11 Best Value Spinning Reels For Freshwater Fishing

best value freshwater spinning reels

Selecting a nice quality spinning reel can be harder than it seems. There are a ton of excellent options on the market, but many of which are not worth the high cost if your pockets are tight. Our list of the best value spinning reels for freshwater fishing has tracked down the top affordable options worth adding to your fishing gear locker!

No more junky Walmart gear and no more spending unnecessary cash on overpriced equipment. We’ve found the best happy mediums on the market. Tight lines from all of us here at Heavy!

What Are The Best Value Freshwater Spinning Reels?

penn battle fishing reel Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Silky smooth retrieve and drag system
  • All metal construction is tough as nails
  • Line roller is braid-compatible
Price: $84.95 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
penn fierce II fishing reel Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Excellent budget option from Penn
  • Ergonomic handle has a great feel
  • All metal housing for great durability
Price: $59.95 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
penn spinfisher reel Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Also a great saltwater option!
  • Built super durably
  • Watertight design
Price: $139.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Pflueger President Spinning Reel Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Sealed drag
  • 7 or 10 corrosion resistant stainless steel ball bearings
  • Slow oscillation gearing improves line lay and minimizes line twist
Price: $64.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Okuma Avenger Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Super affordable
  • Smooth ball bearings (7)
  • Powerful multi-disc drag sytem
Price: $26.70 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
okuma ceymar spinning reel Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Super affordable option
  • Aluminum reel body, spool and bail
  • 1 year warranty
Price: $59.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
shimano sienna spinning reel Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Shimano is a trusted industry leader
  • Highly affordable
  • Powerful and reliable drag system
Price: $44.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
shimano sedona spinning reel Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Cold forged HAGANE gearing
  • Built to stand up to saltwater corrosion
  • Super creamy retrieve
Price: $69.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
kastking centron spinning reel Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Super affordable option
  • 9 ball bearings = impressive smoothness
  • Precision pinion gear system
Price: $28.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Piscifun Carbon X spinning reel Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Extra fast gear ratio for rapid pick-up
  • Carbon fiber build is super lightweight
  • 22 pounds of drag
Price: $75.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
daiwa bg spinning reel Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Tough aesthetic
  • Fair price point
  • All metal housing is rock solid
Price: $109.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Our Unbiased Reviews
  1. 1. Penn Battle II

    • Silky smooth retrieve and drag system
    • All metal construction is tough as nails
    • Tough looking, professional aesthetic
    • Line roller is braid-compatible
    • Ergonomic handle and bail have a great feel - this reel certainly sets itself apart from the 'cheapo' competition
    • A bit on the heavy side (2000 series is 9.8 ounces)
    • Not exactly a super "budget" reel if your pocket are not deep, but ablsolutely worth the cost
    • No anti-reverse toggle switch to turn it off for back-pedaling

    The Penn Battle II is my current surf casting reel. I love this reel for saltwater fishing, I’ve beaten on mine HARD and caught countless fish – it’s no doubt one of the best value spinning reels for durability and smoothness!

    The Penn Battle II is a workhorse of a saltwater reel, but it’s also offered in 1000, 2000, and 2500 sizes great for freshwater applications!

    Penn has built this model reel with a full metal body and side plate making it dam tough. It’s a bit on the heavy side, but I personally like the more heavy-duty feel of this unit. The entire reel from the bail to the drag adjustment to the ergonomic handle has a great look and feel, Penn has done a bang-up job designing this one.

    The HT-100 carbon fiber drag system is silky smooth, providing 9 pounds of drag with the 1000 series, 10 pounds with the 2000 series., and 12 pounds with the 2500 series. It’s not a stupendously powerful drag system, but it’s more than enough for almost every freshwater angling scenario. Precise adjustments are a breeze to make and boy oh boy does this reel have a great sound when the drag is singing.

    Five sealed stainless steel ball bearings make the Batlle II exceptionally smooth. The general rule of thumb is that more bearings equal a more fluid retrieve, but this reel outperforms many reel models with 8+ bearings in terms of smoothness. Whatever Penn has done to make this unit so creamy is a brilliant innovation in spinning reel internals.

