You can get excellent trout fishing chances across the state when discovering thousands of miles of creeks and streams.
And if you don’t mind traveling farther in the 3,000 miles of streams in New York, be ready for the endless sources of rainbow and brown trout.
Fly fishing requires a long rod, which is often at least nine feet. However, if you don’t like it, consider using a light or ultra-light rod for trout in combination with a small or medium-size spinning reel. Reel sizes under 30 are good.
If you target brown trout, which live in clear, clean water, choose a 2 to 6-pound test fluorocarbon line because its stealth can camouflage through bites.
There are a lot of things to do, right? Don’t worry! Just start with the best spinning reel for trout first, then you can tell which gear to bring out the best of your setup.
Here are the best 7 options I have tried. They helped me a lot to score a big catch. Let’s see how they can assist you in landing big trout!
How We Picked The Best Spinning Reels For Trout
When choosing a spinning reel for trout fishing, there are various variables to consider to ensure that you get the best one for your needs. Here are some essential factors to keep in mind:
In terms of benefit, the smaller reel size keeps the overall weight of your trout fishing spinning setup low, while the larger one comes with a larger spool that holds more lines (which can help increase casting distance).
On the other hand, a reel that is too small won’t be able to handle large fish and won’t be able to cast far enough, while a reel that is too large is more likely to create a bird’s nest as well as take time and effort from the angler.
Generally, if you’re fishing for trout in lakes and ponds, a slightly longer rod paired with a larger reel will allow you to cast further. However, if you fish mainly in tiny creeks and streams and don’t need to cast very far, a shorter rod and a smaller reel are frequently the best options.
A rod length between 6 and 7 feet is a great choice, as it can be used for most trout fishing applications.
In most fisheries, fish above 5 pounds are uncommon, and you’ll have more fun catching regular-size trout in the 1 to 2-pound range on ultralight gear than on heavier tackle.
Furthermore, ultralight rod power is an excellent choice for fishing for trout with lightweight fishing lines ranging from 2 to 6-lb test. In heavily fished lakes, it is frequently necessary to use these thin lines to entice bites from wary trout.
A reel will cast smoothly when it has a high-quality ball bearing system. You should look for a guy with at least 4 to 5 ball bearings.
Another feature deciding the smoothness of the reel is the drag system. It should be strong enough to bear the weight of your targeted fish. Otherwise, it causes the line to break.
7 Best Trout Spinning Reels (Comprehensive Reviews)
If you don’t have time or are too busy to choose, consider our quick recommendation:
A remarkably smooth drag system for a reel that is so reasonably priced. For me, the 6 lb maximum drag is more than sufficient for any trout fishing scenario, and the minimal start-up inertia is perfect for fighting fish.
Shimano Vanford F
( Best High-end Reel )
The lightest, smoothest, and most useful spinning reel available. Although pricey, it offers the highest level of comfort and quality for trout fishing. A reel that thrives in practically any circumstance combines an incredibly light construction with strong drag and sealed internals.
A tough, workhorse reel that will give you many years of enjoyable fishing. From the lightweight magnesium frame and rotor to the sealed carbon inlay drag mechanism, this reel feels sturdy but lightweight in your hands.
1. Pflueger President – Best Overall
- Color: Multi
- Weight: 204 grams
- Material: Aluminum
- Handle: Stainless steel
- Bearing: 7+1
- Max drag: 10 pounds
Line capacity yd/lb: 200/2, 100/4, 80/6
Pflueger has been in business since 1916, and for good reason – their reels are all reliable.
In fact, the Pflueger President does not provide optimum performance. Yet, it flawlessly blends a lightweight design with durable capability, providing you with remarkable functionality while having a low price tag.
There is a size for every type of fishing, but the 20-size reel works particularly well for trout fishing. Featuring a graphite structure, the reel significantly reduces weight and enables you to pair a slightly larger reel with ultralight rods while maintaining wonderful balance.
