These are the Best Japanese Made Fishing Reels [Updated]

Best Japanese Made Fishing Reels

Japan is a synonym for advanced technologies and high precision in manufacturing of basically anything. Japanese fishing reels are no exception.

Of course, there are various Japanese brands, but not all of their models are produced locally. Some outsource their production to cheaper Asian countries.

Among the best Japanese fishing reels are Shimano, Daiwa, Megabass, Tiemco, Tailwalk, and Gan Craft. Some of those may be less known, although they are high quality. But before you assume that all of their models come from Japan, think twice.

Here I will tell you more details about what models of these brads are made in this technologically advanced country, and why are they considered to be top of the line.

In case you are wondering which brands/models are the best for specific use, like fly-fishing or spinning, I will list that too.

And of course, there are some features to consider when buying any kind of reel, so make sure that you know it all before you order your favorite reel!



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What Fishing Reel Brands Are Made In Japan?

Japanese fishing reels are known for their dependability, durability, and precision. So naturally, a lot of anglers would like to own one. But do Japanese brands really make all of their models locally? Are the most popular Shimano reels made in Japan? And what about Japanese Daiwa reels?

Let’s start with Shimano. Their high-end reels that have premium features and innovative functions are made in Japan. Those are models like Stella, Aero, and some baitrunners. More basic models, especially spinning ones, are made in Malaysia. But they are made in accordance with high demands from Shimano, so their quality is also very good.

Another popular and well-known manufacturer is Daiwa. Specific models, Daiwa Certate, Exist, Saltiga, Tanacom, and Seaborg are made in Japan, while other reels are made in various south-east Asia countries and China. Some series of Daiwa Luvias and Daiwa Alphas were made in Japan, but not all.

Megabass is another company that makes fishing equipment, including reels. They make popular rods and lures; however, they make some really good reels too. This company uses Daiwa factories, and most of the reels are made overseas. However, only the high-end series that cost a fortune are locally, same as Daiwa.

Tiemco is very popular for fly fishing equipment. They are actually importers for other brands, but they also manufacture some very limited series themselves.

Tailwalk produces various reel types and models. They proudly advertise their premium rods as Japanese products, but majority of their reels are made in Taiwan.

And lastly, we have Gan Craft. They have some of their own models, as well as models that are actually improved versions of certain Daiwa reels. You can recognize them easily as they state this fact within the name. They are made in Japan, at least for now.

Despite some people thinking that Okuma is japaneese, it is not. It is based in Taiwan.

These are the Best Japanese Fishing Reels

Now I listed all the brands, but what about specific reel types? Here is the list of the best Japanese fishing reel brands in regard to reel type.

Best Japanese Spinning Reels

Japanese fishing reels are all excellent, no matter the type, but let’s start with spinning reels that are the most popular type of reels for inexperienced anglers.

Japanese spinning reels that stand out are three different models. One of them is made in Japan, while the other two are made in overseas factories, but they are from Japanese brands.

Daiwa Certate LT is a premium spinning reel that can be used for various fishing situations. It comes in a few different sizes and gear ratio between 5.2 and 6.2 which makes it extremely versatile. There are 10 ball bearings that ensure incredible smoothness. Materials are also suitable for saltwater use.

But, if you are looking for something more affordable and suitable for beginner use, you should consider one of the most popular Daiwa models, the BG. This model has been around for many years, and new series are just improved versions of previous ones.

And lastly, there is a Shimano classic, well-known model called Stradic FL. It comes in various sizes, and it is quite a versatile reel.

Best Japanese Made Fishing Reels - Spinning

Best Japanese Jigging Reels

Jigging is a fun fishing technique that requires reels that have certain features. For jigging, you will need narrow spool, gear ratio up to about 6.2:1, and of course, the type has to match the rest of your equipment. Beginners will often use spinning reels for it.

Japanese jigging reels come in many models and sizes, but one of the best is definitely Daiwa Sealine (its a conventional reel). This reel is not too expensive, it is suitable for saltwater use, comes in various sizes, and the drag is excellent.

If you want a jigging reel that will meet all of your expectations, go for this one.

Best Japanese Fly Reels

Fly fishing is completely different than any other type of fishing, and so is everything related to Japanese fly reels. It may sound strange, but Japan does not have a wide selection of locally made reels. There are some manufacturers that make hand-crafted reels, but those are not actually brands.

If you want a fly reel from a Japanese brand, then you can choose models like Tiemco Oracle or Shimano Asquith. Daiwa also makes some models, like Wilderness and Lochmore.

To be honest, although they are Japanese, and are well made, these fly reels are not the best in the world.

Best Japanese Made Fishing Reels - Fly

Best Japanese Baitcasting Reels

When it comes to Japanese baitcasting reels, there is a very big selection. These reels also come in all imaginable price ranges.

I would like to mention Daiwa Alphas here. It is not exactly the cheapest reel on the market, but it is excellent. It comes in one size, so that may be a limiting factor, but if we are talking about reel features, then it is one of the best.

For those who would like a bit cheaper reel, but with premium performance, there is Tatula model from the same manufacturer.

