3 Best Fishing Reels for Saltwater or Freshwater (Spinning vs. Conventional)

Posted by Author David Lee

Last Updated June 1, 2023
Fishing Reels

TOP Fishing Reels Comparison Table

❑1. Caddis Creek Fly Fishing Reel, Reinforced Aluminum Spool with Push Button Release [Martin]+
❑2. Fly Fishing Reel with Aluminum Alloy Body 3/4, 5/6, 7/8 Weights(Black, Gun Green, Gold, Silver) [Croch]+
❑3. Liquid Fly Fishing Reel -3 Pack - New 2020 [Waterworks-Lamson]+

1. The Best Caddis Creek Fly Fishing Reel, Reinforced Aluminum Spool with Push Button Release [Martin]

Caddis Creek Fly Fishing Reel, Reinforced Aluminum Spool with Push Button Release [Martin] Picture

2. The Best Fly Fishing Reel with Aluminum Alloy Body 3/4, 5/6, 7/8 Weights(Black, Gun Green, Gold, Silver) [Croch]

Fly Fishing Reel with Aluminum Alloy Body 3/4, 5/6, 7/8 Weights(Black, Gun Green, Gold, Silver) [Croch] Picture

3. The Best Liquid Fly Fishing Reel -3 Pack - New 2020 [Waterworks-Lamson]

Liquid Fly Fishing Reel -3 Pack - New 2020 [Waterworks-Lamson] Picture

The Best Fishing Reel: Spinning vs. Conventional

If you have a garage full of fishing tackle you already know the difference between a spinning reel and a conventional reel. But today, we're gonna help some beginners out. We're gonna talk about the difference between a spinning reel and a conventional reel and how you know which to choose. Spinning reel. One of the key characteristics to note about this reel is that the spool just holds a line. It doesn't revolve unless the fish is pulling out drag. Then it turns. But normally, line is laid on the reel by revolving the bail. Now if you watch closely, you'll notice the spool slowly goes up and down, up and down. That's so the line gets laid evenly along that spool and doesn't bunch up. To cast spinning reel, or let line out, you fold the bail back, and then a line can freely spill off the top.

Conventional reel

The biggest difference between a conventional and a spinner is that it has no bail. When you turn the crank the spool itself is what revolves. Now, there are different sizes, all different types. There are what some people would call baitcasters — much smaller ones that fit in the palm of your hand. Some people call them casting reels in general. And there are also level winders. The big difference with a level winder is it has a piece on it — it'll go back and forth and that lays the line across the spool of this reel evenly so it doesn't bunch up. With another reel, you actually have to use your thumb as you're reeling. Use this thumb to push the line back and forth and make sure it lays evenly along this spool. When you're ready to let a line out with a reel or perhaps cast it, you simply move the lever drag back in this case. The reel goes into free spool. On another reel, you would simply click it back, and now that spins freely. Now, this is both a blessing and a curse. Normally, you wouldn't cast a level winder — this is more of a trolling style reel — but in a smaller version when you cast it, you would need to use your thumb to put pressure on the spool to prevent it from spinning faster than the line can go out. That causes a tangle — we call that a backlash.

Spinning Reel

So how does it beginner know which to choose? Well, if you plan on doing any casting and retrieving, it's probably best to start out with a spinning reel. It's much less frustrating. It's much easier to figure out how to use it without making a big, giant tangle. Now that said, once you get some experience and you want to learn how to throw with a casting reel, you can get much better accuracy as you put your thumb on the spool and can control the speed that the lure is moving out. You can stop it short. You can change the arc of the cast. It really gives you some fine tuning abilities that just aren't there with a spinning reel. Now, let's say you're more interested in learning how to troll. Then you're probably going to want to pick up a conventional reel. They're really easy to let line out without having to cast, and if you get a level winder reel, you don't have to worry so much about laying the line back and forth smoothly. Now, you should be aware if you're fishing for very large game fish, you really can't have a level winder. You really need a reel that doesn't have that feature on it because the worm gear just can't take the speed and the beating that a tuna is going to dish out. Naturally, you can break down spinning reels and conventional reels into a number of different styles, prices, and sizes, which will vary quite a bit depending on the type of fish that you plan on catching. As far as the conventional reels go, you might want to get one and just go out in your backyard and practice with it at the same time as you go fishing with your spinning reel. That way you can maybe get the best of both worlds with a little bit of experience.

