Best Spincast Reels for Catfish: Spincasters are popular among beginners due to their simplicity and affordability. But you may find it hard to pick one for catfishing. So we have reviewed some of the top spincasters on the market to find you the Best Spincast Reel for Catfish.
If you are in a hurry: Zebco Omega Pro is the Best Spincast Reel for Catfish.
- SMOOTHEST PERFORMANCE: Zebco's Omega Pro size 30 spincast...
- EFFORTLESS FISHING: This reel is equipped with 7 bearings (6...
- MASTERFUL DESIGN: This spincast reel features an anodized...
Last update on 2023-09-24 / Paid links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Here is our pick of the top 9 catfishing reels…
Our Top 9 Picks
The 9 Best Spincast Reels for Catfish
Now, let us move to our in-depth reviews.
1. Zebco Omega Pro Spincast Reel
Zebco has released a newer version of the Omega Pro in 2023. It builds upon the earlier 2011 model with additional features and smoother performance.
So, I decided to test it out during my recent catfishing trip. I picked the size 30 model that comes pre-spooled with 100 yards of 10 lb mono line. Reels in this price range don’t usually hold up over time. But the Omega Pro seemed built to last even under heavy casting applications.
It felt strong and sturdy in hand due to its aluminum front cover and body. The drag roller was smooth and convenient. Dialing in the correct drag setting was quick and simple. The push button is sealed using a rubber cover to prevent the dirt or sand from getting into the gears.
I paired the Omega Pro with my 7′ medium-light rod for targeting small to medium-sized cats. The reel was easy to cast and let me place the lures in the exact zone where I wanted them. The oscillating spool helped keep the line even while winding so I was able to cast a mile without any backlash.
The reel was so smooth I was able to easily detect the bites and get the fish in. It helped me catch several catfish up to 5 pounds and a few bass up to 3 pounds.
2. Pflueger President Spincast Reel
Pflueger President spincast reels are available in three different sizes: 6, 6U, and 10. The size 10 is the larger model that offers 10 lbs of drag. Both 6 and 6U offer the same 6 lbs drag. But 6U is an underspin model that mounts under the rod like a spinning reel. So, make sure you pick the right model while buying. The underspin model is annotated with the letter U.
I wanted to test the Pflueger President during my fishing trip to the Lower Susquehanna River. Most Channel Cats there are in the 12-15 inch range. So, I picked the size 10 reel that comes with a 3.8:1 gear ratio and a decent line retrieval rate.
Out of the box, the reel felt lightweight yet sturdy. The aluminum frame and cone protect the reel while keeping the weight down. I was planning to fish mostly around shallow waters and under the trees. So, I spooled the reel with 65 yards of the 12-pound test line and paired it with a 7′ UglyStik Catfish rod.
I was able to catch several Chanel Catfish in the 4-10 pounds range using this setup. The reel was extremely smooth and efficient throughout the trip. It is an excellent pick if you are looking for one of the best catfish reels at an affordable price.
3. Zebco Bullet Spincast Fishing Reel
When you have been reviewing fishing gear for as long as me, you know almost every product has some issue. I often come across reels that are cheap, bulky, lack power, or retrieve the line too slowly.
So I was looking out for the next new product when I heard about the new Zebco Bullet ZBA30A through one of my buddies in the industry. ZBA30A is the new 2022 model which improves upon the earlier 2017 model ZB3.
I decided to get one and test it out during my recent catfishing trip. The reel was pre-spooled with a 10 lb Zebco line. But this is one of the few spincasters that are perfect for braid. So I spooled it with a 30lbs braid and paired it with a 7′ MH rod for targeting channel cats.
During my 6-day trip, I used this reel to catch several 6-12 lbs fish. So now all I can do is rave about it! The new Zebco Bullet overcomes most shortcomings of the spincast reels.
The reel was simple to operate and casting was smooth and accurate. It retrieved quite fast and hauling in even the 12-pounder was not a problem. The all-metal construction allowed me to pull in a big Channel like it was a Crappie.
4. KastKing Brutus Spincast Reel
KastKing Brutus is one of my go-to spincasters for catfishing. But what drew me initially towards KastKing was their attention to detail. From parts to packaging, you always get great quality from KastKing.
I spooled the KastKing Brutus with a 30 lb braid and put it on my Zebco 6’6 Rhino rod. I love the design and it matches nicely with my pole.
