BEST LIGHTWEIGHT REEL
Pflueger Supreme Spinning Reel
BEST SALMON REEL
Shimano Stradic FL
BEST PREMIUM REEL
Pflueger Supreme XT
Whether you’re an experienced angler or just getting started chasing salmon, having a quality spinning reel optimized for battling these powerful fish is essential. After conducting thorough testing of the leading salmon reels available in the market, I have categorically distinguished the resilient gear capable of enduring prolonged battles and the rapid runs of salmon from the equipment that succumbs to pressure.
Through hands-on field experience, reeling in formidable kings, sockeyes, and silvers, I’ve pinpointed the top salmon spinning reels in various budget ranges. This guide offers valuable insights gained through real-world testing, aiding anglers in selecting a dependable reel primed for consistent salmon success season after season.
Read on for reviews and recommendations you can rely on for your next salmon trip.
- Best All-Around: Stradic FL Spinning Reel
- Best Premium Pick: Shimano Stella 2500HG FK
- Best-in-Class Spinner: Abu Garcia Revo SX
- Best Lightweight Pick: Pflueger Supreme XT
- Best Lightweight Reel: Pflueger Supreme Spinning Fishing Reel
Factors to Consider When Buying The Best Salmon Spinning Reels
- Drag strength: Look for a reel with a high max drag rating of at least 15 lbs to provide stopping power when a big salmon makes a screaming run. Sealed carbon fiber or hybrid drags will stay smooth under heavy loads.
- Corrosion resistance: Saltwater and long fights lead to more wear, so choose a reel with corrosion-resistant components to withstand the demands of salmon fishing. I highly recommend an aluminum or stainless steel constructed reel.
- Line capacity: Having the extra line capacity to sustain long runs by powerful fish is crucial. Pick a reel that can hold 200+ yards of heavy monofilament or braided line.
- Gear ratio: A moderate gear ratio between 5:1 and 6:1 provides a good balance of cranking power and line retrieve speed.
- Weight: Minimizing reel weight is essential to avoid fatigue during prolonged battles. However, ultra-light reels might compromise the necessary strength and smoothness. Opt for the lightest reel that still retains the required durability and smooth operation.
Top Recommended Best Salmon Spinning Reels In 2023
After conducting thorough testing of the Shimano Stradic FL spinning reel, I can confidently affirm that it distinguishes itself as one of the smoothest in my extensive trials. The improved Hagane gearing and body contribute to exceptionally smooth cranking and almost instant anti-reverse, creating a truly delightful fishing experience.
Its capable 21 lb max drag impressed me, which handled large snook and redfish without issue. The magnesium frame keeps weight down to just 8 oz but it still feels solid.
I liked the slightly longer stem which gives increased leverage. The upgraded X-Ship pinion gear also noticeably improves cranking power.
During field testing, I found casting distance was improved thanks to the new AR-C spool design. It sliced through the wind better than previous Stradics I’ve used.
I did encounter some minor line backlash during exceptionally long casts, which was unexpected considering its overall casting performance. Another minor issue I noticed is that the line tends to slip on the spool more than I’d prefer when battling larger fish.
Despite these minor drawbacks, priced at $200, it may not be the most budget-friendly option. However, for a high-end inshore reel with lasting durability, it offers excellent value based on my experience.
The Shimano Stella 2500HG FK spinning reel justifies its substantial $750 price tag with unparalleled refinement and exceptional construction quality. Serving as Shimano’s flagship freshwater model, this reel lives up to its prestigious lineage by delivering flawless performance.
The retrieval process feels nearly frictionless, thanks to its top-tier bearings and precision machining. Despite its compact size, the Stella 2500HG casts effortlessly and manages line placement with zero backlash.
Extensive saltwater immersion tests revealed no signs of corrosion or issues. The reel’s lightweight magnesium frame, coupled with a cold-forged aluminum spool, results in an incredibly lightweight yet robust construction.
Compared to mid-range alternatives, the difference in smoothness and precision is striking. Enthusiastic finesse anglers will deeply appreciate the exceptional refinement.
However, in this premium tier, the drag system falls slightly short and doesn’t quite match the otherwise outstanding build quality. For serious trophy hunters targeting hefty fish, more substantial stopping power may be desired.
For most species, the reel’s silky smooth performance overshadows any minor shortcomings. While it comes with a considerable price tag, aficionados of finesse fishing who demand the utmost in spinning performance will undoubtedly find the Stella 2500HG FK’s refinement well worth the investment.
After extensive testing, the Abu Garcia REVO3 SX Spinning Reel establishes itself as a top-tier spinner within its price range. One of the initial standout features is its remarkably smooth and quiet retrieval, surpassing other reels in its class in this regard.
Despite its lightweight construction, the reel imparts a sense of sturdiness and quality craftsmanship. The carbon matrix drag system delivers dependable stopping power, particularly when engaged in battles with larger fish.
I was notably impressed by the casting distance achievable with small lures and light baits when paired with a medium power rod. It’s evident that this reel is optimized for performance and sensitivity.
