Brand Comparison

Best Zebco Fishing Reels Reviewed

We have reviewed and compared the best Zebco fishing reels. Find a top-rated option from this popular brand.

by Andrew

Brand Comparison

Best Zebco Fishing Reels Reviewed

We have reviewed and compared the best Zebco fishing reels. Find a top-rated option from this popular brand.

by Andrew

by Andrew

Fishing is great fun, but you won't succeed if you don't have the right gear. Reels are some of the most important pieces of fishing gear, and Zebco has been making high-quality ones for decades. This guide is for anyone looking to buy one of the many effective spincasting reels from the Zebco line.

Preview

Product

Weight

Gear Ratio

Ball Bearings

Check Price

Zebco ZO3,10,BX3 Omega Z03 Spincast Reel, One...

Zebco Omega ZO3

13 oz.

2.9:1

6 + 1

Zebco ZB310BX3 Bullet Spincast Reel

Zebco Bullet

1.19 lbs

6.1:1

9 + 1

Zebco Omega Pro Spincast Fishing Reel, 7...

Zebco Omega Pro

1.3 lbs.

3.4:1

6 + 1

Zebco/Quantum 33KA, 10C, CP3 Zebco/ Quantum,...

Zebco/Quantum 33KA

0.45 lbs.

3.6:1

2 + 1

Zebco 888 Spincast Fishing Reel, 3 Bearings,...

Zebco 888

1.45 lbs.

2.6:1

2 + 1

Zebco/Quantum 888HA, 25, CP3 Zebco/Quantum,...

Zebco/Quantum 888

1.35 lbs.

2.6:1

2 + 1

Zebco / Quantum, Roam Spincast Reel, 3.6:1...

Zebco Roam

8.7 oz.

3.6:1

2 + 1

Zebco Rhino Spincast Reel

Zebco Rhino 3SZ SC

8.1 oz.

3.4:1

3

Zebco 404 Freshwater Spincast Reel,...

Zebco 404 Freshwater Spincast Reel

0.6 lbs.

2.8:1

0


Unique Features of Zebco Reels

Wide Range of Reels

Zebco is famous for its spincasting reels, but some others are available, including spinning, conventional, and what they call triggerspin. Individual models also have a wide range of sizes, and their comprehensive product line has many handles, size, and color variations. The innovative spirit of Zebco, which has also put out its own line of fishing rods, is clear from the sheer number of reels in their lineup.

ZeroFriction Pin Design

To reduce friction and create a smoother feel during operation, many Zebco reels are crafted with a ZeroFriction Pin design. The pinion gear is held in place by a ball bearing, reducing contact with the spool shaft. Not only will this make everything feel much smoother, but it will also keep the reel in working order longer.

Quality/Well-Built Gear

Some of the reels from Zebco have all-metal interiors that can survive almost anything. Others, especially the ones intended for saltwater use where all-metal interiors would be likely to rust, are made out of alternate materials like stainless steel that are still tough but also lightweight and corrosion-resistant.

The grips on the handles are very often weatherproof and easy to grip when things get wet. Spools are made from tough metal that can take lots of strain.

Precision Machine-Brass Gears

For a high-functioning reel, the interior gears have to fit together in such a way that they won’t make lots of noise or become dulled from friction. Zebco makes very precise machined gears out of brass that last a long time and won’t jam up on you in the middle of a fishing trip. These gears can whiz along at high speed without any issue and won’t give in when there’s a fish on.

Smooth Retrieval Features

Reeling in on a Zebco reel just feels easy. There’s no loud noise from the interior workings, and the handles crank flawlessly. Because of the brass gears and the high gear ratios that Zebco reels generally have, the line-per-inch retrieval rates are much higher across the board, which is great for getting the line in fast.

Anti-Reverse Tech

It’s getting harder and harder to find fishing reels that don’t have an anti-reverse bearing in them these days. Zebco reels are designed to instantly stop the handle from spinning backward, using a ball bearing between the handle and the reel's main body. This is a huge help to prevent fish from going on a run and turn them back toward the boat.

