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I have to declare my bias from the outset. I’m not a fan of closed faced (spincast) reels. There are a few reasons for this that I will explain later in the article.
However, niche as the market is, they still exist, people still buy them, and some models are better than others. Hence, an article identifying the better ones is certainly warranted.
We won’t be looking at an extensive comparison here. Nor will we do a deep dive into the many models available.
I’m going to identify 3 models that are worthy of your hard-earned dollar and we’ll discuss why.
We’re going to have an in-depth discussion about why the spincast reel still maintains a level of popularity. We’ll look at why and where they are used and who uses them.
First up, let’s have a quick look at what a spincast reel is.
Best Spincast Reels in 2021
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What is A Spincast Reel?
A spincast reel is an odd hybrid of the spin reel and baitcaster principals. Indeed, it’s implicit in the name.
Generally speaking, they were introduced to provide an option for anglers frustrated with the ever-present potential of baitcaster backlash.
It’s important to note that back in the late 1940’s when spincast first hit the market, the spin reel too was a reasonably new concept. Casting reels dominated.
Relative to today’s reel technology, both spin and casting technology was pretty rudimentary, and not without operational issues for the average casual angler.
It’s fair to say that the hybrid design made sense back then. The spincast was a reel so easy to use that even the youngest of anglers could learn to cast and become independent quickly.
The early spincast reels were a boon for those anglers that preferred to fish lighter lures and baits.
Mid-20th century casting reels were less than ideal for light and ultra-light fishing.
Whipping out tiny baits with a casting reel was fraught, and best left to those with experience and a deft touch. Spincast reels were excellent for light work.
How Does a Spincast Reel Work?
Casting is as easy as pressing a button. Press when ready to cast, launch your bait, then press again when in the desired target zone. Crank the handle and you’re engaged.
Relative to casting reels, backlash isn’t the slightest problem. However, they’re not foolproof, not without problems, and definitely not at all versatile.
A spin cast reel is limited to fishing light. Spools have a very limited capacity and drag capacity is limited. Generally speaking, overall strength and rigidity are pretty limited.
Spincast reels are suitable for light inshore work only and better suited to fresh work.
In all reality, you’re restricted to a modest size panfish. However, skilled anglers unchallenged by serious structure could wrestle a fish of decent meal size.
Having said that, regardless of size, fishing a spincast reel ensures your set for some great sport, even on the smallest of fish.
Why Should I Choose a Spincast Reel?
Spincast reels are the prominent stayer in the entry-level category. A little more attention from manufacturers has seen performance and quality upgrades.
However, the spincast remains an entry-level reel targeted at the kids and beginners.
This is perhaps the reason most avid anglers are not going to see many spincast reels deployed while they’re out on the water.
Lightweight spin technology has left the spincast reel in its wake. The two don’t even compare.
For that matter, the casting reel has come ahead in leaps and bounds reducing the impacts of backlash. It’s still there and backlash will happen, even with the most user-friendly brake systems.
However, the new baitcaster technology has encouraged countless anglers to take up baicasters when they otherwise might not have.
Importantly, the newer, lightweight, low profile baicasters are presenting options for fishing lighter and lighter.
This leaves the poor old spincast reel corralled in a limited fishing niche with no real way out. Other reels simply do it all better.
This means that kids, beginners, and those old-hands on a nostalgia trip, are the main market for the closed face reel.
As a kid, I hated my spincast reel. I couldn’t wait for a spin reel. When I was a kid, I fished with one of my dad’s friends (an outstanding angler), who used a spincast frequently.
He cast the smallest minnows available on 4-pound mono. We’d fish tight, on a drift targeting holes in the mudflats along the banks.
This was nigh on 40 years ago, however, so the spincast reel was well suited for this, and just as capable for light lure fishing as any spin reel of the day.
When and Why Would You Use a Spincast Reel?
I’m genuinely compelled to blurt out, “I don’t know.” To be honest, I’m sort of surprised they still exist.
Especially when you consider how manufacturers have taken spin and casting reels into a new world of technological brilliance and user-friendly operation.
The Experienced Angler and Spincast
There is an undying bread of old-hand anglers who still have an affinity with the spincast.
