What Size Reel to Use for Bass Fishing?

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When looking at fishing reels for bass fishing, size matters. Any reel will catch fish but having the right tool for the job will make your fishing more enjoyable and allow you to excel in your environment. Different size fishing reels are good for different applications.

Smaller reels are more agile and suited to lighter rods. A light setup is best suited for small spinners and jigs for use in streams, small ponds, and creeks. Having a small rod and reel will allow you to play smaller fish with more enjoyment and give you the accuracy to cast in tight spaces and against features that would otherwise be impossible with a heavier setup. A smaller reel has less capacity for line and you will have to use a smaller gauge, meaning you will be restricted to the size of fish you can target and the distances you can fish too.

A larger reel will match a heavier rod. A heavier setup will allow you to cast larger, heavier lures and spinners, and the reel itself will allow you to spool up more line at a heavier gauge. Having more line in a heavier gauge (or larger breaking strain) will give you the ability to cast to features from a distance and allow you to target bigger fish in larger waters. A bigger spinning reel is great if you are on larger lakes and rivers where a further casting distance is needed to get among the bass. Overall, you are able to spool up stronger line, more line, and match a larger reel with a heavier rod, giving you the ability to work bigger waters and target bigger fish.

Selecting the best size reel for your bass fishing needs comes down to many factors. If you are fishing small waters all the time, then a smaller set up will suit you best. If you are targeting big waters and expect larger bass and other species to be picked up by your lure, then a bigger setup will suit you best. If you are the angler that enjoys all manner of predator fishing from bass, musky, to small catfish and target a variety of waters from creeks to larger lakes, or from a boat, then a medium setup gives you the best of both worlds.

In this article, we will be looking at what size bass reels best suit different environments as well as matching each size with the perfect weight and length spinning rod. Matching reel size to rod size is paramount in getting a balanced setup. Having a balanced setup is vital to getting the most out of your kit, giving you the best casting distances, casting accuracy, and best action from your rod and reel when playing fish.

What Makes a Good Bass Spinning Reel?

A good reel to use for bass spinning will have a smooth action, quick retrieval, a smooth clutch, easily-adjustable drag, and an easy-flip bail-arm for quick repeat casting. Reels have a bearing count that affects the smoothness of line retrieval. Generally speaking reels with a higher bearing count are more expensive but that doesn’t mean you can’t get hold of a smooth bass reel for a good price, bass reels are smaller than other types so you can get a lot more for your money in this category.

A reel with a smooth clutch and sensitive drag adjustments will give you more control over the fish that is on your line and will make fighting hard-fighting bass easier, and more enjoyable. A standard open-face spinning reel will have its drag adjustments on the head of the spool, this makes it easily accessible during a fight and allows you to adjust quickly. Other reels with rear drag adjustments are better suited for bait fishing where you don’t need immediate drag control on the bite.

When you are spinning for any fish (not just bass) it is not uncommon to make over 100 casts in a session. For this reason, you will need a reel that is reliable, easy to use, and lightweight so you can go all day covering larger areas of water with your lure or spinner. Owning a bass spinning reel with a sensitive bail arm that is easily klicked-over will allow you to cast quickly and efficiently – upping your cast numbers per session.

Most spinning reels have a gear ratio of 5.2:1 up to 7.0:1 this gives them a brilliant line retrieval rate. A reel with a high line retrieval rate will allow you to make fast movements on the lure and retrieve your line quickly for recasting after a hit and miss on your lure or spinner. Fast line retrieval is a great feature of a bass spinning reel. Having a well-geared reel makes life so much easier when out on the bank, you will spend less energy reeling, more time covering water, and hopefully end up with more tight lines throughout your session!

Spinning Reel Sizes

Having the perfect size bass reel for your specific circumstances will help you target the fish better, master your water easier, fish more accurately, and enjoy your fishing more. We are not saying having the perfect rod and reel will catch you more fish, that is down to you and your skills, but it will certainly help you in fishing your regular waters better.

