Any angler knows that catching fish requires a large amount of patience. Nothing will make you more impatient than a fishing reel that isn't the right fit for the habitat you're fishing in or the fish that live there. Finding a reel that best suits the habitat and size of fish you want to catch can improve your fishing experience immensely. To ensure you find the best reel for you, I've reviewed some of the best fishing reels on the market to help you make the best choice for you.
Best Fishing Reels Comparison
- There are two Battles to choose from, both with almost identical features.
- Ideal for fishing in both saltwater and freshwater.
Best for Ice Fishing
- Ultra-lightweight reel.
- Comes with a size 500 reel that makes it perfect for ice fishing.
- Abrasion-resistantIncludes a super launch lip for further casting.
Best for Saltwater
- Has a six ball bearing system for a smooth performance even while offshore fishing.
- Includes the IP67 Sealed System to prevent water from getting inside the reel.
Best for Freshwater
- Great for freshwater fishing.
- Most sizes have a ten ball bearing system with a sealed drag system.
Best for Bass
- Affordable freshwater reel.
- Nine ball bearing system for a smoother performance.
Best Fishing Reels Buyer’s GuideChoosing a new fishing reel can be tricky. Many seem similar and it can be hard to know which one is the best one for you. There are some factors you’ll want to consider before purchasing yourself a new reel.
What Reel Size Should I Buy?The short answer to this question is, whichever is going to be the most beneficial to you. Now, if you’re unsure what the most beneficial to you would be, I can help. If you know you’re going to be primarily fishing in freshwater, sticking to a reel size under 5,000 is more than likely going to work best for you. The smaller reels are better for freshwater and catching small to medium-sized fish. Now, if you’re out fishing for larger freshwater species, you may need to look into a 5,000 or 5,500 size reel. For saltwater anglers, it depends on if you’re fishing more inshore or planning to take a boat to go offshore. Larger fishing reel sizes are stronger and long enough to help you reel in those larger fish such as Tuna and maybe even a small shark. Anything above a 5,000 works well in saltwater so just be sure to choose one that suits your fishing habits. If you’re someone who enjoys both saltwater and freshwater fishing, choosing a reel size that’s a good middle ground will allow you to use it in both. You may not be able to catch very large fish offshore with a medium sized reel but you’ll still catch some decent sized ones and maybe even larger freshwater fish.
What’s a Good Ball Bearing System?
Generally, any fishing reel that has over a four ball bearing system is “good”. The number that the reel has will determine how smooth it performs. If having a smooth fishing reel is important to you, you’ll want to look at reels that have a higher number in the bearing system. A number of reels suggested earlier have upwards of nine which is incredibly smooth. The others do have less but they’re still considered smooth when the standard is four. If the smoothness of the reel isn’t something nearly as important to you, you can look for a system that has a smaller amount.
Fishing reels range in price. It’s best to have an idea of what you’re willing to spend before browsing, that way you look at ones in your price range. Many are incredibly affordable whereas some are more expensive. Something to keep in mind is that regardless of the reel’s starting price, the price will increase if you’re looking for a larger reel size. If the reel you’re looking at is more than you were initially wanting to pay but it’s the best one for you, consider it an investment. Many of these reels are built to withstand the harsh environment of the water and last for years to come.
Best Fishing Reels reviewed
Penn Fishing has some of the best fishing reels you can buy right now. The Penn Battle has two models, the Penn Battle II and the Penn Battle III. The Penn Battle II is available in a reel size up to 8,000, whereas the Penn Battle III goes up to 10,000. These larger reel sizes make them another great option for catching bigger fish offshore. They do offer smaller reel sizes for those interested in sticking to smaller, freshwater fish. One thing I wish I had known before taking the Penn Battle fishing reel offshore is that other saltwater fishing reels have a smoother performance. While it's not as smooth as other reels, it still is durable and strong enough to reel in those bigger catches. Like other Penn Fishing reels, the Penn Battle II and the Penn Battle III are made from aluminum and stainless steel to withstand the saltwater. The price is comparable to other Penn Fishing reels. The prices are not the lowest on this list, but if you’re searching for an overall great fishing reel, the Penn Battle II or Penn Battle III are reels you’ll want to consider purchasing.
