Best Spinning Reels of 2019 – Complete Review

A spinning reel is often one of the first fishing tools a beginning angler will use.

They’re one of the most popular styles of reels due to their ease of use and effectiveness.

To help you sift through the multitude of spinning reels on the market, we’ve put together a list of some of our top picks available.

What is a Spinning Reel?

Spinning reels are one of the most popular styles of reel on the market. This style of reel is suited for a spinning rod hangs below the rod and requires little technique in order to achieve a great cast. The only action that needs to be taken on the anglers part is the opening of the bail. 

There are spinning reels for nearly every style of fishing. From big game ocean fishing to fly fishing, spinning rods are a popular choice for all anglers, but especially beginner and intermediates. 

How Does a Spinning Reel Work?

Spinning reels are one of the simpler styles of reel in the world of angling. Their operation takes little work on the angler’s part, which makes them an attractive choice for those who are new to fishing. 

A spinning reel works with a fixed spool and a rotor. The line is passed through a rotor that spins around the stationary spool, which brings the line along with it. A bail wire holds the line in place when the reel is not in use. To operate, the angler lifts the bail wire to release the line and holds it steady until ready to cast.

Most spinning reels also have a drag system. These are usually created with washers that, when activated, hold pressure on the spool, creating tension and making the spool more difficult to turn. 

What Makes a Great Spinning Reel?

All great spinning reels should have a couple of qualities in common. In order to find a reel with potential for greatness, keep the following considerations in mind:

Drag System

A quality drag system is one of the most important aspects in a spinning reel. The pressure that drag provides can allow for the control needed to retrieve large fish even if they up a fight. Look for a system that utilizes carbon fiber washers and can provide up to at least ten pounds of pressure or upwards of 20 if you’re on the hunt for trophy fish.

Material Quality 

While it may be an afterthought, ensuring that your spinning reel is made with high-quality materials that will last for season after season is very important. Avoid reels that include plastic or easily breakable materials in their construction. Also, if you’re a saltwater angler, make sure your tool is corrosion-resistant. 

Weight and Balance

It’s vital that your reel will balance your rod well. Ignoring this can result in a lack of control in your fishing performance. In general, reels constructed with graphite are more lightweight, while those made with aluminum will be heavier. 

Quick Take | Best Spinning Reels

Just looking for the top three best spinning reels? Here they are:

  1. Penn Clash Spinning Fishing Reel
  2. Pflueger Supreme XT
  3. Piscifun Flame Light Weight Reel

Review of the Best Spinning Reels  

To start you on your shopping journey, we’ve put together a list of top picks in a variety of categories. 

Penn 641-1366179 Clash Spinning Fishing Reel

PROS

  • Great Drag System
  • Sizable Line Capacity
  • Nice Special Features
  • Lightweight and Transportable
  • Corrosion-Resistant in Saltwater

CONS

  • No Automatic Bail Closure
  • Ticking Sound When Retrieving
  • Not All the Inner Workings are Sealed

What Recent Buyers Report

Those who purchased the Penn Clash Spinning Reel were impressed by its overall performance on the water in both saltwater and freshwater settings. Buyers reported good things about the high-tech drag system and lightweight frame. Some complained that the reel isn’t fully sealed, which may result in a little extra maintenance.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We include this reel from Penn on our favorites list for several reasons. Mainly, we were impressed by its casting and drag abilities. It’s a super smooth-operating reel and it’s not too shabby to look at, either. It’s also got some great additional features that make it stand out among other reels on the market.

Who Will Use This Most

Because the Clash Reel is suited for use in both fresh and saltwater, this is a good option for anglers who want a little more versatility in their reel of choice. The Clash is also fairly lightweight, which makes it very comfortable to use through a full day of fishing, making it a good pick for anglers looking for something with an ergonomic design.

What Could Be Improved and Why

One complaint that came up several times among buyers was that the reel isn’t fully sealed, which can be annoying when using in saltwater as it allows for more salt and sand to get in. Another aspect that could be improved is the clicking sound that arises during retrieval.

Bottom Line

Aside from a few minor issues, the Clash Reel from Penn is a great pick for salt and freshwater anglers alike. This spinning reel has all the elements to make a desirable pick including a powerful drag, lightweight body, and incredible performance.

