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When’s the last time you’ve used a spincast reel? Like most fishermen, I started out with a spincast reel fishing local ponds and rivers catching bass and bream.
Through the years I have gotten away from these reels in favor of using baitcast and spinning reels because…hey…that’s what grown-ups use right?
But when was the last time you checked out a spincast reel?
Did you know they have evolved to incorporate the same features as bait casters and spinning reels like a strong drag, 5+ ball bearings, and even a bait-runner feature?
In this best spincast reels guide I’ll help you maneuver the different reel terminology and help point you to what I think are the best reels on the market.
I’ve set aside a week-long fishing trip to try out 8 of the top-selling spincast reels.
During the trip, I tested these reels in the categories of reel construction, drag system, and how many ball bearings they have to come up with a top 5 list of spincast reels.
Top 3 Baitcasting Reels on the Market
As a quick summary, here are my top three choices for best spincast reels based on my research and testing.
Table of Contents
Two of the most important features of a spincast reel are how fast the reel retrieves line and the quality of the drag system.
While on the water I also wanted to check out how accurately it casted so I headed to a nearby lake that was loaded with structure and docks.
I figured it would give me the opportunity to have a target to cast at in order to gauge the accuracy of each reel.
During my time on the water I specifically focused on the following qualities that each reel possessed:
- Construction: Like any reel, the material that is used to make it is very important. During my test, I examined each reel and ranked each one according to how well the reel is put together and the material used to make it.
- Drag System: What is probably the most glaring weakness of spincast reel, the drag system is a spec that I took a hard look at.
Not only does a quality drag help with reduced line breakage, but it also gives the fisherman an advantage when tiring out larger fish.
- Gear Ratio: Spincast reels are no different than other types of reel. Having the right gear ratio is important. During my test, I tried out these reels to see if their retrieve speeds held up to the manufacturer’s claim.
- Ball Bearings: How many ball bearings a reel has is one of the most important factors to look at when it comes to choosing the perfect spincast reel.
Smooth retrieves and casts is what it’s all about, and having high-quality ceramic bearings or stainless steel inside the reel can make a big difference in overall performance.
Best Overall Spincast Reel
Zebco Bullet Spincast Reel
- Type: Spincast
- Gear Ratio: 5.1:1
- Weight: 13.4 oz.
- Bearings: 8+1
- Line Capacity: 10/90
Why We Chose It
The Zebco Bullet Spincast Reel is an impressive reel and is unique because it’s the fastest reel in Zebco’s spincast arsenal.
The reel boasts an impressive gear ratio of 5.1:1 which was the fastest of any reel I tested.
Generally spincast reels struggle with line recovery but the Bullet pulls in 29” of line per turn of the handle.
The retrieve was excellent for a spincast reel. It has a total of 10 bearings inside which made a difference when turning the handle.
Zebco really did a great job with this spincast!
I was able to cast weightless Flukes and skip them across the water’s surface for some fun top-water spotted bass action.
The Bullet handled all of the bass with ease and the solid 14-lb. drag system was more than enough to handle these fish.
During my two hours of using this reel I had zero overruns or line twists and not once did I have to unscrew the cover to untangle the line.
The Zero Friction Pick-up pins guided my line onto the spool meticulously and really made a difference when casting out.
This reel was comparable with the Zebco Omega Pro Spincast which is slightly cheaper. The Omega has 15 lbs of drag but failed to keep pace with the Bullet in the line retrieval department with a gear ratio of 3.4:1.
The only weakness that I spotted with the Bullet is how much it weighed. It’s an all metal reel which makes it very durable but you’re going to feel it as the day goes on.
If you’re looking for a really solid spincast reel that excels in casting, retrieving, speed, and max drag, the Zebco Bullet Spincast Reel fits the bill.
It’s great for beginners and seasoned fishermen who have learned how to incorporate spincasters into their arsenal of reels.
Best Ultralight Spincast Reel
Zebco 33 Micro Spincast Reel
- Type: Spincast
- Gear Ratio: 4.3:1
- Weight: 5.8 oz.
- Bearings: 1
- Line Capacity: 4/90
Why We Chose It
I used a Zebco 33 when I was a kid and I have to say it remains one of my favorite spincast reels on the market.
The ultralight 5.8 oz. body barely feels like it’s there. I mounted the reel on a 6’ Lew’s Lite Spinning Rod and tucked up into a dead-end canal to beat the bank for some bluegill.
