Best Fishing Reels

The Best Fishing Reels in 2018 – Top Picks and Reviews

You will agree with me that finding the best fishing reels out there is well worth the trouble? Going to the ocean and then realizing that the fishing reel you have in your boat can’t reel in the type of fish you want could be disheartening. We have poured over reviews of the best fishing reels and bait casters out there, read hundreds of tests carried out by professional anglers in other to come up with this guide of the best spinning reels.

In our commitment to help you find the best fishing reels that can fulfill your needs on the sea, we have put together and reviewed 5 of the best reels on the market today. We then went ahead to find out what each one was good at and poor at, based on the ease of use, design, and performance.

At a Glance: Our Best Fishing Reels

Made from a watertight design to protect its gearbox, the Penn Spinfisher V is a fishing reel that everyone should have in their arsenal. It has an easy to use drag system that works smoothly using stainless steel bearings and a great speed gear ratio that prevents the line from breaking.

The Penn Battle II is much more than just an upgrade to a 4-year old Penn Battle reel. It is an open face fishing reel built in a small frame for extended use and drag pressure.

Need a stress-free way of catching fishes? The Okuma Avenger ABF is a bait runner type of fishing reel with a second rear-drag that makes changes to the pool during use which affects the tension of the feeding fish.

Piscifun Tuned Magnetic works well in both freshwater and saltwater conditions. This baitcasting fishing reel has a CNC aluminum spool and one-way clutch system that can withstand tough weather conditions

Shimano Stradic FK comes with a variation of spinning reels that can be used by both beginner and professional anglers; with the smallest weighing a little over 7 oz. and the largest having a maximum drag of about 20 lbs.

Best Fishing Reels Reviews in 2018

  • Ranking   
  • Product   
  • Quantity of steel ball bearings
  • Quantity of Models
  • Max Drag
  • Rating   
  • #1   

  • PENN Spinfisher V Spinning Reel
  • 6
  • 10
  • 20-40 lbs


  • #2   

  • Penn Battle II Spinning Reel
  • 6
  • 8
  • 9-30 lbs


  • #3   

  • Okuma Avenger ABF Graphite Bait Feeder Reel
  • 7
  • 6
  • 13-33 lbs


  • #4   

  • Piscifun Tuned Magnetic Brake System Fishing Reel
  • 14
  • 2
  • 12 lbs


  • #5   

  • Shimano Stradic FK HG
  • 7
  • 7
  • 7-24 lbs


#1 – Penn Spinfisher V

best fishing reelsbest-fishing-reels
Made out of metal with a Water Tight Design that keeps water away from its gearbox, the Penn Spinfisher V is one of the best fishing reels on the market. It works perfectly well in freshwater as well as for saltwater fishing.

DESIGN

One of the things we love about this fishing reel that made us include it in our list of the best spinning reel is its drag system. The drag system is basically about easy it is for it to pull in the fish. The Penn V pulls in a fish in a smooth and steady motion. It uses 5 stainless steel ball bearings and a medium speed gear ratio which prevents the reel line from breaking during fishing.

EASE OF USE

We also love its anti-reverse handle. This ensures that the reel is prepared for any type of fish it meets in the water. It is a versatile reel that will produce a well-placed hook set that will make it impossible for the fish to wrestle itself free.

Made from durable materials that can withstand years of abuse in tough environments like salt water. It comes with a unique Water Tight Design that has 6 seals that keep the saltwater away from the drag system.

Pros
  • Made from durable materials
  • Has a unique Water Tight Design that keeps saltwater away from the gearbox
  • Uses 5 stainless steel bearings
Cons
  • Its performance is a little bit above average

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#2 – Penn Battle II Spinning Reel

best-fishing-reelsbest-fishing-reels
Penn Battle II Spinning Reel is an upgrade to the Penn Battle that has been on sale for a couple of years now.

DESIGN

The Battle II was built as an open face reel. It has a total of 8 sizes with size 1000 (great for use in freshwater situations) being the lightest model in its arsenal.

It’s built in a smaller frame and features the same bearing upgrades found in the previous version. One new feature in the Battle II though that lands it on our list of the best fishing reels is its durability and drag pressure.

EASE OF USE

This fishing reel is quite durable and it can withstand constant use in a damaging environment like salt water better than the previous reel. You can feel a new smoothness through the increased drag pressure. It features 5 sealed Ball Bearings made from stainless steel to protect it from corrosion.

