How to Choose the Right Reel Size [Spinning Reel Sizes]

Unfortunately, there are so many sizes, which makes it a bit challenging to apprehend the meaning of the sizes. It is also difficult to the best reel size to purchase for your fishing requirements.

Beginners like the spinning reel because it is easy to learn and use. On the other hand, seasoned anglers like it for its excellence in finesse fishing. This article will help lessen the confusion surrounding the selection of a spinning reel.   

What is a Spinning Fishing Reel?

A spinning reel is an open-faced fishing reel with a visible spool attached beneath the rod. In this reel, the line wraps around the open-faced spool. It then runs over a small wheel known as the line or power roller before moving up through the guide rods. It has a bail in the form of a metal arm across the spool, which maintains the line in place and ensures it passes over the line roller.

To cast, you open the bail, place your finger on the line, and cast. To retrieve, you close the bail and turn the handle clockwise to reel it back in. when this occurs, pull out several feet of line from the spool till it lies flat on the face. Then, slowly rewind the line on the spool to make sure it lays smooth and fast.

Parts of a Spinning Reel

A spinning reel has eight parts, as shown. Each is a functional consideration that you choose based on your needs. One distinctive feature of this reel is that it is mounted to the underside of a fishing rod.

The Size of the Spinning Reel you need

The size of the spinning reel you need is dependent on the type of fishing you plan to do. Some of the most important determinants are:

Type of waterbody

By choosing a certain waterbody, you choose the category of fish at the same time. For example, in saltwater, the fish is bigger than in freshwater. Therefore, saltwater spinning reels are larger than freshwater because they need to handle stronger lines and bigger fish. They also need to have greater line capacity because robust saltwater species usually make long runs after being caught, and this could pull all the line off a small reel.

Additionally, salt is brutal and destructive to metal, and the corrosion can end the working life of a reel fast.

On the other hand, freshwater does not require corrosion-resistant reels and can be made of cheap primary metals. To make the right decision:

Go for a saltwater reel if you intend to fish in either inshore or deep offshore water. You can also use this type of reel if you intend to fish big freshwater fish.

Go for a freshwater reel if you will be fishing in ponds, lakes, or rivers.

Fishing line size

The reel size you want depends on the fishing line size you will most often use. Generally, the lighter the fishing line, the smaller the reel size.

An easy way of determining the most usable reel is to think about the average line size.

Spin Fishing Reel Sizes Table

SizeMono Line Capacity (LBS)Braid Line Capacity (LBS)Water TypeFish Species
Small10-35   2-104-14Rivers, lakes, ponds, and streams.Small/medium bass, bream, trout.
Medium40-558-1415-50Light offshore boat fishing, ponds, rivers, lakes, and rocks.Walleye, large bass, cod, small/ medium salmon, bonefish.
Large60-8512-4530-80Off boat fishing, surf fishing, inshore off docks.Steelhead, musky, cod, salmon, carp.
Very Large100-30012-6050-100Fast-moving waters, surf, offshore boat fishing.Tuna, shark, kingfish, marlin, halibut.

Important tips when choosing a fishing reel

A light reel is amazing

When buying a spinning reel, the first thing you should do is to hold it in your hands to determine its comfort and weight. To determine the weight, you select the reel size and the frame material.

Besides size, choose a material that suits your requirements. A reel material’s performance has to be strong to stand big fish and lightweight to prevent exhaustion. The following are materials and their suitability:

Carbon fiber– These are used in high-end reels and are costly. It is feather-weight, durable, and does not rust. It is suitable in fresh and salty water.

Plastic- Best for children or anglers on a limited budget. They are suitable for small freshwater fish such as river trout.

Aluminum- Middle in the cost market. Appropriate for intermediate anglers in both salty and fresh waters.

Graphite- More resilient and lighter than plastic, although more expensive but cheaper than carbon or aluminum. It is good for most freshwater and light saltwater fishing and suitable for adult angler beginners.

A comfortable knob, grip, and handle prevent exhaustion

After selecting the material, consider how the reel feels in your hands. Be attentive to the grip and the handle as they both contribute to the reel’s ease of use.

Ensure the reel handle is an essential physical part of a spinning reel. This is because it goes through stress when fishing enormous species. Also, make sure the knob handle is made of soft but strong material. Knobs come in various materials ranging from rubber to cork. Although cork is comfortable, some people prefer rubber as it is slip-resistant.

More so, remember to check the grip to ensure its comfort in your palms. The grip needs to spin in a smooth motion on the handle. Note that any friction leads to fatigue. Therefore, when spinning the handle, you should not have to push at all.

Do not ignore the screws that connect the knob to the handle. Thicker screws are more effective as thinner ones can fail with time. Also, test the bail, and a good one should be sturdy and rigid, although not too stiff to move when required.

See also:

Chose quality bearings not many bearings

Bearings reduce friction when the bail arm and spool turn. As a result, they influence the smoothness of a reel.

The quality of reels is better than the quantity. You will feel less fatigue if you can turn the handle quickly. The higher the number of bearings, the smoother the movement is. However, this is only applicable if the bearings’ quality is exceptional.

The best bet is a reel with shielded stainless steel or ceramic bearings because they are super smooth and quiet. If you go for low-quality reels, be ready for exposed metal bearings. This quality leads to grinding noises and vibrations when reeling in.

Consider going for a wide, shallow spool

The structure of spool width performs more tasks than just holding the fishing line. It is in charge of the casting distance and friction reduction during retrieval. Traditional reel spools are either wide/shallow or deep/narrow.  The difference in depths affects retrieval capability and casting distance.

A deep and narrow spool should cast a long distance, although the results are debatable. The line hits the lip during the cast, causing friction lowering the casting distance.

A broad and shallow spool is better since it retrieves more line on every turn of the handle. Therefore, there are fewer line twists developed as compared to a narrow spool reel of similar size. As a result, there is easier casting and reeling in, especially for beginners. Also, they make long casts because each line wrap around the spool is more extensive. Therefore, the releasing line is smoother and does not hit the lip as much.

Pick speed or power for the gear ratio

The inside gear of a spinning reel is vital for reeling in the fishing line. Gearing is what moves power through rotation from the handle to the spool. One of the different gears combines with a pinion gear to complete this movement.

The low gear ratio slow but give more torque for fighting more robust fish. However, reels with a low ratio require many quick rotations to retrieve fishing lines. In addition, constantly turning the handle increases the chances of fatigue with time.

On the other hand, reels with a higher ratio are fast because they allow quick retrieval of the lure. This speed is essential for finesse fishing, pulling out of a winding loop, or whenever fish is charging towards you.

Do not cut corners on your drag system

A drag system is a braking system found in the reel. It applies friction to slow the spool when hooking and fighting a fish. A reel drag system can either be:

Front drag- Found on top of the spool and features many large drag washers for enhanced durability and performance. They are found on moderate to expensive spinning fishing reels.

Rear drag- Located beneath the reel body and provides easier access when fighting fish. However, it does not stand against enormous fish, hard-fighting ones.

The ideal drag system should be smooth with an easily adjustable drag. A carbon fiber drag is easy to maintain, smooth, and rarely gets afloat.


Choosing a spinning fishing reel may appear like a tough decision. However, with these tips, you have all the information to find the best fishing reel that will suit you. Furthermore, with this information, you will shorten the learning curve appreciably.

Choose wisely the best reel that you can afford, and it will be your best friend out on the water for an extended period.

You can also watch the following YouTube videos for illustrations:

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