A good spinning rod always includes a good fishing reel. For
spin fishing there are different requirements for reels than for reels used for sit-up fishing. Weight and line placement play a bigger role. Here in this article you will find top models in every price range, which have proven themselves and meet the requirements of modern spin fishing.
Besides some insider tips, these are reel series that have proven themselves in practice. I have also included some special categories, such as reels for sea fishing and particularly robust reels that are hard to break. For anglers who like it a bit faster or just want to crank less, there are reels with a particularly high gear ratio.
Update: the article has been updated for 2020. New models, which attract my attention during the year and are considered good to very good, will be added.
This makes a good reel for spin fishing
For spin fishing you need a good reel with a brake that works perfectly and never jams or starts with a jerk. As you cast a lot and for a long time when spinning, the weight of the reel should be as light as possible, otherwise casting
for hours will quickly become exhausting.
A certain ease of movement is also important, because this way it’s simply easier to spin. Smoothness is also a direct characteristic of high quality castors. This characteristic has only partly to do with the number
of ball bearings. Although the number of ball bearings is always advertised, this has only a limited effect on quality and often more on customer catch. A good spinning reel can be very smooth running even with 5 ball bearings! It is important that nothing scratches or runs unevenly when you turn the crank.
It must also be possible to turn the line roller quickly and perfectly with a light touch, because it prevents wear and twist in the line.
Another important point is that the crank has no backlash when the backstop is engaged.
Cord retraction and transmission
The cord retraction is also important: it has to do with three factors.
- How high the ratio of the spool is – spools with a high ratio have a higher line pull than those with a low ratio
- How full the spool is – a full spool also means a higher line pull
- How large the spool is – large spools and therefore spools usually have a higher line pull
To point 1: a high gear ratio also means a higher starting resistance and is then
useful when we need a fast bait guidance. When I fish upstream on the river I always want to have bait contact. Also on trout or asp I crank myself with a small 4.9:1 reel ratio. Therefore I prefer a 6.1:1 ratio for these fish species. When I’m fishing for pike, I prefer lower ratios, because otherwise you run the risk of winding the lure too fast past the lazy pike.
On the other hand if I have very strong fish in the fight then lower ratios are often useful. But when spinning reels I would rather look at how fast I want to present my lure.
point 2 I can hardly influence, when I have thrown 100 m, I simply have to expect that my catching up speed simply decreases per crank revolution.
Point 3 is hardly decisive for me. I choose the reel and then I choose the type of fish I want to fish and then certain sizes make sense because they fit the rod.
Front or rear brake
Most spinning reels have a front brake, which is simply much stronger and more durable than reels with a rear or combat brake. A combat brake allows the angler to switch quickly and easily between two brake settings. This works very much like a freewheel and can also be used as such. However, the mechanics are somewhat vulnerable. Of course it is a matter of taste which type of brake you prefer. Nevertheless, front brakes have become popular for a reason.
Throwing characteristics and spool filling
Of course the throwing characteristics of a reel are also important, we want to throw as far as possible with as little effort as possible. Therefore most reels have rounded or even conical edges on the spool, over which the line slides with little resistance during the cast. But even more important for the casting characteristics is a fishing line that is as round and thin as possible, which comes on our reel spool. The spool should always be filled to 2-3 mm below the edge. More leads to wigs and less costs casting distance.
The line laying
The line laying is a very important quality feature. Especially when fishing with braided lines you need a reel that lays them perfectly. This is the case with all reels in the tables and you can rinse braided ones without hesitation. Sometimes there are still washers under the reel spool that need to be removed to have a good line lay. You can see if this is necessary if the line at the top or bottom of the spool is too thick or too thin after a few layers.
Summary: these are the important characteristics of a fishing reel
- clean starting brake
- easy running
- good casting characteristics
- clean line laying
- nothing should wobble!
What a good spinning reel costs
Good spinning reels are already available for about 30€ these are good quality reels that you can fish for many years if you handle them carefully. You have to make some concessions in terms of smoothness and the durability can be a bit reduced. For 50€ you can get a lot, because the technology of the high end reels has been available for years and next year the price segment will be lower and so on… until the technology has at least partially arrived in the cheap reels. Because some features and expensive materials do not move further down. Of course, other materials are usually used in the cheaper rolls. Full metal rolls made of aluminium cost more to produce.
