2021’s Best Spinning Reel for All Budgets

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Spinning reels offer great performance in an easy-to-use package making it the perfect choice for beginner and professional anglers alike. Whether it’s your first reel or you’re looking to add one to your collection, making the right choice for a new reel can be difficult but we’re here to make things easy for you – keep reading to find out my recommendations for the best spinning reel under 100 and more for all budgets.

What is a Spinning Reel?

Spinning reels are an easy-to-use open face option that many consider being an intermediate fishing reel. They’re simple and versatile making them a great well-rounded option for even the newest anglers out there.

Unlike push-button and baitcast reels, spinning reels are mounted on the bottom side of a rod. Another major difference between spin and baitcast gear is that the spool does not move on a spinning reel as it does on a baitcaster. Instead, they use what is referred to as a bail – this spins around the spool while simultaneously moving up and down to evenly distribute the line.

To make a cast you have to hold the line with the index finger on your casting hand as you flip the bail open with your opposite hand. Let go of the line as you cast, and once your bait hits the water you can flip the bail back over and start reeling.

What is a Spinning Reel?

Benefits of a Spinning Reel

One of the main benefits of spinning reels is undoubtedly their ease of use but they also serve as a more practical option in certain situations.

  • Panfish
  • Lightweight Tackle
  • Switch Hitter
  • More Affordable

Great for Panfish

Lightweight spinning gear is unmatched in its efficacy when it comes to catching panfish. If I’m hauling in crappie and bluegill you’ll never see me with anything other than a spinning reel in my hand.

That’s not to say that spinning reels can’t be used for bass, because they are better for certain bass fishing situations as well.

Lightweight Tackle

While many bass anglers opt for a baitcast reel in most scenarios there is at least one situation where the spinning reel outperforms casting gear. Baitcasters are designed to cast heavier lines and tackle so it should come as no surprise that they are not the best choice when it comes to throwing lighter-weight tackle.

This is where spinning gear comes into play. Spin reels are unmatched in their finesse ability when it comes to throwing those lightweight lures in tight spots.

Switch Hitter

Another advantage that a spinning reel has that a baitcaster does not is the ability to switch the handle to be either a right or left-handed crank. This change takes only a few seconds and it means you are not limited in your selection of new reels. Some people may have a hard time finding certain baitcasters for their preferred orientation but this problem is non-existent with spin gear.

More Affordable

Spinning reels are generally more affordable than baitcasters and they can perform just as well. There are some pricey options out there but on average a spinning reel is going to be a more affordable way to catch fish.

Things to Consider

Before you try and make a decision on what the best spinning reel is for you, you need to know about the base components and what makes one different from the other.

Drag Adjustment

The drag adjustment on a spinning reel is located on top of the spool. This is used to control how much force is needed to pull the line from the spool. If a fish is pulling your line out you can increase the drag at the cost of adding more tension to the line. When choosing a spin reel you need to check the max drag and make sure it can handle the type of fishing you plan on doing.

Bail Arm

This is the part of the reel that spools the line as you retrieve your lure. By opening the bail arm you allow the line to unspool freely when you go to make a cast. This shouldn’t be a major deciding factor when you go to choose your new spinning gear because all bail arms function the same way. As long as it feels good to you when opening and closing then it’s a good choice.

Gear Ratio

The gear ratio in a spin reel is measured and formatted the same way as any other fishing reel (X:1) where x is the number of times the bail arm revolves around the spool per one turn of the handle. Gear ratios usually range anywhere from a slow 4:1 to a faster 6:1 ratio.

Ball Bearings

In general, a higher number of bearings used in a reel means the smoother that reel will cast and retrieve. With this increased performance of course comes an increased price tag. I recommend you choosing a reel with at least four or five bearings as this is an adequate amount for a smooth casting experience. 

Best Spinning Reel for the Money

Shimano Vanford F Spinning Reel, VF500F

Last update was on: May 25, 2024 2:11 pm
in stock

The Vanford is Shimano’s continuations of their esteemed Stradic CI4 and is our pick for the overall best spinning reel for the money. It outperforms a seemingly already flawless reel and it looks great too.

Its carbon frame design makes it a super lightweight and corrosion-resistant reel so you can count on it for a quality fishing experience for years to come. This reel comes in a variety of gear ratios, the slowest being a 5.1:1 with the fastest being a 6.4:1 ratio. 

Shimano guarantees a smooth fishing experience with the Vanford’s 6+1 and 7+1 bearing system models.

As a testament to its versatility this reel has three different handle models to choose from: a round handle, paddle handle, and a t-handle. The Vanford comes with options so you can tailor it to your specific needs.