In fact, this is my preferred setup for targeting big fish in shallow waters. I have used it for fishing rivers, lakes, and ponds and caught hundreds of fish to date. It always casts nicely whether I am throwing lure or live bait.
The retrieval is not only smooth but also fast, and consistent. You really appreciate it while battling the bigger fish. It has helped me land several catfish including an 18 lb flathead. It performs equally well while targeting other species as well. I have successfully caught bass, bluegills, and carp using this reel.
KastKing offers a 1-year warranty on all its reels. I lubricate all the outside metal parts using lithium grease and the inside parts using WD40. It has helped me keep the rust away and maintain the new-like smoothness even after months of heavy use.
5. Zebco 33 Spincast Fishing Reel
When it comes to catfishing, most beginners prefer a reliable spincaster to get the job done. So, the Zebco 33 is designed to appeal to the weekend or newbie anglers looking for an easy-to-use and affordable reel.
Out of the box, the reel felt solid thanks to the graphite frame and stainless steel covers. You can bet it will hold up well throughout the season. It is small enough to be convenient yet strong enough to reel in a 5 lb fish. The reel is pre-loaded with a 10 lb line. But I suggest you replace it with a 6 or 8-lb test so the line comes off the spool smoothly while casting.
I tested the reel during my kayak fishing trip. No doubt the reel was easy to use! It lets you place the lures precisely where you want them. I was able to throw hundreds of casts as I floated down the river. The drag was smooth and powerful. I landed a lot of 2 to 8-pound catfish with ease.
You will love the built-in bite alarm that sounds a mechanical alert when there is a bite. But it deactivates the anti-reverse. You can turn it on/ off using the convenient switch to the right of the drag wheel.
6. Daiwa Goldcast Spincast Reel
The Daiwa Goldcast is specially designed to meet the needs of a fine, quality spincast reel. It offers some excellent features including an oscillating spool and a fast 4.1:1 gear ratio.
You can choose among three sizes: GC80, GC100, and GC120. I picked the larger GC120 size to test it out during my recent catfishing trip. Out of the box, the reel feels rugged and sturdy due to its full metal body, gears, and cone. It also seems very smooth due to its stainless steel ball bearing.
The reel was pre-loaded with a 12 lb test line. But I re-spooled it with a 15 lb monofilament line to better suit my situation. I used this reel to land several catfish around 5 pounds in size and a few in the 8-10 pound range.
The oscillating spool helped me throw long and accurate casts. While the drag system was one of the smoothest I have come across in spincast reels. It helped me land all these fish with ease.
It is hard to beat the Daiwa Goldcast when looking for a budget reel that can help you land more catfish. Most anglers who try it are extremely happy with their choice. You will find that it outperforms nearly every other reel in the same price range.
7. KastKing Cadet Spincast Reel
KastKing is one of my favorite brands as they have taken many of the classic reels and put their own twist on them. On similar lines, the Cadet is a classic lightweight spincaster with a ‘low-profile’ design.
Just like most other spincast reels on our list, KastKing Cadet has a drag wheel located on the top. I like these as they’re easier to adjust than the side-mounted wheels on some reels. But it’s not something that makes the reel stand out.
So, what differentiates the KastKing Cadet? A low-profile design that reduces hand fatigue when casting or retrieving. Combined with a low weight, most beginners find this reel very easy to operate and maneuver, even for longer durations.
KastKing Cadet is built using a lightweight graphite frame and an aluminum nose cone. Inside the reel, you can find stainless-steel line pickup pins, a nylon spool, and Teflon drag washers. Despite all these standard features, it is not an ideal reel for seasoned anglers.
But I am happy to recommend KastKing Cadet to beginners or anglers with small hands. The highly attractive price tag is a big advantage. It comes pre-spooled with a premium line so you can even save time while setting up the reel.
8. Zebco 808 Spincast Fishing Reel
Zebco’s 202, 404, and 808 have introduced more people to fishing than any other reel as the affordable price is very attractive for new anglers.
I recently tested the Zebco 808 during my boat fishing trip on the Coosa River in Georgia. Most channel and blue catfish there are about 2 pounds in size. But you can often find some flatheads in the 15-20 pounds range. So, I picked the 808 model as it comes pre-spooled with 145 yards of 20 lb test line.
