Spinning Reel Size Chart: How To Choose The Right One

how to choose spinning reel sizes

A good grip on spinning reel sizes guarantees anglers choose the right gear with the capacities for their intended fishing applications. With the loose standards used to classify these reels, some beginners might find this aspect a little complicated.

On top of it, since there are many factors that require their attention while choosing a spinning reel, anglers can easily overlook sizing. 

This article will shed some light on spinning reel sizes, so you can easily pick out the proper specifications for your fishing purposes.

Spinning Reel Sizes Explained

Two classifying systems are being used for spinning reels. Reel manufacturers like Daiwa Penn and Shimano use the 1000s system for their reels.  This system starts at 500, which is the smallest and ultralight size, to 30,000, which is a heavy-duty size that fits all intent and purposes of fishing. 

The other system, used by brands like Pfleuger and Abu Garcia, is relatively similar.

It starts with 10 and moves all the way up to 30, 40, and beyond. While there are some deviations, a reel size of 10 typically corresponds to 1000, and a reel size of 3500 is similar to the size of 3500.

Thus, it should not be confusing when looking at the spinning reel size, as only the first two digits matter. In both systems, the smaller the number indicates the smaller reel. As the number increases, so does the size of the reel.

Spinning Reel Size Chart

Small spinning reels (1000-3500)

Reel SizeMono StrengthBraid StrengthApplicationsRecommended Fish SizeRecommended Species
10002-4lb4-8lbUltra-light and finesse inshore fishing3lb or smallerCrappie, Yellow Perch, Trout, Bluegill
20004-6lb4-8lbUltra-light and finesse inshore fishing5lb or smallerBass, Crappie, Yellow Perch, Trout, Bluegill
25005-8lb5-12lbLight and finesse inshore fishing2-7lbBass, Northern Pike, Walleye
30006-10lb6-14lbLight general purpose inshore
Light surf fishing
2-15lbBass, Northern Pike, Walleye, Catfish
35006-10lb6-14lbLight general purpose inshore
Light surf fishing
2-15lbBass, Northern Pike, Walleye, Catfish

Small-sized reels are meant for inshore fishing, mostly freshwater but sometimes coastal waters. They are generally used for targeting small classes of fish (up to 15lb).

Light fishing rods from 6 to 9 feet are recommended for this size range. small spinning reel

Medium-sized spinning reels (4000-5500)

Reel SizeMono StrengthBraid StrengthApplicationsRecommended Fish SizeRecommended Species
40008-12lb8-20lbMedium freshwater fishing
Medium inshore saltwater fishing
10-20lbMuskie, Catfish, Redfish, Snapper, Snook
45008-12lb8-20lbMedium freshwater fishing
Medium inshore saltwater fishing
10-20lbMuskie, Catfish, Redfish, Snapper, Snook
500010-14lb10-25lbMedium freshwater fishing
Medium inshore saltwater fishing
10-30 lb and upMuskie, Catfish, Redfish, Snapper, Snook
550010-14lb10-25lbMedium freshwater fishing
Medium inshore saltwater fishing
10-30 lb and upMuskie, Catfish, Redfish, Snapper, Snook

Medium-sized reels are sweet spots for many anglers as they offer a wide range of applications. They can tackle inshore fishing of all sorts.

You can also use them for surf, rock, and lighter pier fishing.  This size range can withstand the fight of fish up to 30 pounds.

Medium-size reels are ideal for rods between 7 and 8 feet, which is not overkill for small species like panfish but is still capable of handling big fish.

Large-sized spinning reels (6000-30000)

On the higher spectrum, we have larger, more heavy-duty spinning reels. They are ideal for heavier rods and provide more line capacity for surf fishing, offshore boat fishing, and rock fishing. 

Large-sized reels are suitable for sturdy game rods that are at least 5 feet and surf rods that can run up to 15 feet.  Spinning reels in this size category are pretty identical, meaning that you might not differentiate them by just looking.

For example, a 14,000 reel from a brand can look the same as a 20,000 from another.  For this reason, you should refer to the label or specifications first to make sure the reel can meet your requirements.

