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For the avid bass hunter, the casting reel has mainly been the dominant reel of choice. Chasing bass is woven into the fabric of American fishing.
Traditions die hard, and casting reel technology has gone nuclear, so there is still a significant portion of the bass hunting fraternity that lead with a casting reel.
However, the sheer volume of superior quality, affordable spinning reels for bass, is threatening the dominance of casting reels on the bass front.
Good, modern spin reels are absolute weapons. The precision tech, and the range and choice are mind-blowing.
Let’s take a look at 6 of the best spinning reels for bass that are making a serious claim to the casting reel throne.
We’ll look at 2 premium, 2 mid-priced, and 2 entry-level spin reels.
Quick Overview – Best Spinning Reels for Bass
Last update on 2021-02-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
What To Consider When Buying Spinning Reels for Bass Fishing
Bass Reel Selection Criteria
So, by what metrics am I basing my lofty claims. It’s a fair question that deserves an answer. Interestingly, I have only one key measure.
The reels on this list are a sure thing. For their price point, there’s no compromise. With the reels listed below, it’s very difficult to argue something is better – only different.
This is not about an in-depth comparison between all competitors. Splitting hairs between a 5 dollar price difference or 20 yards of spool capacity is pointless.
There are far too many excellent reels to make comparisons in a short article. For starters, I’ve not tried half of the reels available, so suggesting the ones listed here are the best would be pure fabrication.
The reels below deliver on their promise. Given appropriate care, they’ll last indefinitely and, most importantly, they’ll be brilliant for serious bass fishing.
Which Reel Size to Choose for Fishing Bass?
The lion’s share of serious spin reel fishing for bass is undertaken with a reel size of 3000 or smaller.
It’s my opinion, no doubt shared by countless others, that a quality, high performance 3000 size spin reel delivers all the versatility you need for tackling any bass you can find, from pan size to record breakers.
With finesse fishing growing at a break-neck pace, I’ve made sure that the reels included on this list are available from sizes 1000 to 3000.
Top 6 Best Spinning Reels for Bass Fishing Reviewed
Here are the 6 bass fishing reel reviews
1. Shimano Stella FJ 3000
“Best Overall Spinning Reel For Bass”
Stella is legend. Is it worth the second mortgage on your home? Maybe not. But as far as spin reels go, it doesn’t get any better than this.
Sure, it has peers and even reels of equal performance for less outlay. But when you’re buying a Ferrari or Bentley, the price doesn’t really figure in the conversation.
I’ll list the inclusions below, but safe to say it has all of Shimano’s flagship tech. The crank is smooth beyond all reason, with silent drive adding an aural sensation that seems to make it even smoother.
It’s very strong and rigid thanks to the Hagane full metal body.
There’s a whopping 25 pounds of Rigid support drag which comes into its own when your drag is cranked up to the max.
Even record-breaking bass are no match as the line peels off smoothly with a distinct absence of jerks and wobbles.
However, even wound right off to its lightest setting, the drag remains incredibly smooth and predictable. It also responds well to super-fine tuning.
Did I say smooth? 12 bearings work in concert with Shimano’s Hagane gearing and Micro module gear II. For me, that’s where you can really feel the dollar value.
While legend on bass, I’d happily peg the 3000 at pelagic species in the blue water for some serious sport.
It’ll hold 200 yards of 10-pound braid, so you’re in with a shot even with a larger class of fish.
For bass, the 3000 ratio is perfect. It’s ideal for cranking, but even if you want to flip and pitch at pace, Stella makes it easy with the extra high cast rating.
The 3000 comes in at just under 9 ounces. With a belly full of bearings, weight gains are inevitable.
However, such is the feel of Stella, it feels super-light. It’s jam-packed with muscle yet maintains a very refined feel.
- As good as spinning reels get. Every key features a standout
- Ridiculously expensive
Features and Specifications
- 12+1 S ARB Bearing system
- Hagane Gear
- Micro Module Gear II
- Hagane Body
- Silent Drive
- G Free Body
- AR-C Spool
- E.I. Surface Treatment
- Rigid Support Drag
- One-Piece Bail
- Extra-High Crank Power Rating
- Front Drag
- Extra-High Cast Rating
2. Daiwa Exist Reels 3000
“Best Premium Spinning Reel for Bass“
I’m still surprised how the Exist skirts the fringes of the premium reel market. Granted, it’s one heck of an expensive reel.
