Spinning Reel Sizes Explained

Spinning Reel Size Chart – Choose The Best Size Reel For Your Purpose

UPDATED 29 JANUARY 2021

by Robert Ceran

Once you’ve decided to buy a new spinning reel, the first thing you need to do is figure out what the best reel size is for your purpose. Combined with all the other factors you need to consider when choosing a new reel, this is an additional level of complexity that you may be tempted to ignore.

But keep in mind that choosing the right size spinning reel is just as important as getting the right model, and it’s not as complicated as it might seem. Just follow this guide, and check our spinning reel size chart below to find the perfect size reel for your purpose.

What size spinning reel do I need?

The size spinning reel you should get is determined by the type of fishing you plan to do. Among the most important things to consider are:

  • Will you be fishing in freshwater or saltwater?
  • What size fish are you planning to catch?
  • What line strength are you planning to use?

In general, saltwater spinning reels are larger than freshwater reels, since they need to handle stronger lines, and bigger fish. They also need to have greater line capacity, since strong saltwater species tend to make long ‘runs’ after being hooked, which would pull all the line off a small reel.

It intuitively makes sense that if you will be pursuing larger fish, then your spinning reel needs to be larger too. For example, if you’re fishing for crappie and bluegill, you would be fine with a size 1000 spinning reel, whereas catching tuna is better done with a much larger reel size, such as a size 10,000 spinning reel.

The easiest way to determine the right size for your purpose is to look at our fishing reel size chart below, and to check which one works best for you.

Spinning reel sizes explained

Spinning reel sizes can be a little confusing because there are two different size classifications around that are both in use. Some reel manufacturers classify their spinning reel sizes starting with 10, 20, 30, etc., while other reel manufacturers classify them as size 1000, 2000, 3000, and so on.

But there’s actually no need to get confused about this, since the two systems are basically the same. For example, a reel size 10 corresponds to a reel size 1000, and a size 25 corresponds to size 2500, and so on.

In other words, you only need to pay attention to the first two numbers of the reel size, without worrying about the zeros behind it, and then compare this number across all brands and models that you’re interested in.

Spinning reel size chart

Small sized spinning reels (1000 – 3500)

These are small spinning reels ideal for lightweight rods in the 6-7 foot range. They are best for targeting small species up to about 15 pounds, and work best with 2-10lb monofilament, or 4-14lb braid. While they are mostly used for freshwater fishing, they can also be put to use in protected coastal waters.

Reel SizeRecommended Mono Line StrengthRecommended Braid Line StrengthRecommended ApplicationsRecommended Species (North America)
1000 (or 10)2-4lb (1-2kg)4-8lbUltralight fishing in freshwater and estuaries, bays & harborsTrout, Crappie, Bluegill, Yellow Perch
2000 (or 20)4-6lb (2-3kg)4-8lbUltralight fishing in freshwater and estuaries, bays & harborsBass, Trout, Crappie, Bluegill, Yellow Perch
2500 (or 25)5-8lb (2.5kg-4kg)5-12lbLight fishing in freshwater and estuaries, bays & harborsBass, Walleye, Northern Pike
3000 (or 30)6-10lb (3kg-5kg)6-14lbLight fishing in freshwater and estuaries, bays & harborsBass, Walleye, Northern Pike, Catfish
3500 (or 35)6-10lb (3kg-5kg)6-14lbLight fishing in freshwater and estuaries, bays & harborsBass, Walleye, Northern Pike, Catfish

Table 1: Sizes 1000-3500

If you’re specifically interested in ultralight fishing, check out our review on the best ultralight spinning reel.

Also, take a look at these resources:

Medium sized spinning reels (4000 – 5500)

These are medium sized spinning reels ideal for rods in the 7-8 foot range. They are best for targeting mid sized species up to about 30 pounds, and work best with 8-14lb monofilament, or 10-25lb braid. They are often used for heavier freshwater applications, or for inshore saltwater fishing.

