Almost every angler has owned a spincasting reel at some point in time, although you may not remember it, if it was your first reel. For a long time, these tiny closed faced reels were considered “for beginners only.”
But times are changing, and a growing number of anglers are realizing that although limited in their ability to tackle larger, heavy species and how they can work some lures, closed face reels still have a place in any fishing locker.
Spincasting reels have a strong reputation for being easy to use, and excellent choices for beginners targeting small fish, but too lightweight for tackling larger gamefish.
Over the past few years, this has begun to change. Yes, they are still perfect for teaching new anglers the basics as they are easy to cast and well suited for dunking worms or tossing basic lures.
But a growing number of experienced anglers have found that although they are limited in terms of line capacity, power and ability to land hard running or heavy species, they still have a place in adult fishing.
Plus, closed-face reels are still as fun as they ever were.
No, you will not want to target flathead catfish, hungry muskies or even trophy bass with even the best spincasting reel, but that doesn’t mean you cannot successfully land nice trout, panfish, smaller catfish or even respectable bass with one of the new and improved designs.
Although most spincasting reels share many of the same features, including a closed face, they are not all equal. The key to getting the most out of your spincasting reel is selecting the best one for the intended task.
Here are some of the best of the best and how they can be added to your reel selection.
The 6 Top Spincasting Reels: Outdoor Empire Reviews
These are our top recommendations for spincasting reels:
- Best overall #1: Get the Zebco Omega Pro Z03
- Best overall #2: Get the Daiwa Goldcast Spincast Reel
- Best for beginners: Get the Pflueger Trion
- Best ultra-light: Get the Daiwa Underspin US XD
- Best for bass: Get the Pflueger President 10
- Best for the money: Get the KastKing Brutus
*Looking for a specific feature? Check out our quick-reference chart below:
|not specified by manufacturer
1. Best Overall #1
Zebco is an iconic maker of spincasting reels but they know the market was expanding and capturing some of this growing market of experienced anglers was a goal when designing the Omega Pro Z03.
The aircraft grade aluminum body, all-metal gears and sturdy interchangeable handles provide a feeling of quality and strength, something not often associated with a spincasting reel.
With a total of 7 ball bearings, a 3.6:1 gear ratio and a line retrieval of 19” per turn the Omega Pro is also capable of providing the action needed to utilize a wide range of lures including finicky top waters.
The excellent casting ability and smooth retrieval make this a fine choice for live bait, crankbaits, spinners and even your favorite frog.
This is still a spincasting reel and as such suffers from some of the drawbacks common to the design, including an overly sensitive drag wheel and limited line capacity.
But, even with these problems in mind, the Omega Pro provides a solid design and quality construction capable of serving you for many seasons to come, making this a perfect all around spincasting reel for the casual angler.
- Aircraft aluminum body & metal gears provide exceptionally strong design
- Interchangeable handles provide ease of use for left or right-handed anglers
- 6+1 ball bearing design, which is almost unheard of in spincasting reel
- Superior combination of bearing count, gear ratio and retrieval rate
2. Best Overall #2: Daiwa Goldcast Spincast Reel
Whether you are a beginner looking for a reel that’s easy to use or an avid angler who simply enjoys returning to your roots, it is hard to beat a quality spincaster. One of the best spincasters on the market is the Goldcast by Daiwa.
Whole-metal construction paired with an oscillating spool provides precise, level winding and smooth drag. The larger line aperture maximizes casting distance, and the rotating tungsten carbide line pickup will last longer than the plastic version found on other reels.
The single ball bearing and 4:1:1 gear ratio provides reliable casting and retrieval with 20.8 inches of line per handle turn.
- Highly durable all-metal construction
- Oscillating spool for level, kink-free wind
- Multi-disk drag and single ball bearing for smooth operation and increased performance
- Available for both right- and left-handed users
- Weighs a bit more than other similar models
- Loud clicking noise when retrieving line
If you are looking to add a spincaster to your tackle box, the Goldcast should be at the top of your list. It offers anglers of all levels an affordable, dependable option.
3. Best for the Beginner: Pflueger Trion
The Trion was first introduced in the 1990s and has been a mainstay of Pflueger’s spincasting line.
