Best Fishing Reels – What Should You Consider Before Buying One

Not many hobbies can match up to the relaxation that fishing offers. But fishing isn’t just about food and drinks; you have to look for the right fishing gear, and reels are an extremely important part of your gear. So, let's take a look at what you need to know and add some reviews of the best fishing reels.

Here are the best fishing reels that we recommend and will review later:

What to Consider Before Buying a Fishing Reel

There are many important factors that go into the decision making process of buying a reel, but let’s first take a look at what you should consider before you even start looking into different brands and makes of fishing reels.

  • The Fishing Location (Freshwater Or Saltwater) - There are some reels that are more appropriate for freshwater fishing and others are better suited for saltwater fishing, like in bays and oceans.
  • Fish Type - Whether you want to fish for trout, largemouth bass or even the Bluefish, you have to be sure what you are after.
  • The Angle Choice - Also, the fish hook, weight and the bait significantly matter when choosing a reel.

Types of Fishing Reels

Fishing reels are generally divided into three basic types: Spincasting Reels, Spinning Reels and Baitcasting Reels.

Each of those three types has its own pros, cons and applications so its important that you understand them before we move on.

Spincasting Reels

Many people get in touch with spincasting reels when they start out fishing, either as kid or complete beginners later in life. That is because spincasting reels offer the most user-friendly, simple design.

The reel features shut face design, which means the line and the reels mechanism is not visible. That is effective in averting any snarl in your fishing line but it decreases the reels lifespan as the water and minerals corrode the material faster in a closed environment.

Casting is easy with a spincasting reel but you might not get the distance you would it other types of fishing reels.

A spincaster might be a good choice if you are a complete beginner and are going to fish for smaller fish in any waterway or source.

Spinning Reels

Spinning reels or open-faced reels are the most common type of fishing reels out there. You will recognise them by them being mounted on the underside of a fishing rod (spinning rod).

Their main difference from spincasting reels is in the open-faced design. The line and the reels gears are exposed which means they dry quickly and rarely rust.

Whether, you are fishing for small or large fish; in rivers, lakes or oceans; you can use spinning reels for just about any type of fishing. There is little resistance while casting with a spinning reel, therefore, you may be able to cast to some impressive distances.

A spinning reel is generally a go-to type fishing reel for beginners and experienced anglers alike.

Baitcasting Reels

The first thing you will notice about baitcasting reels is that they sit on top of a fishing rod - baitcasting rod. And the handle, is generally situated on the reel’s right side.

The bait’s weight plays a big role in turning the spool while its pulling on the fishing line. Baitcasters are great for fishing with heavier baits but might not be as good with lighter baits.

Their main advantage is in that you have more control of when you’d like to stop the lure mid cast, which allows for pinpoint casting. But, keep in mind that while you can use baitcasting reels to cast far, you might not cast as far as with a spinning reels.

Baitcasters are especially good or might even be the best type of reel for bass fishing. But, keep in mind they demand slightly more skill and are more appropriate for experienced anglers.

Important Features of Fishing Reels

Now that you have a better picture of what types of reels are out there, we can take a look at the features they have - or may not have - in common.

When you are looking at a fishing reel, you’ll probably want to know about its size, gear ratio, and gear bearing as well as drag system.


Size of the reels is the most commonly overlooked and ununderstood aspect of fishing reels.

It's important that you pick a size that matches your rod, lure and the type of fish you are after.

Spinning reel sizes are usually expressed in numbers ranging from 1000 to 9500 or 10 to 95 (simplified).

  • 1000 to 3500: this size is spot on for catching small fish with fishing rods between 6ft to 7ft long.
  • 4000 to 5500: mostly used to catch medium sized fish on regular 6ft to 7ft rods.
  • 6000 and bigger: fishing reels of this size are mostly used to catch big fish while surf fishing or trolling off a boat using long rods.

Baitcasting reels divide in two sizes - round profile and low profile designs.

  • Low profile: those baitcasters are small enough to fit into a palm of your hand when you are casting and retrieving. They are great for sport fishing.
  • Round profile: this design usually holds much more line than low profile designs and is especially useful when going after large fish and when trolling.

Drag System

The drag system is one of the most valuable tools of any angler as it makes sure the fish stays on the line after you have hooked it. And, it also makes fishing fun!

Usually a drag system consist of two dish, one on the side of the line spool and the other on the reel’s cranking and anti-reverse system. The tighter together the disks are, the more pressure is needed to pull the line.

Make it too light and you won't have the pressure to prevent fish from throwing the hook. To tight and the fish (or any weight for that matter) might snap the line.

You can control the drag using a switch that can be located either on top, bottom or the side of the reel.

