Top Fishing Reel Brands That You Should Know

Kristian Ole

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Finding the top fishing reel brands is not that difficult if you know what to look for. Some of the best fishing reel companies have carved a niche for themselves and ensure you get the best when investing in their fishing reels. Typically, when you are checking out the best brands, it is advisable to consider the durability, quality, customer service, technology, and the brand’s ability to adapt to the changing needs of the fishing industry.

While we have made the task easy for you by shortlisting the 10 best fishing reel brands, we have gone further and included their best reel. That way, you have a feel of the brand as well as the fishing reel, and you will be better informed to make a wise purchase decision.

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Brand Founded Our Rating
Penn1932, USA★★★★★
Shimano1921, Japan★★★★★
Abu Garcia1921, Sweden★★★★★
Daiwa1958, Japan★★★★☆
Okuma1986, Taiwan★★★★☆
Pflueger1881, USA★★★★☆
Kastking2011, USA★★★☆☆
Lew’s1949, USA★★★★☆
Piscifun2013, USA★★★☆☆
Zebco1949, USA★★★★☆

So, without much ado, here are the best reel brands that you should be aware of:

1. Penn Fishing

Penn Fishing was established in 1932 by Otto Henze and ever since it has been at the helm of innovative and functional reel designs.

Henze’s journey started at the tender age of 25 in 1922, when he came to the US from Germany to work for the Ocean City Reels based in Philadelphia. He joined the company as a machinist. Henze was not content being a machinist, as he dreamed of creating his own fishing reels that would wow people worldwide. So, in 1932, Henze resigned from his job at Ocean City Reels and founded his own company – Penn Fishing.

The company started selling reels in 1933. The reels were Sea Hawk, Bayside, and Long Beach. Penn sold one of each reel in 1933, the company’s first sale. This paves the way for the Senator, Penn’s most well-known fishing reel. The Senator was introduced in 1936 and became an instant success and it could easily tackle big and powerful fish without any problem.

Today, Penn Fishing is a leader saltwater fishing reel, and one of the best fishing reels it offers is the Battle Spinning Reel and the Senator, which is now available in around 220 unique models.

Our top pick: Penn Battle Spinning Reel

Features:

  • Spinning fishing reel
  • Made for saltwater fishing of big game fish
  • Body made completely from metal
  • Bail wire is made from heavy-duty aluminum
  • Designed for durability
  • Drag system made from carbon fiber
  • Power yet smooth drag
  • Comes braid ready
  • Ball bearings made from stainless steel
  • Has an anti-reverse ball bearing

2. Shimano

Shimano logo

Shimano started in 1921 as a bicycle parts manufacturer based in Sakai City. It was started by Shozaburo Shimano when he was merely 26 years old. Using a borrowed lathe, Shimano began manufacturing bicycle freewheels in 1922.

Shimano realized in the early years that precision engineering and innovation is the way forward. The brand persevered in this direction and was a pioneer in developing in-hub gear systems. From Japan, Shimano started going global, and in 1970, its US company ventured into manufacturing fishing reels. The reels were instantaneously successful.  

The brand is considered among the top fishing manufacturers and is renowned for its high-quality and innovative designs. One of its most well-known fishing reels is Sedona Spinning Reel.

Our top pick: Shimano Sedona Spinning Reel

Features:

  • Comes with Hagane gears
  • Ideal for freshwater fishing
  • Has double anodized spools that are machine cut
  • Compact body design
  • Enables longer casting distances
  • Maximum drag of 24lb
  • Durable and long-lasting
  • Can be used for inshore or offshore freshwater fishing

3. Abu Garcia

abu garcia logo

As one of the best fishing reel brands, Abu Garcia has some of the best baitcasting fishing reels. The company was founded in 1921 in Sweden and initially used to manufacture pocket watches, taximeters, and phone timers. The company was started by Carl August Borgstrom, who had excellent light precision engineering skills.

During the Second World War, there was a reduced demand for taxi meters, and Abu Garcia, known as AB Urfabriken, shifted to manufacturing fishing reels. The focus of the brand was on superior quality and craftsmanship. Its first fishing reel was introduced in 1941, and ever since, the company has never looked back and forged a name for itself in the world of fishing reels.

