Best Trout Fishing Reels: Ultimate Buying Guide

May 11, 2020

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.

We love fishing for trout. They’re one of the most prevalent freshwater fish in the world and are often one of the first fish you catch as an amateur angler. Finn’s first fish was a baby cutthroat trout caught outside his father’s office in Seattle! So what’s the best trout fishing setup? We’ve already covered our favorite trout fishing rods, so we thought it was time to share our favorite trout fishing reels too.

In this buying guide, we reviewed trout fishing reels of all price points and picked out our favorites from hundreds of trout fishing reels. Some of our favorites overlap with our favorite bass fishing reels due to a similar style of fishing and the size of fish. Once you’ve picked out a trout fishing reel, be sure to check out our comprehensive guide on how to fish for all types of trout.

We feature a quick summary of our favorite trout reels below. If you want to get into more detail, we go into our reasoning in the following sections and included the pros and cons of each reel review. Enjoy!

In a Hurry? Here’s Our Top Picks…




Overall Trout Fishing Reel Winner

Pflueger President Spinning Reel

Features

The Pflueger President Spinning Reel is our overall trout fishing reel winner for 2020. It has more features than the most economical reels but keeps price low by focusing on quality components. The Pflueger President Spinning Reel comes in five iterations with varying line capacity and reel size. The 35X and 40X are the most suited for trout fishing.

Components

For a relatively economical reel, the Pflueger President Spinning Reel comes with many high-quality components. The reel features a 10 ball bearing system with corrosion-resistant stainless steel bearings. This ensures the reel will stay functional for many years of heavy action battling feisty trout.

The Pflueger President Spinning Reel’s body is built out of graphite and has a braided line ready spool. The reel’s drag system features sealed washers that stay lubricated for smoothing reeling. Slow oscillation gearing improves the line lay and minimizes twist. 

The Pflueger President Spinning Reel is also a great reel for ultra-light rods used for trout fishing.

Specifications

The five different models of the Pflueger President Spinning Reel have varying specifications. We’ll cover the 35X and 40X since they make the most sense for trout fishing. The 35X can hold up to 230 yards of 6 lb test, 185 yards of 8 lb test, and 155 yards of 10 lb test. The 40X can hold up to 285 yards of 8 lb test, 230 yards of 10 lb test, and 195 yards of 12 lb test. The 35X and 40X both weigh 13 oz. Both have a gear ratio of 5.2:1.

Pros

  • Great price for the quality of components.

Cons

  • A little pricier than the most economical options

Reasoning

The Pflueger President Spinning Reel is our winner for the best overall trout fishing reel. It has quality components, doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, and is a great addition to any fisherman’s reel collection. It will stand up to the test of time and is a great trout reel to hand down to the next generation. Check Price




Best Trout Fishing Reel Runner Up 

Penn Battle II Spinning Reel

Features

When it comes to dependability, functionality, and price, the Penn Battle II Spinning Reel has got it all. That’s why it’s our runner up for the best trout fishing reel. We did a more in-depth review of the reel earlier this year, but here are some of the highlights. The reel comes in eight different versions with varying drag and line capabilities depending on the type of fish you’re going for. trout work perfectly with the Penn Batte II 3000 – which is rated at 200 yards of 8 lb test, 165 yards of 10 lb test, and 120 yards of 12 lb test

Components

The Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel comes with an HT 100 carbon fiber drag system that helps with keeping the reel cool while battling aggressive fish like steelhead or lake trout. The drag system also has carbon fiber washers that help with heat build-up

The Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel is built with five shielded stainless steel ball bearings. Even though small and largemouth trout are freshwater fish, it’s important to have internal components that combat rust and oxidation from all types of water. 

The main spool system of the Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel requires no backing and is braided line ready. Most trout fishermen prefer monofilament line, but it’s nice to have the option for braided.

Specifications

The Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel frame is made out of aluminum which keeps the overall weight down. This allows for agility when casting as well as battling smaller fish on a lighter test line. The metal side plate protects the reel from shock and adds to its durability. The Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel 3000 has six bearing and a gear ratio of 6.2:1.

