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Best Fishing Reels of 2020 (Review and Buying Guide)

Best Overall Choice
Abu Garcia Rocket Revo Spinning Reel

Abu Garcia Rocket Revo Spinning Reel

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Best Budget Choice
KastKing Royale Legend

KastKing Royale Legend

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Best Premium Choice
Penn International VI Fishing Reel

Penn International VI

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Joe Appleton by Joe Appleton Updated on October 1, 2020. In Reviews

We’ve compiled a list of the best fishing reels on the market to make your reel search a little easier. Buying a new reel can be an overwhelming experience. There are so many quality products available, but there’s a load of junk out there too.

For experienced anglers, finding the right reel for your needs shouldn’t be too much of an issue, but if you’re new to the fishing game, what should you be looking out for? What’s the best fishing reel for beginners? What is the best freshwater fishing reel?

Hopefully, this guide will answer those questions or give you the information you need to make your own decisions. Equipped with the right reel, a powerful and accurate fish finder, and an appropriate fishing vessel, you’ll be unstoppable on the water! So without further ado, here are our favorite reels!

Best Overall Choice

1. Abu Garcia Rocket Revo Spinning Reel

Abu Garcia Rocket Revo Spinning Reel

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Abu Garcia’s Rocket Revo 20 is a spinning reel that can reel lines in quickly, allowing for fast retrieves. Ideal for anglers who need to reel in their slack line at top speed or deliver bait in a hurry. It’s fast, appropriately priced, and an ergonomic design for comfortable and efficient fishing.

The reel is made using high-end materials, with a carbon fiber body, ergonomically molded grips, and a cutting-edge spool system made from carbon. A carbon fiber drag system is also added to the mix. The result is a lightweight reel that’s comfortable to handle and powerful enough to pull serious amounts of weight.

In terms of gearing, the Abu Garcia Revo comes equipped with a sophisticated AMGearing system. This system uses a 7.0:1 gear ratio with machined gears, 9 stainless steel HPCR ball bearings, and a roller bearing, for smooth and responsive operation.

If you’re looking for a spinning reel with a high drag capacity and high-speed performance, then this lightweight reel is worthy of your attention. Compatible with a range of different fishing lines, the Abu Garcia Revo fishing reel is a must-have for serious anglers.

Pros

Reel Type: Spinning
Suitability: Salt and Freshwater
Gear Ratio: 7:0:1
Weight: 6.90 ounces

Best Budget Choice

2. KastKing Royale Legend

KastKing Royale Legend

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The KastKing Royale Legend Baitcasting fishing reel is an excellent beginner fishing reel with expert qualities. It’s compact, affordable, and incredibly reliable.

KastKing’s Royale Legend features a number of top-end materials, including stainless steel handles, padded EVA foam grips, and the CNC machined anodized aluminum spool.

The reel’s gearing system boasts precision-cut brass gears with a gear ratio of 7.0:1. Double shielded MaxiDur ball bearings work with the gears to provide a smooth line delivery and retrieve. A carbon fiber drag system allows the KastKing Royale Legend to deliver up to 17.5 lbs of drag.

Other unique features include a sophisticated centrifugal 10-level dual brake system with magnetic assistance. The addition of the brake system allows for ultimate casting control, reducing backlash. It’s also corrosion-resistant, which means that it can be used for saltwater fishing if you put in the extra maintenance, however, it’s best suited to trout, bass, and ice fishing in freshwater.

For beginners who are looking for an advanced baitcasting fishing reel at an affordable price, this is arguably one of the best available. It’s versatile, tough, and fast, with plenty of top-level features to get the job done.

Pros

Reel Type: Baitcasting
Suitability: Bass, Trout, and Ice fishing
Gear Ratio: 7:0:1
Weight: 75 ounces

Best Premium Choice

3. Penn International VI

Penn International VI Fishing Reel

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Penn Fishing is one of the biggest names in the industry, producing quality fishing tackle since 1932. The brand has put its name on hundreds of reels over the years, and their modern range offers some of the most advanced products available. However, the International reel series is arguably their most famous.