There are 4 main sizes of reel suited for bass fishing, there are larger sizes as well, but these are suited for larger fish, different situations, and will provide a boring, heavy setup when targeting bass. Each reel is good for different situations but many of them overlap each other, with some reels serving the same purpose and differing in spool size (increasing line capacity or strength).

A large part of reel selection is matching it to your rod. If you are buying a new rod to match your reel then you don’t have to worry about selecting a reel to match something you already have. If you are buying a new reel to compliment a rod you already own, then selecting the correct size reel for that rod is vital to creating a balanced setup.

In this section, we will go over what each size reel is suited for, the rod size they best match, and the maximum breaking strain line each one can take. Before buying line for your reel it is important to look at the manual or product description, this will tell you how many yards you can fit on the spool in different gauges. Although we will tell you the maximum recommended line for each reel size, you may benefit from a lighter line with more distance. Consider your environment, casting distances needed, target bass size, and how many snags your water has before selecting line for your reel. If you are looking for a more in-depth guide on fishing line selection why not check out our fishing line selection article.

1000 (10)

Size 1000 or 10 (the same size depending on manufacturer listing) is the smallest and lightest spinning reel available for bass fishing. You will be able to land fish of most sizes with this reel and when strength is concerned it is capable most things. You will be restricted to the amount of line the spool can take, the gauge and breaking-strain of the line it can take, and the rod you can match it with.

Ultimately, the line and the weight of rod you can match this reel with will affect the situations you can use it in. The maximum breaking-strain monofilament line this size reel is capable of taking is 2 – 4 pounds and the maximum for braided line is 4 – 8 pounds. lines of this breaking-strain will allow you to catch bass of any size, however, the amount of line you can fit on the spool will restrict you to close-range situations.

To create a well-balanced setup this size reel should be matched with an ultralight rod between 4.5 and 5.5 feet. This set up will give you a light action or “springy bend” that will help with fighting fish in close proximity and will reduce the chance of a hook pull when the fish is at the bank. If you are targeting larger species, then a setup like this will not have the pulling power and backbone in the rod to handle the weight.

Overall, a size 1000 reel is perfect if you want a fun lightweight set up for bass fishing in creeks, streams, and ponds for intimate casting and close-range fishing.

Maximum breaking-strain Mono line: 2 – 4lb

Maximum breaking-strain Braided line: 4 – 8lb

Perfect Balanced Rod: Ultralight 4.5ft – 5.5ft

2500 (25)

Size 2500 or 25 is the most popular size of spinning reel as it offers versatility and good all-round capabilities. This reel is perfect if you enjoy a variety of spinning in different environments and want to keep your setup light but versatile enough to tackle all but the biggest predator fish.

The spool on a size 2500 is big enough to handle a large amount of line and the only thing restricting your casting distance will be the rod you match it with. For spinning purposes on most waters, you will not need a casting distance larger than what this reel can offer. The spool capacity will give you more than enough line to play large fish without worrying about spooling out and it is still light enough to cast without fatigue all day.

The 2500 reel can facilitate a monofilament line of 4 – 8 pound breaking-strain and a braided line of 5 – 12 pounds. Lines within this range are perfect for all-round use and will certainly hold up against that goliath bass you’ve been searching for. This reel size is best paired with a light to medium-weight rod at 6 to 8 feet in length. The weight of rod you select really comes down to how large a jig or spinner you want to cast but as long as you go for something with a good action that is no longer than 8 feet your setup will be well-balanced.

Overall, this reel is perfect if you are the weekend angler than enjoys targeting bass and other species in a range of different waters. It will work well in a small creek, stream, river, or lake and you will have no problem fishing from a boat in freshwater either.

