Best Spinning Reel for the Money | Reviews for Budget & Buying Guide

Although seasoned anglers favor baitcasting reels over spincasting, they require a fair bit of finesse and patience to master. Spin casting reels, on the other hand, are a good fit for beginners and kids but, unfortunately, they trade-off accuracy and distance for that expediency.

This is where spinning reels come into play. They are designed to hit the sweet spot between skill and convenience being far more accurate than spin casting reels but much easier to get the hang of compared to baitcasting reels, which easily makes them the most popular type.

Let’s explore how spinning reels manage to do that. I’ll present a roundup of top fishing reels and will also try to walk you through the process of choosing the right reel, so you don’t have to skim through scores and scores of reviews to pick out the best spinning reel for your next trip.

 

 

Top Pick

For those of my readers who can’t spare the time to read the whole post because those fish need seeing to, the best spinning reel for the money on the market today is the Shimano’s Stella FJ. It features everything an angler can ask of a spinning reel and more. If you’re willing to swallow the high price tag, the quality and functionality this unit offers are unmatched and tough to beat.

 

 

The Top Spinning Reels Reviewed

Shimano Stella FJ 2500 Spinning Reel

Veteran anglers swear by the Stella name, so, it comes as no surprise that this breed offers the finest of reels available in the market, the crème de la crème, so to speak. You’re asked to pay a pretty penny, and this reel doesn’t disappoint in the slightest.

 

Key Features

  • X-protect technology
  • Propulsion line management system
  • Micromodule II gearing
  • Hagane gears
  • G-free body

 

What I like about this product

The FJ is a slight improvement over its predecessor, and it combines high-performance with precise, smooth, and quiet operation. It is versatile enough for both fresh and saltwater fishing because the design swapped CoreProtect for X-Protect, which makes it fivefold more corrosion resistant than earlier models.

It features a state-of-the-art Micro Module Gear II for added smoothness and a G-free body to minimize forearm fatigue. In plain English, you can fish all day long without feeling exhausted.

 

What I don’t like about this product

As I touched on above, this is a flagship premium unit which means you’ll have to split hairs to find any notable flaws. The only complain I probably have is its steep price, which admittedly is a bit lower than previous Stella models.

 

 

Pros

  • Extremely smooth
  • Slick aesthetic
  • Ultra-quiet
  • Features Shimano’s most innovative and latest tech
  • Ideal for both fresh and saltwater

 

Cons

  • Very expensive

 

If you won’t settle for anything but the highest quality reel and you’re willing to pay top dollar, then this reel is packed with groundbreaking features, technology, and everything you could ask of a spinning reel. If the price tag doesn’t bother you, you can’t go wrong with this purchase.

 

Overall Rating – 5/5

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

 

KastKing Kodiak Spinning ReelKey

If you’re looking for a durable and waterproof reel, but your budget simply won’t stretch to a Stella FJ, KastKing’s Kodiak might be an attractive option for you. Not only does it give you peace of mind from a durability standpoint, but it’s also designed for bigger target species for saltwater fishing.

 

Features

  • Zero-flex aluminum body
  • 10+1 shielded bearings
  • Thicker stainless-steel shaft
  • Carbon fiber drag system

 

What I like about this product

Its most striking feature is probably its drag system which allows you to effortlessly haul up to 40 pounds, even when you’re tussling with larger and stronger fish.

The system itself is carbon fiber while the main shaft is constructed from thick stainless steel, and the gear system is cut brass. The CNC machined spool and rotor both feature zero-flex aluminum which is built to block out sand and dirt.

The handle is also aluminum which features an EVA grip and is interchangeable, making it ideal for use with either of your hands.

 

What I don’t like about this product

I only have a few minor complaints with this reel, which, in my view, is a decent unit and delivers decent enough results.

First, the line capacity could have been a bit better, because its line capacity is lower than what its competitors have to offer. Second, the ambidextrous design can prove to be uncomfortable because the unused handle isn’t capped.

 

Pros

  • Enough drag power to hold almost 40 pounds
  • Solid waterproof build
  • Great durability

 

Cons

  • Lower line capacity

 

If you’re targeting larger fish, this reel’s higher drag power should make tussling with and hauling them a breeze. This design also boasts a waterproof feature, if it’s a saltwater-ready reel you’re hunting for.

 

Overall Rating – 4.7/5

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

 

Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 4000 XG FB Spinning Fishing Reel

Shimano’s Stradic Ci4+ is a featherweight and buttery smooth inshore finesse reel — it’s perfect for casting lightweight offerings — with a generous amount of drag. It’s a vast improvement over its predecessor – the ci4—in terms of both weight and balance.

