Man Fishing by the River

Best Trout Spinning Reel of 2021 (Comprehensive Review)

Lance Wilkins
Lance Wilkins
Editor @ CallOutdoors. Outdoor gear-head and adventure addict. I fish, camp and enjoy to writing about my adventures.

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Finding the best trout spinning reel for you can be a hard task.

We made this review to help you pick the ideal spinning reel for trout.

After considering all the options our top picks were…

There are so many things to consider and the last thing you want is for your fishing to be affected by the one you choose. There are many reels available in the market, but is it the best reel for trout fishing? Does it match your trout fishing rod?

Having trout get away because you didn’t consider your reel’s drag or line capacity can be a bad experience.

Read on to make sure you don’t make the same mistake. We review some of the best trout spinning reels on the market, to help make your choice a little easier.

The Top Three

These are some of the best trout spinning reels and we have dropped them into categories we thought would be meaningful and useful for you.

We have tried to encompass as many variables as we can so that you can make the right choice.

Best All-rounder

Daiwa BG

Daiwa has put a lot of technology and durability into this trout spinning reel. Its robust design means it is actually labeled as a saltwater reel but comes in a reel size perfect for freshwater too. The aluminum reel housing, dynamic cut ABS spool, and the Digigear System make this a silky smooth spinning reel for trout.

Daiwa BG

When making this choice, I had to consider that the spinning reel wasn’t just going to be used to catch trout in lakes and streams. It has a bigger life to lead; catching fish like redfish and stripers in the salt too. So we need a reel that can handle saltwater and a big fish but at the same time is good value.

This high quality spinning reel comes with all the features you need and at the right price. It is made to last and can handle both fresh and saltwater. It has an excellent maximum drag capacity so you can target big fish with confidence without switching reel size.

Best on a Budget

Okuma Ceymar

The Okuma Ceymar reels are built solidly. Each part is made from high-quality materials; from the graphite body to the machine cut brass pinion gear.

Okuma Ceymar

Here we are looking for the best trout spinning reel that will last a long time and do the basics well. If you’re on a budget, you need spinning a reel that won’t fail after a few months into its use, this is the one for you.

This reel is great value for money while still maintaining quality. It has a smooth drag system and casts well and will stand up to everyday use. 

Editors Choice

Shimano Stradic CI4+

These lightweight spinning reels for trout come with all the bells and whistles, and it is a Shimano, surprise. It includes the HAGANE gear system and the G Free Body system like the Sedona FI and it has a lot more to offer.

Shimano Stradic CI4+

This lightweight reel removes the budget from the equation. We are looking for the best quality reel for all circumstances that will just last and last.

The Shimano Stradic Ci4+ comes with everything except anti-reverse. Shimano has made this lightweight spinning reel out of the highest quality materials. It has a carbon-fiber body making it a very lightweight reel and durable. It includes a range of Shimano’s technology with everything you might expect to make it one of the best reels in its class.

Our Top Picks

Here are all the top reels we reviewed.

We’ve lined out our top picks for trout spinning reels and pitted them against each other…

Pflueger President

Pflueger has always made great reels and the Pflueger President spinning reel is no different. These trout spinning reels are super smooth, built to last and give you a lot for your money.

Pflueger President

Pflueger has always made some of the best spinning reels for trout and the President is no different. These trout spinning reels are super smooth, built to last and give you a lot for your money.

All models come encased in a graphite body with a stainless steel shaft and an aluminum handle. This keeps them very light, comfortable to use and corrosion-resistant. Key if you are planning on saltwater and freshwater fishing.

The reel is light, ensuring you can cast all day long…

Each one is built with a 10 bearing system, that is a lot more stainless steel ball bearings than most models. This is what gives you such a smooth retrieve. The reel is light, ensuring you can cast all day long and has a stainless steel/oil felt drag that you can rely on when you are fighting a big fish.

Reel Features

This reel comes with anti-reverse and it is easily turned on and off at the flick of a switch…

This reel comes with anti-reverse and it is easily turned on and off at the flick of a switch. The braid ready double anodized aluminum spool is a bonus.

