7 Excellent Spinning Reels for Trout Fishing
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While it may not be as popular as bass fishing, trout fishing is perhaps the real All-American staple.
Whether you are fishing a lake, creek, river, or stream, you are likely to find a variety of trout at various times throughout the year.
In our complete beginner’s guide to trout fishing, we explain that there are numerous species of trout. As such, some are much larger and will require heavier model reels (and rods) than the ones we list below (yes, we’re talking about you, brown trout and lake trout).
If you are fishing for most other species, including rainbow trout (and golden rainbow trout), brook trout, and tiger trout, however, the following reels should more than suffice.
Much like crappie and panfish, smaller species of trout are fairly well populated (especially if your state stocks them throughout the year). They are also pretty easy to catch, making them a popular fish for younger or inexperienced anglers.
Looking at Some of the Best Reels for Trout Fishing
Daiwa Regal LT Spinning Reel
As part of Daiwa’s “Light but Tough” reel series, the Regal LT is an affordably-priced additional the any angler’s smaller-species arsenal. Its build allows for a reliable and durable option that won’t break the bank. For those looking to add a solid trout fishing reel to their collection, it’s hard to go wrong with the Regal.
Making use of a 9+1 bearing system, the Regal LT Spinning Reel stakes its reputation on providing anglers with a smooth casting and retrieval experience. The reel’s lightweight carbon frame, air rotor, and ATD drag (which allows for both power and smoothness) are major selling points of this rod.
Abu Garcia Pro Max Spinning Reel
When it comes to spinning reels, Abu Garcia is a personal favorite of the staff here at Premier Angler. The brand is one of the most popular in the world, largely because it produces quality products at a variety of price points. If you are an angler who is looking to add a quality setup to your trout fishing catalog, then Abu Garcia’s Pro Max Spinning Reel is a solid candidate for that spot.
As with most of AG’s line, the Pro Max incorporates high quality materials with top-notch technology. This particular model features a 7-bearing system, an Everlast bail, machined aluminum spool, and a Rocket spool lip design.
Quantum PT Smoke S3 Spinning Reel
For the majority of anglers across the country, trout fishing is a fun, simple, relaxing, and often rustic pastime. As such, it doesn’t often require top-of-the-line gear.
For those who may be a bit more competitive, then the Quantum PT Smoke S3 might be more in line with your particular tastes.
As a higher-end model that uses top-flight technology and materials, this is the type of reel that would sit competitive trout tournament anglers or those who simply have to have “the best of the best” in life. While the PT Smoke S3 will carry a heftier price tag than other reels on this list, it is engineered for performance.
Sporting an impressive 11+1 bearing system with a handful of other branded features (including a CL4F Carbor Fiber Razor Rotor, Reel Engine Design 2.0, and Braid Ready Maxcast 2.0 Spool), it’s easy to get lost. Often, when we hear about such “advanced” features, it’s hard to tell where the marketing ends of the performance begins.
In regards to the Quantum PT Smoke S3, however, the results speak for themselves across countless 5-star reviews from satisfied anglers.
Pflueger Trion Spinning Reel
If the Quantum PT Smoke S3 is the expert-level reel for trout fishing, then consider the Pflueger Trion Spinning Reel “Level One.”
That in no way should be seen as a slight on this reel, however, because if you are throwing the right rig at the right time in the right place, you’ll definitely be able to pull in trout on the Trion.
Unlike the previous entry, however (or some other mid-to-high-end reels on this list), the Pflueger Trion is intended to be an affordable reel for those anglers who may not want to make the type of financial commitment to fishing that often comes with the territory.
Featuring a 6+1 bearing system (with a modest 4+1 system in the TRI20X model), the Trion keeps it nice and simple. The reel is lightweight and features a graphite body with aluminum spool.
Pflueger President Spinning Reel
My experience with the Pflueger President Spinning Reel is definitely mixed. I picked one up from a big-box retailer on a whim a couple years ago — they are definitely attractive reels — and threw it on one of my older rods. Within a couple minutes of fishing, the handle dislodged and I wrote it off as being a “junk” reel.
After getting more familiar and comfortable with it, though, I decided that it was a reliable part of my collection. I’ll admit, this is not my top-choice reel for trout (or crappie, or really any other species for that matter), but if I’m hitting the water with multiple rigs, the President will make an appearance.
So, if you don’t absolutely love it, why is it on the list?