Reel SizeMono StrengthBraid StrengthApplicationsRecommended Species
600012-16lb12-30lbMedium inshore fishing
Medium offshore saltwater fishing
Striped Bass, Snook, Salmon, Redfish
650012-16lb12-30lbMedium inshore fishing
Medium offshore saltwater fishing
Striped Bass, Snook, Salmon, Redfish
700014-18lb15-40lbMedium inshore fishing
Medium offshore saltwater fishing
Striped Bass, Snook, Salmon, Redfish
750016-20lb20-50lbMedium inshore fishing
Medium offshore saltwater fishing
Striped Bass, Snook, Salmon, Redfish
800016-20lb20-50lbMedium inshore fishing
Medium offshore saltwater fishing
Wahoo, Dorado, Roosterfish, Amberjack, Barracuda
850018-22lb30-50lbMedium inshore fishing
Medium offshore saltwater fishing
Wahoo, Dorado, Roosterfish, Amberjack, Barracuda
900018-22lb30-50lbMedium inshore fishing
Medium offshore saltwater fishing
Wahoo, Dorado, Roosterfish, Amberjack, Barracuda
950020-25lb30-50lbMedium inshore fishing
Medium offshore saltwater fishing
Wahoo, Dorado, Roosterfish, Amberjack, Barracuda
10,00020-25lb30-60lbMedium or heavy inshore and offshore saltwaterTuna, Dorado, Wahoo, Shark
10,50022-27lb30-60lbMedium or heavy inshore and offshore saltwaterTuna, Dorado, Wahoo, Shark
12,00028lb+30-60lbMedium or heavy inshore and offshore saltwaterTuna, Dorado, Wahoo, Shark
14,00028lb+30-60lbMedium or heavy inshore and offshore saltwaterTuna, Dorado, Wahoo, Shark
16,00032lb+40-70lbMedium or heavy inshore and offshore saltwaterTuna, Dorado, Wahoo, Shark
18,00036lb+40-70lbMedium or heavy inshore and offshore saltwaterTuna, Dorado, Wahoo, Shark
20,00040lb+50-80lbHeavy offshore saltwater fishingLarge Tuna, Sailfish, Giant Trevally, Tarpon
25,00050lb+50-80lbHeavy offshore saltwater fishingLarge Tuna, Sailfish, Giant Trevally, Tarpon
30,00060lb+80-100lbHeavy offshore saltwater fishingLarge Tuna, Sailfish, Giant Trevally, Tarpon

What Is The Best Size Spinning Reel For Bass Fishing

Reel SizeMono StrengthBraid Strength
20004-6lb5-10lb
25005-8lb5-12lb
30006-10lb6-14lb
35006-10lb6-14lb

Spinning reel sizes for catching Bass can range from 2000 to 3500, depending on the angler’s fishing techniques: Finesse fishing, for example, requires a 2000 size spinning reel, which is perfect for ultralight lures. However, heavier applications at which crankbaits are used need larger reel sizes, such as a 3000 or 3500. 

The range of 2500-3000 is the sweet spot for many anglers, especially for those just starting bass fishing with spinning reels.

One of the things we love about Bass is that they won’t run as long as other game fish. As a result, you won’t always need a large-sized spinning reel to target large Bass.

A 2000 spinning reel can wrestle with an 8-pound bass without any troubles, and a 3000 spinning reel can hold enough lines to deal with Bass of most sizes. In certain circumstances, anglers can use a 4000 reel for bass fishing, however. It is when they are catching a trophy size bass in unfavorable conditions.

What Size Reel Should You Use For Surf Fishing, Saltwater?

Spinning reel sizes for saltwater and surf fishing Because surf fishing involves greater casting distance, spinning reels are generally of large size to provide greater line capacity. There is also a wide range of fish, from small Whiting flounder to even sharks, so there’s no single recommendation for the best surf fishing reel size. 

For surf fishing, anglers usually have medium to large spinning reels in their arsenal. The most common choice is the 5000 size reel, but many situations call for up to 20,000 size reel. 

On rare occasions, when the surf is down at the shore break, you can use a 3000. This small size can be your last resort if you don’t have anything else in your tackle box.

Yet, it feels pretty small in normal conditions, and the casting distance is likely to suffer.  A 5000-size spinning reel covers a broad spectrum of fish, such as bluefish and stripers, and remains effective when monster fish take the bait. This size can withstand up to 30+ pounds of fish. 

Shimano VanFord C5000XG Besides, this size offers you greater spool capacity and works effectively with a longer rod, which is all you need to get past that “third breaker”. 

For bigger fish, the choice can run from 7000 to 20,000. While a larger size provides greater casting distance and more control over large fish, it can cause fatigue.

On the other hand, a 5000-size spinning reel can give you a good start for beginners.

What Size Reel Should You Use For Trout Fishing?

Reel sizes for trout

Trout are by no means giant fish, so you don’t need a large reel and huge drag capacity.

This species generally weighs from 2 to 8 pounds. For this reason, most spinning reels for catching trout are from 1000 to 2500, and size 3000 and up would be overkill. 

Most trout fishing demands an ultralight setup. Here is a basic guideline for you to put together a trout combo that works:

  • Reel size: 1000 to 2500
  • Rod: ultralight power rating
  • Line: 2-6lb or 6-10lb monofilament

The size 1000 typically works best with a light fishing line. Anglers usually pair it with a monofilament line of 2-6lb. For large trout, a 2500 spinning reel might be the way to go. It is best used with a 6-10lb line-breaking strain.