Pros

  • It can handle a lot of different test lines and trout sizes.
  • Built for both freshwater and saltwater.

Cons

  • More expensive than other options.

Reasoning

The Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel is a great spinning reel for trout fishermen young and old. It has even more features than the President, and if you’re willing to pay a little extra it’s totally worth it. We can’t recommend the Penn Battle II enough. Check Price




High-End Trout Fishing Reel Winner

Cadence CS10 Spinning Reel

Features

The Cadence CS10 Spinning Reel is our high-end trout fishing reel of choice. It costs twice as much as what some of the other reels in our test but comes with many features that a tournament trout fisherman would want. It’s built for heavy-duty trout fishing from both boat and shore, and will take on any sized trout you throw its way. The Cadence CS10 Spinning Reel comes in four different versions, but we recommend the 3000 for trout fishing.

Components

The Cadence CS10 Spinning Reel features Cadence’s premium magnesium frame that keeps weight down and strength high. It also has a carbon composite construction that allows for rigidity and durability. The Cadence CS10 has 11 stainless steel ball bearings that are corrosion resistant and keep retrieval smooth and cool. 

The Cadence CS10 Spinning Reel comes with a machined handle that also decreases the reel’s weight while adding a stylish adonized blue trim. The spinning rotor is built out of carbon which keeps weight down. The spool is braided line ready and has a sophisticated drag system that applies even pressure to fight aggressive trout.

Specifications

The four different models of the Cadence CS10 Spinning Reel have varying specifications. We’ll cover the 2000 and 3000 since they make the most sense for trout fishing. The 2000 can hold up to 160 yards of 6 lb test, while the 3000 can hold up to 150 yards of 10 lb test. The 2000 weighs 7.2 oz while the 3000 weighs 7.3 oz. Both have a max drag of 36 lbs.

Pros

  • It has all the features professional trout fisherman demand.
  • Strong components on a lightweight frame.

Cons

  • Price.

Reasoning

If the price is not an issue for you, we highly recommend the Cadence CS10 Spinning Reel. Its lightweight frame and machined body will withstand years of intense trout fishing and heavy use. If you’re a trout fisherman looking for the best and willing to pay more, the Cadence CS10 will fulfill everything you need in a trout reel. Check Price




Most Economical Trout Fishing Reel

KastKing Centron Spinning Reel

Features

If someone told you they use a $27 fishing reel to fish for trout, you’d probably think it was not very good. But if they’re talking about the KastKing Centron Spinning Reel – you’d be wrong. The KastKing Centron Spinning Reel is packed with everything you need to start your trout fishing hobby, and its price can’t be beaten. It’s a great option for fishing for stocked trout or smaller fish like Arctic Char.

As long as you treat it right and don’t do anything stupid, this under $30 reel will help you land almost any type of trout you throw at it. The KastKing Centron Spinning Reel comes in five different versions, but the Centron 3000 and 4000 work perfectly for rainbow, brook, brown, and cutthroat trout.

Components

The KastKing Centron Spinning Reel is built with a lightweight graphite frame that’s been expertly balanced for smooth reel action. Its superior drag system offers incredible stopping power with up to 17.5 lbs of drag pull. It’s hardened metal shaft with mesh gear drive will withstand intense trout fishing battles and ensure your equipment won’t fail you when it matters most. 

The KastKing Centron Spinning Reel has nine ball bearings for smooth spinning. It also has an instant one-way stop for anti-reversing. The casing also comes in a brilliant anodized red or blue colorway that looks good with many different rod setups.

Specifications

The five different models of the KastKing Centron Spinning Reel have varying specifications. We’ll cover the 3000 and 4000 since they make the most sense for trout fishing. The 3000 can hold up to 330 yards of 8 lb test or 270 yards of 10 lb test. The 4000 can hold up to 310 yards of 10 lb test or 260 yards of 12 lb test. The 3000 weighs 9.1 oz while the 4000 weighs 12.1 oz. Both have a max drag of 17.5 lbs.