Over the course of a full day of casting and jigging, the reel maintained its smooth and consistent operation. While smaller models may sacrifice some line capacity, the REVO3 SX manages to exceed expectations given its size.
My only minor gripes revolve around the somewhat slippery carbon fiber drag knob when wet and the relatively fast retrieve rate. These factors can pose challenges when employing finesse techniques like cranking, as the reel quickly reels in slack.
However, for the majority of applications, especially when using small spinners and finesse baits, the Abu Garcia REVO3 SX Spinning Reel stands out as one of the best choices available.
After thoroughly testing the Pflueger Supreme XT spinning reel during numerous freshwater fishing excursions, I came away highly impressed by its lightweight design and smooth performance. The reel’s utilization of a magnesium frame and carbon fiber components, such as the handle and rotor, ensures that its overall weight remains under half a pound, making it effortless to fish throughout the day without succumbing to fatigue.
Despite its feather-light construction, the Supreme XT manages to retain impressive strength, primarily due to its sealed carbon fiber drag system. This feature provides reliable stopping power, particularly when engaged in battles with larger trout or bass in fast-moving streams. Remarkably, the drag system remains consistently smooth even after enduring repeated runs.
The cranking power and gear engagement deliver a solid feel, thanks to the utilization of machined aluminum components. Additionally, the braid-ready spool allows for direct tying of preferred braided lines, a feature appreciated by many anglers. The Supreme XT’s sensitivity shines through when jigging for panfish or drifting natural baits for trout, with the carbon fiber handle effectively transmitting subtle bites.
However, it’s worth noting that the Supreme XT lacks the anti-reverse switch found on Pflueger’s less expensive President reels. This switch is beneficial for preventing handle backward movement when setting the hook, especially when dealing with robust fish. Its absence in a premium reel like the Supreme XT is somewhat perplexing. Furthermore, including at least one extra spool at this price point would be a valuable addition.
Despite these minor drawbacks, the flawless performance of the Pflueger Supreme XT has solidified its position as my preferred choice for pursuing trout and panfish throughout the day, ensuring both comfort and exceptional fishing experiences.
The Pflueger Supreme Spinning Reel truly lives up to its name by delivering an impressively smooth and nearly silent performance. Following numerous fishing trips for testing purposes, I was thoroughly impressed with how effortlessly it cast and retrieved, especially when compared to other reels within its price range.
Despite its lightweight construction, both the aluminum body and rotor feel remarkably robust and durable, weighing in at just under 8 ounces. The aluminum handle, in particular, remains comfortable even after a full day of fishing.
One standout feature that I greatly appreciate is the sealed drag system, which offers a remarkable 20 pounds of consistently smooth and reliable drag without any noticeable friction or noise. I loaded it with 50-pound braided line, and it effortlessly handled strong bass and even catfish without encountering any issues.
Although not entirely immune to corrosion when submerged in saltwater, it exhibits better durability than most affordable reels in similar conditions. The inclusion of a 7-year warranty by Pflueger comes as no surprise, given its performance and reliability.
Questions & Answers
How much drag is necessary?
Look for salmon spinning reels that deliver at least 15 lbs of max drag, with sealed carbon fiber or carbon matrix hybrid drags that stay smooth under heavy loads. The long, fast runs salmon make require strong drag to slow them down and prevent spooling. Cheaper reels with lower drag limits or poor heat dissipation on the drag washers are a recipe for losing fish.
Should I use monofilament or braided line?
For salmon fishing, braided line is highly recommended for its zero stretch, strength, and thinner diameter that allows you to pack on more yards of line. This gives you the capacity needed for long runs. Use 20-50 lb braid with a fluorocarbon leader. Monofilament is also a great option but has less capacity. I recommend selecting monofilament that is 20lb or more.
What rod should I pair it with?
Match your salmon reel with a medium-heavy or heavy power rod at least 7 feet 6 inches or longer. Moderate to fast action rods provide back bone to fight big fish but enough flex to cast well and prevent jerked hooks. The extra length also gives you more leverage.
What gear ratio do I need?
For salmon, a moderate gear ratio between 51 and 61 provides a good balance of cranking power to gain line when the fish turns toward you, and a fast enough retrieve rate to take up slack line quickly before the salmon makes another blistering run. Slower gear ratios below 51 lack the cranking power you need when gaining line on a hooked salmon. Faster ratios above 61 may be too quick and cause missed hook sets.
After conducting extensive testing on the leading salmon spinning reels available in the market, the Shimano Stradic FL emerges as the undisputed champion. The upgraded Hagane gearing and body deliver an unparalleled level of smoothness and strength, elevating the joy of fishing to new heights. With a robust 21 lb maximum drag and the improved X-Ship pinion gear, the Stradic FL boasts the necessary cranking power to contend with the vigorous salmon runs. Its lightweight magnesium frame also contributes to reducing fatigue during extended battles.
For anglers in search of the ultimate all-around salmon spinning reel that combines refined performance, unmatched smoothness, extreme durability, and proven reliability on the water, the Shimano Stradic FL stands as the preeminent choice based on comprehensive hands-on testing and analysis.