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Choosing a new fishing reel depends on your fishing skill level and needs. The market is flooded with reels, from spincasters and spinning reels to baitcasting reels. Therefore finding the right one can be a pain. You definitely want to take your time and do your research. Your reel might be the most important piece of gear you own.
Finding the Right Model for You
It all starts with figuring out your specific needs. First, if you’re going to use small bait then you’ll likely need a smaller reel and a lighter line. You’re going to have trouble fishing effectively on a baitcasting reel if you are using a small jig. It’s not going to be fun. But if you have a 1oz jig then you’re going to be a lot happier with a baitcasting reel. Next, consider what your current level of ability is. Are you buying a baitcaster to look like a pro or are you stepping up because you have mastered your spinning reel? Don’t buy something you don’t know how to use.
If you already have a reel, think about what you like and don’t like about it. How is the weight? What’s the line capacity? What is the gear ratio? While you look to upgrade, consider the strengths and weaknesses of your current reel.
For a family member who isn’t a frequent fisherman or if you are just getting into fishing, a spincaster is likely the best choice. In time you can make the step up to spinning reels and, after that, baitcasters are definitely the way to go.
Remember to think about the ratio you need, line capacity and weight, and the lightness of the reel. A lighter, sleeker reel that maintains functionality and features is almost always superior to other choices.
Stepping up to a new reel style, either from a spincaster to a spinning reel or a spinning real to a baitcaster can be a frustrating experience. Getting the best gear can really eliminates some of the pain from the process of learning a new technique. You can’t go wrong with any of the excellent reels we’ve listed, as they are the best fishing reel brands.
Best Brands by Type
Let’s reduce your research load by talking about the top brands for each type: spincasters, spinning reels, and baitcasters.
Best Spincasting Reel
Almost everyone starts fishing with a spincasting reel. These are designed for the beginner fisherman, but that doesn’t mean you skimp on quality when you buy one. Here, you want a quality reel made of top-shelf components with full-features, quick operation, and lightness. If the reel is too big or heavy then it’s going to be a pain to operate for long periods of time.
The Zebco Omega Z03 is one of the best fishing reels for sale, regardless of type. It’s a full-featured spincaster that offers the first-ever seven-bearing spin-cast with a soft rubber thumb button. The bearing is stainless steel and includes a quick-change spool system. There is an 85-yard line capacity and maximum 10-lbs line weight. On the outside, the Zebco Omega Z03 is enclosed in aircraft-grade aluminum covers.
It’s more expensive than other spincasters, but you really get what you pay for. The reel is a little heavy, but it more than makes up for it with high-quality components. You can really feel the difference between the Zebco and cheaper counterparts. For someone just getting into fishing or as a second reel for a child or spouse, the Zebco Omega Z03 would be a perfect fit.
Best Spinning Reel
Spinning reels require good feel and a solid gear ratio that matches your needs. The gear ratio of a reel is a measure of how many times the spool spins around per handle turn while you are reeling in line. A ratio of 6.2 to 1 means that the spool spins around 6.2 times for each handle turn. Beyond ratio, you want to find a well balanced reel that operates with smooth precision.
One of the best-value spinning reels is the Penn Battle Reel. This isn’t one of the most expensive reels on the market, but it is an affordable entry-point to the world of high-end spinning reels. There are many models available with multiple line capacities and weights. This is a spinning reel that suits everyone’s needs. The true selling point of the Penn Battle is price. It costs a lot less than many spinning reels, but it still remains one of the best fishing reels for the money.
Another great choice is the Okuma Avenger ABF. It’s a consistently top-rated performer and a go-to choice for many fishermen who prefer a spinning reel. The ABF includes a “Baitfeeding System” that allows you to disengage the spool without opening up the bail. It’s available in a number of different sizes.
Best Baitcasting Reel
Baitcasters are the pinnacle of fishing reel technology. Mastering the use of a baitcaster is the sign of an experienced fisherman. Almost all of the pros you see on TV or in competitions are using baitcasters. There is simply no match for the precision that they offer.
The Abu Garcia Pro Max Low Profile is an excellent baitcasting reel. It is truly among the best available. Surprisingly affordable, it offers all of the features and precision you want in a baitcasting package with a sleek and lightweight profile. It adjusts easily and provides smooth operation at a variety of tensions.
As a more expensive option, the Abu Garcia Revo SX is likely the top model you can buy. It’s very light reel with a 7.3: 1 gear ratio and a 24 lb max drag. The adjustment range of the STX is impressive. While it is expensive, you really can’t go wrong with this choice. It is the number one choice for many professional fishermen.
Once you know what type of reel you want then it’s just a matter of picking a brand. Each of the three brands we recommended above are both affordable and effective. Remember that a high-quality reel means catching more high-quality fish.