The 10 Best Spinning Reels

Updated March 13, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

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We spent 46 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top options for this wiki. Heading out on a fishing expedition? Then check out this selection of spinning reels that will help you haul in your catch. We've included affordable models for budget-minded anglers as well as the latest in graphite and carbon fiber technology for the best performance and durability possible. Stop talking about "the one that got away" and start bringing them home. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best spinning reel on Amazon.

10. Pflueger President

The Pflueger President has a sleek look with its blue body and gold accents. It features an instant, anti-reverse, one-way clutch bearing and a machined, double-anodized aluminum spool with a distinctive hole pattern designed to reduce its weight.
  • stainless steel main shaft
  • loud sure-click bail
  • slightly wobbly on retrieval
Brand Pflueger
Model 6940
Weight 13.6 ounces
Rating 3.5 / 5.0

9. Okuma Cedros

The Okuma Cedros has a high-speed gear ratio that helps you get fish into the boat or onto shore quicker. Depending on the size, they can weigh anywhere from 11 to 23oz., and have a drag pressure from 18 to 33lbs. Its five bearing system is a pretty heavy drawback, though.
  • drag dissipates heat well
  • feels a little off-balance
  • corrodes quickly from saltwater
Brand Okuma
Weight 16 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

8. Okuma Avenger ABF

The Okuma Avenger ABF isn't a top of the line model, but its low price and better than expected performance have allowed it to carve out a spot on our list. It has a free-running line feed system, a well-placed release lever, and decent saltwater durability.
  • good hook setting capability
  • drag system is watertight
  • clicker isn't very loud
Brand Okuma
Model ABF-40
Weight 1.4 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

7. Abu Garcia Orra SX

The Abu Garcia Orra SX features a nice drag system that holds its tension well even after being hit repeatedly. It has a braid-ready spool and stainless steel bearings designed to withstand corrosion, but it does tend to let the line slip when casting.
  • best suited to light game fishing
  • nine high performance bearings
  • crank can be set to either side
Brand Abu Garcia
Model 1324536-P
Weight pending
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

6. Penn Spinfisher V

The fully sealed design of the Penn Spinfisher V makes it a good choice for those who like to fish the surf or often go out on rough days and deal with a lot of sea spray. Both its body and sideplate are made entirely from metal to stand up to heavy loads.
  • double drag system
  • built like a tank
  • smooth casting and retrieving
Brand Penn
Model 1259869
Weight 2.4 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

5. Daiwa Black Gold

The Daiwa Black Gold comes in a range of sizes, so there is one suitable for the lightest of freshwater species all the way up to the heaviest hitting pelagics. It has a black anodized exterior to give it a good amount of scratch and corrosion resistance.
  • high line capacity
  • doesn't require mono backing
  • great value for the price
Brand Daiwa
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

4. Shimano Stradic FK

The Shimano Stradic FK features a steel body that has been specifically developed to withstand all the use and abuse you can throw at it without ever failing, combined with a near frictionless retrieval that, together, will definitely make this your go-to reel.
  • shielded bearings
  • counterbalanced rotor
  • smooth low-vibration drag
Brand Shimano
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

3. Abu Garcia Revo SX

The Abu Garcia Revo SX offers a nice blend of durability, strength, and smooth operation, which should allow it to please most anglers. It features an insert-molded C6 carbon body and a single-piece aluminum gearbox that result in a rock-solid and lightweight model.
  • doesn't flex under heavy pressure
  • rarely winds up with wind knots
  • performs like more expensive options
Brand Abu Garcia
Model REVO2SX10-P
Weight pending
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

2. Penn Battle II

The Penn Battle II has HT-100 Versa-Drag washers keyed into the spool, which allows both sides of each washer to be used for smoother startups. It maintains optimal gear alignment, even after heavy use, and includes a rubber gasket to prevent braided line from slipping.
  • made with all non-corrosive metal
  • simple locomotive gearing
  • easy to take apart for maintenance
Brand Penn
Model 1338220
Weight 1.5 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

1. Shimano Saragosa

The Shimano Saragosa has a high weight drag system, making it ideal for offshore fishing. It combines an aluminum frame with a graphite rotor, resulting in a lightweight, yet durable, unit that can be held for hours easily while casting.
  • roughly a 40-inch retrieve per crank
  • robust one-piece bail wire
  • handle has a comfortable grip
Brand Shimano
Model SRG5000SW
Weight 1.6 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

A Reel For Every Fisherman

Spinning reels are the most popular type of fishing reel in use today, most likely because of their ease of use and versatility. Unlike traditional baitcasters, it doesn't take much skill to learn how to use one, and the chances of winding up with a messy bird's nest, which is what fisherman call a knotted up mess of line resulting from poor casting technique, are relatively slim. Depending on the build quality and size of the reel, they can be used in salt or freshwater, for catches big and small, and for everything from trolling to finesse fishing.

