Closed face reels, also known as spincast reels, are known for their simplicity and affordability. An angler simply has to press a button to cast the line and crank the handle to retrieve it; the reel does the rest of the work. Not all closed face reels are created equal, though, so if you are in the market for the best ones available, this review is for you.
How Do Closed Face Reels Work?
The fishing line is closed inside the nose cone of the reel instead of being exposed like most other systems. Inside the nose cone, there is a take-up pin that holds the line in place. When you cast, you just have to hold down a button on the back of the reel, and that disengages the pin allowing the line to come off the spool. Then, once you let go of the button and start cranking the handle, the take-up pin reengages and begins to retrieve the line on the spool.
The whole time the spool remains covered, and the line enters and exits through a hole in the cover. This is one of the biggest differences with the more common open face reels which leave the line exposed, so there is no nose cone. As you cast and retrieve with an open face reel, the assembly spins as well. So, in a nutshell, closed face reels work as a more static and closed system while the open face reels are exposed with more moving parts.
Tips for Choosing a Quality Closed Face Reel for Fishing
Consider this your essential buyers guide for finding the best closed face reels on the market. If you follow a few essential tips, you're sure to find what you need.
Essential Reel Specs
Gear Ratio & Line Capacity
Most closed face reels hold around 80 to 120 yards of line, but this can vary. As a general rule, the bigger your reel, the more line capacity you have to work with. Your gear ratio will determine your fishing experience. A higher gear ratio will retrieve faster but with less power, while a lower gear ratio gives you the opposite.
You should avoid plastic reels. You can find good aluminum reels that are affordable. Construction quality extends beyond just the nose cone too. It’s important to check what the internal mechanisms are made of, especially the take-up pins.
If the internal mechanisms of the reel are susceptible to corrosion, then just a few times saltwater fishing might take the reel out of commission. Aluminum is a great choice for corrosion resistance and is a good general go-to for fishing equipment.
High-Quality Brake & Drag System
The size and construction of closed face reels doesn't give them a lot of braking and drag power. They are meant for light lines and easy fishing. You'll typically see one of two systems, either the star drag or the wheel assembly. You should try them both to see which feels better for you. With either of them, you want to make sure the available settings fit your needs.
Price & Warranty
You don’t need to buy the cheapest reel or the most expensive. You want the one that fits your needs best. Most reels come with a standard 1-year warranty, so if you can find something better, then consider yourself lucky.
5 Best Closed Face Fishing Reels Reviewed
1. Zebco Omega Pro
Our Top Pick!
85/10 mono capacity
7 BB (6 + clutch)
The Zebco Omega Pro is the all-around top pick on this list. This powerful aircraft aluminum covered reel packs 7 bearings and all-metal gears, giving it both a smooth retrieval and the durability to withstand repeated use. The system is equipped with a powerful brass worm gear, continuous anti-reverse, and a triple-cam multi-disc drag. The reel is robust. It easily works for heavy species such as walleye, bass, catfish, and striper.
The assembly comes pre-spooled with a 10-pound Zebco fishing line with a line capacity of 85/10. To set your drag, just use the small wheel on the back that can easily be moved with your thumb while casting. The six main bearings plus the seventh for the clutch make the 19” per turn retrieval among the best you might hope for with closed face reels. You can also easily set it up for a left or right hand retrieve. The low 3.6:1 gear ratio lends you some power on the retrieve as well so you can actually land those bigger fish.
This is all covered by a 1-year warranty from the date of purchase, which covers defects in workmanship and materials. Zebco has been in the fishing business since 1954, though, so when they make something, they do it right.
2. Pflueger President
Best Push Button Reel For Beginners
3.1:1 - 3.8:1
14.5” - 18.5”
70/8 - 90/8
9.0 - 11.2 oz
The Pflueger President series are the best push-button reels for beginners. If you ask most fishers, they will tell you that their first rod and reel used a closed face reel. It is a common point of entry for many future anglers, and this system is a great way to build those memories.
The President reels are relatively lightweight, so even a young angler can handle them well. The 5 bearings system also helps ensure a smooth retrieval on any catch, and line retrieval ranges from 14.5" per turn to 18.5". From casting to retrieving this reel makes the experience a memorable one.
These reels all come with lower gear ratios to maintain a strong slow return on any catch. This is perfect for any beginner. Inside the nose cone, you then have two titanium pins and an instant anti-reverse system to secure the line.
The spool applied drag can be modified to fit your needs. All these parts come together in a system that can work for any novice, whether that be your three-year-old or your grandma. All the Pflueger reels come with the standard 1-year warranty as well, which works for any manufacturing defects after purchase.
3. Zebco Authentic
Best Cheap Closed Face Reel
The Zebco Authentic is a fantastic closed face reel for the money. For a fraction of the cost of other reels, you can get an industrial-strength brushed stainless steel assembly that manages to remain lightweight yet durable. The gears are all metal, and the assembly has dual ceramic pins, all supported by a lightweight graphite frame. The retrieve isn't as smooth as other reels because you only have one ball bearing to assist you, but there are some other features that more than make up for it.
The newest models come equipped with a quick-set anti-reverse system to keep that fish on the line coming your way. They are also fitted with a built-in bite alert, which is unique to Zebco systems. With that set, your reel becomes a watchdog continually working for you.
The reel also has a dial-adjustable drag to fine-tune it for any situation. The Zebco authentic comes with the standard 1-year limited warranty, which covers defects in quality and materials. All of this is available for the cheapest price point of any reel on this list, let alone most other reels you can find. That's what makes this the best cheap closed face reel. It is a value purchase that doesn't disappoint.
