Be prepared to spend countless hours by a lake or riverside catching trout--once you have all the right equipment, of course!
Having the right gear, especially a high-quality spinning reel, will make catching shy rainbow trout or heavy brown trout a reality. We have reviewed and compared the best spinning reels for trout in a variety of prices and models.
Why Use A Spinning Reel For Trout Fishing
Your technique is everything when trout fishing, and a spinning rod and reel are a perfect match for learning or developing new techniques. They’re typically easier to use compared to baitcasting rods and reels, and they are just as lightweight, too.
Spinning reels that are designed with trout fishing in mind should have a smooth drag system. You’ll find these reels we’ve reviewed won’t have your line pulling off the reel. Instead, the line will run smoothly even if a trout fish is trying to make a sudden escape.
You can also tailor your line and lure with your reel, making your next spinning reel for trout fishing versatile and fun.
Considerations When Choosing Trout Fishing Reels
One of the best things about trout fishing is that you can find them in numerous areas. From inshore to offshore, fresh and saltwater, schools of trout species can be in high numbers.
Here’s a good indication of some of the most popular trout species, and where you can find them. It will help you narrow down your perfect reel and rod so you will catch more fish.
Fishing Environment and Weight
- Freshwater fish
- Typically 16 inches in length
- 2-8 pounds in weight
- Freshwater fish
- Typically 2-5 pounds in weight
- Freshwater but not suitable for fly fishing
- Up to 40 lbs, a large breed of trout fish
- Freshwater and saltwater fish
- Up to 10 lbs
- Saltwater Species
- Range from 4 lbs to 17 pounds
When it comes to sizes of spinning reels, they tend to work on a number basis- 1000, 2000, 3000, and so on. The smaller the size, the better it is at catching smaller species. Some spinning reels will go as high as 7000 or more, but there is no need for a reel that size for trout.
The average trout fish found in lakes and rivers weighs between 2-8 pounds, so choosing a reel on the smaller end of the spectrum will be a perfect match. If you plan to catch giant brown trout, then a reel that’s 3000 or 4000 should have the right drag without being heavy in your hand.
Drag systems on a spinning reel could either be a front or rear drag. To adjust the front drag, you simply use the spool. Adjusting the rear drag is usually found on the back of the reel. Front drag is generally better for trout fishing as it’s a lot smoother and has a more harmonious release. But, if ease of adjustability is your top goal, then rear drag is the one for you.
Quality reels typically use stainless-steel or ceramic ball bearings and should have a minimum of 4 for trout fishing. The higher the number of ball bearings, the smoother the retrieval process will be within your spinning reel, so many reels with 10, 11, or 12 ball bearings can be hundreds of dollars and not necessarily needed.
If you’re looking for a spinning reel for trout, then 5 ball bearings will give you a lot of smoothness without being overpriced.
The anti-reverse mechanism is a one-way bearing that is connected to the reel body. This mechanism stops the line from rotating backward and engages the drag to kick in. Middle to higher-priced reels will often have this feature as a switch, so you can have it on or off, whichever you desire. We found it to be very helpful when catching speckled trout in grassy shorelines.
Line Capacity & Gear Ratio
The line capacity on a reel will differ from size to size and range on the type of line you need. It’s measured in yards and pounds, so be sure to get the right line for your reel. We recommend a 6-pound test monofilament or fluorocarbon line for smaller trout species, and a 10-pound test or braid for larger catches.
Whichever line you choose for your reel, you may want it picked up fast or at a steady pace for more control, being up to speed on gear ratios will help you make that decision. Typically, spinning reels come with a gear ratio of 5.2:1 to 6.2:1. The lower the gear ratio, the slower the retrieval will be.
Spinning reels with a high gear ratio, like a 7.0:1 will have a rapid retrieval rate, but may be a lot to handle for a novice trout angler. We recommend starting low and building up the pace if you need faster and powerful retrievals.
Your new trout spinning reel will need to be housed sufficiently to avoid unnecessary damages. If you use an aluminum reel on saltwater, you risk corroding the reel house and its interior. It won’t be able to resist the effects of salt and will become unusable and less dependable over time.
If you plan on using your spinning reel in both saltwater and freshwater environments when looking for trout, then stick with a carbon or graphite reel housing. They’re strong, durable, and are incredibly lightweight.