Pflueger SUPXTSP30X Supreme XT Spinning Fishing Reel

PROS

  • Lightweight
  • Smooth Operation
  • Sealed Drag System
  • Braided Line-Ready Spool
  • More Powerful Than it Looks

CONS

  • A Little Small
  • Prone to Line Twisting
  • Bail Arm is Made With Plastic

What Recent Buyers Report

The majority of buyers of the Supreme XT line from Pflueger have great things to say about it. People praised its powerful performance despite the super-lightweight frame and appreciated the sealed drag system and smooth operation. One complaint that came up had to do with line twisting because of the spool design.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We love this Pflueger reel, and it earned a spot on our list for its small but mighty design. Although it has a very lightweight frame, it holds up well to large fish and feisty fighters. We also appreciate the super-smooth casting it provides and the braided-line ready spool, which makes it a more versatile choice.

Who Will Use This Most

Because of its very lightweight frame and design, this reel is a good option for anglers who want to target larger fish without compromising comfort. The Supreme XT has the power necessary to pull in large fish and it also won’t cause wrist trouble throughout a day on the water.

What Could Be Improved and Why

One fairly prominent, annoying issue that some users complain about with this reel’s design is that the spool is prone to line twist. This can cause tangles that can bring a fishing trip to a halt. If this design flaw could be fixed, the overall design would be greatly improved.

Bottom Line

Overall, this small but mighty reel can pack a pretty major punch in a fight with a fish, big or small. The sealed elements make this reel a great pick for saltwater angling, but it’s versatile, so don’t be afraid to try it out in different settings with varied techniques.

Piscifun Flame Spinning Reels Light Weight Ultra Smooth Powerful Spinning Fishing Reels (2000 Series)

PROS

  • Cool Design
  • Smooth Casting
  • Good Line Capacity
  • Great Value for the Price
  • Offers 19.8 Pounds of Drag Power

CONS

  • Noisy
  • Bail Design is Awkward
  • Not Suitable for Use in Saltwater

What Recent Buyers Report

The response to the Piscifun Flame reel was very positive among buyers. Above all, those who purchased were very impressed with the value of the reel at its low price point. They were excited by the smooth operation and drag system but thought some design modifications could improve the overall product

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Flame found a spot on our list for one main reason: it is an incredible value. This reel is an absolute steal for the low price, especially because it includes a high-tech drag system, smooth operation, and a sleek design. Anglers on a budget should have great options for spinning reels, too— and this is a great overall pick.

Who Will Use This Most

Because this is such a great value, we’d recommend this spinning reel to anglers who need a product on the cheaper side of the price scale. Although it is cheaper, Piscifun doesn’t compromise on quality. This is also a good pick for beginners who want a reel that wouldn’t be a huge investment in the long run.

What Could Be Improved and Why

One design flaw that some anglers recognized is the bail wire placement. Some complained that it was awkward and got in the way when casting and retrieving. It’s also not made for saltwater usage, so it’s not the most versatile pick.

Bottom Line

When it comes to budget reels, the Flame Reel from Piscifun is a top-of-the-line pick. For those who don’t want to break the bank in the process of finding the perfect reel, this is a reliable choice that offers great performance.

Penn Spinfisher V SSV3500 Spinning Reel

PROS

  • Speedy
  • Great Features for Anti-Corrosion
  • Made With High-Quality Materials
  • Silky Smooth Casting and Retrieval
  • Very Powerful Drag System, 35 Pounds of Pressure

CONS

  • Very Heavy
  • No Bait Clicker
  • Not the Best Pick for Surfcasting

What Recent Buyers Report

Those who purchased this saltwater reel from Penn were very excited by its overall durability and power. They also liked the speedy retrieval and smooth casting ability but were not so impressed with the weight of the product, as the full aluminum construction makes it pretty heavy.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We chose the Penn Spinfisher as the saltwater pick on our list because it has some great features that make it a powerhouse on the ocean. First of all, the drag pressure power is pretty ridiculous. With up to 35 pounds of pressure, anglers can have serious control over feisty, large saltwater fish species.

Who Will Use This Most

We’d recommend this reel from Penn to anglers who primarily stick to offshore saltwater angling. It is powerful enough to pull in large saltwater species but doesn’t have the greatest casting abilities, so wouldn’t be the supreme choice for surfcasting.

What Could Be Improved and Why

Although the full aluminum body incorporates a great deal of power and durability into the reel, it also makes it very heavy, which can be hard on the body throughout a long day of fishing. If the company could incorporate some graphite elements into the design, it could result in a lighter and more comfortable feel overall.

Bottom Line

For saltwater anglers who want a powerful reel for offshore fishing and trolling, this spinning reel from Penn is a reliable option. The drag power is hard to beat and it comes at a fairly reasonable price for the value.

