The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Walleye Fishing Reel

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If you’re an avid angler looking to reel in some walleye, you know how important it is to have the right gear. And the most important piece of gear? Your fishing reel. With so many different options on the market, it can be overwhelming to know which one is right for you. That’s where we come in.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to choose the best walleye fishing reel for your needs. From the different types of reels available to the top features to look for, we’ll cover it all. Plus, we’ll give you expert tips on using and maintaining your reel to keep it in top condition for years to come.

Whether you’re a seasoned angler or just starting out, this guide has everything you need to make an informed decision and improve your chances of catching that trophy walleye you’ve been dreaming of. So let’s dive in and discover the best walleye fishing reels of 2023!

Different Types of Reels for Walleye Fishing

When it comes to walleye fishing, choosing the right reel can make all the difference in your success on the water. Understanding the different types of reels available is essential to selecting the best one for your specific needs. Baitcasting reels are a popular choice for experienced anglers due to their accuracy and power. They require a bit of practice to master but can offer unparalleled control. Spinning reels, on the other hand, are a great option for beginners or those looking for a more versatile reel. They’re easy to use and can handle a wide range of fishing situations.

If you’re looking for a more specialized reel for walleye fishing, trolling reels might be the way to go. These reels are designed specifically for trolling, which is a common walleye fishing technique. They feature a line counter and are typically larger and more durable than other reel types. However, they can also be more expensive and require some experience to use effectively.

Each type of reel has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to consider your personal preferences and experience level before making a purchase. Knowing the different types of reels available and their specific functions can help you make an informed decision and ultimately lead to a more successful day on the water.

Spincast Reels

Spincast reels are often the first type of reel that novice anglers learn to use. They are easy to operate and offer a relatively tangle-free fishing experience. Spincast reels are ideal for beginners, children, or anyone who is looking for a simple reel that can get the job done without much hassle.

One of the best things about spincast reels is that they are affordable. You can find a good quality spincast reel for as little as $20, which makes them a great option for those who don’t want to invest a lot of money in fishing gear. Spincast reels are also lightweight and compact, which makes them easy to transport and store.

However, spincast reels have their limitations. They are not ideal for heavy-duty fishing, and they may not be able to handle larger fish species. If you are planning to target walleye, which can grow up to 30 inches long and weigh over 10 pounds, you may need a more heavy-duty reel.

Baitcasting Reels

Baitcasting reels are the go-to choice for experienced anglers looking for greater control and accuracy when targeting walleye. They are ideal for fishing in heavy cover or deep water where you need more power to reel in big fish. These reels are designed with a spool that rotates as you cast, which allows you to place your bait with precision and accuracy.

One of the key features of baitcasting reels is their drag system, which allows you to adjust the amount of resistance on the line. This is important when fishing for walleye as they have a tendency to make powerful runs that can snap your line. A good baitcasting reel will have a smooth and consistent drag system that can handle the stress of fighting big fish.

Baitcasting reels are available in a range of sizes, with larger models offering more power and line capacity. They also come with a variety of gear ratios, which determines how quickly you can retrieve your line. A higher gear ratio is better for fishing in open water, while a lower gear ratio is better for fishing in heavy cover.

Features to Look for in a Walleye Fishing Reel

When choosing a walleye fishing reel, it’s important to consider several key features to ensure that you’re getting a product that’s durable, efficient, and well-suited to your needs as an angler. The following are some of the most important features to look for:

Gear ratio: The gear ratio refers to the number of times the spool turns with each turn of the handle. A higher gear ratio means a faster retrieve, which can be useful when you need to reel in your catch quickly.

Drag system: The drag system is what allows you to adjust the resistance on the line as you reel in your catch. A good drag system should be smooth and reliable, giving you the control you need to land even the biggest walleye.

Bearing system: The bearing system is what allows the reel to spin smoothly and effortlessly. Look for a reel with a high-quality bearing system, as this will help prevent tangles and other issues that can interfere with your fishing experience.