The company’s name changed to Abu Garcia after AB Urfabriken (ABU) merged with Garcia, a US-based distributor. Today, it is among the leading fishing reel brands in the world and offers anglers innovative, high-quality, and long-lasting fishing reels. While the brand produces a range of fishing reels, one of the best is the low-profile baitcasting reel.

Our top pick: Abu Garcia Low Profile Baitcasting Reel

Features:

  • Baitcasting fishing reel
  • Lightweight at just 0.03kg
  • Frame made from a single piece of graphite
  • Side plates
  • Highly sensitive
  • Strong and durable
  • Ensures accurate casting of the line
  • The handle comes with an ergonomic grip
  • Four ball bearings made from stainless steel
  • Spool made from machined aluminum

4. Daiwa

daiwa logo

Daiwa is the brand under which all fishing products by Globeride Inc are sold worldwide. The company was previously known as Daiwa Seiko Corporation, but in October 2009, it changed its name to Globeride. The original company was founded in 1958 in Japan.

In the beginning, Daiwa focused just on spinning reels and ensured anglers had access to high-quality reels that were durable and well-built. The brand started growing steadily, and it decided to open a sales office in Culver City in, California. This was a masterstroke as Daiwa was able to capture a large portion of the market share in the Western Hemisphere, establishing the brand as one of the good fishing reel brands in the world.

While the brand focuses primarily on freshwater fishing reels, it has a few reels for saltwater. The latter are considered high-end reels and come with innovation that is seldom seen in the fishing tackle industry. Most of Daiwa’s freshwater fishing reels are spinning and baitcasting reels, but it also has a few trolling and fly fishing reels. Daiwa is an innovative brand that emphasizes craftsmanship, durability, and quality.

Our top pick: Daiwa BG3000

Features:

  • Lightweight, the reel weighs merely 0.25lb
  • The housing of the reel made from black anodized aluminum
  • The handle is a screw-in type
  • Ergonomic grip
  • ABS spool
  • The spool is braided line ready
  • Comes with a manual return bai
  • Has a drag of 15.4
  • Gear ratio is 5.6:1
  • Compact but effective for big game freshwater fish

5. Okuma

okuma logo

If you are looking for good fishing reel brands, you cannot go wrong with Okuma. You can find budget reels replete with practical and functional features when fishing and angling. This Japanese brand is one of the newcomers in fishing reels. It entered the market in the 1980s even though it has been around since 1898 when it used to make noodle-making machines.

The product development is done in the US, but the manufacturing unit is based in Taiwan. That enables the brand to come up with innovative products for affordable prices. It keeps abreast of the fishing trends in the US and caters accordingly. You can get fishing reels that are simple in design and perfect for beginners or overly complex fishing reels that are best for seasoned and experienced anglers.

Okuma boasts a range of fishing reels to suit the needs of different anglers. You can get spinning reels, baitcasting reels, freshwater reels, saltwater reels, and fly fishing reels. You will be surprised to see that the price has not affected quality, and even today, Okuma reels are used during competitions and tournaments.

Our top pick: Okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel

Features:

  • Comes with Hagane gears
  • Ideal for freshwater fishing
  • Has double anodized spools that are machine cut
  • Compact body design
  • Enables longer casting distances
  • Maximum drag of 24lb
  • Durable and long-lasting
  • Can be used for inshore or offshore freshwater fishing

6. Pflueger

pflueger logo

This is another top fishing reel brand you should check out if you are looking for high-quality rod and reel combos. Pflueger is a tackle and rod brand used by Pure Fishing. The company started as Enterprise Manufacturing Company based in Akron based in Ohio. It was founded in 1880 by Ernest Pflueger, and from the beginning, the brand has concentrated on fishing gear and products. However, in the initial 40 years, the company focused on lures and hooks.

The brand revolutionized artificial fishing lures in 1883 when it pioneered using phosphoric paint on the lures. It became an instant hit and led to an increase in demand for Pflueger fishing lures. These lures used to glow in the dark and aided anglers who enjoyed night fishing. Today, it is one of the US’s largest fishing gear and equipment manufacturers.