In reality, I haphazardly threw the reel on my rod without making sure everything was functioning and equipped properly and that may have soured me on an otherwise solid reel. For anglers who are looking to give a modestly-priced reel with a good deal of name value and a solid reputation a try, though, it’s hard to know the President.
Mitchell Avocet RZT Spinning Reel
At the same big-box retailers when you’ll find the Pflueger President, you’re likely to come across the Mitchell Avocet RZT.
And there’s a reason.
Mitchell has established itself as a solid, workman’s brand and offers nice, affordable, and “safe” reel options to anglers who are just cutting their teeth in the fishing game.
If you are planning to hit the water for some trout fishing once or twice this year, or if you aren’t comfortable making a considerable investment into your fishing gear, then the Avocet RZT is definitely available to you are a solid option.
Featuring 8 bearings, an aluminum handle, and graphite body, the Avocet may lack some of the elaborate technological features of other models on the list, but if a modest-sized trout hits your line, this reel is more than capable of helping you bring it in.
Shimano Sedona Spinning Reel
I am an unabashed Shimano fan and I’m proud to admit it.
My love for the brand came the first time I used the Sedona, which I picked up as part of a rod and reel combo at my local Cabela’s. Since then, I’ve made sure that I have a Sedona on at least one rod every time I leave the house.
While not the highest-end Shimano reel on the market, the Sedona is versatile enough (across its numerous sizes) to work wonders for both the most casual angler and those who take their fishing game more competitively.
As a lightweight reel with a 3+1 ball bearing system, it’s easy to think that the quality of the Shimano may be lacking. That said, this is much more than a sleek and attractive reel. Over the past year, I’ve pulled in largemouth, smallmouth, and rock bass, rainbow trout, numerous types of panfish, crappie, sauger, and channel catfish on the Sedona and it’s still holding up nicely.
Trout are known to be shy fish that typically hang around underwater structures, rocks, or near aquatic vegetation. What’s more, they can often be found at deeper water levels, either hiding from predators or looking for cooler water during warmer weather.
Their nature makes them a bit of a challenge, not only to find but also to catch. And if you have a chance to catch plenty of trout, you wouldn’t be able to do it without a reliable spinning reel in your fishing arsenal.
That’s why I’ve gathered the best trout spinning reels I could find on the market right here in this list. If you want more information on trout or on how to pick a spinning reel, to begin with, check out the little help section I’ve cooked for you at the end of the article.
Without further ado, let’s delve into the depths where trout can be found!
Our Top Picks for Best Trout Reels:
The 5 Best Trout Spinning Reels for 2021
1. KastKing Sharky III 3000 – Best Overall
The KastKing Sharky III is a budget-friendly choice that provides you with great value for the money.
It’s quite durable and suits both freshwater and saltwater fishing, so if you’re after sea or rainbow trout, the Sharky III is the reel for you.
You don’t have to worry about your reel falling into the water as the protective water-resistant design covers the spool, body, and rotor, which prevents any dirt or water from getting into the system.
It’s not too heavy at 9.2 ounces, yet it can drag up to 33 pounds with a quick line retrieve of 29.7 inches/crank and a gear ratio of 5.2:1. This combination also makes it suitable for various types of fishing, like fan-casting, jigging, and bait fishing. Not to mention that the ratio between its weight and maximum drag is quite impressive.
The KastKing Sharky III is equipped with a triple-disc carbon fiber drag and an oversized stainless steel main shaft that works on making its reeling and casting as smooth as silk. This is amplified by the shielded stainless steel 11-bearing system that’s rated for saltwater.
Moreover, the precision mesh manganese brass pinion gears add strength and muscle to the reel, while the anti-twist line roller minimizes the chances of tangles and snarls in your line.
Finally, the Sharky III 3000 provides comfort throughout your fishing session with its slip-free, high-density EVA grips.
- Great maximum drag to weight ratio
- 1-year warranty
- Smooth operation
- Interchangeable hand retrieve
- Some complaints about tight lines in the reel
- Bearings produce some grinding sounds
Whether you’re going for saltwater or freshwater trout, or both, the KastKing Sharky III will serve you quite well. Although it comes at an affordable price, it offers a high maximum drag capacity, fast action, and smooth operation.
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2. Pflueger President PRESSP30X – Budget Choice
Although the Pflueger President comes at a very affordable price, it integrates plenty of high-quality, useful features.
To start with, its new design comes with 10% less body weight, yet it doesn’t compromise the durability of the reel. Being lighter means that your wrists won’t be fatigued as much or as quickly, enabling you to fish for longer periods.