Pros

  • It only costs $27!
  • It has everything you need to start trout fishing.

Cons

  • No extra features.
  • Not as durable as other options.

Reasoning

The KastKing Centron Spinning Reel has everything you need to start trout fishing, and it costs less dinner out! The 3000 and 4000 sizes are the most appropriate for trout fishing and come with everything you need to get started. The KastKing Centron Spinning Reel is a great option for trout fishermen on a budget. Check Price




Advanced Trout Fishing Reel Winner

Pflueger Supreme XT Spinning Reel

Features

The Pflueger Supreme XT Spinning Reel is our advanced trout fishing reel winner. It costs over three times as much as some of the other reels in our test but comes with many features that a professional ultralight fisherman would want. It’s built for many years trout fishing from both boat and shore, and will take on any small fish you throw its way. The Pflueger Supreme XT Spinning Reel comes in four different versions, but we recommend the 25X or 30X for trout fishing.

Components

The Pflueger Supreme XT Spinning Reel features a premium magnesium frame that keeps weight down and strength high. It also has a carbon composite washer construction that exerts a smooth but strong drag on the spool. The Supreme XT has 10 stainless steel ball bearings that are corrosion resistant and keep retrieval even and cool. 

The Pflueger Supreme XT Spinning Reel comes with a machined handle that also decreases the reel’s weight while adding a stylish adonized orange trim. The spinning rotor has a slow oscillation gearing system with EVA knobs for comfortable cranking. The spool is braided-line ready with a line tying insert that prevents slippage.

Specifications

The four different models of the Pflueger Supreme XT Spinning Reel have varying specifications. We’ll cover the 25X and 30X since they make the most sense for ultralight fishing. The 25X can hold up to 220 yards of 2 lb test, 110 yards of 4 lb test, and 90 yards of 6 lb test. The 30X can hold up to 255 yards of 4 lb test, 190 yards of 8 lb test, and 160 yards of 10 lb test. The 25X and 30X both weigh 9 oz. The 25X has a gear ratio of 5.2:1, while the 30X has a gear ratio of 6.2:1.

Pros

  • Strong components on a lightweight frame.
  • Durable construction that will last generation to generation of trout fishermen.

Cons

  • Price.

Reasoning

If the price is not an issue for you, we highly recommend the Pflueger Supreme XT Spinning Reel. Its lightweight frame and magnesium body will withstand years of intense trout fishing and heavy use. If you’re a trout fisherman looking for the best and willing to pay more, the Supreme XT will fulfill everything you need in an trout fishing reel. Check Price




Conclusion

Before concluding, here are the factors we looked for when picking out the best trout fishing reels.

Gear Ratio and Speed of Retrieval

Trout are very fast fish and love retreating to underwater structures when they feel threatened. Once a trout is hooked, it’s crucial to reel the fish in as fast as possible to prevent it from tangling your line around logs or rocks. This means that reels with at least a 5:1 gear ratio are ideal. This ratio and above allow the fishermen to get the trout away from dangerous logs and rocks and into the boat or onto shore as quickly as possible.

Smooth Bearings and Anti-Reverse Switch

Smooth bearings aren’t necessary, but they definitely give you more confidence when fighting a large trout. The more money you spend on a reel, the smoother the bearings. An anti-reverse switch is also important for trout fishing with spinners. The anti-reverse switch will help you set the hook effectively and make sure the line doesn’t go slack when battling a large trout.

Drag System

The drag system is responsible for putting pressure on the trout when it tries to run from your boat/the shore. A good trout fishing reel should have a max dag pressure of at least 12 lbs. This will help keep a strong trout in check and help you tire them out faster. A rear drag system can also be more useful, as it gives the angler faster access to adjust in the middle of a fight. This can be especially important when fishing for larger trout such as lake trout

Happy Hunting!

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