Best Fishing Reels 2020

Have you heard the expression ‘a bad workman always blames his tools?’ Well that’s pretty accurate, but sometimes the tools actually are to blame. And of course, it doesn’t just apply to work, you could have the same problem with your hobby.

Especially if your hobby is fishing. If you’re throwing out that line for hours at a time and not getting a single bite, it might be you, but there’s also a good chance that you’re not using the right reel for the job. 

You need to pay close attention when you’re picking your fishing reel. If you don’t, you could end up with one so useless you’d be better off just leaning over the edge of the boat and trying to catch the fish in your hands. 

And you don’t want to have to do that, you might get wet. So keep on reading if you want to know what makes for a solid fishing reel.  

Types of Fishing Reels

Not all fishing reels are created equally. There are actually quite a few different types and depending on what kind of fish you are trying to catch, you will need to pick the appropriate type of reel.

You’ll need to consider things like where you are going to be fishing, the size of the fish that you’re after and also how much experience and ability you already have. Certain reels probably aren’t the best choice for beginners.

Some of them require more maintenance than others too and you’ll need to know how to clean a fishing reel and things like that so there is quite a bit of stuff to consider.

So let’s run through these different types here:

Spinning Reels

Spinning reels are quite possibly the most popular and commonly used reels that are available at the moment and they are a great choice for beginners because they’re very simple to use and master. There are a couple of different types of spinning reels for you to consider…

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Saltwater Spinning Reels

If you’re interested in fishing you’re probably familiar with the fact that there is quite a significant difference between saltwater and freshwater. There are plenty of spinning reels better suited to saltwater’s harsher environment.

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Ultralight Spinning Reels

Lighter reels are easier to control and are often a good choice for beginners who aren’t used to trying to control something big and bulky. 

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Spinning Reels For Bass

Bass are one of the most popular catches for fishermen and there are certain reel components which are more effective when hunting for this particular species. 

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Baitcasting Reels

A baitcasting reel is a bit different to the spinning reel in the sense that there is a revolving spool which sits on top of the casting rod as opposed to below it. 

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Spincast Reels

Spincast reels have a fixed spool instead of one that has more freedom to move. This means that they can be used with lighter lures and baits. 

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Fly Reels

How a fly reel works is that there is an external spool with a handle and one turn of the handle will result in one revolution of the spool. 

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Catfish Reels

Catfish are tough ones to catch, and you’re going to want to have a reel that is up to the challenge of reeling one in. 

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Surf Fishing Reels

You may not have heard the term ‘surf fishing’ before, but you’ve probably seen people doing it. All it means is that you stand on the shoreline or a little bit of the way into the surf while you’re fishing.

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Musky Reels

Muskies are huge, rare and you’re probably not going to be able to catch one with a small rod and small reel. If you’re after musky, first of all I tip my hat to you, and secondly you need to get yourself something that’s built for the kill.

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Ice Fishing Reels

If you’re someone who doesn’t want to give up their hobby during the winter and just keep at it all year round, you’ll probably want to give ice fishing a go. 

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Best Spinning Reel

As I mentioned before the spinning reel is going to be your best choice if you are just starting out, it’s pretty simple to learn how to cast a spinning reel and there is a ton of choices. 

They tend to be better for smaller fish who aren’t going to put much pressure on the line but that’s what you should be after when you’re starting out anyway.

Best Saltwater Spinning Reel

This is what you need to look out for if you are going to be primarily fishing in saltwater. Stronger reels with higher durability and tight seals that can deal with the more corrosive saltwater.

What Should You Know About Saltwater Spinning Reels

The environment is hasher in saltwater and you’ll generally find larger, more aggressive fish. Spinning reels can be used in both, but if you are saltwater fishing you should pick one that can cope with these conditions.

Best Ultralight Spinning Reel

Ultralight is a choice that beginners often make to ensure that they have as much control as possible over the reel, this is easier to achieve if it’s lighter.

What Should You Know About Ultralight Spinning Reels

The performance of a spinning reel for specific fish will often depend, at least to some degree, on its weight. This will determine the stability which is important for bigger fish especially.

