Fishing reels 2023 – Three mid-priced reels
With most people watching their budgets in 2023, we’ve picked three mid-priced, multipurpose reels that would be a great addition to your tackle bag, offering quality and value. All three reels are front drag and ambidextrous so they would suit many different angling situations.
Quick glance – what are we testing and why
With most people watching their budgets in 2023, we’ve picked three mid-priced, multipurpose reels that would be a great addition to your tackle bag. All three reels are front drag and ambidextrous so they would suit many different angling situations.
We did a bench review to look at features and build quality and a bank test review to test performance and usability, and of course we’ll be comparing price and value for money! In our tests, all three reels were loaded with Pro Logic XLNT Chamo 8lb test line and tested on a 11ft Daiwa Matchman Pellet Waggler Fishing Rod. So let’s dive right into the first one!
Why should you trust us?
If you are new to our site, you may be thinking – what do they know about fishing tackle? Well first and foremost we’re anglers. Our writing team are passionate about fishing and we’re all seasoned anglers. We only recommend tackle that we would actually use ourselves, and believe me we are a picky bunch! Our Editor Peter Cliff, has written for all the major angling publications and edited our own site for over 20 years. But that’s enough about us, let’s crack on with the reviews.
The Daiwa Ninja LT 3000-C
The Daiwa Ninja LT 3000-C comes as standard with a single spool and features a front drag design, infinite Anti Reverse in a stylish black, silver and red finish. It boasts a graphite and aluminium construction which is strong and robust. The reel is designed to handle fish up to 10kg (22lb) and has an Interchangeable left/right handle.
- Quality construction / metal body
- Light, tough and well balanced
- Compact size – make it ideal for travelling
- Easy to maintain / open up and grease
- Light weight machined alloy spool
- Well balanced on the rod / feels good casting
- Four ball bearings and smooth running
- Fast retrieval 5.3:1
- Only one spool supplied as standard
- Front drag could be a little smoother
- Top of the price range compared with others
What we like about the Ninja LT 3000-C
Whilst the Ninja LT 3000-C is the smallest of the three reels that we reviewed it’s certainly well made and solid and is mid-sized in Daiwa’s Ninja LT range. The ‘LT’ stands for ‘Light and Tough’ and it certainly seems to live up to this name. Size wise, we think it’s a really lovely and compact little reel, it folds away neatly and won’t take up much space in your tackle box or bag. It’s smooth running, with four ball bearings and retrieves quickly and efficiently on our bank test.
If you’re the sort of angler that looks after their tackle, then the Ninja LT 3000-C is easy to maintain and clean. The gear compartment is easily accessed by three screws so cleaning and greasing can be done to ensure a lifetime of use.
With its black, silver and red finish the Ninja is visually the most attractive of the three reels and will appeal to those who like a little pizazz with their tackle. The body is made mostly of cast metal, although on Daiwas website it is described as graphite, and it has a reassuring but balanced weight. The spool looks like it is a machined alloy and is very lightweight – overall when loaded with line the reel feels well balanced and makes a good compliment to most modern carbon fibre rods.
What we didn’t like about it
There wasn’t that much that we didn’t like and Daiwa has a proven track record in the design of reels, but the model we reviewed only came with one spool. The purchase of another spool is possible at a cost £12, but as a multipurpose reel we felt that an extra spool would really be required. The front drag wasn’t quite as smooth as the other two models we tested, although it was indexed to allow pre-set gradual changes. Having said that, it functioned perfectly well under tension.
Who is it for?
The Daiwa Ninja LT 3000-C is perfect for the pleasure angler who enjoys fishing local rivers, canals and commercial fisheries, but less so for rod and line match anglers who need additional spools and line options, unless you are prepared to fork out the extra for these. Due to the size of the reel and spool, this reel is a bit too small for feeder fishing and would best be suited to relatively close in general float fishing, light ledgering work or handling smaller sized carp to double figures. This is the smaller-sized reel in the range and the larger models 4000-C, 5000-C and 6000-C could be more suitable for heavier work.
Price Guide for the Daiwa Ninja LT 3000-C
The recommended retail price for this reel is £79.99 but you can expect to pay between £69 and £75 for this reel, plus shipping. Spare spools are available at many online retailers and pricing varies between £12-16 per spool. Angling Republic have currently got a 10% discount running for new customers, and had one of the best prices that we found at £69.00
£69.00 + 10% off
Best price we've foundFishing Republic are offering 10% off for first time customers
Westlake TRAXIS MR40
A bit of a new comer to market, the Westlake TRAXIS range of reels are described as ultra smooth feeder reels, the MR40 (which is the smaller of the two reels) comes with both an interchangeable single and double handle and a spare spool, all as standard in the box. It has a black matt finish with attractive blue highlights on the machined alloy spool.
- Quality construction / graphite & metal
- 6+1 ball bearings – so it runs super smooth!
