If fishing is a battle, then your fishing reel is your weapon. And just like any weapon, you need it to play to your strengths to be effective.
However, there’s a ton of options to pick from. If you’re not yet well-versed in the different types of fishing reels, you might have a hard time choosing the perfect one for you.
You’ve got a fly reel, a baitcasting reel, a spinning reel, and a half dozen other reel types.
There’s also a multitude of brands, sizes, and features that are sure to complicate your plans for your next fishing trip.
Luckily for you, in this article, we’ll provide a comprehensive list of the best fishing reels in their specific niches. We’ll talk about their stats, strengths, and weaknesses and determine what makes them the right reel for your particular need.
Here's What's In Store For You...
- 1 Good High-End Reels for Fishing
- 1.1 1) Best Overall: PENN International VISX Series
- 1.2 2) SHIMANO Stradic FL Spinning Fishing Reel
- 1.3 3) Garcia Revo SX Baitcasting Reel
- 1.4 4) Best Cheap Fishing Reel: Bass Pro Shops Tourney Special Baitcast Reel
- 1.5 5) Best for Offshore Sea Fishing: Shimano Talica Conventional Reels
- 1.6 6) Best for Beginners: Pflueger President Spinning Reel
- 1.7 7) Quantum Cabo PT Spinning Reel
- 1.8 8) Shimano Baitrunner D Spinning Reel
- 1.9 9) Daiwa Tatula LT Spinning Reels
- 2 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Quick Overview of The Top Fishing Reels in 2021…
Good High-End Reels for Fishing
1) Best Overall: PENN International VISX Series
If you want something that simply outshines the rest in all the categories, then Penn’s INT30VISX is a lever drag fishing reel that is the perfect balance between functionality, durability, and design.
- Sizes: Small (1200, 1600, 2000, 3000) to Medium (5000)
- Weight: 32oz for size 1200
- Bearings: 5
- Gear Ratio: 6.75:1, 4.1:1, 3.5:1
- Variable drag pressure
- Strong anti-reverse system
- Reliable Dura-Drag drag system
- Super-durable all-metal construction
- Quick-Shift gear for versatile applications
- Very expensive
- Heavier than most reels
Penn is world-renowned for creating sturdy monster reels like the Penn Battle II. Enter their next offering, the Penn International VISX.
This fishing reel is fully clad in machined aluminum and tough-but-light stainless steel gears.
You can bring the Penn VISX to battle the biggest fishes and expect nothing but the best.
But that’s not all: coated with an anodized finish for complete protection, this reel can easily go against the corrosive power of the high seas.
Its lever drag system allows you to have a more exciting fishing experience, too. You can set the toughness levels of the reel’s drag when battling different fish species, giving you greater flexibility.
The series also features a Quick-Shift gear system that will offer you the kind of adaptability you need when wrangling bigger catches.
It even has a double-dog ratcheting anti-reverse system that provides a solid anti-reverse grip while maintaining a smooth transition.
The only downsides are the super-heavy solid metal construction and the hefty price tag.
All in all, the Penn International VISX is a pretty solid, durable, and high-performing all-around fishing reel for those who are willing to bear the weight – both on the hands and on the wallet.
2) SHIMANO Stradic FL Spinning Fishing Reel
If you want an elegant spinning reel that can take on anything you throw at it, the Shimano Stradic FL will deliver the quality performance you want and look good while doing it.
- Sizes: Small (1000, 2500, 3000) to Medium (4000, 5000)
- Weight: 6.5oz for size 1000
- Bearings: 7
- Gear Ratio: 6.0:1, 6.2:1, and 6.4:1
- Extremely lightweight
- Attractive and protective coating
- Made with strong, high-quality materials
- Versatile application for any kind of fishing
- Features top-of-the-line Shimano technologies
- Pricier than most
- Choppy drag mechanism after some time
Coated in Shimano’s brilliant silver X-Protect technology, the Stradic FL stands out the very first moment you look at it.
The glossy silver coating is not just for aesthetic purposes, too.
It’s a protective coating that rebuffs the influence of the elements, which means it’s highly corrosion-resistant and can resist early wear.
This versatile reel also features a strong, rigid, and light body, thanks to Shimano’s own Hagane technology.
This is just one of its many innovative technologies like the Propulsion Line Management system, G-FreeBody system, the MicroModule Gear II, and the Silent Drive technology.
The handle and frames are made of solid aluminum, the spool of cold-forged aluminum, the drag washers of carbon fiber, and the rotor and side plates of graphite.
