There are many ways to catch walleye. However, they all depend upon the right rod or reel. This decision will determine whether you are casting or trolling.

What is the best walleye reel available? What is the difference between a trolling reel and one that’s designed for casting? What makes an exceptional reel different from all the rest? We have the answers to your questions.

A quick glance at the top walleye reels

Casting: Spinning Reels For Walleye

  • Cadence CS8-Our Choice!
  • Pflueger President
  • Shimano Ultegra

Trolling: Conventional Reels For Walleye

  • Shimano Tekota –Our Choice!
  • Okuma Cold Water Line counter

Reviewed Best Walleye Reels

Casting: Spinning Reels

Cadence CS8Our Choice!

CS8 Spinning Reel,Cadence Ultralight Fast Speed Premium Magnesium Frame Fishing Reel with 10 Low Torque Bearings Super Smooth Powerful Fishing Reel with 36 LBs Max Drag & 6.2:1 Spinning Reel


Drag:16 lbs. Maximum 16 lbs
Ratio of gears: 6.2:1 (32″ per turn)
Line capacity:6/160
Bearings 9 + 1 roller bearing
Weight: 7.3 oz.

Drag:19 lb. Maximum weight
The ratio of gears: 6.2:1 (35″ per turn)
Line capacity:10/150
Bearings 9 + 1 roller bearing
Weight: 7.4 oz.

Walleye angling is gaining a welcome addition with the CS8 series. It offers high-end performance at a more affordable price than you might expect. These reels can be used as serious competitors to established brands like Shimano or Pflueger and should not be overlooked by fishermen.

Two sizes of reels from the CS8 series are available for walleye fishing: the 2000 or 3000.

The 2000 holds 160 yards of mono 6 pounders. It weighs in at 7.3 ounces and is a little lighter than the Pflueger comparable, but it has a lot more capacity.

For anglers who love monofilament or those who are rare and can’t stop braiding on the spool, the 3000 is for you. The best part is that it weighs only.1 ounce, which is less than 2000. This gives it weight to the unbeatable capacity ratio.

The drag on the CS8 series is superb. It uses a series carbon fiber discs to create tension. Both reel sizes have a knob at the end of their spool that controls the speed. This ensures smooth, consistent control and no binding or slippage. At this price, the Cadence CS-8 is my favorite in drag quality.

The crank is impressive and the bail opens and closes perfectly. For left-handed anglers, the crank position can be reversed.

The ratio of the two reels is 6.2 to 1. The smaller 2000 reel takes up 32 inches of the line while the larger 3000 reel takes up 35 inches. This is a very fast-spinning reel for its size. If I was chasing large, mean walleyes, this would be the speed I’d want.

Overall, the CS-8 reel is a great reel that shows Cadence’s ability to crush its competition.


  • Great value for the money
  • Excellent drag
  • Excellent capacity
  • Excellent casting
  • Blazing retrieve!
  • Silky-smooth operation
  • Very lightweight


  • Cadence doesn’t tell us anything about the gearing materials

Pflueger President

Pflueger PRESSP30X President Spinning Fishing Reel


Drag: Maximum weight: 10 lbs. Maximum weight: 10 lbs
The ratio of gears: 5.2:1 (25.3″ per turn)
Line capacity:255/4, 140/6, 130/8
Bearings 9 + 1 roller bearing
Weight: 8.8 oz.


Drag: Maximum weight 12 lb Maximum 12 lbs
The ratio of gears: 5.2:1 (28.1″ per turn)
Line capacity:230/6, 185-8, 155/10
Bearings 9 + 1 roller bearing
Weight: 10.7 oz.

Pflueger reels have a solid reputation. Many walleye anglers swear to the President. These relatively cheap reels offer respectable performance at an affordable price.

For walleye fishing, the size 30 and 35 reels will work well. Although the 30 may seem a little small, fishermen who are concerned about their weight might find that its 8.8 ounces are ideal.

The 35 is definitely more spacious, with 85 yards of 6-pounder line, at again only of two ounces.

Both have a 5.2 to 1 gear ratio. However, different spool sizes can result in different retrieval rates. The smaller 30 pulls in 25.3 inches per turn while the larger 35 pulls just over 28. It is up to the angler to decide if that’s a significant difference.

It performs very well. The bail is easy to open and close, and casting with very light lines is a pleasure. The 30- is designed to handle mono-diameter lines up to 6 pounds, while the 35 can handle mono-diameter lines up to 8 pounds with ease. This is where I would base my decision on the line I throw most often.

These reels have a very nice drag. They are sealed at the factory to keep water out. The reels provide smooth tension without any skips, stops, or other problems.

The handle can be turned with nine bearings, which makes it incredibly smooth.

Both of these Pflueger Presidents are very good. Given their reputation on the water, I would recommend them without reservations.


  • Excellent value for the money
  • Great drag
  • Excellent casting
  • Excellent retrieval rates
  • Excellent capacity, especially for the 35-inch size


  • It’s not as smooth as the more expensive options
  • It is more expensive than the other options.