And its stablemate, the Certate, which is significantly less pain on the pocket, offers a similar level class.
Its immediate competitor is the Shimano Stella. Be it clever marketing or a better price point, the Stella enjoys significantly more market presence.
For my money, if I had to choose 1 of them, I think the Exist would end up in my reel arsenal. Generally speaking, the Exist is a classier looking reel.
For most anglers, that’s not a big deal, sure. However, I think the fact that it’s significantly lighter, would appeal to plenty of anglers.
It manages to keep the weight well down, yet still has 12 + 1 bearings, delivering a crank as smooth as any other reel in its class.
To be honest, there are few reels in its class.
There are a couple of pounds less drag than the Stella, with the Daiwa having 22 pounds of Daiwa’s flagship Automatic Tournament Drag.
Given the choice, the smooth initiation of ATD wins it for me over the Stella drag. There is less chance of dropping big bass on strike due to better inertial dynamics.
Spool capacities are a little better than the Stella, particularly with the 3000 which holds 240 meters of PE2. The 3000 CHX gets you a faster ratio but drops quite a bit in spool capacity.
At 5.2:1, cankers will love the ratio. While a little slow, the crank is so buttery smooth, it can accommodate some frantic winding if you’re flipping and pitching on the move.
Sealed within an inch of its life with Magseal, virtually nothing gets into its finely tuned internals.
While corrosion is not such an issue for the bass angler, keeping the water out can add decades to the working life of a reel. Casting manners are impeccable.
With the right rod, it’s an extension of your arm.
The rigidity of the monocoque body not only keeps gears in perfect mesh under load but increases overall feel and sensitivity, everything is transferred to the angler’s hand.
The Exist is for the bass angler that with more discerning tastes in reels. The Exist is a class act with the finest pedigree.
A genuine investment.
- Lightest in its class
- Powerful yet refined
- Will last forever if cared for
- Could be a little faster
- Extremely expensive
Features and Specifications
- 12+1 Ball bearing system
- Tough Digigear
- Monocoque Body
- Mag Seal
- Mag Sealed Line Roller
- Magseal Bearings
- ABS II
- Air Spool
- Zaion Air Rotor
- Rotor Brake
- Silent Oscillation
- Real Stopper
- Aluminum machine cut handle
- ATD – Automatic Tournament Drag
3. Daiwa BG MQ Reel
“Best Value for Money Bar None“
The Daiwa BG MQ is the new version of the old BG. In my books, this upgrade to the monocoque body was a stroke of genius, and further indication that Daiwa is starting to set the pace in the spin reel market.
This is the best value for money reel on this list. I was vaguely aware that the BG upgrade was on the way but paid little attention to it.
A tackle client sent a request to right it up, and I had to go and seek one out. I found one in a local tackle store and was quite surprised to see its merchandising placement.
It was sitting in the locked glass, downlit cabinet, next to some pretty pricey company. Not what I was expecting from a BG upgrade.
The cool thing was it didn’t look the slightest bit out of place.
Interestingly, it’s BG in name and color only. The monocoque body has completely changed the reel. The feel is radically different, as is the performance.
For me, there is a specific type of angler who should check this out. It’s for the angler who wants an awesome spin reel but can’t push the budget to or beyond 300 bucks.
The new BG sits at the accessible end of the mid-price ticket, and that is one of its best features. The MQ body gets rid of a heap of wasted space.
Importantly, strength and rigidity are increased out of sight. If you want to cover every bass size, plus the monster you’ve always dreamed of, the BG MQ has it covered.
6 bearings deliver a crank even smoother than the 6 bearings suggest. There’s 10kg of ATD with a big spool that will hold 300 meters of PE 1.5. That alone is plenty of battle power.
The Longcast spool makes it an ideal choice for the land-based angler. It’s long and accurate.
The strength of the reel makes landing a larger class of fish over reeds and obstruction a lot easier (depending on your rod).
Those anglers enjoying a lightweight feel will be most impressed. The all-alloy body and air rotor work in concert with the smooth crank delivering a super-light feel.
Again, it ‘feels’ far more expensive than it is.
I haven’t fished it yet, but I certainly tested it under load with the help of Rob, my local tackle expert. It’s excellent. But the rigidity blew me away, in so much as it was very noticeable.
