The Best Spinning Reels For Bass – Buyers Guide 2020
If the reel you’ve been using is looking a little old and rundown then it may be time to pop into your local tackle shop and pick up a new one. With heaps of brands and hundreds of reels to choose from finding the right reel can be a daunting task. We thought we’d help take some of the stress out of your decision and compile a list of the best bass spinning reels on the market today.
We are going to cover the factors you should consider when looking at reels, some top reels in the market, and how to look after your reel once you’ve made your decision.
Table Of Contents
If You’re In A Rush (Our Top Picks):
We know how busy you can be so if you you’re in a rush and just want to know what the best spinning reel to catch bass with then here you go. If money is not an issue and you want the best go with the Shimano Stradic CI4+. Infused with carbon fiber this strong but lightweight reel is our pick for as the best bass fishing spinning reel for 2020. For a full description and to look at the other top reels on the market continue reading below.
Shimano Stradic Ci4+
Best Bass Reel On The Market
Best Reel Around $100
Best Bass Reel Under $60
Factors When Picking A Reel (Quick Overview): We will try not to get too technical and bore you straight away. We know no-one wants to read a few thousand words about the number off ball bearings used and it’s effects on winding efficiency but there are a few things you should look at when you are considering buying a new reel.
When I am thinking of a new purchase I pay attention to the price, construction material, drag strength and smoothness, spool construction and strength, the reels line capacity, gear ratio’s and the number of bearings used. All of these factors play a role in the quality of the reel and the experience you’ll have using it. If there are things from that list you don’t understand don’t worry, we give more in-depth information further down.
The Best Spinning Reels For Bass Fishing
Shimano Stradic CI4+
Our Pick For The Number 1 Bass Spinning Reel
Shimano has been a market leader within the fishing industry for decades and it’s not by accident. Shimano have designed and developed high quality, reliable and innovative reel designs year or on year that outperform everything else in the market.
The Shimano Stradic CI4+ was based off of the very popular Shimano Stradic. The new model features a carbon infused frame which lowers the weight of the reel while still maintaining its strength. The CI4+ model weighs a full 25% less than the original Shimano Stradic meaning those long days casting lures are more comfortable than ever.
Shimano didn’t just add carbon infusion and call it a day, they also updated the gearing system used in the reel with the introduction of an X-Ship gear. An X-Ship gear is supported at both ends ensuring that under heavy strain gear teeth remain properly aligned. This ensures there is no slippage between the gears and significantly reduces internal wear and tear.
The increased use of graphite instead of metal has made the CI4+ more corrosion resistant than its predecessor and when coupled with its Core Protect water resistance this could handle consistent saltwater use for years without skipping a beat.
The gears consist of a cold forged aluminum drive gear that attaches to a hardened brass gear. This combination gives the reel an incredible smooth winding action and although I wasn’t lucky enough to catch a real monster while I was using it from what I have heard its ability to pull out stubborn fish is very impressive.
Weight: 8.1 Ounces
Spool size: 200 yards of 10lb mono.
Max drag: 24lbs. More than enough for even the largest bass.
Gear Ratio: 6.2:1 gear ratio. With the large spool size that means for each full crank of the reel handle the line will return 39 inches.
- High quality top of its class reel
- Incredibly smooth winding action
- Large spool & great gear ratios
- On the more expensive side
Abu Garcia Revo Premier Spinning Reel
If there was one reel that was going to challenge the Shimano Stradic CI4+ for the top position it was going to be the Abu Garcia Revo Premier. This high end, top of the line reel has all the markings of a genuine contender for reel of the year.
The first thing you’ll notice when you use this reel is its ultra-smooth winding action. This is due to its computer optimized AM gearing system that utilizes 12 stainless steel bearings. When you read about features like aircraft grade aluminum and X-Mag gearing you know that Abu Garcia didn’t skip any corners to save money during manufacturing.
Made from carbon and lightweight aluminum this reel is a joy to use. It has all of Abu Garcia’s bells and whistles like AMGearing ™, a carbon matrix drag system, Rocket ™ line management, Rocket ™ spool lip, K-Clutch ™ anti reverse switch and the Everlast ™ bail system. Explaining all these features could be an article by itself so if you’d like to learn more I’d recommend visiting Abu Garcia’s website. In more simple terms, this reel will help you cast further and can handle some serious fish.
This reel was in our opinion a close second to the Shimano Stradic CI4+. It’s slightly lower max drag just gave Shimano the win but if you’re not sold on the Shimano then this reel is perfect for you.
Note: This reel comes with 4 different configurations so that’s why there is a range of specifications.
Weight: 6.4 – 8.4 ounces.