    The Battle II is built with a 6:2:1 gear ratio so it features faster than average line pickup. This is a tough as nails reel that’s built to keep up with any fish. This reel accepts braid well (no issues with the line roller) and the spool even has capacity rings that mark when it’s is 1/3 and 2/3 filled. A simple, but a helpful feature. 

    A bulletproof reel with surprisingly smooth performance, the Penn Battle II is a best-value winner when it comes to both salt and freshwater spinning reels! 

  2. 2. Penn Fierce II

    • Great budget friendly option from trusted outfitter, Penn
    • All metal housing for great longterm durability
    • Ergonomic handle has a great feel
    • Marks on the spool that indicate where your line capacity is at
    • Easy adjustment drag knob
    • No anti-reverse toggle switch
    • Drag has just 7 pounds of stopping power
    • 4 rather than 5 stainless steel ball bearings typical of Penn's higher end reels

    Here’s another great value reel from Penn that’s quite comparable to the Battle II. The Fierce II has most of the same features as the Battle II, but has cut a few corners in order to be even more affordable.

    The main difference between the two reel models is that the Fierce has 4 rather than 5 stainless steel ball bearings. It’s not quite as buttery smooth as the Battle, but it’s still well rated for having a smooth retrieval. Like the Battle, this reel model also does not have a toggle switch for turning the anti-reverse on and off – it’s simply always engaged. 

    The drag power of the 1000, 2000 and 2500 reel sizes is 7 pounds across the board. This is significantly less powerful than the Battle II so if you’re up against some particularly strong species of freshwater fish, you’re better off sticking with a reel option with more stopping power. That being said, this reel is still an excellent choice for standard panfish, trout and bass fishing.

    Like the Battle, the Fierce is built with all-metal housing that makes it ultra-durable and built to last. A Techno-Balanced rotor furthermore gives this unit some killer leverage/torque when fighting fish and also when snagged up on structure. 

    Absolutely one of the best spinning reel options from trusted outfitter, Penn if you’re on a tight budget but refuse to sacrifice quality.

  3. 3. Penn Spinfisher VI

    • Watertight design and extra powerful drag system makes this a great saltwater option as well!
    • All metal body and housing makes this a dam durable reel
    • Both the carbon fiber drag system and cnc gear technology are remarkably smooth
    • Five stainless steel ball bearings make this reel silky smooth
    • Awesome ergonomic handle
    • Fairly expensive option, but you're still getting more than you pay for with this one
    • Not offered in smaller reel class sizing
    • No anti-reverse toggle switch

    Ok, this model reel from Penn is for more serious fishermen chasing more serious fish. The Spinfisher line of reels is more geared towards saltwater angling, the smallest reel in the series is sized at 2500.

    If you’re in the market for a reel to target larger, more aggressive freshwater species like pike, salmon and monster bass, then this unit should be on your radar.

    This is certainly a more expensive reel than most of what’s listed here, but we find it to still be an excellent value based on the quality of construction and expected lifespan. The Spinfisher is an absolute workhorse of a reel that you’ll own for years and years of fishing.

    All-metal housing, five ball bearings, a watertight design, and extra powerful drag system – this reel borders on being a top-quality unit (at a mid-quality price point). It’s super smooth, ultra-durable and built to last – this reel is no joke.

    For anglers looking for a medium-large freshwater setup that can double as a saltwater reel, this is one of the ultimate options in both versatility and dependability! 


  4. 4. Pflueger President

    • Sealed drag
    • 7 or 10 corrosion resistant stainless steel ball bearings depending on reel size
    • Graphite body and rotor for reduced weight and corrosion resistance
    • Slow oscillation gearing improves line lay and minimizes line twist
    • Braid-ready spool
    • 5.2:1 gear ratio
    • Easy to swich between left and right handed retrieve
    • Reel stem is a bit short, so it may be awkward if you have particularly big hands or prefer to have more space between your reel and your rod
    • Drag adjustment is a bit dramatic rather than incremental (may be a pro depending on youor preference)
    • Max drag is not terribly impressive around 6 pounds

    The Pflueger President is a brilliant mid-range reel for light freshwater anglers targetting species like trout, panfish, and bass.