This is mainly because both its body and rotor are made from graphite, which is known to be the perfect choice for a combination of durability and portability.
Although it’s available in five sizes, I chose the PRESSP30X for trout fishing as it weighs 8.3 pounds, can drag 9-pound fish, and does so at a speed of 25.2 inches/crank, thanks to its 5.2:1 gear ratio. These specs make it suitable for reeling in the average-sized trout seamlessly, without being too heavy or slow.
To ensure comfort, the PRESSP30X comes with a soft-touch ergonomic knob that facilitates gripping, and being dimpled makes it even easier on the fingertips.
It’s worth mentioning that it’s not sealed for saltwater, but that’s not such a problem because most trout generally live in freshwaters like rivers and streams.
Equipped with a stainless steel, corrosion-resistant 10-bearing system, the Pflueger President provides you with very smooth retrieves. What’s more, the drag can be adjusted to micro increments to increase the precision of your reel.
Moreover, it comes with a Sure-Click heavy-duty aluminum bail that produces an audible click sound to notify you when the bail is open and ready to cast.
- Smooth drag thanks to the 10-bearing system
- Easy retrieve switching from the left to the right hand
- Looks and feels cheap
- Needs maintenance to keep a smooth drag
If you want to go trout fishing and you don’t want to break the bank, the Pflueger President is a great choice for you. The best part is that it doesn’t compromise smoothness, portability, or precision despite coming at a relatively low price point.
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3. Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 4000 – Premium ChoiceBUY FROM BASSPRO
Any angler must be familiar with Shimano as it’s one of the most popular fishing equipment manufacturers on the market, and that’s for a good reason. When they produce a spinning reel, for example, they mean business, and the Stradic Ci4+ is an excellent example.
While it may not be the most affordable option out there, it’s one of the best trout spinning reels you can get. And although there are four models, I prefer the Ci4+ 4000 for catching trout.
To start with, it comes with X-Ship technology that features a double bearing supported pinion gear to maximize the smoothness of your retrieves, especially when fishing for big-sized gamefish.
Combine that with the superior 6.2:1 and 24-pound maximum drag, and you can go for heavier trout-like rainbow or steelhead, which start at 12 pounds and on some lucky occasions can be as large as 26 pounds.
The reel weighs only 8.1 ounces, which is pretty lightweight. This can be attributed to the 25% lighter Magnumlite (MGL) rotor that facilitates starting and stopping your retrieves.
Not only that, but the G-Free, carbon body design brings the center of mass of the reel closer to the rod to make it easier for you to balance it and get a better feel when there’s a strike from a potential catch.
Of course, to enable you to go for the big saltwater trout, it’s equipped with advanced CoreProtect water resistance that provides it with 360-degree durability through all kinds of weather. On top of that, its bearings are shielded on both sides to eliminate the possibility of any salt, dirt, or water penetrating the reel.
Moreover, the cold-forged-aluminum spool beats diecast aluminum or graphite ones as it provides you with more durability and strength. The Hagane precision gears are also cold-forged to provide you with smooth retrieves. Combine that with the 7-bearing system, and you get the most seamless retrieve and drag.
Finally, the Stradic Ci4+ works on minimizing line twists and wind knots by utilizing an advanced AR-C spool design with a power roller. Its line management is truly undisputed as it reduces twists by up to 50%.
- Premium feel and performance
- Almost completely waterproof
- Incredibly smooth retrieves and drag action
- A little pricey
- Small anti-reverse switch
The Stradic Ci4+offers you an unbelievably smooth fishing experience, even in salt water and even under big loads, and that’s why it’s a great choice if you’re after anadromous trout.
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4. Abu Garcia Revo SX – Best for Quick ActionBUY FROM BASSPRO
The Revo SX reel right here serves as a great example of why Abu Garcia is able to establish itself in the world of fishing, displaying the epitome of quality and quick action.
Firstly, the Revo SX is equipped with an X-Craftic gearbox with an alloy frame and a unique C6 carbon body in which a composite of carbon and graphite blend to provide you with a lightweight and durable reel. Moreover, the carbon handle housing and side plate boost the durability of the reel and protect it against corrosion.
With a 6.6:1 gear ratio, 27-inch retrieve/crank, and a 10-bearing system, it enables you to catch trout up to 24 pounds with unprecedented smoothness. And despite that, it only weighs 7.8 ounces.
