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It doesn’t matter what kind of fish you’re going after – every good angler should have at least one spinning reel in their arsenal.
Although you can find a decent spin reel in practically any retail store, not all spinning reels are worth the money (or the hype).
In fact, some reels could easily be considered toys – they break easily and won’t help you get the job done out on the water.
If you’re looking for some of the best spinning reels for the money, you’ve come to the right place.
Although you don’t have to spend a fortune to find a good spinning reel, you should take some time to research the right specifications to look for in your new fishing reel.
Here are some tips.
5 Best Spinning Reels Reviews in 2023
In a hurry? Don’t want to waste your time on the full read. Here are the best 5 spinning reels for the money.
Last update on 2023-09-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Benefits of Spinning Reels
In a nutshell, here are some of the major benefits of using spin reels. Spinning reels:
- Can be used with light fishing line and light lures: Spinning reels are ideal for people who want to go fishing using lightweight lures and light lines. These kinds of reels have a fixed, open spool, which makes it easy for lines to flow off the spinning reel in coils before being funneled back through the rod’s guide system. They are designed to be used with good quality spinning rods.
- Cast easily: Spinning reels are known for their ability to cast smoothly and with ease – that’s due to the same qualifications mentioned above. You’ll rarely have to deal with tangles or backlashes when you’re using a spinning reel.
- Are incredibly versatile: You can use a spinning reel for just about any kind of fish species, regardless of whether you want to use a finesse or live bait presentation. It doesn’t matter whether you are fishing for bass, panfish, walleye, or some other species of fish – the spinning reel is the way to go.
- Are compatible with multiple types of bait: Not only are these reels versatile, but they’re also compatible with a wide variety of baits. You can use them with spinners, small jigs, and small crankbaits – although most spinning reels are meant to be used with 6 to 10 lb test lines.
- Can be used by anglers of all experience levels: You don’t have to be a professional angler to love using a spinning reel. Although these reels are perfect for “newbies” who are just learning how to cast (or even small children), they are also ideal for people with a bit more knowledge of proper casting techniques. All you have to do is open the bail with your finger on the line and let the lure go sailing.
Top 5 Spinning Reels Compared
Looking for the best spinning reels on the market? If so, you’ll want to consider these top five picks.
Although there are hundreds – possibly thousands! – of good spinning reels on the market, you really can’t go wrong when you invest your money in one of these picks.
1. Shimano Stradic Ci4+ – (Best All-around Spinning Reel)
The Shimano Stradic CI4+ is known for being one of the top spinning reels of all time. It’s made by a leading tackle manufacturer, and despite being a bit more expensive it does offer many premium features.
For starters, both the handle and the frame are infused with carbon fiber. Because of this, you’ll enjoy a lightweight reel and superior strength.
The reel has no corrosion-prone metal parts so you can use it for lightweight saltwater fishing excursions as well as your favorite freshwater spots.
It’s comfortable to use, as it has paddle-style grips that are hollowed out to save on weight. They’re easy to grab on to, even when you’re rushing at a moment’s notice to land a big fish.
This reel is equipped with a butter-smooth drag. It’s versatile and is best used with a 10lb test fluorocarbon line.
This featherlight reel has an MGL rotor and HAGANE cold-forged precision gears (plus a cold-forged aluminum spool).
This spool offers additional longevity, and since the gears are also cold-forged, you’ll find that it retrieves more smoothly and effortlessly.
The rotor is light and balanced, offering more control while cranking, plus the center of gravity on this reel is shifted so you’ll find it more sensitive than options you’ve used in the past.
It comes with a unique feature known as an anti-reverse bearing with a Super Stopper II for added “halting” power at a moment’s notice.
Finally, the Shimano Stradic Ci4+ is equipped with a unique Coreprotect feature.
This offers additional resistance from the elements (including saltwater) and it’s designed to last a lifetime when handled properly and cared for.
A great durable saltwater spinning reel that can be used for freshwater too.
- Resistant to the elements
- Offers a secure and comfortable grip even in wet weather
- Solid and lightweight design
- There’s not much control over the reverse switch
2. Okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel
The Okuma Ceymar Reel is another top pick for you to consider in your hunt for a good quality spin reel. It’s a robust reel in an ultralight (and affordable!) package.
