Are you thinking of adding a spinning reel to your bass fishing arsenal? Are you having a difficult time navigating the hundreds of choices, endless options, and isle after isle of choices that appear different only in name or color?
Well, to be honest, you are not alone. Even veteran bass anglers have a difficult time when it comes to picking their first spinning reel after a year or so of using a baitcaster.
To assist you, we have compiled a list of key features you should look for and even a list of the top candidates in several commonly searched categories.
Having reviewed many of the reels available and taking into account the important features outlined above, we have compiled examples of the best bass spinning reels available.
There are six spinning reels, each representing a particular category. We are sure that one of these will meet your specific requirements. If you’re new to bass fishing and haven’t used a baitcast reel before, we recommend you start out with a spinning reel.
If you are still searching after you read this, hopefully the information we’ve provided makes that search more productive.
The 7 Top Bass Reels Of 2021: Outdoor Empire Reviews
These are our top recommendations for bass spinning reels of 2021:
- Best overall: Get the Shimano Stradic CI4
- Get the Abu Garcia Revo Premier Spinning Reel
- Best value for the money: Get the Abu Garcia Revo 2 SX40
- Get the Pflueger Supreme XT Spinning Reel
- Best under $100 #1: Get the Shimano Spirex FG
- Best under $100 #2: Get the Penn Battle II
- Best rod and reel combo: Get the Abu Garcia Revo SX / Johnny Morris CarbonLite 2.0 Spinning Combo
*Looking for a specific feature? Check out our quick-reference chart below:
|Line Capacity (Mono)
|Line Capacity (Braided)
|Graphite, aluminum (spool)
1. Best Overall Reels For Bass Fishing: Shimano Stradic CI4
Shimano is an undisputed leader in the fishing industry, and the original Stradic was one of their most popular models. But that wasn’t enough, so they took it a step further with the CI4.
CI stands for Carbon Infusion, a Shimano-specific version of reinforced carbon.
What makes this so popular and the Stradic so impressive is this carbon retains both strength and weight almost 25% less than the competitor. The lack of metal components also means the reel is almost entirely corrosion resistance.
The carbon body is not the only innovation either. The X-Ship gear, which provides support at both ends and ensures the gears remain aligned under heavy strain, improves performance and reduces wear & tear.
Add the Paladin Gear system comprised of a cold forged aluminum drive gear and hardened brass pinion gear, and you have one of the smoothest actions available – both out of the box and years down the road.
Add a high line capacity compatible with both mono and braid, and you have a tool suited for tackling any bass you may encounter.
This reel was designed to provide a lightweight, finesse reel able to be fished for long periods without undo fatigue and Shimano delivered. You will be hard pressed to find a better, more reliable reel anywhere else.
Weight: 8.1 ounces
Max Drag: 24 lbs
Line Capacity (Mono): 8/240, 10/200, 12/160
Line Capacity (Braided): 15/280, 30/170, 50/150
2. Abu Garcia Revo Premier Spinning Reel
The Abu Garcia Revo SX may be the best spinning reel for the money, but if the price is not a factor, most anglers would agree that the Revo Premier Spinning Reel line doesn’t have many legitimate competitors.
The Revo Premier features a super-rigid IM-C6 carbon body, a C6 carbon rotor, and the computer-optimized AMGearing™ system, so that it is not only strong and durable but performs like the kind of precision fishing instrument serious anglers want.
It also features an 11+1 gear system, an aircraft-grade aluminum shaft and a braid-ready, machined aluminum spool.
But while the Revo Premier comes equipped with some desirable features, the thing most anglers will notice first about the reel is its ability to improve your casting range.
Equipped with Abu Garcia’s Rocket Line Management System and Rocket Lip Spool, you’ll find that line – whether you like to use monofilament, fluorocarbon or braid – will pour off the spool effortlessly as you launch your lure into the next zip code.
Weight: 6.4 oz
Max Drag: 10 lbs
Line Capacity (Mono): 6/110
Line Capacity (Braided): 6/150
3. Best Bass Reels For The Money
Abu Garcia has a winning design with the Revo SX bait caster, so they decided to take this same innovation to the spinning side of the house.
The insert molded carbon body, one piece aluminum gear box, and aluminum braid ready spool were all designed to catch big fish time after time.
In addition to the near weightless, zero flex body, you will also receive one of the top line management systems available today.