Getting braid on a trout spinning reel is not always easy and this will be a real time saver. Although this reel comes with a braid ready spool, the line can bunch up which is annoying to deal with when you are out trout fishing.

NOTE

Another issue this trout reel tends to have is that the bail arm can click closed mid cast, again frustrating, and you may lose a few lures to this. The gears can also grind after a few uses, this is not in all cases but it is something to be aware of.

I have chosen to give you the specs on the 30X as it is about right for trout fishing.

Specs

  • Mono capacity YD/LB: 225/4, 145/6, 130/8
  • Braid capacity YD/LB:275/6, 190/8, 160/10
  • Max Drag: 4.5kg
  • Gear Ratio: 5:2:1
  • Ball bearings: 9+1
  • Weight: 250g
  • Retrieve rate, per crank: 25.3”
  • Retrieve Side: Right/Left
  • Full Specs

Pros

  • This reel is smooth as butter on the retrieve thanks to the 10 stainless steel ball bearings
  • The sealed drag system is very smooth when fighting a fish.
  • The slow retrieval rate is great for having more control over the fish in the fight.

Cons

  • The bail arm does click closed too early. This can get very frustrating when casting all day and can lead to losing some tackle if you are fishing light line.
  • Although it comes with a braid ready spool, the line can bunch up on retrieve. This causes a lot of wasted time and money if you can’t untangle the mess that has been made.
  • We have heard some mixed reports that the gears can start to grind after a few uses. This is a horrible feeling and shows that water and dirt can get inside the internal mechanisms and may cause the reel to not last as long as it should.

Shimano Sedona FI

Shimano does a great job at making fishing gear and the Sedona FI is no exception. They have taken technologies from their more expensive reels, like their propulsion line management system and have put them in a spinning reel for trout we can all afford.

Shimano Sedona FI

We all know and trust Shimano, they do a great job at making fishing equipment and the Sedona FI is no exception. Shimano has taken technologies from their more expensive reels and has put them in a spinning reel for trout we can all afford.

It’s also great for an ultralight setup if you want to cut down on the weight of your fishing tackle.

This reel features the cold-forged HAGANE gear system, meaning it will remain very smooth on the retrieve for a long time…

This trout spinning reel features the cold-forged HAGANE gear system, meaning it will remain very smooth on the retrieve for a long time. It is robust enough to withstand heavy use in a salty offshore environment, that’s tough!

It includes the G Free Body system which moves the reel’s center of gravity closer to the rod and the angler. This makes for much easier casting, and you’ll notice it after long days on the water.

The Shimano Sedona FI is a versatile reel that also includes a propulsion line management system. This lets the line off the spool in smaller loops to prevent any backlash and wind knots as well as helping you cast further. Sounds ideal, doesn’t it?

NOTE

The reel does not include an anti-reverse which a trout fisherman would do without but, if it is an important feature for you, bear that in mind.

Here the specs for the Shimano Sedona 2500 FI, a great size for catching trout on mono and you could drop down a size if you’re using braid.

And if you want a more detailed review of the Sedona, here’s a link to our full review.

Specs

  • Mono capacity YD/LB: 200/6, 140/8, 120/10
  • Braid capacity YD/LB: 150/10, 145/15
  • Max Drag: 4kg
  • Gear Ratio: 5:0:1
  • Ball Bearings: 3+1
  • Weight: 245g
  • Retrieve rate, per crank: 36”
  • Retrieve Side: Right/Left
  • Full Specs

Pros

  • This trout fishing reel will help you cast further and more accurately. This is thanks to Shimano throwing in some of their new technologies like their propulsion line management system.
  • This reel is perfect for an ultralight setup and is a super smooth reel, and is extremely solid.
  • It will help you cast all day thanks to the G-Free body system.

Cons

  • There is no anti-reverse. Unfortunately, Shimano did not make this obvious in their marketing and have suffered a lot of negative feedback due to this. So, be advised, it doesn’t come with anti-reverse.
  • There are some reports of bail arm malfunction.
  • The reel can tighten up after consistent use but these are few and far between.