All of this is compacted into a mere 6.5 ounces of weight – certainly comfortable enough for long-term use.
However, be prepared to pay a premium price for this fishing reel.
The reel’s drag also tends to become choppier after repeated heavy use, though a bit of grease can easily fix this.
If you want the best among all-arounder, workhorse spinning reels that won’t break the bank, then you can’t do anything better than the Shimano Stradic FL.
3) Garcia Revo SX Baitcasting Reel
If you’re going on a big bass hunt, nothing matches the accuracy and control that you can get from a baitcasting reel like the Abu Garcia Revo SX.
- Weight: 7.7oz for size REVO4SX model
- Bearings: 10
- Gear Ratio: 6.6:1, 7.3.1
- Strong lightweight alloy frame
- Capable drag system capacity
- Features 10 stainless steel ball bearings
- Increased castability with the Infini II spool
- Specialized systems for the perfect engagement
- Makes a lot of noise while casting
- Not as durable as other baitcasting reels
Without a doubt, the Abu Garcia Revo SX is one of the best baitcasting reels for bass fishing–and any other aggressive catch–that we’ve ever encountered.
In terms of construction, the Revo SX certainly shines.
This fishing reel features C6 carbon side plates, while the frame is made of a special light weight X-2 Craftic alloy frame for greater protection against corrosion.
It offers a versatile 6.2:1 gear ratio and 9 stainless steel ball bearings plus one roller bearing.
It also brings the braided line-ready Infini II spool construction to the table.
The fantastic gearing system and braking systems are made of Abu Garcia’s own brass Duragear and DuraClutch technologies.
This combination results in an astounding casting range and a flexible spooling option packaged in a solid baitcast reel.
One of its main weaknesses is durability, at least for the spooling system. It also casts quite loudly, which can be bothersome.
Aside from those, this baitcasting reel from Abu Garcia is low-profile, lightweight, and ergonomic.
It’s perfect for those who want to make accurate casts on a long, leisurely day of freshwater bass fishing, especially when aiming for big bass.
4) Best Cheap Fishing Reel: Bass Pro Shops Tourney Special Baitcast Reel
If you’re looking for a competent reel that boasts a great set of features without burning a hole through your wallet, the Bass Pro Shops Tourney Special Baitcast Reel is for you.
- Sizes: Small (1000)
- Weight: 7.3oz for size 1000
- Bearings: 5
- Gear Ratio: 5.6:1, .6:1, 7.3:1
- Very cost-effective
- Smart Cast tension control
- Features Powerlock anti-reverse
- Sturdy graphite and aluminum construction
- Features are very basic
Of course, the main draw of this reel is the price. The Bass Pro Shops Tourney Special Baitcast Reel is proof that you can get a functional, attractive reel for both beginners and veterans alike at an affordable price.
The firm is made out of light yet sturdy graphite, and even the spool is made of forged and double-anodized aluminum.
This means that you can expect a high level of sturdiness and corrosion protection from this reel – a pleasant surprise, considering its price tag.
You also get amazing control and accuracy. It may not have the long casting distance of the previously-mentioned Abu Garcia, but for this price, it’s not really that much of an issue.
This affordable reel also features an instant anti-reverse technology called the Powerlock and a Smart Cast double centrifugal brake system that can modify the tension as needed.
With this reel, you have control over every aspect of your casting and are less likely to experience backlashes common in lesser reels.
Perhaps the only thing that can be said about it is how basic it is. If you’re already at an advanced level, you might find yourself wanting to upgrade to more capable equipment.
But if you’re just fine with a competent, capable, albeit basic reel, the Bass Pro Shops Tourney Special Baitcasting reel is practically a steal.
5) Best for Offshore Sea Fishing: Shimano Talica Conventional Reels
Made to take advantage of the braided line movement, this small lever drag is one of the best fishing reels in its category.
- Sizes: Small (800, 1000, 1200, 1600, 2000, and 2500) to Medium (5000)
- Weight: 16.4oz for size 1000
- Bearings: 6
- Gear Ratio: 6.2:1, 5.7:1, 5.2:1, 3.8:1, 6.2:1
- Powerful drag power
- Designed for braided lines
- Available in 2-speed options
- Compact, light, and durable construction
- Very sturdy construction with premium materials
- Very expensive
- Doesn’t have safety drag components
The discrete, lightweight gold-and-silver construction of the Shimano Talica boasts a power that is belied by its unassuming appearance.
The Talica is made with Shimano’s Hagane body, complemented by a cold-forged aluminum spool.
With its excellent construction and premium materials, this is a reel that can be used over and over for years to come.
