Best Catfish Spinning Reels: Our Top 5 Picks

September 2, 2021

Our editors at Finn’s Fishing Tips independently research, test, and recommend the best products to help you make purchase decisions. You can learn more about our review process here. We sometimes get a commission through purchases made via our links.

If you are an avid catfish angler, then you know that catfish can be a challenge to catch because of their huge size, power and strength.

With more than 3,000 species of catfish in existence, where some species grow to massive sizes, you need some of the best catfish spinning reels that will give you the fighting strength you need for successful catfishing expeditions.

The best catfish spinning reels, when combined with strong and sturdy catfish rods, can help you improve your fishing technique and get successful catches.

However, when you go shopping for the best catfish spinning reels, you’ll realize that many types of spinning reels exist and choosing the best one may be quite difficult.

So, which are the best catfish spinning reels? Regardless of the type of catfishing reel you select, the important thing is that it should be sturdy, reliable and durable. And, with the best catfish spinning reels on hand, you are sure to have some very fun and exciting catfishing experiences.

To make things easier for you, in our guide, we have reviewed some of the best catfish spinning reels and we also have a detailed buying guide that lists out the factors you should consider before purchasing the best catfish spinning reels.

In a Hurry? Here’s Our Top Picks…

Reviews of the Best Catfish Spinning Reels

KastKing Megatron Spinning Fishing Reel

If you’re looking for a sturdy spinning reel for catfishing, then the KastKing Megatron Spinning Fishing Reel is among the best spinning reels that not only are reliable but have the looks that set it apart.

With its rigid skeletal frame made of aerospace aluminum alloy, the bionic engineering and precise geometric design, the KastKing Megatron is unique, delivering the best performance that any angler wants.

The spinning reel has graphite body panels and a rotor which help to protect the inner components while making the spinning reel extremely lightweight. The main gear of the spinning reel is made of zinc alloy, while the 2nd gear is made of solid brass, making it sturdy and durable. The spinning reel has 7 stainless steel ball bearings and 1 anti-reverse ball bearing which delivers a smooth and quiet performance.

The reel features a triple-disc drag made of carbon fiber that delivers strong and perfect drag. It features a CNC machined aluminum alloy handle and EVA grips with the embossed logo, which provides an easy and comfortable grip and is very easy to clean.

With its rugged build quality and unique aesthetics, the KastKing Megatron is sure to have a special place amongst all your catfishing gear.

What We Like

  • The spinning reels are available in 5 sizes ranging between 2000 and 6000.
  • 7+1 MaxiDur double-shielded ball bearings made of stainless steel.
  • Silky smooth performance with powerful drag.
  • Available at a good price.
  • Lightweight spinning reel.

What We Don’t Like

  • The spool is not very smooth.
  • The handle is a bit flimsy.

KastKing Sharky III Spinning Reel

The Sharky III Spinning Reel from KastKing with its smooth features and stylish black and red looks is a unique and durable bait feeder style fishing reel.

Suitable for both saltwater and freshwater fishing, the fishing reel has 10+1 ball bearings and a main shaft made of stainless steel and precision gears with a gear ratio of 5.5:1.

The spinning reel features the smoothest drag made of carbon fiber with a drag power of up to 26.5 lb. The spinning reel has a graphite body that is corrosion-free, computer balanced rotor and a shark fin braid spool made from CNC aluminum that offers superior strength and durability.

The reel has an interchangeable left- or right-hand handle equipped with a sure-grip T-handle that delivers excellent spinning reel performance.

With the best catfish catching features, sleek and stylish aesthetics and an affordable price, with the Sharky III Spinning Reel, you’re sure to be able to land some of the best “trophy” catfish.

So, if you’re on the lookout for a reasonably priced spinning reel offering good performance, then the Sharky III Spinning Reel is a great choice.

What We Like

  • Delivers high drag.
  • Smooth and durable spinning reel.
  • Sleek body and looks.
  • Corrosion resistant and suitable for saltwater fishing.
  • Pocket friendly and value buy.

What We Don’t Like

  • The main drag adjustment is quite inconsistent.
  • The frame is very light and flexible and may not be suitable for heavy fish.

Okuma Avenger ABF Baitfeeder Reel

If you’re looking for a good bait feeder reel, then you’re sure to love the Okuma Avenger spinning reel. The reel features an auto-on/off-trip bait feeding system that makes casting extremely easy and the reel very user friendly.

The body of the reel is made of high-quality corrosion-resistant graphite that ensures durability and longevity. The reel features an oiled felt, multi-disc drag system that delivers smooth performance.

It has 6 ball bearings and 1 anti-reverse roller bearing made of stainless steel. Made of brass, the pinion gear is machine cut with precision.