It was in 1916 that the brand entered the fishing reel market. The first reel launched by Pflueger was a baitcasting reel immediately loved by anglers. While the brand does not have a wide range of reels, you can be assured of quality and handy features. The fishing reels range from baitcasting and spinning to trolling and fly reels. Most of their reels are designed for freshwater fishing.

Our top pick: Pflueger President Spinning Reel

Features:

  • Comes with corrosion-resistant ball bearings made from stainless steel
  • Seven ball bearing system
  • Body and rotor made from durable and lightweight graphite
  • The spool is braided line ready
  • The drag system is sealed and ensure smooth, unhindered performance
  • Line twisting is minimal, thanks to oscillation gearing
  • Ambidextrous hand orientation
  • Ergonomic handle

7. KastKing

kastking logo

KastKing was the brainchild of college friends studying at Syracuse University. In 2011, the buddies decided to take a break from their MBA program and spend time on Finger Lakes, located in upstate New York. They enjoyed fishing at the lake with fishing tackles that they had borrowed. 

The friends returned to college and came up with the idea of launching a start-up. So this prompted the launch of Eposeidon Outdoor Adventure in March 2013. The company aimed to provide fishers with the best quality fishing tackle at affordable prices. It managed to do that by directly working with manufacturers and doing away with retail space and traditional advertising.

Even today, KastKing focuses on affordable pricing without compromising quality. Besides exceptional fishing reels, the brand has a range of lures, electronics, tools, and accessories. Regarding fishing reels, KastKing has a fine selection of both spinning reels and baitcasting reels.

Our top pick: KastKing Sharky

Features:

  • Can be used in freshwater and saltwater
  • Designed to last
  • Lightweight as it is made from graphite
  • Ideal for fishing trophy fish
  • Pinion gears made from manganese
  • The main shaft is stainless steel
  • Has a water-resistant design that protects the rotor, body, and spool
  • Has an aluminum spool that is braid ready
  • Comfortable aluminum handle
  • Anti-reverse instant lock
  • 10 plus 1 stainless steel ball bearings

8. Lew’s Fishing

lews fishing logo

Lew Childre and his wife, Vivian (also known as Bebe) used to initially sell shrimp as live bait to the local fishermen in Alabama, along the Gulf Coast. This slowly transformed into a tackle store for the fishermen. However, Lew noticed that the bamboo poles he had in his small store were inconsistent. So, he started growing his own bamboo and tempered them so that it retained its shape. However, this was an expensive process, meaning Lew’s bamboo poles were more expensive than the ones in other stores.

This prompted Lew to go to Japan to look for good and affordable Bamboo. Here, he got acquainted with Fuji, a Japanese company that made outstanding components for a fishing rods. Lew and Fuji forged a partnership, and Lew brought Fuji products into America. As his business grew, Lew started innovating more products, leading to his creation of a teardrop-shaped fishing reel. It was a roaring success and was often used with the pistol-grip fishing rods that Lew had created.

Today, Lew’s is famous for different types of fishing reels. While the brand makes mostly baitcasting fishing reels, it does have a few spinning fishing reels that are extremely popular among anglers.

Our top pick: Lew’s Speed Spool LFS Baitcast Reel

Features:

  • Designed for right-handed use
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Frame made from one-piece aluminum
  • The graphite side plate is removable
  • 34mm spool made from anodized aluminum
  • Speed gears are made from solid brass
  • Comfortable aluminum handle
  • Gear ratio is 7.5:1
  • 10 ball-bearing system
  • Comes with Zero Reverse

9. Piscifun

Piscifun logo

Two friends, Peter and Ben, founded Piscifun in 2013. Both had prior experience, with Ben having years of experience in making fishing gear and components. Peter, a hardcore fishing enthusiast, has been traveling around the world and knows the best fishing destinations.

Although this brand is a new entrant, it is one of the most popular fishing brands in the world. It ensures you can always access affordable and superior-quality fishing equipment and gear. The brand’s success lies in making high-quality fishing gear affordable for anglers and enthusiasts.

