The action on a good spinning reel is as satisfying as sliding back the bolt on a snipers rifle. Yes, fishing is a form of hunting and where the rod is your barrel, the reel is the firing mechanism. Owning a decent open faced spinning reel is a must have piece of fishing gear for seasoned and experienced anglers. They are also beginner friendly, as are much more forgiving than bait casters and are easier to learn how to use than casting reels.
Best entry level spinning reel…
A good starter spinning reel needs to be versatile, reasonably priced, long lasting and good quality. Make sure the body, weight, size, gearing, drag system, bearings, spool and handles are highly engineered for the money, plus a recognized brand name.
Rather than asking “what is the best entry level spinning reel?”, your question should of been “what is the best fishing reel for the money?”. The term “entry level” screams “cheapest” to me, and believe me when I say… Scrimping on money when buying a spinner reel isn’t a wise decision. I advise digging deep and buying the best spinning reel you can afford, and luckily you can pick up fantastic ones for under £50, and brilliant ones (that will last years) for around £100.
In this article we’ll take a look at how to pick the best spinning reel, what components and actions are important area to review, and which spinner reel I recommend for first time anglers. You’ll learn what size, weight, gearing and capacity you require to catch your target fish species, plus how selecting the correct spinning reel will allow you to fish a wide variety of lakes, streams, canals, ponds, rivers and salt water.
How do you pick a spinning reel?
Before rushing out and buying any old spinning reel, you first need to understand what they are, and how they work. As with anything fishing tackle related, it’s about balancing your reel, rod, rigging, bait, water and target fish in perfect harmony, for the best possible chance of filling that keep net.
Understanding the technical jargon surrounding fishing reels will really help with your decision, so in this section well break down all the aspects that make up how fishing reels work, and how they effect fishing styles and techniques. Not, every spinning reel is the same, let’s learn why!
List of spinning reel information:
The average spinning reel is made up 8 basic components which I’ll list below. The main feature of open face reels is they connect to your fishing rod underneath unlike some others, are designed to help keep fishing line from twisting, and are very user friendly, so perfect for fishing beginners.
- Foot – Rod connection bracket.
- Handle – Used to wind in line.
- Body – Provides reel strength.
- Anti-reverse switch – Prevents reel from turning backwards.
- Bail – Guides line neatly on to spool.
- Spool – Fishing line container.
- Drag adjustment – Controls how much line can be striped from spool, and also doubles as spool release.
- Line roller – Guide on the bail arm to direct line.
2. Body & Weight
Your choice of spinning reel housing (body) and weight, throws up an interesting decision. Usually made from anodized aluminum, graphite, stainless steel or a composition material in modern reels, you have to decide whether you prefer lightness or strength? You want a reel that’s comfortable and convenient to use when fishing for your target species.
Saltwater fishing? Then go for a light corrosion resistant graphite reel, which will help prevent any wrist strain. However, for freshwater fishing I’d go for and aluminum bodied spinning reel, as they still offer lightness, but are also sturdy and will last a long time. As long as the reel can cope weight wise, with the method of fishing your partaking in, you should be fine.
The size of your reel should always match your rod, and the bigger the fish your going after the larger both need to be. Spinning reels come in a variety of sizes, but the most commonly used are 1000, 2500, 3000, 4000 and 5000. The middle of the road 3000 size is a good starting point for beginners and will let catch from smaller species, all the way up to large catfish and carp. Check out the spinning reel chart below.
Spinning reels have a non rotating fixed spool, which make the gearing all that more important. In simple terms the gear ratio is how many times the bail arm rotates around the spool for every full turn on the handle. The lower your reels gearing, the slower it will reel in fish.
Gear rations can be separated in to two camps… 4.8:1 – 5.4:1 ratios offer a good steady retrieval rate, and 5.6:1 – 6.2:1 ratios are more sensitive and pick up line slack much faster. Consider buying a reel with a gear ration somewhere near the middle of the range, like a 5:1. This will provide good line recovery speed and will help you decide whether you want a faster or slower one next time.
