12 Best Freshwater Spinning Reels
12 Best Freshwater Spinning Reels – The Angler’s Gear List
The beautiful thing about freshwater fishing is that it is all around you. For example, the state of Nebraska is triple land locked. There are at least three states that buffer Nebraska from any saltwater. It would make sense, then, that those who live in Nebraska are not likely to do much saltwater fishing on a regular basis.
Enter the spinning reel.
The spinning reel is a great upgrade from the spincast reel before moving to a baitcasting reel. The advantages of a spinning reel over a spincast reel are considerable – from improved drag to line capacity – the spinning reel is just a better choice.
Of course, there is the sheer number of sizes and varieties of freshwater spinning reels available. You can elect one for ultralight trout in tiny streams to giant pelagic fish and everything in between – often in the same line of manufacturer and reel type as well.
This article is going to touch on the ones that Angler’s Gear have found to be exceptionally popular within freshwater fishing circles. There will be some overlap from other reels we have covered. Why? We find those reels to be the best of the best.
Speaking of the best of the best, there is one topic we do feel compelled to discuss before getting much further – the price.
An angler serious about their fishing recognizes equipment like rods and reels are an investment in the future. Yes; fishing gear is updated annually, but if you look carefully, a good portion of these updates are cosmetic only. Superficial for looks and designed to catch more anglers than fish. This does not mean you should take out a loan and purchase 10 Shimano Stellas. It means that you can spend a bit extra for some quality, and this is a good thing over the lifespan of a reel.
I want to saltwater fish. Can I use my spinning reels?
The short answer: Yes. The longer answer: Yes.
Most freshwater reels can adapt and adapt well to a saltwater environ. However, you will need to take some extra steps to protect the reel. Most people think they can take their freshwater gear to the saltwater, fish, return home and spray down the reel with some freshwater. You can. You can also replace a reel relatively soon as well.
You will need to take your reel off of the rod, open it and rinse out the interior well with fresh, running, water. Use running so it will wash the salt away. You want as much as possible gone from the reel. When done, relube with a quality white lithium grease. Do not, under any circumstances, use WD-40 lubricant! This will gum up the interior of the reel and do more harm than good.
What size reel do I need for freshwater?
This is one of the beauties of the spinning reel – the number of choices you have. A good rule of thumb for fishing reels is the smaller the number, the smaller the fish species. Therefore, a 10, 100 or 1000 model would be good for ultralight trout fishing and panfish. A 50, 500 or 5000 is for the pelagic species of deep saltwater.
If you are looking for something that is general, anything from a 2000 to a 4000 will cover almost every species of freshwater fish that swims, with a few exceptions of course. However, unless you are after monster sturgeon of the Columbia river in the Pacific Northwest or prehistoric alligator gar in Texas, you will be well served with one of the models listed.
Enough of the chit-chat. You want to fish and need a reel to do it. Here are Angler’s Gear recommendations.
Shimano Stella Spinning Reel
The Stella tops our list and for good reason. It is the epitome of the fishing experience for any angler. The Stella also represents the most expensive reel we review and offer, so this is not a purchase to be made without strong consideration and review.
Angler’s Gear has covered the Shimano Stella line extensively in previous pieces, so we will not be touching on it again. Instead, click the link above to go straight to our review on the Stella and its complete line of reels.
Shimano Stradic Ci4+ Front Drag Spinning Reel
Again, Shimano reels tops our list of quality reels, and the Ci4+ is designed for the freshwater angler in mind – hands down. The Ci4+ has the holy trilogy of spinning reel needs: smooth drag, casting and reelinng. You can expect the HAGANE gears, one piece bail and shielded bearings – perfect for saltwater.
This is the ideal largemouth bass fishing reel. It has the precision casting ability that bass anglers want coupled with the backbone to wrest the same fish. The graphite material used in the construction of the reel means rust is not going to be an issue, so feel free to take this piece for your inshore saltwater experiences.
The drag is water resistant, so you can fight big bass and those inshore saltwater species. The aluminum handle has EVA foam for a solid grip.
Shimano Spirex Front Drag Fishing Reel
The Spirex is somewhat of an odd man out in the spinning reel family. It has two handles unlike the standard one. If this is not to your liking, you can easily swap the handle out with another, similar sized Shimano handle.
The Spirex has a special trigger on the front – the Quickfire II – so you can cast with a single hand just as if a spincast reel. The spool is aluminum. Graphite makes up the frame rotor and side plates.
The Spirex is not as expensive as some reels nor as cheap as others. It is, however, a quality piece at an affordable price. Besides the twin handle is likely to turn heads on the water.
Daiwa BG Spinning Reel
We have not given Daiwa the love and respect it deserves, and that is our fault. Daiwa makes good products. The BG is a reel that has a variety of sizes that will fit the needs of all anglers. The deep black and rich gold color make the reel stand out on the water as well.
You can spool the BG up with braid as well. Some reels you cannot, and if you try, the results will be less than stellar.