Best for Freshwater:
SHIMANO STRADIC HG

Shimano Stradic 1000FK HG Freshwater Spinning Fishing Reel

PROS

  • Small and Light
  • Corrosion-Resistant
  • Consistent Performance
  • Super Durable Materials
  • Versatile Pick for Freshwater Angling

CONS

  • No Anti-Reverse
  • No Automatic Bail Closure
  • May Need to Be Greased Before Use

What Recent Buyers Report

Those who purchased the Shimano Stradic Reel seemed happy with the consistent, reliable performance in both saltwater and freshwater. They enjoyed the durable material that was used in construction, as well. Some were disappointed by the lack of features, like anti-reverse.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This is our freshwater pick because of its overall performance on the water. We love its consistent casting, retrieval, and the fact that it is created with durable materials to last season after season. It is also light enough to be comfortable for all-day usage.

Who Will Use This Most

We recommend this reel to freshwater anglers because it provides great action for freshwater fish species. However, this is a reel that is also approved for saltwater, so it’s a little more versatile than most. It’s a good pick for any angler that wants consistent, easy performance.

What Could Be Improved and Why

One common complaint with this reel model is the lack of special features that have become commonplace in the angling world. For example, this reel has no anti-reverse, which is no big deal to some, but a major annoyance for others.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, this is a pretty easy recommendation on our part. Though this reel is pretty basic in terms of special features, it provides super-consistent, reliable performance in a variety of fishing settings and techniques.

Best Under $100:
Daiwa BG Spinning Reels

Daiwa BG3500 BG Saltwater Spinning Reel, 3500, 5.7: 1 Gear Ratio, 6+1 Bearings, 38.50' Retrieve Rate, 17.60 lb Max Drag

PROS

  • Durable
  • Fast and Smooth
  • Sleek, Beautiful Design
  • Thoughtful Construction
  • Powerful, Ready for Large Fish

CONS

  • Heavy in Weight
  • Tough to Spool Line Evenly
  • Needs a Good Amount of Maintenance

What Recent Buyers Report

Reviews for this Daiwa reel are overwhelmingly positive. Buyers love the overall construction of the product, praising the durable design and power it has to pull in large species of fish. Although it is sleek, the main complaint among users has to do with the weight, which they say is much too heavy to be comfortable.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This BG Reel from Daiwa was an easy choice to include on our favorites list. It is beautiful, powerful, and constructed with care, which comes together to create a very solid reel. We’re especially impressed with its fast and smooth retrieval and casting, which can beat many other reels on the angling market.

Who Will Use This Most

This reel is under $100, which is pretty reasonable in the scope of fishing reels. This is a good choice for anglers who want something a little more high-end but can’t afford to invest in a luxury reel. This choice from Daiwa provides all the features that a luxury reel would include.

What Could Be Improved and Why

There is one major complaint that surrounds the BG Reel: it is very heavy. The weight of the reel comes from the materials used. Though they are durable, they result in a heavy product that can be very tough on an angler’s wrist and arm throughout a day.

Bottom Line

While the BG Reel from Daiwa could use some improvements when it comes to comfort, it shouldn’t overshadow the incredible performance it can provide on the water. With solid features and buttery-smooth casting and retrieval, this is a solid choice for any angler.

Best Ultralight Spinning Reel:
 Pflueger President Spinning Reel

Pflueger PRESSP30X President Spinning Fishing Reel

PROS

  • Powerful
  • Nice Line Capacity
  • Super Lightweight
  • Comfortable Handles
  • Smooth Performance

CONS

  • Prone to Scratches
  • Drag Setting is a Little Hard to Adjust
  • Needs a Lot of Maintenance to Stay in Good Shape 

What Recent Buyers Report

For the most part, the feedback on the Pflueger President Reel was pretty positive. Buyers like many things about it, including the super-smooth casting and retrieval it provides and the action an angler can achieve with it. Some buyers were annoyed that the unsealed components necessitate more maintenance than other reels.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Pflueger is a great company that provides reliable angling equipment, the President Reel included. We made space for this particular reel on our list because we love that it is super-lightweight, easy to use, and also provides smooth, powerful performance for a range of angling styles.

Who Will Use This Most

The President Reel is a great pick to pair with an ultralight combo, especially for freshwater anglers. It’s super-lightweight and also easy to use and setup, so would also be a reliable pick for newbies to spinning reels or the angling world, in general.

What Could Be Improved and Why

One issue that reviewers complain about has to do with maintenance. Unlike some reels on the market, the President Reel doesn’t include sealed parts, which allows for more grit and grime to invade the inner workings. This results in a need for periodic maintenance or the performance can fail.

