Choosing fishing as a hobby is easy compared to picking the right gear. That’s largely due to the overabundance of equipment, such as spinning reels.
Combine the many reel sizes with inadequate knowledge and any angler can become easily overwhelmed.
Fortunately, you are reading this guide, designed to clear up any possible confusion.
Spinning Reel Size Chart
The following chart contains typical reel sizes available. Think of it as a general guide to help you decide the best reel size for you.
Spinning Reel Sizes
Here is a summary of the four categories of spinning reel sizes.
Range from 1000 to 3500; best for catching smaller fish.
Range between 4000 and 5500; great for medium size fish.
Range from 6000 to 9500; excellent for off-boat or inshore off dock fishing and catching large fish.
Sizes between 10,000 and 30,000; best for targeting massive species.
Spinning Reel Sizes Explained
Here is a more detailed explanation for each of the reel sizes.
Small spinning reel sizes are most suitable for lightweight rods in the six to seven-foot range. These are the preferred options for anglers targeting smaller fish species weighing not more than 15 pounds.
You can fish bluegills, crappies, trout, and yellow perch with this reel size and even target larger bass, walleye, and catfish.
Generally, you will have the best results with this reel size if you like freshwater fishing. Be sure to use the reel with the correct line for optimal performance.
Small reels work best with braided lines between four and fourteen pounds or monofilament ranging from two to ten pounds.
- A great option for finesse application in slow-moving water, such as ponds, rivers, and lakes.
- The lightweight reel allows for more control, improved casting, and the 3000+ sizes provide a bigger spool.
- Less tangling on the 3000+ reel sizes (due to bigger spool), and great versatility with the 2500-size option.
- The smallest size reel (1000-size option) has less line capacity, increasing the chance of tangles, line twists, and slower retrieves.
- 3000+ options could be unnecessarily bulky and heavy, especially when fishing for longer periods.
- Not the best spinning reel for catching big game fish, especially fishing in saltwater conditions.
Small spinning reel sizes are ideal for anglers who prefer finesse applications.
This is particularly true for reels in the 1000- to 2000-size categories. These are excellent for ultra-light fishing in freshwater. They can also work for protected coastal waters, harbors, bays, and estuaries
Pro bass anglers also enjoy using spinning reel sizes between 2500 and 3500 for targeting bass. Fishing with the equipment gives fishermen the perfect balance between weight, line capacity, and drag system.
Also, these are great for jigging deep into the water for hundreds of feet, especially when targeting bass.
Newbies should consider starting with small spinning reels.
Spinning reels in the range of 4000 to 5500 are classified in the medium-size category. They work best with seven to eight-foot fishing rods.
These options are excellent for targeting mid-sized fish species of up to 30 pounds. Fish in this category include bonefish, cod, snapper, mangrove jack, drummer, and more.
Medium-sized spinning reels are mostly used for slightly heavier freshwater applications, but they are also a great choice for inshore saltwater fishing.
For best results, you need a monofilament line ranging from eight to 14 pounds or braided lines of 10 to 25 pounds when using medium-sized spinning reels.
- Excellent reel choice for targeting medium-sized fish species, such as redfish, muskie, and largemouth bass.
- Works well for inshore saltwater applications and light offshore boat fishing, but is best for medium fishing in freshwater.
- Not the best fishing gear for finesse applications and is overkill for targeting small fish species.
If you intend to go fishing for medium-sized species in ponds, harbors, rivers, lakes, and bays, you may as well choose a medium size spinning reel ranging from 4000 to 5500.
New and experienced anglers who prefer light offshore boat fishing will also find the medium size reels more appropriate.
When you choose spinning reels in the 6000 to 9500-size category, you have considerable fishing gear in terms of size. Therefore, you should be looking to pair them with heavy fishing rods.
Ideally, spinning reels in this size range are meant for catching large fish species. With this fishing equipment, you can confidently target roosterfish, striped bass, steelhead, musky, carp, and more because you have the backbone to handle them.
For the best performance on the water, monofilament lines of 12 to 45 pounds and braided fishing lines ranging between 30 and 80 pounds are recommended for use with large reel sizes.
- Great spinning reel size for targeting large fish species, such as kingfish, salmon, striped bass, and red drum.
- Creates great balance when paired with heavy rods for offshore saltwater fishing, fishing off a boat, medium fishing in inshore off docks, and rock fishing.
- Allows for greater line capacity.
- These reels are a lot heavier than other sizes, meaning you are likely to experience some stress on your wrist with prolonged use.
- Definitely not the best choice for small fish species.
When paired with the right type of rod, large size spinning reels will yield the best results in fishing off a boat or inshore off docks.
Reels in this category are also excellent for anglers who plan to do some rock fishing as well as medium fishing in offshore saltwater.
These are very strong fishing reels built to last longer than many smaller models.
Some high-quality models in this category feature rubber gaskets to prevent slippage of braided lines, making it unnecessary to spool the reel with monofilament backing. Others feature line capacity rings, which indicate how much line is in and out of the spool.
There are no bigger spinning reels than the 10,000 to 30,000 range. In fact, reels at the end of the spectrum (30,000) are mostly reserved for fishing massive pelagic species, such as bigger tunas, sharks, big GT’s, and Marlin.
Extra-large reels are better suited to braided fishing lines in the range of 50 to 100 pounds and monofilament lines between 12 and 60 pounds.
Fishermen who typically go for medium to heavy fishing inshore or those who prefer saltwater fishing will find the 10,000 to 18,000-size reels ideal. Anything from 20,000+ is more suitable for heavy offshore saltwater fishing.
- An excellent choice for the largest game fish in saltwater fishing.
- Engineered to withstand long runs typical with saltwater fish species.