Shimano is known for manufacturing reels with a smooth-as-glass feel to them. So, it comes as no surprise that this upgraded design enriches that smoothness by trimming the weight and perfecting the balance.

 

Key Features

  • Carbon fiber construction
  • MGL rotor
  • HAGANE cold-forged precision gears
  • Cold forged aluminum spool
  • Core Protect
  • Anti-reverse bearing Super Stopper II

 

What I like about this product

The body is primarily crafted from carbon fiber which is extremely light-weight, so much so, that it feels almost weightless in your hands.

Unlike diecast aluminum or graphite, its cold-forged aluminum provides more durability, strength, and longevity. The gears are also cold forged which allow it to retrieve effortlessly and smoothly while nailing both precision and strength.

Its Magnumlite rotor is lighter and better-balanced, which gives you more control when you’re cranking. The manufacturers also shifted the center of gravity towards the rod to augment the sensitivity.

To add to its durability, it features Coreprotect which provides resistance against water and weather. Said in another way, it is well-built enough to last a lifetime if handled properly.

 

What I don’t like about this product

I don’t have a lot of gripes with this model because it promises what you’d expect from a high-end reel and delivers on it, for the most part at least. That being said, it is far from perfect because the line can get caught in the spool at times and you have little to no control over the anti-reverse switch.

 

Pros

  • Well-built and solid design
  • Provides a secure grip even in wet conditions
  • Retrieving is ultra-smooth and effortless
  • Water and weather resistance

 

Cons

  • Little control over the reverse switch
  • Short spool skirt
  • Pricey

 

This unit will serve you well if your anticipated fish are predominantly smaller and inhabit freshwaters. However, the performance is just as good in near-shore saltwater too. The build quality is sturdy for a light reel, and the value it offers can’t be denied.

 

Overall Rating – 4.8/5

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

 

Okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel

Okuma’s Ceymar reel combines a robust and effective design in an ultralight package. It’s designed for freshwater use, but it is plenty tough and has some impressive features to boot.

 

Key Features

  • Multidisc drag system
  • Smooth 7BB+1RB gearing system
  • Cut brass gears
  • Machined aluminum spool

 

What I like about this product

It features a graphite construction for the main body and rotor which is sturdy enough to last you many, many years of heavy usage. The spool is crafted from aluminum which cuts the weight down but augments durability.

Although the lightweight is this reel’s main selling point, it doesn’t sacrifice functionality or comfort, making it a good an option as any.

 

What I don’t like about this product

This reel is a well-built, and it’s a refined unit overall, but unfortunately, it’s only aimed at freshwater fishing, and if you are planning on fishing in saltwater with this model by your side, it will be to the detriment to the reel.

It’s mostly a non-issue because you can opt for its C-55 model which is built for inshore saltwater fishing.

 

Pros

  • Very affordable
  • Has plenty of value to offer
  • Built to last
  • Backed by a one-year warranty

 

Cons

  • Not all models are suitable for saltwater fishing

 

If reliability is what you’re seeking, this unit won’t disappoint. It’s built to last and work flawlessly without much wear even after years of fishing trips.

 

Overall Rating – 4.7/5

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

 

Pflueger President XT Spinning Reel

Let’s face it. Not every angler has the budget to spend a small fortune on high-end or more premium tackle options. While it’s true to some extent that you can measure the quality of your gear in cents and dollars—it surely doesn’t mean that you can’t find quality budget-friendly choices that are light on your wallet but heavy on value.

Enter Pflueger’s President XT spinning reel.

 

Key Features

  • Uses stainless steel for a corrosion resistant design
  • Graphite construction
  • Braid ready spool
  • SureClick Bail system for secure closing

 

What I like about this product

Even with its around eighty-dollar price tag, this unit impresses by including only the highest quality materials: aluminum, graphite, and stainless steel – which, by the way, you often find in reels on the higher end of the market.

Aside from its construction, it also comes with several features often exclusive to premium quality models, such as support for braided lines, SureClick Bail system, and an anti-reverse bearing system, to name a few.

 

What I don’t like about this product

Though this unit has value to spare, it still is an economy pick which almost invariably means the build quality won’t be as polished or refined as its more expensive cousins. If you’re planning on hitting saltwater, this reel would be less than ideal because its bearings and shaft are not sealed. In that case, you should probably give this reel a pass.

