6 Best Conventional Reels To Pick From

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Are you planning to take on big fishes like flounders or groupers? Or perhaps, the halibut?

Do you want a reel that will let you catch any kind of fish, regardless of its size and speed? Well, we have just the right product for you; a Conventional Reel.

Having the best conventional reel is essential whether you’re a seasoned fisherman or an amateur.

However, finding the perfect reel can be difficult.

Each reel is unique from the other in terms of features and mechanism.

In addition, many components make up a coil that could become complicated for the user.

Though don’t worry! We’ve put together an inventory of the best conventional reels you could find in the market and a purchasing guide that will help you pick the most effective one

At a Glance

Top 6 Conventional Reels Of 2022

1) Best Overall Conventional Reel: Penn’s Fathom Lever Drag

Penn's Fathom Lever Drag.jpg

Penn is possibly the most known brand for fishing reels, and its Lever Drag Fathom series is the kind of reel you’d expect from a top-of-the-line reel brand.

The series features stainless steel gearing and a compact metal body, giving it the strength and durability required by large fish and extreme conditions.

The reel also has excellent durability and unmatched rigidity, along with the ability to crank with ease.

The Fathom’s stainless-steel bearings and gears, offering three types of gear ratios, provide a high retrieval rate.

As a result, holding your line in place is easy and essential when the law calls for barbless hooks.

All sizes of the reel offer great line capacity.

You can keep a check at the spool with help from line capacity rings. In addition, Penn’s Fathom comes with a unique, robust drag system that is exceptionally durable and long-lasting.

Its smallest size ranges from 20 pounds to over 40 pounds in the 60 and 40 series.

Sparing plenty of power in a tough battle, and there’s no binding or slippage even at high speeds.

You can use the auxiliary thumb lever right next to the crank for drag adjustments, which makes this device very simple to adjust.

Penn offers an anti-reverse dog-paw to help ensure your catch.

This function basically works as a ratcheting clutch with the ability to lock up swiftly.

The reel has no level of wind with is excellent in terms of durability.

However, an additional task if you’re fishing mono instead of braid.

Additionally, the reel doesn’t possess a line counter; therefore, precise trolling can be challenging with this reel.

Overall, this Fathom Lever Drag Reel by Penn is ideal for fishing offshore with braid when the lack of a steady line counter and the wind isn’t an issue.


  •  Very strong and rigid
  • Smooth cranking
  • Fantastic gear ratio
  • Durable
  • Fantastic retrieval rate
  • Amazing drag
  • Excellent line capacity
  • Available in a range of sizes


  • No level wind, meaning more work with mono
  • Doest have a line counter, making precise trolling difficult

2) Best Premium Conventional Reel: Daiwa’s Saltist Star Drag Conventional Reel

Daiwa's Saltist Star Drag Conventional Reel.jpg

You can go for the Daiwa Saltist star-drag reel if you have extra cash to spare.

It’s an excellent option for any angler due to its ability to catch it in various ways rather than just throwing the reel or trolling it.

Also, with the different gear ratios, it is possible to switch between them.

It’s impossible to be in a circumstance where this reel isn’t able to handle something.

It can hold the equivalent of 270 yards of test monofilament weighing 14 pounds even though it was created from scratch for braided lines.

Besides this, it has a 6.4:1 gear ratio that allows for rapid and blistering retrieves.

It has an adjustable star drag and a brake centrifugal on the spool.

Daiwa Saltist is constructed from machined aluminum that has an anodized surface.

As a result, the reel is rust-proof, and the aluminum is durable enough to stand the test of time.

Furthermore, the unit uses both ball and roller bearings.

It is among the most smooth reels available, with the best gear ratio that you can find.

The Saltist lets you increase the speed of the line.

This is great for jigging or taking on a large amount of water. It’s also helpful when you catch a large fish inside a structure.

You can reel in lots of lines before giving the fish the chance to become tangled with the lines and break them.

Although expensive, the Daiwa Saltist is exceptionally well-made and long-lasting. As a result, it might be the last saltwater reel you ever purchase.


