Fishing, Hunting, & Trapping

Best Fishing Reels: Are Some Types of Fishing Reels Better than Others?

Fishing reels
Andrew McKay
Written by Andrew McKay

Finding the best fishing reel is not as easy as it might seem, especially if you are a beginner in the world of fishing and fishing equipment. Many reels look alike and have similar or the exact same features at first sight, so you have two choices: try dozens of different types of fishing reels or read our reviews to find out which types made it to our top picks.

See also: Best Fishing Rods: Having The Right Tools Can Make A Difference

While considering which reels would be the best to put on the list, we were paying attention to reels’ design, functionality, price, availability and other features that can determine which one is the right one for you. Take a look at our list and find out which are the best and why.

Shimano Stradic CI4

The satisfied customers’ reviews, hopefully 100% honest, Shimano Stradic is just the perfect fishing reel for anyone out there, especially for fishers who like to use their reels very often as one of the Shimano Stradic’s main traits is durability and light-weight design. This is probably the best combination there is when it comes to fishing for hours and hours a week.

As holding a reel can be fairly unpleasant after a long time of using it, especially for more than several hours in a row, Shimano decided to make this reel into a real treat for passionate fishers.

Besides from resembling of the classic reels, this reel has a modern design that looks sleek and appealing aesthetically, perfectly describing its features and giving you the right reasons why you should own this beauty – basically, Shimano Stradic might just be every fisherman’s dream.

So what is the catch if Shimano Stradic series CI4 is perfect? That’s a fair question as nothing is ever perfect and in this case the deal breaker might be the price that is everything but low and affordable, in oppose to fairly solid reels you can get at prices from 15$ to 40$. The catch with reels ranging from 15$ to 49$ is that those are not Shimano Stradic.

Shimano Stradic CI4 reel

If you are willing to invest in one of the best and the most popular reels there is on the market, then you just might consider buying Shimano. Talking about getting what you are buying, this reel is definitely worth every dime invested as it is easy operable, solid and strong, but at the same time sleek, smooth and light-weighted – it will make you want to fish for hours only so you could hold it.

Pros: Sleek and smooth design, solid strong structure and light-weighted structure will make you want to own Shimano Stradic and use it forever. The best thing is that it will last for the years to come and it does a great job with casting on long distances.

Cons: Shimano’s price might just be a deal breaker for you if you are not ready and determined to spend over 200$ on a reel. Many buyers claim that they were considering giving up on buying the reel because it was too pricy, but once they’ve made up their mind and bought it, they didn’t regret it.

If you like this product you can find and check its price here.

Abu Garcia silver max low profile reel

Abu Garcia is a ground solid choice that allows you a complete control over your fishing rod. This fishing reel is by far one of the best type of reels there is at the price you are purchasing at (the price is almost 4 times lower than the price of Shimano Stradic reel), so it won’t even hurt to try it out yourself if you like: most buyers admit that they decided to go for Abu Garcia Silver Max because this reel seemed to be one of the most affordable products on the market despite its great features.

Some of the features that will make you trust this reel are ball bearings made of steel for complete reliability, light-weighted construction for easy grasp and enjoyable fishing time. The reel is made of graphite which affects its weight to be light, while not affecting the durability as Abu Garcia Silver reel has long life durability as confirmed by dozens of satisfied buyers and users.

Abu Garcia silver max low profile reel

One of the features you will also most certainly like is the brake that will allow you to have more control over your fishing rod. Beginners, as well as experienced fishermen will find this reel really enjoyable as it is build to fit smoothly due to its ergonomic design.

Abu Garcia fishing reel is also really proud of its bearing system that enables smooth operating and sleek retrieves as it has anti-reverse bearing. With its low price and availability, what more can you ask for when it comes to fishing reels?

Pros: Extremely affordable, ergonomically designed, smooth controls, flipping switch and, anti reverse bearing. All in all, great reel at its price. Even if the price was a bit higher, it would probably worth the money you paid.