Not only that, but it also works on giving you accuracy by integrating a Rocket Spool Lip, which is compatible with any line and works from any casting location. Its main benefit is enabling the line to run off the reel with less drag, consequently making your casts longer and more precise.
What’s more, the 10-bearing system and Power Stack Carbon Matrix drag system make its operation quite seamless.
Another special feature you’ll find on the Revo SX is the adjustable brake system that utilizes magnets to eliminate backlash.
- Equipped with a dynamic Rocket Spool Lip for smooth casting
- 10-bearing system
- Magnetic brake system
- Quick action with high gear ratio and line retrieve
- Not as smooth as other options in its price range
- A little pricey
The Abu Garcia Revo SX is a high-quality trout spinning reel that makes catching those elusive hiders a breeze. Although it’s not the most affordable, it does provide you with much-needed precision and durability.
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5. Okuma Ceymar C-10 – Lightweight Choice
The first thing worth mentioning about the Okuma Ceymar C-10, other than its attractive price tag, is definitely its cyclonic flow rotor. It creates cyclonic airflow through the ported rotor to quicken its drying time, consequently reducing the possibility of corrosion and increasing the reel’s durability.
Not only that, but it also minimizes the intrusion of water into the inner workings of the reel, further extending its durability with the help of the lightweight and corrosion-resistant graphite body.
Compared to other options on the list, the 6.6-pound maximum drag of this reel is pretty inferior, but then again, it only weighs 5.9 ounces, which is incredibly light.
This combination makes it ideal for small trout-like brook, golden, and tiger trout. Further, its 5.0:1 gear ratio and 21-inch retrieve/crank are quite enough to provide you with fast action to land small-sized trout, typically ranging between five to nine pounds.
The Okuma Ceymar C-10 comes with a 7-bearing system that makes its operation pretty smooth, while the anti-reverse bearing works on keeping your hook sets solid.
Moreover, the Ceymar C-10 features an impressive alignment system that maximizes the casting ability of the reel. Not only that, but it’s also equipped with a precision gearing system that minimizes friction to maximize accuracy and distance of casting. It also smoothens the performance of the reel by evening out its drag pressures.
When it comes to comfort, the zinc diecast handle has your back. Its design enables it to withstand any stress as well as endure heavy battles without compromising its ability to provide you with the required torque for catching your fish.
- Amazing value for the price
- Very lightweight
Whatever you expect from a spinning reel under the 50-buck mark, you’ll get its double fold with the Okuma Ceymar C-10. Although it’s a cheap option, it has a lot to offer, including smooth operation, portability, and reliability.
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Shopping for a Trout Spinning Reel
When you’re shopping for a trout spinning reel, you have to factor in the fish’s characteristics while considering the features you’re looking for. Forming a connection between both aspects could be a little tough, and to spare you the hassle, I’ve done it in the help section below.
1. Gear Ratio
Trout aren’t the most ferocious of species. In fact, they’re usually hiding behind or around something. Naturally, they try to run away from a fight, which is why you need a quick retrieve and fast reeling, and that’s where the gear ratio comes in.
The gear ratio refers to the number of times the line spins around the spool with each turn, and the higher the ratio, the quicker the reel’s action.
For small trout like rainbow, golden, or brown, you can work with a 5.0:1 gear ratio.
On the other hand, relatively larger trout like lake, steelhead, and speckled trout require a gear ratio of 6.0:1 or even 7.0:1.
2. Reel Size
Reel sizes are typically denoted by numbers (1000, 2000, 3000, etc.) Naturally, bigger reels are more fit for catching bigger fish, but that doesn’t mean you should just go for the largest option you can find as it increases the weight, which affects how long you can put up your fights.
Generally speaking, trout aren’t massive fish, so you don’t need a heavy reel with a huge maximum drag capability. As a matter of fact, with the average trout weighing between two to eight pounds, you can opt for a reel on the smaller end of the size spectrum.
Since trout don’t usually come in massive sizes, a reel size between 1000 and 2500 would be superb, while between 3000 and 4000 would be more than enough.
3. Drag System
Dragging refers to pulling the fish toward your position, and it relies on two factors. Firstly, the drag system, which is composed of bearings. The more bearings on your reel, the smoother its operation would be, and it would be easier to land your fish.
Secondly, the maximum drag capacity, which refers to how heavy the fish in your reel can be.
