7 Best Conventional Reels in 2024 - Go Big Or Go Home

Best Conventional Reels
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Choosing a good fishing reel is never easy. There are dozens of manufacturers and models that all promise the best features and results.

Conventional reels are mostly used by those who have previous fishing experience, or even very enthusiastic beginners.

The best conventional reels are the ones that suit your specific needs, and the ones that will be long lasting, dependable, and comfortable to use. Of course, to get a quality product, you have to choose reels made by reputable manufacturers.

In my very long fishing career, I have tried and tested many reels, and not all of them were good. On the other hand, some affordable models surprised me and performed excellent.

To save you from trouble of choosing and buying many unnecessary products, I decided to make a list of conventional reels that amazed me.

They all have various features, come in different price ranges, but all have very good performance. Here is some basic information about conventional reels and reel reviews. Enjoy reading!

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My No. 1: Daiwa Saltist (#ad)

Runner-Up: Kastking Rover (#ad)



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What is a Conventional Reel?

Before listing specific reels, I have to define conventional reels. These reels are used with casting rods and are mounted on top of it. The spool is free, and it rotates when you cast. Spool is in line with the rod. Breaking system (magnetic, centrifugal, or dual) is used to slow down the spool and prevent backlashes.

Conventional reels are mostly used for larger and heavier lures and for fighting big fish. Backlashes are the main problem for beginners and these reels take some learning and practice time to get used to them.

Two main types exist, and those are rounded and low profile. Low profile is better for less experienced anglers, and it is easier to control. Rounded ones are excellent for very large fish.

Main advantages of conventional reels are low weight, high line capacity, longer casting distance and precise control.

How to Choose the Best Conventional Reels?

The best conventional fishing reels have to match your fishing technique and the fish you are trying to catch. Of course, there are some specific features to be chosen in accordance with that, but some features are universal.

Reels have to be made by reputable manufacturers so that you can be sure that they will last long. This will also ensure availability of spare parts and service. Size has to match the fish size (I will mention this later on).

Before buying a reel, consider the following:

Gear ratio

Gear ratio determines how many times the spool will turn with a single turn of a handle. Different lures and fishing techniques require different ratios.


Inches per turn shows you how much line you will retrieve with a single turn of a handle. This depends on gear ratio, but also on spool size. Some slower reels may have greater IPT than faster ones due to large spool.


If you will be fishing in saltwater, you need a reel made from materials that are corrosion resistant. Also, avoid cheap plastic reels as those may break.

Breaking system

Backlashes can’t always be avoided, and it is important to be patient and practice. But, there is something that can help, and that is well made braking system. Usually, more high-end reels have much better breaking system than cheaper ones.


Drag must be strong, dependable, and operate smoothly. Star and lever drag are two common options. Lever drag is used for heavy saltwater reels.

Ball bearings

Quality should be chosen over quantity. The more ball bearings you have the better it is, but that is only true if we are talking about ball bearings of the same quality. Otherwise, better to have fewer good ones than more of the bad ones.

Level wind

Level wind is the system that enables even line distribution over the spool when the line is retrieved. If the reel doesn’t have this feature, you may have to intervene and direct the line with your fingers. This problem is common with mono lines. However, not all anglers agree about the necessity of this feature. I advise to try out both options and see what works for you.


These are the Best Conventional Reels:

Finally, here is a list of the best conventional fishing reels. It includes their main features, as well as the pros and cons of every model. There is something for everyone here, and I hope that you will be able to make an informed decision after reading it all.

No. 1 Kastking Rover AMAZON (#ad) EBAY (#ad)
No. 2 Penn Squall AMAZON (#ad)
No. 3 Kastking ReKon AMAZON (#ad) EBAY (#ad)
No. 4 Okuma Classic CLX AMAZON (#ad) EBAY (#ad)
No. 5 Shimano Torium AMAZON (#ad) EBAY (#ad)
No. 6 Daiwa Saltist AMAZON (#ad) EBAY (#ad)
No. 7 Sougayilang Warrior AMAZON (#ad) EBAY (#ad)

#1: Kastking Conventional Reel Rover

First reel on this list is this model from Kastking. This brand is very popular among beginners mostly due to affordable prices. Kastking conventional reels are dependable and perform quite well.

