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Articles » Gear Reviews » Fishing Reels » The Best Fishing Reels for a Wide-Variety of Scenarios

The Best Fishing Reels for a Wide-Variety of Scenarios

Every fisherman wants the best fishing reels in their arsenal.

We believe quality is important, although it is nice to have a wide quantity at the ready for whatever your conditions require.

Best fishing reels for marlin
The Penn International II is a classic reel for when you target big billfish. Source: Jason Boldero

Top Fishing Reels

Image Product Details
sample-table__imageBest High-EndPenn Spinfisher V
  • Saltwater ready
  • Durable
  • Sealed
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sample-table__imageBest ConventionalAvet Lever Drag
  • Durable
  • Marine Aluminum
  • Made in USA
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sample-table__imageMid-RangeKastKing Sharky III
  • Tough
  • Good Price
  • Heavy Drag
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sample-table__imageLow-CostOne Bass Fishing Reel
  • Cheap
  • Good Backup
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sample-table__imageBest BaitcastrLews Fishing Tournament MB
  • Tournament-ready
  • Aluminum Frame
  • Light
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sample-table__imageCheap BaitcasterPiscifun Phantom
  • Light-weight
  • 7.0:1 ratio
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I have personally been in situations where my reels have gotten water in them and just simply stopped working. They would not turn at all. It is always a good idea to purchase a good reel instead of a cheap reel that will strip out or break on you while you are fishing.

Let’s cover a few of the best reels to eliminate the headaches. I am also going to cover the care and storage of your reels and much more!

Best Fishing Reels Reviewed

1. Penn Spinfisher V Spinning Fishing Reel

Best High-End Penn Spinning Reel

Penn 1259876 Spinfisher V Spinning Fishing Reel, 6500
  • Watertight spinning reel performs reliably in saltwater and...
  • Durable construction with full metal body, side plate, and...
  • Sealed HT-100 Slammer drag system provides robust,...

  • The watertight reel is very reliable in saltwater and sandy environments
  • Full metal body, side plate, rotor, and heavy-duty aluminum bail water.
  • HT-100 Slammer drag system for robust, smooth drag
  • Patented friction trip ramp prevents spool bail from triggering while casting.
  • Extremely smooth retrieve with five shielded ball bearings and an instant reverse ball bearing.
  • This reel’s spool is braid ready, which has line capacity markings for ⅓, ⅔, and full.

This reel is the most expensive spinning reel presented today. It is a perfect reel that I would trust personally to fight tremendous fishing from the ocean. I have personally seen anglers pull 150 LB Striped bass out of the riptide with these reels.

While this reel might be an investment, It will continue to deliver year after year.


2. Avet Lever Drag Reel

Best Conventional Saltwater Reel

Avet 5.3:1 Lever Drag Conventional Reel, Blue
  • Made in the USA
  • Made using solid 6061-T6 Marine Grade aluminum
  • Tested for durability and quality

  • Built from 60601-T6 Marine Grade aluminum
  • Beautiful lever drag design
  • 5.3:1 Gear ratio
  • Casts like a dream

My buddy has this Avet and I love it! The smaller spool makes managing your line and casting a breeze. The lever drag is clutch when you want that perfect quick drag control. A solid reel for any serious saltwater or freshwater angler.


3. KastKing Sharky III

Great Mid-Range Spinning Reel

KastKing Sharky III Spinning Fishing Reel,Size 2000
  • NEXT-GEN - The brand new design KastKing Sharky III spinning...
  • PURE POWER - You will love Sharky III spinning reel's...
  • K.I.S.S. - Sharky III spinning reels are sealed with a KISS!...

  • Carbon fiber reinforced graphite body and oversized rotor.
  • 39.5 LBs Triple Disk Carbon Fiber Drag.
  • Kastking Intrusion shield system has a water-resistant design for its spool body and rotor. The K.I.S.S. system helps keep water and dirt out if your setup accidentally takes a dunk.
  • Braid ready spool to replace having to have monofilament backing.

This reel is solid for the price. I have personally used one for bass fishing, crappie fishing, catfishing, and even flounder fishing!

It is lightweight, durable, and very good at catching fish.


4. One Bass Fishing Reel

Best Cheap Saltwater Spinning Reel

Sale
One Bass Fishing reels Light Weight Saltwater Spinning Reel - 39.5 LB Carbon Fiber Drag,12+1 BB Ultra Smooth All Aluminum Inshore Reel for Saltwater or Freshwater- R-Spider DL 4000
  • SUPER SMOOTH - super lightweight fishing reels built with a...
  • HIGH POWERED - 12 ball bearings + 1 instant anti-reverse...
  • DURABLE- The R-Spider DL Inshore Spinning Reel also features...

  • Super-lightweight carbon fiber reinforced graphite body and rotor.
  • 12+1 ball bearings with an instant anti-reverse bearing.
  • Machined aluminum spool
  • Carbon Fiber drag system.

This reel is a perfect candidate for freshwater bass as well as fluke fishing for flounder on the rocks.

It allows for ease of casting, as well as working intricate lures. This would be a great reel to use where brush and obstacles may be an issue to work lures around.


