fishing reels on a wooden table

Spinning Reel Sizes 101: Choosing the Right Spinning Reel Size (2022)

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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So you have done all your research into which make and model spinning reel is right for you and you’re ready to buy a new spinning reel, but there is one more thing to consider. The next decision to make is choosing the right spinning reel size for your needs.

While picking the right sized reel might not be high on your list, using the right sized spinning reel makes a huge difference when you’re fishing.

Trying to catch trout with a large offshore spinning reel isn’t going to work and vice versa. I hooked a black marlin on a small reel and the fish quickly broke the reel and took all my fishing line.

Believe me, this is something you want to avoid when buying a new reel. Simply follow the steps laid out below to pick the right spinning reel sizes for your needs so you end up catching the marlin and not using it.

Understanding Spinning Reel Sizes

Spinning Fishing Reel and Rod on Wooden Table
Spinning Fishing Reel and Rod on Wooden Table

Every spinning reel in the world comes with a number that denotes the reel size – the smaller the smaller the number, the smaller the fishing reel and vice versa. Simple right? Well it’s not that simple as different reel manufacturers denote their fishing reel sizes using one of two systems.

Spinning Reel Sizes: The Two Systems

When you’re looking at spinning reel sizes, you’ll be presented with numbers in the tens or hundreds such as size 30, 80, or 200 which is one system. Or, with thousands such as 3000, 8000, or 20,000 – which is the other system.

A size 30 and 3000 fishing reel are the same size, so the conversion is easy, just multiply or dividing by 100.

NOTE

The size range of spinning reels runs from 10 or 1000, which are smaller reels for small fish like trout to 300 or 30,000 which are large size spinning reels for bigger fish like tuna and marlin.

Spinning Reel Sizes Explained

Now that we understand the size range of spinning fishing reels and the two sizing systems, let’s take a look at each category of spinning reel size (small, medium, large), and what fishing situations they are suitable for.

Small Spinning Reels (10-35 or 1000-3500)

Small sized spinning reels are designed for a lighter line rating with a small line capacity and thus for smaller fish. This makes small spinning reels ideal for: 

  • A lightweight fishing rod with a rod length of 6-7 feet
  • A monofilament line rating of 2-10 lbs
  • A braided line rating of 4-14lbs
  • Catching smaller species like trout, crappie, and bluegill 

A small sized spinning reel is perfect for light fishing in either freshwater or saltwater when your target species size is a maximum of 15-20 lbs.

By using a small sized reel when going after smaller species, fishing becomes more fun and a lot easier too. The small /like striped bass, while a 12000 is good for small sharks, and a 30,000 size reel is more suited to big sharks and marlin. So there is quite a serious range to consider in this category.

Spinning Reel Size Chart

To make things a little easier, here is a spinning reel size chart for every category we have mentioned above.

Each reel size chart gives you the recommended pound test line, fish type, and fishing application that suits each size spinning reel.

Small Sized Spinning Reels (1000 – 3500)

Reel SizeMono (lbs) Braid (lbs)Fishing Style Fish Type
10 or 10002 to 4 4 to 8 Ultra-light freshwater & saltwater fishing Crappie, Trout, Bluegill, Perch
20 or 20004 to 6 4 to 8 Ultra-light freshwater & saltwater fishing Crappie, Bass, Trout, Bluegill, Perch
25 or 25005 to 8 5 to 12 Light fishing in fresh and saltwater Pike, walleye, bass, lake trout
30 or 30006 to 10 6 to 14 Light fresh and saltwater fishingPike, walleye, bass, lake trout, small catfish
35 or 35006 to 106 to 14 Light fresh and saltwater fishingPike, walleye, bass, lake trout, small catfish
1,000 – 3,500 Spinning Reel Size Chart

Medium sized spinning reels (4000 – 5500)

Reel SizeMono (lbs) Braid (lbs)Fishing Style Fish Type
40 or 40008 to 12 8 to 20 Medium fishing in fresh and saltwater, boat fishingCatfish, Muskie, Snapper, Bonefish, Snook, Redfish
45 or 45008 to 12 8 to 20 Medium fishing in fresh and saltwater, boat fishingCatfish, Muskie, Snapper, Bonefish, Snook, Redfish
50 or 500010 to 1410 to 25 Medium fishing in fresh and saltwater, boat fishingCatfish, Muskie, Snapper, Bonefish, Snook, Redfish
55 or 550010 to 14 10 to 25 Medium sport fishing in fresh and saltwater,
light offshore boat fishing 
Catfish, Muskie, Snapper, Bonefish, Snook, Redfish
4,000 – 5,500 Spinning Reel Size Chart