Overall, this is a very effective fishing reel that will serve you for years. We did notice that the weight issue we had with the previous Penn Battle still rear its ugly head here. The paint job on the Battle II seems to have improved further though compared to the previous version.

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#3 – Okuma Avenger ABF Graphite Bait Feeder Reel

best-fishing-reelsbest-fishing-reels
The Okuma Avenger ABF Graphite Bait Feeder Reel is a bait feeder and bait runner type of fishing reel which is basically a variation of the regular spinning reel that we know of.

DESIGN

It uses the second rear-drag that makes changes to the spool which affects the tension on the feeding fish.

This bait feeder uses an easy-to-reach lever that disengages the spool, thereby allowing the line to run smoothly.

The rear adjustment, which looks like a rear drag can be used to adjust the tension of the free spool once it’s released. With this system, a fish can pick up the bait and run with it without you feeling the drag of the reel but when you are ready to set the hook, all you need to do is flip down the level used as a bait feeder to engage the drag. Once this is done, the front drag will take over ensuring you can reel the fish in with ease.

EASE OF USE

The Okuma makes use of the Hydro Block WaterTight Drag System where a rubber gasket is mounted to the top of the reel spool. This blocks saltwater, particles and other elements on the ocean from entering the drag system, thereby ensuring the optimal lifespan of drag washers.

We also like the technology behind hooking of the fish. The Avenger ABF Graphite Bait Feeder Reel uses a Quick-Set Anti-Reverse system that causes instant engagement with the fish without the potential handle back-play. This is made possible thanks to the stainless steel bearings that engage the reel in one direction

Pros
  • Uses a hydro block watertight drag system from blocking saltwater from the drag system
  • It is quite powerful in hooking the fish
  • One of the top bait feeders on the market
  • The reel is durable and corrosion resistant
  • Works on either freshwater or saltwater
Cons
  • Some parts of the reel are made from alloy, not stainless steel.
  • There are better reels manufactured by Okuma

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#4 – Piscifun Tuned Magnetic Brake System Low Profile Baitcaster Baitcasting Fishing Reel

best-fishing-reelsbest-fishing-reels
The Piscifun Tuned Magnetic Baitcaster Fishing Reel has a maximum drag of 121 lbs. weighing 7.37 oz. made from fiberglass and brass. This reel has a CNC machined aluminum spool and a one-way clutch system for use during fishing.

DESIGN

It’s the perfect bait caster for both beginners and professional anglers alike.

The Piscifun Baitcaster has 13 stainless steel ball bearings and a high-speed gear ratio of 6:3:1 making it well equipped for use at the deepest of oceans and on the toughest of fishes.

This reel is easy to cast. Baitcasting is not a charmed endeavor. It requires a set of tough equipment that can withstand rough weather and the toughest of fishes that will be difficult to hook. This reel could take a bit of learning curve for you to get used to it. It’s a good idea for you to put in a little practice at a small lake.

EASE OF USE

This bait caster works well in freshwater as well as in salt water. Without having to fork out too much on a spinning reel, this reel is a no brainer. For the features it offers and the things it can do, we believe that the Piscifun Baitcasting reel is definitely worth the price. Its smooth operation is a combination of four stainless steel ball bearings and a roller bearing. The main aim of this reel is to give its consumers a whole new experience when it comes to fishing.

Pros
  • Works well in both fresh and saltwater conditions
  • Easy to clean and oil
  • The drag system and the brake
Cons
  • Not durable as most of its parts are made from plastic
  • Not suitable for overruns

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#5 – Shimano Stradic FK

best fishing reelsbest-fishing-reels
The Shimano Stradic FK has the features needed to make it the best spinning reel Shimano ever launched. It has different variations with different specifications, with each one weighing from 7.5 oz. up to 20.5 oz.

DESIGN

If you’re a professional angler who likes fishing in oceans, either one of the Stradic models will be perfect for you. ST1000FK is one of the best sellers and also the cheapest. It is lightweight and it doesn’t cause any form of strain on the arm and wrists after an extended use in the ocean.

EASE OF USE

This fishing reel is not entirely perfect, though, as it does not have a big line capacity as other versions of the Shimano but what it lacks in capacity, it more than makes up for it in gear ability. It has a gear ratio (6.0:1) that is a perfect fit for freshwater angling.

ST2500FK and ST3000FK are two other models from Stradic and they serve as a mid-point for those who want the line capacity that was missing in the ST1000FK, double of the max drag in the ST1000FK but still the same gear ratio. They work better than the ST1000FK but weigh a bit more at 9 oz. each.

