Trout can be one of the more challenging species of fish to catch due to a number of factors. Having the right gear and tackle is crucial if you want to have the best chance at landing these feisty freshwater species.
We’ve combed through many of the top options in today’s fishing industry to compile this list of the best trout spinning reel models this year.
Best Trout Spinning Reels: Top Picks
The Shimano Stradic Ci4+ is unbeatable in terms of all-around premium quality. It features buttery-smooth action and superior features compared to the competition.
The Okuma Helios is an aptly-named reel that packs a ton of quality features into a feather-light reel. It provides excellent versatility in any type of environment.
Best Spinning Reels for Trout: Full Reviews
Our selections for the best trout spinning reels are based on the features, performance, reviews, and also our own personal experience with each of these spinning reel options. Our list includes a wide variety of trout spinning reels that are made for specific types of anglers, starting with beginners and going to some of the top premium models you’ll find in today’s market.
The price of the Shimano Stradic Ci4+ will likely turn away most beginner or novice anglers, but any seasoned trout fishing enthusiast who holds this reel in their hands will be able to immediately feel the outstanding quality it's made with.
It's one of the smoothest spinning reels available right now because the brand engineered this reel with Magnumlite Rotor, a Hagane gear system, and a 6+1 stainless steel ball bearings system. The Shimano Stradic Ci4+ is made with exceptionally high-quality materials and is built to last through many years of use in fishing for freshwater trout or a range of smaller saltwater fishing species as well.
- Super light and strong Ci4+ carbon body
- Cold-forged aluminum spool
- Buttery-smooth casting and retrieval
The Abu Garcia Revo SX is another outstanding trout spinning reel that's arguably the best option in today's fishing industry. The Abu Garcia brand is committed to producing some of the best spinning reel options for freshwater and saltwater fishing.
The Revo SX spinning reel is packed with attractive features like its Rocket Line Management System, 8 stainless steel HCPR bearings, Carbon Matrix Hybrid drag system, and many other factors that make this one a solid choice. Abu Garcia engineered this reel for trout fishing and it offers a level of smoothness that's comparable to the Shimano Stradic Ci4+.
- Powerful and smooth drag system
- C6 carbon body that's lightweight and tough
- Dynamic Rocket Spool Lip
When it comes to a great quality spinning reel that's as lightweight as you can get, it's hard to beat the Okuma Helios Lightweight Spinning Reel. This is one that's loaded with premium features that are all wrapped in a super lightweight graphite body that is considerably lighter than almost any other model.
Despite its lightweight design, the Helios doesn't sacrifice much in the way of durability. It's made with a full rotor system that's also built on a cyclonic flow rotor which helps get rid of any water that might tend to find its way into the reel's inner workings and cause corrosion.
- C-40X long strand carbon fiber construction
- Cyclonic flow rotor
- Torsion-control armor for added toughness
For anglers who might be searching for the best budget-friendly trout spinning reels, the Lews LaserLite Speed Spin is—hands down—one of the best value options you'll find today. It offers incredibly smooth action and drags that are a result of a well-made 7 stainless steel ball-bearing system.
This is also one of the most lightweight spinning reel options for trout fishing as well. Lew's engineers the LaserLite with a specialized Skeletal Speed Rotor, as well as a highly durable and lightweight graphite frame. You can typically find this reel for less than $50, making it a solid deal for anyone looking for a lightweight spinning reel for trout that won't break the bank.
- Zero-reverse one-way clutch bearing
- Very smooth casting and retrieval
- Weighs just 5 ounces
Our list of the best trout spinning reels wouldn't quite be complete without mentioning the Pflueger President spinning reel. The President is made with a 10-bearing system, but the smaller 20-size model offers 7 stainless steel ball bearings that create an exceptionally-smooth casting and reeling experience you have to feel to truly appreciate.
It features the characteristic elegant design that is common in Pflueger products and is loaded with everything from a sealed drag system to a braid-ready spool, and features a slow oscillation gearing system that helps to greatly-reduce line twist. This reel features a gear ratio of 5.2:1, which is ideal for most types of spinning lures that are used to catch trout.
- Slow oscillation gearing system helps eliminate line twist
- Braid ready spool
- Made with corrosion-resistant material
The Okuma Ceymar is one of the best spinning reels for trout that we consider to be a more budget-friendly option. It's an ideal spinning reel for beginners as it is very easy to use and is also relatively affordable so that a trout fisherman of any experience or skill level might purchase it.
The Okuma Ceymar is also one of the more versatile reel options on our list as it features corrosion-resistant material that allows you to use this one for catching trout or a type of small saltwater species as well. It's made with a powerful multi-disc drag system that's designed to allow you to handle catching fish that are larger than the average trout without any problems.
- Multi-disc drag system
- Greater line capacity than most other lightweight spinning reels
- Incredibly smooth action with the machined cut brass pinion gear
The Okuma Epixor XT is another easy addition to our list of the best trout spinning reels on the market today. This is a very well-made lightweight model that's a good trout spinning reel for a number of reasons. It comes in two different options for each size that includes standard 5.0:1 and high-speed 6.0:1 gear ratio.