Pre-Spooled Lines and Spare Spool Included

One of the most convenient aspects of Zebco reels that makes them so appealing for beginners is their pre-spooled line. The majority of these reels come with factory line already on them, so you can get right on the water without having to fiddle around with fishing line. Many also come with spare spools in case the existing one is damaged, saving time otherwise spent calling around for replacements.

Value For Money

Even the most expensive Zebco reels come in at under $100, and the vast majority of them are much less than that. They’re still built to last, though, which makes them ideal for use as back-up reels, trunk reels for last-minute fishing trips, and beginners who want to avoid the backlashing problem so common with baitcasters.

Popularity Among Anglers

While other companies have come out with their own spincasting models since Zebco invented them, Zebco still reigns supreme in performance and quality. For that reason, they’ve retained a high degree of popularity among anglers, even ones who prefer to use baitcasters most of the time. Catfish anglers especially love these Zebco reels.


9 Best Zebco Fishing Reels Reviewed

1. Zebco Omega ZO3

Our Top Pick!

Reel Size

3 x 4 x 4 Inches

Weight

13 oz.

Gear Ratio

2.9:1

Line Capacity

85/10

Ball Bearings

6 + 1

All-metal inside and out, the Omega is one of the sturdiest Zebco reels out there. With its inch per turn, or IPT, of 16, the Omega maintains a quick line retrieval that you usually don’t see in metal baitcasting reels. It can hold up to relatively large targets, although it might not fare well with really large species like pike or bass. The metal construction makes the Omega durable, but it will turn into a rusted paperweight if you try and take it out in saltwater environments.

Zebco has put all its best designs into this reel. It has the instant anti-reverse to stop line from being pulled out by ornery fish, pre-spooled line, brass pinion gears, ceramic pins, and a triple-cam adjustable disk drag that will stop medium-sized bass and walleye in their tacks.

The thumb button is well-placed and soft to the touch. Even though the whole reel, including the interior gears, is made out of metal, it doesn’t cause any strain on the hands or wrists throughout a long day of fishing. All the parts are built to last, making this not only one of the best investments for regular anglers but also a worthy choice for newcomers to the sport. Jigs, rigs, and crankbaits all work great with this reel, and it can also move swimmers through the water column pretty fast.


2. Zebco Bullet

Best Zebco Closed-Face Reel

Reel Size

7.5 x 6 x 3.8 Inches

Weight

1.19 lbs

Gear Ratio

6.1:1

Line Capacity

90/10

Ball Bearings

9 + 1

The Zebco Bullet reel is far and away one of the fastest spincasting reels on the market. With a very agile 6.1:1 gear ratio, the Zebco bullet reel can rival many spinning reels in line retrieval. It can pull in just a hair under 30 inches of line with every turn of the handle, which is very comfortable and has an all-weather treatment to make sure you can keep a strong grip on the handles even when things get wet.

Like the Zebco Omega, the Zebco Bullet reel has an all-metal interior and exterior construction that makes it durable while also negating its use in saltwater environments. Still, this spincasting reel's weight feels great in-hand and the additional weight from the metal body combines with a tremendously strong drag system to give the angler tons of fish-stopping power. You can catch larger freshwater targets like catfish.

There are a whopping nine ball bearings in the Zebco Bullet reel, giving it an amazingly smooth operation. It’s also built with an anti-reverse bearing stock from the factory. Although you can’t see it as well as you can on an open-faced reel, the line lay on this baitcasting reel is great, thanks in large part to the built-in line guide. All in all, the Zebco Bullet reel is a top of the range spincaster that’s a definite move toward pro-grade gear for the company.


3. Zebco Omega Pro

Best Value Zebco Spincast Reel

Reel Size

7.1 x 6.5 x 4.4 Inches

Weight

1.3 lbs.

