12 Best Freshwater Spinning Reels

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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.

We have a review of the best Shimano saltwater reels you can read.

Shimano Stradic Ci4+ Front Drag Spinning Reel

Shimano Stradic Ci4 + FB Front Drag Fishing 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

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 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

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 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 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 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.

FINAL THOUGHTS

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.