Another outstanding feature is the fully sealed drag system. Although sealed drags are often found in reels made for use in saltwater, having one in your trout reel offers several distinct benefits.
One of the most typical and prevalent methods for pursuing trout is donning the best waders and wading into the river, which exposes your equipment to many kinds of possible risks. Your reel can stay smoother and cleaner by having a sealed drag that keeps river grit and dirt out of the drag system.
Also, with the aluminum handle and soft touch rubber knob, the reel is ideal for both right and left-handed anglers. Moreover, never underestimate the combined 7-ball bearing system with Instant Anti-Reverse either. You can be confident that everything will work smoothly for every fishing session thanks to this feature.
- Fully sealed drag
- Reasonable price
- Very smooth
- Low line capacity
- Low maximum drag
Matching Rod Recommendation For Trout: Pflueger President 25 series
The combination is perfect as we have a medium light extra fast 7’ 2” St. Croix pitching 1/4 oz leech spoon.
I recently caught a 25″ rainbow trout that weighted 6 pounds, and this small reel was fantastic on it. We fish for the majority of the year, from April to December, and the spinning reels are still working smoothly and effectively.
2. SHIMANO Vanford F (Best High-end Reel)
- Color: Black
- Weight: 150 grams
- Material: Carbon
- Bearing: 7+1
- Max drag: 7 pounds
- Line capacity: 95/10, 75/15, 65/20
If budget is not a consideration of yours and you are looking for a high-end reel, the Shimano Vanford F would be an ideal option.
Normally, I don’t judge things by their appearance, but this reel is stylish with a matte black finish and red accents. However, paying a high price is useless without effectiveness. Fortunately, the technology is just as amazing.
The new Vanford pushes the limits of spinning reel engineering after more than ten years of technological development and a long line of predecessors. This model takes pride in using CI4+ for a lightweight feel and carbon rigidity, a cutting-edge substance that is 2.5 times stronger than CI4.
Combined with a MagnumLite (MGL) Rotor with up to 48% less rotational inertia than typical rotor construction, Vanford offers rapid responses in urgent conditions.
And what’s more?
Despite the increased rigidity, the reel is incredibly lightweight. The line roller and titanium ball work together to create a rotor with the perfect thickness and high level of sensitivity. As a result, this spinning reel will notify you whenever a trout takes a bite.
Of course, it would be a mistake to overlook Vanford F’s noise-free performance. The manufacturers include the well-tested worm shaft, worm shaft pin, driving gear, and worm shaft gear, which eliminate any undesired sounds.
Even so, Vanford F still has its drawbacks. The line capacity of Vanford F sizes 4000 and 5000 is the same, which means the larger versions of this model are identical despite the claim that they are different.
What We Like
As mentioned earlier, Vanford has a MagnumLite rotor, Micro Module Gear II, and a Long Stroke spool. Though the spool material on the reels is unimportant and has no effect on the transmission distance, the more expensive reels would obviously go for lighter-weight materials to save weight.
Anyway, either should be OK if you often fish for trout, as long as it balances nicely with your rod. For finesse, I would go with Vanford. The lightweight combo is well-suited for finesse and is easier on yourself.
Matching Rod’s Recommendation For Trout:
The Vanford Series 1000 is a finesse fishing reel that can be spooled with braided lines ranging from 2 to 6 lbs. For optimum performance, a light graphite rod rated between 1-4kg should be used in conjunction with the reel.
- A sturdy and lightweight frame
- MGL rotor for sensitivity and smoothness
- High price
- Low line capacity
3. Pflueger Supreme (Best For Smoothness)
- Color: Multi
- Weight: 170 grams
- Material: Aluminum
- Bearing: 10+1
- Max drag: 8 pounds
- Line capacity: 220/2, 110/4, 90/6
The Pflueger Supreme is one of the lightest spinning reels in its class, and many anglers consider it a solid choice for a mid-priced spinning reel.
At the heart of the reel is the magnesium body, together with the rotor and side plate, which are extremely lightweight and durable. It can stand up to years of fishing as long as it is maintained with a fast freshwater rinse after each trip.