  • Star drag-free spool to cast or live baiting
  • A light, compact frame makes the reel easy
  • Braid ready to braid lines up to 100 lbs.
  • Smooth drag
  • Durable


  • Expensive
  • Heavy
  • Does not have an auto line guide

3) Best Budget-Friendly Conventional Reel: KastKing’s Rover Round Conventional Reel

KastKing's Rover Round Conventional Reel.jpg

The KastKing Rover Round Conventional reel is the perfect option if you want an affordable, trustworthy, yet durable reel.

It has approximately 250 yards of a 16-pound mono test line, and it offers a 5.3:1 gear ratio that allows bottom fishing.

This reel features a star drag system that utilizes carbon fiber washers.

In addition, the brake’s centrifugal design helps to avoid backlashes.

The unit has a machined brass worm gear shaft, while the sides spool and plates are constructed from anodized aluminum.

The other reel components, including the ball bearings, are built with stainless steel for durability and resistance to corrosion.

It features an entire-metal level wind system that distributes the line equally across the spool.

As a result, you sacrifice some casting distance. However, it’s a breeze to function.

The less distance to cast is not as crucial in bottom fishing.

Unlike other reels, the KastKing Rover comes in right and left-handed models.

In addition, it features a bait-clicker as well as an easy-off button.

Every component of this conventional reel is corrosion resistant to avoid adverse saltwater effects.

So it’s ready for action from the moment it arrives at your door.


  • Affordable
  • Super smooth reel
  • Multi-faceted
  • Very powerful drag
  • Corrosion-resistant
  • The bait clicker is easy to use


  • It is essential to maintain it properly to extend the life

4) Best for Beginner Conventional Reel: Piscifun’s Salis X Trolling/Conventional Reel

Piscifun's Salis X Trolling Conventional Reel.jpg

If you’re a beginner in the fishing world, this reel is the perfect option.

The Piscifun Salis X is a compact reel that is relatively inexpensive for a top-quality reel and is easy to use.

It features a high gear ratio (6.2:1) suitable for small fish because of each crank’s more prominent retrieve rate.

If you’re planning to chase big fish with this reel, be sure that you are fishing wisely.

The thing we love most in this particular reel is the line capacity.

It can hold more than 500 yards of heavy test braided line of 80lbs.

Also, it has a solid graphite frame. Main and pinion gears are larger to give you more fluid and smoother retrieval.

This reel is among the most suitable options for those with the tightest budget, like a beginner. The maximum drag of the reel is 37blbs.

And its monoline length is 490 yards in the 30 lbs. test.

The drag on Salis X isn’t its best feature, but it’s robust.

But don’t expect the same precision or refinement as reels which cost three to four times the price.

It comes with level wind and clicker but without a line counter, so don’t expect precision trolling on this reel.


  • Affordable
  • Good drag
  • Excellent capacity
  • Has a level wind
  • Excellent gear ratios, with incredible rates of retrieval


  • Heavy
  • It doesn’t have the same quality as higher-end reels

5) Best For Bottom Fishing Conventional Reel: PENN’s Squall II Level Wind Conventional Reel

PENN's Squall II Level Wind Conventional Reel.jpg

The next on the list is the Penn’s Squall II Level Wind Conventional reel, which we strongly recommend as a bottom-fishing reel.

It is ideal for catching a big game while fishing under/saltwater conditions.

This gear is ideal for experienced anglers, novices, and hobbyists too.

The spool is constructed from machined aluminum, allowing you to fish all day and focus on reeling in big fish, giving a tough fight.

On the other hand, the side plates and frame of this reel are made from graphite.

This means that the reel is durable and lightweight while delivering top performance.

Three-point bearing uses anti-reverse technology to stop back play and provides immediate hook sets.

We were most impressed by the reel’s distinctive adjustable handle.

You can choose the handle’s length. In addition, it comes with rings for capacity lines, which means that the spool will show the amount of lines you have.

It also comes with a level wind mechanism. The level wind functions as a small guideline for the line that moves back and forth when you reel.

This ensures that your line gets placed on the spool smoothly and is laid flat.

However, a  level winding system can increase the spool’s friction and reduce the casting distance.

In a nutshell, this reel is perfect for trolling, bottom fishing, or jigging.


