8 Best Reels for Bass Fishing: Reviews of Spinning & Baitcasting Models

by John Laconsay

8 Best Reels for Bass Fishing: Reviews of Spinning & Baitcasting Models

by John Laconsay

by John Laconsay

From smallmouth to spotted, bass fishing is a rewarding and challenging pastime. The right equipment is key for such tough fighters, but it can be tougher to find the perfect reel.

Don’t worry: Whether you’re a pro angler or bright-eyed beginner, we’ve compiled our 8 best bass spinning reels below!

Preview

Product

Max Drag

Line Capacity

Gear Ratio

Check Price

Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 2500 FB Spinning Fishing...

Shimano Stradic

CI4+ 4000 XG

20 lbs

Mono: 6/200, 8/140, 10/120
Braid: 10/150, 15/145, 30/100

6.0:1

Daiwa BG2500 BG Saltwater Spinning Reel,...

Daiwa BG

Spinning Reel

4.4 - 17.6lbs

6/210, 8/170, 10/140
Braid: 15/190, 20/170, 30/120

5.6:1 - 5.7:1

Penn 1403989 Slammer III Spinning

Penn Slammer III 105000

60 lbs

Mono: 435/30, 360/40, 255/50
Braid: 845/50, 780/65, 540/80

4.2:1

Abu Garcia REVO2SX30 Revo SX Spinning Fishing...

Abu Garcia

Revo SX30

60 lbs

Mono: 435/30, 360/40, 255/50
Braid: 845/50, 780/65, 540/80

6.2:1

Shimano Curado 200K Lowprofile Freshwater...

Shimano Curado K Baitcast Reel

11 lbs

Mono: 180/8, 155/10, 110/14
Braid: 190/30, 120/50, 80/65

6.2:1, 7.4:1, 8.5:1

Pflueger SUPXTSP25X Supreme XT Spinning...

Pflueger

Supreme 25XT

8 lbs

Mono: 220/2, 110/4, 90/6
Braid: 200/4, 140/6, 110/8

5.2:1

KastKing Sharky III Spinning Fishing...

KastKing Sharky III 4000

39.5 lbs

Mono: 220/10, 100/12, 190/14
Braid: 140/40, 120/50, 80/65

5.2:1

Okuma Ceymar Lightweight Spinning Reel- C-40

Okuma Ceymar Spinning C-40

13 lbs.

265/8, 185/10, 160/12

5.0:1

Why Most Anglers Use a Spinning Reel for Bass Fishing

With easy side-casting and lure "skipping," spinning reels reach under docks and foliage alike. Since bass enjoy sulking in overhangs, this finesse is a blessing for anglers.

Spinning reels are easy to handle at any skill level and comfortable for left and right hands. Plus, adjustable mid-fight drag spinning reels are best for bass fishing.


Considerations for Choosing Bass Spinning Reels

Fishing Environment

Between saltwater and freshwater, it’s essential to select your reel wisely. Narrowing down your target species can determine whether you’ll be fishing inshore or off and if you’ll be needing saltwater corrosion protection as a result. As always, consider your fishing style when finding the best bass reel for you.

Reel Size

Spinning reel sizes span from 1000 to 95000, or 10 to 95. Although the number of zeros depends upon manufacturers, sizes remain standard. When deciding which spinning reel size for bass, we recommend a low-to-medium 30 - 40, or higher for saltwater angling. For bass, we’d advise against going smaller than 25.

Drag System

Found in the front or back of spinning reels, drag knobs adjust internal plates and control line tension. Lighter drag allows fish maneuverability, while tighter strengthens the line. Rear-drag is easy to access and modify, while front-drag is stronger. We prefer durable drag systems, such as carbon, over cheaper oiled felt.

Ball Bearings & Bail

Good reels require at least 4+ stainless steel bearings, ideally with corrosion or rust resistance. Be wary of bearings made with weaker steel chrome.

Much like bearings, bail arms control line release and keep reels running smooth. Search for durable metals like aluminum, and built-in arms that won’t come loose over time.

Spool Style

The weight, size, and smoothness of the spool are all important considerations when selecting your reel. Also style: Internal spools are older, and line frequently slips behind the spool to wrap around the shaft. We recommend newer skirted spools, which prevent tangles and offer extra drag control by feathering the skirt.

Anti-Reverse Handles

Anti-reverse helps drag control, with a bearing in the handle preventing your reel from spinning back while hooked. Avoid reels with automatic backward motion and look for instant anti-reverse. Anti-reverse handles can be screwed, threaded, or riveted into the reel, with top styles threading straight into the spool.