 

 

Pros

  • A great affordable choice
  • Smooth operation
  • Distant casting
  • Outstanding line management

 

Cons

  • Poor build quality
  • Not enough drag

 

To bottom line it, if you’re looking for a reel while on a strict budget, this lightweight and solid reel will outstrip almost any competitor within the same price range. It has a great sealed-drag system and gearing system which are perfect for crappie fishing. And when fishing for trout, walleye, or bass, this reel should work like a dream.

 

Overall Rating – 4.6/5

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

 

Penn Clash Spinning Reel

If you’re looking for a well-built reel at a reasonable price, Penn’s Clash generation should definitely be on your shortlist. It offers great precision, finetuned balance, and smooth operation.

 

Key Features

  • Full metal design
  • Leveline Oscillation
  • CNC machined gears
  • Sealed stainless steel bearings
  • Anti-reverse bearing

 

What I like about this product

It features a full metal body design to minimize the twisting that often happens with plastic or even carbon fiber bodies when you’re tussling with larger fish. If you look under the hood, it uses Computer Numeric Control or CNC machined gears which allow you to crank and retrieve smoothly and consistently.

Instead of crowding their reel with bells and whistles, the manufacturers focused on refining and polishing the bare bones, which resulted in a sturdy and well-built unit at an affordable price.

 

What I don’t like about this product

Unfortunately, to save you the price of additional features, they stripped the reel of them. In other words, if you’re looking for innovative and advanced features, you should probably skip this one.

 

Pros

  • Versatile enough for hundreds and hundreds of species
  • Seven different models to choose from
  • Works well in both fresh and saltwater
  • Well-balanced

 

Cons

  • Uneven line lay
  • A rather basic design

 

If you’re searching for performance and durability packed in a reel that will get the job done nicely, the functionality and price point of this model make it a sweet deal.

 

Overall Rating – 4.6/5

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

 

Daiwa BG Spinning Reel

Daiwa’s BG reel packs performance, durability, balance, and smoothness and can step up your fishing experience by simplifying it.

 

Key Features

  • Anodized aluminum construction
  • Waterproof drag system
  • Braid-ready spool

 

What I like about this product

It features a strong anodized-aluminum construction that is built to take some bruising in the form of scratches, hits, and bangs. Another thing it’s built to do is last because the anodized aluminum is of better quality and stronger than usual.

The air rotor it features makes it better balanced, and you can feel the sturdiness of the build when you’re cranking.

 

What I don’t like about this product

Although it’s durable, at the same time, it’s larger in size, which means more weight. If the weight of the reel is the deal breaker for you, our next pick in this roundup might interest you more.

 

Pros

  • Smooth in operation considering the price
  • Has a drag power of almost 18 pounds
  • Surprisingly well-balanced and stable

 

Cons

  • Substantial in weight and size
  • The spool can be exposed if the paint comes off

 

All in all, this reel is strong, has durability and performance to spare, and if you aren’t bothered by the slight step up in weight, this reel is worth your consideration and its price.

 

Overall Rating – 4.6/5

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

 

Abu Garcia Revo SX Spinning Reel

The Abu Garcia’s Revo SX reel would be a good fit for you whether you’re a veteran angler or just starting because the design is efficient and solid enough to reel in your next trophy catch.

 

Key Features

  • Four different models to choose from
  • C6 carbon body
  • Anti-reverse K-clutch
  • Rocket-line management system
  • Braid-ready

 

What I like about this product

A feature that stands out is this reel’s excellent line management which keeps your line neatly wrapped around the spool without any snags or tangles, thanks to its Rocket Spool Lip and Everlast Bail systems.

It has plenty of drag power to offer, too, which means you can rely on it to help you reel in a big game. It also comes with cushioned grips for added comfort when cranking.

 

What I don’t like about this product

I have relatively few complaints with this model, but this unit is far from perfect. It has a slightly lower maximum drag power when compared to other reels in a similar price range, and its performance can take a mild dip when it’s wet.

 

Pros

  • Outstanding line management
  • Very lightweight
  • Versatile

 

Cons

  • The drag pressure could have been higher

 

If you’re planning on doing some serious angling, this well-crafted, strong, and robust reel can give any reel within the price range a run for its money.

 

Overall Rating – 4.7/5

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

 

Goture Metal Spool Fishing Spinning Reel

Goture managed to blend fine aesthetics and great functionality with this model. From the get-go, you can tell that the design is simple, straight forward, and ergonomic, allowing even novice anglers to cast well.