5. Lews Fishing Tournament MB Baitcast Reel

Great Tournament Baitcast Reel

Sale
Lews Fishing, Tournament MB Baitcast Reel, TS1SHMB
  • One-piece die-cast aluminum frame. RPT: 31 inch
  • Drilled and forged, double anodized aluminum U style spool
  • Easily removable palming graphite side plate

  • This reel is meant for freshwater fishing.
  • It weighs 6.7 oz
  • This reel features Lew’s innovative dual braking multi-setting brake system. It comes with a magnetic cast control and a centrifugal braking system.

This is an excellent reel for fishing all day for that trophy bass. It has a perfect retrieve as well as casts very smooth. This is my favorite reel for bass fishing.

It is an excellent all-around reel; you can use jigs, crankbaits, jerk baits, topwater frogs, spooks, as well as just about any soft plastics.


6. Piscifun Phantom Carbon Baitcasting Reel

Solid Bass Baitcast Reel

Sale
Piscifun Phantom Carbon Baitcasting Reel - Only 5.7oz, Our Lightest Baitcaster, 17LB Carbon Fiber Drag, 7.0:1 Gear Ratio, Dual Brakes Baitcast Fishing Reels, Incredible Cast Distance (Right Handed)
  • Featherweight- Weighs only 5.70 ounces, premium carbon fiber...
  • High Performance- 7.0:1 gear ratio provides long distance,...
  • Strong Power- Double hard anodized Aircraft grade aluminum...

  • It weighs only 5.7 ounces.
  • Carbon fiber frame, side plates, and handle for weight reduction without the loss of strength and durability.
  • 7.0:1 Gear ratio for long-distance, accurate casting as well as an instant hook set.
  • Six anti-corrosion shielded ball bearings with one clutch bearing for anti-slip reverse.
  • Aluminum main and pinion gear with a four-disc, carbon fiber drag system delivers 17 lbs of stopping power.
  • It has a dual braking system.

This reel is an excellent upgrade for a fisherman looking to upgrade from a spinning coil to a baitcasting reel. It is effortless to use, lightweight, and is super smooth to cast. This reel is one of the best budget reels on the market.


What Makes a Good Fishing Reel?

The best fishing reels sport a graphite or aluminum housing. Aluminum bodies aid in strength and sturdiness, which is good for most things. But if you are fishing saltwater, graphite is the way to go, due to its corrosion resistance. The Spools need to be made out of metal as well for durability.

The best reels need to hold plenty of fishing line for the task at hand.

The reels as well need to have shielded bearings or protected bearings to keep your internals from getting rusted up and seizing up.

A quality drag system is also essential. We like ones made with carbon fiber drag washers that stop fish in their tracks.

Best fishing reels for surf fishing
Rob testing out his new rod and reel. Source: Rob n Rae Cornelius

Saltwater vs. Freshwater Reels

Yes, there is. Saltwater reels can handle fish that easily reach the triple digits in weight.

While its freshwater cousin works for freshwater size fish, another factor is the reel’s ability to perform in saltwater conditions.

Saltwater reels have to be corrosion resistant, while freshwater reels can be less so.
There are reels on the market designed to handle both saltwater and freshwater. These reels are usually more expensive.

However, if you plan on doing both styles of fishing, it would be worth the investment to purchase a reel that can handle both and will hold up over time.

Reels, as well as rods that use carbon fiber, are among the most reliable and most corrosion-resistant.

Many of the old school anglers will pass up on any reel that does not have metal components. Carbon fiber, however, has been shown time and again to outlast many of these reels.

Reel Maintenance Recommendations

As with any piece of equipment, proper care and maintenance can preserve the life of your fishing reel for many years to come.

Proper storage of your reels can make a huge difference. This is especially true if you are saltwater fishing.

Any type of prolonged exposure to salt by metal is a recipe for disaster. If you are using your reel in saltwater, make sure to give it a rinse with fresh water. It doesn’t need to be heavy pressure, but once it’s rinsed, allow it to dry thoroughly before storing it.

Lubrication is always recommended. This keeps the reel’s inner parts, moving freely and reduces friction.

A quality marine grade lubricating oil is a good idea. It is formulated to repel water and other contaminants that can penetrate your reel.

Many anglers recommend that you release the tension on your reels before storing it. This can relieve unnecessary stress on the inner parts.

FAQs

Q: What are the best fishing rod and reel combo?

A: The Abu Garcia Silver Max Low Profile is one of our favorites. It is affordable and durable.

Q: What are the best bass fishing rod and reel combo?

A: Again, The Abu Garcia Silver Max Low Profile never fails to deliver.

Q: What is the most expensive reel?

A: The Daiwa Marine Power MP3000 comes with a price tag of $3,999.99

Q: What is the best spinning reel of 2018?

A: Some would consider the Pflueger President. It’s durable reel at an affordable price. Starting at $49.99. If you need something with more robustness go with the Daiwa BG or Saltis.

Insider Advice

Whether you are looking for a good fishing reel to use seasonally or a reel to handle all year round. At every chance given freshwater or saltwater, the KastKing Sharky III is the go-to reel for you to use.

It is set up for braided fishing line without the need of monofilament backing. Which of course monofilament or fluorocarbon works just fine. It comes in all different sizes to aid you in your search for the perfect sized fishing reel for the type of fish you are after.

It works perfectly for freshwater, as well as is extremely corrosion-resistant for saltwater.


The Anglers Behind This Article:

Johnny Harvill
Angler

Jon Stenstrom
Founder

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