Spool size: Depends on the exact model. From on the smaller side to quite large.
Max drag: 10lb – 17lb. For big bass you might want to look at the larger reel configurations.
Gear Ratio: 6.2:1. The same ratio across all reels however due to different spool sizes the retrieval rate is different. For the smallest each turn of the handle retrieves 30 inches, for the largest it is 40 inches.
- Top of the line high quality reel
- All the bells and whistles that Abu Garcia has
- Different sizing options so you can find one that best suits your needs
- On the expensive side
- Low max drag rate especially on the smaller models
Abu Garcia Revo SX
Moving away from the top of the line reels now we have some mid-range reels that really outperform their price tags.
Made from a carbon molded body, and utilizing aluminum wherever possible the Revo SX is a lightweight reel that has the strength and the grit to pull in the big fish when necessary. Best of all, it won’t break the bank if you decided to buy one.
This great little reel features 8+1 sealed stainless steel bearings giving you good corrosion protection and it’s computer optimized gearing system makes for a smooth, easy to use reel.
Abu Garcia's Rocket Spool Lip technology pulls the line in flat which is great at reducing backlashes and tangles especially if you’re targeting bass with lightweight lures and baits.
For such a light reel we found the rigidity it had quite surprising. When there was a fish on you could tell that the reel was not stressing or flexing. The reel also has a Abu Garcia's famous carbon matrix drag system which provides a smooth, consistent drag pressure.
Weight: 7.9 ounces. A light reel but the smart use of carbon means it’s still rigid under load.
Spool size: A good size spool capable of holding 230 yards of 10lb mono.
Max drag: 18lbs. Compared to some other reels listed this is on the lower side. If you’re exclusively fishing bass this shouldn’t be a problem but if you’re thinking of going after some other bigger species it may struggle.
Gear Ratio: 6.2:1. A great gear ratio with a good sized spool. Each turn of the handle will pull in nearly 40 inches of line.
- Very lightweight
- Reduced tangles using lightweight gear
- Carbon matrix drag system
- High quality at a more affordable price
- Lower max drag rate
Penn Battle II
The Penn Battle II can be seen on just about every charter fishing boat up and down the coast. The reason for that is because it is tough, reliable and seriously outperforms it’s price tag. Forget the carbon infusions and the aircraft grade aluminum, this reel is made from a full metal body that can be bounced and banged around for years and never miss a beat.
Fitted with Penn’s iconic drag system that utilizes two washers on either side of the spool this system hasn’t changed in years because of its reliability and smooth start. Penn famously tests each drag system with 100 miles of line before approving its use so you know the drag system will last.
The new models are fitted with a rubber covered spool meaning you can attach braid right to the reel. With no backing you can get more line on your reel and you have one less knot to worry about.
While this reel may not have all the features of some of the other reels here it also doesn’t have their price tags. If you’re looking for an affordable reel that can handle some light mistreatment you’d be hard pressed to find a better option than the Penn Battle II.
Weight: 12.3 ounces. That full metal casing is tough but it is also heavy
Spool size: Medium. Can take about 180 yards of 10lb mono. There are markers on the spool so you can tell how much line you have left.
Max drag: 15lbs. That’s a big fish pulled in on a reel costing under a hundred dollars.
Gear Ratio: 6.2:1. With one crank of the handle you can expect to retrieve around 35 inches of line.
- Full metal body making for a tough reel.
- Penn’s Iconic Drag System
- No backing need on spool if using braid
- On the heavier side
- Can have inconsistent performance
Shimano Spirex FG
A Great Option Under The $100 Mark
Another great option if you’re looking at bass spinning reels around the $100 mark is the Shimano Spirex FG. Made with Shimano's excellent level of workmanship they also decided to throw in a number of features you don’t normally see on a reel at this price point.
Unlike the Penn Battle II which went for the old school all metal design, Shimano decided to go with a graphite frame and aluminum spool making for a reel considerably lighter and more comfortable to use than the Penn Battle II.
Not to be outdone by Penn the designers at Shimano also used a rubber lined spool meaning you can attach braid straight to the reel. One less knot means one less problem (and also means you don’t need to buy a roll of mono).
On the technical side of things you also have Quikfire II casting, Varispeed Oscillation and a Fluid Drive (visit Shimano’s website to learn about these) or in layman’s terms, you can cast further than expected and tangles are less likely.
With a double padded handle and a weight of only 8.8 ounces this reel is comfortable to use and provides many of the features found on reels 2 or 3 times the price.
Weight: 8.8 ounces. Much lighter than its main competition the Penn Battle II.
Spool size: small. It can only take around 110 yards of 6lb mono.
