A spinning reel ranks as my top choice for pursuing a variety of freshwater game fish because of the wide range of reel sizes available. I can match a small reel with an ultralight rod for trout and panfish or I can opt for a mega-sized reel matched with a big surf rod for chasing trophy catfish. Reels generally are rated differently in size by each manufacturer so there is no uniform numbers for the various sizes. Some manufacturers might list their reel as a size 25 whereas another manufacturer will list the same size reel as a 2500 model. The best way to determine size then is the smaller the model number the smaller the reel.
Here’s the lowdown on spinning reel sizes and how to match each size reel with a compatible spinning rod for freshwater fishing. The 1000 or 10 size reel is ideal for fishing with 2-to 4-pound test monofilament line. I pair this reel with an ultralight rod measuring either 4 1/2- to 5 1/2- feet long. This is a great combination for trout fishing and small panfish such as bluegill and yellow perch.
Small Spinning Reels
I opt for a 2000 or 20 size reel when I am fishing for crappie and white bass and use lines ranging from 4- to 8-pound test. I combine this reel with a 6- or 6 1/2-foot light or medium-light action spinning rod. This is also a great setup for trout fishing with jigs, jerkbaits or drift rigs with bait.
Medium Spinning Reels
The 2500 or 25 size reel is my choice for dock shooting for crappie or finesse tactics for bass such as drop-shotting. I spool the reel with 6-pound line and match it with a 7-foot light action rod for dock shooting. For drop-shotting, I use 8-pound fluorocarbon line and a 6 1/2-foot medium action rod. My choice for working jerkbaits, wacky rigs and shaky head worms for bass is a 3000 or 30 size reel. This reel works great with 10- and 12-pound line and a 6 1/2- or 7-foot medium or medium-heavy action rod.
Large Spinning Reels
There are multiple sizes of larger reels primarily used for saltwater fishing, but the largest I use for freshwater fishing is the 4000 or 40 size reel. I fill this reel with 20-pound test monofilament and fish for catfish with an 8- or 10-foot light surf rod.