  • Graphite plate and body for better performance
  • Durable and lightweight
  • Reduces back play
  • Offers multiple drag settings


  • It does not have an automated engagement option for the Squall
  • Replacing the bearing on either side can be difficult

6) Best Saltwater Conventional Reel: Daiwa’s Seagate Star Drag Conventional Reel

Daiwa's Seagate Star Drag Conventional Reel.jpg

Another excellent option is the Daiwa Seagate reel. The model is slightly heavier than other models we have reviewed, but it has 350 yards capacity of monofilament for a 30-pound test.

As with its predecessor, it employs the same speed and 6.4:1 gearing ratio.

In addition, it has a centrifugal braking system and a carbon fiber drag washer.

It comes with an anodized aluminum composite body with brass-plated gears.

It’s resistant to corrosion and ideal for the sea.

It might not be as sturdy as the unit, but it’s still incredibly durable and can last for many years.

Seagate is an incredible saltwater reel. Additionally, the large spool offers a massive capacity line.

It means that even if you’re fishing deepest wrecks, you’ll have plenty of line in the event of a huge fish making the run.

But It’s probably too big to surfcast or fish from a Dock.

Daiwa Seagate is ideal if you spend most of your time fishing in saltwater or require a specific reel for deep ocean fishing.


  • Good drag system
  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Dual system Infinite Anti-Reverse


  • Heavy
  • Expensive

Buying Guide

One vital thing about finding the ideal fishing reel is to do your research thoroughly and specify the area you wish to fish: lakes, rivers, saltwater, or freshwater.

The area is the most crucial element in determining the ideal fishing reel.

Before we look at the reviews, let’s understand the fundamental concept behind the typical conventional reel and the aspects you need to consider before buying one.

Conventional Reels – Basics, Advantages, and Disadvantages

Conventional reels are equipped with a mechanical heart, like baitcasting reels.

They use the exact mechanism as baitcasters. A free-spinning spool moves along the line, leading to more direct and robust drag and gearing systems like those found on bait casters.

Conventional reels have the same basic, standard controls that you’ve been used to form a baitcasting reel; the spool tension, a crank, spool release, and the drag knob.

The spool’s inside is marked to let you know the length of line that you’ve got left in a flash.

That’s the point at which similarities cease. Other than this, conventional reels are not for casting.

Therefore when you compare ounce for one ounce, foot for foot, they’ll fall far compared to similar casting or spinning reels. Instead, they focus on drag, power, and capacity.

You can use conventional reels for inshore, offshore, freshwater, or saltwater fishing.

Although many experts mainly use it for bottom fishing.

They are popular among various anglers. Moreover, you can find them in multiple sizes.

You can use them for multiple fishing methods, such as trolling, casting jigs, kite fishing, deep drop angling, and pier fishing.

Conventional reels are usually troll for big offshore fish, such as marlin, dorado, sailfish, big tuna, and wahoo.

However, they can also be ideal when targeting large freshwater fish like the great northern pike and lake trout.


  • Conventional reels are a simple and tested design that has proven to work particularly well in bringing into deep or massive dwelling fish.
  • Large reels can hold very high test fishing lines which makes them an excellent option for large game fishing, but since they come in various sizes, they are appropriate for all fish types.

(For the big game or offshore angler, most reels come with lugs to allow the addition of a belt for fighting.)

  • Conventional reels typically have inferior gears ratios than spinning and baitcasting ones, thus the spool runs slower and possesses more torque to pull in the big game.
  • Two-speed units are an ideal combination of the two worlds, having low gears are ideal for greater torque, whereas a higher gear speed up line retrieval.

Because these reels are typically for bottom fishing, so, bearings with an anti-rust property are the standard gear to stop corrosion with saltwater.


Although conventional reels work well for various fishing, they have some disadvantages to bear in mind.

  • Most models for these reels do not have an option for level-winding, and, as such, when you reel in, you need to push the line to and fro with your fingers to be sure the line runs evenly across the spool. This can be challenging for novice anglers.
  • Standard conventional reels can also be less effective at casting as they don’t come with a magnetic or centrifugal brake system to minimize backlash as baitcasting reels have.
  • Be aware of this: in contrast to spinning reels, you cannot switch the conventional reel’s handle between one side and the other.

This means that the handle you choose to use for retrieving will be among your primary criteria for narrowing down the reel.

What to Consider While Buying A Conventional Reel?

Conventional reels are different equipment compared to baitcasting and spinning reels.