Large sized spinning reels (6000 – 30000)

Reel SizeMono (lbs) Braid (lbs)Fishing Style Fish Type
60 or 600012 to 1612 to 30 Light surf fishing,
light offshore, rock fishing,
heavy freshwater fishing 
Medium catfish,
stripers, snook,
redfish, bonefish,
muskie, salmon,
steelhead
65 or 650012 to 16 12 to 30 Light surf fishing,
light offshore, rock fishing,
heavy freshwater 
Medium catfish,
stripers, snook,
redfish, bonefish,
muskie, salmon,
steelhead
70 or 700014 to 18 15 to 40 Medium surf fishing,
light offshore, rock fishing,
heavy freshwater 
Medium catfish,
stripers, snook,
redfish, bonefish,
muskie, salmon,
steelhead
75 or 750016 to 20 20 to 50 Medium surf fishing,
light offshore, rock fishing,
heavy freshwater 
Medium catfish,
stripers, snook,
redfish, bonefish,
muskie, salmon,
steelhead
80 or 800016 to 20 20 to 50 Medium surf fishing, medium offshore,
rock fishing, heavy freshwater 
Big catfish, barracuda,
bonito, albacore,
wahoo, dorado,
roosterfish
85 or 850018 to 22 30 to 50 Medium surf fishing, medium offshore,
rock fishing, heavy freshwater 
Big catfish, barracuda,
bonito, albacore,
wahoo, dorado,
roosterfish, sailfish,
small yellowfin tuna
90 or 900018 to 2230 to 50 Medium surf fishing, medium offshore,
rock fishing, heavy freshwater 
Big catfish, barracuda,
bonito, albacore,
wahoo, dorado,
roosterfish, sailfish,
small yellowfin tuna
95 or 950020 to 25 30 to 50 Medium surf fishing, medium offshore,
rock fishing, heavy freshwater 
Big catfish, barracuda,
wahoo, bonito,
albacore, dorado,
roosterfish, sailfish,
small yellowfin tuna
100 or 1000020 to 25 30 to 60 Medium to Heavy fishing in inshore & offshoreDorado, wahoo sailfish,
small yellowfin tuna, shark
105 or 1050022 to 27 30 to 60 Medium to Heavy fishing in inshore & offshoreDorado, wahoo sailfish,
small yellowfin tuna, shark
120 to 1200028 or more 30 to 60 Medium to Heavy fishing in inshore & offshoreDorado, wahoo sailfish,
small yellowfin tuna, shark
140 or 1400028 or more 30 to 60 Medium to Heavy fishing in inshore & offshoreDorado, wahoo sailfish,
small yellowfin tuna, shark
160 or 1600032 or more30 to 60 Medium to Heavy fishing in inshore & offshoreDorado, wahoo sailfish,
small yellowfin tuna, shark
170 or 1700034 or more 30 to 60 Medium to Heavy fishing in inshore & offshoreDorado, wahoo sailfish,
small yellowfin tuna, shark
180 or 1800036 or more 30 to 60 Medium to Heavy fishing in inshore & offshoreDorado, wahoo sailfish,
small yellowfin tuna, shark
200 or 2000040 or more 50 to 80 Heavy saltwater Big tuna, marlin, GTs, Dogtooth
250 or 2500050 or more 50 to 80 Heavy saltwaterBig tuna, marlin, GTs, dogtooth
300 or 3000060 or more 80 to 100 Heavy saltwater Big tuna, marlin, GTs, Dogtooth
6,000 – 30,000 Spinning Reel Size Chart

Choosing The Right Size Spinning Reel For You 

Young man choosing a fishing reel for rod in the sports shop
Young Man Choosing A Fishing Reel in The Sports Shop

In order to choose the best spinning reel size for you needs you’ll need to consider a few different things including: 

  • What spinning reel size suits your fishing type
  • Using the right size reel for your target species 
  • Matching the right reel size to your fishing rod 

What type of fishing will you be doing?

