3 Best High End Spinning Reels For Kayak Fishing

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Hey there my fellow fishing enthusiasts. Today, for those of you looking treat your self with some good quality, top of the range equipment, I have had a good look around and come up with my 3 best high end spinning reels for kayak fishing this year.

These are the reels that are just that little bit smoother, more durable and better feeling that can be enjoyed by beginners and experienced fishermen alike and at the end of the day, if you fish more than a couple of times a month, then these reels may not only make your fishing a little more enjoyable, but also last a bit longer as well.

So, let’s see if the below can get you on the right track in terms of a really nice, high quality reel…

My 3 recommended high end spinning reels for kayak fishing

I will review these in more detail below but if you just want to get moving without all the carry on, my 3 are listed here for your convenience:

02/18/2024 01:50 pm GMT Lasso Brag

What should you be looking for?

Ok, so here we are talking the cream of the crop and although that definitely doesn’t mean you need to go for the most expensive reel you can find, there are definitely some things to look into that make a reel worth spending the extra $$ on. Below then, I am going to run through what to look for in terms of a high end reel to ensure that you are getting good value for the extra price.

Before we get started however, I am writing this post with the assumption that you are aware of the basic mechanics when it comes to spinning fishing reels. If not, please check out my other post on kayak fishing reels here.

High End Spinning Reels For Kayak Fishing - couple in kayaks

Internal component manufacture

As with anything, the higher the price of the product, the more care and expertise you should expect when it comes to the parts used in manufacture. This is no different when it comes to the components inside a fishing reel. Generally, high end fishing reels are machined (such as with CNC machinery for example) with a little more precision to ensure absolute smoothness and silence in operation.

Manufacturers usually call their high end component builds by branded names (such as Shimano Hagane) so you may need to research those as well however in most cases, they will elaborate on the build within their sales blurbs.


Most reels these days incorporate some sort of waterproofing in their component however when it comes to high end reels it is this area that is taken to the next level. Saltwater in particular can do significant damage to the internal workings of a reel hence anything that can be done to keep this out, will definitely increase its lifespan.

Where the really good reels enhance their waterproofing capabilities are in the protection for each piece individually rather than the workings as a whole. This can include:

  • Fully encased bearings
  • Corrosion-resistant components
  • Corrosion resistant coating on all external parts (bales, screws etc.)
  • Fully sealed, or increased seals around casing

As above, the more water resistant components that are included, the longer the reel will last.


Drag is another area where the high end reels really come into their own. On a spinning reel, the drag works via a set of washers inside the reel that rotates backwards if the line is pulled hard enough (by a fish obviously) to stop the line from snapping.

These washers (often called friction plates) rub against each other as the drag system kicks in meaning that in the budget level reels where they are often made of stainless steel, they can wear. The better models however incorporate carbon fiber washers meaning less wear and smoother operation when the drag is in use – some manufacturers, such as Penn, also add their own lubricant to the drag washers to reduce wear and increase smoothness as they rub together.

And of course the better quality of components also make for a more sensitive drag setting system as well.


Most manufacturers outline how ‘tough’ the casing of their reels are when they discuss their more expensive options. Many are made of metal or carbon and fully encased as well adding to greater component protection. In fact, many reels of this caliber will be waterproof rated as well with terms such as “PX5 sealed body and spool” etc. commonly used.

No gaps

I am not sure what the technical term for all of this is and it could probably be incorporated into the sections above around competent quality and casing. However, one thing I have noticed myself (and seen in my research) is that the better quality reels are just put together that little bit better.

Everything, from the drag setting to the bail release is just a little smoother and there are usually no gaps between where these components meet. This also means that there are fewer places for fishing line to get caught in such as beside the bail or behind the spool.

Other Influences

There are some other areas to consider as well when looking at a high end kayak fishing reel. These don’t effect the outcomes as much as the above however they are worth considering:

  • Handle – Most are built with good quality EVA or rubber handles – many are oversized for greater comfort.
  • Anti reverse switch – Look for instant anti-reverse for extra security when it is needed.
  • 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.
high end spinning reels kayaks - man fishing in sit in kayak

What do I use?

I recently purchased a new spinning reel for my kayak after I suffered the great sadness of losing my previous favourite.

And by ‘losing’ I mean it simply just seized up internally and stopped ‘winding’. I pulled it all apart and gave it a good service but sadly it couldn’t be saved.

So I took some of my own advice and purchased myself a Shimano Nasci. It certainly didn’t cost me a fortune however it is definitely a couple of steps above the base budget models. Its specifications are as follows:

  • Model: Shimano Nasci 1000
  • Bearings: 4 + 1 Anti rust shielded stainless steel
  • Ratio: 5.0:1
  • Composition: Fully sealed graphite body with cold forged aluminium spool and Thermoplastic soft handle
  • Drag: front of spool – 7 lb via 3 felt washers with fully calibrated, sealed setting handle
  • Anti-reverse switch – Not included (one downfall of this reel)

As above, this is certainly at the bottom rung of high end reel range however it incorporates most of the inclusions I have mentioned above to make this an extremely versatile, smooth and strong reel. The 1000 size is small, a lot of fun and when a bigger fish hits I can certainly feel the advantages of a higher quality reel.

Check out my: Shimano Nasci Spinning Reel Review

My three recommendations broken down

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

1. Penn Spinfisher VI Spinning Fishing Reel

I am not sure I have mentioned this before but I live next door to a professional fisherman whose reel of choice is always Penn. Hence, my first reel here is a good choice for those looking for something of quality with great durability and usability that won’t cost the earth (in terms of high end reels that is). The component manufacture is of the highest quality with reinforced CNC gear technology, sealed stainless steel bearings and a lightweight full metal casing. It is an all-round high quality option with specs including:

  • Size: 2500 – 10500 (stick to the 2500 – 4500 range for a kayak).
  • Bearings: 5 + 1 sealed stainless steel
  • Ratio: 6.2:1/5.6:1/5.3:1 depended on size
  • Composition: Full metal IPX5 waterproof sealed body and spool
  • Drag: On front of spool – 15 – 30lb HT 100 carbon fiber drag system
  • Anti reverse switch: Instant
  • Line holder: yes
  • Interchangeable winder: Yes

Other advantages include:

  • Carbon fiber handle
  • Fully sealed components and bearings.
  • Techno balanced rotor for smooth casting and retrieving

Why have I chosen it?

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 so based on that, and the fact that my neighbour tells me they last longer than any other he has used, I feel this is a great option for those looking for quality. Stick to the lower to medium range around the 2500 – 4500 mark unless you are chasing bigger species or plan to use it in a deep sea fishing capacity as well.

Looking to for the next level – check out the Penn Slammer III

Check out my: Penn Spinfisher VI Spinning Fishing Reel Review

2. Daiwa Tatula LT Spinning Fishing Reel

Our next option is for those who really like to go light whilst on the kayak without losing strength and versatility. Like the others in this list, Diawa is well-known and trusted and this option provides all of the high end manufacture influences listed above such as machined componentry and waterproof protection all the while weighing next to nothing. It’s specifications include:

  • Size: 2500 – 4000
  • Bearings: 6 + 1
  • Ratio: 6.2:1
  • Composition: Zaion™ “high density” carbon-strain body with Digigear A7075 aircraft-grade aluminum gearing
  • Drag: On front of spool – ATD Drag
  • Anti reverse switch: Instant
  • Line holder: yes
  • Interchangeable winder: Yes

Other advantages include:

  • Fully sealed components and bearings
  • Air Bail and Air Rotor for lightweight use

Why have I chosen it?

I have chosen this reel for its extreme light weight build whilst maintaining full strength – especially for those chasing hard hitting fish such as Bass or Jacks. This one would also make a great addition to any hikers who like to fish as well.

3. Shimano Stradic C3000 FL Spinning Reel

The third reel I have chosen is taking us to the start of the Shimano high end fishing reel range with components made with high tech ‘Hagane’ technology with X-Protect water repellent coating and cross carbon drag system. The fully encased body and lightweight design make it is part of the reason for the higher cost but it also means that it can handle the bigger catches whilst maintaining the sensitivity that experienced anglers crave. Its specs include:

  • Size: 1000 – 5000 (stick to the 1000 – 3000 for general kayak fishing – maybe 4000 if chasing Bass)
  • Bearings: 6 + 1 shielded anti-rust bearings
  • Ratio: 6.0:1 – 6.4:1
  • Composition: Lightweight Hagane steel
  • Drag: On front of spool – cross carbon fiber drag washers – 7 – 24lb
  • Anti reverse switch: yes
  • Line holder: yes
  • Interchangeable winder: Yes

Other advantages include:

  • Micro Module Gear with Silent Drive
  • Extreme waterproofing for long life protection
  • Long stroke spool for smoother and longer casting

Why have I chosen it?

I have chosen this Shimano option here as these reels are well-known and trusted – and some of my favourites. The components are extremely well manufactured and precision cut from aluminium and Hagane steel using cold forged technology meaning it is light and simply will last forever.

Prefer the absolute high end? Check out the Daiwa Certate LT 19 instead.

Check out my: Shimano Stradic C3000 FL Spinning Reel Review

02/18/2024 01:50 pm GMT Lasso Brag


And there it is – my 3 best high end spinning reels for kayak fishing this year. 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.