While fishing looks easy from observation, it does require quite a bit of skill and a whole lot of patience. And we’re not just talking about the actual act of fishing. It takes patience and a bit of knowledge in order to find the right gear for your fishing adventures. If you’re reading this article, you probably already have a fishing spot in mind and possibly a rod in hand. The next thing on your list is to get one of the best fishing reels. And our 10 best list is just the thing to help you figure out which one is going to help you reel the fish in.
Top 10 Fishing Reels of 2020 Reviewed
1. KastKing Summer/Centron Spinning ReelBest Fishing Reel for The Money
If freshwater fishing is more your thing, then this spinning reel from KastKing may just be what you need. It features nine quality ball bearings and one instant stop one-way anti-reverse
bearing for ultra-smooth performance, a two-color anodized aluminum spool with a power launch lip for farther casting, and a high tensile strength graphite frame for corrosion resistance. However, there have been reports of the drag being inconsistent. The reel handle doesn’t feel comfortable in the hand. Also, this is not ideal for heavy-duty use.
- 9+1 ball bearings for smooth performance
- Very affordable
- Excellent customer service
- Drag is inconsistent
- Reel handle doesn’t feel comfortable
- Not for heavy-duty use
2. Piscifun Torrent Baitcasting Reelbest Carbon Fiber Reel
We all know that Piscifun is a household name when it comes to providing fishing gear. The reason the company is so popular is the fact that it offers affordable products but does not compromise on the quality. One of its best selling affordable yet durable fishing reel is the Piscifun Torrent Baitcasting Reel. Let’s not forget about its excellent performance; Piscifun Torrent Baitcasting Reel features a reinforced CNC Brass Gear which improves both the strength and the overall performance of the unit.
You will also love the shielded stainless-steel bearings feature. This is responsible for maximum protection from oil particles, salt and water. Additionally, you can use this reel on both fresh and saltwater. Impressively, Torrent Baitcasting Reel has an innovative 60S Lubricant Design; this will save you from the hustle that comes with dismantling the reel to add oil. Let’s not forget the incredible magnetic braking system and aluminium spool that provides accuracy to the fishers.
- High performance and affordable
- High-quality carbon fibre construction
- Features unparalleled double wind shaft
- Lacks ball bearings
- Does not come with oil
- Thumb button may be a little difficult to lock the spool
3. Zebco Omega Pro Spincast ReelBest Fishing Reel for Beginners
The Zebco Omega Pro Spincast Reel is a great choice for the weekend angler or newbie. It features an aircraft grade aluminum body and all-metal gears. It comes with an oscillating spool, auto bait alert, and a ceramic line guide. Now, for those new to the sport, these descriptions might not mean anything much. But what they all mean is that this fishing reel is one of the most user-friendly ones you’ll ever come across. It casts easily and gets a pretty good distance. And have we mentioned that the spool is interchangeable? However, some people dislike the low gear ratio (3.6:1). Also, this is definitely not a reel for the serious angler. In addition, it’s a little pricey for beginners or children.
- Incredibly easy to use
- Casts a good distance
- Interchangeable spool
- Low gear ratio
- Not for serious anglers
4. Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing ReelBest Fishing Reel for Surf Fishing
The Penn Battle II has everything you need to ‘battle’ with the fishes of the sea. It features a full metal body, side plate, and rotor for durability as well as 5 sealed stainless steel ball bearings for corrosion resistance. The HT-100 Versa-Drag carbon fiber drag system provides maximum drag while its instant anti-reverse bearing removes backlash so you can reel freely without worry. The spool has a rubber gasket that prevents the line from slipping under pressure. Plus, the reel comes with line capacity rings which lets you know how much line you still have. However, the handle is a bit difficult to turn. Because there is very little plastic in this reel, it is quite heavy.
- Full metal body, side plate, and rotor (non-corrosive)
- HT-100 Versa-Drag carbon fiber drag system
- Various sizes available
- The handle is slightly hard to turn
5. Pflueger President Spinning ReelBest Fishing Reel for Bass
The Pflueger President Spinning Reel comes in five different models, each one providing you with a lot of bang for your buck. Aside from the 6920 model which has 6+1 ball bearings, all the others feature 9+1 ball bearings. All models feature a stainless steel shaft and handle for rust resistance, a graphite body for durability without adding too much weight, and a braid-ready, double-anodized aluminum spool. These spinning reels also feature the solid aluminum Sure-Click Bail® system which lets you know when the bail is closed properly. The anti-reverse bearing can be switched on and off. Plus, the drag system on each one is pretty good. However, it isn’t ideal for saltwater fishing. Its maximum drag pressure is lower compared to other similarly priced fishing reels. And the drag washers seem to require more frequent replacement than other reels.
- Smooth Drag
- Stainless steel shaft and handle
- Solid aluminum Sure-Click Bail® system
- Lower maximum drag pressure
- Not ideal for saltwater fishing
- Drag washers wear out faster
6. Daiwa BGBest Fishing Reel for Walleye
Daiwa has been producing fishing reels for anglers since 1955 so it’s not surprising to find one of its reels on our list. The Daiwa BG series is a range of spinning reels that you can use for ultralight freshwater fishing to big game saltwater fishing. The ABS swept spool provides you with better line management compared to some more expensive options. You get greater casting distance with reduced loops and wind knots. The bail operates so smoothly and so does the waterproof drag system. Plus, the screw-in handle design provides better control and gives the angler more confidence when turning it. However, there’s no line holder. You do have to lubricate it more frequently. And the reel is pretty hefty.
- Better line management
- Great casting distance
- The smooth waterproof drag system
- No line holder
- Requires frequent lubrication
7. SHIMANO Stradic FK Spinning ReelBest Fishing Reel for Casting Distance
Longer casts are made easy with the Shimano Stradic FK spinning reel. It features X-Ship technology that improves the gear’s durability and removes the friction between the gear and the spool shaft so you get better casting performance. The built-in Dyna-Balance rotor, Fluidrive II system and Propulsion Line Management System ensures smooth performance every time. The Hagane body gives the real enhanced durability and rigidity so it is able to withstand long fights with the beasts of the sea. And then there’s the Coreprotect which gives the reel 360-degree all-weather water resistance to increase the reel’s lifespan. However, this reel does not feature an anti-reverse switch. You cannot backreel with it. And it does feature some plastic parts.
- Hagane body
- Propulsion Line Management
- X-Ship Gear system
- No anti-reverse switch
- Cannot backreel
- Has plastic parts
8. Outop Mini Ultra Smooth Lightweight Powerful Collapsible Handle Fishing Spinning Reel BlackBest Mini Lightweight Fishing Reel
If you are looking for a fishing reel that you can use on your next backpack fishing adventure, then you know that you will need one that is lightweight and can cover multiple fishing applications. The Outop Mini Ultra Smooth Collapsible is a perfect fishing reel that is not only good in quality but also fair in terms of price. Additionally, this fishing reel is premium and built to last for a long time. You will also love the fact that it functions extremely good on both saltwater and freshwater.
Outop Mini fishing reel has a fantastic design, but that’s not all. The carbon fibre collapsible rod is something to write home about. On top of that, it is ultra-smooth and delivers performance. This fishing rod is made from superior material that offers maximum protection whether the reel is used as an inshore or an offshore reel.
- Strong and powerful fishing reel
- Compact and easily portable
- Features a collapsible rod
- Does not hold much line
- Stiff to turn leaving a little room for improvement
- May be suitable as a backup and not as an everyday fishing gear
9. Abu Garcia Pro Max Low Profile ReelBest Fishing Reel for Trout
The Abu Garcia Pro Max Low Profile Reel is an impressive baitcasting reel. It has a brass gear for extended product life, the MagTrax brake system for consistent brake pressure, and a 7.1:1 gear ratio which is perfect when you’re battling very big fish. The reel features the power disk system for smooth drag performance. Its smooth operation is due to the 7 stainless steel ball bearings and 1 roller bearing. Plus, the machine double anodized aluminum spool keeps the reel somewhat lightweight while still providing strength and durability. However, it is a bit squeaky when you first get it so make sure to lubricate it before use. There is a little play in the handle which can cause it to become loose while you’re using it.
- MagTrax brake system
- Low profile
- High gear ratio
- Requires lubrication before use
- Little play in the handle
10. Daiwa Lexa 300Best Fishing Reel for Saltwater
The Daiwa Lexa 300 is a high-performance baitcasting reel that features a lightweight design, carbon fiber drag system, and powerful gearing. The model we particularly love is the reel with a gear ratio of 7.1:1 and 22lbs of drag. If you plan on battling against gamefish such as bluefish, barracuda, or snook, then you definitely need one of these. The Lexa 300 comes with an aluminum frame and side plate which is why the reel is so lightweight. The 7 Bearing system feature corrosion-resistant ball bearings that are designed specifically to withstand harsh saltwater conditions 12 times better than ordinary steel ball bearings. The Magforce Cast Control prevents back spoiling through the use of magnets that automatically slows the end of your cast. You can even adjust the force of the magnets using the dial. However, this is not fully sealed which still makes it vulnerable to corrosion. Some users have reported that their reels were very noisy.
- Carbon fiber drag system
- Magforce Cast Control
- Very smooth operation
- Not fully sealed
- Maybe noisy
How to Choose the Best Fishing Reel: The Ultimate Buying Guide
Fishing is undoubtedly a relaxing sport. But finding the right fishing gear isn’t. And any good angler will tell you that poorly chosen gear can cause you to come home empty-handed. Part of the essentials is the fishing reel. And the right one is not just a matter of preference. It also depends on a number of factors, including the type of fishing you plan on doing. If you’re looking for the best fishing reel for your next angling adventure, our shopping guide should help you make the right choice.
What are the Types of Fishing Reels?
These are a beginner’s best friend. It is quite easy to operate. You just need to flip the bail, place your finger on the line, and then cast it. Once cast, you close the bail and use the handle, turning it in a clockwise motion, to pull the line back in. This type of reel is mounted underneath the rod, with the handle typically located on the left side. Spinning reels are great for small lures and baits.
When choosing a spinning reel, you’ll notice that there are different numbers assigned to the models. These numbers refer to the size of the reel. The Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel, for example, come in a variety of sizes ranging from 2000 to 8000.
1000 to 3500 (or 10 – 35) class reels are small and designed to handle lightweight rods that are around 6 to 7 feet long. These are intended for catching small fish. Generally, the weight range of the monofilament line for this kind of reel is 2-10lb (1-5kg) or 4-14lb braid.
4000 to 5500 (or 40 – 55) class reels are medium in size and can handle monofilament lines between 8-14lb (4-7kg) or 8-25lb braid.
6000 to 9500 (or 60 – 95) class reels are the largest size and suitable for use on rods of varying sizes. The weight range of the monofilament line used with this reel is 6-15kg+ or 12-30lb braid.
This type of reel is more complex but provide more accuracy and control. Unlike the spinning reel, a baitcast reel sits on top of the rod. The reel uses the weight of the bait or lure to pull the line and turn the spool while casting. You then use your thumb to control the amount of line coming off the spool. This is why baitcasting is more suited to experienced anglers. It takes a lot of skill to use this kind of reel. Most reels of this type have a drag system which enables you to adjust the level of resistance required to pull the line off the spool. Baitcasting reels like the SHIMANO Curado I Reels are typically used to catch big game fish such as bass.
You’ll notice that baitcasting reels often described as ‘low profile’ or ‘round profile.’ The former refers to how the reel fits the palm of the angler’s hand while he casts or retrieves a line. This is an ideal choice for sports fishing. A round profile reel, on the other hand, is more suited for trolling and other types of fishing that require long runs because the reel contains more line.
Even easier than spinning reels, this type of fishing reel is enclosed and can be operated with a push of a button. It is the simplest of all fishing reels. A spin-cast reel like the Zebco Omega Pro Spincast Reel is perfect for beginners who want to start out with baby steps.
What is a Drag?
Drag refers to the friction applied to the spool. This is an important feature for more advanced anglers as it helps when casting and when you are trying to reel a big fish in as it reduces the chance of the line breaking. Old models usually have a fixed drag which cannot be adjusted. Newer fishing reels feature adjustable drag systems. The better the quality of a fishing reel, the smoother the drag system is. The Daiwa BG series is just one out of several on our list that has an incredibly smooth drag.
What is Anti-reverse?
This is a feature that stops the reel from turning back once the fish starts to fight and engaging the drag. This allows you to let the fish take the bait and “run” away with it while preventing a tangle on your line.
Does it Have Indicator Marks?
Your fishing reel should have indicator marks that signify line capacity so you when the spool is full or when it’s almost out of line. The Penn Spinfisher VI Spinning Fishing Reel, for example, has line capacity rings.
How Light is it?
The lightness of a fishing reel depends on the material used to make it. Generally, you want the reel to be as light as possible so models made of graphite or aluminum are preferred. However, for saltwater fishing where fish may be bigger, you’ll need something more robust. The SHIMANO Curado I Reels is a freshwater fishing reel that’s lightweight at only 7.40 ounces. The good thing about it is that you can also use it for inshore saltwater fishing
What Does the Reel Gear Ratio Mean?
This refers to the number of revolutions or turns the spool will make for every crank of the handle. For example, a 5:1 means that the spool goes around 5 times for every turn of the handle you make. The higher the gear ratio, the faster the retrieval of your line. The Zebco Omega Pro Spincast Reel, for example, has a reel gear ratio of 3.6:1.
What About the Ball Bearings?
Ball bearings make your reel function more smoothly. Generally, the more ball bearings it has, the better. The KastKing Summer/Centron Spinning Reel, for example, has 9 + 1 ball bearings. You should also consider whether these are sealed or not. Stainless steel ones are great for corrosion resistance but sealed ones are still best. The Penn Spinfisher VI Spinning Fishing Reel, for example, features an IPX5 sealed spool and body design.
Freshwater or Saltwater Fishing?
Many reels are designed solely for one type of fishing. Some freshwater fishing reel models can be used for light saltwater fishing. But you need to check the manufacturer’s recommendation. The Penn Spinfisher VI Spinning Fishing Reel, for example, is designed specifically for saltwater fishing. Take note that reels dedicated to saltwater fishing are typically more expensive than those marked for freshwater only.
Another thing you may want is a fishing pole, so check the article on 10 best fishing poles out.