“Marble eyes” may not be known for their fight, but they remain a popular catch for plenty of reasons. With a bite as soft as the walleye’s, it’s important to have the right gear for the job.
High-quality spinning reels are widely regarded as the best option for walleyes, offering sensitivity, speed, and a wide variety of uses. Whether you’re looking for spinning reels, baitcasters, or line counters, we’ve collected and compared the best walleye reels below!
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Walleye Fishing Reels Compared
Pflueger President PRESSP25X
Okuma Coldwater 350 Line Counter (Alternative Model)
KastKing Rover Round 60 (Alternative model)
Why Use A Spinning Reel For Walleye Fishing?
When selecting a quality rig for walleyes, a good spinning reel is the most versatile gear you can buy. Spinning reels allow you to throw blade baits, jigs, and spinners, as well as using slip sinker rigs.
Spinning reels in the 2000 - 2500 range can even be used as a jigging reel, provided you keep two spools on hand; one spooled with spinning line, the other with jigging.
Their light lines and lures keep spinning reels easy to use and beginner-friendly no matter your skill level. With so many possible uses to choose from, it’s easy to see why anglers prefer spinning reels for walleye fishing.
Considerations When Choosing Walleye Fishing Reels
Walleyes, or yellow pike, are freshwater fish commonly found throughout Canada and the Northern Midwest. However, stocking programs have widened their range to the south and west of the U.S, reaching as far south as Texas. When selecting a reel, bear in mind that they prefer to go deep — regularly found as far as 20ft down — and enjoy turbid, choppy waters.
Spinning reels are commonly offered in the following sizes;
1000 - 3500
Small, 2-10lb mono, 4-15lb braid
4000 - 6000
Medium, 8-18lb mono, 8-30lb braid
7000 - 9000
Large, 14-25 mono, 15-60lb braid
Extra-Large or Deep Sea, 20-60+lb mono, 70-80+lb braid
Since walleyes aren’t known for putting up a fight, heavy-duty reels are rarely required to land them. For most temperate freshwater environments, a lightweight 2000-2500 class spinning reel with plenty of versatility is all you need.
If you’ll be ice-fishing for walleye in the Northern U.S. and Canada, however, check for durable spinning reels that are compatible with ice rods.
Walleyes have developed plenty of genetic variation over the years, so each region can be unique. Be sure to research your intended environment and consider the climate while choosing the best size spinning reel for walleye.
For walleye fishing, sharp reflexes and a keen sense of observation are more important than brute strength. Look for durable materials such as carbon, but whether you choose powerful front drags or ergonomic rear drag controls is entirely up to the angler's choice.
Ball Bearings & Bail
Generally, the more ball bearings, the better. But not all of them are made equal: 7 high-performance ceramic ball bearings can provide a smoother retrieve than 13 made of stainless steel. Keep your price point and the bearing materials in mind.
Just like ball bearings, bail arms help keep your line release smooth. The key for bail arms is to look for longevity: choose long-lasting materials such as aluminum, with built-in arm designs that won’t wiggle loose or unscrew with time.
Retrieve Per Turn
Retrieve or Inches Per Turn (RPT/IPT) is a crucial consideration. Referring to the number of inches retrieved by each crank or “turn,” IPT gives you an indication of how far and how fast you’ll be able to claim your catch. With walleyes traditionally lurking in deep lake water, the higher your IPT, the better.
While internal spools are the more traditional design, skirted spools are a popular modern alternative. Internal spools are liable to lose the line behind the spool, which then wraps around the shaft. We recommend smoother, snag-free skirted spools, especially those with wide diameters. Walleye fishing calls for a lot of line, so keep an eye out for larger spools.
Look for reels with + 1 anti-reverse bearings, and preferably threaded handles rather than automatic controls. Anti-reverse handles are either threaded, screwed, or riveted into the reel, with the latter two occasionally coming loose or even dropping into the water at crucial times. As such, we find threaded works best for long-term use.
Line Capacity & Gear Ratio
Line capacity varies from reel to reel, particularly depending upon your preference of mono or braid line. Whatever your line weight, we recommend looking for smaller spinning reels with a line capacity of at least 125 ft for plumbing the depths.