It is available in sizes 40 to 90, which gives you various fishing opportunities. It is round, which makes it great for larger and heavier fish. Drag operates excellent, and carbon fiber washers are very dependable and strong.

Double shielded ball bearings operate smoothly and are well protected from outside influences like water and impurities.

Level wind enables even line distribution across the spool, which is a great feature, especially in this price range. Breaking system is centrifugal.

Gear ratio is a bit slower, going from 3.6:1 to 5.3:1.

Among other features there are aluminum side plates, CNC machines spool, brass gears, and stainless-steel shaft. All the materials are corrosion resistant, and you can use it in any conditions.

Altogether, this reel has the best price-performance ratio.

For more info and prices check the following links - Amazon (#ad) or eBay (#ad).


• Excellent casting distance.

• Excellent drag system.

• Suitable for saltwater.


• Quite large and have compared to other reels of the same type and size.

• Can be very loud if you put a lot of pressure on gears.

Best Conventional Reels - Kastking

#2: Penn Conventional Reel Squall & Squall II

Penn is one of the most popular manufacturers and this brand has some very good reels. Among the best Penn conventional reels is definitely the model Squall.

Both Squall and Squall II have magnetic braking system. Both come in various sizes, up to size 50.

Various gear ratios are available to, so you can fish with various lure types. Squall II to has a great feature, and that is fast gear access side plate. Star drag work excellent.

Both reels are very beginner friendly. Squall II is a bit smoother, due to an extra ball bearing.

Materials used in both reels are excellent although they slightly differ. Basically, Squall II can be described as an updated version.

For more info and prices check the following links - Amazon (#ad).


• Extremely smooth.

• Easily adjustable drag.

• Almost no backlashes.


• Level wind function doesn’t seem very durable.

• Line capacity stated online is different than on the reel itself, and is unfortunately smaller.

#3: Kastking Conventional Reel ReKon

Here is another Kastking model on this list. ReKon is a round conventional reel that works excellent for trolling and jigging.

It is available in two sizes only, which are 10 and 20.

Double shielded ball bearings are well protected from the elements, and other parts too are made from resistant materials like stainless steel and brass.

Gear ratio is 5:1 on the smaller model, and 5.3:1 on the larger one. This medium speed is excellent for beginners because it is versatile.

Line capacity is great, and it is 250 yd od 20 lb. mono line. Carbon disc drag provides 30 lb. drag on larger, and 25 lb. on a smaller size. This is more than enough power for any fish you will catch with a reel of that size.

For more info and prices check the following links - Amazon (#ad) or eBay (#ad).


• Very large and comfortable knob on size 20 reel.

• Smooth drag.

• The reel is more powerful than it seems and altogether it is a pleasant surprise.


• Line counter may skip a bit.

• Loud.

#4: Okuma Conventional Reel Classic CLX

Okuma conventional reels are all well made and dependable. One of my favorites is Classic CLX. It is very lightweight. Self-lubricating gear system ensures smooth operation, and level wind function operates perfectly.

When talking about level wind on this reel I have to say that line guide is made of stainless steel, while on some other reels this system is often plastic. While using it, I am confident that it will last a long time without any malfunction.

Frame and side plates are corrosion resistant, same as graphite spool and stainless-steel reel foot. The reel is lightweight and very comfortable to use.

Three sizes are available and those are 200, 300, and 450. Gear ratio is slower for larger models, and it is 3.8:1, while smaller one has 5.1:1.

For more info and prices check the following links - Amazon (#ad) or eBay (#ad).


• Extremely precise casting.

• Drag is easy to adjust.

• Can be used in saltwater.


• Spool release can get stuck.

• The reel is quite small.

#5: Shimano Conventional Reel Torium

Shimano is one of the best reel manufacturers in the world, so it is no wonder that one of the reels on this list is made by this brand. Shimano conventional reels are great, and especially Torium model.

It is a saltwater reel that is perfect for the use of live bait or bottom fishing. Due to innovative design palming the reel is very easy. HAGANE body is very ridged and sturdy.

Such a high quality comes at a price, so this is one of the most expensive models here. It may not be the best option for a complete beginner, but if you have some experience and want top of the line product, this one is for you.

