Hello there fellow angler, welcome to my review of the best trout spinning reels!
It’s always a joy when you have a trout at the end of your line. Often, the fight they put up is disproportionate to their small sizes. They can also grow to be pretty large, making them even more exciting to catch. To ensure you never lose a trout, you’ll need a reel that can take on the biggest ones among them, as well as the smallest ones.
I also made affordability a huge factor when I was choosing the best trout fishing reels. One reel that really stood out was the Daiwa Regal LT Spinning Reel. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly reel that can comfortably take on any trout, I highly recommend you check it out.
Don’t worry if that was out of your means though. I’ve got plenty more for you to choose from, so jump right in!
Our Top 10 Picks
- Daiwa Regal LT (Best Overall)
- Okuma Helios Lightweight (Best Splurge)
- Shimano Stradic CI4+ (Best Lightness)
- KastKing Valiant Eagle Gold (Best Budget)
- Plusinno Fishing (Best Budget For Small Trout)
- Okuma Ceymar (Best Regal LT Alternative)
- Pflueger President (Best Smoothness)
- Penn Pursuit IV (Best For Surf Fishing)
- Okuma Epixor (Best Warranty)
- Abu Garcia Revo SX (Best Stradic CI4+ Alternative)
The 10 Best Trout Spinning Reels
To save you the unnecessary time and effort of looking through every single trout spinning reel in existence to find the best trout spinning reel for you, we’ve narrowed them down to the 10 best ones here.
- Ball Bearings: 9+1
- Reel Size: 1000-3000
- Gear Ratio: 5.2:1
- Max Drag Weight: 11-22 pounds
- Weight: 6.7–7.8 ounces
Let’s start the ball rolling with a super light and affordable reel that can handle any trout. The Daiwa Regal LT Spinning Reel is also incredibly smooth and has a great gear ratio.
Its lightness can be credited to its Air Rotor System (ARS) and its material. ARS is unique to Daiwa and makes their air rotors 15% lighter than normal air rotors of the same material. On top of this, the spool is constructed from carbon fiber, the lightest material. The ARS and light carbon fiber combine to produce an unbelievably light reel. Only 2 other spinning reels for trout manage to be slightly lighter than this, and both are more than double its cost.
As for its drag system, even gigantic trout won’t be a problem. A smooth drag of 20 pounds will be enough for even monster trout. With a maximum drag of 22 pounds, you can fish confidently without worrying about the size of the trout on your hook.
To top it all off, it delivers next-level smoothness with its 9+1 bearings coupled with a desirable gear ratio of 5:1.
It’s not every day that you see such an incredible reel. It’s even rarer to see it at such a modest price. Anyone who’s looking for an awesome all-around reel should give this a shot.
- Ball Bearings: 8+1
- Reel Size: 2000-4000
- Gear Ratio: 5.0-5.8:1
- Max Drag Weight: 6-13 pounds
- Weight: 6.2-9.1 ounces
As you can tell from the name, this reel is all about lightness. It’s not just light though, it’s also the most durable and corrosion-resistant trout spinning reel.
The Okuma Helios Lightweight Spinning Reel actually stands at roughly an ounce lighter than the Daiwa Regal LT. If you thought Daiwa’s ARS was impressive, prepare to be mind-blown.
Okuma’s C-40X long strand carbon fiber technology utilizes a specially blended graphite polymer. The carbon fibers in this material are elongated and reinforced. This creates a substantially stronger composite than standard graphite. At 25% lighter, 50% stronger, and 100% anti-corrosive, C-40X translates to an extremely lightweight and durable reel.
Now let’s talk about its bearings. For those who want your reel to be extra safe from corrosion, Okuma’s got you covered. The 8+1 corrosion-resistant ball bearings (CRBB) not only make the reel silky smooth but also further protect the reel from rusting.
There’s just one drawback – its maximum drag. At 13 pounds, you’ll be able to land some larger trout, but you’ll have trouble with the biggest ones. You might also be put off by the price, given that it’s around twice the price of the Daiwa Regal LT.
However, as you can tell, this premium trout reel also offers more than double the value.
As long as you’re not going after monster trout, there’s no better reel to spend your money on. If you won’t settle for anything less than the best trout spinning reel, look no further.