The brand gets its name from the Latin word Pisci, which means fish, and the English word fun is added to it to ensure that anglers realize they can have fun while fishing and using affordable fishing gear. Piscifun focuses on understanding the needs of its customers and accordingly designing and developing products.

Today, Piscifun offers a wide range of spinning, baitcasting, and fly fishing reels. It also has several other products, such as backpacks and tackle boxes. While this brand is famous for its sealed drag fly fishing reels, it has carved a niche among anglers for large baitcasting reels that come with an open design and can be used in freshwater and saltwater. While its reels are large, they are high-quality and feature-rich.

Our top pick: Piscifun Torrent Baitcasting Reel

Features:

  • Powerful and performance-oriented
  • Comes with an 18lb carbon fiber drag, making it perfect for fishing big or trophy fish
  • Durable and resistant to corrosion
  • Has the quality brass gears
  • Gear ratio of 7.1:1
  • Can be used by beginners and seasoned anglers
  • Comes with double-wind shafts
  • Has a magnetic dial setting of 0 to 10 to do away with backlash
  • Body made from composite graphite
  • Handle made from high-density EVA
  • Comfortable grip

10. Zebco

zebco logo

In 1932, Zebco was initially called the Zero Hour Bomb Company, and it used to manufacture electric time bombs that were used for oil drilling. However, it was R.D. Hull, a watchmaker, who had an epiphany about a fishing reel design after seeing a clerk pull at a string from a spool that was fixed. He brought his design over to Zero Hour Bomb Company. This was instrumental in the world getting its first-ever spin casting fishing reel that did not have a backlash. The first spin-cast fishing reels were launched in 1949. The reel was marketed as being easy to use.

In 1956, the company was asked to send a fishing reel to President Eisenhower. However, security saw the company’s name on the package and immediately dunked it into the water and asked the bomb squad to investigate it. It was then that the company changed its name to Zebco.

Zebco is one of the leading fishing reel manufacturers and offers heavy-duty fishing reels for deep-sea fishing and surf fishing. However, you can also pick up spin-casting fishing reels with a closed-head design, and these are famous for not tangling the line. The brand offers durability and quality, which is evident from the fact that anglers still use some spinning reels manufactured in the 1950s.

Our top pick: Zebco Quantum Spincast Reel

Features:

  • Can be used by men and women
  • Has both left and right hand retrieve
  • Rubberized handle for superior grip and comfort
  • Ideal for freshwater fishing
  • Comes with a red line that makes it visible in the water
  • Has ball bearing
  • Entire assembly covered with stainless steel cover
  • Resistant to corrosion
  • Long-lasting and durable
  • Lightweight
  • Gear ratio of 3.6:1

What to Look at When Buying a Fishing Reel?

If you are looking for a good fishing reel brand, remember that the type of reel you choose will depend on the fishing rod you use. And your fishing rod choice will be based on the kind of fish species you want to catch and your favorite fishing spot.

Prices of fishing reels vary based on the brand name, features, style, functionality, and warranty. So, consider what you are willing to invest, and it is best to create a budget. There are several top fishing reel brands that you check out, and we have listed the top 10 to make it easy for you. We also have listed the most popular fishing reels from these brands. So, you can opt for one or follow the following guide.

Check the Fishing Rod:

Most rods have a series of numbers printed just above the grip. These numbers denote the length of the rod and the best line weight range you should use. The range refers to the weight of the fish that you can catch. Fishing reels, too, have weight categorization; hence, you should ensure that the reel is the right match for your fishing rod. This will help balance the rod and make it easier for you to cast with accuracy. It will also minimize fatigue if you are out fishing for long periods.

Build Quality:

Make sure that you check the build quality of the fishing reel. You don’t want a reel that breaks easily or tangles up the line. Read reviews of other buyers and find out what they are saying. A top brand will focus on quality and ensure you have a long-lasting fishing reel that facilitates fishing rather than being a hindrance.

Brand Name:

It goes without saying that you should carefully check out the brand name. It is advisable to choose a fishing reel from a reputed brand rather than go in for a relatively unknown brand that cannot offer evidence to back its claim. The 10 fishing reel companies listed here offer some of the best fishing reels on the market.