Maximum breaking-strain Mono line: 4 – 8lb

Maximum breaking-strain Braided line: 5 – 12lb

Perfect Balanced Rod: light to medium-weight 6ft – 8ft

3000 (30)

Size 3000 or 30 reels are slightly larger than reels in the 2500 series. This size is perfect for the angler that wants a reel with a larger and wider pit on the spool. Having a larger pit means that it can take more line at stronger breaking-strains, giving you the opportunity to fish deeper waters or at further distances. Reels above this size usually offer a wider spool as well, this makes spooling up braided line much more efficient. You will get a much better line-lay from braid when it is wrapped on a wide spool and it will cast much smoother.

It is at this point in reel size where we are on the brink of versatility. Anything bigger is only suited to larger waters but this size in the goldilocks zone, where you can still use it for small waters, but it also functions extremely well on bigger waters. When balanced with a good rod it may just be a little too much for tiny creeks and streams, but it will serve well in small rivers, ponds, and large lakes. If you prefer fishing with braid and still want a fairly lightweight setup then this is the perfect reel for you.

This size reel can take monofilament line from 6 – 10 pound breaking strain and braided line at 6 – 14 pound breaking strain. This allows you to target predatory fish of any size that you will find in US, Canadian, or UK waterways, and the capacity allows you to fish at longer distances and play powerful fish without a worry in open water.

This reel is best suited on a light to medium-weight rod that is between 6 and 7.5 feet. Depending on the weight of rod you go for, you can either have a versatile lightweight set up for short-range fishing or a medium set up that will cast large spinners at a fair distance.

Overall, the 3000 size reel is the best reel for someone that prefers braid and wants to fish a variety of waters. It is a good size for a lightweight set up for small rivers, ponds, and lakes and also works well as a heavier set up for longer distance casting, boat fishing, and targeting big fish in large lakes.

Maximum breaking-strain Mono line: 6 – 10lb

Maximum breaking-strain Braided line: 6 – 14lb

Perfect Balanced Rod: light to medium-weight 6ft – 7.5ft

3500 (35)

The 3500 size is bigger once again. This is a little too oversized for small waters and is the biggest size acceptable to use well for bass fishing. If you predominantly fish lakes for bass and enjoy casting long-distance then this reel is perfect for you. Like the 3000 the spool on this size is wider and has a bigger pit, meaning it is perfect for holding and casting large a capacity of braided or monofilament line. This isn’t a particularly versatile size of bass fishing reel and doesn’t perform well on small waters, however, it comes into its own on large lakes.

The size 3500 can take the same line as the 3000 with the main difference being capacity. It will take monofilament line at 6 – 10 pound breaking-strain and 6 – 14 pounds in braided line, this gives you more than enough strength for all your bass fishing needs with a lot of distance potential. The perfect balanced rod for this reel would be medium to low heavyweight rods with a through action. A slightly longer rod will be needed to keep your setup balanced, anything between 7 and 10 feet will work well.

Overall, the size 3500 is the biggest reel you will want to use for bass fishing and is not suitable for smaller waters. If you couple this with a medium to low-heavy weight rod you will have the ability to cast heavier lures at further distances and fish to features on large lakes. Great for bankside fishing on lakes and boat fishing in deep freshwater.

Maximum breaking-strain Mono line: 6 – 10lb

Maximum breaking-strain Braided line: 6 – 14lb

Perfect Balanced Rod: Medium to low-heavy weight 7ft – 10ft


In conclusion, it is important to consider the style of bass fishing you most enjoy. If you love fishing small intimate waters where light lure placement in technical places is key, then a lightweight setup will be best for you. If you love fishing light on a multitude of waters from creeks to lakes, then a medium-sized bass reel and a lightweight rod will be best. If you like versatile fishing and want the ability to target larger species and cast further, then a medium bass fishing reel and medium-weight rod is ideal. If you prefer long-distance casting, boat fishing, and need a high capacity for line, then a larger reel and heavier rod will suit you better. Consider what you enjoy the most and how you want to play your fish. If you love big lake fishing, then go heavy if you like intimate creek fishing then go light and if you enjoy all kinds of fishing then go for something in the middle. Tight-lines and happy spinning!

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