It is available in sizes from 16 to 50, which is more than enough for all kinds of fish species. Depending on a size, gear ratio goes from 3.9:1 to 6.2:1.

For more info and prices check the following links - Amazon (#ad) or eBay (#ad).


• Extremely firm, durable, and dependable.

• Large line capacity.

• Works excellent with very heavy lures.


• Not for distant casting, it is more for boat fishing (although some anglers use it for surf fishing).

• Price is high.

Best Conventional Reels - Shimano

#6: Daiwa Conventional Reel Saltist

If you are looking for Daiwa conventional reels, think about Saltist model. This is one of my favorite reels that I frequently use.

Same as Shimano, it comes at a higher price, but it is worth it. Size goes from 15 to 50, and all models have 6.4:1 gear ratio.

Centrifugal brake works impeccable and clicking drag is very smooth and dependable. All materials used are corrosion resistant and the reel can withstand really tough conditions. It is well balanced and lightweight. You can use it all day long and you will feel comfortable doing it.

It is easy to make long casts, and backlashes are not a problem, even when casting into the wind, but you have to get used to it as it is quite fast in casts. It is not the best option for a complete beginner. If you are still learning how to use a conventional reel, this one will cause you a lot of trouble.

For more info and prices check the following links - Amazon (#ad) or eBay (#ad).


• Extremely smooth and quiet.

• Light.

• Big and comfortable handle.


• Spool is a bit narrow.

• High price.

#7: Sougayilang Conventional Reel Warrior

And lastly, I will mention Sougayilang conventional reels, more precisely, Warrior model. This is the cheapest model on this list, and it is excellent for complete beginners who are still learning.

It is available in three sizes, 400, 500, and 600. It is quite powerful and sturdy. Although saltwater rated, I feel more comfortable using it in freshwater. It works excellent for trolling and bottom fishing, but you can use it for other techniques too.

Centrifugal braking system works well, and backlashes are not a big problem. Level wind function works well, and for a beginner this is definitely a good thing, as you won`t have to worry about line distribution across the spool.

Handle is large and comfortable. Gear ratio goes from 4.2:1 to 5.2:1. Largest model has 22 lb. of drag, while smallest one has 17. Altogether, this reel has very good functions and performance for a given price.

For more info and prices check the following links - Amazon (#ad) or eBay (#ad).


• Very affordable.

• Easy to cast.

• Good line capacity.


• Adjusting the drag should be easier.

• I don’t think it can survive heavy saltwater use although materials are corrosion resistant.

Best Conventional Reels - Sougayilang

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) about Conventional Reels:

Conventional reels are usually not the first reel you will buy, and many beginners have a lot of doubts or even misconceptions about them.

So here are the answers to common questions ...

How Do Conventional Reels Work? [Basics for Beginners]

I already described some of their working principles in the first chapter, but here are more details.

When you cast a lure, the weight of a lure pulls out the line. On conventional reels the spool starts revolving and the friction is very low which enables distant casts.

When the lure hits the water, the spool keeps revolving. That would cause massive tangles and nests, so braking system is used. It will slow down the spool so that it doesn’t keep on sinning for too long.

What are Conventional Reels Good for? [Benefits]

Conventional reels are good for heavier lures and large and heavy fish. They are excellent for saltwater fishing, but they can be used for larger freshwater fish too.

These reels work excellent for trolling or bottom fishing but can also be used for techniques like surf fishing. Their size, sturdiness, powerful drag, and large line capacity are not suitable for lightweight lures and fish.

Some have line counters which is an excellent feature if using a lot of line to fight fish. You will know precisely how much line you used in that exact moment.

Which Brand of Conventional Reels is the Best?

This question is not easy, because it depends on what you will use it for. But generally, I am a fan of Japanese brands like Shimano and Daiwa. Not all of them are made in Japan unfortunately, but the design and quality control are Japanese. They are well known for innovations, constant development in reel manufacturing process, and high precision. From all the reels on this list, my personal favorite is Daiwa (and Kastking because of price). It has two main advantages over Shimano, and those are casting distance and incredible smoothness.

Are Kastking, Okuma, Penn, Shimano and Daiwa Conventional Reels Any Good?

Of course they are, but they are not equally good. You can’t expect $40 reel to perform as good as $300 reel.

