How to Choose the Right Spinning Reel Size

Spinning Reel Sizes: How to Choose the Right Reel Size?

When purchasing a new spinning reel, many anglers give little attention to the size of the reel.

Instead, they put more weight on the aesthetics of the reel.

But, spinning reel size matters.

A small reel will be damaged if used to catch big fish, whereas, a big reel for a small fish will be overkill.

So, what size spinning reel do I need?

The size of the spinning reel you need mainly depends on the size of fish you plan on catching regularly. This will also indicate if you’ll be fishing freshwater or saltwater, the line and lure size you need to catch the fish. Generally, the bigger the fish, the bigger the reel you’ll need to reel it in.

In this post, we’ll talk about what spinning reel sizes mean, a chart with all the available sizes, and tell you how to find the right reel size for your needs.

In the end, you’ll also learn how to match a spinning reel to a spinning rod to ensure you have a balanced spinning setup.

Read More: Reviews of the Best Spinning Reels

Does Spinning Reel Size Matter?

Size matters when it comes to choosing fishing reels.

Because the size of your reel determines the size of the fish you can catch. Generally, the bigger the reel, the bigger fish it can handle and vice versa.

Additionally, a larger spinning reel model will have a higher line capacity, sturdy gear, and overall build.

That means, going out to your local pond with a spinning reel designed for saltwater species will be overkill. It will be bulky, have a higher test line, and have more lines than you will ever need.

On the other hand, a large fish hooked with a smaller reel will damage your spinning reel. This is because the reel is not designed to withstand strong fights that are common with large fish species.

What does Spinning Reel Size mean?

The size of a spinning reel or a fishing reel, in general, tells us the size of fish it is designed to fight and catch.

That means as the size of the reel comes down, so does the size of fish you can catch and vice versa.

However, one thing that confuses many beginner anglers is the numbering system used to denote the reel sizes by various manufacturers. There are two different numbering systems used to define the size of a spinning reel.

Some manufacturers use 10, 20, 30, etc., while others use 1000, 2000, 3000, etc., and so on. However, both the numbering systems interpret to the same approximate sizes and are just a branding thing.

For example, a spinning reel size of 10 is approximately the same as the reel size 1000 and vice versa.

However, the numeric system used to indicate the reel size is not universal. That means a 1000 size reel of one brand may not have the same specs as the same size reel from another brand.

Moreover, a 1000 size spinning reel of a specific brand may have different specs when compared to the same size reel from the same brand but a different model.

The sizes are there to divide the reels into different specs classes and make it easy to choose. But when choosing a spinning reel, make sure to read all the specs of the brand you have in mind.

What are the Different Sizes of Spinning Reels?

There is no shortage when it comes to the variety of sizes that fishing reel manufacturers offer. You’ll find spinning reel models ranging in size from 1000 up to 30,000.

However, the wide variety is both good and bad.

It offers great flexibility for experienced anglers when choosing a size for a specific situation. On the other hand, it can be pretty confusing for the newcomers.

Which size should I choose?

Well, the spinning reel size charts below will give a better idea about what each reel size is designed to do. The chart includes line size recommendations to the application to the recommended species.
The sizing chart is divided into 3 classes (small, medium, and large) to make things easy for you.

Small Spinning Reel Sizes (1000 to 3500)

Small spinning reels fall in the size category between 1000 (10) to 3500 (35). They are designed to catch anything from bluegill to catfish up to 15 pounds.

Small spinning reels work great when paired with spinning rod sizes ranging from 6-7 feet long. They are designed to work with fishing line strengths between 2-14 lb and can be used anywhere between small ponds to harbors.