In addition to their completely open design and horizontal orientation, one of the main things that separates a spinning reel from a traditional baitcaster or fly reel is the fixed-spool. In a spinning reel, the spool never moves and instead the line is retrieved by the bail and line roller spinning around the spool. On most other types of fishing reels, except for a spincaster, the actual spool will rotate.

All spinning reels have a drag system that allows the fisherman or women to set the amount of resistance a fish feels when it bites on the line. The tighter the drag is set, the more resistance a fish feels, and vice versa. Drag systems also help when fighting a fish. True anglers know that using the lightest tackle possible not only makes for more fun, but also gives the user a better feel for what is happening on the other end of the line and makes it easier to present lures in the most lifelike fashion possible. In addition, light tackle reduces the chances of a fish seeing or sensing the line and becoming spooked.

Unfortunately, this also means that fisherman are often landing fish capable of breaking their line if they run at full power in the opposite direction. The drag system can be set for a certain resistance level so that instead of the line breaking when a fish runs, the spool feeds out more line. Then the angler can begin reeling again when the fish takes a break. This give and take wears out the fish so that it can eventually be pulled up to the boat or shoreline. If handled correctly, a fisherman can even land large game fish on light tackle.

Choose Your Reel Carefully

If you are planning to go fishing and are in the market for a quality spinning reel, there are several factors you should consider before making your final purchase.

First, you can choose from a front drag or rear drag spinning reel. In general, front drag reel models are the best performers and hold up the longest to continuous use. They are best for going after that big catch that you brag about to all of your buddies. The rear drag model, while not as durable and long-lasting, is easier to use and might be the best choice for someone who has never used a spinning reel before.

Second, check for the number of ball bearings your spinning reel has. Most quality reels use stainless steel ball bearings, and the more ball bearings, the better the reel performs.

Third, make sure you check the gear ratio. This means finding out how many times the reel spins each time you turn the handle. The higher the gear ratio, the better the reel. With some spinning reels, you can even choose a gear system where you have the option to switch from high to low gears.

Fourth, find out what material your reel frame and spool are made of. If they are made from aluminum, they will be heavier but more durable and more likely to hold up in the event of a big catch. If they are made of graphite, they are lighter weight and less prone to wear, but they are not as strong and can break under too much pressure.

Fifth, check for balance and comfort. The reel and rod need to be the right fit for your hands, and you need to be able to operate it comfortably. Even if it has all other elements that you want, if it feels too large or cumbersome or too small and flimsy, it's probably not the right reel for you.

Finally, consider where you plan to use it. Are you fishing on the open ocean, or do you plan to stick to fast moving rivers? Where you intend to fish and what type of fish you intend to catch will help you make your final decision.

A Brief History Of The Spinning Reel

Written evidence of fishing reels date back as far as the 4th century. Throughout the centuries, fishing reels were depicted in Chinese and Armenian artwork. In 1651, a version of the fishing reel was mentioned in "The Art of Angling." There is evidence of fishing rods dating back as far as 2,000 B.C. depicted on stone in Egypt, China, Greece and other ancient civilizations.

During the English civil war, fly fishing began to become popular. Several books were published over the next fifty years on the art of fishing and angling and the best ways to catch the biggest fish. This is when fishing rods and reels began to see a rise in development.

Spinning reels were first used in North America in the 1870s. They were created so they could be used with fishing flys or other types of lures to catch freshwater fish such as salmon or trout. They also helped to prevent the line from tangling during backlash if a fish slipped the line.

It wasn't until 1948 that an advanced type of spinning reel was introduced by Mitchell Reel Company in France. It was called the Mitchell 300, and it fixed the reel permanently to the rod and was offered in a wide variety of types and sizes for fishermen in both fresh water and salt water.

Today, there are many popular reel companies that develop and sell high-quality spinning reels offering a wide range of options from which consumers can choose.

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Last updated on March 13, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.

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