For a very experienced angler who has many reels for specific use and who wants only the best, more high-end models will be better.

But for a complete beginner who is learning how to use a conventional reel cheaper reels are the best! Their low price doesn’t mean bad performance. It means that they will last a bit shorter, or that they are a bit slower or harder to adjust. That is perfectly fine as there also is a high chance that you will break your first reel. Or maybe decide that you don’t like some features.

When you gain some experience, go for more expensive models.

What is the Difference Between Conventional vs Spinning Reels?

Conventional vs spinning reel comparison will show you that these two are completely different. I already described conventional reels. Spinning ones are completely opposite.

Their spool is not revolving, they are hanging below the rod and rods have line guides along the bottom side.

Spinning reels are easier to use and more suitable for beginners. These reels also work better with lighter lures and for smaller fish. Backlashes are not a problem on spinning reels.

Conventional reels often have larger line capacity and are lighter than spinning reels of the same size.

Best Conventional Reels - vs Spinning

What is the Difference Between Conventional Reel vs Baitcaster?

Conventional reel vs baitcaster is a hard comparison as those two are basically the same when it comes to the way they operate.

Those two terms are frequently used interchangeably although that may not be correct. Some will say that there is no difference at all, which is true if you consider reel features. Bot have revolving spools, both are mounted on top of the reel, both have braking system, and all other features that were described previously.

Difference is in their size. Conventional reels are bigger and bulkier. Experienced anglers may see a difference, but beginners will hardly be able to tell them apart. Conventional reels are frequently used in tough conditions for large fish. They are also slower than baitcasters.

Some sellers however frequently use both terms for the same reels, and you won’t be able to tell the difference if you don’t read the reel description.

Here you can check what I think: 9 Best Baitcasting Reels for Beginners - Buyers Guide.

How to Know What Size Conventional Reel to Buy? [Chart]

Choosing the right conventional reel sizes may not be easy for inexperienced anglers. Size depends on a lot of factors but the most important one is targeted fish size. The larger the fish, the larger the reel has to be to provide more drag, larger line capacity, and larger lures.

What is the Best Saltwater Conventional Reel?

The best saltwater conventional reels have to be strong and absolutely corrosion resistant. Keep an eye on the materials used in production, and make sure that sensitive parts like ball bearings are shielded.

On this list, the best one for heavy saltwater use, especially if fishing from a boat, is Shimano Torium (#ad). As already mentioned, it is not perfect for casting, but everything else works perfect.

Best Conventional Reels - Saltwater

What is the Best Casting Conventional Reel?

The best casting conventional reels have to be very smooth to ensure long casting distance with lures that are suitable for them. One of the biggest mistakes that beginners do is using very light lures with these reels. To properly use conventional reel capabilities, you must match other equipment with it.

And when talking about beginners and conventional reels, I am not focusing on casting distance. There is one more important feature, and that is backlash prevention. In that context, the best reel on the list is Penn Squall and Squall II (#ad).

What is the Best Conventional Reel for Surf Fishing?

Among the best conventional reels for surf fishing from this list is definitely Daiwa Saltist (#ad). This reel, unlike Shimano Torium, can achieve great casting distance.

It is available in suitable sizes for surf fishing, and it is very fast on the casts. Premium materials ensure its durability and dependability, which are important in surf fishing. It also has large line capacity. When choosing surf reels, line capacity is one of the most important features.

What is the Best CHEAP Conventional Reel? [Budget]

When buying on a budget, and searching for a dependable and well-made product, the best choice is Kastking. It is a brand that offers a lot for a low price.

It may not be as good as Daiwa or Shimano, but it is perfectly usable for majority of fishing conditions. When I first used Kastking reels I was surprised how well made they are.

A good alternative to Kastking cheap conventional reel is Sougayilang (#ad), which has similar features.


Conventional reels are the best when using heavier lures and catching large fish. When trolling or bottom fishing, there is no better choice than a well-made conventional reel.

If you are a complete beginner, you may have some difficulties while casting it, but it gets better with practice. This is why you should choose reels with good braking system.

The best conventional reels mentioned here have various features and there is something for everyone when it comes to desired size, gear ratio, intended use, and of course price range.

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I am Siniša Pintar (friends call me Sina), the guy behind Slo-fishing.si 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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