Bottom Line

Another reliable choice, the Pflueger President Reel can get the job done in style. We love this pick for an ultralight combo because of its consistent performance, comfort, and power when it matters the most.

KastKing Sharky III Fishing Reel - New Spinning Reel - Carbon Fiber 39.5 LBs Max Drag - 10+1 Stainless BB for Saltwater or Freshwater - Oversize Shaft - Super Value!

PROS

  • Great Drag System
  • Sealed for Protection
  • Braided-Line Ready Spool
  • Awesome Value for the Price
  • Comfortable to Use All Day Long

CONS

  • Sizes Run Small
  • Doesn’t Hold Up Super Well in Saltwater

What Recent Buyers Report

The Sharky III impressed buyers with its powerful drag system and comfortable, smooth performance that all come at a super-reasonable price. Many who purchased this product loved the solid feel but were unimpressed with the size, which they say runs much smaller than advertised.

Why it Stands Out to Us

KastKing is one of our favorite companies for affordable angling products. They keep a serious commitment to accessibility without compromising performance, which is admirable. This particular reel earns a spot on our list for its awesome drag system and comfortable, lightweight design.

Who Will Use This Most

If you’re an angler on a budget with a serious need for power and consistency in your reel, look no further. We love this pick for those who want something reliable without breaking the bank. This is also an easy option for beginners who are new to spinning reels.

What Could Be Improved and Why

An issue that comes up over and over again with this particular model is complaints about the size running smaller than advertised. This can throw off the balance of your combo if you don’t plan correctly, so consider going a size up if you are concerned.

Bottom Line

When it comes to affordable reels, KastKing really takes the cake on several levels. It is tough to find a budget reel with an incredible drag system and durable construction, but the Sharky III checks both boxes.

What Are The Components of a Spinning Reel? 

The majority of spinning reels on today’s angling market have a similar list of components that make up their design. They include:

Body

This is the main structure of the reel which includes the reel foot and support arm. Its usually made with graphite or aluminum. Cheap models may include plastic.

Spool

This holds the line, rotating with the movement of the handles. They are often created with anodized aluminum or graphite. 

Handles​

The handle of a spinning reel is found on either the left or right side and can be switched depending on an angler’s preference. Handle paddles come in several different shapes and sizes, some being more ergonomic than others. 

Gears

These operate the spinning function of the spool. The more gears, the more momentum a spool has in retrieving line. Gear ratios will determine the speed and power of a spinning reel.

Benefits of Investing in a Great Spinning Reel

When it comes to shopping for spinning reels, anglers will be hit with an overwhelming amount of choices. Super-cheap, off-brand reels may be a temptation, but you should hesitate before going for the cheapest product on the shelf. A great spinning reel is an investment and here’s why you should spend a bit more when necessary:

Durability

The most obvious reason to go for a high-quality reel is the durability that comes along with thoughtful crafting. A well-made reel with quality materials can last season after season, resulting in a serious bang for your buck. Cheap reels often include plastic components that are easily breakable. 

Versatility 

Spinning reels are a great investment because they can work well for nearly every style of fishing. There’s no need to worry about buying three or four different reels for different techniques if you purchase a high-quality spinning reel. 

Ease of Use 

Many reels at the higher end of a price scale tend to have special features that make them a dream to use. High-tech drag systems, a well-functioning anti-reverse, etc. can make all the difference in a day of fishing.

How to Clean a Spinning Reel ​

Periodically cleaning your spinning reel is vital to keeping the tool in proper working order for years to come. Some basic steps to follow are included below:

  1. Create a basic gentle soap solution with lukewarm water and a gentle cleaning agent. Sponge the reel, being very careful not to allow water to penetrate the internal gears, as it can break down the oil over time. 
  2. Never directly submerge a reel in water as it can cause serious damage to the inner workings. 
  3. Ensure all grit, grime, salt, sand, etc are removed from the nooks and crannies of the reel.
  4. Allow the reel to air dry in a cool, dry area 
  5. To keep everything running smoothly, spray all the moving parts of the reel with a lubricant like WD-40 or something similar. 

In the video included below, you can see an easy method to spruce up your reel after use in fresh or saltwater. 

Conclusion

When it comes down to it, quality is of the utmost importance when it comes to shopping for a gold-standard spinning reel. It’s pretty hard to go wrong if you choose a reel from our list, but even if you decide to go in a different direction, make sure you keep our tips in mind. Happy fishing!