Small Spinning Reel Sizing Chart

Reel SizeLine Size (lb)Common ApplicationRecommended Species
1000 or 10Mono: 2-4, Braid: 4-8Ultralight fishingBream, Whiting
2000 or 20Mono: 4-6, Braid: 5-10Ultralight fishingBream, Whiting
2500 or 25Mono: 5-8, Braid: 5-12Light fishingBass, Perch
3000 or 30Mono: 6-10, Braid: 6-14Light fishingBass, Mangrove Jack
3500 or 35Mono: 6-10, Braid: 6-14Light fishingBass, Mangrove Jack

Medium Spinning Reel Sizes (4000 to 5500)

Medium spinning reels fall in the size category between 4000 (40) to 5500 (55). They are capable of reeling in anything between a snapper to mulloway up to 25 pounds.

Depending on your needs, a medium-size reel can be paired with a rod length between 6-11 feet. Medium size spinning reel can work with line sizes between 8-25 lb and can be used in lakes to light offshore boats and anything in between.

Medium Spinning Reel Sizing Chart

Reel SizeLine Size (lb)Common ApplicationRecommended Species
4000 or 40Mono: 8-12, Braid: 8-20Medium fishingSnapper, Drummer
4500 or 45Mono: 8-12, Braid: 8-20Medium fishingSnapper, Drummer
5000 or 50Mono: 10-14, Braid: 10-25Medium fishingSnapper, Mulloway
5500 or 55Mono: 10-14, Braid: 10-25Medium fishingSnapper, Mulloway

Large Spinning Reel Sizes (6000 to 30,000)

Large size spinning reels are a class of beasts that fall into a size category between 6000 (60) to 30,000 (300). They are capable of catching and tiring out anything from a snapper to a marline up to 100 lb.

Depending on your fishing application, they can be paired with rod lengths between 5-12 feet. They can work with line sizes between 12-80+ lb and are recommended for saltwater applications.

The larger models (20,000-30,000) in this category are designed for serious saltwater anglers who fish for sailfish, sharks, and tunas.

Large Spinning Reel Sizing Chart

Reel SizeLine Size (lb)Common ApplicationRecommended Species
6000 or 60Mono: 12-16, Braid: 12-30Medium inshore and offshoreStripped bass, Kingfish
6500 or 65Mono: 12-16, Braid: 12-30Medium inshore and offshoreStripped bass, Kingfish
7000 or 70Mono: 14-18, Braid: 15-40Medium inshore and offshoreStripped bass, Kingfish
7500 or 75Mono: 16-20, Braid: 20-50Medium inshore and offshoreStripped bass, Kingfish
8000 or 80Mono: 16-20, Braid: 20-50Medium inshore and offshoreWahoo, Amberjack
8500 or 85Mono: 18-22, Braid: 30-50Medium inshore and offshoreWahoo, Amberjack
9500 or 95Mono: 20-25, Braid: 30-50Medium inshore and offshoreWahoo, Amberjack
10,000 or 100Mono: 20-25, Braid: 30-50Medium/Heavy inshore and offshoreSmall Shark and Tuna
10,500 to 105Mono: 22-27, Braid: 30-60Medium/Heavy inshore and offshoreSmall Shark and Tuna
12,000 or 120Mono: 26+, Braid: 30+Medium/Heavy inshore and offshoreSmall Shark and Tuna
14,000 or 140Mono: 30+, Braid: 30+Medium/Heavy inshore and offshoreSmall Shark and Tuna
16,000 or 160Mono: 35+, Braid: 40+Medium/Heavy inshore and offshoreSmall Shark and Tuna
18,000 or 180Mono: 39+, Braid: 40+Medium/Heavy inshore and offshoreSmall Shark and Tuna
20,000 or 200Mono: 44+, Braid: 50+Heavy offshoreTarpon, Sailfish
25,000 or 250Mono: 55+, Braid: 50+Heavy offshoreTarpon, Sailfish
30,000 or 300Mono: 66+, Braid: 80+Heavy offshoreTarpon, Sailfish

What Size Spinning Reel do I Need?

There is one question you need to know the answer to before determining the right size spinning reel for your needs.

That is, what size fish are you planning to catch most of the time.

Because the size of the fish you’re planning to catch determines the size of the reel you need. A large fish demands a large reel to handle it, and a small fish need a small reel to reel it in.

