Welcome to my review of the best spinning reels for bass!
I’ve been bass fishing for 20 years now and I’d say what makes bass fishing spinning reels special is their drag. With other bigger fishes, you’ll need much stronger drag systems but for bass fishing, you’ll need only half of that drag. Taking that into consideration, along with smoothness, lightness, and durability, I narrowed down all the available spinning reels to just 10 of the best ones.
And don’t worry, you won’t need to make a hole in your wallet to get a high-quality bass spinning reel of high quality. The ones on this list are proof of that because I also made affordability a big factor. If you’re wondering which is the best bass spinning reel I’d recommend, it’s the Abu Garcia Revo SX. It has everything you need in a reel for bass fishing and performs at a high level. The best part? It comes at a reasonable price.
There’s no one size fits all spinning reel though, so if you didn’t like that, I’m sure you’ll find one that suits your taste down below. Let’s go!
Our Top 10 Picks
- Abu Garcia Revo SX (Best Overall)
- Shimano Vanford (Best Lightness)
- Cadence CS8 (Best For Monster Fish)
- Pflueger Supreme XT (Best Smoothness)
- Pflueger President (Best Supreme XT Alternative)
- KastKing Sharky III (Best Budget)
- Okuma Ceymar (Best Budget Lightness)
- Penn Battle III (Best For Surf Fishing)
- Daiwa BG (Best Battle III Alternative)
- Daiwa Certate LT (Best Splurge)
The 10 Best Spinning Reels For Bass
Before we get started, here’s a disclaimer. I’ll be going through every single important specification of each spinning reel in detail, so some of the reviews may be quite lengthy. But do bear with me because I want to give you the full picture of every single spinning reel so you can make informed decisions.
- Ball Bearings: 8+1
- Reel Size: 1000-4000
- Gear Ratio: 6.2:1
- Max Drag Weight: 10-17 pounds
- Weight: 7.2-9.2 ounces
Let’s start the ball rolling with our best overall pick – the Abu Garcia Revo SX Spinning Reel. Not only does it have all the drag you’ll need in a reel for bass fishing, it’s also really smooth, durable, and light.
When bass fishing, you’ll need 15 pounds of drag for the largest bass. Since this spinning reel offers 17 pounds in the drag system at reel size 4000, even the largest bass won’t give you trouble.
Moving on to bearings, it’s got 8 actual bearings and 1 roller bearing. This will give you plenty of smoothness.
Now comes my favourite part of this spinning reel – its durability. Almost the entire spinning reel is made of stainless steel and it’s got exceptional long-lasting ball bearings. As stainless steel is one of the most durable materials, it’s only fitting that most of the reel would be made out of it, resulting in a very durable reel. But the bearings are what you should really pay attention to. This spinning reel features Abu Garcia’s high-performance corrosion-resistant (HPCR) bearings. Not only are they stainless steel ball bearings, they’re also shielded from sand, dirt, and water, and corrosion-resistant. As you can tell, this spinning reel will be able to withstand even the harshest conditions. You’ll have a spinning reel that’ll stay with you through years of hard fishing.
Its other strengths include lightness and comfort. The Insert Molded C6 (IM-C6) carbon body and lightweight graphite rotor combine to produce a pretty light spinning reel. And the EVA handle is one of the most comfortable you’ll ever hold.
All in all, not bad for a reel for bass fishing eh? The price is a little on the higher end, but it won’t break the bank. For what you’re getting with this high-quality reel, it’s a pretty good deal.
- Ball Bearings: 6/7+1
- Reel Size: 500-5000
- Gear Ratio: 5.1-6.4:1
- Max Drag Weight: 5.5-24.3 pounds
- Weight: 4.9-7.8 ounces
If you’re looking for the absolute lightest spinning reel for bass, this is it. Don’t get me wrong though, lightness isn’t the Shimano Vanford Spinning Reel’s only asset. Far from it. On top of its smoothness and powerful drag system, it’s incredibly durable.