Related read: The best fishing rod brands

Types of Fishing Reels

When you are looking to buy fishing reels, you may get confused about which is the right choice. Here are a few of the most common types of fishing reels.

Spinning Reel:

This is the most versatile fishing reel out of all the reels you will find on the market. It has a whipping action and utilizes a bail-guide system that securely holds the line and wraps it around the spool when you retrieve it.

The spool has a bail positioned across, enabling the line to fall without obstruction. If you pinch the fishing line, it will stay tight around the spool, and you will have to time your cast so the line is at its highest point. During retrieval, just put the bail back into position, and you will be able to enjoy smooth line retrieval.

Most spinning reels come with a drag that you can adjust. The quality of a spinning fishing reel is dependent on the material used and the features it possesses. Remember, the more ball bearings a spinning reel has, the smoother it will perform.

Baitcasting Reel:

This reel is made especially for baitcasting rods. It is best to leave this reel aside if you are not an experienced angler. You need to master this reel, and once you do, you will have control over the line and be able to cast accurately.

The baitcasting reel has a low or round profile. In low profile, you can palm the fishing reel when you cast or retrieve. Hence, it is the choice of sports fishers while fishing big bream, bass, or barramundi. On the other hand, a rounded profile can easily hold more line, which is why it is the perfect choice for fishing species that tend to dash away after taking the bait.

These reels have a braking system that allows you to adjust the tension of the line. You can loosen or tighten the line, and this prevents backlash. Or, you can look for a baitcasting reel that has minimal backlash. You have to adjust the rotation of the spool if you are using weighted lures. That will enable you to cast the line more easily and accurately.

Fly Reel:

This type of fishing reel is meant for use just with fly rods. They usually have a simple design, and you can find brands with complex designs incorporating a lot of modern technology. For instance, the reel can have drag systems that allow you to adjust and minimize drag friction.

When you use this reel, you will have to strip the line from the spool with one hand and use the other to cast the line using a rod. The main purpose of a fly reel is to ensure you have drag if a fish runs off after taking the bait. Usually, a fly reel is designed to balance the weight of a fishing rod while the angler casts the line.

How to Care and Maintain Your Fishing Reel

When buying a reel from one of the top fishing reel companies, it is essential to learn to look after the reel to ensure its longevity and performance.

Whether you go fishing in freshwater or saltwater, you must clean the reel well. The best way to do this is by rinsing it under running tap water. It will remove salt, dirt, and grime that the reel may have collected during your fishing trip.

Make sure that the reel dries thoroughly before you store it away. You can also remove the spool and handle and oil the reel’s moving parts. That way, you don’t have to worry about corrosion or rust. Refrain from opening casings, as you will dislodge springs, washers, and cogs. If you lose one, it will make your reel useless.

Related article: How to use fishing reel grease & oil

Round up

These are the top 10 good fishing reel brands that make superior quality fishing reels that can be used in freshwater or saltwater. We have endeavored to create a fair list with all the details you need to conclude. We have even listed the best fishing reel for each brand so that you know what to expect when you opt for the brand or the reel.

Fishing is a fun, exciting, relaxing sport or hobby. Just like you invest time and effort to buy the best rod, fishing gear, and accessories, you should check out fishing reels. That way, you will always choose the right reel for your fishing needs and ensure you come away happy and satisfied with your trip. That is why you should always opt for the best reel brands, as you will never be disappointed with the performance and durability of their reels.

FAQ

What are the three types of reels?

The three main types of fishing reels are spinning reels, baitcasting reels, and fly reels.

What type of fishing reel is best for beginners?

Spinning reels are often considered the best type of fishing reel for beginners, as they are easy to use and offer good versatility for various types of fishing.

What type of reel is best for freshwater fishing?

Spinning reels are often the preferred choice for freshwater fishing due to their versatility and ease of use. They are suitable for various freshwater fishing techniques and can handle a wide range of lures and baits.

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About Kristian Ole

Kristian Ole Rørbye, a marine biologist and seasoned angler, shares his fishing adventures and expertise on FishingKris. Join him as he explores the world's waters, one cast at a time.