There are a few other ultralight spinning reels that present as much value as the Epixor XT. It's built using Okuma's highly-durable C-40X carbon fiber material, as well as a slow oscillation system that helps to eliminate line twists.
- Carbon and graphite blend frame for toughness and lightweight feel
- Great line capacity and braid-ready spool
- Standard or high-speed gear ratio option on each size
Anglers who like to target the larger rainbow or brown trout often reach for a high quality spinning reel that's capable of providing enough drag strength to land such fish. The KastKing Sharky III Fishing Reel is ideal for going after bigger fish as it's equipped with a whopping 33 pounds of max drag in the smallest three models and 39.5 pounds max drag in the largest two options.
The Sharky III is made with a triple-disc carbon fiber drag system, as well as a braid-ready spool and anti-twist line system. This reel deserves to be listed as one of the best spinning reel options for trout fishing, but the Sharky III is built to withstand saltwater environments as well. It comes with KastKing's K.I.S.S. (KastKing Intrusion Shield System) to help seal out grime and saltwater that might seep into the reel and cause corrosion.
- Reliable triple-disc carbon fiber drag system
- Instant anti-reverse bearing
- Corrosion-resistant design
There are a number of brands that produce options that function specifically as trout spinning reels. The Piscifun Honor Trout Spinning Reel is one that is designed to thrive when it comes to trout fishing and offers a wide range of outstanding features. It's well-equipped to function as a trout reel but is also engineered with a 10+1 double-shielded stainless steel ball-bearing system that delivers a smooth casting and reeling action any angler will enjoy.
This is one of the best trout spinning reel options you'll find when it comes to overall value. The Piscifun Honor Trout spinning reel comes with a sealed drag system, an anti-twist line roller, and a steady 5.1:1 gear ratio. The Piscifun Honor is a smooth reel that's perfect for bait fishing or for casting any variety of commonly-used lures for catching lake trout or fish located in deep mountain streams.
- Double-shielded ball bearings
- Sealed drag system
- One of the most versatile trout spinning reel models
When it comes to fishing with Shimano reels, anglers have come to expect the same incredibly-smooth action that the brand is known for, no matter what model they're using. The Shimano Sedona FL is easily one of the best reels for trout fishing you'll find for less than $100. Like other reels made by Shimano for going after smaller fish species, the Sedona FL features a modest 3+1 ball bearing system that somehow manages to outperform most other options that have double the amount of bearings.
The Sedona FL is made with a number of reel features that include increased drag power, as well as a faster gear ratio compared to some of the brand's older spinning reels that are specifically designed for trout fishing. This one is a worthy addition to our list of the best trout spinning reels and will last for many seasons when used and maintained properly.
- Cold-forged Hagane gear system
- Upgraded drag system compared to previous Shimano trout reels
- Capable of serving as a saltwater or freshwater fishing reel
Daiwa is a brand that produces solid reel models with high performance and loads of features. The Daiwa BG Trout Spinning Reel is not necessarily new but is certainly one of the top-rated spinning reel models for trout fishing. This one is a bit more expensive than some of the other options we've listed among the best reels for trout fishing, but serious anglers should see the value in the BG Trout model and recognize that it's worth investing a bit more into.
It's made with a rigid anodized aluminum housing, a waterproof drag system, and a braid-ready spool. This spinning reel is perfectly built for any trout fisherman to use for lake trout or catching rainbows, brook, and brown trout in mountain streams across the country.
- Very smooth 6+1 ball bearing system
- Plenty of line capacity and an overall quality reel
- Super light reel weight compared to other trout reels
The fact that we've listed the Cadence CS10 Spinning Reel last among our top trout fishing spinning reels doesn't mean it's not still an outstanding quality lightweight reel. This one is considered to be a premium-quality spinning reel for trout that offers plenty of reasons why avid trout anglers should be interested in the CS10. It sports a very tough and lightweight magnesium frame and has a very smooth reeling and casting action thanks to its 10 ball bearing system.
The Cadence CS10 is equipped with nearly everything you need to adequately catch trout of any size. It's impressive that Cadence managed to engineer the CS10 with an instant anti-reverse bearing, 6.2:1 gear ratio, and a whopping 36 pounds of max drag, all wrapped up into a reel that weighs less than 8.5 ounces.
- Carbon fiber drag system
- 10 stainless steel ball bearings + 1 anti-reverse bearing
- Carbon composite rotor and side plate
Choosing a Spinning Reel for Trout: Buyer’s Guide
When it comes to shopping for any spinning reels for trout, there are some key aspects you’ll want to pay close attention to. The following factors are some of the most common concerns that seasoned professional anglers have regarding spinning reels for trout.
Size and Specifications
It’s always important to have a working knowledge and understanding of the size and specifications of any reel you might be considering. Trout fishing typically doesn’t require having an excess line capacity, but it’s a good idea to go with a larger reel if you’re going to target bigger lake trout or trophy-sized rainbows.
