In this section, we provide insights on some of the spinning, casting and fly reels we used in 2020 to land big fish. A good reel needs to have a strong, smooth drag, ample line capacity, be made from quality components and be able to withstand the punishment that Alaska fish dole out. Read more to learn about some reels that meet these guidelines.
Best fishing reels 2021 for Alaska
| Daiwa Luvias LT 1000D|
We used this reel to fish for trout and char in 2020 and loved the smooth and reliable performance. It’s lightweight, tough, and smooth casting, and we feel like this reel offers a lot of value. It features a main shaft that is MAGSEALED, a 9-bearing system and a body and rotor made from Daiwa’s Zaion material. Zaion is a fusion of nylon resin and carbon fiber, which makes it light and strong. It’s tough as metal and weighs half of aluminum. The Luvias comes in five different sizes. The 1000D has a 5.1:1 gear ratio, picks up 25.4 inches of line per turn, can store 320 yards of 6-pound-test J-Braid and has 11 pounds of max drag.
|Daiwa Kage LT 1000D-XH|
We put this reel through some abuse in 2020 hauling in trout and char in an endless procession of fish-catching fun. Built using Daiwa’s “LT” concept which means Light/Tough, the Kage is light but strong due to a Zaion body. We loved how smooth the reel operates, both in casting and when battling tough fish. The AT Drag System is consistent and effective, offering plenty of stopping power. Our tester also stated that he loves the cork handle, it’s more comfortable in the hand than standard nylon handles. Featuring a fast 6.2:1 gear ratio, the reel is available in three sizes.
|Daiwa Procyon AL 2500D-XH |
Daiwa may well be the most underrated rod and reel manufacturer in the industry. It’s clear, though, that their spinning reels have an ardent following of hardcore anglers, and for good reason. Daiwa makes feature-packed, high-quality spinning reels and they’ve been doing it for a long, long time. The Procyon AL is one of their newest. AL stands for aluminum. With an aluminum frame, the reel is stronger and more rigid than graphite-composite-framed reels. The result is increased smoothness and longer-lasting gears. The reel is great for both freshwater and light-saltwater applications. We tested the 2500D-XH. It holds 210 yards of 10-pound-test mono, so it’s in the ballpark for big trout, steelhead, light rockfish, and coho. The XH model features a 6.2:1 retrieve, so it retrieves almost 35” of line per revolution of the handle. It has way more drag capability than you’ll ever need for fish such as steelhead and silvers (22 pounds). This is not a low-budget reel, but it’s not Daiwa’s top of the line, either.
|Sage Spey Series Reel 6/7/8|
The Spey Series fly reel combines a fully-machined, anodized, full-framed fly-reel design, large arbor, and Sage’s SCS drag system. The result is a reel with classic good looks, but modern performance features. Fish Alaska’s resident spey nut and Flyfishing columnist, George Krumm, used the 6/7/8-size reel on the Naknek for its outsized rainbows and landed numerous, hot rainbows to 33.5” with this reel. He was especially impressed with the carbon-fiber drag, which has detents for consistent, repeatable performance. The drag is smooth and consistent throughout its range, and there is no spot where the drag goes “from zero to 50” suddenly. This reel was loaded with 150 yards of 30-pound-test Dacron backing, 150 feet of mono running line, and a short Skagit head and there was a little room to spare on the spool. The reel is also made in a larger, size 7/8/9 reel. According to George, this reel reminds him of the Hardy Perfect, but with a really good drag system.
|Daiwa Saltist 35H|
Lever-drag reels certainly have their place, but for all-day jigging for halibut, a lighter, star-drag reel is your friend. The 35H will hold 990 feet of 65-pound-test J-Braid—which is more than you’ll ever need for most halibut situations, making it one of the best fishing reels in 2021. Max drag is 22 pounds—again, more than you’ll need. We paired this reel with a Daiwa Harrier Jigging Rod (HRJ64MHB), spooled it up with 80-pound-test J-Braid, and landed numerous halibut fishing in depths up to 350 feet. Our tester says this reel and rod will both be going with him on his next halibut soirée.