Cons: Some customers claim that the flipping switch will be the first thing to go off if used more often and over longer period of time.

If you like this product you can find and purchase it on Amazon.

Pflueger President spinning reel

As we think ergonomic design and light-weight construction is extremely important, we are continuing with listing types of fishing reels with these exact features. Don’t get fooled by President’s low price as this fishing reel has some amazing features that will make you feel like you’ve got yourself a great deal.

As far as the size concerned, if you are used to handling larger reels, you will probably have troubles getting used to this one as this Pflueger’s model is small sized which is perfect if this is exactly what you need.

Due to its small size, President fishing reel is also light-weighted, so you will be able to operate it for hours and often without feeling too much pressure. What might make you want to choose one of the previous President models is that this model, although it has been improved, has no spare spool. If this is a deal breaker for you despite for having improved and light-weighted reel foot, also enabling you to drag smoothly and with strength, then you might as well return to the top of our list or continue reading further through our top picks.

Pflueger President spinning reel

Another thing that seems to be a common problem at more than few buyers is that apparently the reel might get broken quicker than you would presume it would. It seems that light-weighted design comes with a price of having your reel foot broken pretty quickly.

Pros: Light-weighted construction, strong, smoothly drags and the price is more than affordable. There are also significant improvements in oppose to previous versions of this type of reel.

Cons: There is a strong possibility that you will need to buy another reel as it turns out that some buyers had a bad case of broken reel foot.

If you like this product you can find and buy it here.

Lamson Konic II fly reel

To start off with analyzing the price of this reel: the fact is that Lamson has even more expensive reels, so this one is made to combine some high quality components with other less expensive parts that are cheaper only because it had been manufactured overseas, although high quality components and finish manufacturing are all “Made in USA”.

If you are ready to invest over 100$ in fishing fly reel, this type of reel certainly justifies the money spent on it. It has a solid roller clutch which is made of stainless steel, strong and reliable body construction with conic drag system you can trust not to fail you; and the last but not the least – we chose another light-weighted reel for your maximum comfort.

So what is wrong with this reel and is there anything wrong at all? According to all reviews and feedbacks that can be found online – no, the reel is perfect.

Lamson Konic II fly reel

Apparently, Lamson Konic Fly Reel is practically indestructible, easy to operate and comfortable to hold and use with great features, which makes it worth of every dime you spent on it. It’s quite fine choice for beginners as well as for experienced fishers, so if you are ready to test those reviews for 100+$, you are probably on the way of finding your new fishing friend.

Pros: Smooth controls, light-weighted, strong drag enabled and more affordable than other Lamson reel models with using the same high quality components.

Cons: Maybe 100+$ is more than you are ready to pay for any type of reel, so the price might be a deal breaker. Other than that, there are no known bugs or malfunctions in design and functionality.

If you like this product you can find and check its price on Amazon.

Muzzy XD bowfishing reel

This entire fishing reel is made of stainless steel which already speaks a lot by itself. If you are more of a bow fishing fan, then you will probably want to have this beauty as it will allow you to sit back and relax.

There is a catch though, that is if you want to experience laid back bow fishing – in order to use this bow fishing reel, you will need to have or additionally purchase a reel seat, so you would be able to mount the bow and start your fishing adventure.

If you are, however, experienced in bow fishing, you probably already have a reel seat and the rest of the equipment you need, so that wouldn’t represent a problem. And what about Muzzy XD features? It has double shaft bearings for maximal security and strength, allowing you smooth operation and sleek drags with automotive disk drag feature. All in all, pretty solid and reliable bow fishing reel.

Muzzy XD bowfishing reel

Now, as with any reel, there is a potential deal breaker: apparently, it has already happened to some customers that the line they are using gets torn, which is extremely dangerous as the arrow tied to it may come back to you as a boomerang. Despite of these testimonies, the manufacturer claims that the product is 100% safe for usage.