Reel SizeRecommended Mono Line StrengthRecommended Braid Line StrengthRecommended ApplicationsRecommended Species (North America)
4000 (or 40)8-12lb (4kg-6kg)8-20lbMedium fishing in freshwater and inshore saltwaterCatfish, Muskie, Snook, Redfish, Snapper
4500 (or 45)8-12lb (4kg-6kg)8-20lbMedium fishing in freshwater and inshore saltwaterCatfish, Muskie, Snook, Redfish, Snapper
5000 (or 50)10-14lb (5kg-7kg)10-25lbMedium fishing in freshwater and inshore saltwaterCatfish, Muskie, Snook, Redfish, Snapper
5500 (or 55)10-14lb (5kg-7kg)10-25lbMedium fishing in freshwater and inshore saltwaterCatfish, Muskie, Snook, Redfish, Snapper

Table 2: Sizes 4000-5500

Also, take a look at these resources:

Large sized spinning reels (6000 – 30000)

These are heavy sized spinning reels ideal for heavy rods used for offshore boat fishing, surf casting, or rock fishing. They are great for targeting large species up to about 150+ pounds, and work best with 12-60lb monofilament, or 24-100lb braid. They are ideal for heavy saltwater applications, and the largest models are used to catch pelagic big game species such as sailfish.

Reel SizeRecommended Mono Line StrengthRecommended Braid Line StrengthRecommended ApplicationsRecommended Species
6000 (or 60)12-16lb (6kg-8kg)12-30lbMedium fishing in inshore & offshore saltwaterStriped Bass, Salmon, Snook, Redfish (Red Drum)
6500 (or 65)12-16lb (6kg-8kg)12-30lbMedium fishing in inshore & offshore saltwaterStriped Bass, Salmon, Snook, Redfish (Red Drum)
7000 (or 70)14-18lb (7kg-9kg)15-40lbMedium fishing in inshore & offshore saltwaterStriped Bass, Salmon, Snook, Redfish (Red Drum)
7500 (or 75)16-20lb (8kg-10kg)20-50lbMedium fishing in inshore & offshore saltwaterStriped Bass, Salmon, Snook, Redfish (Red Drum)
8000 (or 80)16-20lb (8kg-10kg)20-50lbMedium fishing in inshore & offshore saltwaterWahoo, Roosterfish, Dorado, Barracuda, Amberjack
8500 (or 85)18-22lb (9kg-11kg)30-50lbMedium fishing in inshore & offshore saltwaterWahoo, Roosterfish, Dorado, Barracuda, Amberjack
9000 (or 90)18-22lb (9kg-11kg)30-50lbMedium fishing in inshore & offshore saltwaterWahoo, Roosterfish, Dorado, Barracuda, Amberjack
9500 (or 95)20-25lb (10kg-12.5kg)30-50lbMedium fishing in inshore & offshore saltwaterWahoo, Roosterfish, Dorado, Barracuda, Amberjack
10,000 (or 100)20-25lb (10kg-12.5kg)30-60lbMedium/Heavy fishing in inshore & offshore saltwaterTuna, Wahoo, Dorado, Shark
10,500 (or 105)22-27lb (11kg-13.5kg)30-60lbMedium/Heavy fishing in inshore & offshore saltwaterTuna, Wahoo, Dorado, Shark
12,000 (or 120)28lb+ (14kg+)30-60lbMedium/Heavy offshore saltwater fishingTuna, Wahoo, Dorado, Shark
14,000 (or 140)28lb+ (14kg+)30-60lbMedium/Heavy offshore saltwater fishingTuna, Wahoo, Dorado, Shark
16,000 (or 160)32lb+ (16kg+)40-70lbMedium/Heavy offshore saltwater fishingTuna, Wahoo, Dorado, Shark
16,000 (or 160)36lb+ (18kg+)40-70lbMedium/Heavy offshore saltwater fishingTuna, Wahoo, Dorado, Shark
18,000 (or 180)36lb+ (18kg+)40-70lbMedium/Heavy offshore saltwater fishingTuna, Wahoo, Dorado, Shark
20,000 (or 200)40lb+ (20kg+)50-80lbHeavy offshore saltwater fishingSailfish, Tuna (large species), Tarpon, Giant Trevally
25,000 (or 250)50lb+ (25kg+)50-80lbHeavy offshore saltwater fishingSailfish, Tuna (large species), Tarpon, Giant Trevally
30,000 (or 300)60lb+ (30kg+)80-100lbHeavy offshore saltwater fishingSailfish, Tuna (large species), Tarpon, Giant Trevally

Table 3: Sizes 6,000-30,000

How do you match a spinning reel with a rod?