Let’s start with its drag system and smoothness. At reel size 3000, it’ll already deliver 20 pounds of smooth drag, way more than you need for bass fishing. And with 7 actual bearings and 1 roller bearing, it’ll feel much smoother than the average spinning reel.
Here comes the juicy stuff.
Designed to be IPX8 waterproof, equipped with S-ARB, and protected by Shimano’s X-Protect, this spinning reel is practically indestructible. An IPX8 waterproof bearing system means you can submerge it more than 1 meter deep for half an hour and not a single drop of water will get through. If even water can’t get through, you can be sure dirt and sand don’t stand a chance. You can never be too safe though, so the S-ARB bearings have shields on both sides to guarantee that no water, dirt, or sand will ever touch your ball bearings. As if all this weren’t enough though, Shimano wanted to make sure the entire reel would be secure, so it even added X-Protect. Long story short, there are many small spaces in your reel between the reel components. Most fishing reels overlook this, and after a while, debris gets inside, making your reel grindy. X-Protect keeps out not only debris, but even water from these key areas. This spinning reel was built to last for generations. As long as you don’t throw it around or damage it on purpose, it will.
Finally, this is what you’ve been waiting for – lightness. It achieved its unparalleled lightness through the Magnumlite (MGL) rotor and G Free Body Technology. The MGL rotor is a whopping 48% lighter than standard rotors. The G Free Body shifts the reel’s center of gravity closer to the fishing rod. By being closer to the angler’s hand, it reduces fatigue and makes it easier to cast. This means on top of being the lightest reel, it further reduces the weight in your hand with the G Free Body. You’ll have a spinning reel so light that you’ll forget it’s there.
There’s just one issue – the product page. The product page is missing out on a lot of details like weight, drag, etc. You’ll have to go to this page to see the full specifications.
Other than that, it’s perfect. This is one of the best spinning reels you can spend your money on. If you’re looking for lightness in a reel, this spinning reel is unbeatable. Complete with smoothness, a strong drag system, and unbelievable durability, this legendary reel is a tad more pricey than other reels, but it’s definitely worth every penny.
Best For Monster Fish
- Ball Bearings: 9+1
- Reel Size: 1000-4000
- Gear Ratio: 5.2-6.2:1
- Max Drag Weight: 29-36 pounds
- Weight: 6.3-8.5 ounces
When it comes to drag, the Cadence CS8 Spinning Reel is the obvious choice. Even though the KastKing Sharky III offers the same amount of drag, this spinning reel is of much higher quality.
Possessing an astounding 29 pounds of smooth drag at just reel size 1000, you won’t find many reels for bass fishing that can match this. In fact, 30 pounds of drag will suffice even for monster fish, which is why this spinning reel is our chosen spinning reel for big fish.
Aside from that, it’s smooth with 9 high-quality actual bearings and 1 roller bearing. It’s also pretty light at 6.3 ounces for reel size 1000, which can be attributed to the lightweight magnesium body.
I also really liked how its bearings are corrosion-resistant. This, together with the tough magnesium reel body make for a tough and resilient reel.
Ambitious anglers looking to target both bass and monster fish, this spinning reel was made for you.
- Ball Bearings: 10+1
- Reel Size: 2500-4000
- Gear Ratio: 5.2:1
- Max Drag Weight: 8-15 pounds
- Weight: 6.0-8.2 ounces
Smooth is the middle name of this reel. The Pflueger Supreme XT Spinning Reel is the smoothest spinning reel I’ve ever had.
It’s obvious that 10+1 is a really large number of bearings. But remember the KastKing Sharky III’s bearings were low-quality, so it still wasn’t that smooth. The Pflueger Supreme XT didn’t make that mistake. With 10+1 first-rate stainless steel ball bearings, this’ll be the smoothest reel you’ve ever held in your life.
It performs well in all the other fields too, especially weight. Constructed with magnesium for its frame, which is much stronger and lighter than most metals, and a lightweight carbon rotor, it weighs a mere 6.5 ounces at reel size 3000. The maximum drag also goes all the way up to 15 pounds.
Those who value smoothness above all, this is the reel for you.