Price & Warranty
From budget options to our top picks, the spinning reels on our list range in price and features so you can see what your money gets you in return. Whether you spend $20 or $200 on your next spinning reel, fish with what you can afford and enjoy the added features if they’re in your budget.
If you decide to spend some big bucks on your new fishing arsenal, check if you are covered with a warranty. Some manufacturers will offer a year or a lifetime warranty, so it's worth checking before buying.
7 Best Spinning Reels For Trout Fishing Reviewed
1. Shimano Stradic Ci4+
best spinning reel for trout
15/280; 30/170; 50/150 – monofilament
6bb + 1rb
The built-in Dyna-Balance rotor and fluid drive ii system give smooth casts
Talk about a good looking reel with an exceptional reeling experience; the Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 2500 spinning reel is our top pick for the best spinning reel for trout.
The already high performing reel got a serious upgrade with the latest Shimano technology without losing its quality performance features. This 6+1 spinning reel can pull in as much as 24 lbs, so most trout species won’t be a match against the Stradic Ci4+.
The carbon tetraiodide body and cold-forged aluminum spool are now joined by Shimano's Magnumlite Rotor, which is said to be 25% lighter than its previous models. This spool and reel housing are corrosion resistant so that you can take it to saltwater destinations as well as freshwater.
We loved how smooth and efficient each cast of the reel was, and that’s thanks to Shimano’s X-ship technology. This eliminated any friction between the spool shaft and gears, improving the casting performance and allowing for us to cast further in hard to reach areas, perfect for hidden trout fish.
Not only does the Stradic Ci4+ have this feature, but it also incorporates exciting concepts like Hagane gear, G Free Body, and Core Protect for less wear and tear and more durability for years, not seasons. These reasons and more have let us choose the Stradic Ci4+ spinning reel as the best Shimano reel for trout fishing.
2. KastKing Sharky III
best small spinning reel for trout
6/200 8/170 Mono
20/300 30/170 Braid
Small reel size with exceptional capabilities
As we mentioned previously, a lot of trout fishing won’t consist of heavy species, unless you’re fishing in deep waterways actively looking for trout. A small spinning reel can handle many trout species, and the KastKing Sharky III is no different.
This amazing spinning reel is capable of reeling in up to 33.0 lbs. This is KastKing’s third version of the Sharky spinning reel, and every model is hugely improved. They say the third time’s the charm, and it’s applicable here!
No matter the fishing conditions, the Shaky III is built tough with a reinforced graphite body and rotor. It’s sealed with a KISS! (Kastking Intrusion Shield System). This system protects the reel housing and keeps water and dirt out from its spool, body, and rotor. It’s one of the most versatile reels on our list so bring it with you on any fresh or saltwater fishing trips.
The Sharky III also features a reliable triple disc carbon fiber drag and an oversized stainless-steel main shaft for easy operation. Pair these with KastKing’s “Shark Fin Braid Ready” aluminum spool, and you won’t have to use backing on a braided fishing line.
With 10+1 stainless steel ball bearings and a gear ratio of 5:2:1, the spinning reel could have you spending countless hours catching dozens of gamefish, trout included.
3. Pflueger President p30x
best spinning reel for trout and redfish
275/6; 190/8; 160/10
Anti-corrosive properties as well as well-lubricated and sealed drag system
The next reel on our list is the President p30x by Pflueger. The company said that this reel has a “smooth performance at a great value! The President delivers features and performance that will impress over and over again.”
We can attest to that, as we loved this model when pulling in speckled trout and redfish. It has enough power for braided lines and comes in various sizes catering to your specific line capacity, gear ratio, and angling needs. We've picked the 3000 size reel for trout and redfish applications.
The body and rotor on the President p30x are constructed with graphite for a lightweight and corrosion-free design. You'll also see that this spinning reel for trout has 10 ball bearings with corrosion-resistant stainless steel ball bearings. The whole reel weighs a mere 7.4 oz, so this spinning reel is an excellent choice for travelers or backpackers looking for a reliable reel at a fair price.
This reel doesn’t just play the part; it looks the part, too. The beautiful blue and gold design will look good at the end of a 7-foot rod, and may even have other anglers’ turning heads. So, with good looks and a killer, smooth performance, we’ve picked the President p30x for the best spinning reel for trout and redfish.