Over the years it has provided a simple, easy to use design targeted to mainly the entry level angler, now Pflueger has added some technical advances to make it a true contender in the spincasting-reel market.
The aluminum and graphite construction provides a lightweight, corrosion resistant body without sacrificing strength. By adding titanium pickup pins, you will not need to be concerned about wear, even with heavy use.
The reversible handle can be switched with ease and is an excellent option when determining how a new angler will best use the reel.
Versatility is also a main feature of the Trion with models available capable of handling line ranging from 4-10 lb. test. The gear ratio of 2.9:1 is on the low end, even for a spincasting reel, and having only 2 ball bearings means a heavy catfish or bass is likely to make the Trion scream.
But this reel is not designed to tackle trophies, it is designed to provide beginners with an economical, easy to use entry level reel that will not discourage future fishing adventures – and that is exactly what it provides.
If you are looking to try your hand at dunking worms, floating minnows or tossing smaller lures of various design the Trion will let you do just that.
While it may not land a lunker, tournament winning fish it will allow you to target a wide range of small to medium gamefish while learning the basics of casting, hook set and playing fish on small waters.
- Aluminum front cone and graphite body provide stable, strong and lightweight design
- Reversible aluminum handle, with rubber grips, provide a comfortable option for right- or left-handed users
- Handles a wide range of line from 4 – 10 lb. test
- Capable of being both a beginner and intermediate reel, reducing need to immediately replace as skill level increases
4. Best Ultra-Light Reel
One group of anglers who have always understood the value of quality spincasting reels has been those draw to ultra-light gear. Spincasting reels excel in tossing tiny lures and the Underspin by Daiwa is one of the best available.
Unlike the majority of spincasting reels available, the XD uses an underspin, or trigger release, able to be activated by a single finger via the forward-facing lever.
When you combine this action with the reel’s bottom-mounted configuration, you get a spincasting reel that thinks it’s a spinning reel without the worries of backlash or line twist.
The Hardboyz Rigid aluminum alloy construction and rugged metal gears will provide a solid yet lightweight base for any adventure.
The ball bearing drive, oversized line aperture and rotating titanium line pickup each contribute to longer casts, smoother retrieves, and excellent hook set.
Other than the trigger release, the feature most likely to improve your spincasting experience is the rear dial operated drag which allows easy one-handed access while keeping accidental adjustments to a minimum.
- Spincasting-like ease of use with spinning-reel performance
- Oversized line aperture provides for increased casting performance
- Adaptable for use with a wide range of rods including fly or noodle models
5. Best for Bass
No, spincasting reels are not the preferred reel among bass anglers, in fact, they are probably the number three choice of the three designs available.
But many anglers are comfortable using them, they are far easier to learn than either spinning reels or bait casters and generally more affordable.
This means that although manufacturers may not be specifically targeting bass anglers they are developing models capable of handling this popular species. The Pflueger President 10 is one such model.
You need a strong, sturdy body and gears capable of handling the hard hits and line screaming fights even a small fish can produce. You’ll need ball bearings for a smooth cast and a line capacity capable of holding enough higher test line for extended fights. That is exactly what the President 10 provides.
With an aluminum body, extra stout handle and sturdy construction this reel will not crumble when a trophy smallmouth hits. Having a line capacity of 8/90, 10/75 & 12/65 and pre-spooled with 10lb. test it will allow you to fight average runs without fear of being spooled.
Four ball bearings, anti-reverse feature and large line aperture will allow you to place your favorite lure in even hard to reach bass hides with confidence.
This combination of must-have features makes the President 10 a top choice for casual bass anglers unable or unwilling to add spinning of baitcasting reels to their tackle box.
- Capable of handling large diameter line
- Pre-spooled with bass ready 10 lb. test
- 4 ball bearings
- Heavy-duty handle will not bend or break under extra weight
- Anti-reverse feature
6. Best for the Money
Fishing does not require expensive gear, but it does require quality gear. This is what the KastKing Brutus offers – a quality reel at a reasonable price. But the reduced price does not mean a lack of features.
It has both a single anti-reverse bearing and five double-shielded ball bearing, and the stainless-steel dual-pin line pickup weighs 11 pounds.