Editor’s Choice

Shimano Stradic CI4+

This top rated spinning reel comes with all the bells and whistles, and it is a Shimano, surprise. It includes the HAGANE gear system and the G Free Body system like the Sedona FI and it has a lot more to offer.

Shimano Stradic CI4+

This trout fishing reel comes with all the bells and whistles, and it is a Shimano, surprise. It includes the HAGANE gear system and the G Free Body system like the Sedona FI and it has a lot more to offer.

This reel is built to last. Instead of being made with graphite, the core consists of a super light but strong carbon body…

This trout reel is built to last. Instead of being made with graphite, the core consists of a super light but strong carbon body. It also includes all-weather water resistance, making sure it survives season after season.

The carbon also makes the reel super lightweight which you will love when you are casting all day long.

X-Ship Technology

It comes with X-Ship, which is a technology from Shimano that increases gear efficiency, making a big difference when you are trying to pull up a big fish. Shimano always makes a smooth reel and that is thanks to the stainless steel ball bearings.

Spool and Bearings

The stainless steel bearings in this trout reel are shielded, protecting them from dirt, salt, and water so the smoothness lasts.

The spool includes a grooved power roller which is excellent in line management…

The spool includes a grooved power roller which is excellent in line management and stopping twists and wind knots. The drag system has a lot of power and is probably overkill for trout but it does mean you can double up and use it in the salt against some bigger fish.

NOTE

Even though this reel seems to come with everything, it does not come with anti-reverse, you’d think they’d throw it into a reel this sophisticated, but no.

The line roller bearing does seem to fail in a few of the spinning reels, Shimano will replace this for you though. The bail arm is a bit stiff, which is good or bad depending on your personal preferences.

Here are the specs for the STCI42500FB, a great size for trout. You could drop down a model if you are using braided line.

Specs

  • Mono capacity YD/LB: 200/6, 140/8, 120/10
  • Braid capacity YD/LB: 150/10, 145/15, 100/30
  • Max Drag: 9kg
  • Gear Ratio: 5:0:1
  • Ball bearings: 6+1
  • Weight: 190g
  • Retrieve rate, per crank: 35 inch
  • Retrieve Side: Right/Left
  • Full Specs

Pros

  • This reel is very light, you can cast all day with it and certainly adds a lot of value if you are someone who fishes a lot.
  • It has excellent fishing line management and line twist reduction. There are a lot of reports of a massive reduction of line issues thanks to Shimano’s improvements
  • This reel is known to last a long time whether in the salt or not. This is thanks to the materials and the thought put into it.
  • Light line enthusiasts love the drag, it gives them an edge over bigger fish. The drag provides a bit of an extra punch thanks to the X-Ship technology included.

Cons

  • This reel does not come with anti-reverse.
  • The line roller bearing has been known to start faulting after some use. This is rare in regards to this reel and Shimano is great at sending a free replacement of the bearing or reel. If you have to consistently replace the bearing maybe ask for a new spinning reel.
  • The bail arm can be a little stiff to engage, if you like a very easy bail arm, consider this when buying.

Abu Garcia Revo X

This reel is not trying to be anything special, it just gets the job done. This is a very light-weight reel for the price thanks to the carbon and graphite blend and all in all is a simple smooth functioning piece of kit.

Abu Garcia Revo X

This reel is not trying to be anything special, it just gets the job done…

This reel is not trying to be anything special, it just gets the job done. This is a very light-weight reel for the price thanks to the carbon body design and all in all is a simple smooth functioning piece of kit.

With a six ball-bearing system, it provides quick and smooth retrieves and it has enough drag for you to be in control. Abu Garcia’s other reel, the Revo SX is also a great beginner baitcasting reel, if you want to try something different to catch trout.

Line management system

The rocket line management system combined with the braid ready spool, allows you to fish braid, mono, and fluoro easily. It assists with line control and backlash, reducing those annoying twists and wind knots.

Reel Build

It’s made from high-quality materials, none of which should corrode and are happy to be used in saltwater. I’m not a fan of the PVC handle, as grippy as it is, it doesn’t feel nice, but that’s me.