For trout fishing, you can go for as small as 5-6 pounds of maximum drag if you’re after rainbow, golden, or brown ones. On the other hand, if you’re going for steelhead, you should opt for a drag capacity between 15-25 pounds.
More than 25 pounds for most trout would be a bit of an overkill and might reduce your ability to notice when a fish bites.
4. Reel Housing
Since trout are anadromous fish that can live in both saltwater and freshwater, you have to decide on where you’ll fish for them before setting out.
If you’re going for saltwater ones, opt for graphite reel housing to resist the effects of salt on the reel, reduce corrosion, and extend durability.
On the other hand, for freshwater fishing, you could opt for aluminum housing.
Ultimately, carbon housing would be the best option if you want to get the best of both worlds as it provides you with ample durability and lightness.
Now that you’ve learned all there is to know about trout spinning reels; it’s time that you decide which one will accompany you on your next adventure.
If you’re looking for an overall best trout spinning reels, all-round option, I highly recommend the KastKing Sharky III for its durability, smoothness, and fast action.
However, if you’re on a bit of a budget, you can go for the cheap yet efficient Pflueger President PRESSP30X.
Finally, if you’re looking for top-notch performance, want to catch game fish trout, and aren’t concerned about the price, you should definitely opt for the Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 4000.
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OKUMA FISHING TACKLE CO., LTD., since 1986, is a Inspira Trout Rod manufacturer based in Taiwan. OKUMA FISHING strives to deliver the ultimate fishing experience to everyone, as well as create the best fishing reels and rods for our fellow anglers, which are lightweight and precise.
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How To Choose The Best Trout Spinning Reel – Buying Guide
The gear ratio is different for every spool. You can be a spool that has a high, medium, or low ratio. If your gear ratio number is higher, it means that the line will be recovered more quickly. For example, if you have a spool with a gear ratio with 6.4:1 then, every time you turn the spool one time it is the equivalent of having turned it 6.4 times. The gear ratio can greatly assist in reeling in a fish, but it is best to see which ratio is best for what type of fishing you will be doing.
Reel size tells you the size of the actual spinning reel. The reel sizes are designated in numbers and the larger the number, the better for larger fish. For example, a 1000 spinning reel would not as effortlessly handle reeling in a large and heavy fish as a 2500 spinning reel would. The heavier the reel also means that it has a greater power in its drag system, line capacity, and the gear ratio. The most common reel sizes used in trout fishing are the 1000 or 2500 spinning reel size.
The drag system is what keeps your fish hooked to the line. The drag system is what maintains the applied resistance on the reel spool and is essential for every trout fisherman. The drag system is designated in pounds. The heavier weights mean that the drag system has a certain amount of pounds of stopping force in its base and means you can reel in larger and more powerful fish with ease. The drag system also ensures that your rod or reel does not break under the strain of pulling in a fish. For the trout fisherman, a good weight for a drag system when trout fishing is 20 pounds.
The smooth movement of a reel and its working parts are maintained and assisted by ball bearings. Ball bearings ensure that everything will function without a grinding feel. It is important that a spinning reel is able to operate smoothly. The majority of ball bearings are anti-corrosion or corrosion resistant and are especially designed to keep out moisture. Most ball bearings are made of stainless-steel, which is naturally anti-corrosive.
When it comes to actually traveling and fishing with your reel, you want it to be a manageable weight. It can be hard to reel in a fish with a heavy device. The ideal weight of a reel would be a lightweight model that you feel comfortable in using and holding. The weight of a reel is up to each individual’s choice, but you should also take into consideration the weight of the species of fish you will be hunting, as well. The weight needs to cater to the fisherman’s preference, but also be able to withstand the power of a fish without breaking.
Anti-Reverse Off System
An anti-reverse off system is a component that keeps the spinning reel from turning in the reverse direction. It works with the drag to ensure that a fish can be reeled in without pulling off the entire line of spool. Some reels have a switch where you can lock and enable the anti-reverse off system or keep it turned off and not use its assistance. This can help the drag of your reel not have to battle with the fish, but pull it in. For trout fishing, this feature can be compelling for a fisherman to have and may greatly assist in pulling in a catch.
The material of which your reel housing is made can dictate what type of fishing it is best used for. The majority of spinning reels are made from aluminum or graphite, but some may contain both materials in one design. For freshwater, a high quality reel will most likely have an aluminum body. However, for saltwater it is best to have a graphite body. While both materials are high-quality, graphite tends to be better for saltwater because it can withstand the more corrosive water and air.
Reels okuma trout
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