- Not suitable for newbies.
- Heavy reels compared to other categories.
The extra-large spinning reel sizes are your best bet if you want to fish in fast-moving water. The equipment is also excellent for anglers who prefer surf fishing and offshore boat fishing.
If you are hoping to increase your chances of catching a marlin, sturgeon, mahi-mahi, or halibut, you may as well invest in a good-quality reel in this size category.
Spinning reels in the extra-large category have the strength to put up a good and long fight with the strongest fish species. You only need to match them with the right type of heavy-duty rods and strong fishing lines.
What Determines the Spinning Reel Size?
There is no exact science to choosing the right spinning reel size, but you can determine what works for you by considering the following factors.
First things first; what species of fish do you plan to catch? The fish size will help you figure out the right reel size.
Small and medium-size spinning reels are your best bet if you are targeting trout, panfish, bass, bonefish, cod, walleye, salmon, and other small to medium species. That means you should be shopping for 1000 – 3500 reel sizes for small fish or 4000 – 5500 for medium-sized species.
Conversely, you should be looking out for larger spinning reels (6000 and above) if you plan on catching kingfish, marlin, shark, steelhead, snapper, tuna, and other large game fish.
Another major deciding factor when it comes to choosing the right spinning reel size is your preferred method for catching fish.
If you prefer finesse fishing applications, such as jigging for smallmouth bass, you should be thinking of getting a more specialized and lighter reel. A 1000- or 2000-size reel is ideal for most ultra-light fishing tactics.
These are your best bet if you plan to present small lures for catching tiny or small fish species.
If you plan to use crankbaits or other larger lures, you should consider choosing a reel that falls into the medium and large size.
Do you plan to fish in saltwater or freshwater?
In general, saltwater fishing requires larger reels, since you will be targeting stronger and bigger fish and using stronger lines.
The larger the reel, the greater line capacity it has. This is necessary to handle the long struggle or run from strong saltwater species. Using a small reel for freshwater fishing will most likely pull all the line off the reel.
On the other hand, small reels are more suitable for freshwater fishing and protected coastal waters.
Medium-sized spinning reels are more suitable for inshore saltwater fishing or heavier freshwater applications.
What fishing line do you intend to use most often?
A small to medium reel should be on your radar if you plan to use lighter fishing lines most of the time. Aim for an average line strength of between 6- and 8-pound tests. Whatever you do, keep your choice to a maximum of 10-pound test for small to medium reels.
Keep in mind that this is not the case with heavy trolling or saltwater fishing.
Always check the line capacity information when shopping for a reel to make sure it is rated for the line you plan to use.
Wide/Shallow vs Deep/Narrow Spool - Comparison Overview
Reel spools come in wide/shallow and deep/narrow designs and can impact your fishing experience. Here’s what you should know about them.
Friction and Casting Distance
There is less line contact with the spool’s lip during a cast in wide/shallow models. This means there is less friction as the line unwinds, resulting in a smoother release and an improved casting distance.
On the other hand, deep/shallow models tend to have a lower casting distance. The line hits the spool’s lip as it is released, creating a lot of friction. This slows down the line and results in a lower cast distance.
Wide/shallow spool reels allow for bigger line wraps around the spool. In other words, each turn of the handle retrieves more lines, making it easier to reel in the line.
The deep/narrow spool design means reeling in your line will take more time and effort because a smaller line is wrapped around the spool with each turn of the handle.
Twists and tangles are common with deep spools when you reel in the line because of their narrow design. The wider shape of shallow models allows for the free flow of your line and results in fewer line twists.
These are about everything you need to know about spinning reel sizes. You are good to hit the waters, as long as you factor in your target fish type and your fishing condition.
Remember to find the appropriate fishing rod for your preferred spinning reel for the best performance on the water.
People Also Ask
You might still have some questions even after reading this entire article, especially if you are new to fishing.
This section provides more precise answers, and hopefully, you will gain more clarity regarding spinning reel sizes. We have deliberately included answers to the common questions many anglers tend to ask about reel sizes.
What Size Spinning Reel For Bass?
If you intend to go bass fishing with a spinning reel, you should consider choosing a small reel size between 2000 and 3500, depending on your fishing technique.
However, a 2500-size reel is an excellent choice if you want a versatile reel for bass that can also work for other species.
What Size Spinning Reel For Surf Fishing?
Spinning reels for surf fishing usually fall within the range of 5000 to 8000-size reels. Many anglers who like surf fishing tend to prefer a 6000-size spinning reel.
In other words, you should be looking for a spinning reel in the medium to large size category if surf fishing is your thing.
What is a Size 30 Spinning Reel?
A size 30 spinning reel (or 3000) has a big spool that allows for long-distance casts. While it might be a small size reel, it certainly is a large size reel if you are going for bass fishing.
The wider spool makes for less tangling and throwing braided lines more effectively.
Is a 4000 Reel Too Big For Bass?
A 4000-size reel is most suitable for targeting larger fish, especially in saltwater conditions. While that size can work for bass, it is best for larger species, such as bone, snapper, and cod.
A 2500-size reel is the most versatile option for bass, offering an excellent balance between weight, line capacity, and drag system.
Will Any Size Spinning Reel Fit Any Rod?
While you can mix and match rods to a certain extent these tools are not universal. The smart thing to do is to match the size of your spinning reel to a spinning rod. This will reduce fatigue during repeated casts over a long period and also prevent compromising the rod.
Does Reel Size Affect Casting Distance?
Larger reels have a larger diameter, creating room for more lines to be filled. Of course, the more line a reel can hold the better the casting distance.
This is also important for batting fish in saltwater. A large reel is less likely to run out of line while tackling a fighting fish.