Since they’ll be competing against massive fish, they’re constructed differently and need some things that you may not have expected.

a) RTP, Line Speed, and Gear ratio

Retrieve Per Turn (RPT) and the gear ratio on a reel is more critical than you may imagine.

The reels for baitcasting used for fishing require gear ratios that match their intended use, and large surf-casting reels will always require speed. This is all true!

However, while catching an enormous tuna, such as a spinning reel or fast baitcasting, will not accomplish the job.

Tuna usually can swim up to 47 miles an hour, so if you encounter tuna or a similar fish, turn towards your vessel and give a tough fight.

Also, it will be challenging to keep the line tight if you’re retrieving one yard per spin.

In summary, a reel’s gear ratio tells the number of times a spool turns during a single handle spin.

That means if a reel has a 3:2:2 ratio, then its spool will spin 3.2 more times per handle rotation. The specifications for the reel will also show the line speed.

The speed tells you about the amount of lines you need to remove for one turn on the handle.

Despite their size, the most reliable reels come with the correct gear ratios and spools that provide impressive speed.

So being “too fast” really isn’t something you should be worried about.

You need to check both these features when choosing such a unit since line speed is influenced by both the spool’s diameter and the gear ratio.

Therefore, a higher ratio is unrelated to more incredible line speed.

As conventional reels usually have bigger spools. Hence, they can attain higher line speeds despite having small ratios in gears.

Two-speed units are the most efficient of both since the slow gear reels offer more torque to lure bigger fish whereas a higher gear ratio reel offers more incredible speed.

24″ RPT works perfectly for small reels. 36″ per crank works for a decent medium-sized reel, whereas the largest reels will be of 45″ or as much.

b) Drag System

Every fishing reel has an adjustable drag of an adjustment point and metal drag washers, usually separated by felt washers or carbon fiber to decrease friction.

The drag controls how much force is put on the line before allowing the spool slips and release more line.

This lets you adjust that reel’s drag less than the test line to ensure that the line isn’t broken when fishing.

However, a low drag will not wear out the fish as much and can let the fish go on a huge run and rip off a large amount of line.

When fishing in deep water, a major fight is bound to happen.

If you are tying into an 8-foot shark,  300-pound tarpon or400-pound grouper, it is essential to have an efficient drag system to aid in the hold of your line.

It’s not about finesse but the durability and strength of the drag, which is why you’ll never set the drag system down to the single/low digits.

Instead, think about acceptable limits, and how the drag holds up and is released between 50 percent to the 80% mark.

You should also think about how to control the drag.

The lever’s drag system is standard on heavy saltwater reels because the angler can easily change between various drag settings to accommodate different parts of the catch.

There are two options available: Lever Drag and Star Drag.

Which drag system from either work for your fishing is primarily an individual choice; thumb levers are easy to use in the event of a fight.

But lever drags usually have free spools, bait strike, and max settings.

c) Line Capacity  

A reel’s line capacity is the most extended length you could utilize, overburdening the reel.

If you’re catching specks of fish throughout the day in the 20-foot depths from the Intercoastal, there’s no requirement for a huge conventional fishing reel.

However, if you catch a 300-pound tarpon when you’re trolling in the waters of Grand Isle, you’ll need plenty of lines so that it can move.

If not, be prepared for a shock and disappointment when you see the line fly off the spool!

If you’re serious about fishing offshore, you’ll need the largest, most durable reels.

In addition, you’ll need them to carry high-strength braid yards, giving you the highest amount of line a reel can take.

Hear this out! The length of the line grows in relation to its strength, meaning more test lines will take up larger space in the spool.

So, for instance, the reel that can hold 170 yards of 20-pound monofilament test may only contain 100 yards of test 70 pounds or 110 yards of 60-pound tests.

Almost all manufacturers provide line capacities with monofilament lines as well as braided lines.

However, the capacity of braided lines is typically greater than monofilament lines.

The braided lines are woven materials like Dacron or Spectra fiber that can be tested higher with lesser diameters as compared to nylon.

When selecting a reel, take in count what size fish you wish to catch and then match the size of the line in line with the size of the fish.

Although you should size your reel with the fish, you’re targeting.

You typically require a more extraordinary line in offshore waters than inshore.