The Rocket Spool Lip and Everlast Bail allow the line to lay flat regardless of lure or technique used, eliminating troublesome backlashes and allowing for maximum casting distance.
With over 200 yds. of line capacity, you will never worry about hitting the bottom if your next hog does decide to run shore to shore.
The drag is a perfect combination of power and finesse. Whether you are muscling a bass away from cover, dropping a weightless worm through weeds or fighting that last ditch run the smooth, a steady drag shows no hesitation, no hang-up and very few broken lines.
If you can only buy one reel and need it to not only perform but also last for a lifetime, you really cannot go wrong with the Revo SX.
Weight: 9.2 ounces
Max Drag: 17 lbs
Line Capacity (Mono): 230/10
Line Capacity (Braided): 250/14
4. Pflueger Supreme XT Spinning Reel
No matter what price point you are looking for, it is important to get good value for your fishing-gear dollar.
And although the Pflueger Supreme XT Spinning Reel doesn’t qualify for the title of Best Reel Under $100, it provides incredible value and should be affordable for most anglers.
The Pflueger XT is well-suited for most fishing styles and tackle, and it is available in four different models to suit your specific preferences.
Made with a magnesium body, frame and side plate, the Pflueger XT is designed to be very lightweight, without compromising on strength and durability.
The Pflueger Supreme XT comes features a carbon inlay drag design and comes with a sealed carbon-fiber system – in fact, you can even use the Supreme XT in saltwater if you like.
It also features all of the high-quality components – including a solid-aluminum bail wire, lightweight carbon handle and EVA knobs – that you’d expect of such a high-quality reel.
Weight: 6 oz
Max Drag: 8 lbs
Line Capacity (Mono): 4/110
Line Capacity (Braided): 6/140
5. Best Under $100 #1
It is hard to believe that this reel costs less than $100, especially when you see that it includes many of the same Shimano features also found on other models costing more several times this.
The graphite frame, sideplate and rotor over an excellent combination of weight and strength. The aluminum spool which is braid ready offers the ability to house a wide variety of line sizes including a whopping 30-pound braid.
These features alone exceed those found on most low-cost reels, but there is far more to the Spirex.
The one handed Quikfire II casting system makes line management a breeze and even increases casting accuracy. Retrievals are just as quick and smooth time after time due to the Varispeed Oscillation and Fluid Drive.
All these weigh 8.8 ounces, a bit more than optimal but average for a lower end design.
For added comfort, designers have utilized a double paddle handle, commonly used on baitcasters rather than spinning reels, which may be unconventional but makes winding in those long cast as easy as one could expect.
All in all, the Spirex suffers from very few of the pitfalls one would expect from an “Under $100” reel while providing many options you would expect to pay far more for.
Weight: 8.8 ounces
Drag: 7 lbs
Line Capacity (Mono): 2/270,4/140,6/110
Line Capacity (Braided): 10/95,15/85,20/65
Material(s): Graphite, aluminum (spool)
6. Best Under $100 #2: Penn Battle II
The Penn Battle II line has made quite the name for itself among saltwater anglers. Much of what they love about it also makes the Penn Battle II an excellent bass reel.
The durable, all-metal body will stand up to years of abuse, provide better gear alignment and require less maintenance. It also includes the Penn Drag System, with two washers in the spool, one on each side, for a smoother start and increased range.
Of course, it also includes Penn Grease for longer life. A rubber gasket on the spool prevents line slippage, even when using a braided line, which eliminates the need for backing. The Battle II is available in eight sizes, and each can be used by right- or left-handed anglers.
- Full-body metal construction
- Sealed against water and debris
- Dual carbon-fiber washer Penn Drag System
- No backing needed when using braided line
- A bit heavy
Bass anglers looking for a top-notch reel that outperforms reels costing far more will be glad they gave the Penn Battle II a chance. See what has saltwater anglers so excited and how it can assist you in catching bass too.
7. Best Rod and Reel Combo for Bass Fishing
Many preassembled combos try to keep the cost low by including a substandard reel with a premium rod.
But, if you want a very high-quality combo, you’ll want to pick one that not only features a high-quality rod and, but a high-quality reel too.
Picking a combo that features the Abu Garcia Revo SX spinning reel allows you to do exactly that, and it doesn’t hurt that this particular combo comes with a very high-quality rod – the Johnny Morris CarbonLite 2.0 – too.