I was able to precisely drop a small rooster tail on my target numerous times. The button was tight and released the spool exactly when I let up with my thumb.
I was even able to skip a few casts underneath a dock which is something that I specifically look for in a spincast setup since spincast reels are the easiest to use when skipping under docks.
The Zebco 33 handled all of the bluegill with ease and the drag system even stood up to a 14-inch catfish which I had to fight for about five minutes due to the 4 lb. mono. which came pre-spooled on the reel.
A bonus feature to this reel is a built-in bite alert which has a baitrunner-like feel to it. I was able to test this feature and it worked flawlessly.
As the line was being pulled out, an alarm sounded giving me a heads up that something was on the other end.
I will say that the retrieve was average on this reel which is to be expected with only one ball bearing, however, the dual ceramic pickup pins layed out the line on the spool with precision causing zero line jams or overruns.
If you’re in the market for an ultralight spincast reel, the Zebco 33 Micro Spincast is a lightweight masterpiece.
It’s perfect for fishing for bream and other smaller freshwater fish. It would make the perfect starter reel for a kid as well. Give this reel a go and enjoy the ultralight ride!
Best Saltwater Spincast Reel
Zebco 808 Saltwater Spincast Reel
- Type: Spincast
- Gear Ratio: 2.6:1
- Weight: 12.4 oz.
- Bearings: 2+1
- Line Capacity: 20/145
Why We Chose It
I have to admit that I was totally shocked by the quality of the Zebco 808 Saltwater Reel when I tested it.
It’s a soldier of a spincast reel and probably the largest one that I have ever used. To compare it to a spinning reel, it’s about the size of a 2500 series reel which is stout for a spincast.
Since the reel is specifically geared for saltwater, Zebco made this reel to withstand a beating both by the saltwater elements and larger inshore saltwater fish.
The entire reel is made of metal which is coated with a corrosion-free finish to protect from the saltwater.
While testing the reel I was throwing a 4” swimbait to try to entice a big bass since that would be the closest thing I could get to catching a saltwater fish.
It cast smooth and the button was sensitive with no play in it. My casts were very accurate and there were no line twists or tangles inside the cover of the reel.
It took about a half hour but I latched on to a 3-pound bass when casting along a bulkhead in 8 feet of water.
The reels drag system withstood the initial run and sounded smooth for a spincast reel.
The dial-adjustable Magnum drag was easily accessible and I was able to rub my thumb across it to loosen the drag when the bass started to pull.
The extra large power knob made for a fantastic grip while churning the bass in.
One thing I will say about this reel is the gear ratio is awfully low 2.6:1 so If you’re looking to burn baits across the surface or jig lures in structure then this reel isn’t for you.
However, if you’re using a popping cork or a crankbait then this reel is perfect for you.
If you’re looking for a spincast reel to use on your next saltwater trip I highly advise trying out the Zebco 808.
It’s a true soldier of a reel and custom made for saltwater fishing which isn’t something you see in the spincast world.
Best Spincast Reel for Bass
Daiwa Goldcast Spincast Reel
- Type: Spincast
- Gear Ratio: 4.1:1
- Weight: 9.2 oz.
- Bearings: 1
- Line Capacity: 10/80
Why We Chose It
When it comes to casting distance, the Daiwa Goldcast lead the way and beat out all the other spincast reels that I tested at the lake.
The oscillating spool levelwind combined with the extra wide opening in the reel cover allowed me to cast my Rapala Shad Dancer crankbait nearly 50 yards which is a huge benefit when bass fishing.
Not only did the Daiwa Goldcast catch the most bass during my trip, it was the smoothest casting reel of the weekend.
The reel was surprisingly rigid with hardly any flex when casting a retrieving. The entire reel is made of metal which is extremely durable, however, it is a bit heavy weighing 9.2 oz.
This may be of concern if using a light rod or ultralight rod. Check out the Daiwa Underspin XD Reel if you are looking for a reel a little lighter.
The Underspin XD is a triggerspin reel and not a push-button so take note of that.
Touching back on the durability, I’d say this reel has the potential to last a lifetime for those who clean and oil it regularly.
Another noticeable quality was the drag as I was able to test it after setting the hook on a toad!
The bass destroyed my Shad Dancer when it crashed down on the water’s surface. The drag sounded great and gave line without any sporadic jerks.