Max drag: 9lbs. A big fish can test this reel but it will make for a great story when you get home.
Gear Ratio: 6.2:1. With one crank of the handle you can expect to retrieve around 28 inches of line.
- Price: A great reel for under $100.
- Lightweight. Made from graphite and aluminum it doesn’t weigh a ton.
- Max drag: A big bass could test this reel although it will work perfect for 99% of fish.
Pflueger Supreme XT Spinning Reel
Lightweight And Affordable
If you’re one of those people that loves to spend hours on the water then the Pflueger Supreme XT Spinning Reel might be perfect for you. With a body made from magnesium and a spool made from aluminum this reel is light as a feather but still strong enough to handle a good sized bass.
At around $149 (checked on the 22 June 2020) this reel is the middle ground between the expensive high end models and the two more affordable options that are listed above.
Utilizing 10 stainless steel ball bearings and a sealed carbon drag this reel is smooth to wind and very corrosion resistant.
The reel also comes with a braid ready spool with a rubber lining so you won’t need backing.
Available in a few different sizes the Pflueger Supreme XT Spinning Reel is a great all round fishing reel. Use it for bass one day and take it out in the ocean the next and it won’t skip a beat.
Weight: 6 ounces. Light as a feather but still strong enough to handle a good sized fish.
Spool size: Small-medium. It can take around 110 yards of 4lb mono.
Max drag: 8lbs. A huge fish will be a struggle but this can handle 99% of what you’ll be catching.
Gear Ratio: 6.2:1. With one crank of the handle you can expect to retrieve around 34 inches of line.
- Good all round reel
- The holes can collect dirt
- Hard to clean
Daiwa Bg Spinning Reel
A great reel around the $100 price point
Daiwa is a big player in the reel game and their Bg Spinning Reel is a great all purpose reel that can more than hold it’s own in the bass fishing game.
While being available in multiple sizes that suit bass fishing (2000, 2500 & 3000) this reels is bigger than say a Shimano of the same size. Go a size smaller than you’re expecting. Made from a sturdy aluminum body this reel is tough so it’s a good choice if you’re gear is known to take a few bumps and knocks from time to time.
The aluminum spool is braid ready thanks to a rubber coating meaning you can attach braid right to the spool.
Specs: (For the 2500 size)
Weight: 9.3 ounces. A heavy duty solid reel that was designed to take a few bumps. With that comes added weight though.
Spool size: small-medium. It can take around 110 yards of 6lb mono.
Max drag: 13.2lbs. Enough for even a large bass.
Gear Ratio: 5.6:1. With one crank of the handle you can expect to retrieve around 33 inches of line.
- On the heavier side
- Reels are larger than listed size
Pflueger President Spinning Reel
The Most Affordable Reel To Make The List
Here at the jump we understand that not everyone can afford to through hundreds of dollars at a reel. The Pflueger President Spinning Fishing Reel is an honest, reliable reel that won’t break the bank (as of last check its around $60).
With a reel like this you won’t be setting record casting distances but you certainly won’t be getting let behind.
Featuring 10 stainless steel ball bearings this reel has a silky smooth motion and a braid ready spool means you don’t need backing.
It also has a fully sealed drag system which is generally unheard of for a reel under $100.
Weight: 6.2 ounces
Spool size: small-medium. It can take around 90 yards of 6lb mono.
Max drag: 9.2lbs. You may struggle with some giant bass but all in all it should handle it.
Gear Ratio: 5.2:1
- Fully sealed drag system
- 10 bearing system
- Prone to line twists
How Do Reel Sizes Work And What Size Should I Get?
When it comes to spinning reels the sizes are given as a number from 1000 (a small reel) to 10000+ (a large one).
When it comes to bass fishing you’re going to want to go on the lower end of the spectrum. I generally recommend going for a reel between 1000 and 3500. This would mean there are 5 sizes available to you (1000, 2000, 2500, 3000, 3500).
Note: Sometimes real sizes are given in a 2 digit number instead of a 4 digit number. In that case the sizes would be 10, 20, 25, 30, and 35.
If you already own a rod you should buy a reel that matches the size of the rod. If you’re buying both at the same time or you own multiple rods then you have a few more options. The biggest factor in reel size is the size of the line you are planning on putting on the reel. If you want to load up with thicker line than go with a larger reel.
Generally for bass fishing you can’t go wrong with something around the 2500 mark. It works perfectly with a 10lb-12lb braid while at the same time the reel will feel light and comfortable. If you like fishing lighter lines and smaller weights go for something smaller and vice versa if you like fishing with heavy tackle.
