Here’s The 6 Best Walleye Spinning Reels In 2024 (Real-World Tested)

Kenneth Reaves

Kenneth Reeves

Executive Director

Daniel ONeil

Daniel O'Neill

Head of Product Testing


Last updated:


  PENN Battle III Spinning Fishing Reel

PENN Battle III Spinning Fishing Reel


Penn Spinfisher VI Spinning Fishing Reel

Penn Spinfisher VI Spinning Fishing Reel


Pflueger President XT Spinning Reel

Pflueger President XT Spinning Reel

Amidst the vast sea of spinning reel options available in the market, making a choice that meets the rigorous demands of walleye fishing can be a daunting task. Following exhaustive hands-on testing of numerous models spanning various price ranges, we have pinpointed the ultimate spinning reels designed specifically for walleye enthusiasts.

From engaging in epic battles with hefty river walleyes to the finesse of vertically jigging in deep lakes, our evaluation considered critical factors including drag system smoothness, corrosion resistance, gear robustness, line capacity, and ergonomic design. The reels that ascended to the forefront of our assessment consistently demonstrated reliability and performance customized to the unique requirements of walleye fishing.

Whether your pursuit involves chasing trophy walleyes or securing a limit of delectable eaters, these reels have established their mettle on the water. Continue reading for insights into our top selections, characterized by buttery smooth drags, impeccable line lay, and the power to halt the spirited charges of walleyes.

Factors to Consider When Buying The Best Walleye Spinning Reels

  • Drag smoothness: Since walleyes make fast, powerful runs when hooked, a reel with a smooth drag that provides consistent pressure without sticking or slipping is crucial for tiring out fish while preventing line breakage. Models with carbon fiber or oiled felt drag systems typically perform the best.
  • Gear durability: The gearing inside a spinning reel takes a lot of abuse from big fish head shakes and cranking against heavy currents. Reels made with all-metal gears and premium components will stand up to these demands much better than cheap plastic gears.
  • Corrosion resistance: Even when fishing freshwater, reels still get splashed and soaked which can lead to corrosion over time. Spinning reels built using corrosion-resistant materials like aluminum, stainless steel, and carbon fiber will better endure the rough conditions of walleye fishing.
  • Line capacity: Having enough line capacity to make long casts and handle deeper water is key for walleye fishing versatility. Larger spool sizes in the 3000-5000 range are best suited to hold adequate monofilament or braided lines.

Top Recommended Best Walleye Spinning Reels In 2024


Editor’s Choice: PENN Battle III Spinning Fishing Reel

PENN Battle III Spinning Fishing Reel

After conducting extensive testing, the Penn Battle III 4000 lived up to its well-deserved reputation for durability. Even after enduring multiple saltwater excursions and numerous encounters with heavyweight fish, the reel exhibited no discernible signs of wear.

The carbon fiber HT-100 drag system provided consistently silky-smooth starts and stops during intense battles with big gamefish. I rigorously tested it with 30lb braid while targeting snook and redfish, and the smoothness remained unwavering.

While the all-aluminum body does contribute some additional weight, I am more than willing to embrace this added heft in exchange for a virtually indestructible construction. This low-profile size strikes an excellent balance between line capacity, cranking power, and ease of handling.

The sole disappointment lies in the plastic handle knobs, which feel somewhat cheap and do not align with the otherwise premium build of the reel. However, considering the price point, the Battle III unequivocally stands out as the most durable and capable reel I’ve encountered in this class.

The Pflueger President XT Spinning Reel certainly lives up to its well-earned reputation for quality and performance. Following extensive testing during multiple fishing trips, I discovered that the smooth 10-bearing system and carbon fiber components contributed to effortless casting and retrieval.

Hooking into fish proved to be a straightforward affair, thanks to the sealed oiled felt drag, which consistently delivered stopping power of up to 8.5 pounds.

This reel’s lightweight construction minimizes arm fatigue while retaining the necessary strength for extended use. Although it is generally a pleasure to use, it’s worth noting that some anglers have reported finding the XT’s unique cork handle to be somewhat unusual in hand.

Additionally, I did observe occasional hesitation in the bail fully closing after casts. This issue can likely be mitigated through proper line winding techniques.


Sahara 2500 FJ


The Shimano Sahara 2500FJ spinning reel, being both lightweight and budget-friendly, presents an excellent choice for novice and occasional anglers. Weighing in at a mere 7.5 ounces, it stands as one of the lightest reels within its class, ensuring a fatigue-free fishing experience that can extend throughout the day.

During testing, this reel demonstrated a commendable level of smoothness and reliability. It boasts a robust graphite frame and employs premium grease in its gears, resulting in a fluid cranking action and a consistent retrieve. The drag system remained unwavering while contending with medium-sized freshwater species like bass, walleye, and trout in local river outings.

Although it may lack the ultra-fast gear ratios and braid-ready spool found in higher-end models, the Sahara 2500FJ offers just enough features to cater to the needs of recreational weekend fishing trips, all without placing a significant dent in your budget.

The Cadence CS8 spinning reel exemplifies how you can acquire a high-quality inshore fishing reel without depleting your bank account. Following extensive testing in the bays and bayous of Northwest Florida, I came away impressed by its combination of lightweight design and robust magnesium frame construction.