How to Choose Best Spinning Fishing Reel for Under $100

Lenny has just helped me find and buy my first fishing rod for under $100. Now, Lenny, I also want to get a reel for under $100, so what's my next step? OK, so this is a spinning rod, so you're looking at spinning reels. But the first thing I need to point out is, $100 budget for a nice spinning reel is, it's a tight budget. You can get a competent reel, but you shouldn't expect to get the very best one on the market. So, let's look at a few of the things that will give you an inkling of the quality of a reel. First just pick it up and hold it and give the handle a spin. You may or may not feel the reel wobbling. OK, that's called "rotor wobble," and that gives you an idea of how well the reel is balanced. The next thing you might want to check for is how smooth the bail is. Flip it back, and reel it closed. Flip it back. Reel it closed. Several times, and you'll just get some kind of idea for how smoothly these pieces and parts all work together. Another test I like to do is to spin the drag. Now, obviously smoother is better, so just give it a turn, see if it feels smooth as it goes around. And in some cases, reels have a secondary drag on the back, so you'll want to feel for that, too. The nest step. We also want to look for the anti-reverse system. You want to know how quickly this reel stops you from spinning backwards. That's very important because if there's any play in that system, over time it will get worse and worse and worse. There's one more really important thing we've got to do. We need to mount this reel on the rod, because, don't forget, all of these reels come in different sizes. So let's make sure we've got the right size in our hand for this rod. And of course often it says on the rod and on the reel, it gives numeric explanations. And you always want to try it for yourself. These numbers vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, so you want to give it a feel. One thing I do want to make sure you're aware of: Don't forget to rinse this reel off thoroughly with freshwater after every trip in salt or brackish water. So if you take care of this reel it will last my lifetime? Well, that's a little bit of a stretch. You have to remember that you're working at $100 budget. You're not gonna get the best corrosion resistance in the world. If you take care of that reel and you get five years out of it, you should be happy. Maybe if you doubled your budget, you can count on more like a decade.

Best branded fishing reels

The market is dominated by some manufacturers such as: Martin, Croch, Waterworks-Lamson, KastKing, PENN Fishing, Zebco.

Summer and Centron Spinning Reels, Smooth Powerful, Perfect for Ultralight/Ice Fishing [KastKing]

Lightweight and durable model. This brilliant fishing reel is packed with features for an affordable price. Lightweight yet durable, this reel features a narrow graphite frame design alongside a computer balancing system for high-performance fishing every time. The superior drag system offers incredible stopping power up to 17.5 pounds, and the mesh drive gear and machine pinioned gear help you to master fighting fish in the water. Also featuring 9 quality ball bearings and an instant stop one-way anti-reverse bearing, this impressive little rod offers incredibly smooth performance for fishermen of all abilities to enjoy.

Reliable Spinning Fishing Reel [PENN Fishing]

Reliable and easy-to-use model. This is a brilliant fishing reel that offers incredible performance for those who like to fish without limits. Offering a highly durable, durable high-range spinning on every outing, this brilliant fishing reel has a full metal body and side plate, as well as heavy-duty aluminum bail wire for increased strength. With an HT 100 carbon drag filter system, it offers powerful drag that will never impact the smoothness of the cast, and the fluid cranking of the 5 sealed stainless steel ball bearings and anti-reverse bearing makes it an absolute pleasure to fish with. This awesome fishing reel also comes with a spool that requires no backing, and with capacity rings marked at 1/3, 2/3, and full capacity, it is reliable and easy to use.

Freshwater and Saltwater Spinning Fishing Reel, Rigid Aluminum Frame, Carbon Drag, CNC Aluminum Spool & Handle [KastKing]

High-quality construction. This brilliant reel is suitable for use on both fresh and saltwater fishing trips and offers one of the most powerful transformers available. With a rigid aluminum skeletal frame, this fishing rod offers enormous strength and incredible durability. The unique optics make this a popular choice with experienced fishermen, and the spinning reels have been designed to handle even the biggest of fish. With a durable zinc alloy construction, the main gear drive is matched with a solid brass pinion, and with the double-shielded stainless steel ball bearings and anti-reverse for quick hook sets, this is an incredibly powerful piece of gear.

Powerful Fishing Reel, Instant Anti-Reverse with a Smooth Triple-Cam, Dial-Adjustable Disk Drag [Zebco]

Pre-spooled model. This powerful reel offers incredible performance and much-needed convenience on day trips and overnighters. This reel has been designed with comfort and performance in mind with a pre-spooled 10-pound Zebco fishing line, an extra dual-paddle handle, and a soft-touch thumb button. Featuring 7 bearings, a 19-inch retrieve rate, and all-metal gears, it is reliable and durable, and with a mono capacity of 85/10, it is particularly useful when fishing for heavy species such as walleye, bass, catfish, and striper. With anti-reverse technology on the reel that makes it even easier to secure your prized catch, this reel will enhance your fishing experience in an instant.

Don’t buy cheap fishing reel

If you buy cheap products, you will end up buying twice. There are some very cheap fishing reels on the market, but these are the ones made from poor quality material and components, and they can break down after a few months. Buy more quality model as it will be worth price that you pay.


Let's go over some frequently asked questions about fishing reels.

What fishing reels are good?

Where to Buy Cheap Fishing Reels for Saltwater or Freshwater (Spinning vs. Conventional)?

Take a look at this TOP fishing reels reviewed of 2023 and then press the «Check Price» button to check their price and availability.

What is the budget fishing reel for sale?

The Caddis Creek Fly Fishing Reel, Reinforced Aluminum Spool with Push Button Release [Martin] is our Editor's Choice as the best model of fishing reels with its combination of performance, features, quality and price.

Thesandshore.com is a source where the post about fishing reels appeared first and was written by David Lee, an expert on marine eqipment. He has been boating for over 20 years and currently lives in Florida with his wife and children.

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Comments to Review

  1. Pflueger spinning reel has aluminum frame and core and dual titanium pins. Comfortable rubber knob is very comfortable to use. Drag works great, reels in smooth, and I haven’t had any tangles. This model works great. I couldn’t be more satisfied with this reel. I wish I had one of these when I was a kid!

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