The ST4000FK/ST5000FK is for professional anglers who are out for the biggest fish in the ocean. It has a much larger line capacity, a maximum drag of about 20 lbs. and an improved gear ratio at 6.2:1.

Pros
  • You can cast longer with less effort with this reels
  • They are not heavy
  • Comes built with customizable anti-reverse handle used to set up powerful hooks for catching the toughest of fishes

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How to buy the best fishing reels

  • Ranking   
  • Best Fishing Reels in 2017   
  • Product   
  • Quantity of steel ball bearings
  • Quantity of Models
  • Max Drag
  • Features   
  • #1   
  • best-fishing-reels

  • PENN Spinfisher V Spinning Reel
  • 6
  • 10
  • 20-40 lbs
    • -Full Metal Body, sideplate, and Techno Balanced rotor
    • -Machined and anodized aluminum Superline spool with Line Capacity Rings
    • -Sealed HT-100 Slammer Drag System
    • -Instant Anti-Reverse
  • #2   
  • best-fishing-reels

  • Penn Battle II Spinning Reel
  • 6
  • 8
  • 9-30 lbs
    • -Full Metal Body, sideplate, and rotor
    • -HT-100™ carbon fiber drag washers
    • -Heavy-duty aluminum bail wire
    • -Instant Anti-Reverse
    • -Superline Spool
  • #3   
  • best-fishing-reels

  • Okuma Avenger ABF Graphite Bait Feeder Reel
  • 7
  • 6
  • 13-33 lbs
    • -Patented On/Off auto trip bait feeding system
    • -Japanese oiled felt drag washers
    • -Heavy-duty aluminum bail wire
    • -Instant Anti-Reverse
    • -Machine cut brass pinion gear
  • #4   
  • best-fishing-reels

  • Piscifun Tuned Magnetic Brake System Fishing Reel
  • 14
  • 2
  • 12 lbs
    • -Machined Aluminum Spool
    • -Precision & Fine Machined Copper Rotoring Gear,C3604 Material Imported from Japan
    • -One Way Clutch System
    • -Ultra-light Aluminum Handle
    • -Excellent Tuned Magnetic Brake System
  • #5   
  • best-fishing-reels

  • Shimano Stradic FK HG
  • 7
  • 7
  • 7-24 lbs
    • -Using advanced cold forging technology a high resistance
    • -Metal body with high robustness and rigidity
    • -The sleek G-Free body provides a better weight balance to reduce fatigue
    • -Strong anti reverse

Picking the best spinning reel is usually not easy. This could be more difficult if this is your first time. You need to know which reels are great for freshwater, how they operate and features that enhance their performance. This guide will help sort all of that out.

1. Reel body

The best spinning reel has a reel body made of aluminum or graphite. Aluminum is stronger but graphite is lighter and more flexible. These are the two materials that the best fishing reels are made of. You need to decide if you want strength over weight. Another thing to note is that graphite works well in saltwater as it is non-corrosive compared to aluminum.

2. Reel size

Choosing the reel size will be influenced by the size of the fishing line. The lighter the fishing line, the smaller the reel will be. The recommended fishing line strength is 10-pound. Always check the capacity information to make sure the line capacity is rated for the pound-test you intend to use it for.

3. Gear ratio

The gear ratio provides the torque for reeling in large fishes. Unlike casting reels which have rotating spools, the spool on spinning reels is fixed. A bail wraps the line onto the spool as the handle turns. The gear ratio is the number of times the bail rotates around the tool to reel in the fish. A reel with a 3:1 gear ratio means for every one single turn on the handle, the bail rotates around the spool three times.

4. Style of fishes

The style of fishing or the size of the fishes you intend to catch will determine the gear ratio that you will go in for. It is usually advisable that you go for a medium speed ratio if you’re unsure of the style of fishing you will be engaged in for the time being. But, if you can afford more than one reel, you can go for both high-speed and low-speed reels to cover every fishing situation that you might find yourself in.

Conclusion

When it comes to buying the best fishing reels, make sure the housing is made up of the right material, right size and that the gear ratio is suitable for the kind of fishing that you want to engage in.

For beginners, we strongly recommend the Penn Spinfisher V which is the best spinning reel for us. It can be used in saltwater and it features a WaterTight Design with 5 stainless steel bearings.  
For professional anglers who have been fishing for years, the Shimano Stradic FK models will be a good fit for you. They come in different variation and specifications but they are all built with customizable anti-reverse handle to withstand difficult water conditions and the toughest fishes out there. 

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