The Best Float Fishing Reels (Full Guide On Choosing Top Coarse Fishing Float Reels)
Updated 31/1/2023 - James Bevan
The best float fishing reels will allow you to cast a light float with pinpoint precision and reap the benefits when you are reeling in.
This article will look at what goes into the best float fishing reels and details some great choices.
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What Are The Different Types Of Float Fishing Reel?
You’ll find lots of reels for float fishing and it really can be a minefield when trying to decide on what reel to purchase. Whether you are looking for something that spills the line easily as you trot on moving water or something that is designed to let you cast an ultra-light pellet float fly like a dart, there will be something for you.
There are a host of manufacturers out there all vying for the top spot. Shimano reels have a great reputation, but they may be a little on the pricey side. The best float fishing reel doesn’t have to break the bank however, it is how it performs that matters.
So when it comes to choosing a float fishing reel you are looking at a few options. Do you want a closed faced reel or an open faced one? Do you prefer a front drag or a rear drag? Do you want a lightweight, small reel or a larger more heavy duty float fishing reel?
Open Faced vs Closed Faced Reels
The main difference between an open faced and a closed faced reel is that the line is exposed with an open face and encased within a closed face. In a closed faced reel the line passes through a hole in the casing and when you cast you press a button to release the line.
Closed faced reels tend to be easier for beginners and especially children when learning the sport. There are less of them around though and tend not to be the best option for longevity and can also limit casting distance and accuracy at times.
Examples of an open faced & closed faced reel:
Closed Faced Reel
Open Faced Reel
Small Reel vs Large Reel
Whether you choose a small, compact reel or a large, heavier reel will largely come down to what type of fishing you will be using it for. For float fishing, the likelihood is that you will not be casting far out. As such, a smaller, more lightweight reel will be the best choice.
What is always important when choosing the best float fishing reel for your circumstances is balance. A lightweight setup with a light float rod with a light float and light line will better be balanced with a light reel. The same then goes with the contrary.
Front Drag vs Rear Drag
The drag (sometimes know as the clutch) basically allows line to be released from your reel when a certain degree of pressure is applied. The amount of pressure required to release is determined by the setting of the drag.
This drag system can be either on the top of the reel (on the spool) or at the bottom of the reel. There really is no hard and fast rule as to which type is better. What drag you choose really does come down to personal preference.
Example of a front drag reel
Example of a rear drag reel
What to Look For In The Best Float Fishing Reel?
When choosing the best float fishing reel, it pays to give a little careful thought to what you are trying to achieve. As a foregone, you will no doubt be looking for the perfect float presentation in the right spot every time. Here are some things that we think are key qualities: -
A Shallow Spool
Most floats do not weigh a lot, even when you have added split shot. As a result, you want something that will allow the line to flow freely during the cast. Anything that catches or makes this less efficient will lead to a reduction in distance and accuracy.
A shallow spool (right) compared to a deeper spool (left)
There’s a good chance that you will be using a sinking mono when float fishing. This can sometimes have a slightly larger diameter. If you are filling a spool, this soon adds up. The best way to counter this, while still ensuring that you have sufficient line to battle the fish is to make sure that you have decent capacity on your spool.
When float fishing, you’ll want to go as light as possible when it comes to the line. Subsequently, it has never been more necessary to be able to push it to the limit when it comes to pressuring the fish. The best way to get every last ounce of pulling power out of your rod and reel setup is an easy to use, and ultra-fine, drag control.
A Fast Retrieve
Watch the best pole fishermen, and they’ll be a constant conveyor belt of landing fish. You want to mirror them and be able to get your line in, and out, quickly. The best way to achieve this is with a fast retrieve. By minimising the time spent reeling in you’ll be saving time for more important things, like actually fishing.
Depending on your rig and setup you may find that your line spins on the retrieve. Knots and tangles are both things that will destroy bait presentation (and lose you fish). The best float fishing reels will allow you to reel in twist-free.
A Compact Body
Think about it. A huge baitrunner, even when paired with a really great float rod, would be slightly mismatched. The best float fishing reels will be light enough to pair up with a match fishing rod without making it cumbersome or too heavy.
Unlike with the best feeder reels, you need to think quick and responsive. This is best served by a reel with a relatively low profile.
The last thing you want to do is lift into a fish and in the excitement wind the wrong way. Aside from losing fish, this is also going to result in a nasty tangle. You’ll find that the best float fishing reels will come fitted with an infinite anti-reverse feature as standard.
What Is the Best Reel For Pellet Waggler Fishing?
