Being deeply passionate about trout angling, I’ve dedicated myself to rigorously testing numerous spinning reels to pinpoint the most optimal models for ensnaring trout. Through extensive hands-on trials and the exhilarating process of reeling in vibrant rainbows, majestic browns, and elusive brookies from rivers spanning the country, I’ve meticulously curated a selection of the foremost spinning reels designed to enhance any angler’s trout-catching endeavors.
My assessments delved into crucial attributes such as seamless drag functionality, resistance to corrosion, gear ratio, weight distribution, line capacity, and overall value. Within this comprehensive guide, I aim to impart my personal encounters with these reels, highlighting their distinctive strengths and limitations. The objective is to facilitate your investment in a reel that harmonizes with both your budget and specific angling requisites.
Read on to discover my top trout spinning reel recommendations across all price points.
- Best Ultralight Spinning Reel: Okuma Helios Lightweight Spinning Reel
- Best Lightweight Pick: Lew’s Laser Lite Spinning Reel and Fishing Rod Combo
- Best Spinner for Trout: Shimano Sedona FL Spinning Reel
- Best for Saltwater: KastKing Sharky III Fishing Reel
- Best Surf Spinning: Daiwa BG Spinning Reel
Factors to Consider When Buying The Best Trout Spinning Reels
- Reel Size: For trout, spinning reels in the 1000-3000 size range are ideal. Ultra-light 1000 models excel for small streams, while 3000 sizes work great for larger rivers and lakes. The 1000-2000 size range offers a nice balance of light weight with good line capacity for most trout applications.
- Drag Smoothness: Look for sealed and lubricated drag systems that provide smooth pressure to play fish, but can be tightened down when needed. The ideal drag for trout allows you to avoid break-offs on light line, but also avoid pulling hooks on long runs.
- Gear Ratio: Faster gear ratios in the 6:1 range allow you to quickly pick up slack line when trout make short darting runs. Slower gear ratios around 5:1 offer more cranking power for larger fish. A middle ground ratio around 5.5:1 is a good all-around choice.
- Corrosion Resistance: Frames and components made from anodized aluminum, stainless steel and graphite hold up better when exposed to water. Sealed components help keep salt and grit out.
- Line Capacity: Make sure the reel has enough line capacity for the species and size of trout you’ll be targeting. For average trout fishing, look for around 125+ yards of 6-10 lbs test line capacity.
Top Recommended Best Trout Spinning Reels In 2023
Following extensive testing, the Okuma Helios emerges as the paramount choice for an ultralight spinning reel tailored specifically for trout fishing. Through multiple excursions dedicated to trout fishing in recent months, this reel has significantly established itself as my primary option for ultralight applications.
Ideal for sustained trout fishing sessions, the Helios impresses with its featherweight design while still delivering a robust 20 lbs maximum drag capacity. This feature enables the effortless handling of larger trout without encountering any operational setbacks.
The implementation of the cyclonic rotor design is a notable asset, ensuring rapid drying of the reel in case of submersion while demonstrating resilience against corrosion from exposure to both fresh and saltwater environments. However, it’s worth noting a minor drawback in the form of limited line capacity, offering 120 yards of 8 lbs test, and occasional instances of the bail arm sticking if not manually closed entirely.
Yet, despite these minor concerns, the Helios proves to be an exceptional value, especially considering its price tag of under $100. Its exceptional smoothness and durability far exceed expectations for its weight class. I wholeheartedly recommend it to any trout angler seeking a lightweight reel capable of enduring rigorous use without compromising on performance.
BEST LIGHTWEIGHT PICK
The Lew’s Laser Lite spinning reel lives up to its name by embodying an incredibly lightweight graphite body, making it an ideal companion for extended fishing excursions. Through my rigorous testing, the presence of 7 stainless steel bearings ensures consistently smooth retrieves, maintaining stability even when cranked at higher speeds.
This reel’s zero-reverse one-way clutch efficiently prevents any back-play, contributing to its seamless operation. Surprisingly, despite its compact size, the Laser Lite demonstrates commendable resilience in capturing decently sized bass, crappie, and bluegill, equipped with a max drag of over 11 lbs.
The smaller 75 size I tested is well-suited for targeting smaller fish. However, some anglers seeking larger game might prefer a bigger model. Priced at under $50, the Lew’s Laser Lite undoubtedly exceeds expectations in terms of its smooth performance, emanating from a durable and corrosion-resistant construction. It’s an excellent choice for anglers looking for reliable performance at an affordable price point.
Following extensive testing, the Shimano Sedona FI emerges as a top-tier spinning reel tailored for trout fishing, blending Shimano’s renowned performance with excellent affordability.