Gear Ratio

3.4:1

Line Capacity

85/10

Ball Bearings

6 + 1

While some companies would build something like the Zebco Omega and call it a day, Zebco kept working to make the reel even better with this pro version. It’s noticeably lighter than the original, and it cranks faster as well. As far as the design goes, it’s relatively similar to the regular Omega. One noticeable distinction is the single-crank handle, which snags less often and is slightly larger than either of the standard Omega handles. 

While the gear ratio is much lower than some other Zebco models, this reel still pulls in line at a good pace. It might not be the best choice for swimbaits or spoons if you want to rip them through the water fast, but it is perfect for enticing your target by pulling the lure at a more realistic pace. If you’re not one to hang up your gear when winter sets in, the Omega Pro is an ideal spincaster for cold weather angling.

This reel casts great and can really take a beating. Like many of the other Zebcos in this guide, the Omega Pro is all-metal. Since it costs only a small amount more than the original Omega, the Pro model is the best value for money for anglers who want a highly versatile spincaster.


4. Zebco/Quantum 33KA

Best Zebco 33 Reel

Reel Size

6 x 6 x 3 inches

Weight

0.45 lbs.

Gear Ratio

3.6:1

Line Capacity

120/10

Ball Bearings

2 + 1

The first Zebco 33 was introduced by the company in 1954, just five years after its first reel came out and two years before it changed its name from the Zero Hour Bomb Company. Zebco has made many innovative changes to the 33 in its history, and the best of them are included on the 33KA. It has an easily graspable handle, and it comes with pre-spooled Zebco line that can withstand significant pressure and rip through vegetation fairly well without snapping.

This reel holds more line than most spincasters can. It’s very lightweight and can be used to fish for a wide variety of mid-sized targets such as bass or walleye. If you're trying to find an easy-to-use reel for an ultralight fishing setup, the 33 Micro Spincast is the perfect solution. You can catch panfish all day, and it still has just enough power to cast light lures a good distance. 

Crappie and sand bass fishing are both great uses for this 33 reel, which has seen much improvement over the years. You can even wind some thicker test onto the 33KA if you want to. That way, you’ll be able to go after bigger fish or cast out through thicker vegetation without worrying about snapping the line.


5. Zebco 888

Best Zebco Reel for Catfish

Reel Size

5.5 x 5.5 x 4 inches

Weight

1.45 lbs.

Gear Ratio

2.6:1

Line Capacity

110/25

Ball Bearings

2 + 1

Not only is the Zebco 888 reel highly effective, but it also has one of the most distinctive looks in the entire Zebco product line. The thumb button and the drag dial are both right within reach, so you can make last-minute adjustments even if you have a fish on already. Although the gear ratio is slower and there are fewer ball bearings inside this reel, it still has the standout Zebco features like automatic anti-reverse and pre-spooled line.

This reel is one of the heavier ones on this list, but it also holds significantly more line, which means you can use it to cast further and fish deeper when you're using a vertical presentation. There are certainly faster spincasters out there in terms of line retrieval, but this one can still give creature lures, crankbaits, rigs, and spoons the right movement that prompts fish to bite. 

One way they’ve made this Zebco 888 reel unique is by constructing a bite alert system inside the reel. If you’re leaving your rod in a rod holder, this feature is especially useful. It can also be turned off if you’re holding the fishing rod in your hand. When the alert is engaged, the line can be pulled out freely, and the handle is in free spin. That way, you can decide when to kick in the drag and turn the catfish back toward the boat without tipping it off too early.


6. Zebco/Quantum 888

Best Zebco Reel for Saltwater

Reel Size

8 x 7 x 4 Inches

Weight

1.35 lbs.

