Are you into fly fishing, baitcasting, lure fishing or deep sea fishing?
Whichever your chosen path, you are going to need a reel.
And a solid reliable one at that...
Technology in general changes at a massive pace. Fishing technology is no different. Looking back my first few reels were very basic. No multiple sets of ball bearings, no advanced drag system and a bait runner setup were never heard of - unless you hooked a huge fish and it whipped your rod and reel into the water and you had to go running after it...
Can you still fish effectively with old technology - absolutely - but why not give yourself the best fighting chance by utilising some more modern tech to give you a helping hand. You still have to understand the fundamentals of fishing and have a solid technique to hook and land you catch but why make it hard on yourself.
Best Fishing Reels
The aim of this review is to provide you with a guide to the best in class in each of the fishing methods to save you time trawling through hundreds or even thousands of reviews. We fish all the time. We fish every different method and we love our gear. Take the guesswork out of your next choice of fishing reel with this review. You will be glad of the time saved because you will be out fishing instead of researching - we did it for you...
This review is broken down into reel type and a top three in each of the categories with a budget, mid-range and high-end best in class fishing reel. Let us do the research you get out there and catch some fish.
If you are just here to find the best fishing reel and haven't the time to read our in-depth reviews then we have highlighted our top choice reel in each category below. If you click on the reel name you will jump to that review or just hit the check price button and you will go straight to the best deal we could find at the time of writing this review.
Best Spinning Reels
- Graphite sideplate
- Graphite rotor
- Graphite spool
- Quick Fire II
- Lightweight Rear Drag
- FEATURE LOADED SPINNING REEL – Zero-Flex aluminum body, rotor & frame spinning reel, triple-disc carbon fiber drag delivers up to 39.5 lbs of max drag, powerful 5.2:1 gear ratio, 10+1 double shielded stainless ball bearings, braid ready aluminum spool, aluminum direct drive handle.
- STRONG AND DURABLE - The KastKing Sharky III Gold spinning reels look great with their two-toned black and gold anodized aluminum frame and spool. They are the perfect choice for salmon, steelhead inshore saltwater species and all other hard fighting fish.
- INCREDIBLY SMOOTH OPERATION – We’ve used a total of 11, double shielded stainless ball bearings including 10 bearings in the most important performance locations throughout the reel plus an instant, anti-reverse. The spinning reel also uses an oversized stainless main shaft and brass pinion gears, for trouble free performance.
- POWERFUL CARBON DISC DRAG - Sharky III Gold spinning reels feature a sealed spool and rotor for incredible saltwater performance. The super smooth drag is powered by three separate carbon discs and will deliver up to 39.5 lbs of fish stopping drag.
- AFFORDABLE INNOVATION – The new Sharky III Gold spinning reel has more features, better components, stronger framer and smoother operation than reels costing many times more. This will quickly become your favorite reel for both fresh and saltwater fishing. It is the best all-around spinning reel for every angler. One Year Incredible Total Peace of Mind Warranty!
- Durable, high range spinning reel ideal for conquering big saltwater game fish
- Full metal body, sideplate, and rotor and heavy-duty aluminum bail wire offer exceptional durability
- HT 100 carbon fiber drag system provides powerful drag without sacrificing smoothness
- Fluid cranking with 5 sealed stainless steel ball bearings and instant anti reverse bearing
- Superline spool requires no backing, is braid ready, and has line capacity rings marked at 1/3, 2/3, and full capacity
Best BAITCASTING Reels
- POWERFUL- Advanced, 4-washer, gives the low profile baitcasting reel physically powerful 18LB carbon fiber drag to handle the big fish you are after
- DURABLE - Industrial durable-strength, climate-resistant Japanese Hami cut 3604 brass gears, these are all top quality gears you expect for baitcaster fishing reels
- PERFORMANCE - Low profile design bait caster featuring two gear ratios specifically designed for the versatile angler. The Super Silent high speed 7.1:1 Gear Ratio is perfect for getting fish quickly out of cover and faster fishing tactics. The 5.3:1 Gear Ratio is a true workhorse offering the torque you need for any deadly slow rolling technique
- UNIQUE - Unique side-plate oil port for prolonged maintenance for Novice to Pro to maximize your baitcast reel life and performance
- UNPARALLELED - Strong double wind shafts and backlash-eliminating 0-10 magnetic dial-in settings
- Ultra-lightweight design with X2-Craftic alloy frame and C6 carbon side plate--25% lighter than the previous generation
- MagTrax brake system and wide Infiniti II spool design for accurate casting of heavy loads
- Carbon Matrix drag system provides smooth and consistent drag
- D2 Gear Design provides efficiency while Duragear gear system and titanium-coated line guide ensure long-lasting durability
- Extended bent cranking handles and power knob offer added torque for hard-pulling fish
Shimano Spinning Reel - Best Budget Spinning Reel
Put simply the Shimano spin clam reel is the best budget spinning reel money can buy.