NOTE

The reel arm is known to stick and the stainless steel bearings can grind after some use. These reports are few and far between, the majority of people fishing this reel love it!

Here are the specs for the 2X20, a good trout size mode

Specs

  • Mono capacity YD/LB: 185/6, 130/8, 110/10
  • Braid capacity YD/LB: 190/8
  • Max Drag: 5.2kg
  • Gear Ratio: 6:2:1
  • Ball bearings: 6+1
  • Weight: 218g
  • Retrieve rate, per crank: 33 inch
  • Retrieve Side: Right/Left
  • Full Specs

Pros

  • This reel has a very smooth drag.
  • The rocket spool lip and line management system means it casts like a dream and helps to improve accuracy and distance.
  • The light carbon body has been a great success with anglers looking for an ultralight setup.

Cons

  • There are some reports of the reel arm sticking
  • The bearings can also start to grind after some use.

KastKing Sharky III

This spinning reel comes in a variety of sizes and was built with toughness in mind. It has up to 18kg of max drag which is made from a triple-disc carbon fiber drag system. This provides a very smooth strong drag, giving you the edge against big fish but is certainly overkill if you are just fishing for trout.

KastKing Sharky III

The first thing that gets me about this reel is the weight vs the max drag vs the price. How do they do it and does it compromise quality somehow?

This reel comes in a variety of sizes and was built with toughness in mind…

This reel comes in a variety of sizes and was built with toughness in mind. It has up to 18kg of max drag capacity which is made from a carbon fiber triple-disc drag system. This provides a very smooth strong drag, giving you the edge against big fish but is certainly overkill if you are just fishing for trout.

The reel is very light thanks to the high percentage fiber-reinforced graphite body. It comes with anti-reverse and an aluminum handle and a braid ready aluminum spool, very handy.

Shield System Feature

In addition to the double shielded ball bearings, Sharky has added a shield system to keep water and dirt out. This seems to work but there are mixed reports of the reel failing after saltwater fishing. This makes me think it is a bit hit or miss.

The fishing line is known to bunch up and create a lot of wind knots on the retrieve. As well as this, there are rare reports of parts falling off, perhaps some quality control has been missed.

Here are the specs for the S10BK, their smallest model.

Specs

  • Mono capacity YD/LB: 200/6, 170/8, 130/10
  • Braid capacity YD/LB: 200/20, 170/30, 130/40
  • Max Drag: 15kg
  • Gear Ratio: 5:2:1
  • Ball bearings: 10+1
  • Retrieve rate, per crank: 26.2 inch
  • Retrieve Side: Right/Left
  • Full Specs

Pros

  • These trout spinning reels come with a very large spool capacity, great for targeting big fish and long casts.
  • The maximum drag is a really useful addition, is very smooth in use and does not fail against large fish.
  • The instant anti-reverse bearing works well and is easily engaged when fighting a fish.

Cons

  • The reel has been known to fail after consistent use in saltwater, either the carbon fiber drag system locks up when engaged or the stainless steel bearings start to go.
  • The line can bunch up and the reel gets a lot of wind knots on the retrieve, making long days of casting a real headache.
  • Quality is an issue when it comes to this reel and parts do seem to fall off on occasion.

Best All-rounder

Daiwa BG

Daiwa has put a lot of technology and durability into this trout reel. Its robust design means it is actually labeled as a saltwater reel but comes in sizes perfect for freshwater too.

Daiwa BG

Daiwa has put a lot of technology and durability into this reel…

Daiwa has put a lot of technology and durability into this spinning reel. Its robust design means it is actually labeled as a saltwater reel but comes in sizes perfect for freshwater too. The aluminum body, dynamic cut ABS spool, and the Digigear System make this a silky smooth reel.

Spool

With a large diameter braid ready spool, you can be confident of your line lay and expect no bunching, while also being able to stack a lot of line on there.

The large roller and pick up on the bail helps to alleviate line twist and any looping, making it smooth casting all day long. The drag system is waterproof and tough and is ready for any saltwater or freshwater experience.