If you’re looking for a solid spincast reel for bass fishing the Daiwa Goldcast is a no-brainer. It consistently delivered with drag strength and casting distance.
I recommend it for beginners and even seasoned bass anglers who are looking to cover a lot of water. Get this reel and thank me later.
Best Spincast Rod and Reel Combo
Pflueger President Spincast Combo
- Type: Spincast
- Gear Ratio: 3.8:1
- Weight: 9 oz.
- Bearings: 4+1
- Line Capacity: 8/90
Why We Chose It
The Pflueger President Spincast Combo comes with a 2-piece rod made of I-M8 graphite. The reel is a Pflueger President Spincast reel which I found was the better of the two.
The reel has 5 ball bearings which is impressive for a push-button reel.
The retrieve was smooth and the drag was also an impressive feature at a max of 10 lbs. While I didn’t catch any bass that were worthy of testing the drag I will say that the spool-applied dial drag was ultra easy to use.
With a quick swipe of my thumb, the drag can be tightened or loosened.
I will say that the President Spincast reel is made of aluminum which isn’t exactly the most durable material however it was light for a spincast reel weighing 9 oz.
As far as the rod goes, it’s a quality rod made with an I-M8 graphite blank.
The rod is a 6.6 medium-fast rod and comes in two pieces.
When casting, I found that it performed better with baits under 3 oz and seemed to be a bit bogged down when I threw a larger swimbait. Anything under 3 oz and this thing really excels.
During my test I had zero overruns and not once did I have to unscrew the cover to untangle the line.
The titanium pick-up pins guided my line onto the spool smoothly and in a consistent pattern which resulted in smooth casts and retrieves.
If you are looking for a slightly cheaper (In price) spincast rod and reel combo, I found that the Abu Garcia Max PRO Combo was comparable to the Pfleuger President Combo and was very similar in all specs however the Pfleugar reel made smoother casts and seemed to be of slightly better quality.
At the end of the day, the Pfleuger President Combo came out on top.
I would highly recommend it for beginners. This would actually make a great gift for a kid because it eliminates shopping for a matching rod.
The rod is perfectly matched to the reel and can be used right out of the package.
How to Choose the Best Spincast Reel
There are a few things to consider when choosing your next spincast reel.
What type of fish you will be going after is one glaring question that needs to be answered.
Spincast reels aren’t’ known for their strength in terms of max drag so offshore fishing is out of the question when it comes to spincast reels.
Below are a few things to look for when choosing your next spincast reel.
The most important component of a spincast reel is the pick-up pins. These act like the bail of a spinning reel and control the engagement of your line.
When you push the button, the pick-up pins release the line and when you start cranking they will engage the line again.
The pickup pins are the hardest working part of a spincast reel because they are always moving and have line constantly running across them.
Sometimes the pins can wear down and they won’t properly engage the line which will result in trouble retrieving.
Other times the mechanism designed to release the line doesn’t work properly and that’s even more frustrating.
The result is your line stopping dead in the air and your lure flying halfway across the lake or worse (wrapping around and flying back at you).
When looking at the specs on pick-up pins, look for materials like graphite, titanium, and ceramic versus plastic.
These will last longer and provide better performance over time.
Spincast reels are primarily used when targeting panfish, bass, and crappie. The reason for this is that they are small reels with low drag power.
Also, the gear ratios on spincast reels are lower than other reels because of how the guts of the reel work. If you are going after smaller fish like panfish and crappie, a reel with gear ratio of under 4.1:1 is what you want to buy.
If you’re looking to catch bass then a gear ratio from 4.1:1 to 5.1:1 is good because it will allow you to use a wide variety of lures.
I certainly enjoyed trying out all the different brands of spincast reels during my test.
Out of all the brands of reels that I tested I’d say that the Zebco’s consistently graded-out high when it comes to quality material, ease of use, and a smooth retrieve.
In the end, I think our top 5 list will help guide you to the best spincast reels.
So let’s review our top pick!
For the best spincast reel overall, we chose the Zebco Bullet Spincast Reel.
It was an outstanding reel and led the pack when it came to casting ability, a smooth retrieve, and a strong drag system.
While the Bullet won overall, you really can’t go wrong with all the reels mentioned in this best spincast reels guide that we’ve put together.
Give them a try and tell us what you think! We’d love to hear from you!