Traditions are powerful, and a lot of dedicated anglers remain attached to the methods and equipment on which they built and honed their skills.
In short, there are still significant numbers of anglers who genuinely enjoy the feel of a spincast reel. These anglers use spincast for light and ultra-light inshore work.
The Novice and Spincast
The spincast reel gets its top ‘novice’ billing via ease of use. For that reason alone, it finds its way into the hands of plenty of prospective new anglers.
While I understand this approach for little kids, I don’t subscribe to the approach for older kids and adults. Most people have basic motor skills and timing skills to learn to cast a spin reel.
It’s not that difficult. In fact, my five-year-old daughter got the hang of it pretty quickly following some age-appropriate coaching.
Which leads me to the kid factor. Manufacturers target the younglings market with spincast.
In much of the advertising, you will see or hear, “great for the kids” or “great for teaching the kids to fish.”
I agree to a certain extent. But let’s address this a little closer.
Kids and Spincast Reels
As a kid, I hated my spincast reel. I always found that I’d snap the line inside the cover.
I was always taking it off and was never comfortable not being able to see the tangles that were forming from the poor line lay. I never understood the cover, and still don’t.
I frequently had troubles with poor line lay, meaning my already limited casting prowess was further hampered.
The button casting system wasn’t a problem, however, my random button finger made it difficult to cast it where I wanted, let alone get any distance.
And distance was something I wanted as a kid.
At age 6 my pop gave me my first spin reel. I couldn’t believe what I’d been missing.
The point to my little childhood anecdote is this. I believe I would have taken to the spin reel straight up.
The staged graduation via spincast, I believe, in hindsight, was unnecessary and contributed more to frustration than casting confidence.
For my 5-year-old daughter, I went straight to a 2000 size spin reel. There were plenty of misses that related to timing and loading up with the line compressed to the handle.
Over a few sessions, this was overcome to an extent where she could practice unassisted.
My daughter is not particularly sporting yet had the normal motor skills of a 5-year-old.
I firmly believe that the ability to see the line peeling from the spool, as well as see it collect on the spool, was a benefit.
She could see loops; she could see poor line lay and learned quickly how to make adjustments.
Learning spin or spincast requires similar levels of dexterity and fine motor skills.
This is also the reel they will likely use going forward, so it makes sense to become familiar with it as soon as possible.
The bonus is that I believe managing the bail arm and spin reel timing directly contributed to her quickly developing fine motor skills that could be transferred to other disciplines.
So where does that leave us with the spincast’s position as number one kiddies reel?
I believe it has a place, particularly when kids are having difficulty with hand and finger coordination.
My advice is when you wish to teach young kids how to cast and fish that you have a spincast or two on hand.
Let them try both and see which one they take to. They’ll soon let you know the reel they’re keen on.
And you’ll quickly work out which one they’re going to master fastest. Even the good spincast reels are inexpensive. Grab a couple of good ones for your arsenal.
They’re no load to carry, and they may well be the best introduction to a lifetime of fishing passion.
Top 3 Best Spincast Reels Reviewed
There aren’t any spincast reels in my arsenal any longer. I had to go to some lengths to get my hands on likely contenders.
To be honest, my jaw dropped at some of the options and I had some great fun going through them.
I also came across quite a number that took me back to the spincast nightmares of my childhood. And that’s why this is a reduced list of 3 standouts.
The reels below are quality and despite the fact I’m not a fan of the spincast design, these are reels I’d be happy to recommend to either the kids, beginners, or the old experienced spincast fans who love the easy-going feel and sport of spincast reels.
1. KastKing Brutus Spincast Fishing Reel
“Best Kid’s First Spincast Reel”
I can say for certain that at the ripe old age of 6, should I have found this under the Christmas tree I would have burst with excitement.
This is probably the most impressive looking spincast reel I’ve ever seen. The space-age high-tech cosmetics I’m near certain is more marketing ploy than the necessity of function.
I defy any kid (and their dads) not to be compelled by the futuristic look of the KastKing Brutus Spincast Fishing Reel.