The latest generation of Penn International reels is made from a machined anodized aluminum. It’s high-strength, corrosion-resistant, and extremely durable. The gearing is also high-quality, with stainless steel main gears and matching pinion gears. Talking of which, the gearing has a Quick-Shift II 2-speed arrangement, with a Double-dog ratchet anti-reverse setting.

Other top features include a Dura-Drag System, a Versa-Strike Adjustable Strike stop, and line capacity rings. Altogether, the Penn International VI is one of the best fishing reels out there, offering smooth reeling and casting, with hesitation-free responsiveness, in any circumstances.

It is expensive when compared to other reels, but since all of Penn Fishing’s products are made in the USA using the best quality components, the extra expense is an investment. These reels last a very long time if properly taken care of, so you can forgive the higher price tag.

Pros

Reel Type: Conventional reel
Suitability: Fresh and saltwater
Gear Ratio: 3.5:1
Max. Drag: 45 lbs

4. Okuma Ceymar C-10

Okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel

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The Okuma Ceymar C-10 is one of a variety of reels in the Ceymar range. They’re famous for being small, lightweight, fast, and very affordable. Ideal for catching smaller fish, such as trout, perch, and longear sunfish, the Okuma Ceymar C-10 is a great reel for those looking for an economical and versatile reel for both freshwater and saltwater applications.

Manufactured from forged aluminum, the Ceymar is tough, durable, and strong. Thanks to the addition of EVA components, it’s comfortable to hold and won’t cause unnecessary fatigue. The actual spool is made from machined aluminum, and it’s perfect for both monofilament and braided fishing lines.

The gearing system uses a number of exciting features and components, including precision machined brass pinion gears, a Quick-Set anti-reverse roller bearing, with an 8-bearing drive system for silky smooth reeling performance.

In terms of capacity, the Okuma Ceymar C-10 boasts 110yd/4lb, so for the best results it’s recommend that you use it with lightweight fishing rods. This is ideal for smaller game fish, as you won’t end up overpowering your catch.

This is one of the best fishing reels for anglers looking to catch small fish. It’s fast, tough, and very affordable.

Pros

Reel Type: Spinning
Suitability: Salt and Freshwater
Gear Ratio: 5.0:1
Weight: 8 ounces

5. Shimano Stradic HG

Shimano Stradic HG

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Next, we have the Shimano Stradic HG. Shimano is a brand that should need no introduction. They’re one of the world’s most reputable manufacturers of cycling and fishing tackle components. They know a thing or two about gearing, so you can trust the quality of their products. Precision engineering and innovation the company’s creed.

The Stradic HG is a spinning reel that has a higher price tag than most other spinning varieties. It’s a premium product and the price tag reflects that quality of the engineering. Manufactured from cold forged steel and forged aluminum, the Stradic HG is a strong and durable reel with an ergonomically designed shape that reduces fatigue and improves weight balance.

The gearing system is made from steel and features Super Stopper II technology, along with Fluid II, Power Roller II, and Dyna-Balance features. It also features S A-RB bearings and an innovative propulsion line management system.

The result is a powerful spinning reel that has a maximum drag capacity of 6 lbs, with an impressive retrieve per crank range of 31 inches per crank. Smooth, durable, and reliable. This is one of the best reels for fishing out there.

Pros

Reel Type: Spinning
Suitability: Salt and Freshwater
Gear Ratio: 6.0:1
Weight: 67 ounces

6. Daiwa BG 2000

Daiwa BG 2000 Series Reels

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The Daiwa BG 2000 is a top-quality spinning reel that’s packed with high-end features, all for a reasonable price. The price tag is higher than other best spinning reels on this list, but the quality of the components and the level of engineering more than justifies the asking price.

