The general advice when purchasing a spinning reel, is to purchase the best reel you can afford.

But with the explosion of the spinning reel market, anglers are spoiled for choice. There are plenty of affordable reels on the market today that will perform extremely well, and will provide years of service.

So the good news is you don’t have to spend a huge some of money anymore to get a good reel.

Truth be told you can pick up a very good all round spinning reel for around the $100 mark. 

Even the top reel manufacturers have reduced the price of their latest high end models of spinning reels, purely to meet market demands!

So what are some key things to look for when choosing a spinning reel?

Brand Of Reel:

Many people getting into fishing want to know which brand is the best to fish with, and will follow the advice that the experts tell them.

This is a good approach, as there are many good reel manufacturing brands both large and small, that produce a wide range of high quality spinning reels at an affordable price point.

All of us no matter how long we have been fishing for, tend to become loyal to a specific brand and stick with it. This gets to the point where we can be come quite “tribal” about which brand of reel we are loyal to!

My advice and opinion for those of you starting out, is to look at a variety of brands. I would take more notice of the customer comments and reviews of any particular reels you’re interested in. Particularly comments on how good or bad the drag is, how smooth the reel is, and the build quality.

So instead of looking for a specific brand of spinning reel, I encourage you to look at a range of reels across all of the brands that meet the requirements that you’re looking for.

So let’s discuss what you should be looking for.

Line Capacity:

When looking for a spinning reel, you should be looking for reels that hold a decent amount of line capacity for the given size of reel.

You want a good amount of line capacity, as it will allow you to use the reel in a variety of fishing conditions and applications.

You may want the reel for inshore saltwater fishing. So having a decent line capacity will allow you to fish both shallow and deeper waters.

Or you may want to use the reel for casting in freshwater or off from the shoreline. So you want enough line to make a good cast.

Having more line on the spool also gives you more options when fighting a good fish. There is nothing worse when hooking a big fish that starts peeling line off a reel, and you’re fast running out of line on the reel!

Finally, a reel that has good line capacity will allow you to fish different sizes of braid or mono, and still give you plenty of line to play with.

Using a lighter and thinner line will allow you to carry more line on the spool, compared to using a heavier thicker line.

So regardless of brand, you should take a good look at reels from all of the manufacturers, and compare the line capacity of each for different line sizes and types of line.

For a good all round spinning reel that you can use fishing lures inshore or in freshwater, a line capacity of 220-350yds (200-300m) will be ideal for you.

Drag:

A good drag system with plenty of power is vital when it comes to choosing a good reel.

So when comparing spinning reels of a certain size, I would want the reels that offer higher maximum drag.

But!

What is important is how smooth a drag system is.

A spinning reel may have a good amount of drag, but if the drag system is clunky, complicated and not delivered smoothly, then it is not worth it.

A powerful AND smooth drag is key to what you’re looking for!

Finally, for those of you looking for the smallest spinning reel for fishing very light lures and line, you want to have a minimum of 6lbs of drag.

This is advice I have heard echoed by many pro fishers.

Unless you’re trying to set records, you really don’t need to be going any lower.

Why?

If you’re reel doesn’t exert at least 6lbs of drag then you won’t be getting the full benefit of the stronger lines being used.

Daiwa Magsealed BearingsImage Courtesy Of Daiwa Fishing

Bearings:

Spinning reels can come with a lot of ball bearings.

But don’t focus your search on reels purely because they have more bearings than their competitors.

Many manufacturers will try and sell to you on the fact that the reel is packed with more bearings than everyone else.

Certainly you want a smooth reel and the ball and roller bearings are essential for that.

Instead of focusing on the number of bearings a reel has, I would focus on the following:

  • The quality of material used to make the bearings,
  • The positioning of the bearings,
  • Corrosion protection of the bearings within the reel.

Having a large number of poor quality bearings will not benefit you at all. They will rust quickly, and the smoothness of your reel will degrade quickly over time.

A reel with less overall bearings, but well positioned, corrosion protected, and made out of a quality material, will last you much longer. The reel will also remain smooth for many years, provided you clean and maintain it properly.

So there you have it! 

A few tips to help you pick out a good spinning reel that will last you for many years.

People Also Ask:

The higher the gear ration, the greater the number of turns of the spool per 1 turn of the handle.

So for a faster retrieve of your bait or lure, you want a spinning reel with a higher gear ratio. A 6.0:1 or higher gear ratio is the best for fast retrieves.

The gear ratio is the number of times the spool turns per ONE turn of the handle.

For example the Okuma Helios HSX-20 has a gear ratio of 5.0:1, so for 1 full turn of handle the spool will spin 5 times.

Compared to the Shimano Stella FJ 5000 which has a gear ratio of 6.2:1, so the reel is significantly faster as for each 1 full turn of the handle the spool will turn 6.2 times.