Ideal gear ratios for walleyes are listed alongside their best bait styles below:
Considering the wide range of regions in which walleye can be found, it’s understandable that experienced anglers prefer a reel they can attach to any rod. From Canadian ice fishing to Texas lakes, we find it best to seek out a walleye spinning reel that’s compatible with various rods.
Price & Warranty
While there are plenty of affordable beginner reels available on the market today, there are times when luxury reels are worth the investment. Particularly when high-quality, long-lasting brands typically come with longer warranties.
Serious anglers should consider investing in a quality reel, while beginners may prefer to start with affordable options and work their way up.
7 Best Walleye Fishing Reels Reviewed
1. Shimano Stradic Ci4+
Best Spinning Reel for Walleye
Mono: 270/2, 140/4, 110/6
6BB + 1RB
Lightweight Carbon-Graphite Body
It’s rare to find a list of top spinning reels without the Shimano Stradic Ci4+, and we’re happy to admit we’re no exception. This reel is notorious for a reason, with Shimano’s signature cold-forged Hagane gears, Core Protect coating, and a waterproof drag so smooth it’s become the standard to beat for freshwater spinning reels.
Built from a carbon-infused casing for extreme durability and lightweight functionality, the Stradic Ci4+ is both 20% lighter and 1½ times stronger than standard graphite builds. This feather-light body prevents weight strain no matter how long you’re out on the water, and its Core Protect water resistance keeps the roller clutch, body, and line roller safe despite splashes.
Speaking of splashes: The Stradic’s sealed body, internal gearing, and waterproofed drag housing allows it to remain functional after being submerged for a full minute. And with fresh water rinsing and maintenance, this reel works equally well in saltwater environments.
All this external protection helps to keep the internal technology safe, and there’s plenty of it. Shimano’s X-Ship gearing ensures smooth cranking, with a 31 - 39” IPT for rapid retrieves. And thanks to their new Magnumlite Rotor, turning the Stradic’s handle feels as effortless as the build is weightless.
In short, Shimano’s Stradic Ci4+ is renowned for good reason; between its quality, durability, and high tech-build, there’s plenty of reasons why this is the best spinning reel for walleye in our books.
2. Pflueger President PRESSP25X
Best Spinning Reel for Walleye Jigging
Mono: 220/2, 110/4, 90/6
9 BB + 1RB
Improved Lay Line Support
The Pflueger President 25X is undoubtedly a commanding presence. Pflueger is a brand known for its quality, and this model doesn't let us down. With its 9 + 1 bearing system and oscillation gearing, this ultra-smooth model is the best spinning reel for walleye jigging on our list.
Like the Stradic Ci4+, the Pflueger President uses an innovative graphite body and rotor to lessen long-term strain. Anglers’ comfort is clearly catered to in this reel, with a durable aluminum bail and soft-touch knob for easy, ergonomic use.
Thanks to Pflueger’s slow oscillation gearing and corrosion-resistant sealed bearings, you can be sure this reel will stay smooth in every environment. The 9 + 1 bearing system keeps the reel precisely balanced, while the instant anti-reverse ensures you remain in control of every cast. Pflueger seems to have thought of everything with The President, filling it with thoughtful design details such as the braid-ready spool.
Jigging depends upon controlling your line with quick jerks for a natural presentation, and this is our top pick for the technique for good reason. Namely, the President’s improved lay line and optimized spool design will help keep your lines clean with every cast.
Paired with a traditional bucktail or spoon, this reel is a natural choice for the best spinning reel for walleye jigging.
3. Daiwa Tatula LT 1000
Best Lightweight Spinning Reel for Walleye Fishing
Mono: 250/4, 160/6
1 CRBB + 5 BB + 1 RB
Ultra-Lightweight Air Rotor
The Daiwa Tatula LT is the only 1000 class reel on our ranking for good reason. Both ultra-light and small-yet-mighty, this model is perfect for high-speed maneuvering and responsive control. When it comes to a lightweight approach to walleye, look no further than the Tatula LT 1000.
Daiwa takes care to build their reels with quality in mind, and the Tatula’s air rotor and bail have been specifically machined to weigh 15% less than average. Paired with an aluminum spool for a light, durable build, the Tatula feels like next to nothing in the hand.
But don’t let the feather-light reel fool you. This spinning reel comes equipped with a precision-cut aluminum alloy digi-gear, offering maximum efficiency with minimal weight. Its corrosion-resistant ball bearings are precisely placed and specifically designed, meant to last up to 12x longer than competitors.
