Best Fishing Reels For Beginners

Last Updated: April 9th, 2020

When it comes to fishing reels for beginners there are a few options. Some people may start with a spincast reel but let’s be honest, everyone is eventually going to progress to a spinning reel so, in my opinion, why not just start there. Spinning reels are easy to use and with a bit of practice, you’ll have them mastered in no time but the hard part is picking the right one to buy in the first place.


At A Glance: Our Top 3 Fishing Reels For Beginners


There are hundreds to choose from with many different features and price tags but which are the best fishing reels for beginners? Here is a review to help you find the reel for you.

OUR TOP PICKS

Okuma Ceymar Lightweight Spinning Reel- C-30
Best On A Budget
Okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel
  • Smooth, strong drag
  • Durable
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Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 2500 FB Spinning Fishing Reel With Front Drag, STCI42500FB
Best Of The Best
Shimano Stradic Ci4+
  • Very light reel
  • Good for line management
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Abu Garcia REVO2X30 Revo x Spinning Fishing Reel
Best Allrounder
Abu Garcia Revo X Spinning Fishing Reel
  • Smooth drag
  • Good caster
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KastKing Sharky III Spinning Fishing Reel,Size 3000
KastKing Sharky III
  • Big line capacity
  • Solid drag, very powerful
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Sougayilang Fishing Reel 13+1BB Light Weight Ultra Smooth Aluminum Spinning Fishing Reel with Free Spare Graphite Spool (XY2000)
Sougayilang Fishing Reel
  • High-quality reel
  • Good drag and retrieve
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Pflueger PRESSP30X President Spinning Fishing Reel
Pflueger President Spinning Fishing Reel
  • Quick smooth retrieve
  • Good drag
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Shimano Sedona 2500FI HG Freshwater Spinning Fishing Reel
SHIMANO Sedona FI
  • Durable
  • Use in fresh and saltwater
VIEW ON AMAZON →

Best Fishing Reels For Beginners


Okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel

Okuma Ceymar Lightweight Spinning Reel- C-30

The Okuma Ceymar is a great place to start as a beginner. It’s a simple reel that’s easy to use, has a good price and is pretty durable. 

It features a graphite body that keeps it light but strong against bumps and corrosion. The low weight of the reel will also assist with your casting, keeping your arms fresh where as other heavy reels tend to make you tired.

The drag on the reel starts up without sticking and is smooth once it gets going. It’s made from a multi-disc oil/felt system that will work well in freshwater but is not quite robust enough for use in saltwater. The max drag power is 6kg which is high enough for most freshwater species. 

The reel features brass gears. Brass, as you may know, is excellent against corrosion and should last a lifetime in the reel. It also comes with Okuma’s precision elliptical gear system that reduces friction in the gearbox. This means the reel will be smooth under pressure when fighting a fish and cast further. 

The retrieve is fast and smooth, basically, the line comes in quickly and easily plus there is no play in the handle. The reel comes with anti-reverse and a braid ready spool, both of which are useful features.

There are some things to be aware of with this reel. The handle and/or the anti-reverse switch can snap off, they are easily replaced though. The gears can also develop a grinding noise after some use but this rarely affects how the reel functions.

Pros

  • Smooth, strong drag
  • Durable
  • Quick retrieve
  • Easy to use
  • Good features
  • Good for casting

Cons

  • Handle or anti-reverse switching can snap off
  • Gears can become noisy
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Shimano Stradic Ci4+

Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 2500 FB Spinning Fishing Reel With Front Drag, STCI42500FB

The Stradic CI4+ is probably a bit too sophisticated to be in a beginner review but the reel’s actually just as simple to use as any other spinning reel. It’s just a bit more of a badass compared to your basic starter gear and the high price reflects that but it’s made to be the best and will last a lifetime.  

The body is made from carbon fiber which makes it very strong while being exceptionally light. A light reel is a joy to use compared to a heavy one and is always something to consider when you’re looking to buy one.

The reel is also loaded with Shimano’s ‘squidiculous’ tech. If you haven’t heard of Shimano, they are one of the best manufactures out there and their added features make for a reel you could fall in love with.

The Stradic Ci4+ comes with the HAGANE gear system for increased durability, the G-Free body system for comfortable casting and X-Ship technology to make your gears more efficient when under pressure, so every wind against a big fish counts even more. 

The drag on this reel is excellent. The multi-disc carbon fiber system gives you a powerful, smooth and durable drag that can be used in both fresh and saltwater. It has a quick retrieve thanks to the high gear ratio and it’s smooth due to the high number of bearings. You’ll be able to wind your baits in quick and put a lot of pressure against a fish. 

The reel comes with a braid-ready aluminum spool plus a groover power roller that makes for easy line management, reduces knots and twists, and gives a good line lay.

There are very few drawbacks to this reel. The roller bearing can fail but Shimano will replace this FOC, and there is no anti-reverse. 