Gear Ratio

2.6:1

Line Capacity

110/25

Ball Bearings

2 + 1

This clam-style variant of the Zebco 888 reel is much better prepared for saltwater environments than some of the others on this list, thanks to the stainless steel cover that keeps out the majority of saltwater and other corrosive elements. There are still lots of metal pieces in the construction, notably the gears, so you have to take care to wash this reel with freshwater after every use in a saltwater environment. The reel itself is relatively heavy, but it doesn't cause much fatigue unless you're casting out frequently. Make sure it doesn’t slip off the dock or the boat because it will sink like a stone if it does.

This reel also has a much higher line capacity, which is excellent for fishing in wide-open bodies of saltwater. It casts like a dream, and it has a robust drag system that can stop a fish in its tracks and turn it back toward the boat. The gear ratio is slower, but if you’re going after mid-sized to large targets, you'll want bigger, slower lures anyway, and that slow gear ratio is perfect for that fishing style. With a 25-pound test pre-spooled, anglers will be able to chase after targets in the 15 - 25-pound range, which is ideal for saltwater fishing.


7. Zebco Roam

Best Zebco Reel for Bass Fishing

Reel Size

8 x 6 x 3 inches

Weight

8.7 oz.

Gear Ratio

3.6:1

Line Capacity

110/10

Ball Bearings

2 + 1

The Roam is a tank among Zebco spincast reels. You might mistake it for something from a construction site if it weren’t so clearly a spincasting reel. It has fewer ball bearings integrated into its construction, but it moves just as smoothly as any of the other Zebco reels on the market today. There are also some significant improvements on vintage Zebco reels. For instance, the anti-reverse kicks in immediately, and it has a stainless steel front cover to protect the all-metal gears inside.

Anglers who target common species like bass and walleye will get many miles out of the Zebco Roam. It’s strong enough to survive accidental damage and haul fish out of the water. The casting is so smooth, and the overall weight of this spincasting reel is so slight that you can cast all day and never feel any fatigue in your hands and wrists. This reel also has a higher line retrieval and gear ratio than some of the competition, so that it will work great with fast lures like swimmers.

The thumb button on this reel is soft to the touch, so this reel is easy to cast. For beginners and kids, the low investment required to purchase this reel makes it ideal for learning and practicing casting.


8. Zebco Rhino 3SZ SC

Best Cheap Zebco Reel

Reel Size

5.7 x 4.6 x 2.4 Inches

Weight

8.1 oz.

Gear Ratio

3.4:1

Line Capacity

100/8

Ball Bearings

3

This Zebco Rhino reel is the least expensive way to get a solid 6-foot rod and reel combo for freshwater fishing of all varieties without having to worry about any backlash at all. There’s stainless steel and other metals in the elements of this reel’s construction. It also has a roller that you can use to adjust the drag level. Weekend warriors who only go fishing occasionally will love having this easy-to-use reel in their kit. It’s also small enough to stow in the trunk of a car for last-minute fishing trips.

Everything about the Zebco Rhino reel operation is smooth, and it has a look that’s very similar to the vintage Zebco reels of old. If you grew up with a Zebco spincaster, this is the one that will most remind you of it. Zebco has also built a catch alert into this reel so you can leave the line slack and put your rod in the holder. Anglers who like to put several lines in the water simultaneously will be happy with the affordability of this reel. You could buy a whole lineup of Zebco Rhino reels and get them all in the water at the same time if you have space and the holders.


9. Zebco 404 Freshwater Spincast Reel

Best for Children or Beginners

Reel Size

9 x 6 x 4 Inches

Weight

0.6 lbs.

Gear Ratio

2.8:1

Line Capacity

90/15

Ball Bearings

0

You might notice that the Zebco 404 reel has been christened with half the number of the Zebco 808 reel. That’s no accident - it's about half as expensive and smaller than the 808, making it the perfect tool for children and people who are new to sport fishing. Learning with this reel is a cinch because it’s guaranteed not to have any bird-nesting or line tangling problems. There’s also a built-in hook keeper to make carrying it back and forth to the water safer. Being a basic reel, some things are missing in the 404 that you might fight in the Zebco 808 reel or the more robust Zebco spincasting reels on the market.

