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G&F Editor's Choice: Best Spinning Rod & Reel 2019

G&F Editor's Choice: Best Spinning Rod & Reel 2019

Our six expert anglers tested more than 50 rods and reels over the course of three days in the Louisiana bayou. (Photo by Ron Sinfelt)

Spinning gear lets anglers fish small baits on light lines to entice big bites when bulky offerings fail.

Today’s spinning reels have evolved exponentially over their predecessors. An overabundance of bearings and a plethora of advanced materials render modern spinners lightweight while turning with an icy smoothness. Innovations in spool designs have alleviated many of the past line twist ills, while drags rival those of top-shelf baitcasters.

Likewise, contemporary spinning rods benefit from decades of material advancements. Their blanks are engineered supramolecularly. Resins and carbon fibers are amalgamated on a nanotechnology level. These spin rods flick baits with surgical precision and deliver shocking sensitivity.

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The Game & Fish gear-test team brawled with the largest redfish in North America armed only with the latest bass gear.

Here’s what we discovered after days of exhaustive testing.

G&F Editor’s Choice: Best Overall Spinning Reel

Diawa | Tatula

Diawa Tatula

The Tatula has been a mainstay of the Daiwa spinning lineup for years.

Recent refinements to the baseline have made quantum improvements to the reel.

A high-strain, high-density carbon composite chassis anchors the platform, which is light and stiff.

Seven strategically placed bearings keep tolerances tight and the Tatula turning with a buttery consistency.

The art nouveau inspired crank and paddle grip are as comfortable a grab as you’ll find on a spinner. A bit of tackiness is added to the paddle for a secure grip in wet weather and when fished with sweaty paws.

We found the micro-indexed drag let us dial-up just the right amount of resistance, and that helped us put more ill-tempered fish in the boat.

The air rotor, a signature of Daiwa spinners, rotates in perfect concert, while contributing to the reel’s skinny feel (5.8ounces).

A 6.2:1 retrieve gobbles line quickly, while finely-meshed CNC machined gears turn in the robust gear box. All in all, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better spinning reel.

Hits: It's an ergonomic delight.

Misses: The anti-reverse lever should be bigger.


Check out a video that puts you in the bow of a bay boat as it zips through a tight waterway at the mouth of the mighty Mississippi.

Coming Next Week

Our picks for Great Buys for spinning rod and reel. Plus, see the final scores of the gear tested.

Spinning Reels
(Photo by Ron Sinfelt)

G&F Editor’s Choice: Best Overall Spinning Rod

Doomsday Tackle | “The 47”

The 47
Doomsday Tackle The 47

Doomsday Tackle is known for manufacturing high-quality soft baits, not fishing rods. However, these purveyors of plastics have hit a proverbial home run with the introduction of their “The 47” series.

At first blush, the crimson-and-creme motif is a hat tip to early rod designs, one reminiscent of the old school fiberglass bassing sticks of the ’60s and ’70s. However, we discovered there is nothing nostalgic about The 47’s performance.

An S.M.R. Tech blank moors the series, a proprietary combo of 30- and 40-ton Japanese Toray carbon fibers. This two-ton morph produces a nimble blank that is unfathomably sensitive.

Fuji Tangle Free K guides with Alconite inserts manage line duties, while a Fuji ECS reel seat keeps reels lashed neatly. The AAA grade split grip cork handle delivers all-day comfort and is a treat in hand.

Laser etching on the winding check and butt cap are artisan additions to simply one of the best spinning rods we’ve ever had the pleasure of throttling.

Hits: A five-year limited manufacturer's warranty.

Misses: For some hardcore bass techies, the color scheme will be a distraction.


Here are a few tips to avoid inadvertently twisting your line during casts and retrieves with a spinning reel. Trust us, you do not want twisted line, which weakens your set up and could lead to lost fish.

How we tested

The Game & Fish tackle test utilized a comprehensive 10-criterion matrix to evaluate each rod and reel. Our test team is comprised of salty veterans of the fishing industry, professional guides and editors.

Scores were tallied after each day on the water; once we crunched the numbers (and after some heated debates), winners in each gear category were named.

The Editor’s Choice award goes to the best all-around gear, and the Great Buy award goes to those products in each category that performed the best and provided the greatest value.

Meet the team

  • Captain Jamie Harris: Considered a master of Florida’s Mosquito Lagoon and has been fishing for more than 40 years.
  • Captain Joe DiMarco: Spends more than 220 days a year fishing and guiding fishermen to reds, bass and sea trout.
  • Captain Cody Obiol: A fishing guide out of Cajun Fishing Adventures in Buras, Louisiana. He has been at it full-time for more than nine years.
  • Todd Ceisner: Editor of the bass-tournament site, He is considered a major gearhead. He's been fishing for 20 years.
  • Dr. Todd Kuhn: Game & Fish state editor who holds a Ph.D. in environmental engineering. He has been fishing in excess of 50 years.
  • John Geiger: Game & Fish editor in chief and former gear editor for the magazine and web site. He's been fishing for 30 years.


Spinning Reel
What advantage does a spinning reel have over a baitcaster? For one, spinning reels are ambi — you can swap the reel handle to either side on the fly. Also, backlashes happen on baitcasters because the lure slows but the spool doesn't. Spin-reel spools don't revolve — no backlashes, ever. (Photo by Ron Sinfelt)

When Should I Spin?

Spinning gear has become very popular recently with the advent of the bass “finesse game.” When the bite turns cold, these little baits are great for catching lock-jawed bass, however, they are a nightmare to throw on conventional baitcasting gear.

Spinning gear on the other hand, with its large, open spool design and limber rods, allows the use of lighter line weights. These, in combination, allow long and accurate casting of small baits.

Spinning gear also excels for managing finesse baits with an elevated amount of control. The ability to swap the reel handle from one side to the other offers fishermen the ability to fish baits with their dominant hand. This translates into more control and the ability to work lures with exacting precision. It’s this precision that spinning gear offers, that makes a spinning setup a great choice when working “smart baits.”


Todd Ceisner has a tip to manage line and keep it kink-free when you are storing gear for the season or keeping it ready for action at your fave honey hole.

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