Plus, with the graphite frame and stunning aluminum cone finished in a honeycomb design, this reel is quality and affordability in one. The Teflon drag and reversible aluminum double paddle handle are some of the features you would expect on a reel costing much more.
This rod is an excellent showing for KastKing’s first foray into the spincasting realm.
- Very affordable pricing
- Suitable for all levels of anglers
- Extremely lightweight and comfortable
- The all-metal design increases durability and comfort
- Very quiet (lacks the clicking of other spincasters)
- Not suitable for saltwater use
This reel is perfect for someone who wants top quality but is on a budget. It’s also great for that guy who loses and damages his gear far too often. While you will not spend a fortune on this rod, the quality will say you did.
Some of the most important features to consider when purchasing a spincasting reel include the following:
Button vs. Underspin
Most spincasting reels rely on a push button design, which features a button at the rear of the reel, which you must push prior to casting. This will release line for the cast.
This system is easy to use and nearly flawless, which is one of the main reasons it is so popular with beginners.
But, a growing number of models have adopted an underspin release where the button is replaced by a trigger or lever-like release in front of the body.
Many anglers find this is easy to use and adds to casting accuracy, plus it allows the reel to be mounted under the rod-like a spinning reel which also improves casting ability.
Unlike a spinning reel, which depends on the spinning bail to gather line, closed face reels use take-up pins. These pins are mounted inside on the spool edge and catch line as it passes.
While this simple design is dependable, it does limit retrieval speeds and the pins are prone to wear, something which will eventually lead to additional hesitation or missing the line altogether.
For faster retrieval speeds and better dependability, select a model with multiple pins.
Additionally, note that models with metal pins will last longer than those with plastic or composite pins.
Size and Weight
There was a time when size and weight were not too high on the list of considerations when it came to choosing a spincasting reel. In most cases, you were casting bait out, or dropping it over the side of your boat, and then letting the rod sit until you got a bite.
But, with more anglers using these reels for ultra-light or bass fishing there has been an increase in their being paired with lures or lightweight rods – both of which make a heavy or bulky reel a negative.
Look for a reel with aluminum or aluminum/graphite construction for reduced weight without loss of strength.
Spincasting reels are not known for their extreme line capacity, and few are able to handle more than 100 yds. of 2 or 4 lb. test. Very few are capable of handling braided line either.
But, if you select a model with the highest capacity for the line you will be using and a quality drag system, which will help prevent spooling, you should be able to target most moderately sized species without difficulty.
Trying to use a line larger than what the reel is rated for is tempting but doing so will not only reduce capacity even further it will also affect the reel’s overall performance.
Check this video to have an overview of re-spooling a spincast reel.
This is one of the areas which can make or break a reel. Gear ratios are about more than just how much line is retrieved per turn of the handle, it also affects lure performance and smoothness of the retrieve.
Too low of a ratio and lures will fail to reach the speed needed for best action. Too high a ratio and your lure will be ripped from the strike zone before a hit can occur.
Not too many spincasting reels suffer from being too fast — in fact, the design is known for lower ratios than other designs. Look for a model with a gear ratio between 2.5:1 to 4.5:1
This is another area where spincasting reels tend to match up poorly compared to other designs, and some models are made without bearings at all.
Unless you are buying a Snoopy or Spiderman rod for your toddler I would never recommend accepting a model without any bearings, but don’t expect to find one with 8 or 10 like your favorite spinning outfit may have.
Obviously, the higher the bearing count the better, as this will provide a smoother overall performance. Any bearings should be stainless steel to avoid corrosion.
Another downfall of the overall spincasting reel design is the drag. There are two drags designs available — star and internal.
Star drags use a large star-shaped wheel, mounted near the handle, for adjustment. This style is easy to use and less prone to accidental activation.
The internal drag, adjusted by a small wheel on the body above the button release, is most common. Although this drag is easy to use it is generally less precise and prone to accidental changes, especially if you rest your thumb near it during use.
If using an underspin-style reel you may able to get one with a rear drag system.
This will be activated by a large knob at the back, near where the push button would otherwise be, and offers a nice alternative, as it is still easy to use one handed and less prone to accidentally being changed.
As stated earlier, the spincasting design is no longer limited to your kid’s first reel or catching panfish from farm ponds.