The critical thing to know is that numbers can’t reveal the entire story.

Instead, you should examine reels against reels dimension to size and look at which models and brands have the most fantastic punch.

d) Construction 

Be aware that any reel, in this case, a conventional reel, functions as your line’s anchor point to the rod.

While reduced by the rod’s actions and power, drag, and line stretch, every major fight is considered a test for each component that makes up your reel, including the discs gear teeth, the frame, the drag, etc.

Monster sharks, tuna, grouper, and lake trout put an immense strain on reels, which is why most offshore, bottom fishing anglers choose a body made of solid metal.

It’s more robust, more durable, and more rigid than graphite.

Even though graphite reduces weight just as well as a professional wrestler, it doesn’t give machined aluminum absolute rigidity or longevity.

Plastic gears are not a good fit in standard reels too.

The teeth of these gears will break and break when pressed against the load that you’ll need them to handle.

So, instead, stainless steel will be the most suitable alternative.

Every reel we’ve listed has an element of a sealed module that shields the bearings and gears from saltwater intrusion.

Though these reels are excellent options for freshwater rods, they are indispensable for offshore fishing.

e) Ball Bearings

Generally speaking, many ball bearings are more effective, but their quality is also crucial.

Since conventional reels are used in saltwater, shielded or anti-rust bearings are usually used as standard equipment. So look out for that!

f) Line Counter 

Modern trolling techniques demand that you understand how many lines you’re pulling, and the correct use of a downrigger requires the careful recording of each foot.

Obviously, as many anglers do, you could utilize metered line as a stop-gap.

However, if precise trolling is your preferred method, you’ll benefit from the line counter.

Basically, line counters permit you to drop your bait at the exact depth continuously and remain within the strike zone, leading to more great captures.

Many reels have built-in line counters that can be useful when trolling or deep-water fishing.

g) Levelwind 

Levelwind reels can move a line guide, including a pawl that utilizes a worm shaft and runs between all the reel sides.

As the line is pulled back to the reel, the line guide moves and assures the lines are evenly spread across the spool, one side to another.

Also, with no excessive accumulations of the line at any single place in the spool.

Levelwind mechanisms keep the line wrapped around the spool evenly, not becoming a single point of accumulation and preventing it from turning.

In the absence of a level wind, the angler guides their line in a circular motion using their thumb.

Certain anglers feel that a level wind is unnecessary for braided lines since it tends to lay on the spool easily.

On the other hand, monofilament is a different matter and requires a lot of focus to ensure that it spools evenly.

Consider a level wind reel if you decide to go with monofilament.

Some surfcasters steer clear from reels with levelwinds because salt or sand blowing through the mechanism could block the levelwind, causing it to stop an entire day of fishing prematurely.

Others believe that the level of wind creates tension on lines when casting, which leads to short casting.

h) Anti-reverse

The lock takes the line in, allowing trolling. And the best part; it does not let the line escape.

So before you put your rod back into its holder, the lock ensures that the lure or bait is released and falls to trolling range.

This function lets the angler secure the bait against the break of the drag with a lower setting than the line’s breaking strain.

If a fish is struck, the pull can overcome the drag’s resistance.

Although, the tension of the break is not enough for the hook to be set. After that, the angler is in charge of the game and catches the fish.

Additional Tip:

If you’re planning to use your current rod/or have selected a rod, be sure the new unit is well-matched.

One rod combination is unsuitable for all situations and applications; the rod and reel should match.

You need to test reels and rods on different lines. This is why using greater test lines than the one the rod has been designed for can break or damage the rod.

Most rods are designed for stronger test lines, which makes them an excellent option for deep-water trolling and fishing.

Longer Rods are tested for lower tests; however, they also offer less force and more action, which can prevent tearing or ripping the hook from the mouth of a mouthed fish.

The critical point is that the selection of reels is not only about a reel.

Instead, thinking about the rod and reel combination suitable for the style you prefer to fish is vital.

What Is the Best Conventional Reel, and Why Do You Need It?

Manufacturers named conventional reels after their original design and mechanism.

This is because the spool sits perpendicularly towards the rod.

It is ideal for large-scale fishing in rough waters, where other reels can’t withstand the stress and strain.


