The Best Fishing Reel Brands of 2023
Unleashing the angler within you? Before you swap your office chair for a boat, let’s get you schooled on the best brands of fishing reels. Like a fish in water, these brands have mastered the art of reel perfecting, giving you one less thing to worry about while you’re out there playing tug-o-war with the aquatic world.
Whether it’s Shimano’s smooth operation, Penn’s durability, or Abu Garcia’s precision, the details for reel brands are as diverse as fish in the sea!
Looking for a fishing reel for your first fishing trip? Well, we would like to offer a few fishing reel brands to your attention.
There are many reels on the market that you could choose from. Perhaps too many. But by narrowing your options down to a few brands, you should be able to make things a little easier for yourself.
Below, we will introduce you to reel brands in a few reel categories – spinning reels, baitcasting reels, trolling reels, fly reels, and spincast reels. Hopefully, such a breakdown will allow you to find what you are looking for quickly.
Remember, a good fisherman never lets his gear off the hook! So, get hooked on our comprehensive guide to reel in your big catch.
With that said, let’s have a look at the best fishing reel brands in each of these categories!
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The Best Fishing Reel Brands of 2023
Spinning Reel Brands
Shimano is one of the best-known names in the fishing tackle market, if not the best-known. This Japanese brand is also quite renowned for its cycling components and rowing equipment, so you have probably heard this name more than once when shopping for bicycles or maybe rowing shoes.
Shimano offers many types of reels, and – a little spoiler alert – this brand will be featured for a few other fishing reel categories.
The total number of spinning reel models offered by Shimano as of October 2023 was 55 – 10 surf spinning, 20 saltwater spinning, and 25 regular spinning reels. Not only that, but Shimano offers fishing reels across multiple ranges, allowing newbies or experienced anglers alike to find something to their budget and needs.
Penn’s selection of spinning fishing reels isn’t nearly as wide as that of Shimano. But while you do have only 15 models in total to choose from, Penn’s assortment should be pretty enough for most people.
On the lower end, you have the Penn Fierce III spinning reel, an inexpensive but solid piece of equipment that will appeal to newbies or those who don’t need an over-the-top spinning reel. This reel has all the basics you would want, as well as fairly decent build quality.
On the higher end, you have the Torque II spinning reel that’s just shy of costing a grand. This guy offers a remarkable sealed body design along with exceptional smoothness delivered by 9+1 stainless steel bearings.
Aside from these two reels, you have 13 models in between that would be more suitable for the not-so-demanding angler. And by the way, most of Penn’s fishing reels are in the middle price range, with Torque II being the only higher-end model as of October 2019. This makes this brand quite a good option for those who want something good but not too pricey.
Okuma is another well-known fishing tackle manufacturer.
The spinning reel variety of Okuma is pretty remarkable – you have 35 regular reels, 3 saltwater reels, and 6 surf spinning reels. While Shimano offers a wider selection of saltwater and surf spinning reels, Okuma may actually be better in the regular spinning reel department.
The high-end Okuma spinning reels like the Surf 8k are particularly remarkable since they boast the wide array of technology used by Okuma in their reels. The Surf 8k reel is filled with patented design solutions like a rotor brake system and the rotor with brush guards, which shows that Okuma has its own vision and direction in fishing reel design.
Pflueger isn’t the most renowned fishing reel manufacturer on the market since it doesn’t have those really spectacular high-end models. However, if you are on a tighter budget, then this brand may be a good option for you.
Pflueger offers 12 spinning reel models, and the prices don’t go over $300! If you desperately need a fishing reel, then you may also go for the $30-$50 models like the Monarch Ice or the President spinning reels.
The “you get what you pay for” rule will apply to this brand’s cheap reels, but if you don’t need anything too over-the-top, Pflueger is a solid option.
Daiwa doesn’t sell the most expensive spinning reels either, but they do have a few interesting things to offer.
The first is the Exist spinning reel which is a product of Daiwa’s 60 years of innovation. While this particular reel is far from being the priciest model out there, it does offer a remarkable combination of durability, lightness, and smoothness. This spinning reel is among the most cost-efficient models you can find out there.
Then, you have the middle-end Certate LT spinning reel with its aim at corrosion resistance, particularly thanks to the 10 corrosion-resistant ball bearings.
Aside from these two reels, you have 22 others to choose from, and each offers its own interesting features.
And the last notable brand in the spinning reel category is KastKing, which is a great option for those who are looking for inexpensive fishing reels whether because you are a newbie or a not-too-demanding angler.
The spinning reel selection of KastKing doesn’t go over $150, with the most expensive model as of October 2023 being the Kapstan Elite High-Speed Saltwater Spinning Reel with its $149.99 price tag.
On the lower end, you have things like the $24.99 Royale Legend II Ice Fishing Reel or even the $21.99 Summer spinning reel!
Now, since KastKing’s reels are very cheap, there isn’t too much to expect from them. But this won’t necessarily be a problem if you don’t need that much!
Baitcasting Reel Brands
Abu Garcia is the go-to reel brand if you want a middle-end baitcasting reel. This company may be able to also satisfy you if you are looking for some low-end options.
The reel selection of these guys is pretty remarkable – you have 16 round baitcasting reels and 29 low-profile baitcasting reels. This is a much wider selection than those offered by the more renowned brands, e.g. Okuma with its 6 models.
And while you have more low-profile baitcasting reels to choose from, you can find good low- to middle-end reels in both categories represented by Abu Garcia.
Is it a surprise that Shimano has made it into our list for the second time? Well, 34 regular and 8 saltwater baitcasting reels are a pretty good reason for this brand to be featured again!
Now, Shimano offers a couple fewer baitcasting reels than Abu Garcia, and the selections of the two brands are a little different. Abu Garcia also has more saltwater baitcasting reels, though not that Shimano is too far behind in this regard.