Thus, the aluminum spool has machine-ported sides to decrease weight and is double-anodized for corrosion resistance. At the top of the spool, you will find a sealed carbon fiber drag system that assists in keeping out dirt and saltwater and will not overheat when you hook on to that giant fish.
And don’t overlook the best enhancement of the Pflueger Supreme, the ten stainless steel ball bearings that are corrosion-resistant, which create a very smooth overall feel.
What we like
I use little jigs to bank fish for them and creek fish from my kayak. Pflueger Supreme 25 or 30 series have been my top picks for trout reels over the years. Another great thing about this spinning reel is that it’s one of the lightest ones we’ve evaluated, weighing just 7.5 ounces.
All in all, the Supreme is ideal for people searching for a reel for trout fishing due to its lightweight design.
Matching Rod Recommendation For Trout:
Since the Supreme is a lighter-weight reel, you may want to pair it with a lightweight rod. For us, the Abu Garcia Veritas with the Ugly Stik Elite is the best all-around solution.
- Smooth, sealed carbon drag system
- The bail roller might tangle with braided lines
- A little more difficult to disassemble for cleaning than some reels
4. Daiwa Regal LT
- Color: Blue
- Weight: 190 grams
- Material: Composite
- Bearing: 9+1
- Max drag: 11 pounds
Next up, the fourth item we would like to introduce to you is the Daiwa Regal LT. If your budget doesn’t allow you to spend too much on trout fishing, feel free to use the Regal LT. For no more than $70, you can now own one of the smoothest spinning reels in the fishing market. Such a good deal, right?
So let’s take a step-by-step look at each of its potentials.
First of all, Daiwa Regal attracts anglers with its lightweight design thanks to the Air Rotor System (ARS) and its material. ARS is a Daiwa-exclusive technology that makes air rotors 15% lighter than standard air rotors of the same material. In addition, the spool is made of carbon fiber, the lightest substance.
The combination of ARS and light carbon fiber makes the Regal LT an extremely light reel. There are only 2 other spinning reels for trout that are lighter than this one. However, both are more than twice as expensive.
In terms of the drag system, if you use size 3000, even massive fish won’t be a problem for it. With a smooth drag of a maximum of 22 pounds, you may confidently fish without worrying about the size of the trout on your hook.
Finally, the 9+1 bearings, together with a desirable gear ratio of 5:1 will give you the next level of smoothness.
To be fair, you don’t come across such a fantastic reel every day. Even more unusual is finding it for such a low price. Therefore, the Daiwa Regal LT is such great all-around gear that you should give it a try.
What we like
When comparing the reels, the important characteristics that I, as a troutman, would think to consider (such as line recovery, drag, number of bearings, and weight) would appear to favor the cheaper reel over the more expensive Shimano Vanford F and Pflueger Supreme.
I see the Regal LT has 3 additional bearings, more than 2x the drag, but only weighs 0.2 oz heavier. It only costs half the price compared to these two reels while having 34.5’’ (IPT) of line recovery per turn.
- Low price
- Extremely smooth and lightweight (compared to others in this price range)
- Can withstand harsh conditions
- Won’t outperform more expensive spinning reels
5. Abu Garcia Revo SX ( Best High-Performance Reel)
- Color: Black, Red
- Weight: 340 grams
- Material: Blend
- Bearing: 8+1
- Max drag: 11 – 17 pounds
- Line capacity: 120/8 (size 20), 230/10 (size 40)
While targeting trout with spinning gear is fantastic because it frequently does not require high-end performance, there is something to be said about having a reel that you know is built to be used by professionals.
For a surprisingly low cost for its class, the Revo X offers you high-level performance capabilities and functionality. You won’t have to worry much about wear and tear because of the high-quality material. So ready to grab it for your trout fishing trip for years.
