You have two choices when it comes to picking out the perfect reel for your fishing rod: open faced reels or closed face reels. While Jon and I have traditionally been all about the open faced reels growing up, as some fishing buddies have shown us: closed face has some pretty good options out there!
Admittedly part of my early reinforcement bias came because many of the button push casting reels I saw were cheap beginner reels that weren’t high end nor meant to be – but were perfect for young Scouts just learning to fish and whether or not they really enjoy it. Later on there were several times when I was exposed to the high end options when it comes to closed face reels and that’s when I realized there were some very good close faced reels out there, and I could see why some others liked them so much.
This design is a bit less common than open faced spinning reels so there are less premium options for closed face designs, but there are still some truly excellent options out there and if you are a fan of the button casting system and still demand quality from your fishing gear then read on to see our picks for the top rated premium closed face fishing reels.
Best Closed Face Reels
|Pos.||Close Face Reel||General 1-Sentence Summary|
Zebco Omega Z03 Closed Face Reel
|Top overall rated closed face reel.|
Zebco Spincast Fishing Reel
|Excellent quality option from Zebco.|
Zebco 33 Authentic Closed Spincast Reel
|Lightweight but durable closed face reel.|
Daiwa Goldcast Spincast Fishing Reel
|Popular closed reel for beginner carp anglers.|
Pflueger President Spincast Reel
|Solid and beautiful looking reel.|
The Zebco Omega ZO3 is one of the finest closed face reels out there, and is marketed as the first close face reel to feature a unique 7-bearing spin cast system all controlled with a soft touch thumb button made from soft rubber as opposed to hard plastic.
Zebco is a major name when it comes to closed face reels and the Omega could very well be their best design yet, and it’s certainly our pick among several Zebco reels especially for 2017 & 2018. We’ll review again next year to see if it holds its narrow lead as the best close face reel out on the market.
The construction is definitely rock solid. There’s a quick-change spool system that works smoothly with the anti-reverse action, stainless steel bearing construction, and a gear drive that is frequently described as “smooth and easy.” Best used with a maximum of 85 yards of 10 lb test line, the high quality aluminum body also features a one year warranty from Zebco in case any repairs or replacement parts are needed.
This reel is a 7-bearing spincast design, and its not too hard to see why Zebco is particularly proud of these Omega styles (the #2 on our list, more like 1A-1B is also a Zebco Omega reel), and it features an ergonomic design that is easy on the hands, fingers, and wrists, as well.
Clearly one of the two finest closed face reels out there.
The Zebco Omega Pro is right up there with the Omega Z03 as one of the best closed face reels out there. One of the reels from the Omega brand produced by Omega, this can be set for left or right handed anglers, has a comfortable ergonomic design, and is made mostly from very high quality machined aluminum. The line guides are ceramic, and the overall design is very solid for this style of fishing reel.
There’s a one year warranty from the manufacturer that confidently covers their work and craftsmanship. This is standard for Zebco products and shows the confidence they have in the quality of their work.
While these are general reels that are not necessarily designed specifically for one or two species of fish, according to a wide variety of reviews by active anglers who have used this reel it’s not a true trophy fish reel when looking at fish that can really run with line like giant northern pike, muskie, or even large enough black bass. However, for bluegill, crappie, trout, smallmouth bass, and other similar fish these work just as well as you would hope.
They are clearly a step above your average button push casting reel and anyone who grew up learning to fish with this type of a reel.
The Zebco 33 is the third and final closed face reel from this company on the list, and it is well deserved compared to the competition. This spincast fishing reel has a 3.6:1 gear ratio, a reversible handle, and although it might not be a premium reel that competes with the top spinning reels out there,
This is a popular choice when you are just starting to teach others in the family how to fish, but you still want some degree of quality. This is an inexpensive way to get a good reel for the money and has been used by many anglers to bring in newbie teen anglers, a new relationship partner, or others interested in starting for the first time.
This has an unusually smooth cranking action, looks good, and gives a degree of control that is pretty uncommon when it comes to closed face reels. Generally seen as a good solid reel for the money, there are some concerns that at times it seems like the line seems to randomly snag while exiting from the reel, especially with larger test line or braided fishing line.
If you can avoid this issue then you will find yourself in consistently good shape with this as an inexpensive closed reel choice.
Daiwa is a name that is well known among anglers as they are known for creating high quality pieces of gear in addition to a line of carp fishing rods and other carp gear that are among the best around. So with so many listings among premium pieces of fishing gear, it should come as no surprise that they produce one of the better closed face spincast reel, as well.