Out of the box, you can feel the rugged build and construction. The dial-adjustable drag is placed on the top of the reel. it’s easy to adjust while battling the big ones. The Bite Alert on/off is also conveniently placed on the side of the reel.
I paired the Zebco 808 with a 7’ medium UglyStik. You can use this setup for targeting not just the catfish but also for stripers, large mouths, and steelheads. I used this rig to catch several catfish up to 16 pounds. The reel was very smooth due to the metal gears and stainless steel ball bearing drive.
Whether you are a beginner or an angler looking for your first spincast reel, select the Zebco 808. Anglers have been using Zebco reels for decades as they help you get the job done with ease.
9. Pflueger Trion Spincast Reel
The Pflueger Trion is a no-nonsense reel with staple components and construction. It doesn’t really try to show off a lot of features. It is available in only size 10 so there really isn’t an option to pick a bigger or a smaller size.
The reel feels solid in your hand thanks to the aluminum cone, handle, and dual titanium pins. Yet it weighs only 5.9 ounces. It is loaded with a 4 lb line so you can use it to fish out of the box. But I was planning to use it for catfishing, so I spooled it with 75 yards of 10 lb line.
The line comes off the reel well thanks to a beveled edge. So the casting is smooth and simple. But the release button seems poorly attached to the frame. So you need to be careful while engaging the spool.
I used this reel to catch a few speckled trout, bass, and catfish under 6 lbs. The reel was able to handle all the fish with ease. So I am happy to recommend Pflueger Trion for beginners. But if you have some experience, I suggest you pick a more competitive reel on our list.
How to Choose the Best Spincast Reel for Catfish
You need to keep many factors in mind while choosing a spincast reel for catfish. You must consider the catfish size, build quality, spool size, gear ratio, line retrieval rate, drag system, type of water, and your budget. Keeping these aspects in mind can help you pick the right spincaster for your specific needs.
Catfish in North America can vary significantly in size. So, the first thing you need to consider is the size of the fish you plan to target. I suggest you pick a spincaster that can handle the largest fish you might find in your fishing location.
If you are planning to catch small channels, then even a small or lightweight reel is fine. But if you will be targeting large flatheads or blues, then you must choose a durable spincast reel with a higher drag and line capacity. Look for models that can hold at least a 15-20 pound test line.
Landing larger catfish may involve extended battles and heavy loads. So the construction or build quality of your spincast reel plays a significant role.
Most spincast reels on our list are made from aluminum or graphite. Aluminum is stronger than graphite. But it is also heavier. Graphite reels are lightweight as well as more resistant to corrosion. So you need to choose between weight, strength, and corrosion resistance.
A well-built reel will stand up to the rigors of catfishing for many seasons. While a poorly built reel may even break during your trip. So I suggest you pick a reel built using quality components like metal frames, aluminum nose cones, and stainless-steel bearings.
If you want even sturdier options, look for reels with corrosion resistance. Most catfish species in North America are freshwater. But there are a few saltwater species as well.
You must choose the reel depending on the size of the catfish you plan to target and the weight of the line you will be using.
If you are planning to target smaller fish using a lightweight line then a mid-sized spincaster will be fine. Look for a spincast reel that allows at least 110 yards to 10 lbs line. You will find it sufficient for landing small catfish up to 5-6 pounds.
But if you wish you go after catfish over 8 pounds, then you will need a larger spool. Look for a model that lets you load a 20 lb test line. A larger reel will not only allow you to use a heavier line but it will also give you more power and control during the fight.
Remember, spincasting reels are ideal for catching only small to medium-sized fish. You may be better off picking a baitcasting or a spinning reel for trophy catfish.
The gear ratio means how many times the line rolls around the spool for every complete turn of the handle. It plays an important role in how quickly you can retrieve your line.
A 5:1 gear ratio means that the line goes around the spool 5 times for every 1 turn of the handle. So higher the gear ratio, the faster the reel. A reel with a 6:1 gear ratio will reel in the line twice as fast as a reel with a 3:1 gear ratio.
I find a moderate 4.1:1 gear ratio ideal for catfishing. It allows me to reel in the catch at a steady pace without wearing myself out. But sometimes I use a lower gear ratio like 3:1 for winching larger catfish from cover.
Line Retrieval Rate
The line retrieval rate is determined by the gear ratio and the spool size. So, I suggest all beginners balance between gear ratio and spool size to find the right line retrieval rate for their specific situations.