4. Abu Garcia Revo SX
best spinning reel for speckled trout
K-clutch anti-reverse ball bearing included
These 8 stainless steel bearings + 1 roller bearing provide increased corrosion protection in the harshest fresh and saltwater applications. It’s particularly good at getting your line in hard to reach areas, so speckled trout won’t hide for long once you get the Revo SX into your arsenal.
Having your line come off the spool at a good rate is key with the Revo SX reel. The gear ratio is a little higher at 6.2:1, so it may feel a little fast for novice anglers, but it’ll give you good leverage when you're reeling in hard-pulling fish.
It also features Garcia's Rocket Line Management System, which provides you with added control, no matter what type of fishing line you're using. And braided line won’t be an issue with this reel either thanks to the machined aluminum braid ready spool, which allows a braided line to be tied directly to the spool.
The C6 carbon body and carbon matrix drag system will allow you to spend hours at freshwater or saltwater destinations. The drag system delivered smooth drag while the K-Clutch anti-reverse bearing keeps back play to a minimum to ensure an interruption-free fishing experience.
5. Okuma Ceymar C-10
best budget trout spinning reel
210/2, 110/4, 70/6 mono
7BB + 1RB
Ceymar’s multi-disc drag system
If you’re on a budget, don't think you won't find a good quality spinning reel. In fact, many manufacturers release budget-friendly options, and often they are created for new anglers coming into the fishing scene.
The Okuma Ceymar C-10 is one of these compact and convenient options and will be a great match for anglers seeking a slower gear ratio. This means the fight with your target trout fish will likely take a little longer, but that's the fun part of fishing anyway.
This diversified saltwater and freshwater reel suitable for smaller, lighter catches as the max drag is a mere 5 lbs. Since some trout species don’t exceed in 6lbs, you have got the opportunity to catch a ton of small gamefish with the Ceymar C-10. The drag system is multi-disc with an oiled felt drag system. This may not be the most advanced system, but we can’t say the drag was anything other than consistent and reliable.
With Anti-reverse roller bearing, Aluminum spool for mono and braid, and precision machine-cut brass pinion gears, it’s hard to think of anything else you’ll need when on a budget, especially for a novice angler getting into trout spinning reels. This one would be a great option for you. If you’re more experienced, but still looking for a reel worth the money, then our next pick may be a little more suited to you.
6. SHIMANO Sedona Fi
best trout spinning reel for the money
15/145; 30/100 powerpro line
6/200; 8/140; 10/120 mono
Hagane gearing provides long-lasting and durable performance
When Shimano releases a new reel for finesse fishing, you know it will look and feel like a tournament piece of equipment. With its updated design and cold-forged HAGANE gears, the Shimano Sedona Fi spinning reel allows you to have a beautiful reel at an affordable price.
As we mentioned previously, this model is a better fit for intermediate to experienced anglers as the gear ratio is higher than the Ceymar C-10. If you like this model but want a slower gear ratio, consider this option in the 1000 reel size. Otherwise, we recommend the 2500HG model for a great all-round trout spinning reel.
One of the features we loved with this reel is Shimano’s PowerRoller technology. These are specially designed grooves to reduce line twists, and the line is laid down with the Varispeed II oscillation system. This works exceptionally well with thin mono and braided lines and allows for smoother, snag-free, longer casts.
While the line capacity is high for the Sedona Fi reel, it’s relatively compact and weighs slightly more than its competitors at 8.6 ounces. One thing that could be improved is its ball bearings. It has 3 bearings with 1 roller blade bearing.
There isn’t an anti-reverse lever, but there is an anti-reverse clutch that works considerably well. Either way, if you’re looking for fast retrieval for both inshore and offshore action, then this reel is worth every penny.
7. Lamson Liquid S-Series
best trout fly reel
Large aluminium Arbor
Spinning reels are just one type of reel that can be used for trout fishing. Many anglers love using fly reels when searching for redfish, snook, tarpon, bonefish, and trout.
If you’re a lover of a fly rod and reel, then check out the Lamson Liquid S-Series Fly Reel. Or if you’re curious as a novice trout angler, then this fly reel could easily suit your needs, and they tend to be a lot easier to use than spinners or baitcasters.