    This is a highly equipped spinning reel that’s offered from a 2000 to 4000 size class. The smallest available option features 7 corrosion-resistant stainless steel ball bearings while all the other models feature 10! This equals a remarkably smooth reel for the cost when it comes to your retrieval.

    The drag is fully sealed which ensures greater durability and long term health, therefore lifespan. It maxes out around 6 pounds, so it’s not a particularly powerful freshwater reel for truly explosive fish. That being said, 6 pounds is more than enough for a reel of this size class.

    The spool can receive braid, and the bail has a great snap to it that sounds and feels great. The handle furthermore has great ergonomics making this reel an absolute pleasure to fish with.

    Pflueger has even built the President with slow oscillation gearing, improving line lay and minimizing line twist. This means less problems on the water, and more active fishing.

    A graphite body and rotor for reduced weight and corrosion resistance means this reel can handle the abuses of the elements and remain ultralight while doing it. All in all, a stellar value spinning reel for the cost with a nearly flawless performance and sharp aesthetic that will compliment any rod.

  5. 5. Okuma Avenger

    • Super affordable
    • Smooth ball bearings (7)
    • Powerful multi-disc drag sytem
    • Available in several sizes
    • Graphite body is very lightweight
    • Line roller has a bit of rubberized material that can become cut by monofilament
    • Graphite reel housing is not as tough as aluminum, but lighter weight
    • Some might not like the aesthetic of the only color option

    Here’s an excellent budget reel from Okuma that has stellar angler reviews. The Avenger reel series is a cheap but reliable option that seems almost too good to be true. 

    This reel features a multi-disc drag system, seven stainless steel ball bearings and a 5:1 gear ratio. It meets our criteria for a quality spinning reel, and at less than half the cost of most of the competition. This is no doubt one of the best bangs for your buck.

    The reel body or housing is built from super lightweight graphite which we have mixed feelings about. On one hand, graphite is lighter and more corrosion resistant than aluminum, but on the other hand, it’s not quite as durable. We’re talking about freshwater fishing here, so corrosion resistance is not nearly as important of a factor as with saltwater fishing.

    I personally lean towards aluminum-based reels because they’re built more solid than graphite – but that doesn’t mean graphite is to be ruled out. It’s more a matter of preference than anything.

    It might not have the seamless, professional feel of even a middle of the line Penn or Shimano reel, but performance-wise the Avenger holds its own just fine. At this cost, you can outfit all three or four your spinning setups with a new Avenger for the cost of one higher end reel! 

  6. 6. Okuma Ceymar

    • Super affordable option
    • Quick-Set anti-reverse roller bearing
    • Aluminum reel body, spool and bail is built tough
    • 7 ball bearings and one roller bearing combine for an impressively smooth reel for the cost
    • 1 year warranty
    • Complaints about flex in the reel foot when fighting heavy fish or when snagged
    • Some might not like the feel of the ergo-grip handle (matter of preferance)
    • Some issues with quality control regarding the smoothness of the ball bearings

    Here’s another killer value reel from Okuma that’s a slight upgrade from the Avenger. The Ceymar reel series is built very comparably to the Avenger series, but employs an aluminum rather than graphite spool and reel body. It’s built a bit tougher and should, therefore, have a longer lifespan.

    The Blade Body design of the Ceymar does, however, reduce the overall weight of the reel and make it fairly low profile. This model should pair nicely with any lightweight rod.

    Be aware that the C-10 is closer to a 500 series size reel – it’s quite a tiny unit intended for use with two to six-pound test for species like panfish and trout. The C-30 is designed for use with six to eight pound test and suitable for freshwater species more variable in size like bass, walleye or catfish.

