Zebco 33 Vs 202 Reels – What Are The Differences, And Which One Should You Buy?


by Robert Ceran

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Are you thinking about getting a Zebco 202 or 33 reel, which are both popular entry level spincast reels?

My team and I tested the Zebco 33 vs 202 reels and evaluated them on their gear ratio, retrieve rate, weight, and overall performance.

In this article we’ll compare the two reels side by side, and discuss their most important differences in detail.

Zebco 202 vs 33 compared

Zebco 33Zebco 202
Number of ball bearings10
Gear ratio4.1:12.8:1
Retrieve rate (inches per turn)23"15"
Hand retrieveLeft/rightRight
Weight9.3 oz6.2 oz
Mono capacity (yd/lb)120/10110/10
Drag systemDial adjustable disk dragDial adjustable disk drag
Anti reverseInstantInstant
Pre-spooled line10 lb10 lb

The table above covers the most important specifications and features of both reels that we tested. As you can see, there are quite a few differences between them.

Now let’s look at their main differences that were revealed by our testing.

The most important differences between the Zebco 33 and 202

Ball bearings: This is the first area with a major difference between the two models.

The 33 has one ball bearing, while the 202 has none. This makes a big difference in terms of smoothness of retrieval action.

Bottom line: Based on our testing, the 33 has smoother retrieval action than the 202, due to the fact that it has a ball bearing, while the latter has none.

Gear ratio: This is the second area with major differences. The 33 has a significantly higher gear ratio of 4.1:1, compared to 2.8:1 of the 202.

This results in a higher retrieve rate, as the spool rotates faster during retrieval, which makes it much better suited for any casting applications.

Bottom line: The 33 has a significantly higher gear ratio compared to the 202.

Retrieve rate: With 23” per turn of the handle, the 33 has a much faster retrieve rate than the 202, which has 15” per turn of the handle. 

Bottom line: Our testing showed that the higher retrieve rate of the 33 makes it ideal for casting applications, while the slow speed of the 202 makes it better suited for stationary fishing techniques.

Hand retrieve: The handle of the 33 can be mounted on either side of the reel, while the 202 only comes in right handed form.

Bottom line: The 33 is ambidextrous, while the 202 can only be used as a right handed reel.

Handle: This is another area with big differences. The 33 has a double handle with two knobs, while the 202 has a single handle. The double handle is much better for casting and lure retrieval.

Bottom line: When we put it to the test, we found that the large double handle of the 33 makes it better suited for casting applications compared to the 202.

Weight: With 9.3 oz. the 33 is quite a bit heavier than the 202, which weighs 6.2 oz.

Mono capacity: Both reels are very similar in this regard, with 110-120 yards of 10 lb mono capacity (and in fact both come with 10 lb pre-spooled mono).

However, with 110 yards 10 lb test mono, the Zebco 202 line capacity is slightly lower than that of the Zebco 33 reel.

Drag system: Both reels are identical in this category, with a dial adjustable disk drag.

Anti reverse: Both reels have an instant anti-reverse gear, and so there’s no difference between them in this category.

Now let’s look at each model in more detail.

Zebco 33 spincast reel

This is one of the most popular spincast reels on the market.

With a fast retrieve rate powerd with a high gear ratio, our testing revealed that it’s ideal for casting with a wide range of lures. In addition, it can also be used for many other fishing applications.

During our testing we found that the all-metal gears help to give it smooth action, as well contributing to its durability, even in saltwater environments.

At a price point below $30, this is one of the best spincast reels you can get for the money.


  • Bite alert mechanism
  • Lightweight graphite frame
  • Stainless steel spool cover
  • Ceramic pick-up pins

Zebco 202 spincast reel

This is a great entry level spincast reel. Many anglers have started their fishing career with this reel, due to its ease of use.

While it’s not really fast enough for casting and retrieving lures, when we put it to the test we found that it can be used for most other fishing applications. 

The plastic material of its build makes it a very light reel, and during our testing we found that this is great for lightweight fishing applications. In addition, the all-metal gears help to make it durable enough to last for years.


  • Stainless steel pick-up pin
  • No-tangle design
  • Dial-adjustable drag


There can be no doubt that Zebco fishing reels are among the best on the market, and are a top choice for both entry level and experienced anglers. Their spincast reels are known for their reliability and ease of use.

To summarize: our testing revealed that he 33 has a range of advantages over the 202 that make it better suited for lure casting applications.

These include its ball bearing mechanism, higher gear ratio, faster retrieve rate, and larger double-headed handle. So if you plan to do a lot of lure casting, then this model is the better choice.

Based on our testing, the 202, on the other hand, is an ideal entry level spincast reel that reliably covers most applications (apart from lure casting) that is lightweight and is extremely easy to use.

Methods and gear that we used for testing

For consistent testing results, we tested each of these reels under the same conditions on Lake Okeechobee. We paired each spincast reel with a 7 medium light fast action Abu Garcia Veritas casting rod. The reels were spooled with 12 lb test Power Pro Braid, and we used them to throw 1/8 to 1/2 oz lures in 5 to 11 feet of water.