When you’re out in the ocean, you’ll have to cast far and quickly retrieve.

Here conventional reels offer the highest performance.

They are a perfect mix of speed, strength, and durability.

Furthermore, they are made from stainless steel, brass, or carbon fiber to avoid corrosion.

Diverse Range of Designs and Sizes

There are numerous designs and sizes for conventional reels to catch different kinds of fish.

For example, you can use small traditional reels for freshwater to catch bass, steelhead, walleye, musky,  and salmon.

On the other hand, you can use bigger reels to catch big fish like marlin, swordfish, bluefin tuna, and large fish sharks.

Two Styles of Drag

Two different styles of drags used by people on conventional reels are Star drag and Lever Drag.

You need to set the star drag before the desired tension level.

Furthermore, you should set the lever drag before the time but it is adjustable with the level set to various pre-set levels based on fishing conditions.


Many conventional reels are two-speed reels that have two speeds for line retrieval.

This is an excellent feature as the fast line retrieval speed allows the lure to be reeled in swiftly and helps keep slack off of the line while fighting fish that are moving fast.

Low gear settings slowly retrieve the line, providing greater torque.

When the torque is higher, less force is required to rotate the handle.

This is a great feature when fighting powerful large fish.


At this point, you probably are more familiar with conventional reels and understand what draws fishers to these reels.

They provide the highest performance for saltwater fishing and are flexible.

The models listed above are top-quality and provide excellent performance.

Choose your location for fishing and the nature of your fishing, do your research and then select the most effective among the six models listed above.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a conventional fishing reel?

Conventional fishing reels are also known as deep-sea fishing reels, trolling reels, large game reels, or bottom fishing reels. They hold a lot of fishing lines and are to capture big fish. Certain reels sport a level wind that evenly places the line across the spool. However, when you have massive game reels, the pressure exerted on the line could cause the level wind to break and bend. As a result, 50 class reels, 80 class reels, and 130-class reels don't include a level wind. Instead, the angler must move the line forward and back using his hands.

Another significant feature of conventional reels is the drag: lever drag and star drag. The lever drag is usually stronger and more reliable. A recent feature on many traditional conventional reels is the topless design. This allows the angler to manually alter the force that the spool exerts when releasing lures and Jigs. To accomplish this, press the spool with your fingers. 

Do conventional reels cast farther?

Conventional reels have excellent line capacity and excellent capacity for cranking, usually required to fish in deep waters. Still, they aren't typically an option for those seeking a reel that can cast for long distances, as baitcasting and spinning reels generally perform better. They undoubtedly can cast, and since they are among the first fishing reel designs made and distributed to the general public, many people were able to cast them as and continue to do.

What should I look for in a conventional reel?

When selecting such a unit, purchasing the correct reel size is essential. Two primary considerations that determine the size are line capacity and maximum drag. The braided fishing line is smaller and thinner than monofilament and makes smaller, lighter reels a viable option.

The maximum drag should be 50 percent or greater of the strength of the line to be fished. For instance, when you plan to fish with a test line of 50 pounds, the maximum drag should be 25 pounds or more. The reel must have an enclosed drag and an enclosed bearing system for saltwater fishing. A line counter to the reel will be a nice feature when fishing using dive plugs, estimating the lure's depth.

What is the best fishing reel of all time?

Any reel with a great line capacity, ball bearings, maximum drag, and corrosion resistance is considered an ideal fishing reel. However, Baitcasting reels are perhaps the most sophisticated and advanced type of reel for fishing. Experienced anglers and professional fishermen often employ it; the reel is unbeatable in power and accuracy.

How do you reel a conventional reel?

When deploying a bait with the product, an angler turns the reel into Free Spool Mode by pressing the button or flipping a lever located on the upper part of the reel. Once the reel enters free mode, the bait or lure will fall immediately. To avoid an overrun of the spool, put your thumb on it to stop the lure from falling once it is in free spool mode. Then, by using your thumb pressure to slow down the rate of the spool.

Let the line run off the spool while the bait falls slowly into the water column. SlowThen, slowly easing your thumb pressure, you can allow the spool's speed to rise. If the sinker or lure gets to the bottom, stop by using your thumb to begin to pull the spool. This should give you a feel of how quickly the spool starts to turn when any pressure is placed on it.