For a little more money you get even better line laying and lighter rolls with high stability. In the high end segment you pay a lot more just to get a high end reel. Nevertheless you get the latest technology and the claim to get the best that is currently available on the fishing reel market.
Make sure you know how much you want to spend, because for 10€ more you can get a better reel in the price range of 40-150€ and then you are quickly at much more than you wanted to spend.
Spinning reels for the beginner
For beginners I recommend to choose reels of the lower price range until you really know for sure which kind of fishing you enjoy most. Also for occasional anglers who fish less than 10 times a year I recommend to choose rather cheap reels up to the middle price range, because with occasional use the material hardly gets tired and you can fish with the reels for many years. If money is not an issue, you can of course treat yourself to better reels.
But you won’t catch any fish with these reels except in the very rare case where you need to cast the last meter or you want to fish all day long and the 50 g less is important or the ease of movement.
Adjust the weight to the rod
The weight of a spinning reel should be adapted to the fishing rod, because a rod with a heavy head can easily get into the wrist and is an unnecessary burden. The centre of gravity of the spinning rod should be one hand wide in front of the reel foot. If you balance the rod there on two fingers, it should not tilt forward or backward. The longer and heavier a rod is, the faster it becomes top-heavy on a light reel and vice versa. So if you fish a 1.8 m long rod, the reel should be rather light and vice versa. When fishing with a 3m spinning rod you should not choose a reel that is too light, but rather one size bigger.
Materials for spinning reels
New spinning reels use a variety of high tech materials from carbon fibre reinforced plastics to various metals. The Shimano Stradic was partly made of very light magnesium oxide. Also brass and other light metals are used inside. But the axle should still be made of steel to have the necessary stability.
The materials should be torsion-free. Torsion-free means that the rollers have a high stiffness against elastic deformation by a force or torque. For our stationary reels this means that the reel foot or other parts of the reel body will not warp when a strong fish is in the fight. Metal reels in particular have a high resistance to twisting, while cheap plastic reels can be bent back and forth.
Reel sizes for orientation
Which reel size fits which fish species can be seen in the table below this paragraph. The whole thing is to be seen relatively and the table should only give a basic orientation. In addition, there are also reel sizes such as a 2500′ reel which is between the size of a 2000′ and a 3000′ reel. It should also be noted that Shimano reels are always slightly smaller than Daiwa models. A Daiwa 3000 reel corresponds to a Shimano 4000 reel.
Again other manufacturers call a 1000 reel a 710 reel and the 5000 reel of the series is then the 750 size. The trout does not care if it is caught with a reel with which you can drill catfish in the stream or with a small reel. The reel sizes are mainly about the brake force, weight and stability of the reel and the balance of the rod and reel combination.
These are the top spinning reels 2019
Budget spinning reel
Spinning reels for little money do not have to hide from more expensive models. Only the durability is less during continuous use and of course they do not crank themselves as easily. Nevertheless they are quite sufficient to simply go fishing.
Ryobi Cynos II
New in the list is the Ryobi Cynos II, which I have also specially tested>>. I am absolutely satisfied with this reel, because it has some special features like a screw-in crank and a rubberized spool. Of course it also runs very smooth and the brake starts without any problems. The only thing I am missing is the long-term experience with the reel.
The Spro Mimic
The Spro Mimic is an inexpensive stationary reel, which attracts attention with its very smooth running and low weight. The castor has received an extra test >> I couldn’t find any defects only the black design doesn’t really please me but that’s a matter of taste. Other rolls, like the one or the other China roll are often also usable, but they are not very well tested.
Kastking Sharky II
The Kastking Sharky II is a China reel of which I am fully convinced despite the low price and have now got 3 reels. This reel got a long term test >> because I have been fishing it for ~3 years! But even with this reel you can read from time to time from Monday models, which I can imagine, so I had a sister model (Mela II) of the reel which was completely useless.
Lower price segment: Cheap spinning reels
These spinning reels for about 50€ will last for a few years and are also top price/performance.
