Spinning Reel Sizes Explained – Ultimate Guide & Quick Reference Chart


Shopping for a new spinning reel? Easy, right? Wrong!

Aside from a huge selection of different reel types, you’ll also find a whole host of spinning reel sizes! Which one is best for you?

Well, you are about to find out. I’ll talk you through what each size of spinning reel is best for, and you’ll be able to reference my handy size chart, so you’ll get the right reel at a glance. Cool, eh?

Let’s dive right in!

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Spinning Reel Sizes Explained

As with most fishing gear, there are differences that you need to be aware of. And regardless of what anyone says…

Size matters.

Get it right, and you’ll be rewarded with a sweet tackle setup. Get it wrong, and you are going to struggle.

Here are the things you need to consider when choosing a reel size.

two fishing reels with red fishing line

Type of Fishing

What you aim to catch and how you intend to catch it has a direct bearing on your reel size.

Want examples?

Take carp fishing, for instance. You are going to need a pretty beefy reel to keep up with that big rod. You’ll need power, a fast retrieval rate, and the ability to cast a long distance.

The long and short of it?

A small reel just isn’t going to cut it.

The same goes for surf fishing. Check out some rod and reel combos for sea fishing right here, and you’ll see what I mean.

For bass fishing, you can get away with slightly smaller. Casts are shorter, and you want your setup to be lightweight.

The reel size must match the discipline. You’ll find what to use in my table below.

Experience Level

Bigger reels are harder to handle. They require more line, longer, heavier casting techniques, and are normally much more specialized.

But…

Maybe being ‘specialized’ isn’t what you want? Perhaps you are looking to try out a few different techniques. In that case, you’ll need to choose a reel that will tick several boxes and allow you to fish in different ways.

A 6000 reel wouldn’t be suitable. A 2000 reel would be too small, so you’ll need to go somewhere in the middle.

Your Rod

Big rods need big reels. It’s that simple.

Catfishing needs strong gear. This includes the rod and the reel. Larger-than-usual setups are most definitely required. A strong catfish will strip the gears off a 2000 reel before you can blink.

The answer?

Pick a reel that goes nicely with your rod. If you are interested in catfishing, I’ve got a great article on it here.

Your Choice of Line

So, you’ve decided what you want to try and catch, and you’ve got the rod and reel to match.

Except…

Have you thought about what line you’ll need?

Small fish only need a very fine line. For bigger species, you are going to need something thicker.

Do you know what a thicker line means?

Less room on your spool!

Suppose you are fishing for big species or anticipate making longer casts. In that case, you will need a bigger spool to accommodate a thicker line.

different types of spinning rods on the fishing boat

Spinning Reel Sizes (How it Works)

When looking at most reels, you’ll see a 4-digit number. This is normally given in thousands.

But what does this mean?

Essentially, the bigger the number, the bigger the reel.

Reels start at 1000 size. They go all the way up to 30,000 (but this is extreme).

As a general rule, you’ll be looking for something between 1000 and 10,000.

Most ‘standard’ setups will feature a reel somewhere in the 3-4000 mark.

If you want to know what each reel size is suited to and which line would be best, be sure to check my reel size chart below.

