shock of a fish emerging.
The majority of reels will have a front drag system that you will be able to control using a dial. Others, on the other hand, have a rear drag that you will control using a knob. In either isutation, you will be controlling the amount of tension that’s on the spool by turning the knobs.
Usually the drag quality tends to align with the price you will pay for the reel. As far as drag systems are concerned, you get what you pay for most of the time.
Line Capacity and Spool Size
A lot of models of spinning reels will come in around 3 or 4 different sizes. As you go up in spool size your total line capacity will increase. Generally, manufacturers will provide line spool capacities both for braided line (which usually has a smaller diameter for equal strength against regular lines) and monofilament line.
Most of the time you will also get an additional spool with your reel that you are able to fill with different kinds of line to give you a form of backup in an emergency.
Total Weight and Frame Material
A lot of reel frames are constructed out of plastic, carbon, aluminum or magnesium. The most common materials are aluminum and plastic. You tend to find that higher end reels consist of carbon and magnesium because of their great rigidity and low weights.
As reel enthusiasts, we suggest that you should be looking for builds consisting of aluminum or carbon framed spinning reels to start with. These reels are usually tough, affordable and lightweight. You simply won’t get this from a plastic reel, and you aren’t going to get the longevity that you want from a reel.
Line Recover Rate
This essentially represents the amount of line, measured in inches, that the reel is going to take up on the back of the spool when you turn the handle one whole turn. You can recover a couple more inches of line per turn with a spinning reel than you can with a baitcaster of a similar size.
Your handle and spool will move together smoothly as a result of the bearings. With that being said, the amount of bearings does not define what makes a fantastic spinning reel. All you need in a good spinning reel is around 4 or 5 bearings, if you have any more then the spinning reel is going to cost more money.
The main places that you need bearings is on the main shaft of the handle and the main gear. You also need one on the anti reverse and a roller bearing on the line roller. Reels that have 8, 9, 10 or even more bearings then basically all they are doing is using bearings instead of bushings inside the reel.
This isn’t all that necessary so you shouldn’t get too caught up on the number of bearings in a spinning reel.
This is a pretty useful feature that will stop the reel from unwinding unintentionally. The reel is usually controlled by a small black lever or a switch towards the rear of the reel when it has anti reverse.
The majority of reels used for freshwater fishing will have an anti reverse and a lot of anglers don’t even turn it off, whereas other anglers prefer to switch the anti reverse off. Some would rather do something that’s called back reeling when they are fighting a particularly large fish, or when they are attempting to swim a plug through a strong current.
Finding Top Reels by Price
5 Best Spinning Reels Under $50 - A lot of casual anglers are going to be pleased with our selections that cost around the 50 dollar range. You;ll be shocked to see just how many great reels are available on the market at that price at the moment.
5 Best Spinning Reels Under $100 - As far as spinning reels are concerned, this is definitely the most popular price range. For this price, you will get a very high quality reel with a bunch of great features and decent performance.
5 Best Spinning Reels Under $200 - If you spend a couple more dollars, you will have a significantly lighter reel that has a more fine tuned drag system. This is ideal for serious angling fanatics who are simply not happy with reel failures, and for those who insist on top quality performance from their reels.
Finding Top Reels by Species
Best Spinning Reels for Bass Fishing - Bass is perhaps one of the most popular game fish available in North America, and to help you find them we’ve selected some of the best spinning reels to tackle this fish.
Best Spinning Reels for Crappie - Crappie are a pretty fun species both for children and adults to fish for. Here, we show some of the best reels to allow you to enjoy crappie fishing.
Top Ultralight Spinning Reels - It can be tricky to fish for panfish and trout, so a lot of anglers like to use light lures and line on ultralight spinning reel combinations.