- Ball Bearings: 6+1
- Reel Size: 3000
- Gear Ratio: 6.0:1
- Max Drag Weight: 19.8 pounds
- Weight: 6.7 ounces
What? The previous 2 spinning reels for trout weren’t light enough? Fine. Here comes the lightest reel of them all – the Shimano Stradic CI4+ Spinning Reel. This reel has no equal when it comes to lightness, and can handle the entire range of trout.
Weighing a mere 6.7 ounces for size 3000 is a feat unachieved by any brand except Shimano. Shimano didn’t reveal any special technology, but I don’t really care as long as it’s light. I’ve been fishing for 20 years now, and seen and used many lightweight reels. But none could hold a candle to the Shimano Stradic CI4+. I’ve also looked through every single lightweight reel I could find online. But not a single one could beat this reel in lightness. Safe to say, this is the current lightest spinning reel for trout in the world.
It also produces 19.8 pounds of drag force, enabling you to reel in the biggest trouts. 6+1 bearings give you a pretty smooth reel too.
All in all, the Shimano Stradic CI4+ is the perfect spinning reel for trout for those who value lightness the most in a rod. While the price is rather steep, you won’t find a lighter reel elsewhere. You can definitely go with the previous two trout reels, but if you’ve got the money to spare, this is worth spending on.
- Ball Bearings: 7+1
- Reel Size: 1000-4000
- Gear Ratio: 6.2:1
- Max Drag Weight: 17.6-22.0 pounds
- Weight: 8.6-10.1 ounces
Next up is the only budget spinning reel for trout capable of tackling massive trout.
It’s able to generate up to 22 pounds of smooth drag, rivalling that of the Daiwa Regal LT. This means you won’t have to worry about heavier trout overpowering your reel.
I also really like its retrieve. It features 7+1 shielded stainless steel bearings and a fast 6.2:1 gear ratio. Stainless steel is by nature a corrosion-resistant material. Combined with the 7+1 bearings being shielded, the result is a smooth and durable ball bearing system. The fast gear ratio also takes less effort when reeling in trout. Overall, the retrieve from the reel is more than satisfactory.
Needless to say though, compromises were made to keep costs down. It’s one of the heavier trout fishing reels on this list and the assembly is rather shoddy. If I was being honest, in all likelihood, 1 or 2 parts may fall off after a year. And for 10 bucks more, you could get yourself a Daiwa Regal LT.
Despite that, this is a reel I would gladly buy. If you find yourself unable to spare that extra 10 bucks, this is a good spinning reel as a second option.
Best Budget For Small Trout
- Ball Bearings: 9+1
- Reel Size: 2000-4000
- Gear Ratio: 4.9-5.2:1
- Max Drag Weight: 12-17.5 pounds
- Weight: 8.5-11.9 ounces
If you still found the KastKing Valiant Eagle Gold a bit too pricey, I’ve got just the reel for you. The Plusinno Spinning Reel is the absolute lowest-priced usable trout reel. It also has some sweet extra features that I think you’ll like.
First off, it’s got 9+1 bearings. The sheer number of bearings should give you an idea of how buttery smooth it is. The bearings also reduce noise, so you’ll have not only a smooth but also quiet reel.
What really sets it apart from other reels though, is the special features. To begin with, it’s got a line keeper. This makes it easy to attach your line and also prevents your line from coming off the spool during storage. Next, it’s also equipped with a push button. What this button does is it lets you fold your handle instead of having to unscrew the handle like in most other reels. All these additional features add up to unparalleled ease of use.
The catch is that you can only use this reel in freshwater. I learned the hard way that this spinning reel for trout is not resistant to rust in any way. Do not under any circumstance use this reel for saltwater fishing. Since many other trout reels can be used for saltwater fishing, this is a pretty big limitation, which explains its dirt cheap price.
Other than that though, there aren’t any downsides to this rod. This is the best trout spinning reel on a budget that won’t leave out any important features, so you won’t be short-changed in any way. For the price of a few cups of coffee, you can own this smooth reel, not to mention the awesome extra features that come with it.
Best Regal LT Alternative
- 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
If you found the Daiwa Regal LT somewhat too costly, here’s a viable alternative. The Okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel is just a step behind in everything. This includes weight, smoothness, and drag system.
Comparing both reels’ size 3000 reels, the Okuma Ceymar is 0.4 ounces heavier. In terms of bearings, the Okuma Ceymar is once again 2 bearings behind, and marginally less smooth. Lastly, its drag system is weaker. Unlike the Daiwa Regal LT which can beat the largest trout, the Okuma Ceymar can only take on large trout. It’ll be able to face down anything except the biggest of the biggest trouts.