The Okuma Avenger spinning reel has a sturdy handle made of die-cast aluminum that provides a comfortable grip. Used by professionals the world over, the Okuma Avenger reel is a great solution for catfishing.

What We Like

  • Durable graphite body.
  • The drag switch is very easy to use.
  • Made of high-quality, corrosion-resistant materials.
  • The reel is super smooth.
  • Good to catch large fish.

What We Don’t Like

  • The line does not lie properly on the spool.
  • Some parts are made of plastic which can wear out easily.

Cadence CS8 Spinning Reel

The Cadence CS8 Spinning Reel features an ultra-lightweight body made of corrosion-resistant magnesium that enables you to handle the rod for many hours without feeling fatigued.

The spool of the reel is made from machined aluminum that protects the drag system and also prevents the line from slipping.

The spinning reel has a superior spring drag system made of carbon fiber that delivers steady pressure and excellent stopping power of up to 20 lb.

The reel is equipped with 9 stainless steel ball bearings that deliver super-low torque and 1 anti-reverse bearing. The ball bearings are corrosion-resistant, enabling you to use the reel both in freshwater and saltwater.

The ball bearings produce a 6.2/1 or 5.2:1 gear ratio that offers fast and ultra-smooth performance. The reel’s main shaft, pinion gear and OS gear are made of strong and durable aluminum.

The spinning reel is equipped with an ergonomic EVA handle knob that allows a comfortable grip. Loaded with features, the Cadence CS8 Spinning Reel is designed to be durable and long lasting, perfect for all your catfishing expeditions.

What We Like

  • Ultra-lightweight, yet very durable.
  • Offers very good performance.
  • Ergonomic and comfortable handle.
  • Impressive drag power.
  • A good, value-for-money buy.

What We Don’t Like

  • The handle gets scratched very easily.
  • The line capacity is low.

Piscifun Viper X Spinning Fishing Reel

If you’re looking for a high-quality spinning reel with an elegant design but at a very affordable price, then the Piscifun Viper X is a great option. The spinning reel features a lightweight graphite frame and a CNC machined rotor that uses new mold technology, delivering reliable and strong performance.

The reel features an aluminum spool that is braid ready with stark green highlights and is perfect for any freshwater or saltwater setup. The spinning reel has an O-Ring sealed drag system made of carbon fiber that can handle drag of up to 33 lb and ensures the stability and durability of the drag for a very long time.

The Viper X is equipped with 10+1 double-shielded ball bearings made of stainless steel which ensures the smoothest movement of the handle. The reel’s zinc alloy drive gear, main shaft made of reinforced stainless steel and carbon washers ensure consistent and smooth performance, without the line getting stuck or breaking.

Perfect for beginners or professional anglers, the Viper X offers the highest quality for a budget-conscious angler.

What We Like

  • Good quality and feel.
  • Consistent and smooth drag.
  • Ergonomic, comfortable handle.
  • Very affordable price.
  • Good performance.

What We Don’t Like

  • The retrieval is not very smooth.
  • The drag dial is not precise.

Best Catfish Spinning Reels Buying Guide

Fishing rod with a spinning reel

If you’re planning to purchase a good catfish spinning reel, then you’ll realize that there are plenty of options available in the market. Shopping for the best catfish spinning reels can be tricky, especially if you don’t know what to look for.

In this buying guide, we have discussed a few factors that you must consider before purchasing the best catfish spinning reel for your catfishing arsenal.

Factors to Consider When Purchasing the Best Catfish Spinning Reel

The best catfish spinning reel should be sturdy, reliable, smooth and durable. The model you choose must be made from high-quality materials and offer excellent performance. Let’s now take a look at the features of the best catfish spinning reels.

Line Capacity

The line capacity of the catfish reel determines the amount of fishing line that the reel can hold. For example, a line capacity of 12/196 essentially means that the reel can hold up to around 196 yards of a 12-pound monofilament fishing line. You can also use a braided fishing line in the reel; however, braided lines are thinner and less flexible.

In general, when catfishing, anglers prefer having a large line capacity as this can be quite helpful in circumstances where the line may snap, get tangled or be taken by the catfish. Baitcaster reels used for catfishing generally have a larger line capacity compared to spinning reels.

Drag System

Typically, the best catfish reels have a drag system that is adjustable and can be fine tuned so that you can reel in the catch better. A good drag system can make a huge difference in making your catfishing expedition a success.

There are various types of catfish reels with their drag systems located in different locations. Usually, spool-mounted and front-mounted drags have the knob that is located on the top of the reel, while rear-mounted drags have the knob located at the bottom.

Gear Ratio

The gear ratio of the catfish reel essentially refers to the number of revolutions of the spool you can get with a single turn of the handle of the reel. For instance, if a reel has a gear ratio of 5.2:1, this means that for 1 complete turn of the handle, the spool turns 5.2 revolutions.