Line Capacity & Gear Ratio

Line capacity should be enough to keep a fish hooked if it runs. With extra line at stake, opt for thinner braided over bulky monofilament.

4:1 gear ratios move slower with greater torque, while 6:1+ ratios make for faster catches. The right ratio for bass depends upon the angler, so keep your technique in mind.

Warranty

Most reels are covered by a one-year limited warranty, while pricier reels last up to ten years. A multi-year warranty is a significant benefit: the longer your purchase is covered, the better your investment. While cheaper reels may be tempting, consider those with extra coverage to keep your purchase safe.

Price

A high-quality reel does not always mean a pricey one, so weigh your must-haves against your budget when selecting the right reel. Whether you want the benefit of a top-notch reel with a longer warranty or a deal on the best bass fishing reel for the money, read on below!


8 Best Bass Spinning Reels Reviewed

1. Shimano Stradic CI4+ 4000 XG

Our Top Pick for Bass

Reel Weight

0.42 lbs

Max Drag

 20 lbs

Line Capacity

Mono: 6/200, 8/140, 10/120

 Braid: 10/150, 15/145, 30/100

Ball Bearings

6BB+1RB

Gear Ratio

6.0:1

Initially released in 2016, this lightweight, CI4+ reinforced carbon reel comes on the heels of Shimano’s original Stradic and proves they can improve upon perfection; the Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 4000 XG consistently ranks as the best Shimano spinning reel for bass.

This reel packs a punch without weighing you down, made of CI4+, 2.5 times stiffer than regular CI4, and 25% lighter than competitors. This is a highly responsive reel packed with high-tech components in a G-Free body.

Shimano’s water-repellent protects both the roller clutch and line roller, making this a long-term investment. One of our favorite things about the Stradic CI4+ is its carbon tetraiodide body, cold-forged aluminum spool, and specially treated bearings, keeping the reel completely corrosion resistant.

Shimano's X-Ship system keeps gears aligned no matter the strain, improving performance, and maximizing cast length. Paired with Shimano’s cold-forged Hagane drive gear, you can keep your cool with the most massive catches.

The Aero Wrap system ensures the line is fed to the spool in the tightest coils, while the Magnumlite Rotor and Fluidrive II guarantee a smooth cast in every setting. With so much to love, is it any surprise the Stradic Ci4+ 4000 XG is topping our list?

Pros
  • Durable build
  • Fully corrosion resistant
  • Smooth cast & retrieve
  • 10 year factory warranty
Cons
  • Lacks anti-reverse handle

2. Daiwa BG Spinning Reel

Best Reels for Striped Bass Fishing

Reel Weight

0.53 - 0.88 lbs

Max Drag

4.4 - 17.6lbs

Line Capacity

Mono: 6/210, 8/170, 10/140

 Braid: 15/190, 20/170, 30/120

Ball Bearings

6BB+1RB

Gear Ratio

5.6:1 - 5.7:1

No matter which model suits your needs, the Daiwa BG Spinning Reel is our top choice for striped bass fishing. Coming in 1500, 2500, 4000, 4500, 5000, and 6000 models, the Daiwa BG offers a variety of sizes with affordable prices. Built with custom Air Rotors weighing 15% less than competitors and seven ball bearings to keep things running smoothly, there’s no doubt you’ll get your money’s worth from this reel.

Every model comes with infinite Anti-Reverse (smaller sizes under 4500) or Infinite Dual Anti-Reverse (4500 and up), fitted with drag washers to ensure your reel won’t backslide and the line won't break mid-fight. 

The Daiwa BG performs well in freshwater and saltwater alike, and the bail trip ramp in models 4500 and up are easily removed for pros craving manual control. We were immediately impressed by the reel’s oversized Digigear System, which offers gear reinforcement and extra torque for expert angling.

Daiwa’s Hard Bodyz machined aluminum body and side cover helps to provide both internal support and improved durability, while the anodized black body prevents corrosion. We recommend providing regular maintenance, but overall, with a one-year limited warranty included, the Daiwa BG ranks highly as an excellent reel for a great price. 