Though it’s designed for freshwater use, it has all kinds of bonus features to boot.
To name a few – it has a multi-disc drag system and comes with a spool that is crafted from machined aluminum. This cuts down on its weight while also adding to its overall longevity and strength.
The reel’s main rotor and body are created out of graphite, making it sturdy enough to provide you with multiple years of use.
It has cut brass gears and a smooth gearing system with seven ball bearings and one anti-reverse bearing.
If you’re hesitant to buy, keep in mind that this reel is backed by a generous one-year warranty from the manufacturer.
I’ve never had to use this sort of warranty before, but reviews claim that the customer service response from Okuma is one of the best.
Although this reel is really only intended for freshwater use, you shouldn’t find that to be a major stopping point. After all, most spinning reels on this list are best for smaller freshwater species anyway.
If saltwater fishing is really what you have your heart set on, know that Okuma does make a very similar C-55 model designed just for this purpose.
- Affordable and built to last
- Backed by a generous manufacturer’s warranty
- The multi-disc drag system is smooth and steady
- Should not be used in saltwater
3. Pflueger Supreme XT Spinning Fishing Reel
Pflueger is another of the top names to know when it comes to the best fishing reels for the money. This high-performance reel is shocking in that you would expect it to cost a lot more money than it actually does.
Believe it or not, Pflueger is a company that is owned by angling giant Pure Fishing, a company that is also responsible for the brand Abu Garcia.
As a result, you might see some similarities between this spinning reel and another I’ll review in this round-up, the Abu Garcia Revo S. It’s built out of high-quality materials, including a magnesium side plate, rotor, and body.
As a result, the reel will feel light as a feather in your hand – yet it’s still durable enough to hold up to the rigors of all-day fishing.
It has an equally lightweight – yet strong – carbon fiber composite handle along with EVA foam reel knobs.
- Durable magnesium rotor, side plate, and body
- Comfortable EVA foam handle
- Affordable budget pick
- Somewhat prone to line twist
4. Penn Clash & Clash II Spinning Fishing Reel
Penn is one of my favorite manufacturers when it comes to reels, and this one is no exception. You’ve got to add it to your shortlist as you’re shopping around!
It offers everything you might expect from a great spinning reel and then some. It has a full metal design and CNC machined gears. This will allow you to crank and retrieve with minimal effort.
Its full metal body design minimizes a lot of the flex that occurs when you’re using a plastic or carbon fiber reel.
This reel is not loaded with a million different features, bells, and whistles to add to its glitz and glamor.
Instead, it has all the basics you need without any of the unnecessary frills. It is a sturdy, well-built reel with sealed stainless-steel ball bearings and one anti-reverse bearing.
There is very little that you won’t love when it comes to this dynamic reel.
- Can be used for just about any species of fish
- Seven different versatile models to choose from
- Can be used in both a freshwater and saltwater environment
- A great spinning for many applications.
- Pretty basic without a lot of extra features
5. Abu Garcia Revo S Spinning Reel
As promised, the Abu Garcia Revo S is a reel manufactured by the same company that manufactures Pflueger reels, Pure Fishing.
This reel is an excellent reel, built with high-quality materials yet offering a lower price point to budget-conscious anglers than the Abu Garcia Revo SX, the company’s flagship model.
You’ll love the all-white and black construction of this spinning reel.
The white parts consist of the polymeric body and rotor, while the parts that are matte black are the machined aluminum spool and the alloy X-Craftic frame.
Inside the body, you’ll find a one-piece gearbox and a duragear main brass gear. Together, these features offer optimal cranking power.
The reel tips the scales at just 8.5 ounces, making it one of the lighter reels on this list.
This reel comes with a spool that’s designed specifically for braiding – it peels right off the spool as soon as you click to open the Everlast bail.
It has an anchoring alloy frame that offers minimal flex when you’re fighting even the largest fish.
With its superior Carbon Matrix drag system, this reel is advertised at a 12 lb max drag but I’ve found that it can often go higher.
It’s smooth and lightweight, offering solid components and an impressive overall look and feel.