Line capacity: Finally, make sure to consider the line capacity of the reel you choose. This refers to the amount of line that the spool can hold, and it’s important to choose a reel with a line capacity that’s appropriate for the type of fishing you’ll be doing.

Line Capacity

One of the most important features to consider when choosing a walleye fishing reel is line capacity. The amount of line your reel can hold will determine how far and how deep you can cast your bait, and it will also affect the size of the fish you can catch. For walleye fishing, you’ll want a reel with a line capacity of at least 100 yards.

The line capacity of a reel is usually measured in pounds or yards. The maximum pound test of a reel is the amount of weight it can handle before the line breaks, while the yard capacity refers to the amount of line that can be spooled onto the reel.

When choosing a reel for walleye fishing, make sure to consider the size of the fish you’ll be targeting, the depth you’ll be fishing at, and the type of line you’ll be using. These factors will help you determine the appropriate line capacity for your reel.

Top 5 Best Walleye Fishing Reels of 2023

Choosing the right walleye fishing reel can make or break your fishing trip. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 best walleye fishing reels of 2023, based on expert reviews and customer feedback.

Shimano Stradic Ci4+ FB: This reel is known for its smooth and reliable performance, with a lightweight design that won’t weigh you down on long fishing trips.

Daiwa BG MQ: This reel is built for power, with a durable construction that can handle big fish and tough conditions. It also features a comfortable grip for all-day use.

Abu Garcia Revo SX: This reel is praised for its precision and accuracy, with a smooth drag system that allows for easy casting and retrieval.

Penn Battle II: This reel is a popular choice for its affordability and versatility, with a durable build that can handle both freshwater and saltwater fishing.

Shimano Stradic CI4+

The Shimano Stradic CI4+ is a top-performing reel that is perfect for walleye fishing. It is constructed with a Ci4+ body material that provides durability and strength while being lightweight. This reel also features Shimano’s Magnumlite Rotor that delivers a smooth and effortless operation.

With a maximum drag of 24 pounds, this reel can handle larger walleyes with ease. The Stradic CI4+ has a line capacity of 8/240, 10/200, and 12/160, which is perfect for catching walleye in a variety of depths.

Other features that make this reel stand out include its X-Ship technology, which enhances its performance and provides maximum power transfer. Additionally, the Stradic CI4+ has six shielded A-RB bearings, making it incredibly smooth and reliable, even in harsh conditions.

Overall, the Shimano Stradic CI4+ is an excellent option for any angler looking for a high-quality and reliable walleye fishing reel.

Abu Garcia Revo SX

Smooth Performance: The Abu Garcia Revo SX boasts a smooth and precise operation with its 9 stainless steel ball bearings and one roller bearing. This reel is designed to provide anglers with the smoothest performance possible, making it a great choice for walleye fishing.

Durable Design: Constructed with a lightweight X2-Craftic alloy frame and C6 carbon sideplates, the Abu Garcia Revo SX is built to last. It can withstand harsh fishing conditions and tough fights with walleye without weighing you down.

MagTrax Brake System: This reel comes equipped with a MagTrax brake system that allows you to adjust the brake pressure to match the weight of your lure. This feature ensures that you have precise and consistent control over your casts, making it easier to target walleye in different depths and currents.

High Line Capacity: The Abu Garcia Revo SX has a high line capacity, which makes it ideal for targeting walleye in deep waters. It can hold up to 175 yards of 10-pound test monofilament line, providing you with enough line to fight and land even the biggest walleye.

Okuma Helios SX

The Okuma Helios SX is a high-performance reel that combines strength, smoothness, and precision in a compact design. It features a lightweight, yet durable aluminum frame and side plates that are corrosion-resistant and provide exceptional stability during retrieves.

The Helios SX also boasts a powerful drag system that can handle large fish with ease, while the anti-reverse system ensures solid hook sets. Its oversized line roller and elliptical gearing reduce line twist and increase casting distance, making it a great choice for both freshwater and saltwater fishing.

