best fishing reels

Best Fishing Reels of 2021: Complete Reviews With Comparisons

Each year companies consider customer feedback and help build a better fishing reel.

Using one of the best fishing reels can make a world of difference when it comes to fishing in freshwater or saltwater environments.

To help you decide which one is worth your money, we’ve created a list of some of the best reels.

Whether you’re fishing in Central California or heading to Southern California for fishing season, you’ll need a good fishing reel.

So, without further hesitation, let’s get into the review.

Comparison Chart

Pflueger PRESSP20B President Spinning Fishing Reel

Penn 1338215 Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel

Daiwa BG Saltwater Heavy Spinning Reel

Abu Garcia 1365366 Fishing Reel

Okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel

Best Fishing Reels

1. Pflueger President Spinning Fishing Reel

If you’re a regular angler, then Pflueger is a brand that you’ve heard of a lot.

They’re one of the best-known fishing brands in the business and have been creating reels since 1881.

The company builds new products each year, and the President Spinning Fishing Reel is one of the newer models.

The company takes feedback from their buyers, and each year it innovates new fishing rods.

It also focuses on providing dependable fishing rods and pays attention to every small detail.

If you’re looking for an affordable version, you can’t go wrong with this one.

Product Highlights

Here’s an overview of what the Pflueger President Spinning Fishing Reel can offer:

  • Seven Bearing System

The product has upgraded corrosion-resistant stainless steel ball bearings that provide ultimate control and precision when you’re fishing.

Plus, they make reeling in your catch easier.

  • Graphite Body

The graphite body of the Pflueger President Spinning Fishing Reel is lightweight and easy to manage, yet dependable and durable.

Aside from that, the braid-ready spool keeps the braid tied directly to the spool and prevents slipping.

  • Sealed Drag System

The sealed drag washers of the Pflueger President Spinning Fishing Reel are always lubricated, which enables smooth operation and prevents the rod from getting jammed.

Equipped with slow oscillation gear, there is minimal line twisting and improves the line lay.

What's to like about the Pflueger President Spinning Fishing Reel

There are a few features that make the Pflueger President Spinning Fishing Reel stand out from others.

The first is the corrosion-resistant stainless steel bearings, which are designed to provide smooth performance, making it a perfect choice for both experts and beginners.

Aside from that, it also is ideal for seasoned anglers due to its versatility.

The main body of the Pflueger President Spinning Fishing Reel is extremely durable and low weight, so it is ideal for those wanting better performance and control.

The handle is also crafted using high-grade aluminum, which prevents saltwater damage and will last for many fishing trips.

What's not to like about the Pflueger President Spinning Fishing Reel

Some anglers have described the Pflueger President Spinning Fishing Reel as having gear grinding problems.

Usually, this happens if the gear isn't properly aligned or is damaged.

While the company does its best to alleviate this problem, there’s still a chance that the gear can become damaged during shipping.

If this happens, contact their customer support, and they will gladly help you with your problem.


  • Lightweight
  • Durable
  • Enhanced control
  • Smoother performance
  • Beginner-friendly


  • Gear grinding

2. Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel

The Penn Battle II is an excellent choice for those looking for durability and performance.

The product has been modified from previous versions to help increase its strength.

Master anglers can tell you that this is important when it comes to saltwater fishing and baiting giant game.

Aside from that, the Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel has been made to be lightweight and easy to assemble.

You won’t have to spend a handful of time setting it up, as the piece breaks into two different sections.

Lastly, the spool allows for lower line memory and wider spools. 

Product Highlights

Here’s what the Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel has to offer:

  • Enhanced Range

The Penn Battle II is specially designed for saltwater use.

Its enhanced-range is good for bigger catches and helps deliver full control.

  • Metal Body

The reel's main body, side plates, and rotor are all made from high-quality aluminum.

Aluminum helps extend the products lifespan and provides exceptional durability.

  • Carbon Fiber Drag System

The Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel's HT 100 drag system helps support the reel.

It offers powerful drag but prevents the system from jamming.

  • Fluid Cranking

The Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel has an updated cranking with enhanced smoothness.

The five-sealed ball bearings made of stainless steel also provide an instant anti-reverse bearing.

