12 Best Freshwater Spinning Reels
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12 Best Freshwater Spinning Reels – The Angler’s Gear List
Freshwater fishing is an accessible way to get into fishing, and a spinning reel is an ideal option. The spinning reel is an excellent 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.
There are many sizes and varieties of freshwater spinning reels available. You can choose an ultralight reel suitable for catching trout in tiny streams to a reel suitable for large fish and everything in between, often in the same line of manufacturer and reel type as well.
This article features those that Angler’s Gear has found to be exceptionally popular among freshwater anglers. Rods and reels are an investment in the future. Fishing gear is updated annually, but if you look carefully, a good portion of these updates are cosmetic only.
I want to saltwater fish. Can I use my spinning reels?
Most freshwater reels can adapt well to a saltwater environment. However, you will need to take some extra steps to protect the reel. You can take your freshwater gear to the saltwater, fish, return home and spray down the reel with some freshwater.
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 going from the reel. When done, lubricate with quality white lithium grease, don’t 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?
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 will suit a range of fish, then anything from 2000 to 4000 will cover almost every species. However, unless you are after the monster sturgeon of the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest or prehistoric alligator gar in Texas, you’ll be well served with one of the models listed.
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.
We have a review of the best Shimano saltwater reels you can read.
Shimano Stradic Ci4+ Front Drag Spinning Reel
Again, Shimano reels top our list of quality reels, and the Ci4+ is designed with the freshwater angler in mind. The Ci4+ offers smooth drag, casting, and reeling. This is the ideal largemouth bass fishing reel. It has the precision casting ability that bass anglers want to be coupled with the backbone to wrestle 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 unusual as 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. It has a special trigger on the front – the Quickfire II – so you can cast it with a single hand as if it were a spincast reel. The spool is aluminum, the frame rotor and side plates are graphite.
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
Daiwa makes good products. The BG spinning reel 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. You can spool the BG up with a braid which is not an option for all reels.
There is a manual bail, so you will need to flip it back over with your hand (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 offers many of the same features as a higher-end model. This makes the BG affordable enough to have a few 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 retrieval are great and 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 ensure you find the one that closely matches your preferred fishing. Angler’s Gear is, in my opinion, a reel that will hold 150 yards of 10 lb. The 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 for over 50 years. The latest generation is giving us a reel with better performance for those who fish live bait.
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 means 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 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 premiere freshwater line reels that can transfer to the saltwater. There is a magnesium body, ten ball bearings, braid ready, and sealed drag. The bail wire is aluminum and has a carbon fiber handle. This reel is not a budget reel, but it is still affordable.
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 is that it’s 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 with 33 lbs of drag and certainly will help turn almost any fish. 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. This means you can go ultralight for panfish to inshore saltwater fish.
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, an aluminum braid-ready spool, stainless steel main shaft, and a graphite rotor. What does all of this mean? Saltwater safe.
The smaller reels are good for catching 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 regularly appearing 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 others available, so it is braid-ready out of the package.
There is a rubber gasket that keeps the line from spinning which is not regularly found on freshwater reels. It has a stainless steel shaft, brass gears, and 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. The reel will work in 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!
Freshwater Spinning Reels Glossary
Abu Garcia: One of the most popular and well-known fishing reel brands in the world. Abu Garcia is known for manufacturing high-quality, durable spinning reels that are favored by anglers of all skill levels.
Baitcaster: A type of fishing reel that is designed to be used with baitcasting rods. Baitcasting reels are typically used by more experienced anglers, as they can be more difficult to use than other types of fishing reels.
Ball Bearings: The small metal balls that are found in a spinning reel’s spool and handle that help to reduce friction and make the reel smoother to operate.
Braided Line: A type of fishing line that is made from multiple strands of thin, strong synthetic fibers. Braided line is very popular among anglers because it is strong and durable, but can be more difficult to use than other types of fishing line.
Drag System: The mechanism on a spinning reel that is used to control how much resistance is applied to the line when a fish is pulling on it. The drag can be adjusted to make the reel easier or more difficult to use, depending on the preferences of the angler.
Fishing Line: The thin, synthetic material that is used to attach a lure or bait to a fishing rod. There are many different types of fishing line available, each with its own set of characteristics.
