What is the Best Size Spinning Reel For Catfish?

Fishing for catfish is a growing sport. One reason so many people are getting on board with catfish fishing is that they are available all over the place, and you can target giant catfish. But, of course, that fact begs the question, what size spinning reel do you use for catfish fishing?

Best Size Spinning Reel for Catfish?

A 30/300 spinning reel is the place to start for catfish fishing. They are tough enough to handle big catfish and still let you have some accuracy for casting bait.

In terms of numbers, it is essential to understand that there isn’t an absolute apples-to-apples standard for spinning reels. Some manufactures will call a reel a 5-size, and the same reel in another brand might be a 500-size.

In general, the smaller the number, the lighter the reel. Lighter reels tend to have smaller arbors and hold less line. They are almost always designed for use with light fishing lines, not the tool you need to handle giant catfish.

What is a good spinning reel for catfish?

An excellent place to start is with the Penn Spinfisher VI Spinning Catfish Reel.

The pros are:

  • It is available in many sizes, so you can choose one that fits the size of catfish you want to target.
  • It features quality construction with a balanced rotor, making reeling in the line much more effortless.
  • The 5+1 stainless steel bearing makes for a smooth and quiet operation.
  • The sealed body means less maintenance and a longer lifespan.

Those four attributes are essential when choosing a reel for catfish fishing.

  1. Multiple sizes across the brand
  2. Quality construction with stainless steel parts instead of plastic parts means you get more use out of the reel.
  3. A nice bearing mix of 5+1 or 6+1 for smoothness and ease of returning the line.
  4. Sealed body, so the internal parts stay nice.

What size spinning reel for channel Catfish?

Another good option for reels for catfish fishing is the Shimano Stradic FL spinning Catfish Reel. Like the Penn Spinfisher VI Spinning Catfish Reel, The Shimano Stradic FL offers excellent bearing ratios in the 6+1 range, lightweight but quality construction that makes casting easier.

Best spinning reel for Catfish

What do you look for when picking out an excellent reel for catfish fishing?

Look for:

  1. Price – is a good reflection of the quality of spinning reels. Cheaper reals are often made with alloys and plastic, while more expensive reels are made using machined metals, stainless steel, quality bearings.
  2. Line Capacity – A giant catfish will strip line off the reel. If there is not enough line to battle a big fish, you lose the fish and the line.
  3. Drag settings that are tough enough to stop a big catfish.
  4. 5+1 gears or greater
  5. Stainless steel ball bearings mean it is easier for you to reel in big fish.

A reasonable middle-range price will likely land you a decent spinning reel for catfish, even if you fish every day.

What size spinning reel for finesse fishing?

There is a misconception out there about what finesse fishing is. Many people feel that finesse fishing is about reducing line size, lure or bait size, and pole size, which makes finesse fishing about going smaller.

Finesse fishing is not about going smaller. It is about improving the presentation of the fly, lure, or bait, which can happen at any size rod or reel. The rod and reel should match the target.

If you are going smaller, a good finesse spinning rod for catfish is still a 30/300 because you never know when a monster will take the line with catfish. A 30/300 range is an excellent place to go for all types of catfish fishing.

You can go smaller to a 20 or even down to a 10 for catfish, but your skill level needs to be more significant as you go smaller. It takes far more skill to land a big cat on a #10 spinning reel with a light line set up than it does if you are fishing on a #30 spinning rod.

What is the best finesse spinning reel for catfish? A good medium saltwater spinning reel is probably your best option. They can handle more lines, more battles, and you can even add a braided line to them.

Spinning Reels for Catfish

Spinning reels are the best option for catfish – even big catfish. They provide:

  • They are easy to use for anglers of all ability levels
  • You can get good quality for not a ton of money
  • You can match them to a quality fishing rod
  • Most have sufficient drag to handle big fish
  • Most can hold a lot of line, including braided line

If you are looking for the best reel for catfish fishing, a spinning reel is likely your best option.

What kind of Reel for Catfish?

Spinning reels work best for catfish fishing. Don’t get a spinning reel mixed up with a spin caster reel. While similar, spin caster reels often are limited in the size of line they can carry and how much line they can hold.

They are lovely reels for smaller fish, such as bluegill, brook trout, and potentially small catfish. However, if you have fished catfish before, you know there is no guarantee that the catfish you hook will be small.

What size spinning reel for catfish?

The best size spinning reel for catfish is a 30-size reel. The #30 gives the most options for fishing catfish, including big catfish. You do not need a freshwater spinning reel, though a #30 freshwater is just fine.

You can opt for a medium-sized saltwater spinning reel too. The advantage of the option for a saltwater reel includes:

  • They are big enough to handle bigger cats
  • The arbor is large enough to hold plenty of line
  • The drag setting is usually high enough to handle big catfish
  • They are versatile, so that you can use them for big catfish fishing or saltwater fishing

If you want to check out a few different brands of spinning reels for catfish fishing, try these:

  1. Penn Fishing Spinfisher VI – Sealed body, fiber carbon drag washers, drag from 15-50 pounds, 5+1 bearings, and more
  2. Okuma Classic CLX Levelwind – Includes a graphite spool making it resistant to corrosion, a multi-disc drag system with self-lubricating gears, lightweight and smooth motion reeling.
  3. Abu Garcia C3 Catfish Special Spinning reel – Available in a mid-range 6,500 model or a big catfish model 7000 model – stainless ball bearings, 5+1 or 4+1 bearings depending on the model, Lots of drag, smooth, ideal for bait casting.
  4. Lew’s Speed Cast Reel – Brass innards means lots of strength – designed to handle aggressive big catfish, smooth action, carbon fiber drag to 15 pounds,
  5. Shimano Sedona FI Spinning Reel – Forged gears for power, strength, and easy operation, 3+1 bearings make okay for smaller catfish, Available in multiple sizes, and the larger sizes go to 20-pound drag.

These five reels offer a range of acceptable performance for catfish fishing. The better reels have the following features:

  1. Price – cheaply priced spinning reels often have plastic or weaker working components. They may not hold up to a giant catfish. For quality, start in the medium price range and go up from there. The cheaper reels are ideal for small fish such as brook trout, bluegill, panfish, perch, etc.
  2. Line Capacity – many catfish anglers are opting for braided lines. That means the reel must be able to hold more line. You will find that ability in more robust reels. Please stay away from spin caster reels as they are primarily designed for use with lighter tackle. They are great reels for smaller fish.
  3. Drag settings that are tough enough to stop a big catfish. The drag setting needs to be at least 15 pounds, and if you are a trophy angler, a drag rating of 50-pounds can be helpful.
  4. 5+1 gears or greater – Gears help the reel operate smoothly. 5+1 gears should be the beginning benchmark for catfish fishing, and 6+1 is ideal, especially for bigger catfish.
  5. Stainless steel ball bearings for ease of use. Avoid spinning reels that do not have stainless or brass ball bearings. Stainless is better as it is more resistant to corrosion. A self-lubricating gear system is a nice luxury to have, especially if you want to switch from fresh to saltwater.
  6. A Sealed Case – Ideally, a good reel has a sealed case to keep water and grit out of the reel. There is less maintenance and a longer lifecycle too.

Final Thoughts

With more people starting to fish for catfish, the correct gear must be identifiable. Catfish fishing is unique because you never really know if you will find a giant catfish in shallow water. Some species of catfish can grow to a length of over six feet.

When choosing a spinning reel for catfish fishing, a middle-sized reel is ideal. You can go more significant if you want to target giant trophy catfish, but overall, you want to be able to handle whatever catfish takes your bait.

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