Where the kids are concerned, looks will go a heck of a long way. I believe this is a clever design from KastKing as plenty of kids will be drawn to its appearance.
This is important, as things like cosmetic appeal will go a long way to getting the kids enthused.
It doesn’t for a moment look like a toy. It really looks like serious fishing kit. And for all intent and purpose, it is.
But does performance live up to the outstanding presentation? Well, not quite, but it certainly goes far enough.
There are several features I find quite impressive. The first was the ability to cast this little space ship. I was getting an astonishing distance.
Granted, the rod I was using was top shelf, but I have to be honest and say the reel wasn’t out of place strapped to a very expensive baitcaster rod.
The dual-line pick-up system was new to me. I’m not quite sure if it was comparatively better than line pick-up other good models I tried, but it was certainly good.
This is great for setting hooks and also goes some ways to keeping the line smooth on the spool.
The left/right handle option is an outstanding inclusion. I find it crazy that this feature is standard.
After all, they’re designed for noobs who might not be sure if they prefer a left or right crank.
5 bearings deliver a surprisingly smooth feel, that was inspirational compared to other spincast reels I’ve used.
To top it off, I found the ergonomics very good. Which is an important inclusion for developing hands and motor skills.
Both the drag system and the casting button were easy to operate. This is important, as you want the noobs to focus on timing more than grappling with buttons.
There’s 11 pounds of drag and the spool will hold 160 yards of 10-pound mono, which for a spincast, is huge.
The Brutus is actually quite capable of a variety of inshore applications.
- Excellent spool capacity
- Attention to aesthetics. Most kids will love the way it looks
- Spool capacity is far more generous than competitors
- Ergonomics will suit a variety of hand sizes and rod handling skills
- Lightweight. So ideal for the young ones
- Paddle design handle and left-right handle is another bonus for young hands
- With a 4.0:1 ratio, it’s faster than many of its competitors
- Not convinced of build quality. The jury still out on durability but I’m not able to test longevity or capacity under serious pressure and abuse from careless hands
Features and Specifications
- Gear Ratio: 4.0:1
- Graphite frame
- 5 X stainless shielded ball bearings
- Max Drag 11 pounds
- Mono Line Capacity (Lbs/Yds):10/160,12/130
- Braid Line Capacity (Lbs/Yds):0.25/145,0.28/120丨
- Weight 9.88 OZ
- Retrieve 15.75
2. Zebco Omega Spincast Reel
“One To Impress The Grown-ups”
It would be strange to have a spincast list without a Zebco. After all, Zebco gave us the spincast in the first place.
I have to admit there is quite a number in their range which I really couldn’t recommend. However, the Omega will appeal to most spincast fans of all ages.
In all honesty, they’re nothing to look at. In fact, they have an old school meets ill-considered upgrade about them that is a little off-putting for me but potentially appealing to some.
The most impressive aspect is the build quality. While I cannot attest to durability, the use of stainless, brass, and alloys and ceramic suggests a well-cared-for reel will last indefinitely.
I really like the pick-up on the Zebco, it felt reliable. That’s hardly scientific, I know. It was a feel thing that I have to say inspired confidence.
I managed more than enough distance on a cast while producing nothing to write home about.
It’s more than adequate, and I expect a more skilled spincast angler than me would extract plenty more.
The smooth feel was a surprise. I have to say that it has been a long time since I used a spincast (several decades). So my surprise is probably to be expected.
The solid feel suggests that it does have the capacity to wrestle a larger class of fish.
A 7 bearing drive system certainly allows the gears to remain meshed and operating at peak. This augers well for the more aggressive battle.
I had a love-hate relationship with the cast button. I loved the feel but felt it was in the way at other times. The button will be a personal preference thing, so I suggest trying it.
It’s heavier than its competitors, but this wasn’t the slightest issue for me, in fact, I like it. No doubt the weight is owing to its sturdy all-metal construction.
The drag dial was easy enough to fine-tune and placed with reasonable convenience for my less than dexterous fingers.
The Zebco is one of the ugliest fishing reels I’ve ever touched. However, it is also the only one I would recommend to the more discerning angler.
