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Best Spinning Reels for Light Tackle

Updated on October 26, 2012

High Quality Light Tackle Spinning Reels

Fishing with a light tackle rod and spinning reel can be a really fun way to catch fish, due to the long fights that often occur even with smaller sized fish on 4 and 6 lbs test line, this style of fishing is preferred by many. Using smaller sized fishing equipment sometimes is required when fishing for smaller species or when on waters that are extremely clear which makes traditional tackle very visible and unlikely to elicit a strike. Depending on the price range that you are seeking there are many different reel manufacture companies such as Shimano, Quantum, and Abu Garcia that all make an excellent light tackle fishing reel that will have all the high end components that you seek in a big dollar reel as well as cheaper but well made and durable reels. Check out a few of the light tackle fishing reels below that can help make the difference in putting a fish in the boat or losing them. It is very important to purchase a small reel with an excellent drag system and of course the more ball bearings the smoother the cast and retrieve will be.

Light Tackle Spinning Reel

Shimano Light Tackle Reels

Shimano Light Tackle Reels

Shimano reels manufactures some of the finest fishing reels on the market and are known for high end craftsmanship that lasts forever, can take a beating, and will put the fish in the boat.

The Shimano Stella STL 1000FE Reel could easily be classified as the best light line reel on the market. Capable of holding 140 yards of 4lbs test with a maximum drag setting of 7lbs this reel was designed for finesse fishing techniques when every bite counts. Weighing in at 6.1 ounces the Shimano Stella 1000 will match well with a light action spinning rod of your choice. The reel has won best freshwater reel at the industry product showcase - ICAST in 2010.

If the high price of the Stella scares you away then consider the Shimano Sustain FG 1000 series reel as an alternative that still has many of the same components seen in the stella and still an exceptional fishing reel that will get the job done. With a 6.0:1 gear ratio this reel will allow you to quickly pick up the line to set the hook on a fishing moving towards the boat. Slightly heavier than the Stella the Sustain FG still comes in at a very light 6.5 oz and is equipped with 7 ball bearings for excellent casting. The spool capacity is large with 140lbs of 4 lbs test and if you need to go heavier with 6 lbs you will still get 110 yards on the spool.

Quantum Energy PT Spinning Reel

The Quantum Energy PT Spinning reel comes in a version with a spool capacity of 140 yards of 6lbs test making it a great selection for finesse fishing. This is a very reasonably priced fishing reel and is one that most average weekend fisherman will feel comfortable with in terms of budget. Packed with 10 ball bearings there is no worries in the ability to smoothly turn the reel and cast for distance with light weight lures from 1/32 oz to 1/4oz. When you have a little bait a spinning reel will help you get the cast out farther and the reels by Quantum such as the Energy PT are the right price for the job. A ceramic front adjustable drag system means that you are always in control when a fish is surging the reel can take over and play the fish to exhaustion so you can ease them next to the boat or towards shore to be landed.

A Cheap solution for a fishing reel that can handle light line would be the Quantum Triax in a size 10. Despite being less than $40 it still comes wit h8 ball bearings and while you should not expect this reel to last season after season of hardcore fishing, if you do a limited amount of lighter line angling than it is perfect for the occasional drop shot or shaky head technique for bass or flinging a smaller rooster tail for trout or beetle spin for panfish.

Abu Garcia Finesse Fishing Reels

While I personally prefer to use Shimano for my finesse spinning needs, several fishing friends have success with models made by Abu Garcia. There is a couple that are notable, the Cardinal 100i Spinning reel is an excellent reel with 175 yards of 6lbs test making it a very small reel that catches fish. A 5:1:1 gear ratio is a little slower than I prefer however for people that fish too fast this can help you slow down which during finesse fishing can be very helpful since you want the lure to move slowly and very subtle, something that can be difficult to perfect with a fast retrieving reel.

The Cardinal 500ALBI is another 5:1:1 reel with a 14lbs max drag, which if tightened all the way down in a finesse situation will lead to disaster so if you purchase a Abu Garcia spinning reel make sure to use a limited amount of drag as the system is capable of overpowering the line resulting in breakage. Capable of carrying 110 yards of 6Lbs test and full of 9 ball bearings with corrosion resistant materials to help create a long lasting reel that will catch you fish after fish season after season with limited repairs and maintenance required.


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    • Edward J. Palumbo profile image

      Ed Palumbo 4 years ago from Tualatin, OR

      I enjoyed this article. I'm currently using a Shimano TX500 spinning reel and a Fenwick ultralight rod, an "old reliable". I appreciate the information you've provided. I recently retired, and I've got more time to go fishing!


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