Last updated on July 14th, 2021 at 05:15 pm

Do you want to catch a steelhead this season? Your life will be much easier with the right equipment, specifically, the best spinning reel for steelhead! Having the right gear will greatly reduce your chances of losing a good catch. Read on to learn more about how to pick the best steelhead spinning reel and the top 10 spinning reels for steelhead in 2021.

Are you looking the best reel for catching steelhead? You’re in luck!

In this article, we review the best steelhead reels of 2021. Steelhead are fighters. They’re known to be a slightly more difficult fish to catch. But with the right equipment, you’ll see a much higher chance of success.

So let’s get to it! 

Whether you want to go surf fishing or by the docks, you’re going to enjoy the Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel! It’s one of the most powerful for its price range, having the strength and excellent construction to last.

It has high-quality fears that make it great for faster retrievals, a must for aggressive steelheads. You’re also able to cast even farther with better smoothness as you cast AND reel your catch in.

It doesn’t break down from pressure and is ready for the most intense fights with small and big fish. At a moderate price, you’ll be surprised by its performance and the way it looks. All in all, it’s worth the price and proven to be the editor’s choice.

We wrote a comprehensive Penn Battle 2 review here.

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Product Specifications/Features:

  • Weight: 1 pound
  • Material: Carbon and aluminum
  • Size: 2500
  • Gear Ratio: 6.2:1

Pros:

  • It has the flawless and fast retrieval made for steelhead
  • Excellent construction made for intense and larger fish
  • A bit heavy but solid materials to withstand oceans
  • Versatile and can be used for most fishing situations

Cons:

  • Can be sticky when cranking

This is one of the more popular reels on the market. This reel performs well. It has a smooth feel yet remains durable.

It’s lightweight msking it easy to handle. Very little issues with casting were noticed.

Shimano categorizes this reel as a freshwater reel, making it great for both inshore and offshore. We like this reel beginners thanks to it’s lightweight feel, smooth casting and reliability.

Check out our full Shimao Stradic Ci4 4000 review here.

**This model is currently out of stock. We’re recommending this as an alternative

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Product Specifications:

  • 6+1 bearings
  • Retrieve range 31-39 (in)
  • 5.6-8.1 weight range (oz)
  • Front drag
  • 7-24 (lb) drag power range

Pros:

  • Reel is lightweight yet sturdy using the best quality materials
  • Incorporates both new and old technologies which bring out the best in the reel
  • Maintenance is easy as the covers can be opened and the insides can be inspected for any problems
  • HAGANE gearing and HAGANE body help to make the reel useful for both inshore and offshore fishing
  • X ship technology works to improve gear durability and eliminates friction between the spool shaft and gear

Cons:

  • Although the reel is quite sturdy, the cost for repairing any damaged parts is quite high

**This item is currently out of stock. Click the button to view alternatives. 

The OKUMA Ceymar Spinning Reel is one of the best steelhead spinning reels for the money. It might have a slower retrieval rate, but enough to reel in your steelheads quickly. The reel also features a seven ball bearing system with one anti-reverse roller bearing to ensure a smooth feel.

The rods and reels hold up surprisingly well for their lower price point. With that said, you have to keep in mind that you do get what you pay for. The Okuma spinning reels are a solid, but you’ll start to see worse performance with steelhead over 20lbs or so. 

If you’re looking for the best steelhead spinning reels for the money, the Okuma Ceymar spinning reel is a top option. 

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Product Specifications:

  • Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Size: 3000
  • Gear Ratio: 5.0:1

Pros:

  • It has the smooth feel with well-oiled ball bearing system
  • The reel is a small and lightweight reel that fits well for average-sized steelheads
  • Comes at a very affordable price but with strong material and construction

Cons:

  • Reel handle feels flimsy

The Pflueger Supreme spinning reel is definitely a crowd favorite amongst steelhead fishermen, and fishermen in general. This reel is consistently praised for its solid performance at such a reasonable pricepoint.

This reel has several great features. It’s magnesium body makes it lightweight and durable. Users found the ergonomic design to be easy to use, and were very happy with the overall longevity of the reel.

We recommend this reel for beginners or professionals. It’s easy to use but also offers better performance for more experienced fishermen.

**The Supreme is currently out of stock, but the Pflueger President is an excellent alternative.

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Pros:

  • Lightweight carbon handle
  • Weighs less than 6 ounces
  • Easy to handle design
  • Equipped with a 10 bearing system with stainless steel and corrosion-resistant bearings
  • Sealed carbon drag system ​ensures that the system is always lubricated and smooth

Cons:

  • Complex reel structure may be difficult for beginners
  • Some history of line twisting

The Penn Fierce III spinning reels for steelhead are one of our favorites on the list. Reeling is very smooth, and the drag works well without issues. Many users compared this to the popular Shimano spinning reel.