Pros
  • Infinite anti-reverse system
  • Oversized digigear
  • Manual return bail (4500 and larger)
  • Solid screw-in handle
Cons
  • Reels run larger than competitors
  • Unsealed casing

3. Penn Slammer III 105000

Best Reel for Saltwater Bass Fishing 

Reel Weight

0.86 lbs

Max Drag

60 lbs

Line Capacity

Mono: 435/30, 360/40, 255/50

 Braid: 845/50, 780/65, 540/80

Ball Bearings

7BB + 1RB

Gear Ratio

4.2:1

Much like the Shimano Stradic CI4+, the Penn Slammer III is a modernization of a beloved classic. Most of the reel is diecast aluminum and fully corrosion-resistant, a must-have for saltwater anglers. Slammer III's black and gold body is one of the sleekest on our list, and its IP6 watertight seal will keep gears running smoothly for years to come.

The gears are CNC brass, precisely combined with eight ball bearings making it a dream to cast. Penn’s patented drag system is rendered from long-lasting carbon fiber and coated with additional bonding and waterproofing treatments.

Saltwater bass reels need to be prepared for a run, and we found the Slammer’s drag and line capacity ready for the challenge. We were impressed by the 435 yards of mono and 845 of braid fitting on the sealed spool, another perk for saltwater resistance. 

Even smaller sizes, such as the 3500, have impressive drag compared to similarly-sized reels. And despite the slower gear ratio, this reel offers a speedy 42” retrieval rate.

The IP6 seal risks being broken by home maintenance, so we advise buyers to invest in expert repairs. But for the cost, strength, and style, the Penn Slammer III can’t be beaten.

Pros
  • Powerful, durable drag
  • Ipx watertight seal
  • Attractive reel design
  • One year limited warranty
Cons
  • Potentially overpowered drag

4. Abu Garcia Revo SX30

Best Freshwater Bass Fishing Spinning Reel

Reel Weight

0.75 lbs

Max Drag

60 lbs

Line Capacity

Mono: 435/30, 360/40, 255/50

 Braid: 845/50, 780/65, 540/80

Ball Bearings

8BB + 1RB

Gear Ratio

6.2:1

Lightweight, sturdy, and astonishingly smooth, the Abu Garcia Revo SX is small with a surprisingly robust build. Between its graphite rotor, X-Craftic alloy, and C6 carbon body, this corrosion-resistant reel is light but long-lasting by design.

Abu Garcia’s Carbon-Matrix hybrid drag system uses smooth carbon washers to maintain consistent drag pressure, keeping your drag fluid no matter the tension. The 8 high-performance corrosion-resistant ball bearings keep the reel well-balanced, while the magnetic brake system eliminates backlash and improves stealth — a key factor when aiming for suspicious bass.

Kirt wrote on Abu Garcia,

“The SX reel has great feel, lightweight, smooth feel, smooth drag.”

The Revo SX’s Rocket system and machined aluminum spool make line management a breeze, with the lip design allowing you plenty of control on how fast the line comes off. Once you have your freshwater bass hooked, the K-Clutch anti-reverse system ensures you keep the upper hand.

With a high max drag and line capacity, this reel is our top pick for freshwater bass fishing. While the Revo SX30 may have less drag than the Penn Slammer III, its lightweight, durability, and smooth casting makes it a perfect reel for beginners and pro bass anglers alike.

Pros
  • 9 ball bearings
  • Magnetic braking system
  • Exchangeable hand retrieve
  • Smooth casting
Cons
  • Relatively low max drag
  • Reviewers claim anti-reverse may need maintenance

5. Shimano Curado K Baitcast Reel

Best Baitcasting Reel for Bass

Reel Weight

0.48 lbs

Max Drag

11 lbs

Line Capacity

Mono: 180/8, 155/10, 110/14

 Braid: 190/30, 120/50, 80/65

Ball Bearings

6BB + 1RB

Gear Ratio

6.2:1, 7.4:1, 8.5:1

Another lightweight, heavy-hitting Shimano reel, the Shimano Curado K, is our pick as the best baitcasting reel for bass. Shimano's Hagane body maintains reel rigidity and prevents flexing, while the Micro Module gear system fits together with greater ease of motion for a smooth retrieve.

As always, we’re a big fan of the X-Ship’s gear durability and pinion supporting corrosion-resistant bearings. For a baitcaster, it’s important to have an anti-reverse you can trust, and this is one of them. The Curado K’s Super Stopper Anti-Reverse deftly prevents any back-play.

While the reel comes in various styles, they are nearly identical save for the range of gear ratios. Allowing the angler to choose their rate is a nice benefit, but the identical max drag and distinct left or right-handed designs can be limiting. We found the reel's impressive casting distance both a pro for the experienced baitcaster and a con for beginners. If you’re new to baitcasters, this reel comes with a learning curve.