If you’re buying your first spinning reel and rod, you may be confused about matching spinning reel to rod. The first thing you need to do is look specifically for spinning rods, since their design is different from that of a baitcasting rods, and a baitcasting rod can’t be used with a spinning reel, and vice versa. 

On most rods, you’ll find a couple of numbers listed just above the grip. These include the length of the rod, and next to it the strength of line that the manufacturer recommends using with it.

For example, if the rod lists a line strength of 6-10 lbs, this means they recommend using it with a 6 to 10 pound test line. Unless stated otherwise, this number refers to monofilament line strength.

Once you know the recommended line strength on your rod, you can then use our reel size chart to choose a spinning reel that works well with the same line strength, and there you go – you’ve paired your rod and to the right reel. 

In the example above, a rod designed to function best with 6-10 lbs line strength would pair well with a 3000 spinning reel.

When you’re done pairing the right rod and reel, you are ready to put fishing line on the reel. Refer to our guide on how to spool a spinning reel in order to do this correctly. You’ll probably also want to familiarise yourself with the different parts of a spinning reel, which will help you to understand the best way to use it and maintain it.

What is the best size spinning reel for bass fishing?

One of the most popular uses of spinning reels is for catching bass (both largemouth and smallmouth). However, the best size reel for bass fishing can’t be given as a single size, but rather as a range of recommended sizes in the chart below.

Spinning reel size for bass:

Reel SizeRecommended Mono Line StrengthRecommended Braid Line Strength
20004-6lb (2-3kg)5-10lb
25005-8lb (2.5-4kg)5-12lb
30006-10lb (3-5kg)6-14lb
35006-10lb (3-5kg)6-14lb

Table 4: Best sizes for bass

The exact size spinning reel size for bass depends more on the technique you’ll be using. For example for finesse fishing, you’ll want to use a 2000 size spinning reel. This size works very well with ultralight lures, which is perfect for finesse applications.

On the other hand, if you’re using larger lures, such as crankbait, you’ll probably want to go for a larger reel size such as a 3000 or even a 3500.

There’s a common misconception among anglers that you need a larger fishing reel size to catch larger bass, but this really isn’t true, since bass don’t do very long ‘runs’ like saltwater game fish. Because of this, you can tire out an 8 pound bass on a 2000 spinning reel without any problems.

If you’re not sure what size to go for, just choose a 2500 or 3000 spinning reel, which puts you square in the middle of the range.

What size reel should you use for surf fishing?

Surf fishing can encompass a wide range of applications, ranging from the pursuit of smallish snappers, to that of large and strong fish like striped bass, or even sharks that come close to the shore.

Because of this, it’s difficult to make a specific recommendation for the best surf fishing reel size.

However, surf casting reels are usually in the range of 5000 to 8000 size spinning reels, with the most common choice being a 6000 size spinning reel.

This puts surf casting reels right at the transition from medium to large sized spinning reels. One reason why surf casting reels need to be on the larger side is that they require a large spool with large line capacity, in order to allow greater casting distance.

Conclusion

This concludes our fishing reel sizes guide. We hope it will help you to choose the perfect size reel for your purpose, and enable you to reel in some trophy sized fish!

If you’re thinking about buying a new reel, check out our recommendations of the top spinning reel under $100, as well as the top spinning reel under $50.

Finally, if you’re in the market for a new reel, also take a loot at our discussion of other types of fishing reels, the pros and cons of baitcasting vs spinning reels.

Additional resources:

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