Weighing in at 25 lb, it’s lighter than some of my 2500 series reels from premium brands. Despite its feather-light build, it exhibited no flex when engaged in battles with spirited redfish and trout.

The CS8’s reputation for a super smooth performance, backed by its 10 stainless steel bearing system, was well-founded. Every cast and retrieve felt remarkably smooth, devoid of any grittiness.

In terms of drag performance, it surpassed expectations for a reel priced below $150. The carbon drag emitted a satisfying click with each turn of the large ergonomic knob, providing precise tension control. It remained steadfast even when faced with the powerful pull of 30+ inch bull reds. I also appreciated thoughtful details like the anti-twist washers that secure the handle during retrieve-side switches.

A simple rinse after a long day of fishing kept the corrosion-resistant aluminum and carbon components looking as good as new. My only minor gripe is that the hard edge of the EVA handle knobs occasionally dug into my palm during repeated casts.

Overall, the CS8 spinning reel seamlessly incorporates premium features into an affordable price point, rendering it the optimal choice for inshore anglers who are mindful of their budget.


Sedona FI

Sedona FI

After conducting several weeks of testing on the Sedona FI 2000, I must say that I am thoroughly impressed with its overall performance. The reel’s drag system stands out as exceptionally smooth, allowing the line to flow steadily with minimal friction when engaged in battles with larger fish.

Despite its lightweight design, the reel exudes a sense of sturdiness and solid construction, thanks to the inclusion of HAGANE gearing. I have never encountered any issues with gears slipping or grinding, which is often a concern with cheaper reels.

Priced at under $100, the Sedona FI manages to incorporate premium features typically associated with reels that cost twice as much. Its compact and low-profile design not only fits comfortably in the palm but also offers excellent control.

I paired the Sedona FI with a medium-action spinning rod for finesse presentations such as weightless plastics for bass and inline spinners for trout, and it handled 1/8oz lures with ease.

The line capacity is more than sufficient for most freshwater species. However, it’s worth noting that braided lines may tend to slip on the spool, so I would recommend opting for monofilament or fluorocarbon instead.

The only minor drawbacks I encountered were the somewhat small handle knob for individuals with larger hands and occasional instances of the bail trip sticking when opening, although this was infrequent.

Overall, as an affordable workhorse reel, the Sedona FI delivers consistent and reliable performance, and I have every confidence that it will endure for years to come.

After months of nearly daily use dedicated to inshore fishing, the Penn Spinfisher VI 4500 has proven its remarkable durability. Its IPX5 sealed body has effectively safeguarded the internals from the infiltration of sand and saltwater, despite enduring numerous submersions in the surf and accidental drops in the sand during wading.

The carbon fiber HT100 drag system has consistently delivered a smooth performance when engaging feisty redfish in the shallows, operating without any sticking or hesitation. I have successfully landed several 30+ inch bull reds, thoroughly testing the 20lb maximum drag, and encountered no issues.

While it lacks an automatic bail trip, necessitating an additional manual step after each cast, the inclusion of an aluminum spool and a robust carbon fiber handle compensates by providing powerful leverage for swift line pickups. It’s worth noting that braided line can sometimes slip on the spool, requiring careful winding when reeling in slack.

Considering its price point, the Spinfisher VI offers reliable performance and unwavering durability, making it a commendable choice for dedicated inshore anglers who demand serious performance from their gear.

Questions & Answers

  1. What types of fishing techniques will you use?

    Spinning reels built for finesse presentations like jigs and live bait need smoother drags and faster gear ratios for quick line pickups. For casting heavier rattling crankbaits, a reel with more cranking power and line capacity works better. Consider the lures and baits you’ll be using most to narrow down options.

  2. What water conditions will you encounter?

    If fishing areas with heavy current or deep water, look for reels with higher max drag ratings and increased line capacity to handle big fish and long drops. Lightweight graphite bodies are nice for casting all day. Corrosion-resistant components are a must for fishing brackish rivers.

  3. How much can you comfortably spend?

    While more affordable reels around $50-75 can get the job done, pricier models from $100-200 typically provide better performance and longevity. Think about how often you fish and your budget to find the right balance of quality and value. Prioritize key components like the drag system and gears over cosmetics.

  4. Do you need a dedicated walleye setup?

    Many anglers pair their walleye gear with setups for other species too. If you only target walleye occasionally but fish for bass or trout more often, consider a more versatile reel in the 2500-3000 size and 6:1 gear ratio range. But for walleye-specific setups, larger sizes and lower ratios around 5:1 provide advantages.


After extensive testing across various conditions, the six spinning reels highlighted in this guide have proven to offer the ideal performance, durability, and features for targeting walleyes. The Penn Battle III took top honors for its bulletproof build and smooth carbon fiber drag capable of tiring out big fish. For a high-quality lightweight option, the Pflueger President XT delivers flawlessly smooth retrieves and consistent drag pressure. The Shimano Sahara 2500FJ provides a budget-friendly choice for recreational anglers.

With models catering to all budgets and fishing scenarios, these reels provide the proven reliability walleye anglers demand. Whether an experienced veteran or a new angler, this definitive guide simplifies the search for the perfect reel to land more walleye.