All things considered, you’ll be getting a slightly inferior reel for approximately $10 less. In my opinion, it’s a smart way to have $10 more in your wallet. If that appeals to you, this is the reel for you.
Full specifications can be found here.
- 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
Designed to be smooth in performance, the Pflueger President Spinning Reel offers unprecedented smoothness.
Constructed with 9+1 corrosion-resistant ball bearings (CRBB), the number of bearings alone is already hard to replicate. Nevertheless, 2 trout reels managed to do so. But the Pflueger President still prevails. The first reel that also has 9+1 bearings is the Daiwa Regal LT, but they aren’t corrosion-resistant like the Pflueger’s are. The second reel is the Plusinno. Like I mentioned earlier though, it can’t even touch saltwater. Ultimately, the Pflueger President’s ball bearing system is still superior.
This reel is hands down the smoothest reel for trout fishing and was made for people who prioritise smoothness over everything else in a reel.
Best For Surf Fishing
- Ball Bearings: 4+1
- Reel Size: 2500-8000
- Gear Ratio: 4.7-6.2:1
- Max Drag Weight: 10-25 pounds
- Weight: 9.8-21.4 ounces
Looking for a surf fishing reel for trout fishing? The Penn Pursuit IV Spinning Reel is the reel for the job.
Among all the trout spinning reels, you won’t find another one with larger reel sizes. What makes the Penn Pursuit IV the preferred choice for surf fishing is its large reel sizes. It has all the qualities of a good trout spinning reel and comes in every size you need for surf fishing. In essence, there’s no better trout spinning reel for surf fishing.
- Ball Bearings: 7+1
- Reel Size: 2000-5500
- Gear Ratio: 5.0:1
- Max Drag Weight: 11-26 pounds
- Weight: 7.3-11.1 ounces
Paranoid trout anglers need this reel. The Okuma Epixor Spinning Reel may not excel in any particular aspect, but it’ll bring you the most peace of mind.
As anglers, the warranty date is the moment when we all start worrying about our reels. Once the warranty date has passed, your reel can literally dissolve into dust and you’ll just have to suck it up. No doubt that’s an exaggeration, but you get my point.
The Okuma Epixor possesses a 5-year warranty, the longest out of all the other brands. What happens after that is between you and God. But until then, you can rest easy knowing you won’t have to spend extra on repairs or a new reel.
Best Stradic CI4+ Alternative
- 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
Last on the list is a suitable replacement for the Shimano Stradic. The Abu Garcia Revo SX Spinning Reel is for those who liked the Shimano Stradic but are looking for a more economical reel.
If you recall, the Shimano Stradic can take on the entire range of trout and is light beyond belief. While the Abu Garcia Revo SX isn’t at its level, it’s close enough. Starting with the maximum drag, the Revo SX has 17 pounds, which is almost enough for the entire range of trout. As for its weight, its nowhere near the Shimano Stradic, but still relatively light.
It does beat the Stradic by 2 bearings, which are also corrosion-resistant, shielded, and stainless steel. For $100 less expensive, this solid reel is quite a decent replacement for the Shimano Stradic.
Buying Guide For Trout Spinning Reels
You may have a conveniently curated list of the best trout reels here, but trout anglers should know how to tell if a reel is good for trout fishing, even without this list.
This buying guide will cover the factors you should consider when choosing a reel for trout fishing.
Whether it’s for trout fishing or any other fish, the rules for bearings are the same.
Bearings decrease friction and allow your reel to spin smoothly. When judging a reel, you’ll need to look at the number and quality of bearings it has.
It goes without saying that the more bearings you have, the smoother your retrieve will be.
But more bearings also equates to a higher price tag. This is why I recommend only getting 5+1 bearings.
You won’t be losing out on much because the smoothness increases only a little for each ball bearing past the 5+1 bearings mark.
However, there’s a noticeable difference between 4+1 and 5+1 bearings. This is why 5+1 is the optimal number.
As for quality, you’ll want durable and corrosion-resistant materials.
Even if you’re planning on only fishing in freshwater, materials that aren’t corrosion-resistant will still rust over time.
You’ll want to get sealed or shielded bearings. If that’s not possible, make sure to get smooth and corrosion-resistant materials. Some good examples are stainless steel and ceramic.
Trout are on the smaller end of the spectrum, so your reel sizes will be a tad smaller than usual. Furthermore, you won’t need to cast far when fishing for trout.