The reel can handle braid line as well and the model we looked at IX-2000 is perfect for normal fishing.
Strong enough to handle decent sized fish but light enough to not tear your arm out.
The gearing system is smooth as it the overall reel action.
The handle is reversible so you can fish either right or left-handed no problem.
This is a great beginner spinning reel but would let you down as a seasoned angler.
While not the best spinning reel out there it certainly stands up to the best of them - especially at this price. Would I buy one? Have one in my tackle bag. Would I recommend one? For sure. Even if it's not your everyday or go-to reel you should definitely stock up with one as this is the best value spinning reel out there.
A great added feature of this reel is the quick cast system. Simply press the button on the side of the bail arm and it auto-magically opens the bailer ready for your next cast. This is especially handy if you are lure fishing or spinning and are constantly casting and retrieving at a rapid pace.
- A quick twist of the handle and the bailer snaps shut. If you are into kayak fishing this is a great feature as you can do a lot of your fishing with one hand...
- Price - Unbeatable reel for this price
- Action - Very smooth reel
- Quality. Shimano makes great reels
- Nothing to report
Kastking Sharky II - Best Mid Range Spinning Reel
Next, we take a look at the awesome Kastking Sharky II spinning reel. A bit more expensive than the Shimano but it comes with a host of great features and represents super value for money.
So why does this reel feature on this review? Let's break down some of the main features first to give you an idea of why.
Reel come complete with a massive 10 +1 shielded stainless steel bearings giving it a super smooth action
It has a triple carbon fibre drag system which will probably outlast us all.
The high capacity machined aluminium spool is ultra light but very strong.
The Sharky is a great all rounder reel. Suitable for both freshwater and saltwater if you are looking for value then this is the reel for you. Strong enough to haul in very large fish but light enough to fish with all day.
What size reel should you go for?
- The Sharky II 1500 will hold up to 165Yds of 6lb, 110Yds of 8lb line and 75Yds of 10lb line.
- The Sharky II 2000 will hold up to 155Yds of 10lb, 140Yds of 12lb line and 75Yds of 14lb line.
- The Sharky II 3000 will hold up to 160Yds of 12lb, 140Yds of 14lb line and 80Yds of 16lb line.
- The Sharky II 4000 will hold up to 185Yds of 14lb, 165Yds of 16lb line and 125Yds of 20lb line.
- The Sharky II 5000 will hold up to 210Yds of 16lb, 185Yds of 18lb line and 165Yds of 20lb line.
- The Sharky II 6000 will hold up to 215Yds of 22lb, 180Yds of 25lb line and 160Yds of 30lb line.
- Price - Superb value for money
- Action - Very smooth reel
- Options - Range cover every type of fishing
- Reports of bail arm snapping shut unexpectedly at times causing lost tackle during casts.
Penn Battle II - Editors Choice Best Spinning Reel
When it comes to our choice for the best spinning reel we have to pick the Penn Battle II.
This super smooth reel has a great drag system and is a very solid unit.
From it's fast retrieval to it's smooth action it is very hard to beat.
Spool this up with some braided fishing line and pair it with an Ugly Stik and you have a rod and reel combo that is going to be very hard to beat.
The reel sports an instant anti-reverse system and doesn't suffer from any back creep whatsoever.
The Penn Battle is a bit heavier than most in it's class but all is forgiven because of the quality of this reel. Yep, it costs a small bit more than the rest of the reels mentioned above but in my eye's it's worth every dollar. If you are serious about your gear then you should get yourself a Battle II before you head out again...