Best Supreme XT Alternative
- Ball Bearings: 6/9+1
- Reel Size: 2000-4000
- Gear Ratio: 5.2:1
- Max Drag Weight: 6-14 pounds
- Weight: 6.2-11.5 ounces
From the name, I’m guessing you can tell that this reel is similar to the previous one. So why would I include 2 similar reels for bass fishing? Because this one is less expensive.
For starters, at reel size 4000, this reel can churn out 14 pounds of drag. The Supreme XT does 15 pounds, making them both quite alike in this aspect.
Next, both spinning reels are rather light, with this reel being only a bit heavier than the Supreme XT by 1.5 ounces at reel size 2500.
Lastly, the Supreme XT has 10 actual bearings and 1 roller bearing while this reel only has 9+1. This means the Pflueger President Spinning Reel is slightly less smooth, albeit still with buttery smooth operation.
In short, the Pflueger President Spinning Reel is a more modestly priced version of the Supreme XT. If smooth performance is high on your priority list, you can have a bit more spare cash by choosing this solid reel over the Supreme XT.
- Ball Bearings: 10+1
- Reel Size: 1000-5000
- Gear Ratio: 5.2:1
- Max Drag Weight: 33.0-39.5 pounds
- Weight: 7.4-10.6 ounces
This next reel was made for those on a tight budget. Notwithstanding its affordability, it’s an amazing reel that delivers all you’ll need for bass fishing.
Right off the bat, you’ll notice its drag system is off the charts. You definitely won’t have to worry about not having enough drag. The max drag weight is enough for even monster fishes much bigger than bass.
Another one of its features that caught my eye was the number of ball bearings. It’s super rare to see 10+1 bearings, and to see it in a reel at this price is downright ridiculous. But the smoothness wasn’t that great for 10 actual bearings and 1 roller bearing and felt more like 6+1 instead. This is likely due to the bearings being of lower quality. Still, considering that 5+1 bearings is enough for smooth performance, I was more than happy with the smoothness at this price. It’s also worth noting that the ball bearings are shielded from sand and water, so they’ll help prevent sand and water from entering the bearing system, although not fully.
Weight-wise, it’s average, not too heavy and not too light.
The durability however, is another story. It’s not hard to see why the price is so low. The components are of lower quality than other reels for bass fishing, especially the higher-end ones. So you’ll need more maintenance to keep it functioning well.
Other than that though, it doesn’t have any cons. I’d say it’s a real bargain to get started bass fishing at this price. Sure you’ll be spending more time cleaning it, but if you’re on a tight budget and looking for the best spinning reel you can get at a steal, look no further.
Best Budget Lightness
- Ball Bearings: 6/7+1
- Reel Size: 1000-6500
- Gear Ratio: 4.5-5.0:1
- Max Drag Weight: 6.6-35.3 pounds
- Weight: 6.0-20.7 ounces
Next up is a cheaper alternative to the Shimano Vanford – the Okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel. I included this reel for those who value lightness in a reel but want to keep costs down. At roughly a quarter of the Shimano Vanford, you’ll have yourself a very light spinning reel that performs well in every aspect.
Standing at a mere 6 ounces for reel size 1000, the Okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel is surprisingly light for such a low price. It’s nowhere near the Shimano Vanford, but you won’t find a lighter spinning reel at this price.
For drag, it generates 15.4 pounds at reel size 2500. Equipped with 7 actual bearings and 1 roller bearing, it’s smooth too.
Constructed with a corrosion-resistant graphite body, it’s made even more durable by the Cyclonic Flow Rotor (CFR) that helps it dry faster to safeguard against corrosion from water.
Also, you may have realised that the Okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel is cheaper than all the other spinning reels, including the KastKing Sharky III. The reason why this isn’t the best budget spinning reel is because the KastKing Sharky III offers a ton more value for only a tiny increment in price.
Overall, this spinning reel may not be the lightest, but for this price, you won’t find a lighter reel. And it performs quite well in other areas too. The Okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel is worth considering for those who want a cheap and light spinning reel.
Also, the product page is quite vague, so here are the full specifications.
