The 5 Best Spinning Reels Under $50 in 2021

You’ll never make the best of your fishing experience if you don’t have the right gear. It can be a bit challenging for an angler on a tight budget, but the good news is, you don’t have to settle for subpar quality if you want to pay less money. The trick is in figuring out the right features for your fishing style and picking the reel that can deliver the performance you expect.

Are you ready for some surprisingly good yet inexpensive options? We guarantee you can find the best spinning reel under $50 on this list, so let’s get to it right away.

Comparison Table:

ModelBody MaterialNo. of Bearings Real Gear RatioMax. Drag
PENN Pursuit IIIGraphite56.2:110 lbs
Pflueger PresidentAluminum105.2:18 lbs
Okuma CeymarAluminum85:16 lbs
Mitchell 300Polymeric85.8:114 lbs
Pflueger TrionGraphite75.2:16 lbs

The 5 Best Spinning Reels Under $50 in 2021

In this section, we’ll review our favorite affordable spinning reels, making sure to point out their best features as well as their drawbacks so that you can make an informed decision, so make sure to go through all of our reviews.

1. PENN Pursuit III – Best Overall

PENN Pursuit III

The PENN Pursuit III is an excellent spinning reel that suits both professional and beginner anglers. Despite its low price, it has a lot to offer in terms of construction, performance, and reliability. Thus, we think it makes an excellent bargain for anyone who’s looking for more value for money.

The reel’s body is made of corrosion-resistant graphite, so it’s strong enough to withstand saltwater environments. Moreover, it comes with a 4+1 stainless steel bearing system to keep the retrieval efficient and extend durability regardless of any mistreatment.

Also, the graphite makes the reel lightweight, and therefore, the PENN Pursuit III is much easier to use than other steel reels. This makes it a perfect option for beginners who haven’t mastered many techniques and still struggle with controlling the spinning reel while fishing.

The drag washer is made of heavy-duty HT-100 carbon fiber that works smoothly with the graphite construction and provides the needed lubrication. We also believe that what makes it so efficient is that the drags are sealed. On the other hand, the anodized aluminum spool offers accuracy and precision. Not to mention, it comes with the necessary line capacity rings.

As for the assembly, the spinning reel is quite easy to attach and remove whenever necessary. Also, it’s pretty stable thanks to the instant anti-reverse action that eliminates the rotor back-play.

Pros:

  • Sturdy construction
  • Sealed drags
  • High-speed retrieve
  • Saltwater safe
  • Easy to assemble

Cons:

  • Loud
  • Could be more powerful

Bottom Line

The PENN Pursuit III is a reliable spinning reel that’s suitable for fresh and seawater. In addition, it’s easy to assemble, so replacing any of its parts won’t be an issue for both beginners and experienced anglers.

2. Pflueger President – Most Versatile

Pflueger President

The Pflueger President spinning reel comes in 5 different sizes, so it’s one of the most convenient and versatile options on the market. Being mainly made of aluminum makes it one of the most durable reels as well, especially when you consider the price range.

What impressed us the most while using the Pflueger President reel is that it’s incredibly stable even in poor weather. In fact, it casts up to 185 yards effortlessly despite the strong wind. Although it isn’t suitable for fish weighing more than 8 lbs, it suits almost all fishing techniques. Besides, it’s extremely stable, and it does a fantastic job with moderate to small fish.

The anti-reversing action is quite reliable, with an instant stopping effect that’s comparable to many other high-end spinning reels. Additionally, the bearing system is smooth and sealed inside a steel case. Yet, it’s not the best option for saltwater because aluminum and steel aren’t as corrosion-resistant as graphite, although the bearings are still protected.

The Pflueger President reel is exceptionally accurate with a well-balanced dragging capacity as long as the drag isn’t too heavy. Lastly, the reel gear ratio is roughly 5.2:1. This isn’t the highest ratio you can get at this price range, yet it’s acceptable for most professional anglers.

