One of the most popular options for anglers is the spinning reel. Fishers have loved the convenience and ease of a spinning reel for freshwater and saltwater applications and even for ice fishing.
Spinning reels have also been known as eggbeaters, and this should give you a good idea as to how the spinning reel moves. These reels use a bail guide to hold and wrap the line onto the spool as you retrieve it. Since the spool doesn’t spin, these make great casting reels.
We’ve put together a list of essential features to check if you’re in the market for a new spinning reel or just trying to find the best angler gift in your life. Use our helpful buying guide to learn more about the different features of a spinning reel.
In the product reviews below, we’ve listed and summarized our five favorite spinning reels under $50.
The materials your spinning reel is made of can make a huge difference in how you can fish with it. The spinning reel must be light enough that it doesn’t add too much weight to your rod. If your rod’s too heavy, it will contribute to fatigue as you cast, and no angler likes that!
On the other hand, the reel should be durable enough to stand up to bigger fish and also corrosion resistant. Modern alloys are great at providing this durability at a light weight. Look for reels that use graphite, copolymer or metals like aluminum.
Most old school anglers still prefer the traditional aluminum spinning reel for fresh and saltwater. Aluminum is more durable than graphite, but you’ll give up some flex and take on some weight.
There’s nothing wrong with the graphite or copolymer in freshwater and light saltwater casting either. A graphite rod is super light and has some give to it.
Junior anglers fishing for freshwater fish like river trout or bluegill might go for a plastic reel, but remember, your rod is only as strong as your weakest part. If you go for a cheap reel to save money, you may just get what you pay for. Especially at this lower price range, you should pay close attention to the reel material, so you don’t put a damper on your fishing trip.
The drag pressure on a spinning reel indicates how much weight and resistance the reel can withstand. Knowing your maximum drag limits is essential, so you don’t break your line fighting a fish that’s putting up more resistance than your reel can handle.
Drag systems on reels are helpful tools for anglers. With a manual or automatic drag system, you’ll be able to set the correct drag power based on the pressure you need applying to the spool. This acts as a kind of brake to apply resistance to the line after hook up so you can land your fish.
A maximum drag of 10 lbs is usually sufficient for dealing with large bass or trout. Up to 20 lbs is necessary for bigger fish, but beyond that, you need to consider your capabilities. Some reels do boast a high maximum drag rating of 40 pounds, but many anglers don’t have the arm strength to handle higher drag than that.
The gear ratio of a spinning reel is expressed as a numerical ratio (like 5:1). This number is referencing the number of times the bail arm spins for each handle turn.
A higher gear ratio like 7:1 will allow you to retrieve line more quickly, which is ideal for bass since the faster you reel him in, the less likely you are to fray your line and potentially lose your catch.
Using lures like lipless crankbaits, Carolina rigs, jerk baits, topwaters, Texas rigs, or other plastics, a high gear ratio is going to allow you to take up the slack quickly.
On the other hand, use a lower gear ratio when you need more torque for handle cranking. A slow reel is suitable for a few different applications like when fishing moving baits in deep water, for low effort bait retrieval, and when using deep crankbait or other lures that pull.
In a spinning reel the ball bearings are the rotating rings and balls (usually made of metal or ceramic) in the bail arm. The ball bearings are essential because they help to reduce friction during rotation.
A spinning reel with more ball bearings will provide smoother action, but it’s also necessary to consider the quality. The higher the quality of the ball bearings, the better the reel will perform. If you’re looking for a reel that’s not too expensive, 5 is an excellent number of ball bearings. It’s enough to keep things smooth without adding cost to your reel.
An entry-level reel will use a ball bearing of lower quality like metal, while ceramic is sometimes used by the more costly reels. A ceramic ball bearing is good because it gives the smoothest output and will not be impaired by saltwater fishing either.
The anti-reverse function is one application to look out for in a spinning reel, and it will be listed along with the ball bearings if it’s an included feature on the reel. If your spinning reel has anti-reverse, your reel won’t be able to spin backward and engage the drag.
When it comes to reel size, one of the most important things is to make sure your reel matches your rod.