What To Look For In A Reel:
There are a number of factors that affect how a reel feels and performs. When you’re looking at a new reel its good to understand at least the basics of each of these components so you have an idea what to look for and what to avoid.
Construction materials: How a reel is made will tell you a lot about how it will fish. Today the top end reels are made with composite metals and alloys that are both light and strong. That’s not to say you can’t get a good reel that isn’t made with those composites. There are a number of all metal reels on the market that are great to use.
Bass can be powerful fish and its important you have the gear to handle them. Generally the best bass fishing reels are made from composites, magnesium or graphite. Composites have the ability to be light and strong (but expensive) which is why you only see it on the top end gear.
Good quality sturdy builds hold up better over time. It’s not just fish that put strain on a reel, they also get bounced around in a boat and car, can experience big temperature swings and have to deal with everyday wear and tear. You can expect many years out of a good quality reel.
Drag: When manufacturers are designing ways of implementing drag on a reel they want the drag to be strong and smooth.
A smooth drag lets out line without hesitation when a fish pulls. Lower quality drags catch a little before they begin releasing line which can lead to snapped line.
A strong drag means it doesn’t let out line when it shouldn’t. When you set the hook a little line should come off if necessary but it should never over spool once the force stops.
For bass fishing getting a front-drag system. These are more difficult to change while fighting a fish but are more durable and have a higher performance than rear-drag controls.
New fully sealed drag systems means the system is no longer exposed to the elements which has the potential compromise the drag system. If you have to options and one reel has a sealed drag system and one doesn’t then go with the one that does.
Spool: A lot of people think a spool is simply for holding line but it also has a large effect on casting distance and smoothness.
Most spools today are graphite or aluminum. Graphite is slightly lighter and aluminum is slightly stronger. If you’re using braid as your line remember that braid needs a mono backing otherwise the braid has the potential to slip rather than spin. Some spools today come with a rubber coating meaning that backing is not required and you can attach braid straight to the spool.
Line capacity: The line capacity is the recommended line size to use on a reel. If you’re fishing for bass and want to use a 12lb pound braid then you can search for a reel size that has a line capacity that matches it. The line capacity given has some leeway so if it says 200 yards of 10lb then 8lb to 12lb line will not be an issue.
Gear Ratios: With a spinning reel the gear ratio listed is the number of times the bail spins around the spool with a single crank of the handle. A 4:1 gear ratio is considered a slow retrieving reel (which is beneficial for bringing in large fish) and anything over a 6:1 gear ratio is considered a high speed retrieve (good for quickly turning a fish or getting them away from snags).
Seeing as spools are different sizes the amount of line pulled in depends on the gear ratio and the size of the spool. A small spool with a 6:1 ratio may retrieve less line per crank than a large spool with a 5:1 ratio. The line recovery is a measurement in inches that tells you how much line is wound onto the reel for each turn of the handle.
Anti-Reverse Handles: Anti reverse handles are switches that stop the handle of a reel being able to turn backwards. To properly set a hook it is essential that the reel doesn’t have any sort of backwards motion. If you are considering buying a reel that does have some backward motion when the line is pulled I would recommend looking at a something else
Ball bearings: Without getting into the nitty gritty, ball bearings help the reel perform smoothly and as a general rule the more ball bearings the better. Sealed stainless steel ball bearings are better than bushings because they are not exposed to the elements and have better durability. Really good quality bearings will outperform more lower quality bearings so keep that in mind when looking at reels. a reel with 4 bearings from Shimano will work better than an unknown brand reel with 15.
Looking After Your Reel
Once you do decide on a new reel there are a few simple things you can do to extend its life for years.. We could write a whole article on reel care so we will keep this quick and simple.
After each use rinse your reel with a soft spray of water. Don’t submerge your reel in water or use a high pressure water stream as this can push water into your gearing and cause damage.
After rinsing dry your reel with a microfiber cloth and you’re done.
Every year or so you might want to give your reel a proper service. You can find a fishing store that can do this for you or if you’re confident you can buy some lubricant and do it yourself.
Proper maintenance and general care will give you a reel that can last a decade plus.
When it comes to finding the right reel there are thousands of options out there and finding the right reel for you can be a real challenge. We hope this list has helped narrow down your choices or even helped you make a final decision.
If you’re still struggling don’t be afraid to ask for help. From my experience people working in tackle stores love talking about fishing and would be more than happy to give you some advice.
Once you have made your choice remember to look after your reel. Wash and dry it after every use and it should last many years. If it goes a year or two without being used take it to a tackle store for a service or lookup how to do it yourself.
Good luck out there, have fun and I hope you catch the bass of your lifetime.