Pros:

  • Available in 5 different size
  • Durable with a robust construction
  • Features 10 bearings
  • Passable reel gear ratio

Cons:

  • Not suitable for saltwater

Bottom Line

The Pflueger President is an entry-level reel that can operate smoothly and offer high durability. Although it’s made of aluminum, it’s relatively lightweight (around 8 ounces).

3. Okuma Ceymar – Best Diversity

Okuma Ceymar

The Okuma Ceymar spinning reels are on the affordable side, but only the older models are under $50. Nonetheless, the most expensive model in the line doesn’t cost more than $65, which is still quite cheap considering the value it offers.

The anti-reverse roller does a decent job preventing the handle from turning backward, and it’s surprisingly easy to set. We also appreciate the multiple disk drag system that can provide a reliable drag with an increased strength over smaller surfaces. However, we wish it could handle more.

As for the spool, it’s fairly durable and strengthened to withstand corrosion. Yet, as we mentioned earlier, it’s best to keep aluminum away from saltwater regardless of its resistance. With that in mind, the spool is worth more than its price as it can handle all types of fishing lines, whether they’re monofilament or braided ones.

The handling is another bonus. Actually, the entire Okuma Ceymar line is incredibly comfortable to use, which makes the reels suitable for beginners. 

They’re not the best for professionals, though, but not because of handling; it’s just that they’re not as smooth as other models on the market. Regardless, the roughness isn’t restricting, and it’s nothing that a newbie would notice; only expert anglers who have previously used other spinning reels will find it a bit bothersome.

Pros:

  • Offers high diversity
  • Comfortable
  • Resistant to corrosion
  • Sufficient drag power
  • Strong built
  • Excellent handling

Cons:

  • Slow
  • Not suitable for saltwater
  • Could be smoother

Bottom Line

The Okuma Ceymar spinning reels come with different features. This gives the user the chance to pick the model that works the best for them. For example, while the C-40 offers a maximum drag of 8 lbs, the C-65 can handle 16 lbs; your pick!

4. Mitchell 300 – Best Construction

Mitchell 300

The Mitchell 300 is one of the strongest yet affordable spinning reels that you can currently get. It has a polymeric, carbon fiber body with an aluminum spool that’s double anodized to resist rust.

Moreover, the handle is covered with rubber to avoid slipping. The overall design of the reel is highly innovative, combining lightweight, durability, and style.

The strong body of the Mitchell 300 can withstand consistent pressure, which explains the relatively high drag that reaches 14 lbs at best. Accordingly, you can use this reel for tackling large fish without any concerns regarding balance.

This spinning reel features 8 bearings in addition to a strong anti-reverse action for smoother, uninterrupted casting. Furthermore, the bearings are surrounded by a bail halo, offering more protection and superior strength so you can use them in salt or freshwater without susceptible damage.

It’s also worth mentioning that the spinning wheel is more advanced than many newer models, offering superior line management even if you use heave lines.

Pros:

  • Ergonomic design
  • Premium construction
  • Smooth performance
  • Outstanding line management
  • Can handle large fish
  • Corrosion-resistant

Cons:

  • Smaller than most reels

Bottom Line

It’s crystal clear that the Mitchell 300 has a lot to offer, especially in terms of construction, and even though it’s the oldest in its line, it’s hard for many competitors to beat.

5. Pflueger Trion – Best for Professional Anglers

Pflueger Trion

The Pflueger Trion is a multifunctional spinning reel that can operate smoothly regardless of the fish and the line type. It can cast well and retrieve with efficiency, but it’s not easy to master. That’s why it’s not the best option for beginners who will take quite some time to get used to it.

The construction of the reel is beyond its price range merely because of the graphite body that holds up to saltwater. Additionally, it features a double anodized spool and a corrosion-resistant bearing system, which together contribute to the prolonged durability. Although it has the potential for handling large-sized fish, we noticed it’s more balanced with 6-lb fish and smaller.

