So I happen to think the world’s best fishing reel is the Abu Garcia 6000-series wide-spool baitcaster. No, it’s not a reel for most bass fishing, being a little too big for that. But it’s perfect for everything from steelhead to walleyes (trolling) to big pike and stripers. The same-size reel comes in a variety of styles. The price is right at about $80.00 for a 6500C3 base model; much more for some of the exotic variations in the 6000 International Series.
The reels are easy to take apart, clean, and maintain. There are also a lot of aftermarket parts like special bearings, magnetic controls, and power handles for those who want to customize their own. Some reels are better performers or better made or more elegantly machined, but none to my mind comes close to this combination of value, performance, and versatility.
I wrote much more extensively about this in our August 2008 issue, which you can check for details. Meanwhile, we can also toss it around here: What’s the one best overall fishing reel?