Shimano Alivio 1000 While choosing a spinning reel for trout, it pays to consider the body of water you’re going to fish.

Catching trout in small water areas necessitates a more finesse-style setup than fishing in large rivers.  If it’s just small rivers, there is no need to go over the 1000 size, and a 6-foot rod is a good choice in this situation. Meanwhile, fishing trout in large rivers means you need a larger reel and a rod with a heavier line.

What Size Reel For Beginners?

Reel Sizes For Beginners

There is no spinning reel size for “beginners”. As mentioned, you should factor in where you’re going to fish and the species you’re targeting. 

Often, people rely on the fishing line size to choose the right spinning reel size. For example, jigging smallmouth bass or walleye often needs an average line strength of 8lb.

So it is recommended to go for a spinning reel size that matches this rating. 

So if you’re new to a spinning reel, you can take a look at our spinning reel size charts to determine the right choice for you.  It is worth mentioning that bigger reels are often harder to handle.

In addition, they hold more lines and involve heavier casting techniques, making them not the right choice for new anglers.

While bigger reels are made for catching bigger fish, that doesn’t mean you should select the largest option you can find. Weight increases with size, which can affect how long you can put up your fights.

FAQs

Choosing the right spinning reel comes down to the fishing applications and comfort. By answering the questions below, you can pick for yourself the right reel size:
  • Are you going to fish in freshwater or saltwater?
  • What species are you going to catch?
  • What size of fish do you target?
  • What line strength do you want to use?
  • Does the reel size fit the rod you’re using?
  • Does it fit your hand?
Usually, if you fish in saltwater, you’ll need a larger spinning reel to deal with stronger lines and bigger fish. Your spinning reel should also have more line capacity as saltwater species often make longer runs than their freshwater counterparts. In general, the size of spinning reels should correspond to the targeted fish size. For example, a 1000 size spinning reel should be capable of catching small species like Trout or Bluegill, whereas fishing larger fish such as Catfish requires a larger spinning reel (a 5500 is recommended).  Here is a loose guide on the size that suits you the most depending on your purposes: If you’re keen on sports fishing, start small at 1000 if you want to put your skills to the test.  For small classes of freshwater fish, like Bass and bluegill, a 3000 spinning reel will cover most of the jobs.  Saltwater anglers should go bigger, starting at 3000 if they go inshore fishing. Move higher on the sizing spectrum if you aim for massive species.  If you’re a serious angler, having these spin reels in your arsenals would pay off in the long run:
  • A 3000 reel to catch virtually everything inshore, both freshwater and saltwater.
  • A 5000 reel for heavier inshore applications also serves surf fishing. 
  • The last one, anything from 8000 to 10,000 if your eyes are on some trophy, awe-worthy fish.  
As mentioned above, spinning reel sizes fall into different categories, from small, medium, to large. In the 1000s labeling system, the size can jump at 500 or 1000 increments to match a wide range of applications.
Depending on your purposes, the most common size may vary:
  • Surf fishing spinning reels commonly range from 5000 to 8000, and the most widely used size is 6000. 
  • Bass fishing spinning reels are usually at 2500. Thanks to its versatility, this size is the sweet spot of many people. 
  • For trout fishing, the popular size ranges from 1000 to 2500, depending on the body of water you’re going to jig.
If you want a specific number, we would say a reel size of 4000 or 5000 can cover the majority of your fishing if you’ve just started. You can downsize a bit for freshwater fishing to 3000.  But, remember that if you have a species you want to catch or the type of application in mind, it’s best to base on them to find out the right specifications. 
A 3000 or 30 size spinning reel is on the large side. You can pair it with rod size ranging from 6’ to 7’5”. The recommended monofilament line strength is 6 to 10 pounds, and the braided line strength is 6 to 14 pounds.  This size is commonly used for light fishing in lakes, rivers, bays, and harbors. It works best with Bass, Bream, Tarwhine, Flathead, KG Whiting, etc.  A 30 spinning reel features a larger spool, thus a greater casting distance. However, it might be unnecessarily large for some anglers and not the most lightweight option many people prefer.

Conclusion 

Understanding spinning reel sizes might seem intimidating at first. Yet, with all the information presented here and a conversation with a pro at your local tackle shop, you can make your decision with more confidence. 

The golden rule is small reels for small fish and big reels for big fish (although some exceptions).

Your reel size has an intricate link with the line strength, spool capacity, and the fish species you’re going to catch.

While some new anglers often overlook this factor, pinpointing how big the reel should be can significantly contribute to a successful catch.

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