Best For Surf Fishing
- Ball Bearings: 5+1
- Reel Size: 1000-10000
- Gear Ratio: 4.2-7.0:1
- Max Drag Weight: 9-40 pounds
- Weight: 7.8-38.8 ounces
Introducing the 2020 winner of the ICAST Best Saltwater Reel award – the Penn Battle III Spinning Reel. This spinning reel rightfully deserves this award for holding up well in saltwater and having an abundance of sought-after features – at a reasonable price.
I’ll begin with how it holds its own in harsh saltwater conditions. We all know that metal is one of the most robust materials. With a full metal body and sideplate, most of the Penn Battle III is made with this sturdy material. Next, the bearings are sealed, which may be a new term because up till now you’ve only heard of shielded ball bearings. To put this into context, shielded ball bearings are like soldiers holding up shields. The shields may block some projectiles, but they won’t be able to block everything. On the other hand, by completely sealing the bearings, you ensure that not even a speck of dust can penetrate through. This is why the Penn Battle III can stay rust-free with ease even if you use it for saltwater fishing.
The next feature you’ll love is its gear ratio. For reel size 4000, it’s got a gear ratio of 7.0:1. Seasoned anglers will immediately recognise the speed of its retrieve. With such a high gear ratio, reeling will be speedy and effortless.
It’s also nice that it’s equipped with line capacity rings so you’ll always know how much line you have left. As for drag, you’ll have 15 pounds of it at reel size 4000.
Now let’s talk about its downsides. The size 1000 weighs 7.8 ounces, which is kind of on the heavy side. And you don’t see as many bearings as the other higher-end spinning reels have.
However, its smoothness is still satisfactory because the ball bearings are top-notch. All things considered, I’d say these drawbacks are rather minor and not deal-breakers.
We chose this great spinning reel for surf fishing for bass because its reel sizes go all the way up to 10000. Most spinning reels don’t even go past 4000, and since you’ll need at least a size 4000 reel for surf fishing, you’ll have to get this reel if you want to go surf fishing. You’ll be glad to hear it’s reasonably priced too.
Best Battle III Alternative
- Ball Bearings: 6+1
- Reel Size: 3000-6500
- Gear Ratio: 5.3-5.6:1
- Max Drag Weight: 15.4-33 pounds
- Weight: 10.8-29.5 ounces
Another worthy contender for the title of best surf fishing reel for bass is the Daiwa BG Spinning Reel. It too contains all the sizes you need for surf fishing but at a more economical price.
A sweeping glance should give you an idea of why the Daiwa BG Spinning Reel is less costly. It’s got fewer bearings, is much heavier, and has a slower retrieve. But it has the most important thing – big reel sizes.
And to be fair, the Daiwa BG Spinning Reel is still a good spinning reel, albeit not as great as the Battle III. This moderately priced spinning reel is ideal for those who want to go after bass in the surf, but don’t have the means for the Penn Battle III.
- Ball Bearings: 9+1
- Reel Size: 3000
- Gear Ratio: 6.2:1
- Max Drag Weight: 22 pounds
- Weight: 7.4 ounces
I’ve saved the best for the last. The Daiwa Certate LT Spinning Reel is the cream of the crop. This silky smooth spinning reel will provide plenty of drag and can take a beating like no other spinning reel can.
The Daiwa Certate LT boasts CRBB and a magsealed body. The CRBB make sure that even after years, your ball bearings will remain brand new. The magsealed body blocks out water and even micro impurities like dust, giving you a flawlessly anti-corrosive reel that’s made to last. Even after substantial time saltwater fishing, your reel won’t show the slightest sign of wearing out.
Delivering 22 pounds of drag at reel size 3000, you can easily snag the largest bass with this spinning reel. And crafted with 9+1 bearings, you’ll be getting a silky smooth reel. To finish it off, it’s a fast reel so reeling in any fish will be a piece of cake with its fast 6.2:1 gear ratio.