4. Daiwa Goldcast
Best Spincast Reel For The Money
1 year, 5 year, or limited lifetime
The Daiwa Goldcast is easily one of the best spincast reels you can get for its price range and quality. As a bonus, it is also the best closed face reel for trotting that you can hope to find. It performs great and gives you the control you need.
It is lightweight with relatively fast retrieval, and the gear ratio sits a little higher than the other reels on this list, so you can expect a more responsive retrieve. The single ball bearing is enough to get the job done and is appropriate for the value, but you shouldn’t expect the smoothest experience.
This reel also boasts a durable metal construction with an oscillating spool for precise level-winding. You have more control of the line with this spincast. A tungsten carbide pin line pickup turns with the line for easier winding.
The reel also has one of the smoothest spincast drags ever with micro-fine adjustments that let you dial in the perfect setting. With the Daiwa Goldcast there is a tremendous value in the quality of construction and precision of control. Using this reel you might quickly think it costs two to three times the sticker price that you paid for it.
5. Pflueger Trion
Best For Kayak Fishing
Kayak fishing offers its own unique challenges and requires exclusive gear to meet them. The Pflueger Trion is the best closed face spinning reel for kayak fishing because it meets those needs so well. For one, size and weight matter.
This reel is well built with a machined aluminum front cone, aluminum handle with soft-touch handle knobs, titanium pick-up pins, and heavy-duty metal gears. That sounds like it would be heavy, though, right? It isn't. At only 5.5 oz, this reel packs a lot into a little. The two ball bearings make for a decently smooth retrieval while the higher gear ratio lets you bring in the line a little quicker.
These reels offer a very smooth spool applied drag, too, making for a more seamless fishing experience. When you are kayaking you won't have to worry about your casting and retrieval, nor will you have to worry about juggling bulky equipment.
You can focus on getting where you need to go and catching the fish you want. Like all closed face reels, this one also comes with the standard 1-year limited warranty covering manufacturing defects. With frequent cleaning and maintenance, this reel can easily become a regular companion on the water.
Gear Ratio Explained for Closed Face Reels
The gear ratio for a closed face reel works like the gears in a car. When you are at a lower gear ratio, you are moving slower but you have more power. At a higher gear ratio, you move faster but with less power. For the reel, this means you can either retrieve line slower or faster and with more or less cranking power.
Comparing Open Face vs. Closed Face Reels
Closed face reels are typically better for less experienced fishers. The entire spool assembly is closed within a nose cone, and the casting/retrieval experience is streamlined. You won't be catching any large fish with these, though.
Size and gear ratios limit what is possible. Open face reels, on the other hand, are what most experienced fishers use. The spool assembly is exposed, and the casting/retrieval methods are a little more involved. The strength of these reels is much higher, so, with the right types, you can catch some massive fish.
How to Properly Cast a Push Button Fishing Reel
To properly cast a push button fishing reel, start by facing the direction you want to cast and pointing the rod that way too. Then press and hold the release button followed by raising the rod, so it is up and down in front of you.
Next, keeping your thumb on the button, smoothly move the rod forward until it reaches eye level. At that point, let go of the button. This should cast the line out for you. To retrieve the line, you just have to start reeling. You can try different techniques here too. Maybe reel a little and then stop before reeling a little more or try reeling really slow.
How to Put Fishing Line on a Closed Face Reel
Start by removing the nose cone. It should either twist off or have a notch or pin holding it. Next, pull all the old line off the reel or pull off the amount you want to replace. Take the new line and thread it through the hole in the nose cone. Tie it to the spool with an arbor knot or, if you left old string, tie the two lines together with clinch knots.
Once the line is attached you need to reel it onto the spool. You do this by keeping the new line tight and slowly reeling it on. Be careful not to twist it or get it caught in the nose cone when you put that back on. Depending on your preference, you can run the line through the rod guides now or at the beginning. Once that is done, you are good to go.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
Can I use a braided fishing line on a closed face reel?
Yes, you can use braided, monofilament, and fluorocarbon on a closed face reel. No matter what kind of line you use, make sure it isn't too heavy. Closed face reels are intended for light lines, and, usually, a 10 lbs test monofilament is ideal.
Are there common issues when using closed face reels that I should know about?
It is hard to keep the line tight on a closed face reel. Once the line is twisted or loose it can jam the reel very easily. You usually have to take the nose cone off then and fix it. Another common issue is that closed face reels break easily. If you don't buy a well-built reel, you will only get a few uses out of it.
Who makes the best closed face reels?
Zebco is the industry leader. They have been in the business since 1954, so you can trust their equipment. Our top pick is a Zebco, and many anglers turn to them for closed face reels as well as other types of equipment.
How do I choose the best fishing line for a closed face reel?
You want a strong line that isn’t too large in diameter. A good quality 10 lbs mono will usually do the trick. Closed face reels are meant for light lines and novice fishing, so don't expect to land any huge fishing with one.
What do the numbers mean on fishing reels?
The numbers on a reel usually tell you the gear ratio and the amount of line you can use at different sizes. Gear ratios are almost always displayed like 3.6:1 or 7.1:1, while the line capacity might look like 70/4 or some other pair of numbers. In the case of 70/4, it means the line can hold 70 yards of 4 lb line.
What type of maintenance is needed for closed face reels to extend its lifespan?
Each time after use, you should rinse the reel inside and out with freshwater and wipe it down. Applying WD40 to moving parts and wiping them down is also a good idea. Occasionally you should disassemble the entire reel and use a small brush to remove gunk and build up from the pieces in a more detailed clean.
Closed face reels are easy to use, which makes them perfect for anyone new to fishing. Out of everything available on the market, Zebco still makes the best spin cast reels, and their Omega Pro is the best closed face reel you can get. It checks all the boxes for what you would want. It is durable, easy to use, maintains a smooth retrieval, and holds up under pressure.