Daiwa’s bearings live up to their name, offering anglers a buttery smooth drag with every cast. And thanks to the Tatula LT’s gearing, this reel offers speedy retrieve with 32” IPT. If you’re a fan of weightless, high-speed spinning reels, the Daiwa LT 1000 is our top choice. Pair this with an ultralight spinning rod and some shallow spinnerbaits for a perfectly balanced combo.
4. Penn Fierce LII 2500
Best Walleye Spinning Reel for The Money
Mono: 255/6, 175/8, 140/10
4 BB + 1 RB
This Penn spinning reel is fierce in more than just name. With a precisely balanced rotor, full-metal body, and powerful front drag, the Penn Fierce LII is a powerful addition to any anglers’ collection. Once you consider all the benefits of Penn quality at the Fierce LII’s price point, it’s easy to see why this model ranks highly as the best walleye reel for the money.
Luis wrote on Penn,
For the price, the Fierce III puts in work. Great casting, retrieving, it's simply amazing!
This Penn reel is a catch for any walleye angler. The Fierce LII comes equipped with a Techno-Balanced rotor for impeccable casts, as well as a heavy-duty aluminum bail wire for ultimate control. It also features a Superline Spool, yielding extra room for your line to help plumb the depths. Beyond extra line, the spool features marker rings for easy, visible indicators of your remaining line capacity.
Ultimately, the Penn Fierce LII is the perfect choice for a beginner or price-minded angler. Although we recommend the 2500 as a versatile, walleye-ready size, this model ranges from 1000 to 8000. With so much to love and at such a low cost, who could blame you (or us) for buying one in every size? We won’t tell you if you don’t.
5. Piscifun Carbon X 2000
Best Freshwater Spinning Reel for Walleye Fishing
10 BB + 1 RB
CNC Hollow Machined Spool
You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but some reels are simply as good as they look. The Piscifun Carbon X 2000 is one such reel: This sleek matte black spinning reel comes equipped with a reinforced stainless steel gear shaft, zinc alloy drive gear, 10 + 1 shielded stainless steel ball bearings, and that’s just the beginning.
Piscifun’s drag system is a wonder, featuring three oversized carbon washers providing 22lbs of max drag. To keep that power working well, there’s a sealed rubber ring protecting the drag from grit or water intrusion. With a smooth, positive click, the Carbon X 2000's drag system is a joy to use.
AC wrote on Piscifun,
I’ve used higher-end reels that cost close to $200 and the Carbon X can hold its ground!
Piscifun uses Carbon X fiber in the body, rotor, and side plate, keeping this reel one of the lightest for its size. But the pinnacle of this build is its CNC machined spool.
Featuring a hollowed, ultra-lightweight design, this nest-shaped spool is braid-ready out of the box with no backing required. For freshwater fish that require as much line as the walleye, this reel is definitely a top contender.
6. Okuma Coldwater 350 Line Counter -Alternative to Spinning Reel
Best Line Counter Reel for Walleye Fishing
Mono: 250/12, 230/14, 150/20
3BB + 1 RB
Uber Smooth Drag
Spinning reels work well for a wide variety of techniques, but specialized walleye anglers may prefer the precise depth measurements offered by line counters. For a high-tech, low-profile reel, look no further than the Okuma Coldwater 350 Line Counter.
This mechanical line counter comes in a compact, die-cast aluminum frame. Offering rigid support in a corrosion-resistant build, the Coldwater 350 hides some heavy-duty tech in its lightweight housing. Within, oversized machine cut XL drive and pinion gears keep your cranking smooth. And with a 26.1 IPT, you can trust the Coldwater to provide fast retrieves no matter the depth.
The mechanical counter keeps track of depths in feet, with a Clear View Technology screen to keep your readout fog-free. Okuma’s multi-disc carbonite drag system ensures effortless control, with an aluminum ratcheting drag star for precise drag adjustments.
The Coldwater 350 also features a feather-light machined aluminum spool, with a two-tone anodized coating for additional protection. Paired with a balanced aluminum handle, ergonomic grip knobs, and an automatic spool engaging trip, this model makes for easy reeling.
For walleye anglers who’ll be aiming for lower lake depths or kayakers who want an easy, well-balanced reel while out on the water, the Okuma Coldwater 350 remains our top pick among line counter reels for walleye fishing.