Additionally, when selecting their reels, some anglers could forget to consider line management. We’re hoping you’re not a member of this crowd. The Abu reel’s ability to eliminate line problems is another of its most outstanding features. But how is that possible?
When dealing with wind knots or other frequent line difficulties, the lighter line commonly utilized for trout fishing can be particularly nasty. A reel that lays line evenly can help you avoid wasting a lot of time and effort trying to untangle a bird’s nest.
With its Rocket Line Management System, which was created expressly to assist in laying lines of all sizes consistently and neatly throughout the day, the Revo X shines in this regard.
The drag system is the next feature I love when using this reel. It works smoothly and effectively with light lines.
If you’re going fishing, bring a 10-size reel with you to catch huge trout. The larger sizes can also be useful, but only if you’re pursuing large lake-run trout or using long poles.
What we like
If you want something sturdy, a workhorse in conquering large trout, even a steelhead, the Abu is a strong point in delivering performance.
The Revo SX has incredible drag. I intentionally cast steelhead in April on the main branch of the Lake Erie Cattaraugus to do testing using the Abu Revo Sx. With this reel, I have specifically been pursuing Steelhead, and the results have been fantastic.
As the fish move swiftly toward deeper water, the drag functions with amazing smoothness and starts without any delay. Although it has lots of finesse when battling bigger fish in open water, it has enough muscle to lure fish out of cover.
- A sturdy build
- Smooth drag system
- Excellent line management
- Quite heavy
6. Okuma Ceymar Graphite ( Best Lightweight )
- Color: Black/Red
- Fishing technique: Spinning
- Weight: 0.5 pounds
- Material: Synthetic
- Handle: Aluminum
- Bearing: Stainless steel
- Max drag: 18 pounds
- Line capacity: 210/2, 110/4, or 70/6
Additionally, consider this reel first if the price is your top concern. But do not be concerned about the quality when buying it. I will tell you why right now.
This reel has a smooth performance and sleek design that can bring you a fantastic experience. One of the best features of it is the eight-bearing drive system.
You will also love the rigid aluminum spool as a powerful foundation for your fishing line. However, its body isn’t 100% aluminum construction.
I love how this reel can spin evenly at high speeds without wobbling. Moreover, it gives me complete control over my reel thanks to the forged handle arm. The handle knobs are comfortable, too, but sometimes a little bit flimsy.
Okuma Ceymar reels come in multiple sizes. While C-30 and C-40 are excellent for freshwater fishing, C-55 performs better for inshore saltwater fishing.
If you target trout, I highly recommend the 10-size reel in bait feeder and conventional spinning reel options. But if you want to drift your live lures drag-free, consider the bait feeders.
Choosing the right line for your reel is essential as well. If you select the size 10 for your trout fishing trip, pair it with a 2 to 6-pound test line. Then, pick up an ultra-light rod to complete your setup.
- Powerful eight-bearing drive system
- Rigid aluminum spool
- Ability to spin at high speeds without wobbling
- Flimsy handle
7. Penn Pursuit III (Best Durability)
- Color: Black/Silver
- Fishing technique: Spinning
- Weight: 0.76 pounds
- Material: Graphite and stainless steel
- Handle: Stainless steel
- Bearing: Stainless steel
- Max drag: 15 pounds
- Line capacity: 255/6, 175/8, or 140/10
The PENN reel comes with many features which make it worth considering. Among them, I like its HT 100 drag system best. It’s tough but can create a smooth operation in the water.
Moreover, it helps you pick up your line quickly, even with a big trout hooked.
And like other reels, the PENN product of a small size is the best for your trout fishing. Its 25 size is lightweight enough to handle easily.
Unfortunately, even when you choose a lightweight version, this reel is still heavier than other options on the list. So, ensure you can control it properly to take full advantage of it.
The graphite body is also a good feature that encourages you to buy this reel. I’m a big fan of graphite because it reduces the reel’s price while increasing its longevity.
Finally, if the feel is your priority, you will fall in love with the PENN reel. I have used it for a long time, and I can’t tell you how solid and smooth it feels in my hands. This feature must be one of its most outstanding benefits.