With advances in technology these “beginner reels” are now being used to target a wide range of species and are even a preferred method for some anglers.
As with your other reels, you should expect your selection to be solidly built, with an aluminum or aluminum/graphite body.
A plastic or all-composite design not only provides limited strength and fails to provide the needed stability for smooth gear operation. You should also expect ball bearing rather than bushings, as they are essential for peak long-term life of your reel.
Even if you buy the best spincasting reel you can afford, there are some limitations you should expect to face.
1. Although some higher-end models are capable of handling large mid-range species you should not expect a spincasting reel to replace all other reels in your tackle box. The design itself limits potential line capacity, casting distance and lure choices.
2. The type of gears used means that fish which tend to run or fight for extended periods will either break your line or burn out the gears in short order. The gears simply cannot handle the pressure and are too difficult to accurately adjust on the go.
Leading Spincaster Brands
There are plenty of companies offering spincasting reels, but only a few known for doing so. Each of the following makers has built a company and reputation on providing some of the best spincasting reels available.
Every company is known for a few specific traits, highlights shared by a wide range of their products, and here is what you can expect from the top three:
Zebco is one of the leading manufacturers of spincasting reels, and they have been doing so since 1954.
Although today’s models are based on the traditional, iconic design, Zebco has gone out its way to make technical advances in terms of materials and construction.
When selecting a Zebco, look for a traditional look, but modern features such as aluminum /graphite body, higher ball bearing counts and all metal gear components.
You will also find that many models are available with multiple take-up pins, ceramic line guides and even bait alerts (rare in spincasting reels).
Plus, with the wide range of models available, there is truly a Zebco for every price range.
One of the areas where Zebco still appears to be lacking is line capability. None of their models are suitable for braided lines, and although they are able to handle higher test lines, they have limited storage.
Another area of concern is gear ratio. Although spincasting reels are notorious for having low gear ratios, and even Zebco’s high-end models tend to lean towards the lower end of the spectrum.
Pflueger is known for producing some of the best spinning reels available, as well as a wide range of price options with even lower end models using advances often found in higher-end versions. They take this approach when building their spincasting reels as well.
With features such as a rigid aluminum frame, aluminum handle and heavy duty all metal gears, their reels are capable of tackling far more than panfish – a few are also suitable for targeting bass.
Additional features including:
- ported front cones
- titanium-coated line guides
- stainless steel ball bearings
- anti-reverse bearing
make you feel like you are holding a far more expensive piece of gear than expected.
Many users also rate casting ability and smoothness as very high. But, as advanced as Pflueger’s reels are, there are some downfalls to keep in mind.
Users repeatedly complain the dual take-up pins do not always function as intended, even after only a short period of use. This means more downtime and less fishing while your fix what should not be broken.
Others report that the push button frequently sticks or breaks altogether, which obviously renders the reel useless.
Those who have tried respooling with line other than that provided by the factory complain they often face problems related to casting distance and spilling of line.
All in all, they make a nice reel but be prepared for extra care and avoid tinkering or attempting upgrades – they are best used as the manufacturer intended.
Daiwa is the third of the top three spincasting reel manufacturers. Like the others, Daiwa is also known for making a wide range of models and sizes, although they are viewed as the go-to brand for ultra-light reels.
They also tend to make each model in both a high-end and economical version –allowing you to enjoy the quality, and many of the features, found in top-end models for a fraction of the price.
The higher priced models not only enjoy excellent reviews by users, but many actually prefer them to other designs such as spinning reels.
Users enjoy the large push button, especially the outside-the-body positioning and fast gear ratios. Others have also commented positively about the long casting distance and smooth drag.
One area of concern, based on multiple reviews, is the apparent lack of quality control. If you read 15 reviews of almost any Daiwa reel you will find an almost even split between those who give it 5 stars and those who offer only 1 star.
This points to only one possibility- quality control.
Although almost every reviewer who contacted Daiwa states they were offered a hassle-free return and exchange, they were still left with an unusable reel when streamside. I would recommend testing your reel prior to purchase whenever possible.
So, there you have it: the good, the bad and the best of the best when it comes to spincasting reels.
If you are looking to add to your tackle options I hope you will give one of the models detailed above consideration. I also hope that these tips will help you make the best selection for your personal angling needs.