There are so many companies and brands on the markets that sell fishing reels that it is hard to differentiate the good from the bad and find out the brands that truly know what they’re doing when it comes to creating a decent fishing reel.
With that in mind, we created a list of the 12 best fishing reel brands along with their most popular reel models currently on the market today.
Shimano is a Japanese company that focuses primarily on creating cycling gear, rowing equipment, and fishing gear.
They have factories and offices spanning all across the world and 2021 will mark 100 years of the company and its innovative designs.
Shimano’s mission is to promote a healthy and happy lifestyle through nature and the world surrounding its customers.
Shimano first launched their fishing tackle division in the 1970s which sought to align with their business pillar of the promotion of public health through engaging in outdoor activities.
The Shimano Sedona Fi is a great entry-level reel that can be used both in freshwater and saltwater fishing.
The upgraded G-free body style and cold-forged hagane gears have improved the performance of this reel whilst still keeping it at an affordable price point for its customers.
The reel is very smooth to use and has a great drag for off-shore and on-shore fishing.
It has an integrated propulsion line management system that will allow you to cast longer distances than before and drag fish of up to 7lbs.
The Shimano IX Rear Drag Spin Reel is again versatile enough to use in both freshwater and saltwater fishing environments.
The Quickfire II system is great for fasting and effortless casting even with just one hand. The design is made of lightweight graphite so your reel is comfortable to hold whilst maintaining strength and durability.
It’s incredibly smooth and easy to use with the self-center line and trigger providing an easy grasp whilst still having your other hand free for reeling in your catch.
German machinist Otto Henze founded Penn Fishing Tackle Company in 1932 after he emigrated to the US back in 1922.
Penn’s most famous reel ‘the Senator’ was created in 1936 and revolutionized the fishing tackle industry aiming to be one of the strongest reels for large and powerful fish.
Since then Penn has celebrated over 85 years of success, awards, and ingenious designs which have sought to achieve and build upon Henze’s dream of creating the world’s highest quality fishing tackle.
The Penn Battle II is a durable and high range reel that is perfect for catching big saltwater fish. The reel is extremely smooth and has a powerful carbon fiber drag.
The design is made of a full metal body with a heavy-duty aluminum bail wire, for increased durability but also a timeless aesthetic.
The reel offers fluid cranking with 5 sealed stainless steel ball bearings and instant reverse anti-bearing.
The Pursuit III offers a durable graphite body that is lightweight and corrosion-resistant and whilst not as visually pleasing as the Battle II it will still do its job well.
It has sealed drag washers that are always lubricated and very smooth. It also offers slow oscillation gearing which improves line lay and minimizes line twisting.
The line capacity rings will also allow you to see how much spool you have left by quickly glancing.
Daiwa fishing reels originated in Japan in 1958 but since then has grown to be a worldwide success.
Daiwa was the first company in the world to incorporate graphite into its reel and rotors.
On numerous occasions, Daiwa has been one of the first in the world to come up with innovative technologies and develop their reels with new materials.
Daiwa’s passion and focus is technological advancement and providing surprise and enjoyment for all who use the Daiwa products.
This is a sturdy and smooth reel that will be able to handle anything from small species inshore or off-shore boating.
This model has gear ratios that range from 1500 to 8000 so you’ll be able to find the perfect one depending on your fishing preferences.
The reel is made up of top-quality materials and boasts a very modern design. The drag on this reel is so powerful and could handle anything up to a 70lb shark.
The reel is a little bit more weighty than others we’ve tried but we put it down to the strong materials.
The SF4000-B Strikeforce-B is one of Daiwa’s best budget reels that can be used with both hands.
The reel performs well in both freshwater and saltwater environments and can catch some fish that are well above its paygrade.
It features an ABS aluminum spool for longer and easier catching and also a digital gear design for increased power, speed, and durability.
The Pfleuger brand has been around since 1881 when Ernest. F. Pfleuger founded his fish hook company.
Since then the company has been passed down and expanded to all aspects of fishing tackle.
Quality is Pfleuger’s number 1 priority and to this day, their attention to detail and great craftsmanship contributes to them being one of the leading rod and reel manufacturers.
The President reel offers an ultra-lightweight graphite body with corrosion-resistant stainless steel bearings.
The reel can be used efficiently for fishing bass and has a super smooth retrieval.
The reel can be used easily by both beginners but is also a good option for seasoned anglers to use.
The handle of the reel is soft to touch but allows you a firm grip of the knob.
The President model is 10% lighter than the previous models despite being more practical.
This reel is a great option for ice fishing but at an extremely affordable price point.
The reels are smooth and reliable and don't twist the line. It can even drag fish as big as a pike.
Some people dislike the more plastic components of the reel, however, we prefer it to the metal as it stops our hands from getting too cold.
One of the biggest downsides is that it doesn't off an anti-reverse switch.
KastKing is one of the most recently founded brands on our list of recommendations.
It was created in 2011 by a group of US college students who wanted to merge their love of fishing with entrepreneurship.
The KastKing brand is a division with Eposeidon company created by the students themselves and now sells its products in every US state and over 150 countries.
Their vision is to keep fishing fun whilst being able to keep it affordable and foster sustainable fishing practices.
The reel can be used in both freshwater and saltwater so it is versatile. The build and materials are extremely high-quality but don't reflect in the price.