While choosing the perfect setting can only come with experience, you can use a couple of tricks to optimize your drag. To do that, hook some weight comparable to what you need the reel to pull (e.g. a bucket of water), and quickly jerk the rod, like you would after you get a bite.

When jerking the rod, the line should slightly slip, and when applying even pressure it should not.

Gear Ratio

Last but not least, we have to take a look at gear ratios. Gear ratio is used to describe how fast the reel picks ups the line. E.g. if you have a reel with a gear ratio of 5.2:1, the spool will rotate 5.2 times every time you turn the handle.

The gear ratio can be anywhere between 5.0:1 and 9.1:1. The higher the ratio the faster you will be able to pull the bait through the water or keep it skittering across the surface.

For beginners its best to go with a gear ratio in a rage between 5.4:1 and 6.2:1. This will allow you to use both, fast and slow moving baits with ease. With this kind of reel you will be able to run a deep-diving crankbait without overworking the lure and still crank fast enough to get good performances from buzzbaits.

More experienced anglers can by all means go with a high-speed reel, especially after mastering the techniques needed to slowly retrieve the line with a higher gear ratio.

Reviews of The Best Fishing Reels

Now that you possess all the basic knowledge you might need when buying a reel let's take a look at 5 of the best fishing reels by the opinion of Anglers Harbor.

Pflueger President Spinning Reel Review

This spinning reel by Pflueger is a modified version of its earlier baitcasting reel. It has been engineered to perfection and offers top class performance without compromising with its value.

This resilient, sleek and efficient reel is perfect for all weather conditions. This anodized reel (metal) also comes with a specific gap design that not only improves its overall looks but also helps with the weight.



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    Made from high quality materials
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    Highly durable and lightweight
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    Features instant off/on anti-reverse system
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    Great casting ability
  • Might not include any spare spool

KastKing Stealth Baitcasting Reel Review

This is the real deal, no pun intended! This KastKing baitcasting fishing reel might just be the most efficient and flexible baitcasters outhere.

It is made from 100% high quality steel that boasts stainless-steel elements, enhancing the overall strength and functionality of the product. You also won’t get easily tired using this reels, as it comes with quality non-slip holds (large).

It is perfect for saltwater fishing, or even base sportfishing, and it is among the most recommended reels today. But, it might take some time master.



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    Super lightweight
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    Robust build with a high-quality drag system
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    Offers faster connect sets and high efficiency
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    Great value for your buck
  • Takes time to master

Abu Garcia BMAX3 Max Low-Profile Baitcast Fishing Reel Review

This Abu Garcia baitcasting reel is developed with resiliency in mind, which enhances its longevity. The efficiency of this reel in fishing out heavy fish might surprise you.

Its body system is constructed using high quality graphite, while its style (one part) adds to the durability of the reel without adding any extra bodyweight.

The ergonomic design of this Abu Garcia fishing reel gives you the advantage of focusing on throw/recovery without worrying about the reel itself.



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    Light and durable
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    Smooth drag
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    State-of-art braking mechanism system, that is highly reliable
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    The ergonomic design allows you to have a firm yet relaxed grip
  • The handle is might not be the most efficient

Penn Spinfisher V Spinning Reel Review

Penn is one of the most popular brands in sportfishing gear, and the Spinfisher V is another feather on its cap.

This premium fishing reel is all about power and strength, which is evident through its overall metal based body. It comes with a modern drag system that makes it highly efficient.

It is great for freshwater and saltwater fishing and appropriate for beginners and experienced anglers alike.



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    Allows precise casts
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    Made from quality materials
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    The design makes dunking and treating more fun and exciting
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    It incorporates instant anti-reverse system
  • It might be slightly heavier than most of the reels of its class

Okuma Avenger Baitfeeder Review

This Avenger fishing reel by Okuma is known for its efficiency in saltwater especially when surf fishing.

It allows the range to run completely free by simply turning the key located on the reel’s back. All you have to do is to wait for the click sound to know that you have caught a massive fish.

It might be a great choice if surf fish and target larger fish, but, it might not be the best for beginners.



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    Allows for free running of the range without any assistance
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    It comes with multi-disk based drag system
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    Its body is made from graphite (corrosion proof)
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    Good for heavy seas
  • It does not lay the range evenly all the time
  • Not the best for beginners


These are the best fishing reels for 2018 that you can choose from depending on your desires and needs.

In my opinion, the Low-Profile BMAX3 Max Baitcast Reel By Abu Garcia and The Avenger Bait Feeder Reel By Okuma share the top spot.

Both are reasonably-priced and offer enough flexibility to be useful in almost all conditions and environments. However, you should go with whichever reel suits you best.

P.S. don't forget to check out our fly fishing reels, ice fishing reels and surf fishing reels reviews & guides for a deeper dive into those topics.

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