Specially designed to maximize cranking power, the Shimano Talica series eliminated the drag components that typically reinforce the spool in exchange for casting and cranking ability.
Line capacity and drag power are maximized, as well. It works with braided lines to generate a ton of power.
Other features include removable harness lugs for easier strapping against larger catch, anti-corrosive EI coating, a sealed drag system, and even an optimized handle.
However, the hefty price tag and the lack of safety drag components can make hobby anglers think twice.
Then again, if all you want is a premium fishing reel for offshore sea fishing, the Shimano Talica is well worth your money.
6) Best for Beginners: Pflueger President Spinning Reel
Sleek and efficient, the Pflueger President Spinning Reel is a cost-effective way to get introduced into the fishing scene.
- Sizes: Small (2000, 2500, 3000) to Medium (3500, 4000)
- Weight: 6.2oz for size 2000
- Bearings: 7
- Gear Ratio: 5.2:1
- Very cost-effective
- Offers smooth casting and smooth drag
- Does not make noise in its operation
- 10-bearing operation
- Lightweight and sturdy construction
- Only rated for freshwater fishing
- The spool system breaks down easily
The Pflueger President may not be the best reel in any conventional categories, but in terms of being a cost-effective fishing reel, it’s certainly one of our top picks.
Aside from its stellar price, the Pflueger President also has a surprisingly good quality, compared to many higher end reels.
You get a lightweight graphite casing with machined, anodized, and braided line-ready aluminum spool and.
It even comes with a 10-bearing system that casts and retrieves as smooth as butter.
The body and rotor are made with graphite, which is both lightweight and corrosion-resistant. They can last you many years in the water with the proper maintenance.
It also has an aluminum bail, slow oscillation gearing, multi-disc drag, and an ergonomic aluminum handle.
It has a smooth operation, as well.
And since it features such a smooth casting, it has a whisper-soft sound, unlike other brands that emit a lot of noise when casting.
The only two weak points we can find are its spooling system issues and its weakness against saltwater fishing.
Overall though, the Pflueger President is a great first reel.
It feels good on the hands and offers a great fishing experience, making it hard to match at this price range.
7) Quantum Cabo PT Spinning Reel
If you want something in the spinning reel category specialized for saltwater species, then you better get a fishing reel that can stand up to the harsh conditions, corrosive environment, and backbreaking catch that you’re bound to encounter – just like the Quantum Cabo PT Spinning Reel.
- Sizes: Medium (4000, 5000) to Large (6000, 8000, 10000, 12000)
- Weight: 13.2oz for size 4000
- Bearings: 8
- Gear Ratio: 4.7:1, 4.9:1, 5.3:1
- Smooth operation
- Convenient magnetic bail system
- Drag capacity meant for the big catch
- Performs like those from more expensive brands
- Extremely tough and corrosion-resistant
- Bail system is not completely sealed
- Magnetic bail system can cause inconveniences
Designed to conquer whatever saltwater challenge you throw its way, this gorgeous matte-gray and blue fishing reel is designed specifically to catch fish that are normally hard to catch.
It has a highly durable all-aluminum body and a TiMAG (titanium magnet) titanium bail wire.
To protect it against the corrosive elements of the ocean, it’s coated with a SaltGuard protective finish.
The bearings are also specially made to protect against corrosion.
It even has a waterproof drag system – all so you can focus on breaking your next record worry-free.
When it comes to drag capacity, this quality reel can withstand about 30 to 65lbs of drag pressure perfect for fighting big fish.
Despite this beastly power, however, the whole operation is as smooth as a dream, achieved through the Magnum CSC Drag technology that utilizes specially sized and arranged carbon fiber washers for maximum effect.
It also has a convenient magnetic bail system, a consistent line lay with the LMS line management system and replaceable knobs for the larger (10000 and 12000) sizes.
It does have a few weaknesses. The first one is the TiMAG system, which can be tripped by external factors, potentially causing trouble if it happens in the middle of casting.
It’s also unsealed so sand and corrosive elements can get in and reduce its effectiveness.
Nevertheless, these Quantum spinning reels are a solid pick and can easily perform on the same level as bigger brands like Penn and Shimano.
8) Shimano Baitrunner D Spinning Reel
If you’ve been following the fishing scene for a long time, then you know that the Shimano Baitrunner is one of the fishing reels that revolutionized the status quo.
With this latest iteration, it’s only getting better and better.