Gear Ratio: The ratio of the number of rotations of the handle to the number of rotations of the spool on a spinning reel. A higher gear ratio reel will retrieve line faster than a lower gear ratio reel.
Monofilament Line: A type of fishing line that is made from a single strand of synthetic material. Monofilament line is the most common type of fishing line and is favored by many anglers because it is relatively inexpensive and easy to use.
Spinning Reel: A type of fishing reel that is designed to be used with spinning rods. Spinning reels are the most popular type of fishing reel and are favored by anglers of all skill levels.
Spool: The cylindrical portion of a spinning reel that holds the fishing line. The spool is rotated by the handle of the reel, which helps to wind the line onto or off of the spool.
Bail: The metal arm on a spinning reel that helps to keep the line from tangling. The bail is opened and closed by a lever on the reel, and is usually open when casting and closed when retrieving.
Blade: One of the two metal plates that make up the spool of a spinning reel. The blades are mounted on either side of the spool and rotate as the spool is turned.
Carbon Fiber Drag: A type of drag system that uses carbon fiber discs to apply resistance to the line. Carbon fiber drag systems are very strong and durable, and can be adjusted to apply a wide range of resistance.
Centrifugal Brake: A type of brake system that uses centrifugal force to slow the spool of a baitcasting reel. Centrifugal brakes are adjustable, and can be used to make the reel easier or more difficult to use.
Drag Knob: The knob on a spinning reel that is used to adjust the drag system. The drag knob can be turned to increase or decrease the amount of resistance that is applied to the line.
Handle: The part of a spinning reel that is held by the angler when casting and retrieving. The handle is attached to the spool of the reel and is used to rotate the spool.
Lever Drag: A type of drag system that uses a lever to apply resistance to the line. Lever drag systems are adjustable, and can be used to make the reel easier or more difficult to use.
Line Counter: A type of spinning reel that is equipped with a device that counts the number of rotations of the spool. Line counters are used by anglers who need to fish at specific depths, and can be very helpful when trolling or bottom fishing.
Magnetic Brake: A type of brake system that uses magnets to slow the spool of a baitcasting reel. Magnetic brakes are adjustable, and can be used to make the reel easier or more difficult to use.
Multi-Disc Drag: A type of drag system that uses multiple discs to apply resistance to the line. Multi-disc drag systems are very strong and durable, and can be adjusted to apply a wide range of resistance.
Star Drag: A type of drag system that uses a star-shaped knob to apply resistance to the line. Star drag systems are adjustable, and can be used to make the reel easier or more difficult to use.
Superline: A type of fishing line that is made from a single strand of extremely strong synthetic material. Superline is often used by anglers who fish in heavy cover or for large fish, and can be difficult to manage if not used properly.
Thumb Button: The button on a baitcasting reel that is used to engage the spool. The thumb button is located on the back of the reel, and is pressed by the angler’s thumb when casting.
Trolling Reel: A type of fishing reel that is designed for use while trolling. Trolling reels are very strong and durable, and can be used to fish at slow or fast speeds.
Ultralight Spinning Reel: A type of spinning reel that is designed for use with ultralight rods and line. Ultralight spinning reels are very light and sensitive, and can be difficult to use if not handled carefully.
Compact Spinning Reel: A type of spinning reel that is smaller in size than a standard spinning reel. Compact spinning reels are often used by anglers who fish in tight spaces or for small fish, and can be difficult to use if not handled carefully.
Spincast Reel: A type of fishing reel that uses a push-button to engage the spool. Spincast reels are easy to use, and are often used by anglers who are new to fishing.
Baitfeeder Reel: A type of spinning reel that is designed for use with live bait. Baitfeeder reels have a mechanism that allows the angler to release live bait into the water, and can be used to fish at a variety of depths.
Fly Reel: A type of fishing reel that is designed for use with fly fishing tackle. Fly reels are very light and sensitive, and can be difficult to use if not handled carefully.
Surf Reel: A type of fishing reel that is designed for use while surf fishing. Surf reels are very strong and durable, and can be used to fish at a variety of depths.
Conventional Reel: A type of fishing reel that is designed for use with conventional tackle. Conventional reels are very strong and durable, and can be used to fish at a variety of depths.