One unique feature is that you can change the quality of the live liner, rather than an ordinary reel where the drag operates automatically.

This reel has historically been very successful with steelhead specifically. Anticipating getting some more stripers and bluefish soon. It is lightweight, spools well and can easily hold over 400 yards of line. 

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Pros:

  • Smooth cast
  • Excellent action for the money
  • Charter captain approved for durability
  • Capable of handling larger fish

Cons:

  • Known to jam after consistent saltwater use

The Abu Garcia Revo SX Spinning Reel is one of the more expensive reels on our list, but worth every penny. It features computer-optimized gear designs for the most efficient performance you’ll find in a spinning reel. It has eight stainless steel HPCR bearings and extra roller bearings. This provides better corrosion protection, smoothness, & durability.

The size 3000 spinning reel has the gearbox design and carbon construction, offering a mix of strength and lightweight properties. If your budget allows for it, The Abu Garcia is one of the best spinning reels for steelhead on the market. 

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Product Specifications:

  • Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Material: Carbon
  • Size: 3000
  • Gear Ratio: 6.2:1

Pros:

  • Optimal gear design made for accurate performance and precision
  • Carbon drag system for reliability and smoothness
  • Lightweight but still stays strong with well-machined and oiled gears
  • Efficient and glides through the water with minimal fatigue
  • Awesome drag system that’s easy to reel in and use

Cons:

  • Can feel heavy to reel in

The SHIMANO Sienna FE Spinning Fishing Reel is a great choice for the beginner fisherman. It’s suitable for many fishing applications and strong enough for steelhead fishing.

Its M-Compact body and Propulsion Line Management System helps lengthen your casting distance and prevents any backlash. It’s also great for avoiding wind knots. It has good balance making it feel lightweight and easy to use.

If you’re looking for an affordable spinning reel, you’ll enjoy using this spinning reel for steelhead and other similar fish.

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Product Specifications:

  • Weight: 9.2 ounces
  • Material: N/A
  • Size: 2500
  • Gear Ratio: 5.0:1

Pros:

  • Versatile reel for many types of fish
  • Good balance and feel
  • Capabale of landing good size steelhead

Cons:

  • Ball arm has been known to go bad preventing full closure

Features like the IPX5 sealed body and water resistance make the Penn Spinfisher VI make this reel a very reliable model. 

The reason why this model stands out to us is because of its affordability. The Spinfisher VI is a great option for the money. It’s at a lower price point relative to other models on this list, but still offers many of the same or similar features. 

The Penn 1481260 Spinfisher VI ise great to use in both freshwater and saltwater thanks to its water resistance and resillience. 

All in all, this reel is a good choice for anyone looking for an affordable reel that provides quality and is worth the money.

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Product Specifications:

  • Product Dimensions : 5 x 5 x 4 inches
  • Weight: 1 Pound

Pros:

  • Durable and study
  • Easy to monitor line 
  • Smooth 
  • 5+1 stainless steel ball-bearing system make for easy maintenance

Cons:

  • Complaints about the quality control are the most common issue with this reel

The Daiwa Fuego is a very light reel. It’s common used on fishing trips that require a lot of casting. It’s great for both beginniners and more advanced fishermen.

This reel allows for easy reeling in regardless of the size of the fish. It has a smooth cast and at 6’8 long, it has all that is needed for steelhead fishing. 

This is a great reel for the money and one of our favorites on the list. 

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Product Specifications:

  • Weight: 12 ounces
  • Material: Carbon
  • Size: 2500
  • Gear Ratio: 6.2:1

Pros:

  • Durable in saltwater or freshwater
  • Easy to spool
  • Easy reeling
  • Lightweight for better comfort and reduced fatigue

Cons:

  • Drag can be unreliable

The Speedster is not a spinning reel, but it’s so highly praised by fly fishermen that we thought it would still be a valuable addition to the list.

This is a sharp looking reel and one that is routinely rated very highly, especially for steelhead fishing.

The Speedster is durable and light weight making it an easy rod to use on a full day of fishing.

This reel is moderately complex, making it ideal for intermediate to advanced fishermen, but beginners can also find success with it.

The Waterworks-Lamson company is also known for great customer service including a solid warranty.

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Pros:

  • Quick reeling
  • Easy spooling
  • Very lightweight at 4.2oz
  • Comfortable
  • Sleek modern design 

Cons:

  • Middle of he pack drag system 

How to Choose the Best Steelhead Spinning Reels

Selecting the best steelhead spinning reel is just the beginning of the search. You also need to consider the individual factors that make each rod the best fit for you and your fishing style.

