The 5 Best Reel For Striper Fishing in 2020

By Josh Hassell / June 1, 2020

Looking for fishing gear can sometimes be a bit tricky. People often don’t have the time to go out and test new stuff that may or may not work. More so, it can be quite time-consuming to look for something like a reel for striper fishing.

Striped bass is a large fish, and catching it is a real sport for which you need impressive and quality equipment.

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#1 Penn Squall LevelWind

Whether drifting, chunking, sharking, or trolling, the Penn Squall 30 Level Wind Trolling Reel delivers exceptional performance in a variety of saltwater conditions ...
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#2 Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Striper

Specially designed for striper fishing, the Abu Garcia C3-6500STSPC Ambassadeur Striper Special Baitcast Fishing Reel delivers the finesse and power you need to land your catch ...
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#3 SeaKnight Rapid Saltwater Spinning Reel

RAPID -Designed with inside shield ball bearings, anti-water and anti-dust spool. Anti-corrosion coating stainless steel components create excellent anti-corrosive ability in saltwater fishing ...
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#4 Ugly Stik Striper Round Combo

Ugly Stik has designed this Series specifically for striper fishing. All ugly Stik rods feature the ugly Stik clear tip for sensitivity, ugly tech construction for toughness and durability ...
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#5 Para USA Penn Z Series Spinning Reel

Spinning fishing reel combines smooth drag with a time-tested, ultrareliable design. Durable construction with full metal body and graphite sideplates. Precisely machined metal gear assembly delivers ...
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For this reason, we’ve searched the market on your behalf to find the best five reels for striper fishing. Below the reviews, you’ll also find some information on what are the best lures and baits for the fish.

Reels For Striper Fishing Reviews (2020 Update)

1. Penn Squall LevelWind

Penn is definitely one of the best-known brands around the world. Their Squall LevelWind is made from high-quality components and materials to deliver some impressive performance.

The graphite frame and side plates allow power and durability but keep the reel lightweight. There’s no added weight but only that of the fish you catch. It weighs about 20.09 ounces.

The main gear is made of marine-grade bronze alloy and adds strength to the whole piece. Plus, the high-strength stainless steel pinion gear allows smoothness and ease of use at all times.

It also has HT-100 drag washers that remain smooth and cool even when you’re fighting the large bass. It’s equipped with an anti-reverse system as well as the 2+1 shielded stainless steel bearing system.
This one is used by many professionals around the world, so its quality and durability are well-tested.


  • Adjustable handle length
  • Machined aluminum spool
  • Smooth drag


  • Only for the right-handed
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2. Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Striper Special Baitcast Reel

This one is really unique because it’s a bait cast fishing reel optimized for striper angling. It’s easy to use, smooth and powerful for all kinds of massive fish.

It’s engineered for smoothness featuring three stainless ball bearings. It also has one roller bearing for additional ease of use. The Carbon Matrix drag system is consistent and provides low-friction drag while reducing line breakage.

It features a 6-pin centrifugal brake that uses constant pressure allowing the most precise cast. Its extended bent cranking handles provide additional cranking power for all those massive fish, striped bass include.

This one is built upon the Swedish round reel platform and with proven high-quality components. It’s durable and can take a beating, but most importantly it can endure some of the most extreme saltwater conditions.


  • Handles up to 150lb fish
  • Smooth action
  • Precise casting


  • Many plastic components
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3. SeaKnight Rapid Saltwater Spinning Reel

If you’re fishing in both salt and fresh water, you want a versatile reel such as the SeaKnight Rapid. This one has an anti-corrosive coating that adds to its durability and overall resistance.

It features the stainless ball bearings and a thicker main shaft. On top of that, its carbon fiber drag system has 15kg/33lb drag allowing you to catch some of the largest fish.

It’s produced with the latest technologies and impressive craftsmanship noticeable at first glance. The 10+1 shielded stainless steel ball bearings allow smooth action and effortless operation.

It features a sealed aluminum spool and rotor structure which protects the gearing from sand and water. It’s fast, durable and has enough power to tackle most of freshwater and saltwater fish such as Walleyes, Northern Pike, Bass, Catfish, and Stripers.


  • Stainless steel
  • Sealed gearing
  • Ideal for heavy fish


  • The lock requires tightening
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4. Ugly Stik Striper Round Combo

This combo is ideal if you want to dedicate a reel and rod to use just for striper fishing. It’s a durable and robust combination of quality components that guarantee smooth performance.

It features the Ugly Stik clear tip that provides more sensitivity and strength. It’s great for large fish, but because it’s as sensitive, you’ll feel even the slightest strike of a smaller fish.

The Ugly Tech construction is made from graphite and fiberglass and is well-balanced. The one-piece Ugly Tuff stainless steel guides provide durability and allow you to use all kinds of lines, including braided.

The rod also features the brand’s Clear Tip that’s designed for sensitivity and extra strength. The reel has a double paddle aluminum handle and two ball bearings. It’s a size 20 line counter reel with an on/off bait clicker.


  • Rod and reel combo
  • For big and small fish
  • For left and right-handed


  • Poor quality assurance
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5. Para USA Penn Z Series Spinning Reel

Penn Z Series has been among the most popular, mainly thanks to their Para USA reel. This spinning reel is an excellent combination of reliable design and smooth drag.