It is not the ideal reel for beginners and would be better suited to someone more familiar with fishing. The reel allows for smooth casting and also features anti-reverse technology.
The KastKing Spartacus I has a 17.5lb drag so you can catch some of the big trophy fish in tournaments.
The Brutus offers exceptional performance but at a low price, with its lightweight yet strong graphite frame, and alloy main gear, and brass pinion gear to deliver durability and low noise that won’t scare your fish away.
The reel is best used in freshwater but can however be used for sea fishing as long as it's not for continuous use.
6. Abu Garcia
Abu Garcia was founded as a watch factory in 1921 in Sweden but was originally known as AB Urfabriken.
It was then another twenty years before Abu Garcia created their first fishing reel.
The company name was changed from its original name to Abu Garcia when a US company called Garcia was combined with ABU.
Since creating its first reel in 1941, Abu Garcia has gone on to cement their position in the world of fishing tackle.
The most popular reel from Abu Garcia sports an all-in-one graphite frame and side plate that has barely any flex so feels very supported and strong.
It has comfortable and secure gripping so you’ll be able to firmly hold and rag in anything as large as a bass.
It can be a little tedious to adjust the breaks and the tension on the reel.
The Max X has 3 ball bearings + 1 roller bearing to provide smooth operation and an everlast bail system for increased durability.
It has slow oscillation that provides an even lay line with all types of line.
The design and construction do feel solid but you can notice the difference in quality to other reels from Abu Garcia.
The reel may need more lubrication and maintenance than some other reels.
Okuma Fishing Tackle Co has been manufacturing high-quality freshwater and saltwater fishing reels since its founding in Taiwan in 1986.
They now sell their products all over the world.
The Ceymar real is comfortable to hold and has a secure grip without your hand getting sore, it also increases cranking power when you catch larger fish.
It has a multi-disk drag system that provides smoother and more consistent dragging that can increase drag strength.
The Ceymar comes in a diverse range of sizes suited to various environments and levels of fishing.
The reel is great value for money and does all the functions of high-quality reels but at a lower price point.
However, whilst the Alaris does feel strong and durable enough for extended periods of use, the materials don’t look as first-rate quality as others on the market.
The Alaris does provide a super smooth drag and retrieval.
Quantum has been around since 1984 and its mission has been to give seasoned anglers the tackle gear they need to outfish their competition.
The all-time money winner for bass-catching, Kevin VanDam used Quantum fishing reels for nearly 30 years and helped him become the most decorated angler of all time.
Kevin also helped develop numerous lines and signature rods with Quantum, so you know they were created with expertise in mind.
The Throttle II is a powerful fishing reel that features a reel engine design aluminum body and anodized aluminum ball wire for superior strength.
The reel has 11 bearings and a 27inch retrieve rate and can be interchanged from right to left handling. It has an ultra-smooth and reliable gear system.
Quantum offers their Optix fishing reel in sizes 05 up to 80 and still manages to remain lightweight no matter how high you go.
The adjustable front drag has excellent line control and you also have the option of having a left or right hand retrieve.
The handle has got a lot of rubber covering so is extremely comfortable to hold and won’t slip out on your hands.
9. 13 Fishing
13 Fishing was started by Jim Coble in 2011 with the tagline ‘Make Your Own Luck.
Coble and the brand believe that fishing is more of a way of life than just a hobby.
They focus on getting young anglers involved and to eliminate the illusion that fishing is boring.
They’re passionate about improving the functionality of reels and rods and incorporating their own components to boost this.
The Concept A has a lot of power for such a low profile baitcasting reel.
The design is compact and lightweight that sits low on the rod and also features cork knobs for no no-slip reeling.
The reel can be used in both saltwater and freshwater without corrosion.
It incorporates a dead-stop anti-reverse system so you’ll get a reliable hook up every time you’re out.
The reel features a unique matte green composite body, which we haven’t seen anywhere else yet.
It’s built of a lightweight composite frame that is durable enough to withstand harsh weather conditions.
The Origin Saltwater fishing reel is for left-handed anglers only.
The Japanese Hamai cut gearing system will ensure you get your fish safely in the boat without any fuss.
Zebco was created in 1949 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Their first invention was the backlash-free fishing reel by inventor Jasper R. Dell Hull.
He struggled to find a company to market his invention so went to the Zero Hour Bomb Company where they continued together under the brand name ‘Zebco’ to make a series of new affordable models.
In 2001, the W.C Bradley Company bought Zebco from the Brunswick Corporation but to this day their headquarters still reside in Tulsa.
The design is built for increasing durability so it’ll last you for years. The Omega Pro casts a really good distance and has great retrieval.
The Omega Pro is very robust and can pull in fish as big as bass or even catfish.
The Zebco customer service team is faultless and will send replacement parts quickly.
The Zebco 404 is one of the cheapest reels that is sold by the brand and whilst it may not be topping record books it is truly great value for money and you get exactly what you pay for (plus a little more).
It’s definitely a good basic reel for beginners to start off using or for younger children to use if you don’t want to risk them breaking or losing it.
Most customers have re-spooled their reel with something different and find out it works more efficiently.
It works best for freshwater fishing and will suit right-handed people. The reinforced graphite construction is lightweight yet sturdy whilst the metal gears offer heavy-duty performance.