Reels sized at 1000 to 3000 (or 10 to 30) are considered small reels, and they’re best matched with a lightweight rod (between 6 and 7 feet). This combination is ideal for fishing small species.
Reels sized at 4000 to 5500 (or 40 to 55) are classified as medium reels, but they’re the biggest we’d go unless you’re using a boat rod. These reels are a good pair with a snapper style rod, and they can handle a higher line weight (between 8-14 pounds or 8-25 pounds braid). The largest reel size is 6000 to 9500. This kind of reel is extremely heavy duty, andmeant for boat or rock fishing rods.
The last thing to consider when you purchase your spinning reel is whether or not the manufacturer offers a warranty.
When you’re researching the best product and considering all your options, sometimes it’s hard to make a final choice without seeing the product in person and testing it out. Look for retailers that offer a satisfaction guarantee. That way, once you receive your product and see it in person, you can always send it back if it isn’t what you were expecting.
Most products come with a limited warranty for at least one year. That means you can get a refund or an exchange if the product fails within the first year of delivery. It is important to note that this form of warranty is limited to product failures, so if you roll over your rod unintentionally or drop it in the lake, that will not be covered.
Many manufacturers also offer helpful customer service online or by phone. If you have questions about your product or aren’t sure how something works, it’s always nice to know you can call an expert and get some help.
|Reel Weight||9.8 oz.||6.9 oz.||8.8 oz.||9.9 oz||15.17 oz.|
|Max Drag||10-25 lbs.||11 lbs.||3 lbs.||14 lbs.||66 lbs.|
|Warranty||1-year limited||1-year||1-year limited||1-year limited||1-year|
Millions of experienced anglers trust Penn products, and it’s no wonder. Penn has been a leader in reel design and production since 1932. They also make our top pick for the best spinning reel under $50.
The spinning hybrid PENN Pursuit III is perfect for inshore, boat, and surf fishing. This combination combines the spinning reel Pursuit III with a composite graphite rod for an inexpensive and versatile fish-taming set-up. The reel features an ultra-lightweight, corrosion-resistant graphite body and houses our robust HT-100 drag system.
The Pursuit III is a fully capable spinning reel with all the features you need and more. For under $50 you can’t beat the history Penn brings to the dock with their Pursuit III spinning reel. An excellent value for saltwater anglers.
Loaded with low-priced features, you’ll be a professional in no time with the Summer/Centron spinning reels. In a compact spinning reel, a narrow graphite frame model and a computer balance system combine high performance.
This reel is perfect for ice fishing. Its advanced drag and amazing stopping power are perfect for getting those fighting fish. Its excellent price makes it our pick for the best budget buy option.
This is a fantastic reel at a budget price, and it’s hard to go wrong with such a high performing reel.
Okuma Fishing Tackle sells more than just fishing gear. They provide the motivation to hit the water with the best tools possible. Made of innovative, versatile, and durable materials, their fishing rods and rod and reel combos are not just a means to an end.
The Ceymar reel is the smallest model, and it’s perfect for fishing trout, crappie, sunfish, bluegill, and other small fish. It also works great for ice fishing outfits when paired with an ultra-light fishing rod.
This ultimate lightweight reel is great for a variety of different applications. You’ll love having this reel in your kit.
Mitchell is responsible for the first modern spinning reel. They’ve come a long way since then, and the 300 series spinning reel combines their important heritage with innovative, new features.
Anglers will experience the exceptional performance from the legend in spinning reels with an innovative Bail Halo model that provides excellent line management properties and power.
For the ultimate control of your line, the Mitchell 300 is a great choice.
Diwa brand makes a number of different tools for anglers. Their spinning reel has the heaviest capacity of all the reels we’ve reviewed.
This reel is ultra-light and ultra-smooth with 13+1 stainless steel ball bearings and aluminum-alloy body spools.
Diwa may be a relatively unknown brand name, but don’t discount their reels just for that reason. For high capacity fishing, this could be the perfect choice for you.
Whether you’re new to fishing, searching for the angler’s perfect gift in your life, or having to replace the old spinning reel in your tackle box, our select five spinning reels give you a great choice. Happy fishing!