Weight

These trout spinning reels are a little heavier than other reels in their class. Daiwa could have made the reel with lighter materials but it would have increased the price point. They also come with Daiwa’s Infinite Anti-Reverse technology.

TIP

The bail roller can corrode when the reel is used in saltwater, they are easy to replace but it could become a headache.

Here are the specs for the BG2500. It is a good size spinning reel for trout and the salt. If you just wanted to use it for trout fishing, you could drop to the BG2000.

Specs

  • Mono capacity YD/LB: 210/6, 170/8, 140/10
  • Braid capacity YD/LB: 190/15, 170/20, 120/30
  • Max Drag: 13.2kg
  • Gear Ratio: 5:6:1
  • Ball bearings: 6+1
  • Weight: 263g
  • Retrieve rate, per crank: 33.2 inch
  • Retrieve Side: Right/Left
  • Full Specs

Pros

  • This high quality spinning reel has an excellent drag.
  • It can be used day after day in the salt and remains smooth.
  • It has a smooth retrieve and is made up of high-quality materials that last.

Cons

  • The reel is a bit heavy for its size and will make casting all day quite an effort.
  • The bail roller can corrode easily when used heavily in saltwater but it is not expensive to replace.

Best on a Budget

Okuma Ceymar

The Okuma Ceymar spinning reel is a solid reel. Each part is made from high-quality materials; from the graphite body to the machine cut brass pinion gear and the multi-disc drag system.

Okuma Ceymar

The Okuma Ceymar spinning reels are built solidly. Each part is made from high-quality materials; from the graphite body to the precision machined pinion gear.

The Okuma Ceymar spinning reels are built solidly. Each part is made from high-quality materials…

Okuma has included some new technology in their Ceymar series. The precision elliptical gear system creates less friction, which helps to make a longer cast and increased accuracy as well as smoother drag pressure.

The cyclonic flow rotor design increases airflow, minimizing water intrusion and making it corrosion resistant. It also comes with a quick anti-reverse, which lets you engage and hook a fish immediately.

NOTE

The anti-reverse switch has a tendency to snap off in rare cases and after consistent use, a noise can start to sound in the gears. These issues are rare though, so don’t write this reel off just based on that.

Here are the specifications of the C30, which make it a great fishing reel for trout fishing.

Specs

  • Mono capacity YD/LB: 200/6, 160/8, 110/10
  • Braid capacity YD/LB: 145/8
  • Max Drag: 6kg
  • Gear Ratio: 5:0:1
  • Ball bearings: 7+1
  • Weight: 232g
  • Retrieve rate, per crank: 25 inch
  • Retrieve Side: Right/Left
  • Full Specs

Pros

  • The super-smooth and strong drag system on these trout reels mean you can catch very large fish on super small gear.
  • The new gear system provides a great cast, increasing accuracy and distance for a lot of users.
  • It can be used in both salt and freshwater.

Cons

  • There are reports of the handle or anti-reverse switching snapping off. This makes me think the quality in the body is not up to the standard of some of the other best spinning reels for trout. These reports are rare and could just be defective units or improper care of the reel.
  • After consistent use, a noise seems to appear inside the gears on some units.
  • It does look quite small on arrival compared to other trout reels, make sure you check what line capacity you need.

What to Look for When Buying a Spinning Reel For Trout Fishing

There are a few key things to consider when looking for the best trout spinning reel and some are not that obvious.

What are you trying to catch?

Do you want a reel for a specific species or do you want a reel that you can use for many species and in multiple environments?…

This is important. Do you want the best spinning reel for a specific species or do you want a reel that you can use for many species and in multiple environments? This will have quite a big influence on the size and type of reel that you buy.

If you are going for trout, you won’t be needing a reel that’ll handle a 20kg fish or one that’ll handle saltwater. A simple freshwater reel will do or you could even use an underspin reel (also known as triggerspin reel).

If you want a spinning reel you can catch large lake trout with today and striped bass tomorrow, you’re going to need something a little sturdier.