- Capable of catching small and large fish
- Sealed ball bearing system
- Could be smoother
KastKing Summer and Centron are some of the most affordable fishing reels on the market right now. The KastKing Summer reels are more vibrant with a white and blue exterior color, whereas the Centron is a sleek black and blue. KastKing designed the Summer and Centron with aluminum and graphite. Graphite is an ultra-lightweight material that is very helpful for fishing in freshwater and even ice fishing. Other than their body colors, you'll find that the two are identical. If you look at the Summer 500, it has the same features as the Centron 500. These reels have a power launch lip that allows you to cast your line further out and a nine-ball bearing system for an incredibly smooth performance. Both the Summer and Centron are available in sizes 500, 2,000, 3,000, 4,000, and 5,000. Generally speaking, fishing reel sizes that are under 3,500 are ideal for freshwater fishing. Sizes 4,000 and 5,000 are still great for freshwater fishing, but you can also use them for some inshore saltwater fishing if you'd like. The option for a 500 reel makes the KastKing Summer and Centron one of the best fishing reels for ice fishing.
- 500 reel size designed for ice fishing
- Power launch lip
- Ultra lightweight and smooth
- Smaller number of reel sizes
Penn Fishing is one of my favorite fishing brands, so it's no surprise I've mentioned them twice. The Penn Slammer III is probably your best bet if you're looking for a fishing reel that works wonders while fishing in saltwater. The sizes for this reel range from 3,500 up to 10,500, so it's able to help you reel in those larger species of fish that you'll find offshore. Penn Fishing made this reel out of stainless steel so that it can withstand the harshness of saltwater. The Penn Slammer III comes equipped with a six ball-bearing system that provides a smooth performance even on rougher waters. This fishing reel features Penn Fishing's new IP67 Sealed System. This feature is helpful because it keeps water from going into the drag system and gearbox. The Penn Slammer III is specifically designed to perform well for saltwater, but the smaller reel size options make it an excellent choice for freshwater fishing as well. It is one of the more expensive options for a reel, but if you're looking for something that will perform well in both saltwater and freshwater and last you for years, the Penn Slammer III is probably your best choice.
- Great for saltwater and freshwater
- IP67 Sealed System
- Slightly more expensive than other reels
The Pflueger President fishing reel is priced at what I would call the middle range. It’s still quite affordable compared to others and the price does change based on the size of the reel. This reel comes in sizes 2,000, 2,500, 3,000, 3,500, and 4,000. These sizes make it one of the best freshwater fishing reels in my opinion. Pflueger crafted this reel out of aluminum and graphite to make it strong yet lightweight. When it comes to a smooth performance, the President is arguably the smoothest fishing reel on this list. Besides the 2,000 size, every size of this reel has a ten ball bearing system. The 2,000 has a seven ball which is still very smooth compared to some others. The President comes with a sealed drag system to keep your reel functioning at its best. The Pflueger President is a reel that you’ll more than likely only use while fishing in freshwater for small to medium-sized fish. If you do plan on using the Flueger President in saltwater, you’ll want to stick to more inshore where you’ll have better luck reeling them in. While it’s not the best for saltwater, it is definitely usable in both but freshwater is your best bet with this reel.
- Ten ball bearing system
- Sealed drag system
- Not very useful for saltwater fishing
If you're looking for a fishing reel that is budget friendly but can still get the job done, Piscifun Flame might be a good option for you. This reel is relatively inexpensive compared to some of the others on this list but still performs really well. The reel sizes on this one range from 2,000 to 5,000, making it ideal to use in freshwater and maybe some inshore saltwater. For anglers who want to focus on catching bass, the smaller reel sizes of the Piscifun Flame can help you do so. The ideal reel size to catch bass would be 2,000 or 3,000 and the Piscifun Flame offers both. Because this reel performs best in freshwater and offers some smaller reel sizes, the Piscifun Flame could be a contender for the best bass fishing reel. The Piscifun Flame has a nine ball bearing system that makes it incredibly smooth. They make the Flame with aluminum and graphite to make it super lightweight. While the reel is lightweight, it has a lot of power behind it. This reel has a drag power of up to 19.8 pounds. Something to keep in mind with this reel is that yes, it is budget friendly, but it may not last you as long as some of the other, pricier reels.
- Great for freshwater fishing
- Nine ball bearing system
- The reel may not last you for years
While what you determine to be the best fishing reel for you may differ from your fishing partner, the best overall fishing reel out of these options is the Penn Battle. Penn Fishing is a reputable fishing brand that provides quality fishing reels to anglers of almost all skill levels. The Penn Battle is a relatively smooth reel that can perform well in both saltwater and freshwater. The variety in size options makes it perfect for fishermen and women who enjoy switching up where they fish without necessarily having to change fishing reels. The price is a little higher but when you purchase the Penn Battle you’re getting a fishing reel that can withstand the fight of a big fish and one that will last you for years to come.