    There are seven ball bearings and one roller bearing making this an impressively smooth reel for the cost. There are some reported issues with quality control regarding the reel internals, but that’s to be expected with any budget fishing equipment – just be sure to carefully inspect and test this unit right out of the box to avoid any faulty parts or components.

    There’s a one year warranty on this product so you can buy in confidence.

    The Quick-Set anti-reverse roller bearing ensures there’s no give on the fish’s end when you hook set and a multi-disc drag system provides reliable stopping power. This unit is built to contend with high end reel models, and it does exactly that.

  7. 7. Shimano Sienna

    • Shimano is a trusted industry leader that employs great quality control and base materials
    • Powerful and reliable drag system
    • Highly affordable - you get more than you pay for with this one
    • Siennas hold up nicely in the long run, this reel won't quit on you
    • New M-Compact body brings the center of gravity closer to the rod balancing the reel quite nicely
    • Retrieval is not terribly smooth
    • Some might not like the reel aesthetic (matter of preferance)
    • The bail and reel body are not nearly as sleek and durable as Shimano's slightly higher end models

    The Shimano Sienna is a reliable reel at a great cost. I’ve owned several of this reel model over the years, and they’ve always performed just fine for me.

    The overall feel of the reel is not particularly great – the retrieve just doesn’t have that creamy feel characteristic of higher-end reels. That being said, all the reel components hold up well including the internals making this reel a great value for the money. 

    I’ve fished reels in the same price range and they feel more or less the same as the Sienna, but they don’t have a comparable lifespan. Shimano is a trusted brand name and industry leader when it comes to the best spinning reels, and that’s reflected in the longevity of their equipment.

    If you want to buy a budget reel, it’s always wise to buy a low-end model from a high-end brand rather than a high-end model from a low-end brand – makes sense right? Things like better quality control at the factory and higher quality base materials really come into play when you’re talking about budget gear.   

    Where this reel excels is its light weight and balance. The 500, 1000 and 2500 size series Siennas pair really nicely with light freshwater rods, and the new and improved center of gravity due to the M-Compact Body design brings the oscillation gear closer to the rod. This creates a better rod-balance than previous Sienna models.

    This reel has a 5:0:1 gear ratio and employs Shimano’s Super Stopper II anti-reverse. The drag system is also quite precise and is easily adjusted up to a maximum of nine pounds. It might not be the smoothest reel, but it’s a reliable piece of gear that works the way it’s supposed to!

    You definitely get more than you pay for with this one. 


  8. 8. Shimano Sedona

    • Cold forged HAGANE gearing is super durable and fishes exceptionally smooth
    • Super creamy retrieve
    • 5:6:1 gear ratio has slightly quicker line pickup compared to the comparable Shimano Sienna great for keeping up with speedy species
    • Durable aluminum reel body and spool
    • No anti-reverse lever to disengage it and allow for back-reeling
    • Some might not like the silver on gold color scheme (matter of preferance)
    • Drag cap is a bit flat for my liking (once again, matter of preferance)

    Here’s my personal choice of weapon. The Shimano Sedona has been my go-to, main freshwater reel for almost a decade now, and I’ve gone through just two of them.

    This unit has performed flawlessly for me and has a much smoother feel than the Shimano Siennas I’ve owned. The Siennas fish fine, but if your budget can afford a Sedona, you’ll be thrilled with the difference in quality. 

    This model reel is built all the way up to 8000 sizing and is therefore designed for use saltwater fishing as well. The fact that it’s designed to handle the strains of saltwater angling inherently makes the Sedona a tough as nails freshwater option. 

    The retrieval on the Sedona is pretty dam sexy. This is the kind of reel that you build a relationship with and cherish – it’s not a budget piece of gear that you tolerate. The gear ratio is  5:6:1 so this model has a bit faster line pick-up than the Sienna.

    The new model Sedona is also built with cold forged HAGANE gears. There’s no major difference in function, but the expected lifespan of the reel is certainly increased as a result. 