We’ve discussed the Revo SX (and recommended it) above, but the CarbonLite 2.0 is a very impressive rod in its own right.
Based around an RT4 graphite blank, and featuring Fuji FaZlite guides, this rod is both durable and sensitive enough to satisfy even the pickiest anglers.
The Abu Garcia / Johnny Morris Combo comes in a wide variety of lengths, actions, powers and reel sizes so that you can pick the best setup for your needs.
Weight: 7.7 oz
Max Drag: 22 lbs
Line Capacity (Mono): 4/230
Line Capacity (Braided): 15/230
Looking for a good tube fishing rod? Here are three of our best tube rod recommendations.
Background & Rise Of Spin Reels
Amateurs took their cue from their favorite pros and followed suit. Spinning reels were pushed to the rear of the closet, tucked deep in the tackle bag and mostly forgotten.
They never really went away, saved for other species or when friends need to borrow gear, but they were mostly removed from the bass fishing arena.
Then pros changed their tune. More and more anglers on the numerous tournament trails realized that there was a place for the spinning reel.
While the baitcaster is ideal for achieving distance or pulling hogs from thick cover, the spinning reel is a better choice when it comes to finessing fish to strike.
Walking a weedless worm through cover or pitching a lightweight lure for timid feeders and you will want a quality spinner available.
But you need to make sure the spinning reel is up to the task at hand. As the popularity of spin fishing has increased, so have the selections available.
Almost every reel makers offer spin models, sometimes several each season. There are dozens of features available in spinning reels, but not all are a top concern when bass fishing.
You need to select a brand and model designed to provide the finesse needed to hook big bass and the backbone necessary to land them. And since you are not sponsored with an endless supply of tackle at your fingertips, you probably want it to last for many seasons to come.
Important Choosing Factors
Bass fishing can be hard on your equipment, and each piece needs to be up to the task — capable of withstanding vibrations from long boat rides, harsh changes in temperature and being banged around on a regular basis.
Then there are the fish to consider.
Some of the reasons bass are such a popular gamefish are their ability to grow BIG and extreme fighting ability. Hook a 5+ pound bruiser to the other end of your line and your reel needs to hold its own. If you compromised, you will lose.
The best bass reels are made from aluminum, graphite or the new comer carbon composite material.
- Aluminum tends to be stronger and provides a tighter fit.
- Graphite is lighter and provides extra corrosion protection.
- Carbon composites are growing in popularity and can provide the best of both worlds, especially if they are molded.
Regardless of which material you select, it should be well fitted with no loose parts, and everything should move smoothly — think well-oiled machine.
Although weight may take a second seat to durability, it is still an important consideration as you will be casting, reeling and casting over and over again. Every extra ounce will feel like a pound before long.
Everyone talks about the reel’s drag but very few ever explain exactly what they are looking for. When it comes to bass reels, you want the main features – smooth and strong.
- Strength will allow you get that little extra “ump” needed when setting the hook or stopping a bass when he makes a last minute run for his life.
- Smoothness prevents the line from hanging up and possibly snapping under the pressure of the hook set or life-saving run. It also allows you to achieve the light action finesse needed to get the most out of your lighter crank baits, weightless worms, and smaller jigs.
The best spinning reels utilize a front-end drag comprised of multiple drag washers which are either greased or sealed to protect against corrosion and debris.
Regarding drag amount, you will want to look for a maximum greater than the weight of the fish you expect to land (8-10 lbs. for bass).
As with the body, most spools are constructed of aluminum or graphite, although some manufacturers are experimenting with carbon as well.
Again, aluminum tends to be stronger while graphite is lighter and carbon offers better strength than the latter and better weight than the former.
More important in weight is whether or not your spool is rated for use with a braided line which is a must for targeting big bass.
Not only must the spool material be capable of handling braided line, but it should also be “braided line ready” — meaning it can be spooled without the need for backing.
Bass fishing routinely involves long casts and even longer runs. Unfortunately, it can also mean broken lines due to snags or fish who better you. All of these mean the possibility your need to have plenty of line on hand.
The line capacity will be readily listed on any reel, usually on the spool itself, as well as in the user’s manual. This capacity will be listed for both monofilament and braided line and include several different line diameters.
Your bass reel should have the ability to accept 3 or 4 different size monofilament lines as well as their braided counterparts.