- Sizes: Medium (4000) to Large (6000, 8000, 12000)
- Weight: 13.5oz for size 4000
- Bearings: 4
- Gear Ratio: 4.4:1. 4.8:1
- Dual drag system
- The best bait-and-weight fishing reel
- Smooth and consistent Varispeed oscillation
- PLM System for easy and organized casts
- Features multiple high-level Shimano tech
- Heavy for its size
- Line lay isn’t perfect right out of the box
A baitrunner reel is a specialized type of spinning reel that streamlines efficiency by having a dual drag system and a customizable line tension.
The dual drag system is the cornerstone of this fishing reel type, and the Shimano Baitrunner is the first to introduce this technology to the public.
This fishing reel offers two kinds of drag: the first drag system is tight and made to fight the fish, while the second one is a free spooling drag ideal for bait-and-wait fishing.
The Shimano Baitrunner D has two knobs to adjust both the fighting and the free spool drag tension.
This particular model also features the Fluidrive II gear system, which uses an oversized, polished master gear that makes casts and high-speed retrieval as smooth as the ocean waves.
It has the Varispeed oscillation feature and the Propulsion Line Management System for an organized and consistent casting and spooling.
It also has Super Stopper roller bearings for its anti-reverse system, and shielded A-RB bearings for better protection.
The biggest downside I can see on the Shimano Baitrunner D is its weight, which is quite heavy compared to many reels, like other spinning reels. The stock line lay may also not be to everyone’s liking.
Aside from those, though, the Shimano Baitrunner D Spinning Reel is a solid fishing reel that delivers way above its price class, making it the best baitcasting reel you can buy this year.
9) Daiwa Tatula LT Spinning Reels
If you want something that is easy to hold but is still fearsome in the waters, then you won’t go wrong with the ever-reliable Daiwa Tatula LT.
- Sizes: Small (1000, 2000, 2500, 3000) and Medium (4000)
- Weight: 5.8oz for size 1000
- Bearings: 7
- Gear Ratio: 6.2:1
- Extremely lightweight
- Machined aluminum gears
- High enough gear ratio
- Not that durable
If there’s one thing you have to know about the Daiwa Tatula LT, it’s that it’s made to be light but strong.
The material is made of Daiwa’s very own carbon composition, the Zasion Body, which is designed to reduce weight while maintaining strength.
Meanwhile, it uses Daiwa’s Digigear technology for the machine aluminum gearing system.
Combined, this results in a comfortably portable reel that you can hold for hours at a time.
The internal mechanism is designed with the Air Rotor concept, which creates a balanced rotor with no single pressure point that causes wear and tear.
With this, you can make sure that the gearing system will work flawlessly smoothly even after several casts and retrieves.
Lastly, the whole production line has a 6.2:1 gear ratio, which means that despite its size and weight, the reel is able to retrieve your line effortlessly.
However, the Tatula TL’s durability is a bit questionable.
The bail and handle are particular points of weakness, as that’s where most issues start to occur.
Then again, if you care more about comfort than durability, then it’s hard to beat the Daiwa Tatula LT.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do I choose a fishing reel?
There are many factors that go into choosing a fishing reel for your needs. The most important ones are your fishing style, your target fishes, and whether you’re fishing in saltwater or freshwater. These factors dictate the ideal specs, build, and additional features of the best fishing reel for you.
If you have more nuanced tastes, start by thinking about your individual preferences. For instance, you might be a fan of baitcasting reels, spinning reels, or baitrunner reels. If you have a favorite fly reel among other fishing fly reels, you can also use that to decide.
What is the best fishing reel for beginners?
If you’re still in your first forays into the exciting world of fishing, then you’re going to want reliable introductory fishing reels that won’t break the bank. Don’t think about fly fishing reels, baitcasting reels, or other more complex topics first.
For now, the most important things to consider are versatility, price, and use. In this regard, one of the best reels for beginners is the Pflueger President.
It’s an incredibly cost-effective fishing reel that delivers way above its price range.
Are expensive reels worth it?
Whether you need an expensive reel or not depends on the kind of fishing you do. If you’re only an occasional fisherman, then you might want to stay with low- to mid-range fishing reels. After all, you can’t fully enjoy what high-end reels bring to the table if you only use them once or twice a week.
If you’re frequently going on a fishing trip, however, it pays well to invest in more expensive fishing reels that will definitely enhance your overall fishing experience.
Also, while the fishing reel may be the core of your setup, you still have to think about the other parts of your fishing rod.
For example, fly fishing reels will work best with fly rods, while spinning reels work best with the right rod strength. Both of these can add to the overall price you’re paying.
There’s also the line, bait, and tackle to think about, so make sure you factor these into your budget as well.