The Best Barbel Reels - (Complete UK Guide On Top Reels For Barbel Fishing)

Top Barbel Fishing Reels

If there's one piece of fishing tackle that will be put to the test when barbel fishing, it is your reel.

Barbel are real drag testers (pun intended).

We don't want you to go in under-gunned, so in this article, we have assembled a guide to the best barbel reels on the market today. 

We'll answer some common questions and even give you a few great suggestions that should suit your needs.

So let's get into this...

Strapped For Time?

If you haven't got the time to read the full article then here are our top picks...

Alternatively please read on to see more information on the best barbel reels as well as more detail on what goes into our chosen products.

What Sized Reel for Barbel Fishing?

While barbel do pack a punch, you will have to be selective when it comes to reel size.

Sure, a huge reel would be advantageous, but bearing in mind that you might need to be mobile when trying to track down a barbel, you will need something fairly light too.

We'd suggest opting for a good quality 3000 sized reel at a push, or if you are looking for specimens, you could always go up to a 4000 reel.

What To Look for In the Best Barbel Reels?

Provided you opt for something that is good quality, you shouldn't need too much in the way of fancy technology.

That said, there are a few key things that you need to look out for in the best barbel reels.

Such as?

First, we'd go for a reel with an excellent drag system.

Barbel are powerful fish that are prone to making sudden runs. You'll need a reel capable of applying just the right amount of pressure to gradually wear them down. Rear-mounted is OK, but front-mounted is optimal.

You'll also need a decent sized spool. You haven't understood the word 'panic' until a barbel makes a run for it, and you end up playing 'line chicken'.

By ensuring you can hold sufficient line, you'll be able to make use of that drag and let the barbel keep taking line while it tires.

The Best Barbel Reels

With the above in mind, we've done the hard work, so you don't have to, and assembled a list of the best reels for barbel fishing.

Regardless of your budget, there is definitely a reel in the list below that will be just perfect for catching barbel.


Best Barbel reels

Regular readers will already know that we are a big fan of Preston innovations. They offer excellent value and produce high-quality tackle.

A few things stand out on this reel that would make it great for barbel fishing...

The SDS speed drag system gives you ounce perfect control allowing you to apply the perfect amount of pressure, regardless of the fish size.

The large and solid aluminium handle, paired with a solid retrieve rate, is just perfect for bringing in big feeders, which are exactly what you need when barbel fishing.

Want to know what to pack your feeder with? We've got a great article on the best barbel baits right here.

It's also optimum with regards to spool capacity... You'll get nearly 200 yards of 8lb line on the spool, perfect for mid-sized barbel.

Check out the following video that really showcases the quality of Preston's intensity reels...


Top Barbel Fishing Reels

Daiwa is one of the biggest names in the game. When we saw this reel, we couldn't believe how great value it was!

It's got plenty of good things making it perfect for barbel fishing.

First off, the big spool.

Not only will this offer great capacity, but it also ensures a really nice line lay. This is ideal both for casting and when you've got a big fish on, as it allows for smoother line pay-out.

For its size, the reel is also supremely lightweight. This means you can afford to go a little bigger without any significant weight penalty.

As you'd expect with Daiwa, it also comes with its patented digigear system for super-smooth operation.


Top Barbel Fishing Reels

Shimano does gearing really well, and this reel is no exception.

Check out the depth of this spool. Opt for the 4000 sizes, and you'll easily fit 250 yards of line in there.

It's a force to be reckoned with.

One thing we really liked (aside from the optional dual handle) was the baitrunner function.

This is really useful for fishing slow-moving rivers under a rolling balls setup.

This will allow your rig to be washed into the areas where the barbel are feeding. With a turn of the handle, the clutch reengages, ready for you to strike!

The drag is super sensitive too!

If you are looking for some advice on how to effectively fish the feeder, be sure to swing by our article packed with feeder fishing tips.


Top Barbel Fishing Reels

This reel is packed with so many good things that it is hard to know where to start!

It's rock solid and one of the best barbel reels we have seen! With a rotor brake and anti-backlash, this reel will prevent the spool from overrunning and reduce tangles.

The pro cast lip on the spool is a notable feature. Whether you are throwing out a densely packed feeder or even having a go freelining, you'll be able to get the maximum possible casting distance.

When battling barbel, every inch of ground you can gain counts. The retrieval rate on this reel by fox is particularly noteworthy.

Each turn of the handle will bring in nearly a metre of line!

Check out this following video from Fox that details some of the features of this classic reel...


Top Barbel Fishing Reels

Yes, another by Daiwa! When we said the best barbel reels, we really meant it!

Feeder fishing is a sure-fire way to succeed when barbel fishing, so it stands to reason that a real custom-design for this is a good thing.

This is another with a breath-taking retrieval rate, making light work of retrieving a 'big rig' or, even better, a big barbel.

The graphite body and rotor will keep the weight down significantly too!

The spool is shallow, offering excellent casting qualities but still has a sizable enough diameter to ensure that you can fit plenty on!

Like looking at good feeder reels? There's plenty more where these came from in this article.

#6. Sonik Vader X FS Reel

Top Barbel Fishing Reels

If you liked the look of the Shimano freespool reel but felt it was just a little too 'steep', you need to check this out.

Sonik, while wallet-friendly, still offer plenty in terms of features.

This free spool reel will be ideal for feeder fishing when the barbel get a little wary.

One thing we love is that you can adjust the drag at the back of the reel, keeping your hands clear of the line when you hook into a big one.

Another nice thing to see is a substantial and long winding handle. Again this will offer an excellent retrieve rate!

#7. Shimano Baitrunner ST RB

Top Barbel Fishing Reels

So you like the Shimano reels but want something on the same budget as the Sonik Vader?

Well, our friends, you are in for a treat.

This reel is made by Shimano and offers plenty of the features found both in the more premium Shimano above and the Sonik Vader.

It has a rear drag and huge line capacity for a start, which are the kind of things we like to see.

Thanks to the inclusion of dyna balance, the reel is silky smooth, a patented Shimano technology that you'll see across their range.

Best Budget Barbel Reels...


Top Barbel Fishing Reels

You'll have seen us speak of budget a fair bit.

The good news is that cheap doesn't have to mean 'poor quality'. Take this reel, for example, by Prologic.

OK, it isn't a 'big brand', but do you think the barbel care?

As with some more premium models above, this also has a baitrunner feature and a graphite body and rotor, keeping the weight down.

And with three ball bearings, the action is exceptionally smooth and slick.

Check out the following promotional video from Pro-Logic that showcases C-Series BF Reels...


Top Barbel Fishing Reels

Mitchell is a little bit of a blast from the past, but they still make exceptionally good fishing gear. This reel is one of the best barbel fishing reels for a budget, hands down.

The grease felt drag will work just as well as some of the more fancy (and expensive) systems you'll see knocking around, and the retrieve ratio is one of the quickest on the list.

With an aluminium spool (plus a provided spare), you will be getting longevity and lightweight pulling power as standard.

And here's the best bit...

You even get line included, so if you want a few quid left over to spend, this could be the one for you.

Final Thoughts

When fishing for barbel and choosing the best barbel reels, you don't need anything too flashy or fancy.

Go for a mid-sized reel with plenty of line capacity and decent drag, and you are pretty much all set.

Depending on your style, you might also want to consider a free spool too!

Oh, and before we forget, be sure to pair it up with a suitable barbel rod which you can find more about right here.

Thanks for reading...

Tight Lines!

All of the fishing tackle featured in this article can be found at one of the following online shops...

Total fishing tackle

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