The only qualms I have with this spinning reel are its weight and availability. At 7.4 ounces, it’s actually really light for its reel size. It just seems a pity that it couldn’t beat the Shimano Vanford despite costing so much more. And another small issue with it is that because of its popularity, many of its options are out of stock. Last I checked, only the size 3000 reel was available.
To sum it up, this spinning reel excels in literally every way. If you’ve got the money to spare and you’re looking for the best of the best and won’t settle for anything less, this is it.
Things To Consider When Buying A Spinning Reel For Bass
It’s always good to know how to choose your own fishing reel. Heck, I shouldn’t be telling you this, but don’t trust our recommendations. Instead, learn how to judge whether a fishing reel is good so you never have to rely on others to do so for you.
Here are the things to look out for in a fishing reel.
I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve gone through every reel specification and been ready to buy it, only to find that it didn’t have the reel size I wanted.
It’s never fun to be all excited about a reel only to discover that it doesn’t have the size that you need. That’s why you should always check to see if it has the size you need first. If it doesn’t, don’t waste time reading through the rest.
A spinning reel for bass should be size 1000-4000.
Even the trophy bass won’t need a larger reel size than 4000.
Reel size 1000 is somewhat small and won’t have too much line capacity. It’s for those who want an ultralight setup and you won’t be able to target any big bass.
I’d recommend going for reel size 2000-3000 for just the right amount of weight and size. But if you’re the type to let fish run down your line, then feel free to get size 4000 for more line capacity.
The only exception is surf fishing. You’ll need larger reel sizes of 4000-6000 for the most line capacity if you’re going surf fishing.
Otherwise, it’s best to stick to the recommended reel sizes.
For weight, it goes without saying that lighter is better.
But it doesn’t help anybody if I just told you “lighter is better”, so here are some benchmarks that I personally use.
For reel size 1000, 9 ounces and below.
For reel size 2000, 9.5 ounces and below.
And for reel size 3000, 10 ounces and below.
For each reel size increment of 1000, allow an increase in weight of 0.5 ounces.
Of course, this is entirely my own opinion. If you’re an experienced bass angler with your own rules, by all means, do ignore this advice. This is merely a rough guide for new anglers.
Most of the time, spinning reels’ spools will be made of either anodized aluminum or graphite.
The difference between the two is that graphite is lighter and less tough. Note that neither of the two materials is better. It comes down to whether you want a stronger aluminum spool or lighter graphite spool.
Next is the reel handle. This will typically be either rubber, EVA foam, carbon fiber, or some type of metal.
Rubber provides the best grip and is still comfortable, while EVA foam is more comfortable but provides a less secure grip.
Carbon fiber is the lightest, and metal is the most durable.
A grip isn’t going to have a huge impact on your fishing game, so don’t get too hung up on it. I prefer EVA foam grips since they’re the most comfortable but the best grip for you depends on what criteria you value the most.
A bigger spinning reel size will give you more line capacity. The way it’s presented on the product page can be confusing to beginners, so let me explain.
You’ll often see line capacity presented as X/Y.
Y is the number of yards of a fishing line of pound test X pounds that the reel can hold.
So a 15/120 reel would be able to hold 120 yards of 15-pound line. This isn’t to say you can only use line of that particular pound test. It just means if you’re using line of that pound test, you’ll only be able to hold that amount of line.
Do also note that mono and fluorocarbon lines differ in thicknesses so the X/Y will only hold true for either mono or fluorocarbon line.
At this point, you’re probably wondering how much line capacity you’ll need for bass fishing. The good news is, you don’t need to know.
Since reel size decides line capacity, you’ll only need to know what size spinning reel to use. As for exactly what size spinning reel to use, as long as you stick to the reel sizes I mentioned, you won’t need to worry about the line capacity.
Ball bearings keep your reel running smoothly.
Naturally, the more you have, the smoother your spinning reel will be.
It’s also worth noting that a few high-quality bearings will outperform many low-quality bearings.
The more ball bearings a reel has, the more expensive it’ll be.
5+1 is the optimal number of bearings because you’ll get a smooth spinning reel without having to pay too much.