For example, currently am looking for a spinning reel to do some light fishing for bass. The water body I am going to fish this reel in has about 5-8 pound bass.

That means a 2500 size spinning reel spooled with a 12 lb test braid will be a good choice for me. The reel is small enough allowing me to enjoy a good fight and large enough to keep the gear safe.

However, this 2500 size reel would be a bad idea to fish for saltwater species like tuna. It doesn’t have the line capacity, nor drag power to handle these monsters.

Therefore, when choosing a reel size, look for a reel that matches the size of your fish and gives you some room to grow.

Fighting a large fish on a small reel for a long time will damage the drag system. Plus, your line may snap, or worse, the fish will break your rod tip and swim away with your expensive lure.

On the other hand, a large reel to catch a small fish is not fun. The fish will have no chance of fighting the powerful drag while hurting itself.

Your reel shouldn’t be too small or too big. It should be big enough to fight the fish and small enough to be comfortable to use.

How to Match a Spinning Reel to a Rod?

Now you have found out the right spinning reel size for the fish you’re targeting. It’s time to match your spinning reel to the right size rod.

However, you cant mismatch the rod and reel combo. You need to pair your spinning reel with a spinning rod. Pairing a spinning reel with a baitcasting rod or vice versa will only produce problems.

But you cant just pair your spinning reel with any spinning rod. Both the reel and rod specifications have to match.

For example, pairing a spinning reel designed for bass fishing with a spinning rod for tuna or shark is a recipe for disaster waiting to happen.

The small spinning reel uses a lighter line and lures, which needs a flexible rod to cast. But rods designed for large fish species have a rigid backbone which makes it inefficient to cast light lines.

Secondly, a small reel mounted on a heavy rod increases the chances of line snap. This happens because the rod isn’t very flexible, which prevents it from dampening the stress on the line by the eloping fish.

Lastly, a big reel on a lighter rod will increase the odds of snapping the rod tip resulting in an expensive replacement. Plus, it also hampers your casting distance.

For these reasons, you need to match your spinning rod and reel.

To do so, first, find out the max line weight your reel can handle from the reel sizing chart above. Next, look for a spinning rod that can handle similar line weights.

And you have a perfect match.

For my 2500 size bass fishing reel, I need a rod that can handle 5-12 lb pressure.

Once you have paired the right spinning reel and rod, it’s time to spool your reel. I have a detailed guide on how to spool a spinning reel with braid and mono

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Best Size Spinning Reel for Bass Fishing?

Bass is the most popular freshwater gamefish in North America and the most aggressive.

Because of their aggressive nature, you need reels that are big enough to pin them. The reel you choose should have enough drag power to keep up with long fights, high line capacity to take on long runs, and be sturdy enough to handle the forces.

For me, a 2500 size spinning reel is the best for bass fishing. It has everything you need to pin a small to medium bass, also is light enough to increase comfort.

However, if the water body houses large species of bass, you’ll need to size up your reel accordingly. Make sure you don’t go overboard when sizing your reel as it will take away the fun you get with a hard-fighting fish.

What Size Spinning Reel for Surf Fishing?

When surf fishing, you need to be able to cast your lure deeper into the sea, sometimes 80-100 yards from the shoreline. You’ll face fish that are large and structures that are harsh.

To comply with all the above, you need a reel that can hold a large amount of higher test lines and have a strong drag to handle the fish.

A spinning reel size between 5000 to 8000 is what you should be looking at. These reels have a higher line capacity which allows your catch to hook and run deeper.

The powerful drag ensures the fish is pinned until it tires out before you can start reeling it in.

Conclusion

To determine the right size spinning reel, you need to first find out the size of fish you’ll be fishing the most.

Because large fish are demanding and require high line capacity, stronger line, and powerful drag to win against it.

Using an undersized reel to catch monsters will damage the reel. Whereas, a large reel to catch small fish will be a waste.