Spinning Reel Size – Choose The Best Reel Size For Your Purpose

When deciding to purchase a new spinning reel, one of the first things you need to figure out is what size you will need depending on your purpose.

Combined with some of the other factors that you’ll need to consider before purchasing a new reel, picking a size can make your choice a little more complicated. 

Fishing Spinning Reels

A lot of anglers are tempted to ignore reel size, however, choosing the right size spinning reel is just as important as picking the right model.

This guide is going to give you all the information you need to understand what spinning reel sizes are, and what each of them can be used for. 

What Spinning Reel Size Will I Need? 

When it comes to choosing the size of your spinning reel, it will depend on what type of fishing you are planning on doing. Some questions you can ask yourself include: 

  • What size fish are you trying to catch? 
  • What line strength are you thinking of using? 
  • Will you be going saltwater or freshwater fishing? 

The general rule of thumb is that saltwater spinning reels need to be larger than freshwater reels. This is because they typically need to handle stronger lines and bigger fish.

Saltwater fishing also requires longer line capacity, as saltwater species tend to make longer ‘runs’ once they’ve been hooked. 

Common sense wise, if you are going after larger fish, you will need a larger spinning reel. For example, if you’re after bluegill, you will only need a size 1000 spinning reel.

However, if you’re wanting to catch something as big as a tuna, you will need something like a size 10,000 spinning reel. 

We’re going to go into greater detail about what spinning reel sizes mean, so that we can help you understand which you’ll need. 

Spinning Reel Sizes Explained 

When it comes to spinning reel sizes, it can get a little confusing as there are two different size classifications which are both used by reel manufacturers. 

For example, some reel manufactures will use sizes starting with 10, 20, 30, 40, and so on, as their size classification.

However, other manufacturers will classify sizes using 1000, 2000, 3000, etc. 

These two systems are basically the same. To help limit confusion, a size 10 reel size is equivalent to 1000. Similarly, size 35 is the same as 3500.

To simplify, you only really need to pay attention to the first two numbers of the reel size. This will make it easier to compare the size across different brands and models that you’re looking at. 

Spinning Reel Size Chart 

Now we’re going to look at the small, medium, and large spinning reel sizes, and the kind of fishing you do with them. 

Small Spinning Reels (1000-3500 / 10-35) 

These smaller spinning reels are perfect for lightweight rods which are in the 6 to 7-foot range, and are great for targeting species that weigh up to 15 pounds.

Small spinning reels work best with 2-10 pound monofilament lines, or 4-14 pound braided lines. 

Small-sized spinning reels are typically used for freshwater fishing, you can also use them on some coastal areas. 

Reel Size Mono Line Strength (lbs) Recommended Fishing TypeRecommended Species (Based in North America)
1000 or 102-4 Ultralight fishing in freshwater, harbors and bays. Yellow Perch, Trout, Bluegill, and Crappie.
2000 or 204-6Ultralight fishing in freshwater, harbors and bays. Yellow Perch, Trout, Bluegill, and Bass.
2500 or 255-8Light fishing in freshwater, harbors and bays. Northern Pike, Walleye, and Bass.
3000 or 306-10Light fishing in freshwater, harbors and bays. Northern Pike, Walleye, Bass, and Catfish. 
3500 or 356-10Light fishing in freshwater, harbors and bays. Northern Pike, Walleye, Bass, and Catfish. 

Medium Spinning Reels (4000-5500 / 40-55) 

If your rod is somewhere in between the 7 and 8-foot range, then a medium sized spinning reel is perfect for you.

Medium sized spinning reels work best with either 8-14 pound monofilament lines, or 10-25 pound braided lines, and are the best sized reels for targeting mid-sized species up to 30 pounds. 


Experienced anglers tend to use medium spinning reels for heavier freshwater fishing, or for inshore saltwater fishing. 

Reel Size Mono Length Strength (lbs) Recommended Fishing Type Recommended Species (Based in North America)
4000 or 408-20 Medium fishing in freshwater or inshore saltwater fishing. Snook, Snapper, Redfish, and Catfish. 
4500 or 458-20Medium fishing in freshwater or inshore saltwater fishing. Snook, Snapper, Redfish, and Catfish. 
5000 or 5010-25Medium fishing in freshwater or inshore saltwater fishing. Snook, Snapper, Redfish, and Catfish. 
5500 or 5510-25Medium fishing in freshwater or inshore saltwater fishing. Snook, Snapper, Redfish, and Catfish. 

Large Spinning Reels (6000-30,000 / 60-300)

Larger, heavier sized spinning reels are ideal for heavy rods which are used for rock fishing and offshore boat fishing.

If you’re targeting large species that can weigh up to or more than 150 pounds, you might want to consider using a large spinning reel.

These reels work best with a 12-60 pound monofilament line, or a 24-100 pound braided line. 

Typically, large spinning reels are used for saltwater fishing, and are used by anglers who are after the big game species. 

