As you know, trout are very small fish.
This means that you’ll want to go for lighter, smaller spinning reels for trout.
This way, you’ll be able to fish all day without feeling pain in the wrist.
Below, I’ll tell you all about the best trout spinning reels and who they’re good for.
Just remember – we’re talking about freshwater trout here, not saltwater trout. Don’t take these spinning reels for saltwater fishing or they will wear down very quickly. (Check #5 for saltwater trout fishing).
1. Best Overall – Pflueger President XT 30
- Weighs 7.4 oz
- 10 lb drag capacity
- 9+1 ball bearings
- 255-yard line capacity
The Pflueger President XT (size 30) is the best trout spinning reel overall.
First of all, the 10 lb drag capacity will be more than enough for even trophy trout, and it could even allow you to catch some small salmon.
Second, this is a light spinning reel, weighing only 7.4 ounces. As you know, having a light spinning reel is very important when trout fishing as you’ll be doing a lot of spinning. Otherwise, you’ll get tired (and sloppy) very quickly.
Third, the durability of this reel is pretty good thanks to its aluminum shaft and carbon fiber handle. I’ve been using mine (the older, non-XT version) for 7 years and it still performs very well.
Finally, smoothness is top-notch thanks to the 9+1 ball bearings. Speed is also pretty good with the 6:2:1 gear ratio.
The only downside is that the line capacity is a bit too much at 255 yards, which means most people will have to spend for fishing line they don’t use. 150 yards would have been more reasonable.
All in all, this has been my favorite spinning reel for trout fishing for 7 years now.
2. Best Premium – Shimano Vanford F
- Weighs 6.3 oz
- Huge 20 lb drag capacity
- 7+1 ball bearings
- 150-yard line capacity
The Shimano Vanford F 2500 is the best spinning reel for small and medium fish like trout, bass, and even salmon.
Weighing only 6.3 ounces, this spinning reel will help you catch trout for hours without ever getting tired.
As expected at this price point, it also has a pretty high 20 lb drag capacity considering the low weight. As mentioned, this will allow you to fish salmon or bigger rainbow trout without any issues.
Obviously, the Shimano Vanfor is as smooth as it gets thanks to 7+1 ball bearings. Speed is similar to the Pflueger President with the 6:1:1 gear ratio.
Durability isn’t even a question. I’ve used mine in freshwater for over 9 years and it’s still looking brand new.
The Shimano Vanford has a perfect 150-yard line capacity, which as mentioned above, will save you a few bucks in unneeded fishing line compared to the Pflueger.
All in all, the Shimano Vanford is the best and most versatile spinning reel, but the main downside is its price tag. Only buy it if you’re ready to invest in a premium product that you’ll use for years.
3. Best Budget – Okuma Ceymar
- Weighs 8.7 oz
- 10 lb drag capacity
- 7+1 ball bearings
- 110-yard line capacity
If you’re on a really tight budget, the Okuma Ceymar 30 is a decent option.
While it’s a bit heavier than our 2 former picks at 8.7 ounces, it’s still good enough for most people.
The drag capacity is more than good enough at 10 lb (size 30) so you can catch the big one without worrying.
Because of the reduced price tag, I wasn’t surprised to find the Okuma Ceymar to be less smooth than the other 2 picks. I’ve still found it smooth enough for an entry-level pick, and much better than other similar-priced reels out there.
The Okuma Ceymar is quite durable overall, although it doesn’t have a full-metal body. Instead, it has an aluminum shaft and a graphite body.
With a 110-yard line capacity, the Okuma Ceymar will help you save money on fishing line. However, it’s true that a slightly longer line would have been helpful in certain situations.
All in all, if you can’t afford the Pflueger President, the Okuma Ceymar is a good alternative.
4. Cheap High-End – Shimano Ultegra FC
- Weighs 6.3 oz
- 6 lb drag capacity
- 5+1 ball bearings
- 110-yard line
If you’re ready to invest a bit more for premium gear but the Shimano Vanford is a bit too much, consider the Shimano Ultegra FC 1000.
At 6.3 ounces, this spinning reel is just as light as the Vanford thanks to its composite frame.
Where you’ll see a difference in the drag capacity, as it’s only 6 lb instead of 20. This is partly due to the price difference, but also to the size difference. If you want a 20 lb drag capacity, you can get the 2500 version, although it weighs significantly more at 7.9 oz.