Here are some of the most important aspects to consider as you browse our top ten best spinning reels for steelhead:

1. Size and Weight

When casting and fishing all day long, it takes a toll on your body. If you use a very heavy reel and rod, it can cause fatigue in your arms and discomfort in your back and lower body. This can all lead to reduced performance or a fishing day cut short.

However, there’s a fine line between comfortable weight and too light. If you go too light, your rod starts to run the risk of sacrificing durability.

For steelheads, users see a lot of success with a size 2000 reel with a weight around 5oz.

Sizes 2000 to 5500 (or 10-55) are ideal for average to larger-sized steelheads. As long as it’s less than ten ounces with solid construction, handling remains relatively easy.

2. Construction and Durability

Steelhead are a strong fish. This often requires a stronger material making graphite a less desirable option for your spinning reel.

Graphite works for lighter fish. It’s lightweight but less rigid than other options like stainless steel, aluminum, or carbon blends. It’s best to get stainless steel and/or carbon blends for your steelhead spinning reels. These are much more durable and prevent warping caused by prolonged fights with larger fish.

You also want to make sure that your drag systems and gears are built with quality. These will definitely take a few punches throughout your fishing trips. 

3. Drag Rating

If you don’t want to worry about your line snapping during a fight, it’s very important to consider the drag rating for your Steelhead spinning reel. 

When it comes to catching Steelhead, you’ll want to have a reel with a minimum drag rating of at least 12 lbs. Ideally, you’ll want something up to a drag rating of 15 lbs.

This is another reason that carbon fiber is the superior choice. The drag system won’t overheat when fighting bigger fish. With that said, even with the highest quality materials, you’ll still need to stay on top of your regular maintenance.

4. Line Capacity

You should measure line capacity depending on the breaking strain line you use. Regardless of the line rating, your spinning reel needs to hold around 220 yards of braid line and 110 yards of monofilament. This gives you enough line for a long cast, and additional cushion for a long fight. 

When fishing in smaller bodies of water, there’s a chance you could run your line if you don’t maximize your reel. It’s a safe bet to keep some line on hand for emergencies. Steelhead can trip as much as 50 yards of line, so if you’re on a larger body of water, you need to make sure to load up your reel. 

5. How Many Bearings?

Stainless steel bearings are a must for all high quality spinning reels.

The number of ball bearings is much less important than the quality itself. Don’t be enticed into a reel just because it has a higher number of ball bearings. Always take better quality of quanity. 

Typically, you’ll want to look for a spinning reel with at least five main ball bearings with one anti-reverse. You can go for more ball bearings for steelheads, but this is a good baseline. If price is a concern, more ball bearings typically means a higher price.

6. Spool Quality

One of the most underrated components of your spinning reel for steelhead is the spool.

The spool has a direct effect on your casting performance. The shape of a spool lip varies pretty widely between manufacturers, so you may need to test out some options. 

You’ll also need to consider the line management system, which is the line lay. By knowing about how the bail arm lays on the spool line, you can get even better casting distances with more accurate performance. Note that the lie should be laid flat and evenly across the spool width as you test it.

7. Retrieval Rate

When you fish for Steelhead, you want a good retrieval rate. When fishing for Steelhead, you want to try to get the fish to run towards you. With that said, the reel should be able to keep the fish in space. This ensures your line stays tight.

When you fish in smaller bodies of water, it isn’t a big issue. But fishing for steelhead in the ocean requires you to have a reel with higher pick-up speeds to avoid the figh spooling your entire reel.

You can determine the retrieval rate based on your reel’s spool size and fear ratio. Look for a reel with a ratio of at least 6.0:1.

8. How Much Is It?

Lastly, cost is an obvious factor.

Spinning reels don’t come cheap, especially when you invest in a higher quality reel. You can find spinning reels under $100, but the quality of these will be noticeably less.  We think you’re better off getting at least a mid-range to premium reel. These will cost between $100 to $200. Consider the price, but you’ll definitely get what you pay for if you go cheap. 

Pick a reel you like the look of, but don’t sacrifice quality, durability or performance. You can also find that some spinning reels have warranties and money-back guarantees to help preserve your gear and stretch out your dollar. 

What Do I Need for Steelhead Fishing?

Checkout the video below to learn more about what you need for Steelhead fishing.

Sum It Up! The Best Steelhead Spinning Reel in 2021

A lot goes into choosing the best spinning reel for steelhead fishing. Hopefully, this article gives you all of the insight you need to determine which reel is best for you.

After reviewing all ten steelhead spinning reels above, we’ve got a couple of favorites. Here are our top 2 favorite choices for the best spinning reel:

 

1. Waterworks-Lamson Speedster Fly Fishing Reel

2. Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel