Spincast Reels are easy to use, versatile, and what most of us started with when we were children. Often, we had reels featuring a cartoon character when we were young but these reels don’t have to be relegated to youth.
There are ample reasons to revisit the Spincast reel as an adult and see exactly what they offer.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Spincast Reels
Lets not beat around the bush and pretend that spincast reels are some forgotten treasure that will fish better than any other reel. That simply isn’t the case. Nor are they devil of all reels and good for nothing. They are worthy of a little time and consideration. Here are a few points to be aware of before you dive in.
Above all, a spincast reel is easy to use. That is why our children often start out using a spincaster. The position of the release as well as the way the mechanism works makes it a great choice for novice fishermen.
Often a decent quality spincaster is much more affordable that a decent quality spinning or baitcasting reel. Even on the top end, you can get among the best baitcasters on the market for less than many mid-range spinning reels.
A spincast often has a more gentile retrieve. This may seem like a downside but for fish with a soft jaw like crappie respond much better to this style of retrieve. Because of this, you can often find small spincaster specially designed for crappie and other delicate fish.
What Makes the Best Spincast Reel?
One of the primary benefits of a spincast reel is the overall simplicity. What makes any one reel better than another is more reliant on materials and craftsmanship. Most spincast reels do have bearings and gear ratios but they don’t differ as much as you would expect from a spinning or baitcast reel. Here are some of the finer points you would want to see out of a spincast reel.
1. Drive Gears
While you can always look at the gear ratio as a way to judge retrieve speed, looking at the construction is much more important. Because they are often produced cheap, most budget spincasters use cheap plastic gears.
If possible, always opt for a spincaster that has metal gears or at the least has precision nylon gears. Because they don’t have the force applied to them of larger fish, nylon will hold up but is secondary to aluminum or steel gearing.
2. Gear Ratio
Getting your line in on a cheap spincast reel can seem like a chore so having a decent gear ratio can be helpful. Most of the time, choosing a spincaster with a gear ratio around 4 or 5 is sufficient. Lower gear ratios are too slow while higher gear ratios can put excessive strain on the gears themselves.
Most companies use their bearing count as a selling point. Bearings are important but excessive bearings do nothing extra. Don’t get fooled by companies promising a smoother action by adding 12 or 15 bearings.
Generally, a spincaster will have between 4 and 8 bearings depending on the cost. You can tell the difference between 4 and 8 but it isn’t as huge as most people think. You really won’t need more than 8 but get the most you can as long as you aren’t compromising the overall quality of the reel or the cost.
4. Line Guide or Aperture
This is the area where the string exits the reel and is more important than most people realize. Because of the function of the reel and the way it winds the line, overly large apertures can cause issues. Many have apertures smaller than 6mm which works well. Avoid those larger than 10mm.
5. Line Capacity
Where you look at baitcasters and even some spinning reels that can hold hundreds of yards of string, the overall capacity of a spincaster is usually much less. At a minimum, you want about 40 to 50 yards of line. Anything more than that should be acceptable.
Once case where you can go with lower capacity safely is in specialized spincast reels designed for panfish or trout. Usually these are made to be very small and light weight. They cast short and can get by with as little as 20 yards of capacity.
Because most spincasters are not made to go after larger fish, you won’t need excessive amounts of drag. Usually anything more than 10 pounds is probably excessive. If you hook a fish larger than what that drag can handle, you are going to have a fight on your hands but that would be a very rare occurrence.
This is a feature that prevents the reel from spinning backwards. If your reel does happen to slip the other direction for any reason it can keep you from getting a hoot-set or even allow a fish to shake a set hook. You want a reel that either has full-time anti-reverse or that has selectable anti-reverse. A reel that does not have one of these options is useless.
5 Best Spincast Reel Reviews 2020
Best of the best
Best of the best
Zebco Platinum 33
Best Classic Spincaster
1. Zebco Bullet Spincast Reel – Best of the Best
I think just about everyone who has ever fished probably started out with a reel made by Zebco. Sold at just about every sporting goods and big box store in the world, Zebco is probably the worlds largest spincast reel manufacturer. Of course, not all of those reels are quality but this is a different beast all together.
Rather than the cheap plastic or cast gears, the Bullet uses precision machined brass gears that mesh well for a zero-loss, low-wear connection. This combines with 8 drive bearings and a zero-friction pin design to make a reel that functions far better than the normal spincast reel and will last much, much longer.
The entire body is metal with an easy crank handle set up to provide a 5 to 1 ratio on the gearing. You can pull nearly 3 feet of line with a single turn and it feeds perfectly onto the spool with smaller 3mm line aperture. It has anti-reverse and casts and stops particularly well.
Zebco has developed a bad name due to their many cheaper reels sold for over half a century. While they make many spincasters that are simply trash, not all of them are. They have a line of reels that are fairly good for someone looking for a spincaster and the Bullet is about as good as they get!
- All Metal Construction
- Fast Retrieval Speed
- Smooth Casting and Reeling
- A Little Pricey for a Spincaster
2. Daiwa Goldcast Spincast Fishing Reel – Most Durable
Daiwa is one of those brands that have yet to peak in the popularity they deserve. While they are much better known in the Eastern part of the world, their baitcasters and spinning reels are top of the line. When they decided to make a spincaster, it should surprise no one that it meets or exceeds any expected performance from this type of reel.
Keeping with their high standards, the all metal constructed body and gearing of the Goldcast series provides an exceptionally long life and spot-on performance. I has anti-reverse when needed and provides plenty of power for smaller fish using a 4:1 gear ratio. Enough to get you about 21 inches of retrieve for every turn of the handle.
With three models available, you can get a line capacity up to 100 yards of 12 pound line. The line pick-up itself is made of tungsten carbide and will never wear out. They even through in a great quality line packaged with the reel for your convenience.
The one issue that this reel has is the larger line aperture. While this doesn’t seem to cause issues, being smooth and wear resistant, it could cause winding issues under strain. The potential exists and the reel would probably benefit from a smaller line aperture. Still, the function is nearly perfect on the Goldcast, earing it a top spot on the best spincasters.
- Very Well Made
- Very Durable
- Fast Retrieve
- Smooth Reeling
- Larger Line Aperture
- Occasional Tangles
3. Pflueger President Spincast Fishing Reel – Best for the Money
Before we start, I will admit to being a big fan of Pflueger reels and the president series in general. I was surprised the first time I saw one in a spincaster and had to give it a shot. Everyone who has ever used one will tell you that Pflueger reels are superb and the President Spincaster is absolutely no exception!
Most ever important component on the President is machined and not cast making it both strong and incredibly durable. This is right down to the gearing and solid titanium pins in the 5-bearing system. Everything fits precisely with perfect alignment to reduce wear and increase performance.
The President has selectable anti-reverse and can be switched from a right to left handed reel with ease. The gear ratio is a lower 3.5 to 1 and provides more torque at the cost of a little retrieval speed. For larger fish, this is probably the best spincaster out there. It even has drag which varies between models from 6 to 10 pounds depending.
Preloaded with line, you can get up to 90 yards of a 6 pound test or 75 yards of 10. This is still light line for light fishing but that is what this reel was designed to do. If you are looking for pure value and the best reel you can get for the money, I would put my bet on the Pflueger President.
- Great Quality
- Exceptional Value
- Lower Line Weight
- Slower Retrieval Speed
4. Zebco Platinum 33 Spincast Reel – Best Classic Spincaster
The Zebco Platinum 33 is what I would describe as the classic Zebco reel. Not classic in the sense of the common reels you get anywhere that sells fishing gear. Instead, it’s the classic reel they started out producing and poured all their craftsmanship and care into.
This is the all metal constructed reel that started it all for Zebco built with metal body, frame, and gearing. Riding on 4 smooth ball bearings, this reel performs very well and retrieves like silk. The alignment is perfect and everything just works!
Retrieval rate is on a 4:1 ratio which comes in relatively fast but not so fast as to put too much pressure on sensitive fish. It has constant anti-reverse for solid hook set and the ability to fight without fear of the fish shaking the hook. Even the machined reel arm and soft-grip handles speak of quality.
Dollar for dollar, this is a solid bet for a great little spincast reel. It comes preloaded with 100 yards of quality 10 pound line which is quite a surprise for a spincaster. From the company that popularized the spincaster, you can get a classic remodel of one of their best.
- Great Construction
- Quick, Smooth Retrieve
- Constant Anti-Reverse
- Occasional Tangles
For the best budget reel we are going to come back to Daiwa. It is almost surprising to see a Daiwa available at such a value price, especially one with quite good quality and enough durability to last for years if not a lifetime. While this real may qualify as cheap on the price, it is anything but when it comes to performance.
Using a very rigid aluminum alloy for the body and precision brass gearing, everything about this reel speaks of quality. Even the overall design of the body speaks to the care and attention that was given in this reels construction. This becomes very apparent the first time you crank the handle and feel the smooth glide of the steel bearings.
Sold in models holding up to 100 feet of 12 pound line, this is a reel made for some serious fishing. For anything bass sized or smaller, this can put up a good fight with its anti-reverse and 4:1 gear ratio. The three bearings do seem like they would affect the retrieve, especially under pressure, but they do not. This is a smooth reel all around!
If you are set on a spincaster but want to save a little money, this is the reel to go for. Even if you want to add a cheaper spincaster to your fishing arsenal for any reason at all, this is a great option. For a first time fisherman, this reel is perfect. It is very affordable, silky smooth, and very well built.
- Large Line Capacity
- Smooth Cast and Retrieve
- All-Metal Construction
- Occasional Tangles
- Line Can Stick on Casting
How to Cast a Spincast Reel Video
Everyone wants to look down on the spincaster reel but they are far from the garbage they are often portrayed as. If you get a good quality reel like the ones above, they fish quite well and cast good enough for any novice fisherman. Even the experienced fisherman can find a use for such an affordable option when they just need something to get into the water quickly.
Its time, as anglers, that we admit there is value to these simple, functional reels.