This reel is priced a little higher than most but it is a top performance spin reel suitable for all experience levels.

Best Spinning Reel for Beginners

Pflueger Trion Spinning Fishing Reel

Free shipping
Last update was on: May 25, 2024 2:11 pm
in stock
$41.96 $49.99

This is hands down the best choice for beginning anglers looking to purchase their first spin reel. The performance offered by this reel is unheard of for the asking price.

This reel’s super lightweight graphite frame is paired with a high-performance aluminum spool offering you a smooth fishing experience for years to come. It’s only available in a 5.2:1 gear ratio but the mid-speed reel can be used for a variety of different fishing styles.

With a 6+1 bearing setup, you’re guaranteed a smooth cast and retrieve every time you hit the water. The Trion comes equipped with an instant anti-reverse reel to prevent you from reeling the bail in the wrong direction.

Best Spinning Reel Under 50

Abu Garcia Silver Max & Max STX Spinning Reels (All Models & Sizes)

Last update was on: May 25, 2024 2:11 pm
in stock

Abu Garcia is more than likely going to place somewhere on any list involving fishing gear and this list comparing spinning reels is no different. Their Max STX is a quality reel at a price that’s friendly to just about anybody’s budget.

Equipped with an instant anti-reverse function and a max drag ranging from 6.4 lbs and up to 14 lbs on the larger models. Pair these two things with the 5+1 bearing system and you have yourself a spinning reel suitable for pulling even the largest bass out of the water. A reel that easily could have contended for the best spinning reel under 100, but with such a low price tag it was an easy selection for the best spinning reel under 50 on the market!

Best Spinning Reel Under 100

Lew's Mach 2 Metal Spin 100 6.2:1 Spinning Reel

Last update was on: May 25, 2024 2:11 pm
out of stock

Best Spinning Reel Under 100 - Lews Mach 2

Lew’s Mach 2 is a mean-looking bass slaying machine and our pick for the affordable option as the best spinning reel under 100. This is a fairly priced high-end reel with an impressive 10 bearing system and standard 6.2:1 gear ratio. Fluid in its motion and durable with its lightweight aluminum constructed frame this reel won’t let you down when it matters most.

The Mach 2 comes equipped with Lew’s signature DuraMax drag system with a max drag set at 14 lbs. Paired with the instant anti-reverse function and you have a reel fit to pull hogs out of even the thickest cover.

I recommend this as the best spinning reel under 100 to anglers at any skill level. The performance and construction are unrivaled for the price and it won’t break the bank like some reels of equal performance.

Best Spinning Reel Under 150

Abu Garcia REVO2SX20 Revo SX Spinning Fishing Reel

Last update was on: May 25, 2024 2:11 pm
out of stock

Abu Garcia has done it again with their Revo SX spin gear. Constructed with a carbon body and aluminum inner components this lightweight reel delivers some of the smoothest casting and retrievals today. 

This reel comes with a total of eight stainless-steel bearings, plus the additional roller bearing, for long-lasting performance. The steel bearings are unaffected by water and other materials encountered on the water that tends to break down lesser-made bearings over time.

The 6.2:1 gear ratio makes for a steady medium-paced retrieve. The Revo SX comes in models suitable for fishing in any situation. With a max drag starting at 10lbs. and going up to 17 lbs. on the larger models, you can count on this reel for landing even the biggest fish you encounter on the water.

Best Saltwater Spinning Reel for the Money

Shimano 16 Stradic CI4+ 3000XGM Saltwater Spinning Reel JAPAN IMPORT

Last update was on: May 25, 2024 2:11 pm
out of stock

The Shimano Stradic CI4+ is a gem and our pick for the best saltwater spinning reel for the money. It has a carbon body construction and a cold-forged aluminum spool that when paired with Shimano’s signature Magnumlite Rotor you get a high-performance and high-end spinning reel.

The shielded stainless 7 bearing system makes for a reel suitable for any fresh or saltwater fishing situation. This reel is every bit as smooth as previous Stradic model reels, and maybe even more to the point where retrieval feels effortless.

This reel comes with a medium-paced 6.0:1 gear ratio and 7 lbs of drag making this one of the most versatile reels on the market when it comes to bass and panfish applications.

You will pay more in the end for this reel but it is well worth it if you’re in the market for high-end spin gear. I recommend this saltwater spinning reel to anybody that has the budget for it – beginner and experienced alike.

Which is the Best Spin Reel for You?

I hope this list of best spinning reel under 100 and for all budgets narrowed your search down by giving you some insight into the functionality and performance of spinning reels. Now that you know what to look for, the only thing left is to decide on what specs you require for your fishing style and to buy your new spinning reel.

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