Shimano Ultegra

SHIMANO Ultegra Spinning Fishing Reel


Drag:Maximum weight: 20 lb. Maximum weight: 20 lbs
The ratio of gears: 6.0:1 (35″ per turn)
Line capacity:6/200, 8/140 and 10/120
Bearings 5 + 1 roller bearing
Weight: 8.47 oz.

The name Shimano is synonymous with quality. While not all reels they produce are winners (I’m looking to you, Sedona), their Ultegra is an excellent choice for walleye fishing. It’s no surprise that Shimano is a favorite of many anglers.

The Ultegra 2500-size walleye is the most suitable size, just below the Cadence CS-8 3000. There’s no doubt that you will have plenty of mono-diameter 6- to the 8-pound line to cut when needed and fish throughout the day.

Despite this, the Ultegra is lighter than the larger CS-8 3000 and I recommend the Cadence.

Shimano drag systems are very smooth and the Ultegra series is exactly what you would expect. Drag performance is consistent in all settings, from light to heavy. The Hagane all-metal gearing from Shimano makes cranes easy. A waterproofing seal has been added to the gearing, which is a step towards increased durability.

The Ultegra is available with a high-speed gearing of 6.0 to 1, which is designated by the HG. It picks up 35 inches per round, a blistering retrieve that keeps it neck-and-neck against the Cadence.

This spinning reel is the best on our list. This spinning reel is just as good as the Cadence, but it costs twice as much. This price may be justified if you are looking for all-metal sealed gearing. If so, I would spend my money on Cadence.


  • Excellent drag
  • Excellent capacity
  • Excellent casting
  • Blazing retrieve!
  • Silky-smooth operation
  • Hagane solid-bronze Teeth
  • Sealed gearing


  • Our most expensive reel
  • For less line capacity, slightly heavier than the CS-8 3000

Trolling: Conventional Reels

Shimano TekotaOur Choice!

Shimano Tekota 700 Saltwater Star Drag Fishing Reel


Gear ratio:4.2:1
RPT:25″ per turn
Capacity12/275,14/220 and 16/185
Maximum drag18 lb.
Bearings3 + 1
Weight:14.3 oz.

You can see Shimano’s Tekota if you spend a day trolling for walleye in the Great Lakes. The Tekota is a popular choice for serious anglers because it delivers the performance that modern trolling requires.

Only the smallest Tekota can be used for walleye fishing: The 300LC. (The LC signifies that the model has a line counter.

The Tekota’s body is less formal than some of Shimano’s higher-end reels. It combines graphite with aluminum to keep its weight down. However, it does not have the bright gold trim that has been a trademark of the company. This extra graphite is not recommended for offshore applications as large fish can weigh hundreds of pounds and will cause the reel’s body to break.

For walleyes, however, this is not an issue and the weight loss is a nice touch.

The capacity is exceptional and dwarfs comparable spinning reels. Remember that even though a Tekota 300-size reel is smaller than a conventional one, it’s still designed to catch large fish. It’s easy to see why you would be able to run over 500 yards of 6-pound-line.

This is good news for mono enthusiasts, as well as many fishermen who troll. You can still get huge lengths of monoline by using an 8-pound test, and the Tekota’s level wind will distribute your mono throughout the spool.

The 300LC has an easy-to-use, accurate line counter that allows anglers to precisely control their depth. This is a huge advantage if trolling is your preferred technique. I would prefer a traditional feel to it.

The Tekota can be set to 4.2:1. It has solid bronze gears that will turn even the largest walleye heads and keep her there. Although a 25-inch retrieve per turn is not impressive, it is enough to maintain a tight line.

The Tekota has only four bearings, one of which is anti-reverse. Although the crank is not silky smooth, it spins smoothly and transmits torque like no other. This crank is definitely an upgrade to even the most powerful spinning reels, in terms of power and fighting ability.

As you would expect from Shimano, Tekota’s drag system works well. Although 18 pounds seems excessive for walleye, the reel was designed to handle larger fish. The drag is very responsive at lighter settings, releasing line easily and maintaining constant tension. You can increase drag to keep your lures in line.

The popularity of the Tekota among walleye anglers is evident when you take a closer look at it.


  • Excellent, lightweight body
  • Walleye have a huge potential
  • Smooth, powerful cranking
  • All-metal gearing
  • Effective level wind
  • Accurate line counter
  • Nice drag


  • Although the 4.2:1 gear ratio maybe a little too slow for walleye fishing, it is still sufficient.

Okuma Cold Water Line counter

Okuma Cold Water Linecounter Trolling Reel CW-303D


Gear ratio:5.1:1
RPT:23″ per turn
Capacity10/330, 11/290, and 14/240
Maximum drag13 lbs
Bearings2 + 1
Weight:14.6 oz.

As its name implies, Okuma’s Cold Water Linecounter Series was created from scratch for fish like walleyes, steelhead, and lake trout.

