Choosing the Perfect Size Reel for Inshore Fishing (Buyers’ Guide)

Inshore fishing is a uniquely challenging experience that sees you work no more than nine miles away from shore and in waters 30 meters or less. The challenge here lies in finding spots with fish, using your gear correctly, and hauling in the often challenging species you’ll land when in this unique environment.

The best reel size for inshore fishing is a 3000 series reel. Typically, you’ll want a spinning reel to get the most appropriate results. Spinning reels work well for inshore fishing because they can typically handle the precision needed for landing and hauling in a trout and the strength for a redfish. Anything within the 3000 series is a good choice, though you can find many options that suit your needs.

In this article, you’ll learn which size reel is best for inshore fishing, learn more about reel sizes in general, and discover what hooks and lines make the most sense for your needs. You can use this advice if you’re just getting started with inshore fishing or if you’ve tried it out before. In this way, you can use this article as a catch-all guide to this fascinating subject.

What Size Reel for Inshore Fishing?

The 3000 series also has the kind of casting length you’ll typically need for inshore fishing and can provide surprisingly accurate casting throughout an inshore environment.

You should feel pretty comfortable alongside the shore, where rocks and weeds may be more common, and out deeper from the coast. The 3000 series also pairs well with various line types, working well for many fishing situations.

For example, careful examinations of the 3000 series vs. the 1000 series make it clear that the former casts at least 1-4 feet further than the latter on average. However, individual casts of over 5-6 feet more than the 1000 series are not uncommon.

That extra length is essential when inshore fishing because it could make the difference between a precise cast and an inaccurate one. With inshore fishing, there’s so much water to cover that you want to make sure you don’t make any mistakes.

The 3000 series also has a substantial weight and density to it, one that makes it easier to cast for a long time without getting fatigued. While lighter reels may throw more straightforward and more delicate, the 3000 series combines this ease of casting with a more robust and precise cast.

Anticipate landing fish between 15-45 inches with this reel, particularly redfish. This fish species is one of the most popular for inshore fishing, making catching it reasonably necessary.

Tampa Bay Redfish

What Range of Reel Sizes are Available?

If you’re not familiar with reel size ratings, it is essential to understand what we mean by these terms quickly. You may have read a little on this topic already and discovered reels, not within 1000, 2000, or 3000 series but 10, 20, and 30.

These two different systems vary between manufacturers and may seem confusing at first. However, there’s a simple trick to understanding them.

Simply add two zeroes to the 10, 20, or 30 reel size to get the corresponding option using the other system. In this way, a 10 series would be equal to a 1000 series and a 20 series to a 2000 series, etc.

Likewise, you can also remove two zeroes from the more significant numbers to get the equivalent size in the smaller series. With that out of the way, let’s explain the differences between these sizes:

1000 (10) to 3500 (35)

These reels typically sit within the 6-7 foot range and work well for smaller to medium fish. Though most popular in freshwater, inshore anglers may also use them. Use these reels to catch fish as diverse as trout, crappie, perch, catfish, and northern pike.

4000 (40) to 5500 (55)

Medium-sized reels work best for the 7-8 foot range and can snag fish as big as 30 pounds. They work well for some inshore fishing but often feel too heavy for some anglers to use. Catch fish as big as a muskie, redfish, snapper, or snook with these reels.

6000 (60) to 30000 (300)

Offshore fishers typically use these reels to catch anything over 150 pounds or so. Inshore anglers simply don’t need a reel this big because it will be awkward to handle when catching inshore species. Instead, use this reel to catch striped bass, salmon, barracuda, and even small sharks.

While some inshore anglers may use the 4000-5500 reel range, the 3000 series remains the most versatile option. It lacks the bulky feel of this larger reel and should work for many fishing situations.

If you’re clever about how you pair it with rods, hooks, and lines, you may be able to snag larger fish than you’d expect. Remember: fishing is equal parts great gear and excellent skills.

What Rod Size for Inshore Fishing?

After choosing the best 3000 series reel for inshore fishing, you need to find a rod that matches it.

For inshore fishing, you typically don’t need or even want an excessively long rod. Simply put, it will just get in the way if it is too long and feel awkward to handle when you’re out on the water. So we’ve found a sweet spot is a seven-and-one-half (7′ 6”) rod paired with a 3000 series reel of your choice.

This range works best because it gives you the casting length to reach tough spots out on the water. Just as importantly, you’ll get the power to send your line through some pretty rough conditions.

Even on a nice day, inshore winds can be 5-10 miles per hour. Casting into that kind of wind will be challenging without the help of a 7′ 6” rod. The 3000 series reel combined with this rod gives you that power without seeming too overbearing.

We strongly recommend a medium to medium-heavy rod. Light rods don’t work well for inshore fishing because of these potential winds. They also won’t hold up if you land a heavier fish.

However, a medium-heavy rod should hold up pretty well against 20-30 pound fish, depending on how well you fight each catch and the line you use. But before talking about line, let’s touch on the best tip action for your inshore rod.

Fast-acting tips work best for inshore fishing because so many species here are sensitive to line pressure. Simply put, you need a tip that moves up as fast as possible when you’re trying to snag a big catch.

A fast-acting tip gives you that action and also helps to minimize any unnecessary sensitivity along the line. Keep your rod and reel still when you’re getting nibbles and tug hard when the fish finally takes the bait.

What Hook Size for Inshore Fishing?

The best hook size for inshore fishing is a No. 8 hook with a barb. This size should be good enough for most inshore fish species and will land just about anything. Barbed hooks are significant for inshore species.

Most will simply spit out a barbed hook with relative ease, particularly the tough-fighting spike or trout that may be common in certain inshore fishing areas.

What Line Strength for Inshore Fishing?

Pair your reel with a 10-pound braid mainline and 20-30 pound leader line when inshore fishing. This option is wise for a few reasons. First, 10 pounds should provide you with the strength you need when catching most inshore fish.

The braided design gives it more strength than you’d expect, meaning it’s not likely to snap if you’re careful about how you handle each catch that you make.

Spools of braided fishing lines

The addition of the 20-30 pound leader will help boost its capabilities even more. Choose monofilament or fluorocarbon to get the best results when fishing inshore. You may hear some amateurs telling you that you need a heavier line than this when inshore.

However, we strongly disagree for a few reasons. A lighter line works very well in this environment for a number of reasons.

First, heavier lines are more evident to fish and make them less likely to bite. Second, lighter lines cast easier and should give you more distance, which is critical for inshore fishing. Third, you’ll get fewer knots when casting, a common problem in windier conditions.

Lastly, a lighter line is more sensitive, meaning it should be easier for you to detect when a shy fish is nibbling on your bait.

Get Set Up for Your Inshore Fishing

Pay attention to these elements to set yourself up for a better inshore fishing experience. Start with your reel to anchor the rest of your purchases. Next, you can move on to your rod, lines, and hooks and start practicing your casts.

With a bit of effort, you should find yourself getting your line right where you want to go every time you cast. It shouldn’t be too hard with a 3000 series reel, as they are made for ease of use.

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