Best Japanese Saltwater Reels

And lastly, there are saltwater reels. Reels made for saltwater can be used in freshwater, but not the other way around. Saltwater reels are more resistant to corrosion, and are usually sturdier, to withstand harsher conditions.

If you are looking for a perfect saltwater spinning reel that is suitable for large and heavy fish, there is a high-end reel made by Shimano. Model Stella has a very high price but there is almost nothing that this reel can’t do. It is a powerful reel made to withstand even the toughest conditions on the sea. All Shimano innovative features are a part of it, including cross carbon drag, HAGANE body and gears, one piece bail, infinity drive, heatsink drag, and many others.

Those who prefer baitcasting reels can think about Daiwa Saltiga. It is not as expensive as the previous, but it is definitely in a high price range. However, if I am listing the best here, it should be mentioned. This reel has excellent features, including one piece aluminum frame and side plate made for sturdiness and durability.

If this is a bit too much, there is a bit more affordable Daiwa Saltist model.

Best Japanese Made Fishing Reels - Saltwater

FAQs about Fishing Reels Made in Japan

Japanese made fishing reels are truly a premium product. If you skipped some of the previous chapters and you are looking for fast answers, here are some.

Are Shimano Reels Made in Japan?

Among Japanese fishing reels, Shimano is probably the most popular brand. Japanese Shimano reels that are really made locally are only the high-end models like Stella and Aero. Some series of baitrunners were also made in Japanese factories.

But don’t worry, they have a very high standard when it comes to outsourcing, and foreign factories manufacture their reels in accordance with Shimano quality requirements.

Are Daiwa Reels Made in Japan?

Daiwa is another popular brand, and many anglers want to know is Daiwa made in Japan. Certate, Exist, Saltiga, Tanacom, and Seaborg are models that are made in locally.

As a brand, Daiwa is not hiding the fact that some models are made in other countries like Korea or Thailand, and every reel is labelled accordingly.

Are Penn Reels Made in Japan?

Penn is an American company that manufactures some of their reels overseas. Those made in the USA will be labeled accordingly. Of course, cheaper models are manufactured in Asia, more precisely China, and Penn is not advertising their products as Japanese made.

Are Pflueger Reels Made in Japan?

All Pflueger reels are made in Asia, but not in Japan. They are made in China, where production costs are much lower so that the end product is cheaper. Company is American, but everything is outsourced.

Despite this fact, Pflueger makes some decent reels.

Are Abu Garcia Reels Made in Japan?

Abu Garcia is one of the rare popular companies that makes some of their reels in Europe. Ambassadeur C3 and C4 are made in Sweden. Despite Sweden being one of the most expensive countries in the world, the reels are actually reasonably priced.

All other models except these mentioned above are made in China.

Are Kastking Reels Made in Japan?

KastKing makes good reels are some of their models are loved by many beginners. Company is American and all their reels are manufactured in Asia, but not in Japan.

Price of these reels is excellent, and you get a lot for a low price. It is very similar to business model of all other manufacturers who want to cut their costs.

Are Japanese Made Fishing Reels Really so Good?

Japanese brands are great, and their models that are actually made in Japan are absolutely amazing. Japan is a country where technologies develop fast, they are known for innovation, precision, and high quality. Japanese reels are top of the line.

Some of them cost a lot of money, but if you can afford it, I would definitely recommend getting one!

What to Look for When Buying a New Fishing Reel?

No matter if you are buying a fishing reels made in Japan or elsewhere, you have to consider some features that apply to all reels.

Reel type, speed, and size have to be chosen to match your existing equipment, fishing technique and fish size. Those you will have to determine yourself. However, the following features apply to all reels.

  • Ball bearings“The more the merrier” doesn’t apply here. In theory, if all ball bearings were equally good, that would be true. But as their quality varies, it is better to have fewer good ones than a lot of bad ones.

  • Drag – Drag is one of the crucial features. It must be dependable and durable. Besides that, drag must be easy to adjust and it has to operate smoothly.

  • Materials – Reels with a lot of plastic parts may be cheap, but their quality is questionable. Reel must be well-sealed to protect the inner parts from corrosion and damage. Choose materials that are resistant to corrosion, especially for saltwater use.

  • Weight – Weight of the reel may seem insignificant, and for some techniques it may be. But, if you will be spinning all day long, choose light reels. Your hands will feel much better at the end of the day.

  • The feeling – If you can, go to a tackle store and hold the reel. We are all different, and even if something is well-made, that doesn’t mean that you will be comfortable using it. Try it out first!
  • Gear ratio – more about fishing real gear ratio read here ...


Japanese fishing reels are among the best in the world. Unfortunately, quality like that comes at a high price. Even if you are not willing to pay hundreds of dollars for high-end models, you can choose models from Japanese brands which are manufactured overseas.

Manufacturers like Shimano and Daiwa outsource some of their business, but those reels are still made in accordance with high Japanese standard.

If you choose any of the brands mentioned through this article, you will not go wrong!

About Me

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I am Siniša Pintar (friends call me Sina), the guy behind and eBook writer. This site is base camp for fishing enthusiasts from all over the world. I love fishing and want to share all my stories, knowledge and my experience with any and all potential anglers. Read more ...

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