Spro Passion R
The Spro Passion is available for the Spro Passion, and the Ryobi Excusima is identical in construction to the Spro Passion R, which is why it does not appear separately in the table. About the Spro Passion I have made a long time test, the roll is a solid long time workhorse. The Passion is also available in very large sizes, which is not the case with the following two rolls.
Another cheap and very good reel is the Quantum Fire. A very smooth and solid reel that is worth its money and does not have to hide from more expensive reels. It is also pleasantly light. I also have an article about the Quantum fire on the website.
The Daiwa Ninja is also a great reel for a quite reasonable price and has the best run of the cheaper models. The Daiwa Ninja comes with a replacement aluminium spool. It goes without saying that the brake works perfectly on all reels and the line laying is also suitable for braided ones.
Medium price segment I: Spinning reels
This is the first part of the reels from the medium price segment, because for about 60-90€ there are really many good spinning reels and fishing reels available. The reels from the second part are a bit higher.
New 2019 and a really ingenious spinning reel is the Spro CRX, it weighs a few grams more than the other reels, but it convinces with robustness, a large spool and a reel body made of plastic-aluminum mixed. I use the reel in size 4000 as pike reel and I am very satisfied. Link to the more detailed test >>.
The Shimano NASCI
The 2017 reel is my personal test winner in this price segment and runs just great. One should only be aware that the reel has, just like the Sahara FI, no switchable rewind, which I personally welcome. You can read the more detailed test here >>
And another reel from Daiwa, the Legalis LT is one of the new reels from 2018 from the Daiwa program and impresses with silky smooth running, extremely strong brakes and very low weight. The reel is relatively small but is strongly built. I like the reel extremely well and I have caught some pike with it this season. I have dedicated an extra test to this reel >>
Spro red arc the legend
I find it a bit far-fetched to call a reel a legend, but if a reel is allowed to do that, then it really is the Spro red arc the legend. The new version is one step better than the old Red Arc and comes in a new design, even if I found the old one better. The reel is one of the most recommended spinning reels in this price range in some angling forums and not for nothing. The new version is again a little lighter than the old one, but heavier than e.g. the Nasci. For a longer rod this can be the right choice again.
Medium price segment II: Spinning reels
You can expect a lot in this price segment. Technique that was still reserved for high-end reels last year or the year before last. Absolute smoothness and strong, durable brakes are also a matter of course here.
The Daiwa Freams proves that ball bearings have nothing to do with a soft running of the reel. With only 4 bearings it runs as soft as some reels with 3x as many bearings. The reel is available in different ratios depending on the reel size, the cord holder is the biggest in this category.
Shimano Stradic GTM
The Shimano Stradic GTM is the only reel among our top reels with a combat brake. It also stands out with a high gear ratio. But the combat brake also makes it a heavy role in this segment.
Mag Pro RTZ
The Mag Pro RTZ from Mitchell makes things easier. The traditional manufacturer of spinning reels offers a beautiful spinning reel with an unusual design and carbon on the crank, this and the other components make this reel particularly light. An advantage if you want to fish for a long time without tiring. The high gear ratio also helps to achieve more with less crank turns. The included spare spool is also a welcome addition.
Higher price segment: spinning reels
You can expect a lot in this price segment. Technique that was still reserved for high-end reels last year or the year before last. Absolute ease of movement and strong, durable brakes are also a matter of course here. But mainly all three models presented are real workhorses, which will last for many years even under hard conditions and continuous fishing.
The Shimano Biomaster FB is one of the best reels for around 200€. Because it offers quite a lot of top class equipment. Last but not least, it has received good reviews in trade journals everywhere and the report by Veit Wilde (link) makes one thing clear. A role where you will hardly regret the purchase. She is considered a robust long-term workhorse and is popular with many predatory fish anglers.
Daiwa Prorex LT Spin
New in this upscale price segment is the Prorex LT spinning reel, which is extremely light and comes in the new purple-black design of the whole Prorex series. The reel is made of Zaion a new plastic material which is similar to the CI4 material from Shimano. Of course, a castor with this design is very easy to crank even under load. How the long term durability of the reel looks like has yet to be seen.
The Shimano Sustain has already gained a very good reputation on the US market for several years and is even more than the Biomaster a robust reel for fatigue-free fishing. The reel is salt water resistant and like the Stradic CI4+ the aluminium mixture CI4+ was used to get a light and durable reel. If you are looking for a reel in this price range that has a slower gear ratio, then you should take a look at this reel.