There is a manual bail, so you will need to flip it back over with your hand. (N.B. – This is something Angler’s Gear recommends for all of its freshwater spinning reels. Flipping the bail back over by engaging the reel will ruin the bail mechanism over time.)
The BG comes in $100.00 – $200.00 and offers many of the same features of a higher end model. This makes the BG affordable enough to have a few of various sizes for the price of one similarly functioning model.
Penn Fierce III Spinning Fishing Reel
The Penn company has been making reels for over 50 years and are specialists in the saltwater market. The looks and the retrieve are only the start of the reason to fall in love. If you have not tried a Penn, this is a good one to start with.
There are a host of features that make this reel ideal but the biggest is the line spool. It is one of the deeper of the models reviewed so there is no need to spool backing onto your reel before adding an expensive braid on the top.
The Fierce has a full line of sizes, so you will need to make sure you find the one that will most closely match your preferred fishing type. Angler’s Gear is of the opinion a reel that will hold 150 yards of 10 lb. test line will meet the needs of almost any freshwater fishing experience.
PENN Spinfisher VI Live Liner
The PENN company is one of the pioneers in the spinning reel industry and has been making them now for over 50 years. The latest generation is giving us a reel with better performance and for those of us who fish live bait, live runner.
The Spinfisher has a second drag on the reel for bait fishermen to adjust during pickups. Turn the handle, and the fighting mode engages.
The variable number of sizes mean a reel for any situation in fresh or saltwater. Each of the four models in the line have metal bodies, CNC gears, carbon-fiber drag and stainless steel balls.
There is little this reel cannot do. From floating a shiner in a small pond or lake to a bonita offshore. You can handle a good bit with the Spinfisher.
Pflueger Supreme XT Spinning Reel
Pflueger makes fine reels. The Supreme XT is one of their premeire freshwater line reels that can easily transfer to the saltwater. There is a magnesium body, 10 ball bearings, braid ready and sealed drag. The bail wire is aluminum and has a carbon fiber handle.
The reel itself is not a budget reel, but it is an affordable reel if you make a couple of sacrifices.
Everything about this reel points to how it is geared for fishing and fishing hard.
Piscifun Carbon X
You may have or have not seen Piscifun when shopping on Amazon. It is a newcomer in the reel industry and has a firm hold with a devoted following. The best part – it is almost half the cost of more expensive, similar reels.
The stainless steel ball-bearings are shielded and thus resistant to saltwater. It has a carbon-fiber body, side plate and rotor. It is light but will hold up to a big fish.
The 33 lbs of drag certainly will help turn almost anything short of a freight train. The drag is also sealed.
Pflueger President Fishing Reel
The Pflueger President Series is another one of the many affordable reels available from the Pflueger brand.
There are five different sizes with a variety of line sizes and drag pressures. Thsi means you can go ultralight for panfish to inshore saltwater.
The President has many of the same features of the higher end Pflueger models – including being braid ready. The drag system is sealed, and the graphite body means light. All of the ball-bearings inside are stainless steel and saltwater safe. This means a lifetime in the freshwater.
Abu Garcia Revo X Spinning Reel
Abu Garcia ranks with Shimano and Daiwa in terms of quality. As we have said, there are adherents to all of the brands, but for the casual angler, there is not much of a difference to be had. The Revo X has carbon-fiber drag, aluminum braid-ready spool, stainless steel main shaft and graphite rotor. What does all of this mean? Saltwater safe.
The smaller reels are good for smaller fish, but the 40 and up are good for big bass, walleyes and the like. The Revo is saltwater safe as well. The reel is the traditional Abu Garcia black along with some trim for color.
Abu Garcia has yet to disappoint, and the Revo continues to support that fact.
KastKing Sharky III Freshwater Spinning Reel
KastKing is another newcomer and makes regular appearances in Amazon search results for spinning reels. The Sharky III is ready for the saltwater, so you can take it into the freshwater without concern. The reel is more modern than some of the others available, so it is braid ready out of the package.
There is a rubber gasket that keeps the line from spinning. This is something not regularly found on freshwater reels – a plus in our book.
The reel has a stainless steel shaft, brass gears, carbon-fiber drag. The reel is well sealed against nasties as well. The reel is one of the best all purpose reels on the market. The 2000 – 3000 makes for a great largemouth bass reel. It will then transfer well into other gamefish as well.
Okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel
Okuma has carved a successful niche in the reel world and the Ceymar is good for a variety of freshwater species. There are plenty of solid features: felt drag, seven ball bearings, elliptical gears, brass pinion gear and graphite body.
You guessed it – the reel will work in the saltwater.
It is not a huge reel because of the graphite body, zinc handle and aluminum spool. The reel stands up against the more expensive lines better than most give the reel credit for.
The Ceymar is a reel that is worth the money. You get your money’s worth and then some with this particular model.
Angler’s Gear has covered about all we can cover on spinning reels. We are always wanting to know – what do YOU want to see covered? We need to know what you would like. Drop us a comment below, and let us know what you are thinking.
Until we see each other on the water – practice good catch and release habits!
Table of Contents
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