  • Superline Spool

This reel is braid-ready and doesn't require backing, which helps you save setup time.

The superline features a thick line capacity of ⅓, ⅔, and full.

What's to like about the Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel

Overall, the Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel is good for those wanting to change up their spool size.

It provides enough space to fit all situations.

The wider spool improves lower line memory and is valid for fishing in saltwater environments.

Additionally, the drag is flawless and frictionless.

The Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel also comes with ball bearings that are designed to prevent erosion, helping extend the duration of the unit and prevent rusting.

The anti-reverse bearing is also excellent for preventing any back play.

What's not to like about the Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel

The only issue we’ve encountered with the Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel is that the line doesn’t always spool correctly.

This can cause several issues, including the amount of line you can spool at one time.

If you run into this problem, though, it's best to lookup maintenance videos on how to keep it from spooling incorrectly.

Aside from that, the Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel also has a very heavy reel.

It’s not as bad for seasoned anglers, but the weight is too heavy for beginners.

However, this issue is mainly due to it being sturdy and powerful.


  • Enhanced durability
  • Perfect for saltwater fishing
  • Heavy-duty
  • Versatile line capacity


  • Doesn’t spool correctly
  • Heavy

3. Daiwa Bg Spinning Reel

If you’re searching for a spinning reel, then we can highly suggest the Daiwa Bg Spinning Reel.

It’s essential for any angler since it allows you to change up your fishing style.

Instead of using a standard reel, a spinning reel can help you catch fish in multiple environments.

The Daiwa Bg includes a simplified spinning reel that’s packed with power.

It features high-quality components and an industrial-strength build.

The Daiwa Bg provides both stability and strength, so if you’re looking for a powerhouse spinning fishing reel, you can’t go wrong with this one.

Product Highlights

Here are the features of the Daiwa Bg Spinning Reel:

  • Black Anodized Machined Aluminum

The reel has a hardened exterior built to last.

It's covered with an oversized Digigear system that enables better control.

  • Solid Screw-in Handle

You can disassemble and screw in the handle of the Daiwa Bg Spinning Reel.

It helps provide extra control and ensures that you have enough room for your spool.

  • Waterproof Drag System

The waterproof drag helps make your reeling experience easier.

This includes fishing in freshwater and saltwater environments.

  • Line-In Spool

The spool lays most lines well and prevents tangling, which helps increase performance and makes everything smooth.

  • Air Rotor Construction

The Daiwa Bg Spinning Reel's large roller can help prevent knots, twists, and jams.

It casts flawlessly and reels in without any friction.

It's perfect for saltwater environments or deep water fishing.

What's to like about the Daiwa Bg Spinning Reel

The Daiwa Bg Spinning Reel has such flawless drag, and it works in deep water conditions, but it also works perfectly in other environments since you can change the spooling without any hassle.

Overall, we enjoy that this is a versatile yet powerful spinning reel that comes at an affordable price.

What's not to like about the Daiwa Bg Spinning Reel

The only complaint we would have is that the Daiwa Bg Spinning Reel is very heavy compared to other models.

While it’s not a major issue, some may find that it tires them out and may need to find an alternative.

However, this makes it perfect for deepwater fishing and larger catches.


  • Enhanced durability
  • Space-saving
  • Flashy design
  • Works in deepwater and saltwater environments
  • Smooth performance


  • Heavy

4. Abu Garcia Black Max Fishing Reel

The Abu Garcia Black Max is an excellent lightweight reel for weekend day fishers.

It’s perfect for continuous use and has sturdy construction to support that.

Aside from that, it's been enhanced to help provide substantial drag and boost the accuracy of your casting.

Overall, it’s an excellent unit for beginners.

Product Highlights

Here’s what you'd expect from Abu Garcia Black Max Fishing Reel:

  • Lightweight Design

The reel is made from graphite and features a one-piece design with both the side plates and framework.

It makes it easy to handle and beginner-friendly.

  • Four Stainless Steel Ball Bearings

The stainless steel helps reduce the amount of friction when reeling in.

The smooth performance of the Abu Garcia Black Max Fishing Reel helps beginners learn how to control their rod.