The body of the BG 2000 is made from machined aluminum with additional scratch-resistant and corrosion-resistant coves for added protection. The result is a hard-wearing and lightweight reel body. The weight savings are enhanced with Daiwa’s Air Rotor technology that reduces the mass of the reel’s rotor by up to 15%.

The BG also features a sophisticated oversized Digigear system that enhances the contact between gear teeth, making for smoother action and an extended life. Other features include a seven-bearing drive system, Anti-Reverse functions, and a Carbon ATD (Automatic Tournament Drag) to improve the smoothness of your retrieves.

Since the components are durable and corrosion-resistant, the Daiwa BG 2000 is suitable for both fresh and saltwater applications. It’s also compatible with a number of different fishing line types, including braided line.

If you’re looking for a premium spinning reel that will stand the test of time, consider investing in the Daiwa BG 2000.

Pros

Reel Type: Spinning
Suitability: Saltwater and Freshwater
Gear Ratio: 5.6:1
Weight: 8 ounces

7. Lew’s Mach II Speed Spin Series

Lew’s Mach II Speed Spin Series

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Lew’s is one of the most recognizable names in the fishing tackle industry. They’ve been making quality fishing gear since 1949 for both amateur and professional angles alike. Today, the brand has a reputation for engineering some of the best fishing reels available, using innovative materials and clever design. Lew’s Mach II Speed Spin Series is a prime example of the brand’s excellence.

The Mach II is manufactured from a rugged aluminum body with matching side panels, and equipped with a C40 carbon rotor system and a knurled anodized aluminum spool. The rotor system uses 8 premium bearings for smooth performance when casting and reeling.

The reel’s gearing system is has a ratio of 6.2:1, and features a solid brass pinion gear. It’s a tough and durable arrangement that works for all kinds of fishing. It also features Zero-Reverse anti-reverse technology, an oversized roller for line twist reduction, and a fold down handle for ergonomic operation.

Thanks to the use of premium materials, the Mach II is lightweight and easy to use, with smooth operation and solid reliability. If you’re looking for a smooth caster at an affordable price, then we would definitely recommend the Lew’s Mach II Speed Spin Series.

Pros

Reel Type: Spinning
Suitability: Freshwater (can be used in salt but not recommended)
Gear Ratio: 6.2:1
Weight: 8.2 ounces

8. Pflueger President

Pflueger President Spincast Fishing Reel

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The Pflueger President is a spincast reel that was designed for good old-fashioned heavy-duty use. It’s tough, durable, and made from materials that won’t let you down. If you’re looking for something that’s not made from plastic or fancy modern materials, then this is the reel for you. It’s not lightweight, it’s not sleek, and it’s not modern. However, it’s an inexpensive workhorse that won’t let you down!

The President is easy to use and simple to set up. In terms of features, it boasts a confident 5-bearing system, anti-reverse technology, and spool applied drag. Built around an aluminum frame, this metal reel shouldn’t be discounted.

The gearing allows the Pflueger President to be quite fast, and thanks to the use of more modern materials such as aluminum and titanium, it’s not particularly heavy either. It’s smooth, quiet, and practical, and won’t let you down providing that your plans aren’t too ambitious. It won’t land big fish and it won’t work well in tricky conditions. However, for a beginner angler it’s a worthy and inexpensive option.

It’s a low-cost reel with high-quality components that won’t let you down.

Pros

Reel Type: Spincast
Suitability: Freshwater
Gear Ratio: 3.8:1
Weight: 11. ounces

The Best Fishing Reels: A Buying Guide

Before you can start your search for the best fishing reels, you should familiarize yourself with the different styles of reel on offer. There are a number of different kinds of fishing reel, designed specifically for different situations and different anglers. Here are some of the most popular reel types on the market:

Reel Types

Spinning Reels

Our list is mainly made up of spinning reels. This type of reel is very popular since it’s incredibly versatile. They’re used for catching both smaller and larger fish, and have the strength and durability to work in a variety of conditions. They’re not particularly sleek or compact, but they do the job and won’t break the bank. That’s why they’re popular with beginners: they’re affordable and practical.

