3 Best Catfish Spinning Reels

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Hey there my fellow fishing enthusiasts and welcome to my post where we will discuss my 3 best catfish spinning reels to land the big mud cats with this year. Catfish are known to be aggressive and can grow quite large so as with any species, the chances of landing one of these monsters is significantly increased if you have some decent gear.

To this end, Catfish spinning reels are durable, dependable and perfect for fishers of all experience levels. So to help you out I have had a look around and come up with my 3 best options below.

Let’s check them out…

My three recommended catfish spinning reels

I will review these in more detail below, but if you just want to get moving without all the carry-on, my recommended products are listed here for your convenience:

 Catfish Spinning ReelPriceGet it
best catfish reels - Piscifun Flame Spinning ReelsPiscifun Flame Spinning Reel$CURRENT PRICE
best catfish reels - Daiwa Bg Spinning ReelDaiwa Bg Spinning Reel$$CURRENT PRICE
best catfish reels - PENN Battle III Spinning Fishing ReelPenn Battle III Spinning Reel$$$CURRENT PRICE

What are catfish spinning reels?

Also known as ‘open face’ reels or ‘eggbeaters’, these reel types wind the line onto a front spool which is held on by a ‘bail’. Line is wound in via a handle on the side which is ratioed to bring the line in faster than the handle is turned. As above, some anglers prefer to use spinning reels in hunting for Catfish due to their ease of use, effective drag systems and casting simplicity.

Because the weight is below the rod, spinning reels naturally balance better in hand which allows anglers to incorporate the rod into the fight as well.

best catfish reels - Man with Giant catfish

What should you be looking for?

The information below outlines some of the factors you should be aware of as you look to purchase a good reel for catfishing:

  1. Drag systems
  2. Gear ratio
  3. Line capacity
  4. Construction
  5. Additions

Drag systems

The drag acts as a “buffer” between your reel and the catfish, preventing the fishing line from snapping. This feature compensates for the difference in break strength between the fishing line and the amount of pull applied to it. The friction is overcome when the fish pulls hard enough on the line, and the reel rotates backward. Eventually, allowing the line to exit and preventing it from breaking.

When shopping for a new catfish spinning reel, make sure to research and compare the drag systems of the spinning reels you’re considering. On a spinning reel, drags are adjusted by turning a knob on the top of the spool.

Gear ratio

This feature is also called the retrieve ratio. It determines how quickly and how much line is reeled in per turn of the handle. The more line that comes in with each turn of the handle, the higher the retrieve ratio. For example, a reel with a retrieve ratio of 6:1 will retrieve 6 rounds of the spool for every 1 turn of the handle.

While gear ratio is essential for many different rod and reel setups, it becomes even more important when deciding what type of lures to use. Some cat fishermen would opt to use reels with a lower gear ratio when using a deep water crankbait. On the other hand, jerkbaits or jigs work well with higher ratios.

Line capacity

One factor to consider when selecting the best catfish spinning reel is line capacity. With a line capacity of 12/196, your catfishing reel can hold up to 196 yards of a 12-pound monofilament fishing line. Catfish are known for their deep-diving ability, enabling them to pull many lines from your reel if you hook up a big one.

The problem we face here is that manufacturers don’t use a common specification when it comes to their reel capacities. There is however a simple way to work this all out which via the first number. You see a fishing reel may be rated as a ’20’ or a ‘2000’. If this is the case, the ‘2’ is the common denominator and what you match the line to (this is not an exact science but it works for me).

So, then all you need to do is match the line kilogram/pound strength to the spool. To make this easier, I have whipped up a little table below:

Reel SizeSuggested MonoSuggested Braid
10 or 10001- 2 kg/2 – 4 lb4 – 8 lb
20 or 20002- 3 kg/4 – 6 lb5 – 10 lb
25 or 25002.5- 4 kg/5 – 8 lb5 – 12 lb
40 or 40004- 6 kg/8 – 12 lb10 – 16 lb
60 or 60006- 8 kg/12 – 16 lb12 – 30 lb


Like our other fishing equipment, we want to purchase catfish spinning reels that last. As they can put a lot of strain on your rod and reel, a top-rated catfish reel should be durable, watertight and corrosion-resistant. Regardless of whether you are fishing in freshwater or saltwater, constant exposure to the elements can cause materials to deteriorate.

Such fact makes it imperative for catfishing reels to be made of solid material. Stainless steel and carbon fiber are the best materials for catfishing reels.

best catfish reels - catfish and reel


There are some other areas to consider as well when looking at a good spinning reel for catfish. These don’t effect the outcomes as much as the above however they are worth considering:

  • Power handles – Although it is a personal preference, some anglers allow power handles on their spinning reels. A power handle’s larger surface area provides a more secure grip and increases surface area for better torque.
  • Anti-reverse – This component aims to prevent anglers from reeling backward and letting out the line when they intend to bring it in. An anti-reverse switch allows anglers to disable this feature.
  • Line holder – This is the little tab on the side of the reel housing that holds the end of the fishing line if it is not rigged up. These are not often thought of when a reel is purchased but something that is really missed if it is not there.
  • Interchangeable winder – there are not many that don’t do this these days however this is the ability to swap the winder handle around to allow for left or right-handed use.