Other features of the Helios SX include a comfortable EVA handle knob, a machined aluminum spool, and a multi-disc carbon fiber drag system. It’s available in a range of gear ratios to suit different fishing styles and preferences, and it comes with a limited lifetime warranty.

Expert Tips for Using a Walleye Fishing Reel

When it comes to catching walleye, using the right fishing reel is essential. However, knowing how to use the reel effectively is just as important. Here are some expert tips to help you get the most out of your walleye fishing reel:

Match your reel to your fishing style: There are many different types of walleye fishing reels, so make sure you choose one that matches your fishing style. If you prefer jigging, a spinning reel may be the best choice. If you like trolling, a baitcasting reel may be a better option.

Pay attention to the drag: The drag system is what allows you to control the amount of resistance the fish feels when it takes your bait. Make sure your drag is set properly so you don’t lose your catch.

Keep your reel clean and well-maintained: Dirt and grime can build up on your reel over time, affecting its performance. Regular cleaning and maintenance will help ensure your reel works smoothly every time you use it.

Use a Sensitive Rod

When using a walleye fishing reel, it’s important to pair it with a sensitive rod. A sensitive rod will help you feel the slightest nibbles from the walleye, allowing you to quickly react and set the hook. Look for a rod with a fast action and light power rating, as these will provide the sensitivity you need to detect bites.

When choosing a rod, consider the length as well. A longer rod, around 7 feet, will give you better casting distance and help you feel more in control when fighting a walleye. Additionally, a longer rod can help you detect bites from multiple lines when fishing with more than one rod.

Remember to keep your rod tip up while reeling in your catch, as this will reduce the amount of slack in the line and make it easier to feel the movements of the fish. With a sensitive rod, you’ll be able to pick up on even the slightest changes in the movement of the fish, allowing you to react quickly and bring in your catch.

Match Your Reel to Your Lure Size

If you’re using a walleye fishing reel with a lure that’s too heavy or too light, you’ll have a hard time getting the right casting distance and accuracy. It’s important to match your reel to your lure size so you can get the best performance from both.

Consider the weight of your lure: A heavy lure will require a reel with a higher line capacity and a faster retrieve ratio. A light lure, on the other hand, will require a reel with a lower line capacity and a slower retrieve ratio.

Check your reel’s specifications: Most reels have a recommended line weight and lure weight listed in their specifications. Make sure you’re using a reel that’s appropriate for the size of the lure you’re using.

Experiment with different reel sizes: If you’re not sure which reel size to use with a particular lure, try a few different sizes and see which one feels most comfortable and gives you the best performance. You may need to adjust your casting technique slightly depending on the reel size you’re using.

Practice Proper Drag Adjustment

One of the most important aspects of using a walleye fishing reel is to practice proper drag adjustment. Drag refers to the resistance a fish feels when it pulls on the line. Setting the drag correctly ensures that you can reel in the fish without the line breaking or the fish escaping.

To adjust the drag, turn the drag adjustment knob located on the top of the reel. It should be set to about 25% of the breaking strength of the line. For example, if you’re using 10-pound test line, the drag should be set to around 2.5 pounds.

Remember to adjust the drag as necessary during the fight. If the fish is particularly strong, you may need to loosen the drag slightly to avoid breaking the line. Conversely, if the fish is tiring and starting to come in, you may want to tighten the drag to prevent it from getting away.

How to Properly Maintain Your Walleye Fishing Reel

Clean your reel after every use: Keeping your reel clean after each fishing trip will help prevent dirt and debris from building up, which can cause damage to your reel.

Use a protective case: When transporting your reel, it’s important to keep it protected from scratches and other damage. A protective case can help keep your reel safe during transportation.

Lubricate moving parts: Regularly lubricating the moving parts of your reel can help ensure that it operates smoothly and lasts longer. Use a high-quality lubricant specifically designed for fishing reels.

Store your reel properly: When not in use, store your reel in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight. This can help prevent damage from moisture and other environmental factors.

Get your reel serviced regularly: To ensure that your reel stays in good working condition, it’s important to have it serviced by a professional on a regular basis. They can check for any potential issues and make any necessary repairs.