Are you ready to risk getting the line potentially jammed over a few great features and affordable price? That is the right question to ask yourself before you decide to go for Muzzy XD. However, you should have in mind that other users claim they are not experiencing those types of accidents.

Pros: Strong stainless steel shaft body and affordable price with what you get for the money paid.

Cons: You need a reel seat to mount it and in case you don’t have it and decide to go for this reel, you will have additional costs to count in. Another thing that might be a deal breaker is that some buyers claim that the line might break, which is pretty much unsafe.

If you like this product you can find and buy it on Amazon.

Penn Battle II spinning

Penn Battle spinning reel has a body made completely out of metal with an extraordinary additional plate which is designed to keep the line aligned and in the place you want it to be. This feature makes Penn Battle extremely precise and perfect for investing in.

As it is pretty easy to operate and use, beginners as well as more experienced fishers will enjoy using it. No matter what fish is your favorite catch, you will be able to drag even the heaviest loads as Penn Battle is strong and made to operate and work under great pressure.

If you’ve had problems with slipping lines before, your problem is now gone with Penn Battle as its design has aluminum spool that comes with Super Line that is precisely the feature that will prevent your line from slipping as it is secured with a gasket made of rubber.

Smooth retrieves are enabled by a balanced rotor, while 7 bearings made of stainless steel are one of the features making the structure of the reel ground solid, strong and reliable.

Penn Battle II spinning reel

Drag washers will make your drags smooth regardless of the load weight and the stainless steel shaft will add more support to the construction of the reel body. We hope we didn’t forget to mention more features as the features listed are basically everything you need for smooth fishing.

The price for this reel is average on the market, so it’s not as low, but it’s not too high either, so we might consider this reel to be pretty much affordable. Reviews and feedbacks are all flawless, with satisfied customers claiming that you are purchasing a long lasting product worth every cent you are investing in it.

Pros: There are lots of improvements when compared with other types of reels available on the market. Stainless steel shaft, full metal body, great features for additional strength and maximal precision. All in all, a perfect fishing spinning reel.

Cons: Could it be? Have we found one fishing reel that has no cons? It’s surprising, but it seems like it just might be true.

If you like this product you can find and purchase it on Amazon.

Okuma trio ladies addition

Well, well, it looks like there are lots of ladies fishing and interested in this sport after all, as Okuma came up with their own lady edition that has become a very popular choice among ladies. What defines it throughout the first impression is the pink color, of course.

So as we can all notice on the first sight already, the styling used for Okuma Ladies edition design is flawless and all lady users agree. We have to admit that it was the looks in the first place that made us put Okuma Trio fishing reel, but as we’ve supposed, there are more to it than just great looks.

Apparently, Okuma Trio has an advantage if the ladies are interested in fast actions where speed could determine if the catch is yours or stays in the water: due to Crossover platform with Trio High-speed gear spinning reel, speed actions are enabled which makes this reel a keeper.

Other features are pretty much the same as at other types of reels: you have steel shaft (stainless as usual), reliable strong reel body and light-weighted design. However, if the speed is what makes your catch worth your time, this reel is the right reel for you as it has fast ratio with picking up more line than ever, faster than any other reel previously listed.

Okuma trio ladies addition

And the price? More than affordable, especially as you are getting high speed ratio and a great looking styling.

Pros: High speed Trio feature, more line is being picked up in less time and great looking styling that any lady would find appealing. The price is also very affordable.

Cons: Some users claim that as you are buying a Ladies edition, you are not actually getting a 6 full speed as with regular edition: you will be getting 5 speed. Ladies do love their Trio High Speed at the full level of 6, so why cut it to 5?

If you like this product you can find and check its price here.

Zebco 33 authentic spincast reel

We thought that it would be great to find the reel that is extra (double extra), extremely affordable and cost-effective, so we’ve run across Zebco 33. Can you guess the price? It’s just a bit over 10$, yes! And if that is not affordable, we really don’t know what is. But how come this reel is so cheap?