Line Capacity

Every reel out there comes in different sizes which will affect a few things, one of them being line capacity. This is defined by the weight and diameter of the line you are using. You’ll need enough line to make a long cast, with some to spare, and enough line to fight a fish without running out.

All spinning reels come with line capacity specifications. You should follow them, as the manufacturer has already thought about this for you.

RECOMMENDATION

If you’re chasing smaller fish, then you can use a lighter line with a smaller diameter, and therefore a smaller sized reel. When fishing for freshwater trout, a reel specifying 6, 8 or even 10-pound line is about right. If you plan to go for monsters or larger lake trout, then you may want a larger reel which can handle 20-pound line.

Using Braid

Braided line does have issues when being put on a spinning reel as it tends to slip and bunch up when you are winding it on. Nowadays a lot of the best trout spinning reels come with braid ready spools, meaning they are designed for braid. This helps to avoid bunching and overwinding that in the end cause a lot of tangles and headaches.

Make sure to brush up on the best braided line knots so you won’t get caught tangled up without any catch to show for it.

RECOMMENDATION

If you plan on using braid, which is recommended due to its longer life and increased castability, this is a must.

Fishing Rod
Fishing Rod

Does the Weight of Your Reel Matter?

A lot of similarly sized reels come in different weights, and that’s usually due to the materials used to make the reel. The biggest effect the weight of the reel will have is how it feels when you are using it.

If you plan on casting all day long, then you may notice if your reel is heavy and it could become uncomfortable, that being said you may just get used to it.

The differences can be up to 50-60 grams across different models.

RECOMMENDATION

If you think that reel weight will affect your fishing, make sure to check the weight in the specs.

The Most Important Factor – Corrosion & Durability

Each reel has its own little quirks to get to know when you first start using them. The more you use them, the more you may end up loving them.

If your reel is not built with corrosion and durability in mind, it’ll need a lot of maintenance…

If your reel is not built to be corrosion resistant and durable, it’ll need a lot of maintenance. You could suffer from a lot of issues meaning you won’t get to use it very often.

Your reel has got to last the test of time. It should be made of quality corrosion-resistant materials and should be protected. Make sure to read the reviews and ensure it has a sealed drag system to protect its inner workings.

Drag, It Needs To Be Smooth

You want your drag system to be smooth and unhindered…

The drag provides resistance against a hooked fish and lets the line out during the fight. You want your drag system to be smooth and unhindered. If it’s not, you can end up with broken lines, losing you your prize catch and tackle in the process.

The line should pull off the spinning reel smoothly at every drag setting.

Make sure you test this when you’re buying the reel.

You should also get a waterproof sealed drag system ensure it lasts for years to come.

Conclusion

Let’s see a quick recap of our top three picks…

Best All-rounder

The best spinning reel all-around is the Daiwa BG. This trout spinning reel comes with all the features you need and at the right price. Yes, it is a little heavy but that is thanks to the quality of the materials inside it.

It is built to last, can handle both fresh and saltwater and has an excellent maximum drag so you can target big fish with confidence when you want to.

Best on a Budget

If you’re on a budget, the best trout spinning reels you can get are the Okuma Ceymar. This spinning reel comes in at amazing value and will give you everything you need from a reel. Smooth, strong, drag, good castability and is made from quality products that are built to last.

Editor’s Choice

The editor’s choice is the Shimano Stradic Ci4+. Yes, it is at the top end of the list but it is built out of the highest quality material. This makes it light and durable and one of the best spinning reels for trout fishing around..

It has a high maximum drag for its class and it’s lightweight spinning reel design and included Shimano technologies will make it a versatile reel you fall in love with.

That’s what I look for in the best trout spinning reels, something I feel proud and connected to when I use it every time. It does not have anti-reverse included but I have never needed this feature.

Thanks for reading this review. Don’t forget to share this review and check out my other articles. There are many to choose from, like the head-to-head comparison of Penn Pursuit II and III or a guide on how to catch bass. Feel free to dig in.

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Lance Wilkins
Lance Wilkins
Editor @ CallOutdoors. Outdoor gear-head and adventure addict. I fish, camp and enjoy to writing about my adventures.
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