- Smooth and lightweight operation
- Has a one-piece gearbox
- Great for budget-conscious anglers who still want the Abu Garcia name
- Not the greatest drag system pressure
What to Look for in a Good Spinning Reel
Material and Weight
You don’t have to think outside of the box when you’re thinking about your spinning reels materials. More often than not, reels are made of common material like aluminum and plastic.
Carbon and magnesium are sometimes used, although more often on premium fishing reels, since they offer lighter weight and good rigidity (but are more expensive spinning reels).
If you can swing it, go for a carbon or aluminum frame. Although these can be a bit more expensive, they are still relatively affordable and will offer you added toughness out there on the water.
If you are looking for something lightweight then check out these reels here.
Size of Spool and Line Capacity
For the most part, spinning reels will come in three to four different sizes, but this might vary depending on the manufacturer.
As you up the spool size, the line capacity of the reel will increase accordingly. Manufacturers often give recommended line capacities for both braided line and monofilament lines.
Remember that braid fishing line has a smaller diameter per strength.
Some of the best reels I’ve reviewed (and some of the other top picks to consider) come pre-spooled with line, but that’s not always the case.
Generally speaking, you will want to choose a spinning reel with a line capacity of at least 300.
This should offer you plenty of line when fishing even in saltwater, where your hooked fish might be more likely to dive deep.
Also read my article on choosing the right spinning reel size
Drag is one of the most important features for you to consider when you’re shopping for a spinning reel – particularly if you are shopping for a larger reel to go after larger fish.
When you’re using a reel that has a smooth drag, you’ll be able to work larger fish on a smaller line with greater ease and versatility.
Ideally, your drag should engage smoothly whenever a fish dives or when you set your hook – but if it doesn’t, this can cause the line to break.
What a hassle! Avoid this common predicament by making sure the drag is up to snuff.
In general, most reels will come with a front drag system. This kind of system is meant to be controlled with a dial. However, others are equipped with rear drags that can be controlled with knobs.
Either way, you will control the tension by turning the knob. The drag quality usually corresponds with the spinning reels price – remember, you get what you pay for.
That said, I’ve usually found that a drag that’s over 40 lbs is a bit overkill – something slightly less than this should be more than enough for you.
Pay attention to the bearings on your reel of choice. Investing in a reel with good bearings is vital, as this is what allows the spool and handle to move together in a smooth, seamless fashion.
It’s not just about the quantity, either. Although the more bearings your spinning reel has, the better, a good reel can be found with just four or five bearings.
Adding too many more than that is just going to add an increased price tag to your reel and for not a lot of extra payout.
Look for a reel with sealed bearings, if that’s something that matters to you, or at least one that has bearings made of strong, durable materials (like stainless steel).
Something else to keep in mind is that you only really need bearings on the main gear and the main handle shaft.
You’ll need anti-reverse and roller bearing, too. If you find a reel that has ten or more bearings, all it’s doing is replacing internal bushings with bearings – again, I’ve never found this to be necessary.
Species of Fish
Something else that’s important to consider when you’re shopping for one of the best spinning reels is what kind of species you intend to go after.
This might not matter as much if you are more of a generalist when it comes to your fishing, but if you prefer a more targeted approach, think this through before you buy.
For example, trout and panfish are both somewhat finicky species to fish for. If you’re going after crappie or bass fishing, you can get by with just about any spinning reel.
However, if you have your sights set on trout, you’ll need to use a super light line and equally lightweight lures on ultralight spinning reels – not just any old combo will do.
Gear ratio is an essential consideration that will come into play when you are retrieving your catch.
This measurement will affect how much you must crank when hauling in your fish – as well as how hard it will be.
The higher the gear ratio, the fewer turns you’ll have to make – but the harder you’ll have to work.
You’ll usually find the gear ratio listed in the reels description as something like 6:1 or 4:1. The first number indicates the number of rotations you will need to make for every crank.
Gear ratio can be a factor depending on the type of fishing you do.
This isn’t a feature that matters to every angler, but if you plan on taking your spinning reel out in saltwater conditions, you’re going to want to choose one with good corrosion resistance.
Choose a reel that’s rated for saltwater use if you plan on fishing in salty or sandy conditions.