Pros

  • Very light reel
  • Good for line management
  • Durable
  • Can be used in fresh and saltwater
  • Great drag
  • Reliable

Cons

  • No anti-reverse
  • The line roller bearing can fail
  • Expensive
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Abu Garcia Revo X Spinning Fishing Reel

Abu Garcia REVO2X30 Revo x Spinning Fishing Reel

The best thing about the Revo X is its simplicity and for a beginner, that’s exactly what we are looking for. The reel is made from a combination of carbon fiber and graphite which keeps it light and durable but still affordable. The low weight makes it great to cast with and you’ll find the distance and accuracy one can get with this reel to be pretty solid.

The retrieve is quick and smooth thanks to the gear ratio and ball bearings. You’ll be able to wind those fish and baits in without fail. The drag is made from a multi-disc carbon system making it smooth, durable and reliable, 

The reel features a Rocket line management system. This makes sure that your line goes on to your reel evenly, reduces twists or tangles and stops backlashes. The last thing you want is to spend your time on the water undoing tangles, so this added feature is a real time-saver. 

The reel comes with the X-Crafty gearbox design which ensures the gears stay aligned no matter how much pressure they are under. This means that they’ll work efficiently and that every wind will count when fighting a big fish. 

Overall this a great reel that’s affordable. You can use it in both fresh and saltwater and the only things that seem to go wrong are the bearings grinding after a while and the reel arm sticking but these are both rare.

Pros

  • Smooth drag
  • Good caster
  • Lightweight
  • Good line management
  • Affordable
  • Quick retrieve
  • For both fresh and saltwater

Cons

  • Reel arm can stick
  • Bearings grind after some use
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KastKing Sharky III

KastKing Sharky III Spinning Fishing Reel,Size 3000

The KastKing Sharky III is a large reel that’s made for most situations, even fighting small tuna, so if your hobby might take you to both rivers and ocean, this might be one to look it. 

Even the smallest reels have a massive 15kg of drag power and a big line capacity. There is nothing wrong with having some extra stopping power and enough line to let a big fish run.

The drag consists of a carbon fiber multi-disc system, it’s smooth, durable and powerful. It has been rumored to fail after use in saltwater but these cases are rare. 

The reel is made from a high percentage fiber-reinforced graphite which makes it strong, light and affordable. It will stand up well to some abuse.

The retrieve is solid and works well under pressure; the high bearing count and gear ratio will help you muscle a fish out of a snag or a hole, making sure you win the battle. 

The spool is made from aluminum and is braid-ready, which is key if you want to fish with braid (highly recommended), see the What To Look For section at the bottom.

The reel features anti-reverse and a shield system to stop water and dirt from getting into the working parts. It’s a bit hit and miss but better than nothing.

Overall this reel is ok, there are reports of poor line management, reels failing after use in saltwater and the bearings grinding. This could be user error or poor maintenance but is something to be aware of nonetheless.

Pros

  • Big line capacity
  • Solid drag, very powerful
  • Anti-reverse
  • Lightweight
  • Affordable
  • Fresh and saltwater

Cons

  • Drag and bearings can go after use in saltwater
  • Line can bunch up on retrieve with wind knots
  • Parts can fall off in rare cases
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Sougayilang Fishing Reel

Sougayilang Fishing Reel 13+1BB Light Weight Ultra Smooth Aluminum Spinning Fishing Reel with Free Spare Graphite Spool (XY2000)

This reel from Sougayilang is quite the deal. It’s super affordable, reliable and it the perfect size to target both smaller freshwater and saltwater species. There aren’t many reels out there that can do this. 

It has a lovely smooth drag thanks to the carbon fiber multi-disc system. You’ll be able to stop fish out worry and pull them out when the head for snags or the bottom. The drag is sealed on this reel in order to stop salt/dirt from getting into the system, making it perfect for saltwater use. 

The body is made from graphite making it light, durable and comfortable to cast with. The retrieve is quick and smooth plus it works well under a heavy load. The handle and spool are made from machined aluminum for increased durability and the spool comes braid-ready.

There are a few drawbacks, like with any reel. The paint does peel off, this only affects aesthetics and not functionality, and the handle does have some play in it. The reel arrives dry so make sure you lubricate it before use.

Pros

  • High-quality reel
  • Good drag and retrieve
  • Casts well
  • Light
  • Durable
  • Affordable
  • Sealed drag
  • Use in fresh and saltwater

Cons

  • Paint does start to peel off
  • Needs lubrication on arrival
  • Play in the handle
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Pflueger President Spinning Fishing Reel

Pflueger PRESSP30X President Spinning Fishing Reel

The Plueger President is a great reel and is one the fishing community has relied on for a while. It’ s a simple, durable reel that is easy to use and you can rely on. 

It’s made from graphite, so it’ll stand up well to corrosion while being robust enough to bounce off a few rocks and be light enough to easy casting. The internal system is also built to last with brass gears, a stainless steel shaft, and an aluminum handle. This reel will work fine in fresh and saltwater.

It has a 10 bearing system and a high gear ratio for a quick retrieve under pressure. You’ll find it easy to turn a fish that’s running for cover and make every wind count.

The reel comes with a buttery smooth drag that’s also corrosion-resistant. The stainless steel/oil/felt drag system isn’t quite as good as a multi-disc carbon system but it’ll work well in all situations. 