The speed of the Pflueger Trion is moderate, and so is the throwing capacity. However, it’s an advantage, at least compared to many models in the same price range, which offer a low reel-to-gear ratio reaching 4:1 or even slower. The anti-reverse is passable as well, but it does get stuck a little every now and then.

Pros:

  • Compact
  • Strong construction
  • Durable
  • Precise casting
  • Passable speed

Cons:

  • Anti-reverse can be a bit slower than expected

Bottom Line

Even though the Pflueger Trion doesn’t offer anything exceptional, it runs smoothly. It’s a little challenging for beginners, but not so much for professional anglers who can easily pick the most appropriate size for their fishing style.

How to Choose a Spinning Reel

Still can’t make up your mind? Here are some key features that’ll help you choose the right spinning reel.

Drag System

The drag system is what adds pressure on the fish when it’s hooked. If your drag isn’t smooth enough, there’s a good chance it’ll break, releasing the fish back into the water. This is why you should always make sure your drag is pulling out steadily and smoothly.

The location of the drag can differ between different spinning reels, with some featuring a front drag and others boasting rear drag controls. As for front-drag systems, they’re more challenging to access, although they offer more durability and better performance. Rear drags, on the other hand, are much easier to access, but they don’t hold up with larger fish.

Bearings

Bearings are essential for the coordination between the spool and the handle. The more bearings the reel features, the better the reel functions. One thing that you should keep in mind is that only sealed bearings are suitable for saltwater because they’re protected from external environmental factors.

Reel Gear Ratio

Spinning reels have fixed spools with the bail wrapping the line while moving the handle of the reel. It’s essential to check the reel gear ratio because it determines the speed of the reel. This ratio indicates the number of rotations the bail takes around the spool with every turn of the handle.

For instance, if the reel gear ratio is 5:1, this means that the bail rotates 5 times for a single handle turn. 5:1 is considered a moderate speed, whereas 6:1 and higher are considered high speeds.

Anti-Reverse Handle

Anti-reverse handles are necessary as they ensure the handle doesn’t spin backward and lock the reel. If your reel doesn’t feature anti-reverse, the line will unwind, and you might end up losing your catch.

Body Material

Most spinning reels are either made of graphite or aluminum, with some fewer models being made of both. If you’re looking for a sturdy option with higher durability, then aluminum reels will be more suitable. However, they’re heavier and less flexible. Meanwhile, graphite reels are more resistant to corrosion with enhanced flexibility, so they handle saltwater a lot better than aluminum ones.

Handling

Last but not least, you should consider the handling of the spinning reel. In other words, not all reels are easy to control, especially as the water makes them more slippery. If all the knobs on the reel are reachable, you’ll struggle less with using it. Also, it’s best to choose reels with rubber handles because they’re less likely to slip out of your hand as you tackle the fish.

Frequently Asked Question

Can You Put Any Line on a Spinning Reel?

Yes. Both mono and braid lines can be used with spinning reels.

Which Is Better for a Spinning Reel, a Braided or a Monofilament Line?

Braided lines are superior to monofilament lines because they’re more durable and they have no stretch.

What’s the Best Line Size for a Spinning Reel?

The size of the line depends on multiple factors, including the fish size, whether you’re fishing in freshwater or saltwater, and the line strength. Pick bigger lines for bigger fish and fishing in saltwater, with the opposite being true.

Final Verdict

Picking an affordable spinning reel is challenging because such reels are usually designed for certain fishing styles. This is why it’s important to understand the capabilities of the model you choose before you invest in it. 
From where we stand, the PENN Pursuit III and the Pflueger President are the best spinning reels under $50 on the market. However, the other options on our list are still top-rated and suitable for many anglers. Only you can tell which of these is the ultimate best for you; we just provide you with all the necessary information to make such a decision.

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