No matter how good you are about cleaning and rinsing, a reel that is not rated for saltwater use simply won’t pass. Opt for durable saltwater reels if you’re going to be angling in saltwater conditions regularly.fish
Line Recovery Rate
This sounds like a complicated calculation, but the line recovery rate is just the amount of line, measured in inches, that the reel can bring up and back on the spool with a turn of the handle.
Spinning reels tend to be better at this than a baitcasting reel, even when comparing models of similar sizes. However, baitcasting reels have other advantages for anglers such as control, distance, and accuracy.
Another feature to consider is anti-reverse – this is a helpful feature that can stop your handle from accidentally unwinding.
If a reel has an anti-reverse feature, it typically can be controlled by using a switch or small black lever toward the bottom of the reel.
In general, almost all freshwater spinning reels have this feature, but many people don’t realize it is there at all.
Further Reading: Best Inshore Spinning Reels
Choosing a Fishing Reel by Price
Here are some considerations when it comes to choosing the right price for your Budget:
If you’re willing and able to shell out a few more bucks for your reel, you might want to consider investing in a fishing reel in the under $200 or less range.
You’ll get an ultra-lightweight spinning reel that has a refined drag system.
Reels in this price point tend to be best for serious, more advanced anglers who don’t want their reels to fail – and who expect the best level of performance from their reels.
Some of the best spinning reels in this price category are made by top manufacturers like Penn, Shimano, and Daiwa.
When you start shopping for the best spinning reels that are under $200, you’ll be able to afford some higher-end features.
You might find one that is compatible with both left-handed or right-handed users. And you should be able to find both freshwater spinning reels, and saltwater fishing reels.
The biggest disadvantage of shopping for a product at this price point? You probably already guessed it – the price.
Once you get into reels above $100 or so, you’re going to be shopping in the higher-grade category.
If you decide to shop for a reel at this higher price point, it may behoove you to look for one that’s backed by a manufacturer’s warranty.
That way, you won’t be paying extra for a model that doesn’t come with all the support and services you might need and want.
This is a good middle-ground price range when you are shopping for the best spinning reel. You’ll get a durable, high-quality reel with good performance and features for minimal expense.
Some of the best fishing reel manufacturers that specialize in higher-end reels offer more affordable reels under $100, too.
These include Abu Garcia, Penn, and Shimano. Okuma is also another brand to consider.
If you’re shopping for a reel at this price point, you may find that the reel weight begins to creep up – manufacturers will generally use less expensive materials that aren’t optimized for weight.
Having a heavier option isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but just keep an eye on the weight as you move down in price.
Sometimes, reels in this range will have more plastic components, too, swapping out metal for plastic to save money.
Although there’s nothing inherently wrong with this, do keep in mind that plastic will wear out more quickly than metal. It may also compromise the aesthetics of the reel.
Reels under $100 often have just one spool (unlike more expensive spools that come with the regular spool plus an extra spool that is braid-ready).
Sometimes the bearings and drags are also unsealed when it comes to spinning reels in this price range.
Reels Under $50
For the most part, you can still find some good picks in the $50 and under range. Although this seems like a budget range – and yes, it is! – that doesn’t mean you have to skimp on quality. You can still find a good quality cheap reel.
You’d be surprised at how many quality reels can be found in the under $50 price range!
Of course, you’re probably going to be shopping for a reel that is heavier and perhaps not equipped with as many of the higher-grade features as you’d get it the sub-$100 and sub-$200 price range.
However, that doesn’t mean you need to invest in a chintzy, low-quality reel, either. Many manufacturers (such as Abu Garcia) offer reels in this price range that still meet the mark when it comes to quality.
You can still find reels with a lightweight graphite construction and machined aluminum spools.
These are features you’d find in higher-end reels yet without all the added bells and whistles that can add to the overall cost.
Trying to find the right spinning reel for the money and your budget? You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg.
Instead, consider which of the features listed above matters most to you in your search for the best spinning reel.
The right spinning reel for you might not be the best option for your neighbor or your best fishing buddy – even if you’re shopping for a reel at the same price point.
Make sure you consider your target fish species, as this can make a big difference in how much money you decide to spend.
Otherwise, know that any of the best spinning reels highlighted above should serve as excellent options as you begin your search.
All the best for your fishing trip and share our top rated spinning reels with your friends and family.