Best Spinning Reel For Bass

Although bass are common and a popular fish to try and catch, it’s still a rewarding experience when you actually reel one in. It’s helpful to have a reel that is proven to be effective for this kind of catch.

What Should You Know About Spinning Reels For Bass

A high gear ratio is helpful because bass are timid and you need to catch them quickly. You also need to pay attention to the drag power of the reel, especially if you want to hunt for bigger bass. 

Best Fishing Line For Spinning Reels

Once you’ve got yourself a good reel, the next thing that you need to think about is the line that you’re going to use. Some are better than others for this kind of mechanism and you need to know how to spool a spinning reel so read up on that.

What Should You Know About Fishing Lines For a Spinning Reel

Monofilament and fluorocarbon lines are not ideal choices for spinning reels. The spools are designed to take lighter lines and a heavier one is likely to fly off the reel during casting.

Best Baitcasting Reel

Similar to a spinning reel in some ways but slightly more advanced, a baitcasting reel is good if you want to try a few different things while fishing. 

What Should You Know About Baitcasting Reels

The different positioning of the spool on the rod offers more space and more freedom for the reel to move around. Once you know how to use a baitcasting reel you to practice more advanced techniques when fishing.

Baitcaster vs. Spinning Reel

The debate on which of these two types of reels is better has been a prevalent one in the fishing community for quite some time. Each of them have their merits and it really comes down to everyone’s personal preference.

How Are Baitcasters and Spinning Reels Different

As I mentioned, the primary difference between the two is the fact that on a spinning reel, you’ll find the spool positioned below the casting rod and on a baitcaster it’s above it. 

What this means is that there is more freedom for the spool to remove around on a baitcaster, which means that you can have a bit more accuracy and try some more advanced casting techniques. It also makes it a bit more difficult to use than the straightforward spinning reel.

Best Spincast Reel

A spincast reel is one of those things that is very well suited to some people but are really off-putting to others. This is due to the limitations of the fixed spool, but they do have a lot of upsides too.

What Should You Know About Spincast Reels

The initial idea behind the spincast reel was that it could prevent the backlash that was often caused by baitcasters while also preventing line twist that some standard spinning reels get.

Best Fly Reel

For those who are interested in fly fishing, these reels which have an external handle that allows you maximum control over the retrieval of your line are the best choice. 

What Should You Know About Fly Reels

These tend to be very useful for particularly flighty fish because this type of reel makes it possible for you to have an uninterrupted tension on the line when trying to reel in your catch. 

Best Catfish Reel

Reeling in a catfish is no mean feat. It’s doable for an experienced fisherman of course but if you are going to try it you’re going to need a reel that’s up to the challenge.

What Should You Know About Catfish Reels

While spinning and baitcasting reels will work, some specific components are very important. You will need something that has an effective braking system to keep a hold of a strong fish and also one with sufficient line capacity and a good drag system.

Best Surf Fishing Reel

When it comes to surf fishing, the most important thing is probably going to be the line capacity. You’re operating from the shore, so you need a reel with some distance.

What Should You Know About Surf Fishing Reels

The best Surf Fishing reels will also come with some serious drag capability. You won’t be able to rely on fish getting close to the boat where you can reel them in quickly, your catch needs to be pulled to the shore, sometimes from a significant distance.

Best Musky Reel

I talked earlier about how it’s tough to reel in a catfish and it is, but reeling in a musky is, and pardon my wordplay, a whole different kettle of fish. You need to bring out the big guns for these guys.

What Should You Know About Musky Reels

The ideal musky reel is one that can take as much abuse as possible and also one that has the durability to last you for a long time. Something steel or aluminum would be good, a lesser metal will wear down way to quickly in its wars with the muskies.

Best Ice Fishing Reel  

So the summer is over and everyone else has packed up their rods but you’re hardcore and you want to head out onto the ice and keep going. You have my respect, but I hope you’ve also got the right reel for the job.

What Should You Know About Ice Fishing Reels

A good ice fishing reel should be durable enough to last in extreme environments and you should also get one that has a specifically designed handle. You’ll likely be casting with thick gloves on and you need to maintain control in spite of that.