Clean Your Reel After Every Use

Proper maintenance of your walleye fishing reel is essential to keep it in good working condition. One of the most important maintenance tasks is cleaning your reel after every use. Use a soft cloth to wipe down the exterior of the reel, removing any dirt or debris that may have accumulated during use.

Next, disassemble the reel and use a cleaning solution specifically designed for fishing reels to clean the interior parts. Be sure to remove any old grease or oil and apply fresh lubricant to ensure smooth operation.

Don’t forget to also clean your fishing line, as dirt and debris can accumulate on it as well. Run a clean cloth or towel along the length of the line to remove any dirt or grime.

By regularly cleaning your walleye fishing reel, you can extend its lifespan and improve its performance. Additionally, you’ll be able to identify any potential issues or damage before they become more serious and costly to repair.

Make sure to also store your clean and dry reel properly in a protective case or bag to prevent dust and moisture from damaging it between uses.

Lubricate the Moving Parts Regularly

  • Clean your reel before lubrication. Dirt and debris can prevent proper lubrication.

  • Use the right oil or grease for your reel. Check the manufacturer’s instructions or consult a professional.

  • Apply lubricant sparingly to avoid excess buildup, which can attract dirt and cause problems.

  • Pay attention to high-wear areas such as the gears, handle, and drag system, and apply lubricant as needed.

Proper lubrication is essential for keeping your walleye fishing reel functioning smoothly. By following these tips, you can ensure that your reel stays in great condition and performs well on the water.

Where to Buy the Best Walleye Fishing Reel

When it comes to finding the best walleye fishing reel, there are a few key places to look. One option is to check out your local sporting goods store, where you can often find a good selection of reels for a range of budgets.

If you’re looking for a wider selection or more specialized gear, online retailers like Amazon and Bass Pro Shops are great options. These retailers offer a wide range of reels, from entry-level models to high-end, professional-grade options.

Another option is to check out the websites of well-known fishing gear manufacturers like Shimano, Penn, and Daiwa. These companies often offer a variety of reels designed specifically for walleye fishing, and you can purchase them directly from the manufacturer or from authorized retailers.

Online Retailers

Shopping online is one of the easiest and most convenient ways to buy a walleye fishing reel. Many online retailers offer a wide selection of reels at competitive prices.

When shopping online, be sure to check customer reviews and ratings before making a purchase to ensure you are getting a quality product. Additionally, look for retailers that offer free shipping or discounts on bulk purchases to save money.

Some popular online retailers for walleye fishing reels include Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s, Amazon, and Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Frequently Asked Questions

What factors should you consider when choosing a reel for walleye fishing?

When selecting a reel for walleye fishing, you should consider the size, weight, and drag system of the reel. Additionally, you may want to think about the type of line you will be using and the water conditions in which you’ll be fishing.

Should you choose a spinning or baitcasting reel for walleye fishing?

Both spinning and baitcasting reels can be used for walleye fishing, but each has its advantages and disadvantages. Spinning reels are typically easier to use and more versatile, while baitcasting reels offer more precision and control.

What gear ratio is best for walleye fishing?

The gear ratio you choose depends on your personal preference and the type of fishing you’ll be doing. For walleye fishing, a gear ratio of 5:1 or 6:1 is typically ideal.

How important is the quality of the drag system in a walleye fishing reel?

The quality of the drag system is crucial in a walleye fishing reel. A smooth and reliable drag system is essential for landing larger fish and avoiding line breaks.

Are expensive reels worth the investment for walleye fishing?

Expensive reels are typically made with higher-quality materials and offer more advanced features, which can be beneficial for serious anglers. However, there are plenty of affordable reels on the market that can work just as well for walleye fishing.

Where can you find reliable reviews and recommendations for walleye fishing reels?

You can find reliable reviews and recommendations for walleye fishing reels from online fishing forums, social media groups, and trusted fishing gear websites. It’s also a good idea to ask experienced anglers for their opinions and advice.

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