The 8 Best Spinning Reels For Various Species & Budgets

by Thavius | Last Updated:   October 8th, 2022
The 8 Best Spinning Reels For Various Species & Budgets

In this article, we’ll focus on the best spinning reel for different budgets and fish species. We’ll also look at the best spinning reel for different fishing environments such as saltwater and inshore fishing.

Lastly, we share some useful information that will help guide you toward the best spinning reel for your needs. This can be found near the end of the article so keep on reading!


Reviewing The 8 Best Spinning Reels

Best spinning rod and reel combo

The spinning rod features a non-slip EVA & cork handle to ensure a firm and comfortable grip even during wet conditions. It also has 8 ceramic guides that minimize line friction resulting in long smooth casts. It is made of triple-layer carbon fiber which results in a powerful, lightweight, and yet sensitive to fish bites design. The fact that this is a 2 piece spinning rod makes it easy for storage and transport.

A minor drawback to this spinning rod is the lack of a hook holder at the rear.  As such, there’s the risk that the hook and bait start scratching, or incurring damage to the blank’s surface.

  • Ergonomic design
  • Good quality
  • Portable
  • No hook holder

If interested in more reviews of the best spinning rods, then check out this article!

Best all-round spinning reel

The materials being used along with the way the different parts are forged result in a spinning reel that can last for a long time without breaking down. Thus, this is the best Shimano spinning reel for all types of water and fish species. Next to that, the reel metal parts have been forged using the Hagane concept. This means that the gear parts are forged at room temperature to achieve better precision and strength.

As a result, the spinning reel allows for seamless engagement and power transmission. It also gives you exceptional smoothness and provides you with far better sensitivity and casting performance. The frame and some inner parts of this spinning reel are made of Shimano CI4+ material. As such, the spinning reel is almost as strong as metal and light as carbon and ensures less fatigue when fishing.

All these high-end technology features and the well-known brand makes up for a spinning reel that is quite expensive. However, in return, you are certain that you have a reel that will last long enough to recover the purchase costs.

  • Lightweight
  • Durable
  • Expensive

Best spinning reel for bass & trout

This reel ranges from ultralight freshwater actions to heavy big game saltwater models. The small reel sizes are also ideal for trout fishing hence it is also considered one of the best spinning reels for trout fishing. The ABS spool allows for filling in it with the line right up to the edge of the spool lip without fear of tangles. It also features an air rotor which reduces unnecessary weight due to its unique shape while distributing stress more evenly throughout the rotor for maximum strength. 

A drawback is that the spinning reel models are much larger and therefore also much heavier than other spinning reels of comparable size. Thus, you will most likely experience arm fatigue when fishing the whole day with this spinning reel.

  • Different options
  • Good design
  • Good performance
  • User friendly
  • Value for money
  • Heavy

Best spinning reel under $50

The spinning reel is made of light material and is easy to use making it ideal for hobby fishermen or as a spare spinning reel when out fishing. The wood handle is collapsible and left/right interchangeable making the reel accessible to right and left-handed fishermen. All in all, the reel offers a reasonable quality given its price. Thus, it is the best budget spinning reel on the market. 

That said, the drag system is susceptible to sand and other small particles that get caught up in the fishing line. Hence, you need to thoroughly rinse the reel after exposure to saltwater and it’s not advisable to use the reel for surf fishing on the beach. Also, the handle tends to loosen up after some usage.

  • User friendly
  • Lightweight
  • Value for the money
  • Poor quality

Best crappie spinning reel

The spinning reel features a sealed drag system, braid-ready spool, and a graphite body and rotor ensuring a lightweight and durable spinning reel. It also has anti-reverse bearings that can be turned on and off. Also, the front drag design increases the max drag capacity. Like most decent spinning reels, the reel handle is interchangeable making it a left-handed or right-handed spinning reel depending on your liking.

However, the inner parts easily get wet if not used with care and are therefore not ideal for use in saltwater.

  • Good design
  • User friendly
  • Poor quality

Best ultralight spinning reel

The cyclonic flow rotor focuses on removing water from the system and drying the reel out instead of guarding against water intrusion. Thus, the spinning reel dries faster in rainy environments than in a traditional design. Also, the built-in rotor equalizing system allows for precision balance and eliminates all spool wobble for perfect alignments and smooth cranking. As such, it is one of the best spinning reels under $150.

Furthermore, the body, side plate, and rotor of this lightweight spinning reel are constructed of carbon and graphite fiber. This results in a spinning reel that is very lightweight and corrosion-free that can be used for backpacking or kayak fishing.

That said, there are some problems with lines twisting or catching. Also, gears and bearings sometimes have a short lifespan, especially when not cleaned after fishing in saltwater

  • Good design
  • Lightweight
  • Poor quality

For more recommendations regarding the best ultralight spinning reel, be sure to check out the following article!

Best inshore spinning reel

The carbon fiber and stainless steel drag washer coupled with the aluminum spool make this the best saltwater spinning reel under $50. In addition, it also comes with a spare spool. Also, the handle is interchangeable making it a left-handed or right-handed spinning reel depending on your liking.