7. KastKing Rover Round 60 Baitcasting Reel - Alternative to Spinning Reel
Best Baitcasting Reel for Walleye
6BB + 1 RB
Durable Full-Metal Build
For experienced anglers comfortable with baitcasting, the KastKing Rover Round 60 meets your needs without costing a fortune.
This affordable baitcaster reel is heavy-duty without being highly-priced, featuring full-metal features where similarly-priced competitors typically use plastic. With a thick, reinforced anodized aluminum build, stainless steel shaft, and precision cut brass gears, the KastKing Rover Round is effectively the best walleye reel for baitcasters on the market.
This reel is built with durability both inside and out, with all-alloy flawless level wind, stainless steel worm gear, and KastKing patented metal ideal gear. Its superior carbon fiber drag system offers effortless control, thanks in part to its shielded stainless steel bearings.
Daniel, on KastKing, wrote,
What I love about the reel is that it seems like it's built like a tank. Great reel. Well-built. Great features.
This baitcaster is built with the angler’s comfort in mind, with a built-in bait clicker and ergonomic thumb bar spool release. Its 2-pin centrifugal brake makes casting a breeze, especially with its CNC machined spool and double tension knobs.
KastKing includes a full schematic with each reel for any maintenance needs, allowing for easy diagnostics and part replacements if necessary. With plenty of accessible features, easy repairs, and a low cost to boot, there’s no wonder we recommend the KastKing Rover Round 60 as the best baitcaster on our ranking.
Understanding Walleye Habitats & Behaviors
Named for their outward-facing eyes, freshwater walleyes use their specially-designed optics for hunting in deeper, dark waters. Rarely found in clear shallows, experienced walleye anglers gravitate towards rivers and lakes with turbid waters in hunt of a “walleye chop.”
Chops refer to rough waters with winds of 5 - 15 mph where walleye enjoy feeding, and fish can often be spotted thanks to the flashing lenses — called tapetum lucidum — in their eyes. Some walleye anglers prefer to fish at night to better determine their location.
In wintry months walleye will flee to deeper, warmer water, while sunny weather usually leads them to seek shade in schools. Stay close to an area once you’ve gotten a bite-- thanks to their schools, you're likely to land more.
Walleye Fishing Tips
People also Ask (FAQs)
What colors are best for walleye?
Thanks to their unique eyes, certain colored lures work better for walleye than others. Use warm-toned red, orange, and yellow colors over cooler, blue, and violet tones.
How do I take care of my spinning reel?
Regardless of your reel’s corrosion protection, rinse with fresh water after each use to prevent grit or dirt intrusion. Check line before and after use for wear, and regularly lubricate with reel oil.
Can saltwater spinning reels be used in freshwater environments?
Absolutely! Although your line strength and lures may need to adapt, a saltwater spinning reel is equally effective in freshwater environments.
What is the best fishing line to use for walleye spinning reels?
A fluorocarbon leader for high visibility in dark or choppy waters is typically best. Depending upon your approach, most walleye spinning reels are best equipped with an 8 - 10lbs braid or 6 - 8lbs monofilament.
What types of lures and baits should I use with my spinning reel for catching walleye?
During the spring and fall, walleye will take almost any presentation but can be more discerning in summer. Try casting with bucktail jigs, spinners, or minnow-imitating plugs. Use live bait if they’re initially slow to bite, such as nightcrawlers, minors, or leeches.
What are the best walleye fishing reel brands?
Shimano, Daiwa, and Okuma are all reliable higher-end brands with a reputation for quality, while Piscifun, Pflueger, and KastKing offer plenty of high-tech reels at varying price points. All of these brands, and more, are available on Amazon: we recommend considering their reviews and ratings when selecting the best walleye spinning reel for your money!
There are plenty of different reels available for the subtle art of walleye fishing, but few have impressed us quite so much as the Shimano Stradic Ci4+.
With its wide range of saltwater and freshwater applications, superbly durable build, and ultra-smooth handling, it’s no surprise the Stradic Ci4+ has become the leading spinning reel in the industry.
Whether you’ve just begun to explore walleye fishing or are looking for a reel to last you a lifetime, the Shimano Stradic Ci4+ is decidedly the best walleye reel for the job.