- HT 100 drag system
- Graphite body
- Solid and smooth feel
- Heavier than other options
What To Look For When Buying The Best Spinning Reel For Trout
If you have no experience shopping for spinning reels before, it might be difficult trying to tell the differences between seemingly identical items.
In this case, it is best that you learn more about the build quality and specifications of reels in general.
This way, you are more inclined to understand what the packages say, which product is designed for separate fishing purposes, and how you can find a spinning reel worth buying.
Body and weight
The build quality is probably the most important factor that decides whether your reel functions or not. Usually, there are three main substances utilized by most manufacturers, including aluminum alloy, graphite, and plastic. Aluminum is the hardest material, which helps increase the lifespan of spinning reels.
Furthermore, they are firm and can handle heavy loads, making them highly favorable among anglers. However, aluminum spinning reels are cumbersome and can take a toll on your upper body after fishing extensively.
At the same time, graphite is much more lightweight and comfortable to use. It is flexible, elastic, and can be bent moderately. Unfortunately, graphite is not as steady as aluminum. It is also more susceptible to scratches and cuts due to the softer surface.
Plastic is the least popular material compared to the other two.
While it is available in dirt-cheap spinning reels, plastic is not known for its durability or robustness. Plastic reels are likely to collapse after a few times being active, so you might want to stay away from this dread.
Upon realizing the pros and cons of aluminum and graphite, some companies have started to merge the two of them.
Spinning reels with graphite-aluminum composite are gradually flooding the market, claiming to be both feather-light and sturdy. Give them a try if you want the best of both worlds!
The drag system is all about the fish stopping power. When the fish takes a bite, you cannot expect to reel it in without the supported pressure. This is when the drag systems come in handy.
With two variations – front drag and rear drag – drag systems place just enough force on your side so that the fish is trapped. They include two friction plates clasped deep inside the reel.
When the fish tries to yank away from the lures or baits, you will spot how the reel starts rotating backward and stops the line from coming out further.
Subsequently, the line is less prone to snapping, and you can gain more torque. If you are an experienced fisherman, go for reels with the front drag system.
It calls for more skills and finesse, which is not for everyone. But in return, you get to enjoy better overall stability, and the performance tends to be silky smooth. Vice versa, rear drag systems are designed for beginners. Essentially, they are a watered-down version of the front drag, holding much less power. But adjusting the rear drag is easier, as it is more accessible.
Should you remain skeptical about your fishing competence, choose this option for more time to familiarize yourself with how reels work.
Ball bearings are rounded objects, usually made from double shielded metal. They are placed inside the spinning reel to slow down the friction and ensure the smoothness of each cast.
If you ever feel your reel wobbling or shaking when the fishing line starts coming out, this is because the ball bearings have not been effective. Therefore, anglers are particularly picky about a reel’s ball bearings. If they fail to work properly, then fishing may turn out to be much more difficult.
As a rule of thumb, the more ball bearings a reel has, the smoother it becomes. But this does not mean you only have to pay attention to the quantity.
How the reels are made should be one of your concerns as well. Typically, ball bearings rely on stainless steel for their durability. Sometimes, you might come across aluminum alloy ball bearings, though they are not as popular. Either way, make sure your reel has at least 4 to 5 ball bearings and is strong enough to support every movement of the reel.
Last but not least, do not forget to consider your budget. Spinning reels available on the market have a wide price range.
You can buy something as cheap as $20 to more extravagant, high-end models at nearly $200. Many people are tempted to buy a reel as economically as they can, reasoning that it would be saving money. But this cannot be further from the truth.
Cheap reels are synonymous with being poorly constructed and having flimsy materials. If you are serious about being an angler, such products do not last for more than a few months, even when used for light fishing.
That is not to mention how the reels can break down while handling heavier loads, leaving damage on your fishing lines and fishing rod as well. Another point to consider is replacements.