Moreover, each extra bearing will give you only a little smoothness after 5+1 bearings. Therefore, 5+1 ball bearings makes the most sense.
Gear ratio is the number of turns your spool makes for one turn of the handle. For example, a 5.2:1 gear ratio means your spool spins 5.2 rounds each time your handle rotates 1 round.
This matters because if each turn retrieves more line, you’ll be able to retrieve line faster and with less effort. But you can’t simply go for the highest gear ratio, you need to take into account your lure.
When using lures that require a slower retrieve, you need a lower gear ratio. Vice versa for lures that require a faster retrieve.
6:1 is considered a fast gear ratio and 4:1 is considered a slow gear ratio. I’d say the best gear ratio is 5:1 as you can use both fast and slow lures with it.
If you prefer fast lures, then go with a higher gear ratio and vice versa for slow lures.
Another way to go about it is to choose your gear ratio and then match your lure to it. Either way, you now know how to judge a reel’s gear ratio.
The last thing to check for is that your spinning reel has infinite anti-reverse, aka instant anti-reverse.
First of all, not every reel will have a switch for you to turn off the anti-reverse. This can be a huge turn-off for some people, so if you’re one of them, make sure to check this feature right at the start.
For reels that do have an anti-reverse switch, you still need to check that it’s infinite or instant.
This means when you flip the anti-reverse switch, the reel stops on a whim without any more backward movement.
Once again, this is personal preference, and most reels nowadays have it. However, if this is one of your pet peeves, make sure you check for it before you purchase the reel.
Spinning VS Baitcasting Reels For Bass
Most bass anglers agree that baitcasting reels work best for bass fishing. But there’s a very good reason why spinning gear still exists for bass fishing – most spinning reels are easier to use.
Some people prefer baitcasters because they offer better casting accuracy and are better suited for heavier lines and lures.
However, baitcasters are hard to control.
Rather than brakes, you’ll be using your thumb to control the line. When done right, you’ll be able to cast with pinpoint accuracy, but it’s not something you can master overnight. It can be frustrating to try over and over but still fail to cast a baitcaster properly.
For this reason, beginners, or any angler who doesn’t want to waste time learning this skill can simply use bass spinning reels.
Spinning reels are better than baitcasting reels for lighter lures and lines below 10-pound test.
Even if your line is above 10 pounds, spinning tackle will still work fine. So for those who prefer to keep it simple, or just don’t want to bother with picking up this hard-to-learn skill, go for spinning tackle.
Frequently Asked Questions
Bass are the most popular fish among anglers. Here are some common questions that have been asked time and again.
How much drag will I need for a Reel for bass?
I’d say 15 pounds of drag is enough. This is a fair bit lower than other fishes, but hear me out.
The bass isn’t the biggest species around. The biggest species, what we call monster fish, will call for about 30 pounds of drag.
The thing is, bass aren’t really big fish. Even the world record largemouth bass is less than 23 pounds so about 15 pounds of drag will be enough for even the trophy bass.
What Size Rod Should I Pair My Bass Reel With?
For normal bass fishing, a 7 ft bass fishing rod offers just the right amount of casting distance and weight.
If you’re going surf fishing, get an 8-12 ft rod.
Also, this may sound redundant, but spinning reels must be paired with spinning rods. This is because spinning rods and baitcasting rods have different positions for the reel seat.
How Should I Take Care Of My Bass Reel?
You won’t need any special maintenance. Just do what you usually do for your reels.
If you’re still at a loss, here’s a great video teaching you how to clean your spinning reel the right way:
There are plenty of unbelievable reels on this list and it can be hard to choose one.
Most bass anglers are just looking to have some fun though, and will be looking for a good reel at a price within reason. For those anglers, I recommend getting the Abu Garcia Revo SX. It’s a top-of-the-line reel for bass offering everything you need at a moderate price.
If you didn’t get that, I’m hoping it’s because you’ve already found your dream reel. Either way, may the tides be ever in your favour when you’re bass fishing!
P.S. You’re going to need more than just a reel for your fishing gear. Essential fishing gear includes rods too, so here are the best bass fishing rods.