There are so many choices! How to cull the good from the bad? By recognizing higher price does not always equate to better quality! There are great inexpensive reels with the same features as expensive name brands – you just need to know what to look for in a good spinning reel. If you use these 11 criteria to evaluate a spinning reel, then you will know exactly what you are getting and avoid disappointment. In this post, we will look at items 1 – 5.

11 Things To Consider When Buying A Spinning Reel (Part 1)

  1. Spool design – long cast or traditional
  2. Line on spool – level and even; no shims required
  3. Spool material – aluminum vs. graphite
  4. Braid grip design on spool
  5. More bearings for smooth retrieve
  6. Handle knob material and rotation on handle
  7. Gear ratio
  8. Reeling function – no wobble
  9. Instant anti-reverse
  10. Frame construction
  11. Carbon fiber drag system


Spool design: While you can deal with minor shortfalls in other areas, casting distance is critical for a successful trip. If you can get another 15 feet on every cast and make 100 casts, then you have covered another 1,500 feet of fishable water! The distant 15 feet is farthest away from where the fish are not aware of your presence… sitting un-spooked and ready to hit.

Look for long cast design features on the spinning reel’s spool – the spool size and the spool lip. Both design elements reduce friction. Every time a layer of the line starts to unwrap, it hits the lip of the spool and loses distance from friction. Elongated or “fat” spools allow more line to leave the spool with only one tap on the lip. Regular size spools minimize friction by angling the lip to reduce friction. Instead of hitting the traditional flat lip, the line glides over a beveled lip to minimize the friction as the top wrap leaves the reel.

Elongated spools cost more to manufacture since there is more material while a beveled lip design is just a smart decision by the manufacturer that does not add to the cost. Therefore, look for the angled lip as the more cost-effective solution.

Line on Spool: When you load line on the spinning reel, it should lie flat and level from top to bottom with no humps or bumps. If the spinning reel comes with shims, don’t buy it! That is a red flag that the manufacturer wants to you tune the reel to overcome issues they could have solved at the factory. A shim changes the orientation of the spool on the shaft to align the spool with the bail. A good reel will not require this and will already be calibrated at the factory to lay down line evenly.

Level line is critical to add casting distance since the line will leave the spool smoothly without being snagged on bumps created by an uncalibrated bail. The worst case is when the line slants from thick at the top to skinny at the bottom – a triangle. In that instance, every departing wrap will pull against the thicker base of the triangle near the lip as well as hit the lip.

Spool Material: A good spool is made from aluminum, not graphite since aluminum will not crack. Graphite might deform as the line tightens down on the reel through use – especially for monofilament since it may shrink and tighten on the reel.

Braid Grip: Braided fishing line tends to spin on a smooth spool. Therefore, look for spools designed for braided line since they work fine for other types of line as well. A braided line spool will have mechanisms, like rubber inserts, to grip the braid and prevent rotation.

More Bearings: The more bearings a spinning reel has, the smoother it will crank. If everything else is equal, select the spinning reel with the most bearings if they are stainless steel or ceramic. Chrome plated steel, chrome steel or other materials are less expensive and will not last. If faced with the choice of more bearings made of lower grade material vs fewer bearings of stainless steel or ceramic, select the spinning reel with the better bearing.

11 Things To Consider When Buying A Spinning Reel (Part 1) 1

How our Cadence Fishing spinning reels stack up against the criteria:

Criteria CS10 CS8 CS7 CS6
Long Cast Spool Design YES YES YES YES
Level Line on Spool YES YES YES YES
Aluminum Spool/Bail YES YES YES YES
Braid Grips on Spool YES YES YES YES
Number of Bearings 10+1 9+1 9+1 7+1
EVA Handle Material YES YES YES YES
Gear Ratio – 1000 Series 5.2:1 5.2:1 5.2:1 5.2:1
Gear Ratio – 2000 Series 6.2:1 6.2:1 6.2:1 6.2:1
Gear Ratio – 3000 Series 6.2:1 6.2:1 6.2:1 6.2:1
Gear Ratio – 4000 Series 6.2:1 6.2:1 6.2:1 6.2:1
No Wobble; Tuned Retrieve YES YES YES YES
Instant Anti-Reverse YES YES YES YES
Frame Construction Magnesium Magnesium Aluminum Aluminum
Carbon Fiber Drag System YES YES YES YES
Cost $119.99 $99.99 $79.99 $69.99


Continue to Part 2 – click here