Spinning Reel Size Chart

Reel Size Mono Strength Braid Strength Where You’d Use it Species
1000 2 – 4lb 4-8lb Ice Fishing, LRF Spinning, Very Small Still Waters Panfish, Perch, Brook Trout
2000 4 – 6lb 4-8lb Small Still Waters, LRF Saltwater, Fishing, Heavy Ice Fishing Panfish, Perch, Brook Trout, Trout, Small Bass, Snook, Red Drum.
3000 5 – 8lb 8-15lb River Spinning, Medium Stillwater, Inshore Saltwater Spinning Trout, Small Salmon, Pike, Perch, Bass, Stripers
4000 7 – 10lb 10-20lb Big River Spinning, Large Stillwaters, Inshore Saltwater Spinning Large Trout, Salmon, Large Bass, Drum, Snook, Steelheads
5000 9 – 15lb 10-20lb Heavy Duty Spinning, Large Stillwaters, Big Rivers, Heavy Saltwater Spinning Large Salmon, Large Steelhead, Trophy Bass, Drum, Trigger Fish, Bonefish, Catfish
6000 14 – 18lb 12-30lb Trolling On Big Lakes, Spinning For Large Species, Catfishing, Heavy Saltwater Spinning Trophy Trout And Salmon, Trophy Bass, Large Drum, Wahoo, Barracuda, Large Trigger Fish.
7000 16 – 20lb 15-40lb Boat Jigging, Offshore Saltwater Fishing, Specialist Casting Tuna, Large Drum, Wahoo, Barracuda, Large Trigger Fish
8000 18-20lb 20-50lb Offshore Fishing And Boat Use. Heavy Inshore Spinning Tuna, Large Drum, Wahoo, Barracuda, Large Trigger Fish, Small Sailfish, Dorado, Amberjacks
9000 20 – 25lb 20-50lb Casual Sportfish Lure Fishing. Heavy Inshore Spinning Tuna, Large Drum, Wahoo, Barracuda, Large Trigger Fish, Sailfish, Dorado, Amberjacks
10000 25-30lb 30-60lb Trophy Sportfish Lure Fishing, Offshore Boat Use Tuna, Large Drum, Wahoo, Barracuda, Large Trigger Fish, Small Large, Dorado, Amberjacks Sailfish, Swordfish
14000 30lb+ 60lb+ Specialist Offshore Fishing Large Tuna, Large Drum, Large Wahoo, Large Barracuda, Large Trigger Fish, Small Large Sailfish, Swordfish
16000 50lb+ 60lb+ Specialist Offshore Fishing Large Tuna, Large Drum, Large Wahoo, Large Barracuda, Large Trigger Fish, Small Large Sailfish, Swordfish
20000 50lb+ 60lb+ Shark Fishing Sharks!

Spinning Reel Sizes FAQ

Still got questions. No problem, it is what I am here for.

Here are the things I am most commonly asked about when discussing the sizes of spinning reels.

What size reel for surf fishing?

As an absolute minimum, go for a 4000 sized reel. This will give you plenty of spool capacity and pair nicely with a longer rod, which you will have to use if you want to get past that ‘third breaker’.

3000 could be used at a push, and if you have nothing else, but there is a good chance that you would find it slightly too small, and it will seriously affect your casting distance.

What is the best size reel for bass fishing?

I’d say go for a 3000 sized reel. Bass fishing doesn’t require you to cast a massive distance, so you won’t need miles and miles of line capacity.

On top of this, bass fishing is really active. You’ll be casting and retrieving constantly. As a result, you will want to keep the weight of your tackle to the lowest it can be. Choosing a smaller reel is one way in which you can keep the weight down.

Don’t worry about pulling power. A 3000 sized reel has a big enough spool and thick enough gears to deal with most bass.

How do you match a reel to a rod?

Matching a reel to a rod is easy.

Consider what you are going to be using the rod for and then go from there. Examine why you have chosen that rod in the first place.

What were you looking for?

Casting distance?

Lightweight flexibility?

The ability to try a few different styles?

Depending on your answer, you’ll then be able to choose a reel that can fulfill these requirements.

For a good all-around spinning reel, a 3000 or 4000 will be plenty for 90% of the situations you’ll find yourself in. For saltwater fishing, going heavy is always a better option. Choose a 4000 or 5000 sized reel, and you won’t go far wrong.

What size reel for carp fishing?

This all depends on how you intend to carp fish. If you were casting significant distances with heavy weights and baits, I would suggest opting for a 4000 or even a 5000 sized reel.

If you are going to be doing close-in work and stalking carp around the margins, then a better idea might be to go for a 3000 sized reel. You’ll get all of the capacity without finding that the reel is a little too cumbersome.

What size reel for crappie fishing?

With crappie, while you don’t need a huge reel, they can still grow pretty big. For smaller crappie or a little sport fishing, you could get away with a 2000 sized reel.

However, my advice, would be to opt for a 3000 sized reel as a good all-rounder. This will allow you to easily reel in big crappie, but will also give you the ability to fish for other species at the same time

In Summary

Choosing spinning reel sizes doesn’t need to be complicated. Match your reel to the rod, consider the species and how you intend to catch them, and go from there.

A 4000 or 5000 reel is ideal for 90% of your fishing if you are just starting out. If you are fishing purely on freshwater, you could even get away with a 3000 sized reel.

What size reel is your ‘ideal’? Let me know in the comments below. I love it when you guys give me your input.

Bob Hoffmann

The author of this post is Bob Hoffmann. Bob has spend most of his childhood fishing with his father and now share all his knowledge with other anglers. Feel free to leave a comment below.

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