Fishing for both stocked or wild trout can be a blast, and although you can get away with cheaper gear for most situations, having a high-quality spinning reel can enhance your fishing experience and allow you to handle big fish with more control. Since you’ll most likely be using lighter line (2-6lb test), the size of your trout reel won’t need to be big at all. Any reel in the 500-1000 size is great, unless you’re using a brand such as Daiwa which only offers the 2000 size as their smallest model.
Bearing quality (smoothness) and drag quality is what you always look for when choosing a spinning reel, but when fishing for trout it’s always nice to have a reel on the lighter side. A lightweight spinning reel will be more compatible with your ultralight rod, meaning you will be able to balance the entire setup better for more sensitivity and less strain on your arm.
- Gear Ratio: 5.2:1
- Bearings: 3BB, 1RB
- Drag Power: 7lbs
- Weight: 7 oz.
- Line Capacity: 2/270, 4/140
Bang. For. Your. Buck. Don’t let the look or price of this reel fool you, it’s one of the smoothest and most durable spinning reels for its price range. This little guy honestly feels better than some of the higher-end reels at times and can take a beating. Since this is a cheaper reel with minimal features I throw these on my bait rods when I use Powerbait, Mice Tails, inflated nightcrawlers, etc. although I have used this reel on my drop shot/jigging rods with no issues. At just around $30 it’s definitely worth the investment.
- Super Smooth
- Extremely Cheap Price
- Mostly Plastic Body
- Minimal Features & Technology
Pfleuger Trion 25 – $39.99
- Gear Ratio: 5.2:1
- Bearings: 7BB
- Drag Power: 6lbs
- Weight: 5.9 oz.
- Line Capacity: 0.13/180, 0.20/90
- Lighter than Sienna
- Super Smooth Feel
- Less Drag Power
For just a few bucks more than the Shimano Sienna you can get a lighter, smoother package. The Pfleuger Trion has been a staple spinning reel for both the trout and bass angler when it comes to a cheaper yet high-quality reel. At under 6 ounces the Trion is lighter than the Sienna and also provides more bearings for an overall smoother retrieve. Definitely can’t go wrong with this one, it’s another reel at a killer price for what it offers.
- Gear Ratio: 5.6:1
- Bearings: 8BB, 1CRBB, 1RB
- Drag Power: 8.8lbs
- Weight: 7.9
- Line Capacity: 6/135, 8/110
- Most water-resistant (Sealed bearings & drag system)
- Frictionless feel
- Thicker, flex-free bail
- Extremely lightweight
- This drag takes a bit longer to adjust, meaning you have to turn the knob further in order to get the desired drag pressure.
- Expensive price point
Hands down the smoothest reel out of this list. If you’re more into throwing steady-retrieve lures such as Kastmasters, Rooster Tails and water bobber/fly combos then this is the reel for you.
The Daiwa Ballistic EX continues to amaze me with its frictionless feel and high-end technology packed into one tiny reel. The Ballistic features Daiwa’s “Mag Sealed Technology,” which is basically a magnetic oil that completely surrounds each bearing, making this reel completely resistant to the elements. The drag system is also impervious to water, helping to avoid any deterioration. On top of the Mag Sealed bearings you also get a thicker, hollowed bail, which eliminates any flexing under pressure. If you are a serious trout angler or would like to be, definitely spend the money on a Ballistic EX. The price point is high but the features result in a long-lasting reel that will be well worth your money.
- Gear Ratio: 6.0:1
- Bearings: 6BB, 1RB
- Drag Power: 4lbs
- Weight: 5.8oz.
- Line Capacity: 4/150
One of the lightest spinning reels on the market. Shimano’s Stradic Ci4+ is well known in the fishing community as one of the best in terms of both quality and weight. If you have trouble balancing your ultralight rod with a reel then it may be time to look into a Stradic Ci4+. This reel features X-Ship Technology, which is basically a supported pinion gear resulting in a lot more cranking power. The lip on the spool is angled differently so you’ll also notice a huge difference in castability especially with lighter 2-4lb test. My favorite part of this reel is actually the drag system. The drag knob only needs to be turned a few clicks and you’ll notice a big difference in drag pressure immediately. This is especially important when fighting larger trout on light line where every bit of line pressure is crucial since you can break off at any moment. I bit the bullet and spent the few extra bucks on this reel but it has quickly become one of my personal favorites.
- One of the lightest reels on the market
- Castability is noticeably better
- Drag pressure adjusts quickly and accurately
- More cranking power thanks to X-Ship Technology
- This reel is a bit pricey! At $220 it doesn’t fit everyone’s budget.
There are many other brands out there but these are just a few of the spinning reels that I’ve had the chance of fishing for a decent amount of time. Don’t stress too hard over choosing! All of these reels work great for trout, it’s simply a matter of what your budget allows. If you’re able to invest in a high-end reel then that’s great! You most likely won’t have to buy another one for many years or even the rest of your life if it’s maintained properly. If a high-end reel isn’t in your budget, grab a cheap one and blast trout anyways! Since you’ll be fishing lighter line you don’t even need the highest quality drag system – your drag will be set to give under low pressure anyways.
I definitely hope this guide has helped you either choose a new trout reel or gain a better understanding of what’s out there on the market. Please feel free to comment below regarding any personal suggestions or favorites, your fellow anglers will appreciate the info. Thanks again for reading and tight lines!