This year Shimano released a new sustain, the Sustain FI, which replaces the old Sustain FG.
The best – High End: Reels for spin fishing
In this price segment there are only a few reels that all claim to be the best of the best and combine modern technology with beautiful design. These are reels for passionate anglers who want the best of the best. There is no shortage of material in any corner and usually spare spools are included, as well as a cloth bag. This is also the case with the Shimano Stella, the flagship of the Japanese manufacturer. There are different models of the Stella HG stands for high transmission ratio, XG stands for very high transmission ratio. PG stands for power gear an extra strong gearbox but a little lower gear ratio. The Stella could also be available in the more expensive SW (Saltwater) version, but the price is usually beyond what most of us would like to pay for a reel. The Stella is still the undisputed number one of the best SW reels, but also the most expensive. With very special fishing types you can hardly get around her, only Saltiga dogfight from Daiwa can get around her.
There are two reels from Daiwa, which don’t really give themselves much. The Daiwa Exist and the Daiwa Morethan. The Exist is a bit lighter and has more of the new material “Zaion” built in, while the Morethan only consists of the body of the role. So the Exist is also the lightest reel on the field.
In the end there is not much to say about the Stella, Exist and Morethan – all three reels don’t give themselves much in their almost eerie looking smoothness and quality parts. So it remains more a question of faith if it will be a Daiwa or a Shimano. All cranks “almost by themselves”…
Spinning reels for saltwater fishing
At the sea not only rod and rod rings are threatened by corrosion due to aggressive salt water, but also our fishing reels. My recommendation is therefore to rinse salt water reels well with
fresh water after each use. This is best done simply in the shower or with a garden hose. You can also use the rod with showers. Of course, SW reels are forgiving if you don’t do that and will go on fishing for weeks without being rinsed. Nevertheless I advise you to rinse them regularly so that the reels do their job as long as possible. After a full bath in salt water a fishing reel should take a freshwater full bath as soon as possible, provided it is waterproof.
Saltwater resistant rolls are also usually much stronger than fresh water rolls, which is also reflected in the price. A very good instruction, how and when to care for your reel is unfortunately available here in English but with a lot of British humor.
Due to the high combat strength of many sea robbers, strong brakes are also essential. That’s why the max drag is usually given, which is the maximum braking power. Furthermore a high gear ratio at the sea is often an advantage especially when going into the warmer seas, because the predators are much faster and lures often have to be led 3-4 times faster than in our country.
More reels for sea fishing can be found under “Rough Reels” in the paragraph after these reels. The “Rough Reels” are all also suitable for fishing in salt and brackish water.
The new edition of the old Black and Gold Sea Reels offers everything you could wish for in a saltwater spinning reel. The reel convinces above all with its smooth running and durability. I have already fished the reel
and I am thrilled with it. Not without reason it is the best rated reel on my site so far. Price/performance is good: it could be half the price again, which is still within the limits for such a reel. The gear ratio of the reel is high, which also allows fast bait handling. It should also be mentioned that the reel is very large for its reel size. Here I have described my impression of the reel in detail >>.
Zalt Arc Tuff Body
The Zalt Arc is a classic among the sea spinning reels, but it has a lower gear ratio so it is not suitable for speed jigging or fishing for tropical predators. The reel is still a top for use in the Baltic and North Sea and a bit cheaper than the Daiwa BG
Penn Slammer 3
Robust and tough, if you don’t like to handle your reel and don’t want to take care of it, I can only recommend the Slammer 3. The roll is filled up to the edge with grease so that it will not need to be greased again for several years. I have been fishing the spinning reel for a couple of months in fresh water, recently it was also fished for a week in the Canary Islands and has survived its baptism of fire with salt water baths. The reel has a high gear ratio and therefore a high line pull. Due to its robust construction it is perfectly suited for speed jigging and popper fishing. Here you can find the single test of the reel >>
Stella SW, Saltiga Dogfight and Twin Power
These three should not remain unmentioned. The three quite expensive rolls are also already mentioned in the royal class. Clearly the roles are something for specialists and freaks. But if maximum durability + high gear ratio + maximum smoothness is required, there is no way around the large sizes of the three castors. Fish that demand this are when fishing from the shore for the strongest predators in the sea, such as GT, yellowfin tuna, kingfish and wahoo. If you can’t catch up quickly and can’t stand the drill you will have a hard time with these fish. The Shimano Twin Power is often called the poor man’s Stella and is considered the cheapest alternative to the expensive reel. In the 14000′ version it has an impressive brake power of 25 kg, which is the same as the Stella in its strongest version.