What do I use?

We do a bit of catfishing around our local dams as they make great bait for the larger Cod species that we like to chase. We use garden worms on a float with the rod sitting in a holder on the bank. These things can get quite large so I tend to take my big estuary reel with me as follows:

  • Model: Penn Battle III BTLIII4000AU
  • Bearings: 5 + 1 fully sealed stainless steel
  • Ratio: 6.2:1
  • Composition: Full Metal body and side plate with precision CNC machined internal components and soft EVA handle
  • Drag: Front of spool – HT-100 carbon fiber drag washers – up to 15lb
  • Anti-reverse switch: No
  • Weight: 12 oz (352g)
  • Line specs:
  • Mono (yds/lb) – 8/270, 10/220, 12/165
  • Braid (yds/lb) – 15/360, 20/260, 30/185

This reel will stop any Catfish in its tracks trust me!

My three recommendations broken down

So based on the information above and my own experience, I recommend the following options:

1. Piscifun Flame Spinning Reel

This first catfish reel has plenty of valuable features at very affordable price. It will give you smooth performance due to its 9 + 1 ball bearing system with impressive drag power and precision machined gearing. See its specifications below:

  • Brand: Piscifun
  • Line capacity: 5lb/330yds
  • Gear ratio: 5.2:1
  • Bearings: 9 +1
  • Dimensions: ‎5.19 x 4.96 x 3.7 inches
  • Weight: 0.53 pounds
  • Material: Aluminum graphite

Other inclusions:

  • 9 + 1 Bearing system
  • Braid ready spool
  • Triple drag washers

Why have I chosen it?

The reel’s long-lasting construction makes it ideal for long-term use with gearing and features usually found on a high end model. All in all this is a great budget often for beginners and experienced fishers a like.

2. Daiwa Bg Spinning Reel

Seasoned anglers highly recommend this second option from a well-known and trusted brand. It comes packed with premium components with exceptional waterproofing and durable housing. See its specifications below:

  • Brand: Daiwa
  • Line capacity: 8/240, 10/200, 12/170
  • Gear ratio: 5.6:1
  • Bearings: 7 ball bearings
  • Dimensions: ‎5.19 x 4.96 x 3.7 inches
  • Weight: 0.25 pounds
  • Material: Black anodized machined aluminum

Other inclusions:

  • Anti-reverse system
  • Manual return bail
  • Braided line ready spool

Why have I chosen it?

This is a great all round option for those looking for a Catfish reel that they can use for other purposes as well. It’s over-sized ‘Digigear’ system and Air Rotor make for extreme smoothness under load. If you want a good all round reel to use for Catfish as well, then this is a great choice

3. Penn Battle III Spinning Reel

My final reel is a popular and well-known option for those looking for something of quality with great durability and usability that won’t cost the earth. As above, this is the option I use and have found the component manufacture to be of the highest quality with reinforced CNC machine cut drive, pinion and oscillation gear with shielded stainless steel bearings. See its specifications below:

  • Brand: PENN
  • Line capacity:
    • Mono (yds/lb) – 8/270, 10/220, 12/165
    • Braid (yds/lb) – 15/360, 20/260, 30/185
  • Gear ratio: 6.2:1 (models range from 7.0 on smaller models to 4.2:1 on 10000 model)
  • Bearings: 5 + 1 fully sealed stainless steel
  • Dimensions: ‎6.46 x 5.84 x 3.86 inches
  • Weight: 0.74 pounds
  • Material: Metal and polymer alloys

Other inclusions:

  • Instant anti-reverse
  • Fully sealed components and bearings.
  • Superline braid ready spool requires no backing with line capacity rings marked at 1/3, 2/3, and full capacity

Why have I chosen it?

I actually listed the Battle II reel in another post for surf fishing rod and reel combos as I have used a number of Peen reels in my time and found them all to be excellent in terms of durability and smoothness of use and this option has been manufactured with CNC technology for an ultimate smooth fishing experience. The deep aluminum spool, which can be loaded with a lot of monofilament lines, is another notable feature of the reel, making it ideal for deep-diving cats. Another great option for those chasing really large catfish.


And there it is – my 3 best spinning reel options for catfish. I hope it has been helpful and as usual, please let me know of your experiences with them.

Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, corrections or would like me to check anything else out for you.

Until next time

Have fun


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Hi, I'm Paul

I am a passionate fishing, camping and four wheeled driving hobbyist who researches, tests and educates around issues and equipment relevant to them.

I am by no means a professional however my passion is to assist you in making informed decisions about buying and using awesome gear that will give you the best chance of success at whatever you are doing for the best price.

Please get in touch if you have any questions.