Catfish are popular among angles for their powerful runs. So you need to choose a reel with a decent enough line retrieval rate.
A slightly higher rate can help you quickly reel in smaller catfish without overexerting yourself. It is also helpful when you need to pick up the slack during a catfish’s initial run.
The drag system determines the reel’s ability to stop a hooked fish. So a reliable drag is a must for successfully landing your catch.
Catfish are notorious for making strong, sudden runs. Look for a spincaster with a smooth and consistent drag system. It will not only help you land the fish but also reduce the chances of line breakage.
Most of the spincasters on our list have a convenient drag wheel on the top of the reel. It allows you to easily adjust the pressure applied to the fish during the fight.
Type of Water
The type of water where you’ll be catfishing and the conditions can influence your reel choice. Look for a reel with a higher line capacity for fishing in murky waters with low visibility.
You can pick a versatile reel suitable for a variety of catfish species for fishing in clear waters though.
You must consider your budget, how often you plan to fish, and your skill level before picking a reel. If you’re a seasoned angler, I suggest you invest in a premium reel that will serve you over many seasons.
Like most fishing gear, quality reels are more expensive but offer better performance and longevity. But you will find many budget options on our list that offer great performance. So if you are a beginner or fish occasionally, look for an affordable reel that can still get the job done.
In this section, I have tried to answer some of the most common questions from our readers.
Are spincast reels good for catfishing?
Spincast reels are a good choice for catfishing if you prefer ease of use, simplicity, and reliability. They also help beginners avoid the learning curve associated with most other reels.
But they do have some limitations compared to baitcasting and spinning reels. You may find it tough to reach farther spots while casting with spincasters.
I find spincast reels ideal for presentations where you don’t need to cast far. They can handle small to medium-sized catfish quite well. But I prefer spinning or baitcasting reels for targeting larger catfish species.
What type of water is ideal for catfishing?
If you are a beginner, you will find it easier to fish clear shallow waters. But the key is to match your gear to the water conditions.
Smaller reels are ideal for landing smaller catfish in clear waters or situations where you need more finesse. But you must use a larger reel with at least 20/110 or 30/100 capacity for catfishing in murky waters or big water bodies.
What kind of fishing line should I use for catfishing with a spincast reel?
Monofilament lines are an excellent choice for beginners, due to their manageability while braids offer higher strength needed for landing bigger fish. But you can’t use braid in clear waters as the line will be visible to the fish. So, you must consider your skill level and the fishing conditions before choosing the right line.
In general, I suggest beginners use a 10-15 lb monofilament line. But if you are a seasoned angler you can go for heavier lines in the 20-30 pound range.
What’s the right way to handle a catfish after it’s been caught?
You need to be very cautious when handling a hooked catfish especially if you are a beginner or handling fish for the first time. Make sure you wet your hands before handling the fish to avoid damaging its protective coating.
If you plan to release the fish, then you must quickly return it back to the water to ensure its survival. I also suggest you release the fish around the same general area where you caught it.
How do I maintain and clean my spincast reel for catfishing?
I undertake regular service and maintenance to keep my reels in new-like condition for years.
Step 1: Clean your reels with fresh water after each fishing trip to remove any dirt, debris, or sand.
Step 2: Then apply grease to the visible parts and apply WD45 on the inside parts.
Step 3: In between trips, store the reels in a dry place to prevent rusting or corrosion.
Zebco Omega Pro is the Best Spincast Reel for Catfish as per our reviews. It is one of the top-selling spincast reels on the market. Its price, performance and build quality make it stand out amongst other reels out there.
But all the spincasting reels that I have reviewed are excellent for catfishing. I have been using and testing fishing reels for years so you can trust the reel you pick. Each reel on our list can help you land catfish successfully.
Zebco Bullet is a great alternative to the Omega Pro. It meets or exceeds the performance but it is a bit heavier. Pflueger President is almost as good as the Omega Pro or the Bullet yet it is available at a much lower price. It is an excellent option if you are not looking for peak performance.
KastKing Cadet, Zebco 808, and Pflueger Trion are all great options for beginners. All of them are attractively priced for anglers looking for their first reel. But if you are a seasoned angler or have some experience, then I suggest spending a bit more and picking a more competitive reel.
I hope you like our pick of the Best Spincast Reels for Catfish. Feel free to contact us if you need more help. so I can help you find the right reel for your specific needs