Okuma won’t reveal the Cold Water’s body material. I would guess that it is aluminum and graphite. Although the Tekota isn’t as good as the Shimano Tekota in terms of build quality, it was made for large, hard-fighting fish like sharks, sailfish, and tuna. This is not a criticism of the Cold Water but something you should be aware of before going in.

The Okuma has a great capacity and a large spool, especially if you are used to spinning reels. There is plenty of space for anglers to step up to 8-pound mono. Anglers who fish with 10-pound mono will have enough space for 330 feet of line. The reel is windy and has plenty of space for all line types. It’s especially useful if you are using mono.

Cold Water uses solid-brass gearing to pick up 23 inches per turn at a ratio of 5.1:1. It’s not fast for the gear ratio or spool size but it’s enough to maintain a tight line on large walleyes. You’ll have plenty of torque and great crane power in a fight.

Its drag is quite good. It provides 13 pounds of maximum brake and allows the line to glide smoothly at lower settings. Although you won’t need it, it is useful if your lures aren’t slipping while trolling.

There’s also a precise line counter that allows for precise depth control, which is essential when precision trolling is required.

The Okuma Cold Water reel is solid for walleye fishing, but not as good as the Tekota.


  • Lightweight body
  • Walleye have a huge potential
  • Smooth, powerful cranking
  • All-metal gearing
  • Effective level wind
  • Accurate line counter
  • Good drag


  • RPT is slow but sufficient for walleye.
  • The Tekota is not as durable

How to Select a Walleye Reel

Casting, trolling, or both?

The reel’s chosen techniques will be one of the deciding factors.

A spinning reel of the appropriate size is essential if you intend to cast soft baits, spinners, jigs, and other lures. They’re easy to cast in windy conditions and are a proven technology all across the country, from the Great Lakes to Missouri.

If you want to troll, however, a spinning reel won’t be enough. Instead, you will need more precision and a line counter on your reel. The best reels are sized right for walleye and will let you control your trolling depth more precisely.

Both spinning and traditional tackle are good options for emergencies. However, it is important to match your reel choice with the most important tasks.

Walleye Line, Capacity and Drag

Walleye do not require heavy lines. For the most part, 6-8 pound mainline will suffice.

Tony Roach is a professional walleye angler who uses a 6-pound braid and a 10-to 12-pound fluorocarbon leader. He usually uses a double uni. This fluorocarbon attracts line-shy fish and allows for break-offs if his jigs become hung-up.

He’s also willing to take on the risk of abrasion. He explains that he upsizes to an 8-pound braided and a 14-pound leader when there are zebra mussels in lakes. It is much more resistant to abuse.”

Mono is also useful for trolling and slip flotillas. Mono is less abrasive and runs through floats more easily. Its cushioning ability helps to load the rod for better hooksets when trolling.

Whatever size walleye reel you choose, it should hold approximately 150 yards of mono 6 pounds. You can use a little less or more, but the super lights and monster offshore reels are still available.


The heart of any reel is the drag, and this is true for walleye just as much as for other fish.

Walleye do not require a heavy line. This means you need a smooth drag that is reliable and easy to use at the low end. Maximal drag settings don’t matter, as you won’t be cranking down the drag to those settings. It’s more important to evaluate how the drug performs at (approximately 2) 2, 3, and 4-pound settings.

You should set your drag at 1/3 of the tensile force of your line. A walleye reel with a great drag should release line smoothly, with no binding or skipping, regardless if you are running 6-pound mono or 12-pound braid.

Gear Ratios

The reel’s gear ratio measures how many turns the crank produces on the spool. A gear ratio of 6.0 to 1 means that every turn of the crank spins a spool six times.

This is important when fishing the bottom, casting to cover lots of water, or fighting big walleyes that are turning toward your boat.

High gear ratios and quick retrieval rates are both time-saving tools in the first two cases. In combat, however, it is crucial to have a gear ratio that keeps your line straight.

No matter what their gear ratio, I want reels that produce no less than 24 inches per spin.

Last Thoughts

Only you can decide which style reel works best for you. A conventional reel is best if you primarily troll for walleye. A spinning reel is best if you use jigs or other lures to catch fish, or if you run live bait under slip floats, a spinning reel is the best choice.

These broad categories offer many options, and you will find the right option for you.

However, if I was looking for a spinning reel to catch walleye, the Cadence CS-8 would be my choice in the 2000 or 3000 sizes. It is a remarkable reel and almost matches the performance of the Shimano Ultegra. The Cadence reel has the speed, drag, and capacity to catch more fish. It also provides the casting performance you need for the harsh weather walleye love.

The Shimano Tekota is the best choice for trolling. This is something that many walleye anglers know. Although there are many traditional reels on the market, most of them are too large for walleye fishing.

While the Tekota is still too heavy for walleyes, it is an excellent choice. It has incredible line capacity, great drag, and a lot of speed. As if that weren’t enough, the reel’s body is made of real-world tough materials. This means that no hook you catch on the Great Lakes will be a problem. This reel is ideal for precision trolling thanks to its accurate line counter.


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