The price point suggests that maybe there has been some compromise inside.
I was assured, however that isn’t the case, and that customers can expect outstanding durability over a long working life.
This is great stuff from Daiwa. If you’re looking to restock your bass spinning reel arsenal, you have to put the Daiwa BG MQ on your list for investigation.
- Superb strength
- Monocoque body
- Brilliant affordable pricing. Outstanding Value for money
- For this price…Nothing
Features and Specifications
- Monocoque (MQ) body
- Metal Alloy Body
- ATD drag
- ABS Longcast Spool
- Air Rotor
- Infinite Anti-reverse
- Machine cut handle
- Perfect Line stopper
4. Daiwa Saltist 3000
“Best Mid Price Point Solid Spin Reel“
I’ve been a big fan of the Saltist since the upgrade back in 2016. The reason it impresses me most is that it looks refined, however, this is one heck of a rugged reel.
Most of the anglers I fish with are terrible to their fishing gear (yes, me included). We spend a lot of time bashing through all sorts of jungle, banging, and crashing.
We spend days away on fishing trips, with little to no reel maintenance.
Contrary to my early belief, the Saltist is absolutely built for this kind of rugged adventuring.
Reel specs have any bass you can imagine completely covered, with class and style, even after seasons of neglect.
Not that I’m encouraging neglect. Look after a Saltist, and you’ll have it for countless sessions year after year.
It’s heavy in modern terms at over 9 ounces, but you won’t notice it, especially on the crank. Air Rotor plus 8 silky smooth and sealed bearings deliver an outstanding crank.
A 5.6 ratio is reasonable, particularly for cranking. I‘d probably choose another reel for flipping and pitching from my kayak, but if this was my only choice, I’d not complain for a second.
Relative to competitors, the 6kg of drag is a little light. However, in all honesty, 99.9% of the time, this isn’t going to be a problem.
With 300 meters of 15-pound braid, a lighter drag isn’t going to be the slightest problem, even chasing the biggest of angry bass.
The Saltist is a stylish looking reel. Great highlights yet understated. The handle is a genuine feature. It’s size and knob feel great and inspire an aggressive crank when the heat is on.
The Saltist, as the name suggests, is designed for saltwater work. The alloy body and Magseal are all about keeping the salt out of your internals and mitigating corrosion.
While this might seem overkill for a fresh environment, it’s not.
Water, be it fresh or salt, especially water ingress, is a catalyst for reel degradation. The alloy body and Magseal ensure exceptional durability.
Saltist performance is superb. The 3000 will handle the biggest of bass but will always feel like sport when the size and class are considerably down.
The Saltist is a refined reel, however, it’s DNA is pure rugged grunt.
- Smooth Crank
- Strength under load
- Longevity. The Saltiga will last.
- Drag capacity is a little light on relative to its contemporaries
- Heavier than similar models in this category
Feature and Specifications
- Aluminum Body
- Digigear II
- Air Rotor
- Air Bail
- ABS II
- Twistbuster II
- ATD (Tournament drag system)
- 8+1 Ball bearing system
5. Okuma Ceymar
“Best Budget Spinning Reel for Bass“
The Ceymar is one heck of an argument against high-end reels for bass fishing. I would challenge anybody to cast and fish the Ceymar next to a premium spin reel and feel 800 dollars of difference.
The body is graphite, which is not my favorite reel material. However, the weight is kept down and there’s no big sacrifice in strength and rigidity.
The heavily ported spool and the handle are alloy, which keeps weight down even further, compliments aesthetics, and enhances performance overall.
The brass pinion likely increases longevity. However, I can’t attest to lifespan as such a test would take years.
The crank, with its 7 bearings is silky smooth. The bearing also delivers a further boost to longevity as critical moving parts are so well supported.
The reel is pretty compact, which will appeal to a heap of bass anglers. The lightweight compact design really does assist in comfortable rapid-fire fishing, such as flipping and pitching.
There’s a great ergonomic feel to the Ceymar which is one of its standout features.
The drag system is pretty smooth for this price point. With 6kg of head-turning power, the 3000 will be more than enough for any bass you will encounter.
Spool capacities are generous enough. It would take light drag and a big fish to empty your spool.
It’s a dream to cast and will suit the land-based bass angler seeking serious length. It’s also a popular model for kayak anglers.