Despite such concerns, the Curado K’s butter-smooth balance and workhorse functionality speak for itself. Paired with excellent brake strength, backlash control, and impact resistance, the Shimano Curado K is a reel you can depend on.

Pros
  • Corrosion resistance
  • Smooth cast & retrieve
  • Powerful braking system
  • Flex-free reinforcement
Cons
  • Impressive cast distance risks birdnesting
  • Some play in the handles

6. Pflueger Supreme 25XT

Best Bass Fishing Reel For The Money

Reel Weight

0.38 lbs

Max Drag

 8 lbs

Line Capacity

Mono: 220/2, 110/4, 90/6

 Braid: 200/4, 140/6, 110/8

Ball Bearings

9BB + 1RB

Gear Ratio

 5.2:1

One of the lightest in its class, this magnesium-built Pflueger Supreme 25XT is a great value with a deft touch. The magnesium body and rotor keep the Supreme XT nearly weightless, while its sealed carbon fiber drag system allows for fresh or saltwater angling.

The reel's aluminum spool keeps it lightweight and rust-free, while custom rubber ridges keep a grip on the braided line. We found the Sure-Click bail design satisfying to use, with a solid snap once your bail is ready to cast. Between the bail's anti-twist titanium line roller and instant anti-reverse, this reel consistently offers butter-smooth cast and retrieves.

Photoswanson wrote on Pflueger

“The thing I like about the supreme is the response [...] Drag responds effortlessly and instantly with no let down.”

One of our favorite things about this reel is its lightweight carbon handle, paired with an EVA knob that keeps retrieves effortless. The lightweight handle can be damaged by rough use, but Pflueger covers replacements with its one-year limited warranty.

Ultimately, this reel scores high in all regards save for one: the unsealed ball bearings are liable to corrode. Although the Pflueger Supreme 25XT handles well in any environment, we recommend extra maintenance after saltwater exposure.

Pros
  • Super lightweight build
  • Smooth cast & retrieve
  • 10 ball bearings
  • Innovative bail system
Cons
  • Unsealed ball bearings
  • Handle liable to breakage

7. KastKing Sharky III 4000

Best Spinning Reel for Smallmouth Bass

Reel Weight

0.66 lbs

Max Drag

39.5 lbs

Line Capacity

Mono: 220/10, 100/12, 190/14

 Braid: 140/40, 120/50, 80/65

Ball Bearings

10BB + 1RB

Gear Ratio

5.2:1

Few spinning reels combine such a low price point with such a high drag as the KastKing Sharky III 4000. This reel provides a whopping 39.5lb drag and 11 ball bearings at a surprisingly low cost, and that’s just the start of why we consider this the best spinning reel for smallmouth bass.

Wielding a triple-disc carbon fiber drag, the Sharky III’s incredibly smooth drag prevents line breakage. Meanwhile, its 10 + 1 double-shielded bearings improve durability and balance. The reel also offers excellent cranking power, with a stainless-steel shaft and precision mesh manganese brass gears.

Rick wrote on KastKing,

“Great performance. Smooth as silk, quiet and has a great feel. Looks sharp too!”

KastKing’s water resistance keeps the spool, body, and rotor waterproof, but this doesn’t guarantee saltwater resistance. We recommend performing regular anti-corrosion maintenance to stay safe.

While the spool is on the smaller side, the aluminum spool requires no backing and offers extra capacity. The Anti-Twist line roller prevents tangles, but the line retrieval has been known to act up. If smooth retrieve is a deal-breaker for you, we’d recommend investing in a Shimano. But ultimately, the KastKing Sharky III 4000 offers a wealth of innovation at a budget-friendly cost.

Pros
  • Low cost, high tech
  • Impressively high drag
  • 11 ball bearings
  • Screw-in handle
Cons
  • Line retrieval could be smoother
  • Smaller spool, unsuited for surf fishing
  • Noticeably low bail

8. Okuma Ceymar Spinning C-40

Best Spinning Reel Under $50

Reel Weight

0.62 lbs.

Max Drag

13 lbs.

Line Capacity

265/8, 185/10, 160/12

Ball Bearings

7BB + 1RB

Gear Ratio

5.0:1

The Okuma Ceymar Spinning C-40 may be our last reel, but it’s only “least” when it comes to cost; this spinning reel offers plenty of perks at a low cost.

