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Best Spinning Reel

Last Updated: April 28, 2020
Nancy Reagan
Product Review by Nancy Reagan

In this article I’m going to review the best spinning reels, providing you with pros and cons for each; enabling you to make the most informed decision possible when it comes to investing in your fishing reel.

As an angler, you’ll understand just how important research is when it comes to purchasing your equipment; having the right kit is essential in ensuring your success on the water.

And, although a spinning reel may seem like a basic piece of equipment, obtaining the correct one for your type and style of fishing is imperative to your performance.

Product Reviews

To aid in the process of helping you find the best spinning reel, we’ve taken the time to review what we believe are 5 of the most superior products on the market.

These spinning reels all hail from reputable brands and suit a range of needs.

We’ve been sure to include options for those who fish professionally, as well as those who fish as a hobby.

Whatever your budget, you’ll be sure to find a value-packed spinning reel, here.

Our Reviews
1

Shimano Thunnus CI4

The Shimano Thunnus CI4 is an exceptional reel that incorporates excellent build quality at a great price.  It comes in 4 different sizes and successfully combines being both lightweight and strong, a feature not many other reels can boast of.

It accomplishes this by using only the best carbon materials, similar to that in lightweight bicycles and other high leverage equipment that need to be both strong and lightweight.

Continuing in its path of uniqueness and distinction, this reel by Shimano allows you all the power that you need to reel in big fish while keeping the Thunnus CI4 simple and easy to operate. This seems like a no-brainer to some, but you might be hard-pressed to find another reel that accomplishes this feat with the same success.

Pros

  • Approved for saltwater and freshwater use
  • Lightweight, easy-to-use, and very powerful
  • Top-of-the-line quality parts
  • Utilizes stainless steel ball bearings to reduce vulnerability to corrosion
  • Respected and established brand
  • Propulsion Line Management system
  • Reputation for being resistant to line tangles

Cons

  • Price could be better
2

Daiwa Ballistic LT

The Daiwa Ballistic is an incredibly versatile reel that is great for any fisherman (professional or casual) and almost any situation.

We know what you’re thinking…Reels that advertise themselves as the “whole package” don’t typically come cheap. However, this reel is one of the exceptions.

This versatility doesn’t often come at such an affordable price, so what Daiwa has done with the Ballistic LT is really impressive. The body of the reel is constructed using some of the most durable material on the planet. Not something you’d expect from an affordable reel, right? Daiwa delivers a quality-made product at a great price point.

The Ballistic LT is an excellent reel for all-around fishing purposes and a variety of situations. It should be thought of as a lightweight and versatile reel, always ready for what you need it to do. The Daiwa Ballistic reel has you covered on all sides–freshwater, saltwater, large fish, small fish–it can do it all.

Pros

  • Priced very affordably
  • Small and compact
  • Excellent build quality
  • The MAGSEAL feature ensures that dirt, debris, sand and water cannot enter
  • 7 different sizes available
  • Can be used in freshwater, saltwater, inshore, and offshore
  • 1-Year Warranty

Cons

  • Not the best for professionals
3

Shimano Stella FJ Spinning Reel

The Stella FJ spinning reel by Shimano combines everything you’d want in a utility reel as a fisherman who enjoys fishing at multiple locations.

The Stella FJ is available in multiple sizes, so finding one that fits all your requirements should be generally easy, whether you are looking for the best saltwater spinning reel or the best freshwater spinning reel or anything in between.

As for durability, you’d be hard-pressed to find a reel as durable as the Stella FJ. This isn’t surprising, considering that it comes from a reputable company such as Shimano.

This reel is incredibly quiet and smooth, which speaks to the attention-to-detail. You’ll have fun using it because of that premium build and feel. The Stella FJ is everything a fisherman could ask for in a premium reel.

Be aware though, as it’s a premium reel, you’ll inevitably have to spend a bit more, and the Stella FJ comes at a premium price. It’s an attractive option for those who are professionals earning an income in fishing, but casual fishermen may want to consider other, more affordable options if they are on a budget.

Pros

  • Excellent build quality by a reputable brand
  • Utilizes the latest technology in its construction to provide the fisherman with a quiet, smooth experience
  • Multiple sizes are available
  • Water resistant
  • This reel is built on the Hagane concept, which means that the rigidity of the reel is high
  • The reel is designed to have a low center of gravity
  • Shimano reels utilize a propulsion line management system, which is proven to result in longer and better casts
  • The mechanism of the reel is a silent drive to reduce resistance, noise, and vibration when reeling

Cons

  • Price could be better
4

Shimano Sustain FI

If you are impressed with the quality of Shimano products but want a reel that is affordable and suited for jigging, the Sustain FI model might be the best spinning reel for you.