Crank fans will love the speed. But the 5.0 ratio is pretty slow, relative to its competitors, arguably cutting into its versatility credentials.
However, a super smooth crank allows you to up the retrieve rating without getting all crossed up and wobbly.
At a touch over 8 ounces, purists will argue it’s on the heavier side. I disagree. I class 7 and under in the 3000 as light, and I challenge any angler to feel the extra fatigue of only 1 ounce.
The Ceymar is a reel I’d happily have in my arsenal. I’m pretty careful with the fishing budget, and value for money is high on the list. The Ceymar is definitely value for money.
It delivers exceptional performance at this price point and should be a consideration for the bass angler looking for excellent performance at a budget price.
- Affordable performance
- Great looks
- 7 bearings make for a super-smooth crank
- Excellent casting manners
- Not a fan of graphite body. However, it keeps the reel affordable
- Speed is a little slow
Features and Specifications
- 7+1 Ball bearings included
- Machine cut brass pinion gear
- Graphite narrow body design
- Alloy spool
- Alloy handle
- Ergonomic EVA knob
- Heavy-duty bail wire
6. Penn Pursuit series 3
“Best Entry Level Reel For Bass“
The Pursuit has been a huge seller for Penn. The Pursuit III continues this success, winning even more every-day anglers, looking for reliability, strength, and durability in an affordable performance reel.
The combination of Stainless Steel, Aluminum, Graphite, with a sealed drag system ensures the Pursuit is a go-to, every session reel.
The Penn is a fantastic option for the modest reel arsenal, where 2 or 3 reels cover all applications. For my money, this is an excellent option for the one-reel arsenal.
The HT 100 drag system is the Penn flagship. There’s only 5.4 kg of drag, which makes it pretty light in its class, but this should not be considered a deal-breaker.
The ample spool will hold 180 yards of 20-pound braid. The combination of spool capacity and drag is more than enough for the toughest bass you will ever encounter.
Relative to its competitors, the crank is pretty quick at 6.2. This ratio sits perfectly in the middle, delivering a high level of versatility for the angler casting a variety of lure styles and techniques.
There are 4 stainless bearings that combine to deliver a surprisingly smooth crank.
It’s a breeze to crank under load, with the handle and oversized knob delivering an ergonomic feel that encourages anglers to lay into a fight with confidence.
The black with silver highlights theme is a winner for those who appreciate the stealth look. It’s sleek and modern looking without straying too far from traditional classic looks.
The alloy spool feels very balanced, which the consistent line-lay attests to.
The spool capacity rings are a nice feature, particularly for the mono user who strips line after a few sessions to expose the fresh stuff.
The key feature of the Penn is its robust construction. This should hardly be a surprise, as this is what Penn reel design is all about.
Don’t think for a moment that it’s just a chunky, muscle-bound winch. It’s anything but.
The Penn is refined performance, without the delicate bits that tend to make aggressive anglers a little nervous.
The Penn is excellent bass kit for the angler requiring endurance on a budget. At a very reasonable budget price, the Penn punches well above its price point.
- Affordable performance
- Ergonomic larger knob
- Excellent classic styling
- Few tech features
- Lighter drag than its competitors
Features and Specifications
- HT-100 carbon fiber Drag
- Sealed drag system
- Lightweight graphite body
- 4+1 stainless steel bearings
- Aluminum Spool with a superline ring
- Line capacity rings
- Corrosion resistance
The Wrap Up
If I had to choose the best spinning reel for bass fishing from the three categories, I’d find it a very tough call.
All of these reels are excellent performers designed for bass fishing excellence.
In the premium class, I’d take the exist. I think it wins in its class. This says a lot, as the Stella is legend.
From the mid-price point, I’d take the Daiwa BG MQ. I love the Saltist, it’s a brilliant reel. But the price factor and promise of the new BG has sealed my decision.
The BG, in my opinion, is an indication that Daiwa is starting to leave other manufacturers behind.
In the entry-level category, the Ceymar wins it for me. As a rough-as-guts angler, the Penn is probably a more suitable reel.
However, there’s something about the refinement at this price point that sees the Okuma win it for me.
While “best” is in the titles and headings, I’m not really claiming these reels as “best”.
What I am claiming is these reels are a hands-down sure thing. They live up to the promise of the manufacturers…and then some!