Plus, the stainless steel is rust-resistant and durable.

  • Power Disk System

This system provides smooth drag performance while helping manage accuracy.

Overall, it’s perfect for beginners or those who need a bit of support while casting.

  • MagTrax Brake System

The Abu Garcia Black Max Fishing Reel's MagTrax Brake System helps increase the range and accuracy of each cast.

  • Compact Bent Handle

The handle is space-saving and designed to provide an ergonomic grip.

This is perfect for long trips since you won’t feel your hands aching after a few hours out on the water.


What's to like about the Abu Garcia Black Max Fishing Reel

The Abu Garcia Black Max Fishing Reel is easy to use and doesn’t require much effort.

If you’re just starting, the lightweight design and increased accuracy can really make a difference in performance.

If you’re looking for a beginner-friendly reel, you can’t go wrong with the Abu Garcia Black Max Fishing Reel.

What's not to like about the Abu Garcia Black Max Fishing Reel

The only gripe we’ve had with the Abu Garcia Black Max Fishing Reel is that it’s not as durable as other models.

It’s lightweight, which means there are no heavy metals used.

This likely can cause the reel to break down over time.

That said, good maintenance and proper storing can help prevent the reel from becoming damaged.


  • Enhances accuracy
  • Smooth performance
  • Ergonomic feel
  • Lightweight


  • Medium durability

5. Okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel

The Okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel helps increase airflow throughout the rotor, which makes it ideal for long term use and helps prevent corrosion and water intrusion.

With the added elliptical gearing system, the performance is smoother.

You will be able to cast an increased distance as well as improve your accuracy.

Overall, this reel is good for anglers wanting all-around performance.

Product Highlights

The Okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel has a lot to offer, including:

  • Precision Elliptical Gearing System

This upgraded system helps create less friction while casting and is perfect for anglers of any level.

It also helps increase accuracy and casting distance, which makes it easy to use.

The gear also helps create uniform drag pressure, providing smoother performance.

  • Quick-Set Anti-Reverse

The Okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel's anti-reverse system helps engage the reel in one direction, which can be useful for keeping the hooks inset.

  • Cyclonic Flow Rotor

The rotor of the Okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel helps increase airflow around the gears, which, in turn, helps increase drying time and minimize corrosion.

  • Okuma RESII Computer Balancing

This feature helps improve high-speed performance while also delaying any wobbling while using the Okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel.

  • Custom EVA Knobs

The product has custom-made EVA knobs that help provide comfort to your hands.

They have an ergonomic design that helps prevent any hand aches, making it perfect if you plan to fish for hours.

  • Blade Body Design

The Okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel has a refined and compact design, so it's easy to pack, carry around, and store.

What's to like about the Okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel

The Okuma Ceymar has good all-around performance and durability.

Out of all on our list, this one includes the best features for the price-point.

Additionally, its smooth performance and increased casting are appreciated for beginners and experts.

What's not to like about the Okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel

The only downside we’ve found is that the Okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel may make a slight clicking sound, which can be bothersome to some people, especially anglers who enjoy peace and quiet.

However, you can fix this issue by putting a little grease on the line.


  • Lightweight
  • Increased accuracy
  • Easy to use
  • Compact design
  • Good all-around performance


  • Produces clicking sound

Buyer’s Guide

Any angler can tell you that there are a few features you need to keep your eye on.

Depending on your fishing style, you may want certain features, while in other situations, you may need others.

We think it’s best to consider the features we listed below, as it will give you a better idea of what type of reel will fit you.

1. Design

The design you’ll want in a fishing reel is an open-faced one since it's beginner-friendly and lets you mount spinning reels easily.

These spinning reels are also less likely to jam, tangle, or run loose.

2. Weight

Depending on what type of fishing you’re doing, you’ll need to choose different weights.

Lightweight reels are ideal for occasional fishing and beginners, while deepwater or saltwater environments require that you use a heavier reel.

We suggest getting one with aluminum housing or a model made from stainless steel.

3. Grip

Sometimes grip can either make or break a reel.

If you’re using a reel with comfortable handles, it could become tedious to use over an extended period.