While the Sustain FI carries all the accolades of Shimano, it has a more narrow use case than some other models of the line: jigging & topwater fish.

Regular users of the Sustain FI will tell you that this reel can be used on a wide range of fish, and fishing situations and they’d probably be right. Many turn to the Sustain FI reel when they need something light for catching topwater fish and jigging and we can see why, the Sustain FI comes in multiple sizes, with the different reels being able to accommodate a different amount of line.

As with other Shimano models, Sustain FI utilizes the latest technology that is easily visible throughout the whole reel, from the protective coating to the thoughtful construction of the reel.

Sustain FI has a strategically placed center of gravity, water-resistant coating, and silky smooth movement that promises a brilliant user experience.

In addition to being all of these things, the Sustain FI is a more affordable model than its brother, the Stella FJ. While Stella FJ attempts to be the premium spinning reel in a wide range of areas, the Sustain FI aims at a smaller target audience.

If you are a casual angler who wants to take a step up from the run-of-the-mill fishing reel without going overboard, you might enjoy the lightweight-but-robust Sustain FI model from Shimano.

Pros

  • Lightweight design
  • Cross Carbon Drag
  • Comfortable overall
  • Strong build quality
  • MGL Magnumlite rotor

Cons

  • Not the best for bottom-dwellers or deep sea fishing
5

Abu Garcia Revo Premier

First up on our list is the Revo Premier, and the smaller model of this reel is well known for its prowess in crappie fishing. The larger models are also known to be very serviceable when fishing for bass and walleye.

The many users of the Revo Premier can attest to its outstanding versatility and build quality, while it’s also one of the more affordable reels on our list.

If you’re more of a casual fisherman and on a tight budget, but also need something versatile and well-made, the Revo Premier could be the one for you.

The reel itself is made of a durable metal while maintaining a lightweight feel. Getting these two things right is a delicate balance and not often something that is appreciated, but Abu Garcia has managed to achieve both in the Revo Premier reel.

To reduce the weight, even more, the smaller components on this reel are made of very high-quality materials instead of the cheaper, heavier options.

The Revo Premier comes in four different sizes, so you should be able to find one that meets your requirements when it comes to line size and capacity.

Efficiency is also a priority for Abu Garcia, and the Revo Premier utilizes a rocket line management system which increases cast distance and reduces the risk of wind knots.

Pros

  • Premium build quality
  • This reel uses an AMGearing system which is a precision gear system
  • The C6 carbon rotor reduces the weight of the reel without sacrificing any of the power
  • Multiple size options allow you to customize your experience and attain a reel that will satisfy a wide variety of needs
  • Ergonomic design helps you to be comfortable when reeling, casting and retrieving
  • Sure to please both casual fishermen and freshwater professionals
  • Very affordable price

Cons

  • Primarily intended for freshwater use
  • Only four different size options

Finding the best fishing reel can be a tough task, and obtaining something that suits your fishing style is vitally important.

There are several considerations that should be given, including:

  • Budget
  • Frequency of fishing
  • Type and style of fishing
  • Brand
  • Capacity and line type
  • Personal preference

This definitive buyer’s guide is going to tell you everything you need to know about fishing reels and, coupled with the product reviews above, will stand you in good stead when it comes to sourcing and purchasing your ideal one.

Why Use a Spinning Reel?

Time and time again, spinning reels have proven their effectiveness and reliability in providing a smooth casting and reeling experience.

Though the general consensus among anglers is that spinning reels are more effective than their alternatives; spin casting reels, which are commonly used for children or beginners.

However, even once we acknowledge that spinning reals are the more effective choice, the question still remains; which spinning real is best for me?

Well, the good thing is, spinning reels in general, are very simple for the most part; and this is why they’re so popular.

Considerations

When you are shopping for a spinning reel, there are a few things that you should keep in mind. These basic guidelines will ultimately lead to you getting the best reel possible for your style and needs.

Affordability

Obviously, the cost of the reel is going to be at the forefront of many anglers’ minds.

In reality, you should be looking at the reel as an investment, as opposed to an initial, unnecessary outlay.