The good news is you still get an incredibly smooth reel, just as smooth as the Vanford. It has 5+1 ball bearings, but a slower 5:1:1 gear ratio.
Durability is top-notch and I don’t have any complaints here.
The 110-yard line capacity is pretty good for most situations, although as said before, I personally prefer 150 yards.
All in all, the Shimano Ultegra FC is a premium reel that will last for years, without having to spend for the expensive Vanford.
5. Best Saltwater – Penn Battle III
- Weighs 8.8 oz
- 9 lb drag capacity
- 5+1 ball bearings
- 275-yard line capacity
First of all, don’t use any of the aforementioned picks for saltwater.
Why is that?
Simply put, saltwater spinning reels have extreme corrosion resistance that helps them stand the test of time. Freshwater spinning reels will wear off very quickly, especially if you don’t rinse them out properly after each use.
And in this regard, the Penn Battle III is the best spinning reel for saltwater trout fishing. Even if you use and abuse it, it should last you for a very long time.
The size 1000 weighs a respectable 8.8 ounces and provides 9 lb of drag.
The 5+1 ball bearings provide pretty good smoothness. The 5:2:1 gear ratio is a bit slow for my taste, but it’s still fine considering the low price tag.
Finally, I’m not fond of the 275-yard line capacity which is way too much for my use. But as I’ve already said, this is not a deal-breaker.
All in all, the Penn Battle III is a great option for saltwater trout fishing, and significantly cheaper than higher-end options.
How to Choose Trout Spinning Reels: Buying Guide
Size is probably the most important factor when choosing a trout spinning reel. Generally, you’ll want to go for a size 500 or 1000, depending on the length of your rod.
Typically, a size 1000 will suit a 6” rod better, while a size 500 will provide better balance on a 5”7 rod.
For trout fishing, most people go for ultralight spinning reels.
The truth is that your wrist will thank you at the end of the day. Trout fishing requires lots of casting all day, and a heavier reel will put more strain on your wrist.
The good thing is you don’t necessarily need a super expensive reel. Just pick a good one that’s not too heavy, such as the ones included in this article, and that will do the trick.
You generally don’t need more than 7 or 8 pounds of drag for trout fishing.
However, you do need to test your reel to make sure it has good start-up inertia. Having a smooth drag isn’t all, you also need it to kick in fast.
To see if your reel is good enough for trout fishing, hold it and turn the spool until the drag kicks in. If it kicks in immediately, then you’ve found a good spinning reel for trout.
Types of Trout
We’ve mentioned above that most people like to fish for trout with ultralight spinning reels.
However, you always have to think about your specific situation.
For instance, if you’re going to fish heavy chrome steelhead, then you’ll need a heavier and more resistant spinning reel.
Having a good number of ball bearings is especially important for trout since you want your reel to be as smooth as possible. That’s why the best trout spinning reels on our list have 7+1 or even 9+1 ball bearings.
The bare minimum for trout fishing is 5+1 bearings. I wouldn’t recommend going lower than that.
As you probably know, you’ll need a smaller gear ratio for trout.
You can go as low as 4:1, but I’d recommend 5:1 so that you can fish both slow and fast lures.
Best Spinning Reels for Trout – FAQ
What Size Reel Is Best for Trout Fishing?
The best size reel for trout fishing is 500 or 1000. You really don’t want to go over that or you’ll add unnecessary weight and strain on your wrist. Remember that trout are very small and only need a drag capacity of around 7 pounds.
Is a 2500 Reel Good for Trout Fishing?
No, a 2500 reel isn’t good for trout fishing, unless you’re going for chrome steelhead. For most other types of trout, a size 1000 or 500 will be more suited.
How Do I Choose a Trout Reel?
To choose a trout reel you need to consider:
- Size: get a size 500 or 1000
- Weight: ultralight spinning reels are best
- Drag: make sure the drag kicks in instantly
- Smoothness: get at least 5+1 ball bearings
Best Trout Spinning Reels – Conclusion
To sum up, the best trout spinning reel overall is the Pflueger President XT (size 30). This reel weighs a little over 7 ounces and lets you catch even trophy trout with its 10 lb drag capacity. It’s also very robust and durable.
That said, if you can’t afford it, the Okuma Ceymar 30 is a good alternative. Of course, this reel is heavier but it’s still smooth enough and pretty affordable.
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