Reel Size Mono Line Strength (lbs) Recommended Fishing Type Recommended Species (Based in North America)
6000 or 60 – 6500 or 65 12-30Medium inshore fishing and offshore saltwater.Snook, Salmon, Striped Bass and Redfish / Red Drum. 
7000 or 70 – 7500 or 7515-50Medium inshore fishing and offshore saltwater.Snook, Salmon, Striped Bass and Redfish / Red Drum. 
8000 or 80 – 8500 or 8520-50Medium inshore fishing and offshore saltwater.Amberjack, Barracuda, Dorado, Roosterfish, and Wahoo. 
9000 or 90 – 9500 or 95 30-50Medium inshore fishing and offshore saltwater.Amberjack, Barracuda, Dorado, Roosterfish, and Wahoo. 
10,000 or 100 – 10,500 or 10530-60Medium / Heavy inshore fishing and offshore saltwater. Dorado, Tuna, Shark, and Wahoo. 
12,000 or 120 – 14,000 or 14030-70Medium / Heavy offshore saltwater fishing.Dorado, Tuna, Shark, and Wahoo. 
16,000 or 160 – 18,000 or 18040-70Medium / Heavy offshore saltwater fishing. Dorado, Tuna, Shark, and Wahoo. 
20,000 or 200 – 25,000 or 25050-80Heavy offshore saltwater fishing. Giant Trevally, Large Species Tuna, Tarpon, and Sailfish. 
30,000 or 300 80-100Heavy offshore saltwater fishing. Giant Trevally, Large Species Tuna, Tarpon, and Sailfish. 

How Do you Match a Spinning Reel with a Rod? 

Spinning reel with cord.Fishing Reel spool

When it comes to buying your first spinning reel and rod, you may be a little confused about what reel matches with what rod.

The first thing that you’ll need to remember is that you need to look specifically at spinning rods.

Spinning rods are different to baitcasting rods, and spinning reels won’t work properly with baitcasting rods. Similarly, baitcasting reels won’t work with spinning rods. 

Most rods will have numbers listed above the grip. These numbers will include the length of the rod, and the strength of the line which is recommended to use with it.

For example, if your rod notes a line length of 6-10 lbs, that means that the manufacturer recommends using it with a 6-10 pound test line. Unless it has been stated otherwise, line strength usually refers to monofilament line strength. 

Once you’ve found the recommended line strength on your rod, you can use the reel size charts to help you find the size of the spinning reel which will work well with the line strength.

Once they’re matched up, you’ve paired your rod to the right reel size. 

After you have finished pairing the rod to your reel, you are now ready to start putting the fishing line on the reel.

Make sure you familiarise yourself with the different parts of a spinning reel, as this will help you to understand how to put the line on, how to use it and how to look after it. 

What is the Best Size Spinning Reel for Bass Fishing?


Most anglers will use a spinning reel for bass fishing. However, there is not a single best size reel for bass fishing as bass can vary a lot in size and weight.

Instead, there are a range of recommended sizes of reels which you can use. These are: 

Reel Size Mono Line Strength (lbs)Braided Line Strength (lbs)
2000 or 204-65-10
2500 or 255-85-12
3000 or 306-106-14
3500 or 35 6-106-14

The exact size of spinning reel you will need for bass fishing usually depends on the technique you will be using. 

For example, if you’re using ultralight lures when finesse fishing, you’ll want to use a 2000/20 size spinning reel.

Alternatively, if you’re using larger lures you’ll want to go for a larger reel size like a 3000/30 or 3500/35. 

A common misconception amongst anglers is that you need a larger fishing reel size if you want to catch larger bass.

However, this is not necessarily true, as bass don’t tend to make long ‘runs’ like most saltwater game fish.

Because of this, you will be able to tire out an 8 pound bass using a 2000/20 sized spinning reel, without encountering any problems. 

If you’re unsure, it’s best to use a 2500/25 or 3000/35 sized spinning reel, as this is somewhere in the middle of the range. 

What Size Reel Should You Use for Surf Fishing? 

Surf fishing includes a very large range of fishing applications and techniques. It can include going after anything from small snappers, to large and strong fish.

Surf fishing can even include catching sharks that have come close to shore. 

Because of this range, it can be difficult to make a recommendation for a certain reel size that is perfect for surf fishing.

With that being said, surf casting reels tend to lie somewhere in the range of 5000/50 to 8000/80 size spinning reels. Most anglers will use a 6000/60 sized spinning reel for surf fishing. 

Surf fishing reels are somewhere in between medium to large sized spinning reels. They can sometimes be on the larger side, as they normally require a large spool or line capacity as you need a greater casting distance. 

What Size Fishing Reel Should You Use if You’re a Beginner? 

If you’ve only just begun fishing, it’s highly likely that you’re not entirely sure what type of fishing you will be doing. Most beginners like to try a few different fishing styles to find which one they prefer the most. 

However, if you are a beginner, you don’t want to spend too much money on different fishing reels.

Typically, the best (and safest) option is to buy a medium size reel, as this will allow you to fish with lighter tackle in freshwater and use heavier tackles in saltwater. 

For beginners, we recommend getting a 3000/30 to 4000/40 sized reel. These sizes will allow you to catch a wide variety of fish using a number of different fishing techniques. 

How to Make Sure you Pick the Right Size?

A lot of people tend to pick gear which is too heavy for the type of fishing they are targeting. This can sometimes ruin the fun of fishing, as it means you can haul the fish in with very little fight or drag. 

However, if you are new to fishing, it is always better to go for a bigger reel than a smaller one (if you are unsure on which size to get).

As you become more skilled, you can try using a lighter reel and line as bigger fish will give you more of a fight. 

What is a 1000 / 10 Size Reel Used For?

The smallest reel size you can purchase is a 1000/10. These small spinning reels are used for very light fishing, which would include fishing in small rivers and streams.

You can also use 1000 size spinning reels for very light lure inshore fishing. Most anglers will typically use this size reel if they’re looking to catch yellow perches, trout, bluegills, and crappies.

Conclusion 

When it comes to picking a spinning reel size, there is no exact science to it, however, we hope that this guide can help you find the perfect size reel for the type of fishing you intend to do. 

Just remember to make sure that you use a spinning rod with a spinning reel, as baitcaster reels or rods won’t work with either (and vice versa).

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