In most cases, the ideal size for a trout spinning reel is going to be between 1000 and 2500 size. These smaller-sized reels perform well with 4 to 6-pound test lines spooled on them and are always fun to use to catch small to moderate-sized trout.
When using a reel that’s a size 2500 or even 3000, it’s acceptable to fish with 6 or even 8-pound test monofilament or fluorocarbon line. Remember that trout have acute vision and will be able to see most fishing lines that are around 6 to 8-pound test.
Having a smooth action is likely one of the top concerns most avid trout anglers have in relation to spinning reels. This is because it’s important to maintain a good, steady retrieve when using small rooster tails and other inline spinner-style lures.
The spool on a lightweight trout spinning reel is arguably the most important part of your reel. The spool will control the output and collection of your fishing line, but it also affects your casting ability in both distance and accuracy.
Why Spinning Reels Rather Than Baitcasters?
Spinning reels are much better to use for lightweight lures as you can easily maintain control over the line at all times. With baitcasting reels, you usually need to have a lure with some weight to it before you can adequately make a short or long cast.
Spinning reels that are paired with a solid ultralight rod give you the ability to flip and launch small inline spinners and even flies into small windows where trout are staging in a stream or river. A baitcaster reel is often going to offer too much muscle and not enough finesse when it comes to fishing with small, lightweight lures.
Why Spinning Reels Instead of Fly Fishings
Fly fishing rods and reels require an angler to learn an entirely new method of casting that involves whipping the entire line itself instead of letting the upper third of your rod do most of the work. With a good spinning reel, you can often use shorter rods to have pinpoint accuracy with the small lures commonly used to catch trout.
A shorter, lightweight spinning reel is also more practical for some anglers who want to fish in tight quarters that you often find in remote mountain streams. With good quality, smooth spinning reel, you can usually make more casts and have better overall accuracy compared to fishing with a fly rod.
Additionally, you also have the ability to use a wider variety of different lures instead of being limited to small flies.
How Much Drag Does a Trout Reel Need?
If you’re fishing for trout, you often have a sense of the size potential based on the particular body of water you’re fishing in. If you’re casting into a small stream, you can get away with a much lighter drag, as it’s highly unlikely there will be any trophy-sized rainbows or browns lurking in the shallow water.
When it comes to fishing in larger rivers, you’ll want to tighten up your drag and use a reel that presents a heavier max drag capacity, as you might end up hooking a bonafide trophy trout. If you’re fishing in an area where it’s common to catch trout that are more than 4 or 5 pounds, it’s a good idea to have a reel with a more robust drag capacity.
Spinning reels have either a front or a rear drag system, which simply indicates what part of the reel controls the drag. It’s better to have a front drag system if your main concern is making sure the drag stays put and if you don’t want to fool with having to adjust it while fighting a fish.
A rear drag, however, is recommended for anglers who want to have more ability to manipulate their drag while fighting a fish. A rear drag system is also easier to access and adjust when you need to as well.
How Much Line Capacity Does a Trout Spinning Reel Need?
Deciding on just how much fishing line you need on your reel comes down to a few important points. First, you must decide on what pound test line to use with the reel. Once you’ve narrowed this down to one single type of line, it’s important to consult the specifications listed for the reel and determine how much of this particular size line to spool onto the reel.
Having too much line of any size will result in a greater potential for the line to become tangled, while having too little might put you in an undesirable position where you run out of line while fighting a trophy-sized fish.
Also, consider the particular body of water where you’ll be fishing when deciding on the amount of line you’ll need. If you’re fishing in a large river or lake, it’s possible that you might hook a giant-sized fish that’s sure to rip out dozens of feet at a time while it’s running into the deep water.
Best Frame Material for a Trout Spinning Reel
There are only a few types of frame material used in lightweight spinning reels. Most reels have either a graphite or aluminum frame, but some might offer a carbon material, as well as magnesium frames.
Aluminum will undoubtedly be the strongest type of material you can have, but it’s also very heavy compared to carbon fiber or graphite blends. Graphite frames aren’t as tough but will always be much lighter and also present better corrosion-resistance ability than aluminum.
Magnesium frames are what you typically find on premium-quality reels. This material has an almost hollow feel and is incredibly lighter than both aluminum and graphite. This material also has great corrosion-resistance as well.
How Many Ball Bearings Do I Need in a Spinning Reel?
Ball bearings are placed inside a reel to help alleviate the high levels of friction that are caused by all of the moving parts working together.
It’s often said that a reel with more ball bearings will always be smoother than a reel that is built with less. However, Shimano is a brand that has proven this theory false. A reel’s smoothness actually comes down to how well-made the ball bearings are, as well as how precisely machined the gears are cut and how they fit together.
When it comes to selecting a reel based on the number of ball bearings, it’s usually a good idea to purchase one that has at least 5 total bearings. Brands like Abu Garcia or Shimano are often solid choices that engineer their reels with high-quality ball bearings that will result in a very smooth action.
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