- Quality - As good as any high-end reel
- Action - Very smooth reel
- Instant anti-reverse system
- Superior drag system
- Some chatter about the weight of this reel but hey it's a Penn. Well built and made to last.
Piscifun Tuned Low Profile Baitcaster
The Piscifun Baitcaster Reel gives you a great low profile design.
Made from CNC machined high-grade aluminium this reel is very light but also very strong.
Featuring a 6.3:1 gear ratio system that gives you a very smooth and exceptional baitcasting action.
As a brand that was relatively unknown to us, this really is a great baitcasting reel for the money.
If you are looking for a cheap but durable baitcasting reel then the Piscifun baitcaster is perfect for you. Utilising 1 roller bearing and a whopping 13 stainless steel ball bearings this reel delivers a long smooth action cast every single time.
The magnetic brake system allows you to fine tune your cast based on your lure weight. Set it up when you first tie on and fish away all day without having to tinker with anything - This is a great feature in my eyes because anything that allows me to fish for longer wins...
It has a sleek and cool looking low profile design and comes with a low noise gear structure so you ain't going to be spooking the fish while you grind away...
- Quality - As good as any high-end reel
- Action - Very smooth reel
- Superb Magnetic Brake System
- Strong & Durable
- As good as any high-end reel
- Nada, nothing
Kastking Stealth Baitcasting Reel - All Carbon Design
The Kastking Stealth weights only 6 ounces so if you are looking for something ultra light - look no further.
A great reel for all types of fishing - frogging, flipping, pitching, punching, Alabama rigs.
Pair the reel up with some 8lb braid and away you go.
If you are looking for distance casting the first thing you will notice about the Kastking is exactly that. The line literally flies off the spool.
One thing to watch out for with this reel is the speed at which the spool spins when casting. It can be prone to backlashes if not adjusted properly. Once you get the setup right though you are in for a treat. How they can make a reel of this quality for the price is beyond me.
The stealth has a 16.5 lbs drag system coupled with 4 carbon disks and hardened aluminium washers that give this reel unbelievable drag power.
The action is smooth as silk with the 11 ball bearing system. The one way clutch system delivers lightning fast hook sets every time and helps deliver the smooth reel performance.
The reel itself is 100% corrosion resistant and because its made of carbon fibre it only weighs 6 ounces.
- Weight - 6 ounces
- Action - super smooth and fast
- Anti-corrosion carbon fibre makeup
- Not really an issue but make sure you setup drag properly before you go whipping lures into the water.
Abu Garcia Revo SX- Editor's choice Baitcaster
Now here is a baitcasting reel you can rely on. Easy to use, great build quality and superb action.
The Revo SX has to be the best reel on the market in this price bracket. Hands down the best you could fish with actually.
It is very easy to use and can be tuned in a matter of seconds to suits you lure or fishing style.
Comes with a hefty 20 lbs of drag so make sure it's dialled in or you will break off your line before this gives in.
Wonderful smooth action and overall our top choice baitcasting reel to date.
The new Infini II spool design improves casting performance over previous models and the Carbon Matrix ensures smooth, consistent drag pressure when hooked into the hardest fighting fish. By adjusting the MagTrax braking system you can ensure consistent drag pressure from start to finish.
As mentioned in previous posts we prefer to fish with braided line and by setting this reel up with some high quality braid you are equipping yourself with a reel combo that is hard matched by much more expensive models.
- Made using the highest quality components
- Professional grade fishing equipment
- Tested for durability and quality
- 9 High-Performance Corrosion Resistant bearings plus 1 roller bearing provides increased corrosion protection
- C6 carbon body provides significant weight reduction without sacrificing strength and durability
- D2 Gear Design provides a more efficient gear system while improving gear durability
- Compact bent handle and star provide a more ergonomic design
- Ti coated line guide reduces friction and improves durability
Designed for ease of use and comfort this low profile baitcasting reel is one for your tackle bag. We had no intention of reviewing very high-end expensive reels as part of this review because this reel has you covered - without the hefty price tag.
- Price - Nothing can touch this reel.
- Action - Comfortable, sturdy and smooth
- Quality - Perfect high end reel from Abu
So that's our review of the best fishing reels so far. We will be adding in Fly reels and some other models over the coming weeks so stay tuned for more.
Tight lines folks.