It features a full metal body with graphite side plates. The combination of materials results in a durable construction that’s ideal for heavy fish. All the metal components and gear are precisely machined to deliver precision and strength.

The Para USA features an HT-100 carbon fiber drag system that’s powerful but still smooth and easy to work with. Another few pieces worth mentioning are the pancake handle and the three shielded stainless steel ball bearings.

All the components are sealed and protected from water, but make sure to rinse the reel after fishing in saltwater. It’s durable, sturdy, and equally as suitable for fish smaller than striped bass.


  • Smooth drag system
  • Sealed components
  • Solid construction


  • Only for the right-handed
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10 Effective Baits & Lures for Striped Bass


Eels are easy to find, store and keep alive. It’s one of the best choices for striper fishing because, for some reason, striped bass cannot resist the lure. These are especially suitable for nighttime fishing.

Records take by the state, and IGFA show that the majority of fish have been caught on eels during nighttime. You can use them in deep water on fishfinder or 3-way rights. However, lobbing them into rocky areas without additional weight is also a good idea.

Diamond Jigs

Diamond jigs are a classic lure that’s effective in deep water with a strong current. These are shiny, long and look like butterfish, herring, menhaden, and squid.

It’s a good choice for when you’re fishing deep because their weight and shape allow them to reach the bottom quite quickly. You should free-spool it to the bottom and then lift the rod tip sharply. Many lures come with treble hooks.


These are among the best baits for stripers from Cape Cod through southern Maine. Hook the bait upward through the upper jaw and throw it along the rocks or under a foam float.

The best way is to live-line them with or without a float. Throw it around exposed rocks where the big bass is lurking to find injured or confused baitfish.

Parachute Jigs

This one doesn’t really look like anything striped bass would be interested in until you see how it behaves under water. The parachute should be jigged to make the reverse skirt flare. This way, the lure imitates a squid or large baitfish.

Choose white, pink or chartreuse parachutes for best results with herring, shad, squid, and menhaden. Use darker colors such as black and purple for sea bass, scup, and cunner. These lures can be trolled up to 40’ or 50’ without weight.


Live bait can be slow trolled or drifted if you hook them crosswise through the nose. You can use treble, circle, and single Octopus hooks for this one.

If you opt for chunking, try to hide the hook inside the bait in a way, so the fish doesn’t see it. The natural slime coating and color of the dead bait make a huge difference in getting the fish to eat.


Live scup is an excellent choice especially during midsummer since that’s when other large species are quite rare. Scup has to be over the legal size limit.

Rig them on a fishfinder or a 3-way rig with an 8’ leader and a circle hook. Hook it through the lips and make sure to drift it in deep water. Fish usually gather over hard-bottom areas so try and focus on that area.

Large Surface Swimmers

Goo Goo Eyes, Danny Plug, and Gibbs Casting Swimmer are traditional wooden plugs. They’re old but still quite effective on big fish.

It’s a good choice when the bass is feeding on herring, menhaden, and squid near the surface. They wiggle similarly to a wounded baitfish when you retrieve them slowly. Plus, the wide profile is easy for the bass to spot in turbulent water.

Choose dark purple and black for nighttime and yellow, rust orange and white for daylight.

Tube & Worm

Tubes come in many colors and lengths, but the most popular are 18’’ and 24’’ versions. The best colors to go for are black, red, and fluorescent.

These are trolled on wire or 4-pound lead-core line. It allows the lure to get close to the rocky bottom of the area. They work the best when you troll them slowly. Still, the best way to use them is with a seaworm on the rear hook. This emits natural scents and attracts the target.

Bunker Spoons

This one imitates large menhaden, shad or a herring. It’s best to use in schools of these fish. Use them on wireline and troll them very slowly around the outskirts of schools and rocky bottom areas.

Large spoons, otherwise known as mega-spoons, work well around river mouths at the time herring return to the ocean at the end of the spring spawn.

Soft Plastics

These are the most effective around rocks, in rips and similar turbulent zones. Use them only where the fish are feeding below or near the surface. Go for the biggest size to attract the attention of big fish.

It’s best to use them on a 7’ medium-action rod while you slowly retrieve them. You can try a faster retrieve if you notice the fish is more aggressive.

Final Thoughts

Striper fishing is always exciting, especially after a few successful casts. More so, if you use the right equipment and lure, you can go home with a trophy fish sooner than later.

However, for such adventures, you need a reliable reel that’s explicitly designed to tackle big fish such as striped bass. Buying a reel isn’t always as simple especially if you’re a beginner. For this reason, we recommend the Penn Squall LevelWind as one of the best choices.

It’s made of quality materials and can endure both saltwater and freshwater. Most importantly, it’s powerful enough to help you with the big fish you have in mind.

Still, it’s up to you to decide which of the five best reels for striper fishing would work the best for you. For best results, make sure to consider your needs and preferences before you make the final decision.

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About the author

    Josh Hassell

    There's nothing better than going out to the lake early in the morning, and catching some fish! Like many other anglers, I find fishing to be very therapeutic. I've been fishing since I was about 10 years old, and fell in love ever since. I hope to share my expertise and knowledge with the community, and help everyone become better anglers.

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