Made of corrosion-resistant graphite and black anodized aluminum, this reel is long-lasting and good looking. With precision-cut brass gears and a computer balanced rotor, the Ceymar C-40 cranks well and stays steady.

The drag remains smooth under pressure and adjusts with a satisfying click. However, the multi-disc oiled felt drag is weaker than carbon alternatives, so we recommend regular maintenance.

The anti-reverse keeps you in control, though the max drag is notably smaller than similar reels. Well suited for small to medium freshwater game, we consider the Ceymar C-40 the best spinning reel for trout and bass.

With an easy open-and-close and heavy-duty construction, this reel comes with solid aluminum bail wire for extra support. Some anglers report issues with line catching behind the spool, so keep an eye on your spool.

The lightweight, EVA handle and narrow body keep the reel ergonomic, specially designed to combat hand fatigue. When it comes to finding the best value reel, the comfort and cost of the Ceymar C-40 are hard to beat.

Pros
  • Great value
  • Compact body build
  • Ergonomic eva knobs
  • Easy-to-use drag
Cons
  • Line can catch behind spool
  • Oiled felt drag
  • Reviewers claim line capacity may vary

Main Types of Reels for Bass Fishing Explained

  • Spinning Reels
    Lightweight and ambidextrous, spinning reels are easy to pick up in multiple ways. Press a finger against the rod to hold the line, flip open the bail, and cast away. The bail arm, a wire that locks and unlocks the spool, is closed by hand once the lure drops. Although the open spool risks elemental exposure, this spinning reel's adaptability and aim are worth the risk.
  • Baitcaster Reels
    Baitcasters are easy in theory but come with a learning curve. Simply depress the clutch bar, press a thumb to the spool, and cast. But controlling speed and ending casts is difficult, and learning often leads to birdnesting and backlash. Pro bass fishers can manage the extra control and high cost of baitcasters, but, for beginners and economical anglers alike, spinning reels are the smartest choice.

Recommended Reel Sizes for Bass Fishing

Sizes vary across brands, but generally indicate:

  • 10-35: Small
  • 40-60: Medium
  • 60-80: Large
  • 100-300: Deep-sea fish

30 - 40 works well for most trout and bass. Once outfitted, you should test your reel with a weight similar to your target species. While spooling, it’s smart to mark reels with their gear ratio and line capacity.


More Bass Fishing Tips for Beginners

Spinning reels work best with 8-10 lb mono, or 15-20lb braided line, knotted with a 12lb fluorocarbon leader. Baitcasters prefer at least 30lb braid and 10lb fluorocarbon. Use a long leader to attach the two, and check the knot before and after fishing for abrasion.

For new gear, it’s important to spool your reel correctly; we recommend this guide for spooling spinning reels. Since different reels require different approaches, baitcasters should refer to this guide for first-time spooling. Practice casting in your chosen environment, and don’t be afraid to try shadowy spots for potential bass.


People Also Ask (FAQs)

How important is it to consider the type of bass when deciding on a fishing reel?

Bass species play an important role in determining your ideal reel. Bass weight will decide your drag requirements, while your target bass type will inform your anti-corrosion needs.

Can saltwater spinning reels be used in freshwater environments?

Yes, and many anglers enjoy using saltwater reels for both fresh and saltwater species alike. However, you should never use a freshwater reel in saltwater in case of corrosion.

What are the differences between a spincasting reel vs. baitcaster vs. spinning reel?

Spincast and spinning reels are better for finesse techniques, while baitcasters are well-suited for crankbaiting. Spincasts are best for beginners while spinning reels require only a little learning, and baitcasters serve best for experienced anglers.

What is the best fishing line for bass spinning reels?

8-10lb monofilament line works well, but we prefer the extra strength and abrasion resistance of 15-20lb braided.

What types of lures and baits should I use with my spinning reel for catching bass?

For such lightweight reels, lures 3/8 oz and smaller generally work best. Try drop-shot rigs, shaky heads, and squarebill crankbaits, and always bring extra lures for every outing.

Where is the best place to find bass reels?

It’s good to support local bait & tackle stores, but their gear options can be limited. For the widest variety of choices and lowest prices, we recommend making Amazon your first choice.


Conclusion

While their prices may vary, we’ve found each of these reels to offer high-quality angling inshore or off. Keep your preferred drag, bass, and environment in mind while finding the best gear for you.

Make sure to pair your reel with the perfect rod for a sturdy set-up. Now whether you’re a beginner angler or experienced baitcaster, go forth and fish!

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