Using float fishing tactics with a pellet waggler is becoming more and more popular in the world of coarse and carp fishing. This is even more so on a warm summers day when the fish are up in the water in a feeding frenzy. As such, the question of what is the best reel for pellet fishing often gets asked.
In all honesty, the main impact a reel choice would have for any type of fishing is with balance. As previously stated, balance is key for all your fishing gear to work in unison. If you are fishing the pellet waggler for carp you maybe using a more heavier duty rod than a standard match, float rod.
If this is the case then the reel you choose should be more heavy duty than a general coarse fishing reel aimed mostly at silver fish. On the other hand, if you enjoy the excitement of fishing for larger fish on lighter gear, then a smaller, lightweight reel will be the order of the day.
Our choice for the best float fishing reel is the Preston Innovations Magnitude Match Reel. This reel is extremely versatile and will absolutely fit the bill when fishing the pellet waggler.
Can I Use a Spinning Reel for Float Fishing?
Another question that gets asked a lot... Yes, you could use a spinning reel for float fishing. You could also go ballroom dancing in a pair of wellington boots, but it is fair to say that you’ll give a less than stellar performance.
Reels aren’t created equal. Whilst you could technically use a spinning reel for float fishing you won’t be getting the most out of your setup. By using something that isn’t purpose-designed, your bait presentation, and therefore your catch rate, is going to suffer.
Even the best float fishing reels aren’t super expensive, why not invest a little in something that is fit for the job and you’ll get plenty of use out of?
What’s the Best Float Fishing Reel Line
The best float fishing reel line should be low visibility with enough strength for the job. Remember you are going to be fishing light, with a smaller more compact reel so you’ll want to throttle down on the breaking strain. For this reason, it has to be stretchy too!
For the money we find Maxima Chameleon to be a great choice for float fishing reels. Whilst brown in colour it is practically invisible when submerged. It also sinks well, which is a vital quality when spooling up a float fishing reel.
The Overall Best Float Fishing Reel
Magnitude Match Reel
Now, this is what we are talking about.
If you’ve coarse fished for any appreciable amount of time you’ll undoubtedly have heard about Preston Innovations. They are market leaders in producing high-quality fishing tackle that has one thing in mind, functionality. This reel is a prime example.
The Magnitude match reel’s build quality is outstanding. This reel is a premium reel that offers excellent performance when using a float but is also versatile enough to switch to a light feeder if necessary and still maintain a perfect balance.
Whether you are fishing the margins of a canal, mid way across the River Severn or pellet waggler fishing a lake, this reel will adapt perfectly.
The reel is solid and very compact. It is small yet mighty. The body of the reel is solid and durable CNC machined Aluminium. When paired with a fully forged aluminium spool and a substantial aluminium bail arm, it just feels rock solid.
The spool on the Magnitude match reel
The action of the reel is exemplary. Due to its construction, there isn’t the slightest hint of play or rattle. When it comes to winding in, the action is smooth and consistent. Aided by a super slow oscillating worm gear system, you’ll find that there is plenty of pulling power ‘under the hood.’
When it comes to reeling in, you’ll be able to feel the difference. The retrieve ratio is 5.0:1, staggering for a reel of this size. The anti-twist technology, inherent in this float fishing reel, makes for even line lay, preventing tangles and increasing casting ability.
Speaking of casting, the reel also features a dual-line clip. Ensuring that you can get precision distance and consistency in your bait presentation.
All in all, it is a solid performer and one of the best float fishing reels on the market.
Checkout this following video showcasing the Magnitude Match Reel in action:
Best Budget Float Fishing Reel
If you are just starting out in the sport or are on a tight budget then why not take a look at the Mitchell Avocet as a worthy alternative.
Mitchell has been making reels since the 1940s, and they know what goes into the best float fishing reels.
The Mitchell Avocet offers many great features that you’d expect at a low price.
Aside from great value for money, you’ll find a ridiculously fast retrieve rate, a shallow aluminium spool for optimal casting and it too features a line clip.
The Mitchell Avocet is a good, all-round, coarse fishing reel and would be ideally suited to those on a budget.
Other Honourable Mentions
When researching for this article, we tested a number of float fishing reels to identify our most recommended. Although the Magnitude was our clear favourite, there were a number of others that did impress and as such we feel its right to mention these as they would make a worthy alternative if you just didn't fancy the best float fishing reel we chose.
Float fishing is all about finesse. As you’ll already know, being successful at fishing is about consistency, and this is never truer than when float fishing.
The best float fishing reels will allow you to land your bait delicately and accurately time after time, and bring it in quickly and efficiently, ready for the next cast.
Thanks for reading...
The reels featured in this article can be found in all good fishing tackle shops.
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