Roles, which are badly handled, require little maintenance and can tolerate salt water, are mostly from Penn. The rollers are a little heavier due to their robust construction, but are almost indestructible.
Penn has a well-deserved reputation for making reels of this type and specializes in saltwater reels and extra strong models. The Penn Slammer reel is the classic among the sturdy fishing reels but has a special feature. The reel is designed for thick lines, if you fish thin braided lines with it, cast with it and on top of that reel you reel the line without tension, then you have wigs guarantee. The reel is not bad at all, but please use lines from 0.3mm for monofilament and 0.2mm for braided lines upwards. Then you will have many years of fun with a very nice reel for the price, where you don’t have to be afraid of big fish. The Penn Slammer 3 is a remedy for this problem, which can also be used to lay thinner braided lines neatly.
If you want thinner lines and a better line lay, the Penn Spinfisher V is for you. The line laying of the reel is top, even with slightly thinner lines and still it has the same stability as the Slammer.
The new Penn Clash is a slightly finer reel that has also received top marks from trade magazines. Of course it is a bit finer than the spinfisher and the slammer but still a stable Penn reel that is not as heavy as its sisters.
Spinning reels with high gear ratio
A high gear ratio means that the line hanger turns more often per crank revolution, which leads to a high line pull. Spinning reels with this feature can be used in the same way as other reels but you should be careful not to crank too fast if you want to guide your lures slowly. On pike such reels are a disadvantage as most anglers find it difficult to reel very slowly and pike often prefer slower lures (that’s the rule, of course there are exceptions). The Stradic GTM and other Shimano Stradic reels such as the CI4+ almost all have this high gear ratio. Also many other sea reels have a high gear ratio, because the fish in the sea like to have it faster. Daiwas BG and also the Penn Slammer 3 have a fixed gear ratio.
Spinning reels for rubber fishing with 0 gear ratio
Admittedly this is something very special. But reels with a gear ratio of 5:0 or 6:0 have the property to make exactly 5 or 6 revolutions of the rotor per crank revolution. Therefore we can pick up the line again and again at exactly the same place with our finger, so that we always know exactly what our lure is doing with the lazy method. This always with the index finger into the line needs some practice, but is worth it, because now no bite remains unnoticed. Therefore reels of this category should actually be called spinning reels for lazing around, but lazing around is now so far and successfully in use that both terms are almost identical.
A reel with a 6:0 ratio that is very popular with many spinning anglers is the HG (High Gear) version of the Shimano Stradic CI4+. It is also available in 5:0 ratio.
Spinning Reels for Waddle Fishing
For Waddle Fishing I would not use just any spinning reel but one that is at least halfway waterproof and sealed. Because when waddling it happens from time to time, even if unintentionally, that the reel is submerged in water and if the brake and the rest of the reel is not sealed, there is a screeching concert after a week when cranking due to rusting bearings and other parts. Most saltwater reels are also suitable and sealed, if you wade in the salt water of the Baltic Sea, you will get a similar reel anyway. The Kastking Sharky II is the cheapest reel that can be used for immersion baths. I let my Sharky II 3000 sink for ~4 minutes in 4 m water depth, which doesn’t do any good with my Sharky either. Only the bearings were a little bit rusty and were quickly replaced. But who wades in 4 m deep water? Daiwa reels with the “Mag sealed” feature are sealed. Here is the Fuego LT as a new and really good spinning reel, which runs much easier than the Sharky but of course costs twice as much. If you want to invest more than twice the price of the Fuego you can use Shimano’s Biomaster SW. The Daiwa BG for about 100€ (RRP) is still cheaper, which leaves the twice as expensive Shimano reel behind in salt water. Yes, at the moment I am a Daiwa fan, even though Shimano makes the best roll at the moment.