- Impressive build quality
- All metal frame and internals
- Smooth crank
- Really smooth cast and pick-up. The line remained tidy on the spool
- Line pick-up is probably the outstanding feature
- It’s flat-out ugly
- Unnecessarily slow ratio
- Not a fan of the cast button shape and position (highly subjective criticism)
Features and Specifications
- Bearings + 1
- Solid-brass pinion gear
- Anodized aluminum spinner head
- Patented no-tangle design
- Comfortable soft-touch thumb-button design
- Triple-cam dial-adjustable disk drag
- All-metal gears
- 3X Positive Pick-up Ceramic Pins
- Forged Aluminum and double anodized front cover
- Durable all-metal construction
- Instant Anti-Reverse clutch
- Changeable right- or left-hand retrieve
- Oscillating Quick-Change Spool
- Ratio 2.9:1
- Mono 85 yards of 10 pound
- Weight 13 Oz
3. Daiwa Goldcast Spincast Reel, GC100
“No frills but Built to handle the rough stuff”
Many spincast users will know the GC100. It’s been in the Daiwa stable for some time and is a proven performer.
For my money, this reel is about performance without the frills and fuss. In many respects, it’s rough and ready, but despite the lack of inclusions, it’s a quality build.
There is beauty and utility in simplicity, and that’s what the GC100 is all about.
There’s one lonesome bearing in its relatively heavy body. But it doesn’t pretend to be anything it’s not.
It’s about solid, reliable, predictable, performance in a robust package that will handle the rough stuff from careless kids and your mates.
It’s the feel that works for me. I like that the body sits a little further from the foot. I like the cast button, which I feel, however, is its only durability flaw.
But what I really like is the gaping big hole in the cover which reduces friction and allows for better casts and less potential to fray delicate mono.
While the spool capacity is pretty standard and less than generous, the ratio is a little faster than its contemporaries. It’s weighty at a touch under 10 ounces but this really appeals to me.
Of course, with one bearing don’t expect a buttery smooth crank. However, you might be surprised when you find it’s not as rough and ready as one bearing might suggest.
In terms of looks; it probably has the broadest appeal. The gold and black is a pretty common combo in fishing reels.
In many respects, the neutral aesthetic might be responsible for its popularity. Shelf appeal goes a long way to winning customers.
As much as anything, it’s the Daiwa brand that instills a level of confidence. Yes, I’m a Daiwa fan, but I have no bias. Daiwa makes a good quality reel.
I like the Daiwa for the broadest range of angler and fishing applications. I also think its performance punches a little harder than its price point might suggest.
The Daiwa Goldcast Spincast Reel is the proverbial sure thing. No, your heart won’t melt when you cast it, and you might not fall in love.
However, when you hook-up bigger than expected, you’ll feel like you have the upper hand.
Solid casting, solid pick-up, and a smooth-enough crank. The Goldcast is value for money and will perform well over countless fishing sessions.
- Simple solid construction
- Appealing neutral styling
- Solid, durable construction
- Stronger than it appears
- Decent size hole in the cover
- Reliable pick-up
- Not the smoothest crank
- Ordinary spool capacity
- Limited inclusions
- Right hand only
Features and Specifications
- Gear ratio: 4.1: 1
- Line capacity: 80/10
- Weight: 9.9 oz
- Bearings: 1 Ball Bearing
- Weight: 9.90 ounces
- Line Capacity: 10/80
- Line Per Handle Turn: 20.8′
So, Which Is The Best Spincast Reel?
If I had to choose one for myself, the Zebco would be my choice. I have to squint when I look at it, but I know it will perform as would like, and for a long time.
The KastKing Brutus is a no-brainer for somebody’s 8-year-old kids. They’ll explode with joy, and they’ll be casting it into the puddles out in the front yard the moment it’s out of the box.
The Daiwa is a special for my fishing buddy Marty. He’s hard on his gear, accident-prone and usually operates best without the responsibility of refined or delicate equipment. It’s robust and simple.
Just like him.
While I’m not a fan of spincast, I have to admit revisiting the topic has made me nostalgic. In many respects, I have a new appreciation.
However, with all the wonderful spin and casting reels available, I still remain curious as to why the humble spincast is still a thing.