The first question when it comes to choosing the right size spinning reel is what are you going to be using it for. Are you going to be bottom fishing or casting lures all day long? 

A larger size reel is heavier than a smaller size reel and therefore is more suited to bottom fishing, since you’re sitting and waiting for a bite most of the time. But, if you’re casting all the time, you do not want a heavier size reel holding you back.

If you’re planning on casting lures all day, be sure to choose the smallest size reel that works for the size of your intended target so that casting doesn’t become a chore.

NOTE

You should also match reel size with lure size, as lighter lines help you cast small lures far more effectively and vice versa.

What size fish are you trying to catch? 

You will have noticed that every sized fishing reel is designed for use with a certain breaking strain of mono or braid, ranging from 2 lbs to 100 lbs. Matching this with the size of the fish you want to catch is important for quite a few reasons.

Bringing a 2 lb size spinning reel to catch an 80 lb. tuna is like taking a knife to a gunfight…

Firstly, you don’t want to fish with too light a line to catch a particular fish. Bringing a 2 lb size spinning reel to catch an 80 lb. tuna is like taking a knife to a gunfight whereas bringing an 80 lb fishing reel to catch a 2 lb trout is overkill.

Generally speaking, using a 1:2 ratio of line weight to fish weight is best. Therefore, if you’re going after a 4 lb trout, a 2 lb size spinning reel is about right as you’ll be able to land the fish and enjoy the fight while doing it.

You can read my article on some of the best braid lines to get an idea of what your fishing situation calls for.

How do you match a spinning reel with a fishing rod?

Black and Silver Spinning Rod and Reel
Black and Silver Spinning Rod and Reel

If you are buying a new fishing rod to go with your spinning reel, then you might be finding it a little confusing as to how to match your chosen size reel with a rod. 

Firstly, make sure you are looking at a spinning rod as baitcasting rods are not made for use with spinning reels and vice versa. The next thing you need to do is match the line rating of the rod with the rating of your reel.

For example, if a fishing rod is rated for 18 – 20 lb mono, then you should refer to the chart above and pick the right corresponding reel which in this example would be anything from a 75 or 7500 to a 90 or 9000 size reel. 

Here’s a video about properly pairing spinning reels.

Properly Pairing Your Spinning Reels

What is the best size spinning reel for bass fishing? 

If you’re looking for a reel for bass fishing then you have quite a few different fishing reel sizes to choose from.

If you want options, I have an article here on the best spinning reels for bass or this Okuma Cedros Spinning Reel Review.

Since bass range from 2 to 8 lbs in size on average, you’ll be looking for a size reel that can hold a line weight of around 7 to 14 lb. This translates to a range of reel sizes including 2000, 2500, 3000, and 3500.

Picking The Right Reel Size For Bass

To pick the right size from this range requires a question about the weight of the lures you’ll be using. If you’re casting light lures into tough pockets, then the lighter choice of a 2000 reel will suit you better.

If you’re throwing big poppers or crank baits then using a reel that is a little heavier is going to make things easier…

If you’re throwing big poppers or crank baits then using a reel that is a little heavier is going to make things easier and therefore a 3500 size reel is probably better. Now, this might mean you need to buy two reels to match the two techniques, but it is worth it.

That being said, if you’re fishing on a budget, then you can always go for the middle ground and choose a size 2500 or 3000 size reel.

FAQs

Does the spinning reel size affect casting distance?

A man overhead casting with a rod
Man in Camouflage Overhead Casting with a Rod

Yes and no, as casting distance is affected by having the right setup which means matching your line, reel, rod and lure correctly.

We already discussed how to match a rod and reel above and when you check what line weight matches the rod, it will also have a range of lure weights that work with it too.

Generally speaking, the lighter the lure, the further and more accurately you will cast it while using a lighter rod, lighter line, and a smaller reel size. But, if you want to make sure that everything matches, match the rod line weight to your reel size and the rod lure weight to your lure size.

Winding Away 

Thanks very much for reading my article about spinning reel size. I hope you found it useful and now know everything you need to in order to choose the right reel size for you.

Please share the article with any fishing buddies you have that might need a hand choosing the right reel size and check out some of my other articles, I cover everything from the best spinning reels to how to spool a spinning reel.

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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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