The aptly named Goldcast reel from Daiwa is created from a very durable metal construction that also features an oscillating spool and smooth drag to take care of the most common complaints many anglers have about closed face reels.
This is hands down considered the best closed face reel for spincast tackle that Daiwa makes, and is a versatile setup that allows for setup to be a left-handed fishing reel or a right-handed fishing reel. This is a heavier reel that is made from solid metal, and offers a surprisingly smooth function for a heavy duty reel.
Casts a very solid distance, in fact one of the best when it comes to spincast reels in this regard, and is best used with 6 lb test line, although it can handle most 8 lb test line as well. This is not as good a real with braided line, but if the braided fishing line is low test then this can sometimes work.
The Pflueger closed face spincast reel has a rigid aluminum frame, using a 4 ball bearing system (along with the all important anti-reverse bearing) to provide smooth reeling in while also holding up to the wear and tear or beatings that equipment is going to inevitably have when used by an avid outdoorsman.
The front cone is made from machined aluminum with a very distinctive “ported” style and the handle of the reel is even aluminum with a soft knob to be easy on the hand. This is a fairly solid construction that is a step above your average closed face reel, but not quite the same level as the more premium models towards the top of this list.
A great inexpensive beginner’s reel, this works best by far and away with monofilament line, and is a bit better on light to middle weight as opposed to heavy. This is not a good reel for braided line so don’t tempt fate in this regard.
This is clearly the #5 on our list but it is also a definite heads and shoulders step above your average close faced reel out there, meaning it is still an excellent inexpensive option for the right situations.
Closed Faced Reels FAQ
Q: Can I use braided fishing line with this type of reel?
A: This goes hand in hand with the question: what is the best fishing line for closed face reels? While this can differ a little bit from one reel to another, especially among the top five choices versus your run of the mill, generally speaking most closed face reels can handle low weight braided fishing line, but it’s not an ideal option. Monofilament is a much better fit.
Q: Who consistently makes the best closed faced reels?
A: Zebco really specializes in this style of reels and there’s a reason they have three different models that show on our top five list.
Q: Are closed face reels just for kids?
A: These are a common option for small kids’ fishing rods or beginning rods because it takes out a lot of the complication and early skill needed to properly use a spinning reel. Also often referred to as push button caster as well.
Q: Do any professionals use closed face reels?
A: Generally speaking, no. Virtually every single one uses baitcasting or spinning reels depending on the exact nature of the tourney, however once in a while you do get that outlier. One example is the truly old school pro Woo Daves, who won a Bass Master Classic at one point using a closed face Zebco reel.
Q: How do closed face reels work?
A: Same general concept as a spinning reel, but the mechanics are internal while the over the top shell in theory protects from snags and makes it easier to cast since you don’t have to worry about holding the line and releasing during the cast.
A good troubleshooting page from one of the top companies is found HERE.
Q: How do I cast with a closed face reel?
A: Push the button as you snap your wrist forward and keep the button pressed to let the line loose. Once the lure has been fully cast you can let go of the button to tighten the spool once again and begin reeling your lure again.
Q: What is the difference between closed face reels for catfish versus bass?
A: There really isn’t one. These reels are not made for specific fish. If you are going for larger fish you need a premium closed reel that will be able to handle slightly larger test line more comfortably.
Q: How do closed face reels compare to the open faced reels?
A: While there are going to be some closed reel enthusiasts, in my opinion generally spinning reels are far superior as a general mean average as well as the highest ceiling for best premium options. While there are some solid closed face reels, and these can be better options for true beginners not fully into fishing yet, open faced designs in general are better, in our opinion.
Q: What are common problems with closed face reels?
A: You can check out the earlier entry in the FAQ about common issues, but a few that come up include not being able to handle braided or heavier line, harder to make really pin point casts when casting towards shore, and a lack of options that can handle heavy duty fishing for larger sized sports fish.
A Few Final Thoughts
Even if you have long worked with open faced reels (whether spinning or baitcasting in nature), there is a lot to like from good closed face reels. While most of the time I am more about the open face spinning reels, I believe that to each their own. While Jon and I love the control of the spinning reel, the ability to cut off the cast at the perfect moment to drop it right beside that log by shore underneath a whole lot of potential snags – we get why others would really like these button push reels in the right situation.
However if you are a big fan of closed face reels then you mine as well make sure you get one of the best ones!
Daiwa video on closed reel casting
Other fishing articles of interest:
- Best open faced spinning reels reviewed
- Best premium fishing rods
- Best wire leaders for pike fishing