It also features an aluminum braid-ready spool and anti-reverse which is easily turned on and off at the flick of a button. 

There are some issues that have been found by some users. The reel can give an uneven line lay which causes overwinds and the bail-arm can close mid-cast which might result in losing a few lures if you’re fishing with light line. The gears can grind over long term use, especially in saltwater but this could be due to poor maintenance on the user’s part. 

Pros

  • Quick smooth retrieve
  • Good drag
  • Light
  • Druable
  • Affordable
  • Simple

Cons

  • Bail arm can close when casting
  • Uneven line lay
  • Gears can grind after a while
SEE ON AMAZON

SHIMANO Sedona FI

Shimano Sedona 2500FI HG Freshwater Spinning Fishing Reel

This is an awesome reel from Shimano and they have packed it with great features while keeping it affordable. It’s a great reel to start off with that’ll last a long time and keep up with your improving fishing skills.

The reel is made from composite HCT 7 M and some plastic components which keeps it super light but durable. Combine the weight with some of the tech such as the G Free Body system and Propulsion Line Management System and you get a reel thats made for amazing casting. 

The reel also comes with the cold-forged HAGANE gear system, which is about as robust and reliable as gears can be. They should be smooth for ever and handle anything you throw at them. 

It comes with a braid-ready aluminum spool thats gives an even line lay, so no overwinds to worry about. The spool has been made to release like in tight loops to reduce friction when casting and therefore improve btoh distance and accuracy. The drag is super smooth as well as the retrieve. 

There are some negatives though, as always. Firstly there is no anti-reverse, the bail arm can malfuntion and the reel can tighten up when winding, but all these cases are rare and Shimano will do their best to rectify them.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Use in fresh and saltwater
  • Light
  • Great caster
  • Afordable
  • Smooth drag
  • Fast retrieve

Cons

  • No anti-reverse.
  • Bail arm can malfunction.
  • The retrieve can tighten up
  • Low bearing count
SEE ON AMAZON

What to Look for

What fish are you trying to catch?

Buying the right size reel depends on what fish you want to catch and where. If it’s small freshwater fish then a light simple reel will do but if you want to catch bigger saltwater species too, you’re going to need a reel that can handle not only the fish but the salty environment too. Be sure to think about what you want your reel to do and where and buy one based on that.

Line Capacity

Every reel has a specific amount of line it can hold and getting one that holds enough line for the fish you’re targeting is key to not losing everything. If you’re targeting trout, most reels will have enough line to manage but if you’re hunting bonefish, it’s a completely different story. Make sure that your line capacity matches the species you’re after.  

Using Braid

Most anglers are choosing braid over mono these days. It has a higher casting distance, a smaller diameter and lasts longer. Even if you use mono now, you’ll probably want to use braid at some point and having a braid-ready spool is key. Most reels come with a braid-ready spool these days but be sure to check.

How Heavy Is The Reel 

A lot of fishing involves constant casting. You’ll most likely be throwing lures all day into fish spots where you hope that big catch is waiting. Casting a light reel is much easier than casting a heavy reel, obviously no? You’ll really feel it after casting for 8 hours straight and be very happy you got a light reel in the first place. 

Corrosion & Durability

Owning a reel is a bit like a love affair and once you’ve gotten to know it, the last thing you want is for it to fade. A reel that’s built with corrosion resistance and durability in mind will last. Make sure the one you choose is made from quality materials and once you own it, maintain it well.

Drag

The drag on your reel is key to landing any fish. You’re going to need a drag that is strong enough for the fish you are targetting while being smooth and durable. Owning a reel with a sticky drag is no fun and it’ll affect every fight you have with a fish. Be sure to choose a reel with a smooth drag that’s strong enough for the fish you’re targeting. Test the drag before buying if you can, simply crank it up and pull some line off it. If it comes off without any slipping, then you’re on to a winner.  

Our top picks…

Here are our top choices of reels for beginners. They are all good and have different strengths. 

The allrounder is the Abu Garcia Revo X. The reel is well made from carbon fiber, its light and a pleasure to fish with. It comes in at a very affordable price and has all the features you could hope to need. If you choose this one, you won’t regret it. 

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Abu Garcia REVO2X30 Revo x Spinning Fishing Reel
  • 6 stainless steel HPCR bearings + 1 roller bearing provides increased corrosion protection
  • Carbon matrix Hybrid drag System for Super smooth reliable drag performance

The best on a budget reel is the Okuma Ceymar. This does the basics very well and will give you everything you need as a beginner to get started on the water. The drag is smooth, the retrieve is solid and its durable.  

Okuma Ceymar Lightweight Spinning Reel- C-30
  • Used by professionals worldwide
  • Tested for reliability and quality

The best of the bunch is the Shimano Stradic Ci4+. This is a very high-end reel with a price to match. It’ll do everything and more, it’s well worth the investment if you can afford it.

Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 2500 FB Spinning Fishing Reel With Front Drag, STCI42500FB
  • Gear Ratio: 5.0:1, Retrieve: Reversable, No anti-reverse switch.
  • Line Capacity lb/yds: 6/200, 8/140, 10/120