For example, there are no ball bearings in this reel. It’s noticeable in the reel's operation, but it's not such a severe problem that you experience any kind of noise or grinding when you spin the handle. With an IPT of 17, this reel will also gather line plenty fast for newcomers and kids to get their lure back out of the water before they get bored or discouraged.

Like the other Zebcos, this one has a great castability. People who have never tried fishing before will get the hang of things quickly, and the thumb button is great preparation for baitcasting reels in their future fishing careers.


Pros & Cons of Zebco Fishing Reels

Pros
  • Easy to use
  • Inexpensive
  • Pre-spooled
  • Durable
  • Great castability
Cons
  • Not suited for large targets
  • Primarily for freshwater only
  • Less line control

About the Zebco Company

Zebco started in 1932 as an oilfield equipment manufacturer called Zero Hour Bomb Company. R.D. Hull came up with the idea that would become Zebco spincasters in 1947 while watching a clerk take the thread out of a dispenser at the supermarket. 

Nowadays, Tulsa-based Zebco still specializes in descendants of the Hull spincaster design that made them famous. Their central goal is to build high-quality fishing gear - especially reels - that are still affordable and hassle-free.


Comparing Zebco Reels to Other Brands

  • Zebco vs. Daiwa
    Zebco boasts a far wider variety of spincasting reels. However, products like the Daiwa Goldcast have a faster gear ratio and tend to use higher-quality building materials.
  • Zebco vs. Abu Garcia
    Abu Garcia also aims to provide inexpensive but effective fishing gear. When it comes to spincasting reels, Zebco reels are easier to use, while Abu reels have an aesthetic advantage.
  • Zebco vs. Pflueger
    Pflueger has a couple of nice spincasting reels, but Zebco beats them out with variety and performance. Pfluegers are extremely durable, though, and likely better for saltwater environments.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Can I use braided line on a Zebco spincast reel?

You can get away with using braided line on a Zebco reel, but be prepared to have to do some extra maintenance. Braided line wears out the pickup pins faster, so you'll likely have to replace them sooner.

How to spool a Zebco fishing reel?

While most Zebcos come with pre-spooled line, you can remove the cover and put the line on the spool the same way you would with any other reel. Just attach the line to the spool and reel backward until the spool is about 2/3rds full.

How do I set up and cast Zebco fish reels?

Once it’s spooled, you need to find the right rod for your setup. Zebco reels aren’t really long-distance casters, so you should try a nice 6- or 7-foot rod and a medium-sized lure, preferably a crankbait or a jig.

What should I do to prevent backlash when throwing a Zebco spincast reel?

Zebcos are pretty much guaranteed not to have any backlash problems, but if you want to prevent bird's nests, you need to get skilled with the thumb release button. Practice a lot more than you think you’ll need before you go out on the water.

Are there any special maintenance steps for Zebco reels?

You have to clean your Zebco reels very well, especially if you're trying to use them in saltwater environments. Take the cover off and the spool out before you thoroughly rinse everything, and take care to attach the hook to something before storing it.

Do Zebco fishing reels have a lifetime warranty?

Zebco does back all its reels up with a one-year limited warranty, but they do not offer a lifetime warranty. The good news is that they’re inexpensive enough to replace if they take too much damage.

How do I contact Zebco for reel warranty repairs?

All you need to do is contact a Zebco Service Center in your area!

Where can I buy Zebco fishing reels?

The largest selection of Zebco reels most often in stock are sold through certified retailers on Amazon. It’s easier to compare products there, and the delivery options are second to none. 


Conclusion

The Zebco Omega ZO3 is the best Zebco reel because it combines the effectiveness, ease of use, and convenience of Zebco reels into an affordable package. Most importantly, it’s an excellent tool for getting fish into the boat. 

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