A smaller reel will also be lighter, so that’s all the more reason for your size to be small.
For me, the ideal size is 2500 because I find it just enough for the largest trout.
If you’d like to play it on the safe side, you can go up to 3000 or even 4000. If you want an even lighter reel, size 2000 will be fine. But try not to go below that, or you run the risk of running out of line when against bigger trout.
In short, any size from 2000 to 4000 will be good for trout fishing.
To be exact, we’re talking about your spool material.
The spool is the most important part of any reel. Most of the time, spinning reels will be crafted from graphite or anodized aluminum.
Out of the two, a graphite body will be lighter, while aluminum will be stronger, especially under harsh conditions.
To be honest, neither material is better than the other. It boils down to what you want your reel to be like.
If you want a lighter and less sturdy reel, go for a graphite body. Vice versa, if you want a tougher but heavier reel, go for aluminum.
For those who don’t know, the drag system is the steel plates in your reel that stop your spool from releasing line.
The heavier the drag you set it to, the harder a fish will have to pull to overcome the drag system. Once a fish’s pull exceeds the drag, your spool will release line. The point of this is to prevent your line from being snapped by a fish that’s too strong.
After the drag system is overcome, it will continue to provide resistance against the line and fight against the fish. So the stronger the fish, the heavier your drag will have to be to tire the fish out.
The general rule of thumb is to set your drag to 1/3 of your line’s pound test. So if you’re using a 30-pound line, your drag should be 10 pounds.
The reason why we do this is that as more line leaves your spool, the drag will increase. If you set it too high right at the start, your drag system will be too strong, and your line will snap. As such, it’s best not to exceed 1/3 of your line’s pound test.
As for how much drag you’ll need, you won’t need more than 30 pounds for even the most powerful fishes. The majority of the time, 25 pounds will more than suffice.
Seeing as trout aren’t as big as other fishes though, 20 pounds will already allow you to take on enormous trout.
Gear ratio is a measure of how many times your spool turns per turn of the handle. For instance, a gear ratio of 5.2:1 means your spool turns 5.2 times each time the handle turns once.
The higher your gear ratio, the fewer turns you’ll need to retrieve the same amount of line, i.e. the faster your retrieve will be.
4:1 is considered a slow gear ratio and 6:1 is considered fast. Slower gear ratios are for smaller fishes, while you’ll need faster gear ratios for larger fish.
The lures you use will also decide your gear ratio. Faster lures call for faster gear ratios, and vice versa for slower lures.
Since trout aren’t that huge, you won’t need a fast gear ratio.
I recommend a 5:1 gear ratio so that you can fish both fast and slow lures.
This isn’t to say that you can’t use faster or slower gear ratios. A lower gear ratio simply requires a bit more effort and isn’t a very big deal. Go with whatever you’re comfortable with.
Frequently Asked Questions
Trout are less well-known than more popular fish species like bass. It’s normal to have things you don’t know about trout, which is why I included this section to answer those questions.
How big can trout grow?
Trout have been known to reach 53 pounds. But usually, they are around 8 pounds.
Of course, this depends on what species of trout you have in mind. For example, lake trout will be much bigger than rainbow trout.
What size hooks work best for trout Fishing?
Since trouts tend to be smaller, bigger hooks will only be harder to fit in their mouths.
Moreover, it’s easier to spot a bigger hook and small hooks look more natural.
Given the timid nature of trouts, it’s best to stick with smaller hooks. The smaller the better, so #12, #10, or #8 hooks will work best.
Spinning Reels VS Baitcasting Reels: Which Is Better For Trout Fishing?
To answer this in detail would take a whole article, so I’ll give you the short answer.
The main reason why people use baitcasters is for casting accuracy.
But the issue with baitcasters is they’re harder to use than spinning reels.
Since you’ll be trout fishing, you won’t need the extra casting accuracy, so I’d advise you to go with spinning reels.
Although in most cases trout are smaller-sized than usual, they can grow to be pretty big.
This means aside from the usual lightness, smoothness, and durability, your spinning reel must be able to overcome even the biggest trouts.
The most wallet-friendly reel that will get the job done is the Daiwa Regal LT. If you’re like most trout anglers and want to spend a reasonable amount of money on a first-rate reel, this is it.
If you didn’t get that reel, I hope it’s because you found one even more to your liking on this list. Either way, I wish you all the best in your trout fishing journeys!