Since you have to buy new reels more frequently to make up for the broken reels, chances are you will have to pay through the nose in the long run.
As a result, you end up wasting more money than anticipated. These reasons are why most anglers are encouraged to invest in a decent spinning reel right from the start.
It does not have to be fancy, heavy-duty reels that go up to hundreds of dollars. Most functional items open for purchases are only within $50 to $80.
While the upfront payment is slightly higher, rest assured that your reels do not go out of order as quickly as other shaky reels. And, of course, having sturdier spinning reels also lends you a helping hand with catching more fish. So, the gains are all yours!
Trout do not have a big and stretchy mouth compared to salmon or bass. Therefore, larger hooks have a lower chance of piercing themselves through the mouth’s corner.
You need to choose hooks no bigger than #12 if you want to reel the fish in successfully.
Once these tiny hooks find their way into the trout, clutching to the corners will be much easier.
Do not let the intimidating appearances of large hooks fool you into favoring them. Sometimes, sizes do not equate to power. Another reason to consider using small hooks is their unsuspicious look.
Usually, trout do not put up a fight when getting hooked.
But they are picky in their diets and tend to get scared even from the slightest tremor in the water. Bigger hooks may come off as too visible, causing trout to swim away.
Therefore, using a lure or bait to hide small hooks makes them appear more natural to wary trout.
- Ultralight or light spinning reel: On average, trout is relatively small. Therefore, reel sizes 1000 to 2500 will be strong enough to reel them in. There is no need to use medium or large reel sizes.
- Light rod at approximately 6 feet long: If the rod is shorter than 6 feet, your casting distance will be severely affected. Simultaneously, fishing rods longer than 6 feet are much more challenging to control.
- Monofilament fishing line: Monofilament line is easily castable, flexible, and more manageable than braided or fluorocarbon lines.
- Light lures and baits: Trout fishing goes well with both baits and lures, as long as they remain tiny enough.
Opinions vary greatly over what material is the best for a trout fishing reel. Some believe it is aluminum alloy, citing its firmness and stability. Others think metal is too heavy and not flexible enough, which means graphite makes a better choice.
And, of course, there are even arguments claiming plastic to be the best substance.
They say that while the material is cheap and flimsy, it is actually quite impact-resistance if used wisely.
If you are confused over which material to choose, let’s stick to the following advice.
For beginners who have yet to master trout fishing, graphite will work better. The material is bendable, leaving plenty of room for amateur movements.
Even when you accidentally swing the rod too swiftly or turn the handle clumsily, the reel will not break on the spot. Graphite reels offer a learning experience so that you can gradually get to know fishing better.
On the other hand, choose aluminum spinning reels if you are confident about your fishing expertise.
These reels are potent and vigorous, which match the performance of trout enthusiasts.
They can be rather hefty and difficult to use in the first place. But once you control the reel, rest assured that aluminum can bring about steady results that other materials do not have.
In some rare circumstances, you will be lucky enough to come across graphite - aluminum composite spinning reels. Such hybrid reels share the vigor of metal but remain responsive enough.
They are also less heavy than purely aluminum reels. The only nuisance is that not many manufacturers have hybrid reels in their catalog. Thus, your choice will be extremely limited.
At the end of the day, the question is not which material makes the best frame for spinning reels.
Rather, it is which material makes the most suitable frame for you. Spend some time contemplating your fish preferences and determine which will suit you.
Having the best spinning reel for trout is sufficient to help you could ask for before going fishing. When your tackle box is assembled appropriately, you stand a higher chance of landing bigger fish.
So, make sure you understand the pros and cons of each option, then proceed to make the final purchase!
Born in Lakeland, Florida, Daniel has started fishing since he was just a tiny little kid. His father was a real good fisherman, as he taught Daniel tricks and tips to catch the fish better. From those childhood memories, Daniel has built up his love for fishing. Until now, he has been participating in several bass tournaments and currently serves as the Chief Editor of fishingonsunday.com to share his precious knowledge and experiences with many more people.