We recommend ergonomically designed handles to help prevent this.

4. Durability

It is best to look for waterproof sealing or front drag systems since these two features help prevent corrosion and can speed up the drying process.

Other factors that contribute to durability is material type and gear.

Materials such as aluminum or stainless steel tend to last longer than other types, while multiple gear types can help cut down on grinding and jamming.

5. Reel Type

There are three main fishing reel types: spin-cast, bait cast, and spinning.

Each reel is useful in a different setting and environment.

To get a better idea of which type of reel you’ll need, here's a quick overview:

  • Spincast

This is the easiest type of casting reel and the most affordable.

If you’re just starting to fish, then we highly recommend this to you.

It’s easy to use and gives you decent accuracy and control.

  • Spinning

A spinning reel is lightweight and easy to use, so it is perfect for a majority of anglers.

It works well in most fishing environments but prone to tangling.

  • Baitcast

For experts and professional anglers, this is the desired type of casting system.

The baitcast reel is powerful and can reel in some big game.

The durable build enables it to increase your accuracy and drag while reeling in fish.

6. Size

The size of each reel is different for each company.

There’s no real set standard on what size reeling you’re using.

In general, the smaller the number, the smaller the reel.

So for example, a reel that is size 20 or 2000 is going to be smaller than a 25 or 2500.

7. Drag System

A good drag system is a must for any professional angler.

The drag system is designed to help prevent the line from breaking, so for the most part, every company has a decent drag system.

The main difference is that you’ll need to adjust the drag for smaller or bigger fish.

8. Gear Ratio

The gear ratio is what measures how much spool is turning in a single turn.

So, if a gear ratio is around 6.4:1, then the spool moves around 6.4 every time you move the handle in a full circle.

An ideal gear ratio is either 6.4:1 or a 7.1:1 since this is what works well for most situations.


1. Are Expensive Reels Worth It?

Expensive reels don’t exactly mean you’re getting a better reel for your money.

Most reels tend to be pretty affordable.

The more expensive models focus on building technique and smoothness.

Aside from that, you’ll find that they also have better reliability and durability than lower-priced models.

Overall, an expensive reel isn’t necessary, but it is useful.

We only recommend investing in one if you need a heavy-duty reel or if you are going to be using it frequently.

2. Should I Get a Baitcasting Reel or a Spinning Reel?

It will highly depend on what size of fish you’re trying to catch.

In general, a spinning reel is useful for catching average-sized fish.

If you want to catch big fish, then a baitcasting reel may be the better option.

Additionally, you can use some baitcasting reels in freshwater environments.

Thus, you should consider carefully where you will fish.

3. Why Do Bass Fishermen Use Baitcasters?

Bass lives in an environment surrounded by heavy weeds, and you’ll need a stronger line to deal with them, thus, bait casters are recommended.

Not only do they provide more torque, but they also handle heavy lines better than spin casters.

When reeling in a catch, it’s important to use a baitcaster that can improve your accuracy and performance.

4. How Do You Skip a Cast on a Spinning Reel?

Here’s a good example for learning how to skip a cast on a spinning reel.

5. How Do You Protect a Fishing Reel From Saltwater?

There are a few methods you can use to help protect your fishing reel from saltwater damage.

Here are just a few to consider:

  • Only clean your fishing reel using freshwater.
  • Skip pressure washing and just clean it with light running water.
  • Rinse the reel upside down to help prevent water from getting trapped inside the reel.
  • Air dry your reels and then lubricate them afterward.
  • Store your reels in a cool, dry area.

Another way you can prevent damage is by investing in a saltwater reel.

The reel will be made out of aluminum or stainless steel and help prevent the unit from becoming damaged.

It’s also good to keep your reel lubricated and clean.

Final Verdict

As you can see, fishing in either saltwater or freshwater environments requires you to have the best fishing reels.

If you don’t, you could face multiple problems on your next fishing trip.

Overall, we believe that the Okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel is the top choice.

The reason for this is that it has the best all-around features that will satisfy any beginner or pro angler.

If you’re not satisfied with this one, any of the other ones on our list are highly rated by fishers.

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