Once you’ve hooked a fish a smooth quality reel drag system comes in to it’s own. It’s designed to automatically apply a certain amount of pressure to hook and line, if the fish wants to run. This constant pressure keeps the fish hooked and gives you time to let it tier it’s self out. Line should be able to be pulled off the spool in a steady motion, without any jolts or jarring.
You have two option for drag system on spinning reels, either mounted to the front or rear of the reel. Front drag systems are composed of layers washer on top of the spool, when tightened these compress and increase drag resistance, and are usually more more durable and provide greater drag pressure.
Rear drag systems run through the middle of your reels body, and the easy access dial makes setting the drag faster while playing a fish. However, rear drag systems tend to have more mechanical problems, which can lead to drag slippage. I suggest going with a “sealed” front drag system which will provide years of use from your spinning reel.
A spinning reel body contains a circle of stainless steel ball bearing to make line retrieval effortless and smooth. The more bearings a reel has the better, it’ll be longer lasting and have greater performance. Higher priced reels tend to have much better components, including the quality of the bearings, where cheaper reels may not have stainless steel bearing, but may use bushing’s instead. Make sure your reel has at least 4, real steel ball bearings, and as mentioned the more the merrier.
Spools are built from two main materials, graphite and aluminum. You’ll find cheaper spools are mostly made from graphite and are much lighter than their metal counterparts. However, aluminum spools offer a smoother action and I find them better balanced. Graphite spools can cause line drag when casting, where an aluminum spool with a tapered outer lip, allows the line to zip off the spool with ease. An aluminum spool is the one to purchase if you can afford it, unless sea fishing, where the inherent water proof nature of graphite will fair better long term with the salt water environment.
The handle on a spinning reel is most important than you may think! Firstly make you buy one that has a decent sized knob, as in damp rainy conditions it’ll provide better grip and purchase when playing fish. Secondly, it’s recommended to have an anti-reverse handle. These systems prevent your handle spinning backwards, and let your drag system do it’s thing unhindered. Anti-reverse handles are also better at setting the hook in a fishes mouth, landing you more fish and filling that keep net quicker.
Are expensive spinning reels worth it?
Yes, in my opinion it’s well worth forking out for a top quality spinning reel. The build quality will mean a lifetime of casting jigs, plugs, spoons and spinners, without the reel missing a beat. You’ll find this level of precision engineering does come at a price, but if your planning to use your reel on a regular basis will save you a packet in the long term.
This Shimano Stella is spinning reel design at it’s best! The two-speed isolation system and crisscross line pattern makes casting on fresh waters a dream. The super smooth carbon drag is optimal and precise at every setting, plus the body is very strong, long lasting, yet still remains light. It comes in various sizes including 1000, 2500, 3000, 4000 and 5000. A reel that is on every spinning anglers wish list.
What is the best cheap spinning reel?
Looking for something cheaper? You can still pick up decent spinning reels for under £50 in the UK. They may not last as long as the highly engineered expensive reels, but are more than adequate for beginners to get started with the spinning style of fishing. You’ll want a light, tough and versatile spinning reel at the ideal size for your target fish species.
Introducing the Daiwa Ninja Reel. This precision performance reel is crafted for anglers of all experience levels, and the metallic red exterior gives it a look that screams business. Constructed of graphite, the body is very well made for the price range and the handy line clip make precision casting super accurate.
As you can see there are many aspects to consider when buying a spinning reel. Any angler worth their salt should have a good spinning reel as part of their fishing tackle, they open up a glorious world of light line, light lure, finessed presentation and offer great versatility allowing you to try your hand at crankbaits, spinners, jigs and even waggler float fishing. A perfect combo for predator fishing around UK waters.
Spinning reels have a relatively short learning cure, making them ideal for angler of all experience levels, plus the wide range of reels available, means not matter your budget, and you follow the rules laid out above, you’ll find a good reel to get you out-there fishing.