Best Fishing Reels
To save you the shopping hassle, we have compiled a list of our top five fishing reels that all boast of outstanding performance and won’t cost you a fortune.
First, on our list, the KastKing Royale Legend is a top-notch baitcasting reel that boasts of a 5.3:1 gear ratio for high reeling torque. It comes with 12 high-grade ball bearings for smooth performance, carbon fiber discs that yield up to 17.5 lb. of drag, and is ideal for competitive fishing or heavy-duty fishing with its top-of-the-line braking system. It also comes with a high-grade aluminum spool that can accommodate up to 165 yards of 12 lbs. line, sports a sleek design, and is compatible with a wide range of baitcasting rods.
- Excellent gear ratio and torque performance.
- Smooth casting and impressive drag.
- Highly durable, lightweight, and high line capacity.
The KastKing Sharky III is a state-of-the-art spinning reel that combines the best materials for impressive durability and is ideal for trophy fishing. It packs a heavy punch with up to 39.5 lb. of drag, high gear ratio for easy and quick reeling, and boasts of KastKing’s patented K.I.S.S system for superior waterproof performance. It comes with 11 durable steel ball bearings for smooth, quiet operation, an impressive line capacity, and an anti-reverse switch for great line control.
- Superior drag and waterproof performance.
- Highly durable, with impressive line capacity.
- Smooth, quiet operation, with anti-reverse control.
The Abu Garcia Black Max is a high-grade baitcasting reel that boasts of a lightweight, low-profile design and excellent controls. It sports a graphite frame and side plates, comes with 4 stainless steel bearings for low-friction performance, and a power disk system for impressive drag. It also comes with the company’s MagTrax braking system for impressive casting accuracy and range, a highly ergonomic handle for comfort, and a sleek design that will fit most baitcasting rods.
- Sleek, low-profile durable design.
- Lightweight, smooth performance.
- Ergonomic handles with impressive casting performance.
The Zebco 33 is an outstanding spincast reel great for newbie anglers and comes with a lightweight, durable graphite frame. It comes with anti-reverse controls, a highly-sensitive bite alert system, and a baitcasting style crank. It also sports a smooth-dial adjustable drag, a rear push-button casting knob, and mounts easily on baitcasting rods.
- Very lightweight and highly durable.
- Anti-reverse controls and bite alert system.
- Great for beginners with smooth drag control.
The Okuma Ceymar spinning reel sports a sleek Blade Body design for compactness and comes with a line capacity of 110 yards of 4 lb. line ideal for small fish. It features a quick-action anti-reverse control, high-ratio brass gears, and is built from lightweight, high-grade aluminum making it very lightweight. It is the smallest in the Okuma C-10 series, features a two-toned anodized spool, 8 bearings for smooth performance, and sports a highly ergonomic EVA handle for comfort.
- Excellent controls with impressive line capacity.
- Lightweight with a high gear ratio.
- Low-profile, Blade Body design, highly durable.
Fishing Reels Buying Guide
Fishing reels are an essential part of every angler’s fishing gear and without them, pulling in your catch would be extremely difficult. They grant you excellent control over your fishing line whether during casting or when a fish has taken your bait. However, with all their moving parts and materials, fishing reels are the most vulnerable part of your fishing rod, and thus choosing a high-quality product is very important.
Our buying guide reviews the best fishing reels on the market based on their specified features and tested performance to give you the best options to choose from. We then take it a step further to outline the particular factors you should consider and qualities you should look out for in a fishing reel before you make a purchase.
The first factor you want to consider before you buy a fishing reel is the type. The type of fishing reel you choose will depend on the kind of fishing you’ll be doing. In general, fishing reels come as spinning reels, baitcasting reels, spincast reels, and conventional reels.
Spinning reels are the most popular reel type and are very easy to use. They offer the advantage of being less prone to backlash, impressive casting range, and are great for small to medium-sized bait and fish.
Baitcasting reels are more common among experienced anglers and are used to tackle larger fish. While they don’t cast bait as far as spinning reels, they offer more accurate casts. They are, however, more prone to backlash.
Spincast reels and conventional reels were prevalent before spinning and baitcasting reels were invented. Spincast reels sit above the rod like a baitcasting reel and are great for beginners and light fishing. Conventional reels also sit on top of the rod and are specially adapted to handling very large trophy fish.
The material from which your fishing reel is made will determine how easy it will be to handle, where you can fish, how long it will serve. The ideal fishing reel should combine low weight with high strength for the best performance. Fishing reels usually made from materials like graphite, aluminum alloys, plastic, and sometimes carbon fiber.
Plastic fishing reels are the least durable and should only be used for recreational fishing or by newbie anglers. Graphite is a great material to look out for in fishing reels as it is very lightweight and tough. It is also very resistant to saltwater corrosion. For the best performance, aircraft-grade alloys and carbon fiber fishing reels are the ideal choice but are more expensive.
Note, however, that no fishing reel will come with a single material, and so you should always ensure the least durable material will hold up for a good while in your fishing conditions.
Another important consideration to make when scouting for a fishing reel is its line capacity or the amount of line it can hold. Line capacities are usually specified as a two-figure value representing the length of a particular load-tested line the reel can accommodate.
So a fishing reel with line capacity 12 lb./165 yard can take 165 yards of fishing line with a maximum rated pulling load of 12 lb.
The drag of your fishing reel is also important. When a fish takes your bait and is hooked, as it struggles to get away, instead of relying totally on your reeling effort to slow it down, the drag does the work for you. It uses high-friction discs to generate an adjustable drag against the fish, eventually tiring it out. The drag rating will determine the size of fish you can reel in. Higher drag ratings will allow you to step up to the pulling force of large fish. The drag setting, however, should never be set above the load capacity of the line as the latter will snap before the reel is forced to turn.
The gear ratio of your fishing reel is another important factor to consider. It measures how many spins the spool makes for each revolution of the reeling handle. Higher gear ratios allow for quick reeling and are great for smaller fish. Lower gear ratios reel the fish in slower but deliver more torque and power, ideal for larger fish.