Spincast Reels

Spincasting reels have a lot in common with spinning reels. They’re easy to use, they’re not particularly expensive, and quite versatile. The difference is that you control your line with a button-push, and they’re mounted on top of the rod rather than below it, like you’d mount a baitcasting reel. These reels are very useful, but we don’t recommend buying a cheap model if you want real results. Cheaper models aren’t particularly durable.

Trolling Reels

Trolling reels aren’t for everyone. They can handle large fish and can use longer lines but they’re specifically designed for off-shore fishing, which limits their practical usage somewhat. They’re designed for casting from the back of a boat, with the line trailing behind as a trolling motor keeps the boat moving. If you’re fishing from a moving boat, then this is the reel for you.

Baitcasting Reels

Baitcasting reels are designed for reeling in large fish. These reels are mounted on top of the rod, and they have a small, compact, and lightweight design. Since they can handle longer lines and reel in bigger fish, and use lightweight yet strong materials, they can be quite expensive. However, if you want to reel in bigger catches, one of these will help you deliver results!

Right- And Left-handed Reels

There’s a lot said about left and right-handed reels, and what might seem like obvious advice can often be misguided. For example, a right-handed angler may not benefit from a right-handed reel. The reason being that a right-handed angler may need their right hand to hold the rod securely, leaving the left hand to do the less physically strenuous reeling. And vice versa, of course.

However, it’s a fairly unnecessary piece of advice, since most modern reels are ambidextrous, and you can simply attach the crank handle on the side that suits you best. That’s not a universal trait though, and it’s wise to check whether your desired reel has an adjustable crank handle before committing to a purchase.

Important Features To Consider

Aside from the style of a potential reel, there are also some other important features to factor into your buying equation. Here are some key things to keep a look out for.

Size

A reel’s size doesn’t necessarily mean its physical dimensions. However, the size of a reel can be an indication of what sort of fish it can reel in. Most reels are advertised with the weight it can reel in with the line cast at certain distance.

17 pounds at 80 yards is a good example of a reel’s capabilities. If you want to catch heavier fish at a greater distance, then you will require a larger reel that can handle stronger lines and reel in larger weights.

Size isn’t always an indication of performance, however, smaller reels that have bigger capabilities often cost a lot more.

Weight

Weight is something that you should really be aware of. You’re going to be holding that rod for long periods of time, and a weighty reel will sap your strength and enthusiasm in a flash.

Generally-speaking, a lighter reel will be much easier to control, and far more comfortable for you to hold—especially when there’s a fish fighting for its life on the other end of the line!

Comfort

Talking of comfort, there are other factors to keep in mind for a comfortable day out on the water than just weight. Make sure the reel that you’re considering comes equipped with ergonomic grips, intuitive reel action, and soft padding in the appropriate places.

If a reel is comfortable in your hands, it’ll be a joy to use rather than a chore. Plus, it makes reeling fish in much, much easier.

Drag

Your fishing reel’s drag capabilities will also make your day much easier. The amount of drag a reel provides will help relieve tension on the fishing line and stop it from breaking.

Adjustable drag settings allow you to customize your reels capabilities, allowing you to catch the kind of fish you want with less stress on your body and equipment.

Durability

Fishing equipment has to handle a fair amount of stress. Fish pulling against spools, saltwater infiltrating gear systems, and general wear and tear take their toll. For the best results, and to get the best return on your investment, look for a reel made from tough, high-quality materials that will stand the test of time.

Design

Lastly, pay attention to the design. Lazy design makes for a sub-standard product. On a fishing reel, ergonomics and comfort are everything. Look at how the crank handles are designed, and whether they’re shaped with comfort grips.

Pay attention to construction materials on the key components. If the design is thoughtless, then the product will be sub-par.

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