Any experienced angler knows that their equipment is a vital part of their success, and, if it’s not correct for the job, it can be a significant factor in their failures.

You should be looking for a reel that delivers what you need in terms of quality, at a price that provides value for money.

If you’re a casual angler, you may be more inclined to spend less on your equipment, as your fishing is likely not generating revenue for you, and you’ll no doubt be fishing purely for fun.

In contrast, if you’re a professional angler, and you want an edge over the competition that can only be gained by using the latest, cutting-edge equipment, you may choose to invest more, in a reel that better suits your needs and offers the versatility that you require.

Type of Fishing

Types of fishing reels vary significantly, as they’re marketed toward different types of fishing, as well as the kind of fish you’re trying to catch.

The best spinning reel for bass, for example, is going to be different to the best spinning reel for catching catfish; likewise, the best saltwater spinning reel will differ from that which is best suited and designed for freshwater fishing.

There are reels out there, of course,  that cater to fishing in general.

These types of spinning reel may be more suited to beginner anglers, anglers who wish for fun, or those who aren’t targeting a specific type of fish. 

Professional or advanced anglers, however, will almost certainly have carefully selected their spinning reel based on the type of fishing they undertake, as well as the type of fish they’re going after, etc.

Brand

As a keen angler, you’ll no doubt understand brand loyalty better than most people, as the market is strewn with ‘big names’ when it comes to equipment.

The fishing process, like any sporting process, begins with trial and error.

If you haven’t already; you’ll eventually come to understand which brands are trustworthy and supply quality products, as well as what works best for you personally.

That said, the sound bite, ‘buy cheap, buy twice’ certainly springs to mind when considering which spinning reel you’re going to go for.

It’s worth spending a little more on a brand that you know and trust, based on its reputation within the industry, as opposed to something you’ve never heard of, just to save a few dollars.

Inevitably, you are going to be more likely to use brands that you’ve felt comfortable with in the past; however, you don’t have to rely solely on your own experiences.

You can easily find information on prominent brands online, so if you come across a brand that you haven’t had an opportunity to try, taking some time to perform come basic research is definitely recommended.

Another factor to consider when trying to obtain insight into the quality of a brand, is how much they stand by their products.

If a company offers a warranty on their product, for instance, that instills more confidence in its brand.

However, when it comes to selecting equipment based on the manufacturer, be sure to strike a balance.

Don’t ignore your instincts and experiences; as these are invaluable in anything we do, but you should also keep an open mind and remain willing to try new things.

Capacity & Line Type

As you’ll be aware, there are many types of fishing line out there, and subsequently, many types of reel to accommodate.

This should be another key consideration when it comes to selecting your ideal reel.

If you’re a keen deep water angler or you’ll need large amounts of line on your reel at a time, you’ll need to get a reel with a larger capacity to allow for that style of fishing.

Likewise, if you don’t need as much line or if your style of fishing doesn’t require a heavy-duty line, you can opt for a smaller, lighter reel.

If you’re going to be undertaking both types of fishing and don’t want to continuously have to switch reels, you may want to consider a reel that has a large capacity.

Ever heard the term, ‘I’d rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it’?

Trust me…It’s always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared; particularly when out on the water.

Another significant factor in your decision making process, is going to be what type of fish you are going to catch.

If you catch larger fish, you’re going to need heavier line and thus a larger reel. The opposite is true if you are a fisherman that typically targets smaller or medium-sized fish.

If you fish frequently or competitively and would like to make a more significant investment in your equipment, it would be worth considering acquiring multiple, interchangeable reels so you can switch them out as needed.

Personal Preference

A good spinning reel will be easy to use, suit your style, and perform in the environment that you need it to perform in.

That means that whatever reel you choose, you should be comfortable with using it; day in, day out.

One of the biggest factors is personal preference.

What may be right for you, may not be right for someone else, and vice versa.

Be sure to do your research thoroughly, but ultimately be happy and comfortable in your choice.

Recap

The Daiwa Ballistic LT:

  • Comes in 7 sizes
  • A lightweight frame with above average power
  • 1-Year Warranty
  • Can be used in saltwater or freshwater
  • Can be used to catch a variety of fish
  • Affordable price point

We’re very confident in naming this fantastic reel by Daiwa, the best all-around spinning reel on the market.

Whether you’re a professional angler, or fish just for fun, the Ballistic LT would be a valuable addition to your fishing gear.

Think we’ve missed a great reel? Let us know in the comments below!

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