    If you purchase the 1000 size, the drag power is seven pounds as opposed to nine with the Sienna. The 2500 size is, however, the same as the Sienna at nine pounds. For the reel size and subsequent species that you’ll be targeting, there’s more than enough stopping power here.

    What I love most about the Sedona (other than its creamy retrieve) is its downright sexy aesthetic. You can easily tell the difference in quality between this reel and cheaper budget models like the Sienna just by holding it. The all-metal reel body and double-anodized, machine cut spool make all the difference in visual appeal and performance.

  9. 9. KastKing Centron

    • Super affordable option
    • Adequate gear ratio, ball bearings and anti-reverse bearing
    • Precision pinion gear system
    • Great angler reviews for salt and freshwater scenarios
    • Has a cheap looking aesthetic
    • Drag power is decent at 12/13 pounds but not terribly impressive
    • Graphite reel body is not nearly as tough as higher quality spinning reels - you get what you pay for concerning longterm durability

    The Centron from KastKing is another super budget spinning reel sporting impressive angler reviews.

    Fishermen all over praise this reel for its reliability in fresh and salt water contexts. For a reel in this price range, this unit might seem laughably cheap, but it’s, in fact, a workhorse that performs quite well as long as it’s properly treated and maintenanced. 

    There are 9 ball bearings with the Centron giving it a far smoother retrieval feel than the comparably priced competition. It also features a 5:2:1 gear ratio which is fairly standard.

    The 2000 size class has 12 pounds of drag while the 3000 has 13 – not too shabby. An anti-reverse bearing is also built into this reel – all the essential criteria is here. 

    The reel body is graphite making it lightweight but less durable than aluminum. This reel doesn’t have the balance of a more expensive option and therefore will not necessarily pair perfectly with a very wide range of rods. This doesn’t mean the Centron won’t be a nice match for some setups, you’ll just have to try and see. 

    This is definitely a cheaper built reel than most of the units on this list, and that reflects in the way that it looks and the way that it feels when you fish it. That being said, if you’re on a truly tight budget this is a wallet-friendly option that will absolutely put fish in the boat.

    No doubt one of the best value spinning reels on the market. 




  10. 10. Piscifun Carbon X

    • Extra fast gear ratio (6:2:1) for rapid line pick-up
    • Carbon fiber build is super lightweight and will pair awesome with lighter class rods
    • 3 oversized carbon washers provide an impressive 22 pounds of drag (2000 and 3000 class)
    • 10 stainless steel ball bearings make for a creamy retrieve
    • Nice ergonomic handle
    • The carbon fiber construction of the reel may make it too lightweight for a well balanced setup depending on your rod
    • Some might not like the all black aesthetic
    • Doesn't perform well in the cold - perhaps a result of the carbon fiber construction

    Here’s a unique spinning reel from budget outfitter, Piscifun. This is a cheap, but highly respected brand in the fishing industry that’s recognized for producing quality products from fly fishing lines to ice fishing reels. The Carbon X Spinning Reel is no exception to Piscifun’s dedication to high-value products.

    The reel housing, rotor and side plate of the Carbon X are all built from ultra-light carbon fiber making this reel exceptionally lightweight. The 2000 size class is just 7.8 ounces! If you have a lightweight rod, this reel with pair wonderfully with it! The carbon fiber construction is corrosion resistant and quite durable, but there are some customer complaints that this reel doesn’t perform very smoothly in the cold.

    I’m assuming the materials used for the Carbon X contract a bit more than standard graphite or aluminum so keep this in mind if you’re a cold-weather angler.

    This reel employs a 6:2:1 gear ratio for particularly fast line pickup. The drag system on the 2000 and 3000 class reels furthermore has an impressive 22 pounds of stopping power! This is a great go-to option if you’re chasing speedy, powerhouse freshwater species like salmon and smallmouth bass.

