Best spinning reel for targeting trout in streams

This is just a quick overview of what are the best spinning reels to use for targeting trout which live in creeks, streams or other small bodies of water. Trout in such environments are usually small but that does not make them any less difficult to catch.

When targeting stream trout it is important to use an ultralight reel. There is simply no need to be using a reel which holds several hundred yards of line, when the furthest you are going to cast is twenty feet.

So below, are my recommendations on what are the best ultralight reels for targeting Brook Trout, Rainbow Trout, Cutthroat, or Brown trout. I will suggest two budget reels, two mid price reels and one premium reels. In their price brackets they all represent excellent value.

What size spinning reel to catch stream trout?

Most trout fishermen use an ultralight reel to target trout in stream. That is basically the smallest size reel avaialble. Below i will list some popular brands and the appropriate model size.

  • Shimano 1000
  • Daiwa 1000
  • Okuma 10
  • Pflueger 20
  • Abu Garcia 10

How much drag do I need on a reel when fishing for stream trout?

There is little need for a powerful drag, most anglers fish with 4lb or 6lb line when stream fishing. A rough rule, is to set your drag to be about a 25% of your lines breaking strain. That means a spinning reel only needs 1-2lb of drag. Basically, every modern spinning exceeds that by far.

What type of drag is best?

I suggest using a greased felt drag, these drags are smooth and are easily powerful enough to stop a stream trout. Carbon drags offer no advantage.

How much line capacity?

There is no need for a large line capacity, casts are short, and due to the small size of the river trout can only swim so far. 100 yards of 4lb line is plenty.

What other features should I look for in a stream trout reel?

Good line lay is very important for spinning reel. Have a reel which winds on line evenly not only improves casting distance but reduces the chance of memory and line digging into itself. All the reels I suggest below have generally have good line lay.

I already own an ultralight reel, do I need a special reel for fishing streams?

No, any ultralight reel of acceptable quality will be fine for fishing for trouts in stream. If you already own a good reel, there is little need to head out and buy a new one.

Do I need a braid compatible reel for trout fishing in streams?

No, many trout fishermen fish mono or fluorocarbons in stream. But the features which make a reel suitable for fishing braid also makes them suitable for all types of fishing. They are simply higher quality reels because braid is simply much less tolerant to poor line lay and soft poorly aligned rollers.

5 Best spinning reels for trout streams

For hands on review of the following models please check our spinning reel buyers guide here.

Shimano FX 1000FC

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Any reel which sells for under $30 is being mass produced on a budget with limited quality control. Luckily Shinano has a reputation to maintain and the FX is better made than most cheap reels.

  • Weighs: 7.2oz
  • Capacity 140/4

Okuma Ceymar C-10

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I really like the Okyma Ceymar, it offers many features predominantly found on more premium reels while costing under $50. Best of all it weighs in at only 6oz, perfect for balancing out a short creek rod.

  • Weight: 6oz
  • Capacity 115/4

Pflueger President 20x

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The President is one of the most iconic freshwater reels around. It weighs in at just 6.2oz despite being a full featured reel. There is a reason why the President is such a popular reel, it represents excellent value for money.

  • Weighs: 6.2oz
  • Capacity: 100/4

Shimano Stradic 1000 FL

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The Shimano stradic might just be the best ultralight reel available for trout fishing. Everything from build quality, durability and overall performance is top rate.

  • Weighs: 6.5oz
  • Capacity: 160/4

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