On the downside, the open skirt on the aluminum pool allows dirt and other particles into the drag system. This can be solved by thoroughly cleaning the spinning reel once done with fishing.

  • Saltwater friendly
  • User friendly
  • Poor design

Best saltwater spinning reel under $200

This spinning reel features an AMGearing system and a carbon matrix hybrid drag system resulting in a gear system that has been optimized for smoothness and durability when casting. It also has a rocket line management system which is a combination of bail angle, spool lip design, and slow oscillation that gives anglers the ability to cast further and manage fishing lines more effectively. Also, the carbon body and one-piece aluminum gearbox result in a solid and robust frame. 

However, it’s still not as smooth and refined as the Shimano ci4, which is also higher priced.

  • Durable
  • Good design
  • Subpar performance

What Is A Spinning Reel?

Best Spinning Reel

Spinning reels also called fixed spool reels or egg beaters, have an open face design which makes it easier for beginner fishermen to learn how to cast properly and operate. Since the spinning reel is mounted below the rod, it requires less wrist strength to keep the reel in place reducing arm fatigue.

Unlike casting reels, which have a rotating spool, the spool on a spinning reel is fixed and a bail wraps the line onto the spool as you turn the handle. When casting, the bail is then disengaged so the line spirals freely off the spool, carried by the cast lure. The design of the fixed spool is the reason why spinning reels don’t have backlashes since the reel has no rotating spool capable of overrunning and fouling the fishing line.

Furthermore, they have great line capacity and versatility because you can buy a spinning reel with an extra spool. This makes it much easier to switch out fishing lines while you are on the water.

  • Generally cheaper than baitcasting reels
  • Great for casting ultralight lures
  • Highly versatile
  • No backlash during casting
  • Spool can be changed easily
  • Very easy to use
  • Very simple maintenance
  • Heavier weight than comparable baitcasters
  • Lower casting distance and accuracy
  • Not as durable
  • Not as good for heavy lures
  • Not good for big game fish

In what follows we’ll discuss the different parts of a spinning reel so that you have a better understanding of which spinning reel suits you best.

Reel Size

The spinning reel size you should get is determined by the type of fishing you plan to do. Among the most important things to consider are:

  1. What line strength are you planning to use?
  2. Will you be fishing in freshwater or saltwater?
  3. What size fish are you planning to catch?

Small sized spinning reels

Reel Size

Recommended Mono Line Strength

Recommended Braided Line Strength

Recommended Usage

Recommended Species (North America)


2 - 4 lbs

4 - 8 lbs

Ultralight fishing in freshwater and estuaries, bays & harbors

Trout, Crappie, Bluegill, Yellow Perch


4 - 6 lbs

4 - 8 lbs

Bass, Trout, Crappie, Bluegill, Yellow Perch


5 - 8 lbs

5 - 12 lbs

Light fishing in freshwater and estuaries, bays & harbors

Bass, Walleye, Northern Pike, Catfish


6 - 10 lbs

6 - 14 lbs


6 - 10 lbs

6 - 14 lbs

Medium sized spinning reels

Reel Size

Recommended Mono Line Strength

Recommended Braided Line Strength

Recommended Usage

Recommended Species (North America)

4000/40 & 4500/45

8 - 12 lbs

8 - 20 lbs

Medium fishing in freshwater and inshore saltwater

Catfish, Muskie, Snook, Redfish, Snapper

5000/50 & 5500/55

10 - 14 lbs

10 - 25 lbs

Large sized spinning reels

Reel Size

Recommended Mono Line Strength

Recommended Braided Line Strength

Recommended Usage

Recommended Species (North America)

6000/60 & 6500/65

12 - 16 lbs

12 - 30 lbs

Medium fishing in onshore & offshore saltwater

Striped Bass, Salmon, Snook, Redfish (Red Drum)


14 - 18 lbs

15 - 40 lbs


16 - 20 lbs

20 - 50 lbs


16 - 20 lbs

20 - 50 lbs

Medium fishing in onshore & offshore saltwater

Wahoo, Roosterfish, Dorado, Barracuda, Amberjack

8500/85 & 9000/90

18 - 22 lbs

30 - 50 lbs


20 - 25 lbs

30 - 50 lbs


20 - 25 lbs

30 - 60 lbs

Medium/ Heavy fishing in onshore & offshore saltwater

Tuna, Wahoo, Dorado, Shark


22 - 27 lbs

30 - 60 lbs

12000/120 & 14000/140

28 lbs+

30 - 60 lbs

Medium/ Heavy offshore saltwater fishing


32 lbs+

40 - 70 lbs


36 lbs+

40 - 70 lbs


40 lbs+

50 - 80 lbs

Heavy offshore saltwater fishing

Sailfish, Tuna (large species), Tarpon, Giant Trevally


50 lbs+

50 - 80 lbs


60 lbs+

80 - 100 lbs

Reel body

Reel bodies can be made of aluminum, graphite, or a combination of both. The type of material being used in the housing has an impact on the weight and durability of the spinning reel.