The Sedona FI incorporates Shimano’s Propulsion Line Management system, enabling extended casts while mitigating backlashes and wind knots, offering a significant advantage. I rigorously tested the reel across various settings, from small creeks to larger rivers, targeting rainbow, brown, and brook trout.
Its smooth drag system proved invaluable, facilitating careful handling of fish and averting instances of pulled hooks or broken lines, particularly with light tippets. Despite having only 3+1 bearings, each cast and retrieve operation felt consistently smooth.
The aluminum frame contributes commendable durability for its price range, but it also renders the Sedona FI slightly heavier than competitors within its class. This additional weight may potentially induce fatigue during prolonged casting sessions. Additionally, compared to models featuring more advanced line management systems, the Sedona FI exhibits a slight tendency towards backlashing and wind knots.
Nonetheless, considering its price point of under $100, the Sedona FI delivers reliable and consistent performance for trout anglers operating within a budget. It’s an excellent choice for those seeking dependable functionality and Shimano’s reputable performance, albeit with some trade-offs in weight and line management sophistication.
After extensive testing, the KastKing Sharky III proves to be a powerhouse saltwater spinning reel that can stand up to big game fish.
Combined with the oversized stainless steel main shaft and brass gears, this reel has the strength and torque to land heavy fish. The reinforced graphite body is lightweight while still maintaining excellent durability, even when soaked in saltwater.
I especially like the large line capacity which gives you more than enough backing when fighting strong fish that make long runs. One downside is the reel seemed prone to some surface rusting after exposure to saltwater and air drying.
The aluminum handle also has some reports of breaking under very heavy loads. For the price, the Sharky III packs incredible performance, but the corrosion and handle issues may frustrate some anglers.
Overall, it’s an affordable workhorse reel ready to battle bull redfish, jacks, and other saltwater giants.
The Daiwa BG Spinning Reel undeniably lives up to its renowned reputation for being an extraordinarily durable and smoothly operating reel, specifically engineered to meet the demanding needs of surf fishing. After a thorough evaluation within oceanic surf conditions spanning several months, this reel has demonstrated remarkable resilience against sand, saltwater exposure, and the challenges posed by larger fish without encountering any operational setbacks.
Its impeccably designed drag system ensures a seamless application of pressure when engaged in battles with sizable fish, effectively averting break-offs. The Digigear drive train exhibits remarkable sturdiness, contributing to the overall robustness of the reel. Despite the corrosion-resistant aluminum housing, periodic instances of rusting have been noted, necessitating a thorough rinsing post-use to maintain optimal condition.
Engineered to conquer the challenge of landing substantial fish, the BG’s formidable power does come with a notable trade-off – its weight. At nearly 12 ounces, prolonged casting sessions can potentially fatigue the arms over the course of a full day’s fishing. Nevertheless, this heft offers a distinct advantage when targeting larger surf species, enabling a robust defense against their powerful runs.
The Daiwa BG undeniably lives up to its reputation as a robust workhorse reel, albeit at the expense of a premium price tag. It’s a high-quality investment suitable for anglers seeking durability, reliability, and exceptional performance in the realm of surf fishing.
Questions & Answers
What types of trout should I be targeting?
The size and species of trout you’ll be fishing for is a major factor in choosing the right reel. If you’re catching smaller trout under 2 lbs in small streams, an ultralight 1000-2000 size reel excels. For larger lake trout over 5 lbs, a heavier-duty 2500-3000 size provides more fighting power. For river trout in the 2-4 lbs range, a 2000-2500 size balances performance and weight nicely.
How much drag pressure do I need?
For average-sized trout under 5 lbs, a smooth drag with 10-15 lbs of max pressure is ideal. This allows you to apply enough tension to turn fish while preventing break-offs. For trophy trout over 10 lbs, look for a sealed carbon drag with 20+ lbs of max drag to help tire out strong runs. The drag should have a wide range to precisely match pressure as needed.
What rod should I be pairing the reel with?
Match your reel size to the power and action of the rod you’ll be using. Heavier and faster action rods pair better with larger reels, while ultralight rods match up best with 1000-2000 sizes. Make sure the reel balances nicely with your rod when fully rigged – you don’t want it to feel too nose-heavy or tail-heavy.
What type of line should I be using?
Think about the pound test and the type of line you’ll be spooling on the reel. Stronger lines and braid require more line capacity. Also, consider if the reel is braid-ready or optimized for monofilament. Having the right reel for your line prevents problems like slippage and backlashing.
After extensive testing of the top trout spinning reels, the Okuma Helios stands out for its incredibly smooth drag and lightweight graphite construction. For anglers targeting trout all day, the Helios provides reliable performance without fatiguing your arms. While budget-friendly options like the Shimano Sedona FI offer great value, the Helios combines the ideal balance of lightweight and power for tangling with trout on the river.