    10 stainless steel ball bearings combine for a creamy smooth retrieve that’s tough to top in this price range. Piscifun is definitely onto something with this affordable design. 

    The murdered out, all-black aesthetic is either your style or not – whether or not it suits your preferred look, the reel function of the Carbon X is impressive for the cost. Angler reviews praise this model for its performance earning it a place here on our top list!     

  11. 11. Daiwa BG Spinning Reels

    • All metal housing is rock solid
    • Fair price point
    • 5:6:1 ger ratio has great line pickup
    • 6 ball bearings make for a creamy smooth retrieve
    • Oversized "Digigear" is built for increased power and torque as well as longer lifespan compared to normal gear drives
    • Tough aesthetic
    • Smaller reel classes (1500 and 2000) have just 4.4 pounds of drag power
    • Fairly heavy
    • For the same cost you could purchase a decent Penn or Shimano reel (matter of preferance)

    Here’s a sharp looking spinning reel from Diawa with some killer customer reviews. The BG Spinning Reel is a mid-priced workhorse that has great ratings for durability and function. This is a nice, well-rounded reel at a fair price that could be a great fit for your rod setup.

    At this price range, my preference lies with the Penn Battle II or Fierce II, but this reel is a quality contender. If you prefer this reel’s aesthetic to the mid-range options from Penn or Shimano listed or have your own personal biases against either brand, the BG will work wonderfully for you.

    This is a well-crafted piece of machinery that employs Diawa’s Digigear drive. It’s more robust than your standard gear drive and therefore has increased torque and a theoretically longer lifespan. The anodized aluminum housing used to construct the BG is furthermore tough as nails while the housing is watertight – this reel is truly built to last.

    There is only 4.4 pounds of drag power with the 1500 and 2000 series reels, so keep this in mind if you’re targeting more aggressive freshwater species. The 2500 size jumps to 13.2 pounds of drag power (quite the difference) so consider buying a bit bigger if you’re in the market for a smaller sized reel.

    The 5:6:1 gear ratio picks up line quite rapidly and six ball bearings make the retrieve smooth and fluid. The anti-reverse also has a toggle switch which is a nice included feature for bait fishermen. The spool and line roller are also braid compatible which can be a pivotal detail depending on your angling style.

    Everything you want in a nice spinning reel is included here, no doubt a solid value option from Diawa!



No Need To Spend The Big Bucks

The spectrum of spinning reel quality and cost is tremendous.

Before you pull the trigger on a reel purchase make sure to read through our top list of value spinning reels; we've included a variety of trusted brands and model reels here that won't break the bank and that will fish reliably for seasons to come.

Spinning Reel Specifications

As a general rule of thumb for freshwater angling, we recommend a spinning reel:

  • -In the 1000 to 3000 size range 
  • -With a gear ratio of 5:1 or 6:1
  • -With at least 5 ball bearings
  • -With an anti-reverse handle

If you can hit those bases, you're in good shape.

Reel Maintenance

It's important to take proper care of your spinning reel if you want it to last through many seasons of fishing. This goes double when you're purchasing a lower cost, value reel like the units listed here.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with the quality and performance of the value options we've tracked down, but chances are their internals, quality of construction and materials used are not as inherently bulletproof as the high-end competition. All this means is that you ought to be mindful of your hardware and occasionally service and maintenance your reels. 

Here are a few good habits to practice:

  • -Always thoroughly rinse your reel (and rod) with freshwater if you end up fishing with it in saltwater, or brackish fisheries. Leaving salt on/in your reel is one of the best ways to corrode the internals and promote rust build-up.
  • -Don't leave your reel outside exposed to the sun and other elements. The sun, rain, dirt, and grime that attack your reel due to exposure is equally as detrimental to the fishing line you have spooled on your reel, so bring your gear inside!
  • -Occasionally take your reel apart to its bare bones and gently brush away any rust or sediment build-up with a soft bristle toothbrush.
  • -Apply some reel lubricant and/or grease every now and then to really keep your rotations and your drag system smooth as can be

See Also:

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