For instance, aluminum housings are stronger and don’t flex as often as graphite ones do. On the other hand, graphite housings are lighter which reduces the strain put on the wrist and forearm. This is especially important if you plan on spending a great deal of time on the water.

Deciding whether strength or weight is more important is ultimately a personal choice. In the end, the highest quality freshwater reels tend to have aluminum bodies while graphite housings are better suited for saltwater fishing since they are corrosion resistant.

Line Spool

The design of the spool has an influence on the line capacity, casting performance, line retrieval, and line twist. In the past, there used to be only two basic types of spinning reel spools, known as skirted or internal spools.

Internal spools are barely sold and used nowadays since they easily create line tangles with the body of the reel. Skirted spools don’t have this annoying issue and are also why most people have switched to using them instead.

With recent technology development, there are now several types of spool designs that help improve casting performance as well as casting distance of spinning reels.

Best Spinning Reel: Long Cast Spool

Long cast spool

The long cast spool is one of these recent spool designs. The shape of the spool is shallow and long which means less friction on the line spools during a cast, resulting in greater casting distance.

Best Spinning Reel: Mag Spool

Mag spool

A different type of spool design is based on what the manufacturers refer to as Mag Spool Technology. This spool design consists of a bigger spool that is flatter and wider compared to other reels, which enables a fast retrieve, greater casting distance, and fewer ‘birds nests’ due to line twisting.

Drag System

The drag system puts pressure on fish and allows you to give out more fishing lines when needed. A smooth, high-quality drag system is essential for a good spinning reel. Spinning reels have front or rear drag systems or a combination of both. Rear drags can be easier to adjust when playing a fish but often have less max drag than front drag styles.

On combo reels like the Baitrunner or Thunnus from Shimano, the rear drag works as a secondary drag system that allows the bait to swim free with the bail closed. When a fish grabs the bait the secondary drag still provides some resistance. The angler can then reengage the main drag to set the hook and play the fish. Most anglers recommend a front-drag system on a spinning lure, as it is closer to the spool and easier to access and adjust during the excitement of a catch.

Gear Ratio

Since spinning reels have fixed spools, the gear ratio refers to how many times the line roller turns around the spool. Thus, a 5:1 ratio means that for every one revolution of the reel handle, the line roller turns 5 times.

Slow reels in the 5:1 range are often the top choice for anglers fishing deep-diving crankbaits, slow-rolled spinnerbaits, and big swimbaits and are an ideal choice for beginner anglers.

Medium reels are often referred to as the “workhorses” of bass anglers. Ratios of around 6:1 or 6:4 present a wide variety of baits and are often used with shallow spinnerbait presentations, square-billed crankbaits, medium-depth cranks in general, and castable umbrella rigs.

Fast gear ratio reels are the most efficient choice for anglers who are presenting baits at relatively defined target areas or are fishing a bait primarily worked by moving the rod tip or fishing baits that are being “ripped” quickly, or using baits that are fished in heavy cover where getting the fish into open water immediately upon hookset is helpful.

How To Use A Spinning Reel

How To Spool A Spinning Reel

Filling your spinning reel the right way can help limit line twists and tangling troubles down the road. The above video shows how to spool a spinning reel along with some useful tips for reducing line twists and tangles.

The first 13 minutes focus on spooling a spinning reel with a monofilament or fluorocarbon fishing line. The remainder of the video highlights the advantages of spooling a braided line on a spinning reel such as having a strong line on a thin profile. However, due to the braided line’s slippery qualities and inability to grip the reel spool, a layer of backing is necessary for fishermen exploring this tackle option. A monofilament backing can help provide a better gripping surface for your braid while being a cost-effective choice, too.

How To Set Drag On Spinning Reel

The drag system is responsible for setting the level of resistance that the fish feels when it’s pulling the line. In order to prevent your line from snapping and letting off your catch, it’s critical to learn how to set the drag.

The following video briefly explains the two ways for setting the drag on your spinning reel, namely with and without a scale. 

How To Cast A Spinning Reel

Below is a summary of the steps needed to follow when casting a spinning reel:

  1. Grip the rod in your dominant hand and hold it horizontal, so the reel is below the rod, facing the ground.
  2. Reel in your line slowly, until you have 6-12″ of line hanging off the tip off your rod.
  3. Align the line roller with your rod.
  4. Pull the line off the roller with your index finger, holding it against the rod’s grip.
  5. While maintaining your grip, use your free non-dominant hand to flip the reel’s bail up.
  6. Bring the rod back up over your head just past vertical, and then use a forward throwing motion, releasing the line with your index fingers as your arm is at 45 degrees.

For more information such as the three different ways of casting a spinning reel, be sure to watch the following video.

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I've been a fisherman for over 35 years. From catching small bullheads with my grandfather at his pond to catching strippers on the backwaters of the Chattahoochee, I love to get out in the wild and have a marvelous day on the water.