- Ideal mid range feeder reel
- Really responsive front drag (indexed)
- Two spools as standard in the box
- Spare ‘double’ handle
- Well priced and good value compared to other models
- Subtle styling / grey and blue finish
- Ambidextrous (left or right handed)
- Good retrieval rate 5.2:1
- Some superfluous plastic styling on the reel
- Wasn’t easy to open for cleaning
What we like about it
On opening the box and picking up the Westlake TRAXIS MR40 it feels like a much more expensive reel than it says on the price tag. It’s larger than the above Ninja and would sit well in the tackle bag of any pleasure angler or match angler.
The TRAXIS is an exclusive brand to Fishing Republic and there are two models in the range the MR40 and MR50. We reviewed the slightly smaller MR40 which is a very capable front drag reel. It’s been designed for feeder fishing and can comfortably cast out a method feeder or cage feeder, but to be honest it’s just a great multipurpose reel that would be just as at home on a match or float rod, or even a light carp set up.
The reel has 6+1 ball bearings and it’s very smooth running and has an excellent retrieve rate thanks to its 5.2:1 gear ratio. The front drag is very responsive and indexed, so making very fine adjustments when you are playing a fish is easy. For a reasonably priced reel it was great to find two spools in the box as for most anglers having a spare loaded with different weight lines is an essential.
The design of the reel also has bank appeal. Although it’s not as flashy as the Ninja, its dark grey metal body with bright blue trim and machined lightweight alloy spool certainly looks the part alongside a modern carbon fibre rod. Its price tag means It would also make an ideal first reel for the novice angler or beginner.
What we didn’t like about it
The only downside we found with this reel was it was difficult to get into the gear compartment for cleaning and greasing. Indeed, we didn’t manage to do it. Although the three screws were easily removed, it still wasn’t possible to open the side without fully taking the reel apart – and with the lack of a construction diagram we didn’t feel confident in doing this. For many anglers this won’t be an issue (i can’t remember the last time I cleaned my reel on the inside), it really depends on whether you maintain your reels or not.
Who is it for?
Primarily designed as a feeder reel it certainly would suit any anglers who enjoy fishing the method or standard feeder on commercial fisheries or still waters, with the bigger MR50 more ideal for heavier set ups. But because the TRAXIS is a good all-rounder it would also suit most pleasure anglers, anglers after mid-sized carp and even match anglers.
Price guide for the Westlake TRAXIS MR40
At the normal retail price of £49.99 the reel is good value, especially when you consider the extra handle and spare spool that comes as standard. The reel is only available through Fishing Republic / Go-Outdoors as it’s one of their own brands. Currently on the Traxis they have an amazing 30% off plus an additional 10% off your first order! – At this price you should be buying two!
Normally £49.99Incredible value for a quality reel - but only available at Fishing Republic
Preston Innovations Inertia 320
The Preston Innovations Inertia 320 fishing reel is delivered with a single spool, the Inertia 320 has a black matt finish with attractive blue highlights on the spool. Constructed in Graphite and aluminium and Boasting 4+1 Ball bearings and an interchangeable handle, the reel is designed for feeder and pleasure fishing.
- A choice of 3 sizes for different situations
- Quality construction in graphite and aluminium
- Lightweight machined alloy spool
- Well considered design with thoughtful styling
- 4+1 ball bearings makes it very smooth
- Responsive front drag (indexed)
- Ambidextrous (left or right handed)
- Good retrieval rate 5.0:1
- Lightweight – ideal for travel or stalking
- Only one spool and a spare is £18
- No construction manual in box
- Not easy to get into for cleaning and greasing
What we like about the Preston Innovations Inertia 320
The Preston Innovations Inertia 320 is the smallest in the Inertia range with the 420 and 520 being its bigger brothers. Out of the box this is not dis-similar to the Westlake Traxis in looks, with a graphite body and aluminium machined spool incorporating bright blue styling. The body is well designed with minimal plastic additions, with thought being given to the overall look of the reel as well as its performance and price.
On our bank test it was well balanced on our 11ft waggler rod and had a smooth retrieval thanks to the 5:0:1 gearing. We had no problems reaching in excess of 40 metres in our casting tests. Very smooth indeed.
The Inertia 320 is also quite a lightweight reel – so lends itself to many different types of fishing, whether spinning for big perch on a canal or margin hunting for summer carp. Because it’s lightweight, the Inertia 320 is a pleasure to use for the wandering angler who travels light and moves from peg to peg. It would also make a good travel fishing reel for the suitcase.
What we didn’t like about it
Although Preston Innovations offers the option of one or two spools with this reel, the retail price for an extra spool is about £18. As most anglers carry different line options, one spool is quite limited, so it got a thumbs down on this from us on this point.
Who is the Inertia 320 designed for?
This is a multipurpose reel that would suit many different anglers – from light carp fishing, feeder work, spinning and general coarse fishing – it’s a good allrounder that would happily sit in an angler’s kit bag. Its bigger brother would suit heavier types of fishing such as pike or zander fishing or using heavy method feeders.
Price guide for the Preston Innovations Inertia 320
Preston Innovations Inertia 320 is available at many tackle retailers and online stores and is priced between £42-£49. A spare spool can also be purchased and the price of these range from £16-£18 each plus shipping. Fishing Republic are currently offering it at £45.00 with free shipping included, which is one of the best deals we found.