Using Lamson’s years of experience and research, they have created a die-cast fly reel that’s lightweight, durable, and effective. It has a unique sizing structure like no other fly reel made by Lamon before.
Typically, fly reels work in weights, so 3-4 wt is now shown at 3+. This means a 2, 3, and 4 fly rod can take up to a WF4 fly line. We recommend the 5+ model, so the perfect rod should be 4,5 or 6.
With a large Arbor, pressure-cast aluminum frame, and a beautiful spool finish, you will cast far and effectively with this fly reel. You can pick up this reel in smoke or vapor; both look beautiful and well crafted. And for a price that’s hard to beat, you could reel in a steelhead trout in a hurry once you get your grip.
Understanding Trout Habits & Behaviors
One of the more thrilling yet often infuriating challenges when trout fishing is trying to locate them. They are in rivers, lakes, streams, and shorelines, but they love staying in areas built up with vegetation or deep waterways. Larger trout species will remain in large lakes and deep reservoirs.
Another habit trout fishes tend to follow is they swim lower in waterways during the summer season. This is because they’re seeking colder water. When it’s winter, you can find steelhead and golden rainbow trout just hanging around at the surface.
If you’re completely lost on a location to trout fish, then we recommend checking out your local maps and look for locations where streams or rivers meet lakes. These areas will attract trout because new food builds up here.
Trout Fishing Tips For Beginners
Buying the perfect reel won’t make you the best trout fisherman. As a novice, it’s wise to spend some time practicing with your new equipment before you take to the water.
Pair your new trout spinning reel with a rod that’s at least 7’ long. The action should be medium-slow, so you have a high level of sensitivity. Once you pair your rod and the reel, practice the following:
- 1Cast by having the blank directly over your shoulder in a straight line
- 2Come forward with a nice smooth stroke.
- 3Close up the arc at the end of the cast.
Once you have your technique intact, it’s time to grab your fishing license, bait, and leader because you’ll be ready to hit the water in search of trout species.
People also Ask (FAQs)
Do I need a bobber for trout fishing?
Brown and rainbow trout will require a bobber as they tend to stay in-shore, especially in the Spring. Lake trout, however, swim as deep as 80 feet, so you’ll need a weight to get your bait down to these trout fish.
What pound test is best for trout?
The right line will need to match your rod and the size trout fish you wish to catch. If you want to catch average-sized trout, then a line with a 2-6 pound test should withstand a short tug of war match. Larger fish, like hefty brown trout or some lake trout, a line with a 20+ pound test may be required. We recommend a braided line for heavier pound testing for trout.
Can saltwater spinning reels be used in freshwater environments?
Saltwater spinning reels can be used in all water environments, and that includes freshwater. It’s important not to get it mixed up, though! If you use a spinning reel built for freshwater in saltwater, you risk it breaking due to erosion from the water.
What types of lures and baits should I use with my spinning reel for catching trout? What colors do trout see best?
Spinners, swimbaits, and spoons are all great baits for trout fishing. If you’re deep-water fishing for trout, then consider baits and lures with UV colors. We found them incredibly productive for trout. In clear waterways, we found clear lures to work best, as black is the most visible color in these water conditions.
What are the best trout spinning reel brands?
For quality, affordability, and reliability, we found Shimano, KastKing, and Abu Garcia are the best in the game. They’ve all created some killer spinning reels that are specifically designed with trout fishing in mind. They also offer good warranties.
What is the best fishing line to use for trout spinning reels?
Fishing for large trout, or around areas with rocks and debris will require a higher abrasion resistance line. A braided or heavy mono line will be a perfect catch for your spinning reel in these scenarios. Whereas smaller trout species won’t break the fluoro line, it's almost as strong as some mono, just with a thinner diameter. We recommend sticking with fluoro if it’s a 2-6 lbs test rating as it will allow you to feel more bites.
Whether you're searching lakes, streams, heavy vegetation, or deep clear waterways, there's a spinning reel on the market that's suitable for you.
If you want to play it safe and buy a versatile reel that's a good all-round, then our top pick, the Shimano Stradic, is a great option for you. It’s lightweight, compact, and not too high in price.
Once you’ve got your fishing equipment all ready to go, then enjoy hours of challenging some rainbow, brown trout, or speckled trout fish. You'll have a blast, and come home with some yummy, healthy dinner!