This gear ratio is a very important factor in the type of catfish bait or lures you are using. While for a deep water crankbait, a lower gear ratio is required, for jigs, a higher gear ratio is needed.

And, when you consider catfishing, a gear ratio of 5.2:1 or 6:1 is the best because catfish are quite strong fish that tend to put up a good fight. And, a higher gear ratio can give you better torque and a good retrieval rate.

Size

The catfish reel size is generally related to its line capacity. If the line capacity of the reel is larger, then the size of the reel will also be bigger, while smaller reel capacities mean smaller size reels.

Author Note: Typically, the smallest reel size is 1000, whereas good catfish reels measure between 4000 to 5000.

Construction

The best catfish reels are made of high-quality materials and have a strong and durable construction. Catfish are very strong fish and put a lot of pressure on your fishing rod, as well as the reel, and a top-quality catfishing reel should be able to withstand the pressure and should not malfunction or break when you’re fighting a catfish.

Also, a good catfish reel should be water and corrosion resistant and withstand constant exposure to freshwater or saltwater, which can cause the materials to break down.

The material of the catfish reel should be sturdy and resistant to damage due to constant exposure to water. The best materials for catfish reels are carbon fiber and stainless steel.

Spool

Essentially, the spool holds the fishing line and it is what you turn to reel in your catch. By turning the handle, the fishing line is wound or unwound from the spool. Typically, a good spool has a large line capacity, which allows you to cast further. Also, the spool should be free from any loops and turn smoothly.

Counterbalance

A good counterbalance is an important feature of a good catfish reel. The reel must sit on the fishing rod comfortably without exerting a lot of weight backward or forward.

While it is possible to fish with an unbalanced fishing rod, the experience can be quite uncomfortable and tiring. You must also check the reel’s line capacity as this can affect the weight and also the counterbalance of the rod.

Benefits of Catfishing Spinning Reels

Three fishing spinning in a rubber boat

Using spinning reels for catfishing can have many benefits including:

  • Catfish spinning reels are much easier to use, especially for beginners, which will enable you to focus on your fishing instead of your equipment.
  • While large-size baitcasters can hold a lot of fishing lines, they tend to be heavier, which can make your arm feel fatigued after some time.

    While spinning reels are smaller and hold fewer lines, they are more comfortable. Even if you opt for a larger spinning reel, it is much easier to balance because it is mounted below the fishing rod.
  • Catfish spinning reels are easier to cast and allow you to cast greater distances, which is especially important for recreational and beginner anglers.
  • The best thing about catfish spinning reels is that they are available widely and are quite inexpensive, making the entire setup more affordable, especially if you’re on a tight budget.

FAQs

What is a catfish spinning reel?

Catfish spinning reels fall between catfish baitcasters and spin-cast reels. Catfish spinning reels have a wire bail and as you cast, it is flipped backward and forwards. Spinning reels are very easy and more comfortable to use, especially for beginners. However, catfish spinning reels have some limitations too.

The spinning reels must match the catfish spinning rods and there are not many options of rods available.

Also, if you’re using a spinning rod holder, the spinning rod may not fit. Catfish spinning reels usually are lightweight and so they may only be suitable to catch small catfish species, whereas, for larger catfish, baitcaster reels are a better option.

What size of a spinning reel is best for catfishing?

The size of the catfishing spinning reel you purchase depends mainly on your requirements. To catch an average-sized catfish, there is no need to get a 10000-size reel, a 4000-size reel or one that’s a bit bigger should work pretty well. If you want to catch a large size fish, then a 6000 size should do the job.

However, an important thing to remember is if you’re targeting very large-size fish, then you must invest in a good high-quality rod. You can use medium-size reels with several rods to catch other fish too and not just for catfishing.

So, if you want a versatile, multifunctional rod then it is a good idea to opt for 4000 to 5000 size. However, it is best to avoid very small size reels because they are not very strong and cannot hold sufficient line required for a good catfishing experience.

What is the best gear ratio for a catfishing spinning reel?

The gear ratio of the spinning reel depends mainly on what you will use the reel for and your experience level. Slow reels are not the best option; however, they may work for small-size catfish.

A medium gear ratio of around 6:1 is the most versatile. While slow reels may not work to fight huge catfish, very fast reels work best with certain baits and techniques and may not be suitable for a beginner catfish angler.

The Final Word

Catfishing is not an easy job, especially if you’re targeting large-size fish. You need proper fishing equipment that is sturdy and reliable and gives you an upper hand. And, finding the best catfish spinning reel that works with your rod is the first step to becoming a catfishing pro.

The best catfish spinning reels are strong, durable, reliable and have many useful features that can help to hone your catfishing skills and make your catfishing experiences most enjoyable.

Happy Hunting!

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