Does that mean that there is something wrong with it? Actually, no – everything seems to be perfectly working, although we were puzzled as well.

When it comes to features, expect old school fishing style revived and refreshed with a couple of new features, although design is not as fancy as at other reels available on the market. Despite of that, you can still trust its quality as Zebco offers reliability, proven quality and strength.

The line retrieve is now improved with Zebco 33 and the casting range has gotten better, too. You practically get everything you need when it comes to purchasing a solid good and reliable fishing reel.

Zebco 33 authentic spincast reels family

You will also get stainless still covers as the design has also been improved with stainless steel balls, rubber knobs and micro drag adjustment; all those features make Zebco 33 one of the best, more improved Zebco series is the perfect investment for the price you are paying. Even if you don’t like the reel after all, you will not be losing much as the price is as low as it gets.

Pros: Improved features and design. You are getting one of the most famous fishing reels at very affordable price, so even if you decide to buy just to try it out, you have nothing to lose.

Zebco 33 reels

Cons: There might be more modern and advanced designs on the market that will make you pass Zebco’s offer, although we recommend trying it out yourself.

If you like this product you can find and buy it here.

How to choose the right reel?

Choosing a fishing reel doesn’t seem as easy, right? Especially because there are so many different types of reels on the market. What to do to make sure that you are getting the exact fishing reel you need?

First consider your personal preferences, paying attention to the type of reel you need in the first place; are you enjoying fly fishing, bow fishing, is speed playing an important role in your fishing sessions or are you rather looking for a regular spinning reel? You can check out our article on the top baitcasting reel in the market for more timely options.

Once you determine exactly what type of reels you need, your job should immediately become a lot easier, plus you can always take our word and consider purchasing one of the reels listed above. Another thing left to be determined is your budget: how much money are you willing to spend on purchasing the best reel there is?

This preference should also significantly narrow down the choices available. Remember that the most expensive is not always the best, so don’t be afraid of trying out more affordable reels. The most important thing after all is that you are enjoying fishing with ultimate comfort, having a functional and comfortable fishing reel in your hands.

Don’t forget to read our piece on how to get a fishing and hunting license before you embark on your next trip.

About the Author
Andrew McKay
Andrew McKay

Andrew McKay is a seasoned hunter and fisherman from Anchorage, Alaska. Andrew thinks that he is the luckiest person in the world, as he lives in the most gorgeous place in United States and does what he loves to do. As a member of Alaska Professional Hunters Association and International Hunter Education Association, he is always looking for the ways to improve his skills and to teach people around him.

  • Ben Lewis

    There are three fundamental fishing reel types and these are: the spinning reel (open-face), spin-caster reel (closed face), and bait-casting reel. Every one of the three reel types have their advantages and disadvantages but, for me, the spinning reel is the best all-around reel when it comes to money, toughness, and casting distance.

    • Andrew McKay

      Hi,

      A spinning reel is probably the most common type of fishing rod among anglers, especially those going after small to medium-sized fish like bass, redfish, and crappie. All around versatility is the biggest reason people choose spinning reels.

  • Richard

    I acquired the Zebco 33 for my mother. We had been searching high and low for a reliable pinky fishing reel. Unfortunately, most of the pink fishing equipment we bought before were low in quality, cheap, or inappropriate for experienced users.

    The Zebco 33 is the real deal.

    It is light to the carry, pink, delicate but resilient and most importantly, it fitted my mother’s hands beautifully.

    I fish using a Penn Fierce, and this is considerably a better reel. Combining this with a Pflueger President Ladies Spinning Reel we have what seems to be an unbeatable pink fishing rod/reel combination.

  • Hey Richard,

    Thank you for your review of the Zebco 33. Pink is a hard to come by color when it comes to fishing reels as fishermen often avoid using any bright colors on their rods. Pink may or may not shoo away fish but it does make an impression from under water and it can make them look for a better spot.

    Andrew

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