 

Key Features

  • Graphite framework and rotor
  • Oil soaked felt washers
  • Multidisc drag
  • Antireverse roller bearing

 

What I like about this product

The drag power is enough to hold up to 14 pounds, and it is versatile enough to handle both salt and freshwater conditions. The rotor and frame design are composed primarily of graphite, which keeps its weight to the minimum while providing ample strength and toughness.

The spool is double-anodized which you don’t see often, but it helps release your line smoothly and quietly.

 

What I don’t like about this product

While it works just fine out of the box, some consumers have complained that it loses its smoothness over time and the spool becomes a bit ‘gummy,’ and you can feel that when you crank.

 

 

Pros

  • Corrosion resistant
  • Inexpensive
  • Lightweight
  • 100-percent money back guarantee

 

Cons

  • Durability and performance over time are an issue

 

If you’re on a tight budget or just looking for an inexpensive model for any reason, perhaps for a kid’s setup or to add a beautiful reel to your tackle, this reel has good potential for the money.

 

Overall Rating – 4.5/5

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

 

Budget Spinning Reel Buying Guide

There are a number of factors you must take into account when shopping for the best spinning reel because not all reels are created equal, and it is difficult to paint a complete picture by only comparing prices. You can also check out the baitcasting buyer’s guide if you are someone more proficient and possess skills of mastery over accuracy.

So, in this section, I’ll try to break down these factors to help you, if you’re committed to making the best purchase you can.

 

Drag

Drag is probably the foremost feature of a reel. What drag refers to is the resistance the fish feels when it is hooked and fights back. A drag mechanism lets you control that resistance level when the fish tugs on the line. Whatever reel you fish, drag matters you can also check out high quality spincast reels drags to find out more on what separates the best from the rest.

As a rule of thumb, the resistance should be high enough to tire your catch out so you can reel it in, but not so tight that it snaps the line. How high the drag power needs to be, entirely depends on your target fish, but in my humble opinion, a drag of over 40 pounds is an overkill, and a notch well below it should serve most well. Are you the type of angler who wants to be able to effectively fish larger lures and techniques where light line spinning reels simply don’t cut it? Then we recommend you check out this post.

 

Line capacity

Line capacity is another key aspect of a spinning reel. Fishing style and target species vary drastically from angler to angler, and you have to factor the reel’s line capacity in when picking one out for your next fishing trip.

More often than not, a line capacity of 300 yards should suffice, because you need a longer line when fishing in saltwater where the fish hooked can take a deep dive. We also recommend that you read more about the best crankbait reels that will get your lure to the proper depth faster, easier, and for longer distances than your standard spinning reel combo.

 

Gear ratios

Gear ratios come into play when you’re retrieving your catch. It affects how much you’d have to crank when hauling the fish and how easy it would be. The higher the ratio, the lesser number of turns are required, but it can be a bit troublesome to crank.

In the product’s description, you’ll find the gear ratios presented as 6:1 or 4:1. What that means is that every time you crank it, the spool with complete 6 or 4 rotations.

 

 

Construction

Graphite, aluminum, and carbon fiber builds are what you’d mostly encounter when shopping for a spinning reel. They all have their own pros and cons, meaning some are better suited for certain conditions and preferences while others, not so much.

Aluminum designs tend to be sturdier, but they tend to weigh more than their counterparts. They’re also susceptible to corrosion, which is why almost no good saltwater reels are constructed out of it.

Graphite and carbon fiber bodies won’t corrode or rust, and they’re also considerably lighter than aluminum or stainless-steel ones. We also recommend you check out surf fishing reels because they are durable and built to last.

 

Corrosion resistance

Not all reels are built to tolerate saltwater conditions, especially the ones that aren’t sealed and can’t block out sand or salt. If you predominantly fish in saltwater, a saltwater reel would be ideal for you because they’re made to prevent corrosion from salty seawater. You can also check out these types of spinning reels that are more suitable for ice-fishing and applicable to any other fishing environment.

 

Anti-reverse feature

You might have noticed that I mentioned ‘anti-reverse’ often in the reviews, and as the name suggests, this keeps the handle from spinning in reverse, but if need be, it can be turned off so you can rotate the handle in both directions.

 

Final Thoughts

To wrap up this post, Shimano’s Stella FJ wins by a wide margin. It offers a quality that’s second to none, has impeccable features, functionality that’s tough to beat, and an ergonomic design. In so many words, it’s well worth every single penny you pay.

If your budget dictates that you stick to more mid-ranged or budget-friendly options which offer undeniable value, you’ll find plenty of those in this rundown as well. Not all fishing reels are created equal, so if you are a serious fishing angler you should consider a strong musky reel instead.

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