However, given that the two-reel brands are pretty close to each other in terms of price, Shimano is a good alternative to Abu Garcia (and the other way around) if you find that Abu Garcia’s reels aren’t exactly what you are looking for.
Lew’s is yet another solid brand option if you are looking for a baitcasting fishing reel for not too much money. This brand offered 28 models in total as of October 2019, with the priciest Pro-Ti Speed Spool model costing $349.99. Though this model is far from being the most sophisticated baitcasting reel on the market, it still has great smoothness and durability.
At the other end of the spectrum, you have extremely cheap models like the Speed Cast Underspin or the Speed Cast Spincast, both costing $19.99. These can’t boast exceptional durability or smoothness, but they are good enough for the newbie angler.
Trolling Reel Brands
On the trolling reel market, you aren’t going to find as many reel models as in other categories. You probably won’t find more than a couple of models from a single brand, but there are nonetheless a few brands which you can buy trolling reels from.
One of them is Cabela’s with its DepthMaster trolling reel line that includes lower- to middle-end models. If you can’t spend more than $200 on a trolling reel, then Cabela’s reels may interest you.
Okuma is a little bit better than Cabela’s in terms of the trolling reel selection.
You have the Line Counter reel line that’s specifically designed for boat fishing, with high-performance options like the Coldwater Line Counter, Convector Line Counter, and Magda Line Counter reel lines. In total, you have 6 models in the lower and middle end.
Well, such a selection sure is nowhere near the 35 models in the Okuma spinning reel line, but given how specific trolling reels are, 6 reels to choose from is pretty good.
Shimano is a fairly good option if you are ready to spend the money on a solid middle-end trolling reel.
The reel selection with Shimano is a little bit poorer than with Okuma. To be more precise, Shimano offers just 2 trolling reel models – the Tekota A is priced at around $200 and the Charter Special is a little bit cheaper.
At the moment of this post’s writing, the Tekota A line offered 8 size options, whereas Charter Special had only 2. While you may be able to find what you are looking for in the Charter Special Line, the Tekota A series is more likely to provide you with what you want.
Fly Reel Brands
Things are a little better in the fly reel department. In this market segment, you actually have brands that are focused on fly fishing tackle specifically.
One of these brands is Orvis. While Orvis can’t boast the widest selection of fly reels on the market, you can find both cheap and expensive fly reels from it.
If you want something less expensive, then the Clearwater Large Arbor or Battenkill reels costing around $100 may interest you. But if you are up to spending a few hundred dollars on a great reel, you could opt for Mirage fly reels that cost from around $500 to $800.
Echo is also specifically focused on fly fishing tackle. And while Echo only offers 3 fly reels to choose from, this brand is a nice option if you are looking for a cheaper reel.
The priciest fly reel from Echo costs just $139, while the budget Base reel is priced at just $39. You also have the Ion line in between with a price tag of $79-$99 depending on the model, which shows that Echo is pretty decently represented in the lower end.
Finally, we have Piscifun, a fishing tackle brand that has a few other reel kinds other than fly reels. These guys are focused around the lower end across their entire reel selection, which makes this brand another good option if you have a tight budget.
Piscifun offers 10 fly reel models to choose from, and their price doesn’t go over $100. Most of the Piscifun reels are priced around $50, which isn’t as cheap as Echo reels, but it’s cheap enough if you are looking for an inexpensive beginner’s fly reel.
Spincasting Reel Brands
Daiwa’s selection of spincast reels pales in comparison with its spinning reel line we’ve overviewed earlier, but that’s actually how things go in the spincast reel market. You only have a few brands to choose from, and there aren’t too many options available to you.
The Daiwa spincast reel lineup includes 4 not too expensive models. On the higher end are the Goldcast and Silvercast reels with smooth operation, and you also have the Underspin and Minicast reels if you aren’t too demanding.
Pflueger only has 2 spincast reel models, but priced under $40, they appear to be pretty decent for beginners or those who don’t need an over-the-top spincast reel.
The $39.99 President spincast reel isn’t going to be the absolute best reel on the market, but it seems to be a fairly solid option of a lower-end spincast reel. And if you want something even cheaper, then the $25.49-$29.99 Trio line could be a good option for you.
Finally, we have Zebco. With a selection of over 20 spincast reels, Zebco is a great option if you are looking for a very inexpensive spincast fishing reel. The spincast models of this brand don’t go over $100, and you can also find reels that cost as low as $20 or even $10!
So, there you have it folks, the lowdown on the best brands of fishing reels. These are the crème de la crème, the big fish in the sea of reel brands if you will. They are not just brands, they are stalwarts, they are legends, they are the fairy godparents of every angler’s dreams.
We’ve gone through some serious details for reel brands, because hey, when it comes to fishing, it’s all about the details.
These brands have been around the block. They’ve wrestled with marlins, danced with salmon, and whispered sweet nothings to bass. With their superior craftsmanship, innovative designs, and sheer dedication to making your fishing experience smoother than a trout’s leap out of the water, these brands have truly earned their spots at the top.
From Shimano’s durability to Penn’s reliability, from Daiwa’s innovation to Abu Garcia’s precision, these brands of fishing reels have shown us that when it comes to fishing equipment, they are no small fry. They offer you the confidence to cast a line knowing that your reel won’t let you down at that crucial moment when a trophy catch is on the line.
In conclusion, choosing from these top brands is like trying to pick your favorite child – it’s nearly impossible! But one thing is for certain, when you invest in any of these best fishing reel brands, you aren’t just buying a product; you’re buying a legacy, a story, and a partner for all your future fishing exploits. Now, go forth and fish with the knowledge that you’ve got some seriously good gear at your disposal!