What Is The Best Zebco Reel, And Which One Should You Buy?
UPDATED 27 MAY 2021
by Robert Ceran
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Zebco is the undisputed market leader in the spincast reel category, and has been for many decades. This is not entirely surprising, since they invented the first spincast reel in 1949.
And while they also make other reel types, spincast reels are by far their most popular models. So, If you’re currently looking for a new spincast reel, then a Zebco is definitely a good choice. However, there’s one small problem: there are 25+ high quality Zebco models to choose from.
So which Zebco reel is the best among these, and which one should you choose? In this article we’ll show you the top 5 best Zebco reels, and we’ll also explain their ideal applications, to help you decide which one is best for your purposes.
Best Zebco reel in 2020 reviewed
The table above compares the main features and specs of the top 5 Zebco reels. As you can see, they cover a range of different specifications, and each of them is best suited for different types of fishing.
Now let’s look at each of the models in more detail, so you can decide which one is best for your specific purpose.
1. Zebco Omega Pro
The Omega Pro is currently the best all round spincast reel on the market. It combines durable construction with a range of high end features that make it smooth, reliable, and a pleasure to fish with.
With 7 ball bearings it sports more bearings than the vast majority of spincast reels (which usually come with only one ball bearing, and sometimes even none). This makes its retrieval action buttery smooth, and is great for most casting applications.
The black aluminum body and spool cover contribute to its sleek design, which is why many anglers tout it as the most elegant Zebco model. Combined with its brass pinion gear and ceramic pick up pins, the all-metal construction makes it one of the most durable spincast models available.
Finally, the Omega Pro comes in two different sizes (ZO2 and ZO3). The ZO2 is significantly smaller and lighter than the ZO3, and so is better suited for freshwater applications, as well as for beginners. In addition, each Omega Pro comes with two different handles, which are optimized for power or speed, respectively.
- Lightweight build
- 6 plus 1 ball bearings
- All-metal construction
- Triple-adjustable disc drag
2. Zebco 33 spincast reel
This is the most popular entry level spincast reel on the market, since it combines three key features: ease of use, reliability, and affordable pricing. Many anglers have started their fishing journey with this fishing reel, and some continue using it even as experienced anglers.
One of the key advantages of spincast reels is that they avoid the backlash tendency of baitcasters, which is why they are such a good choice for novice anglers starting out for the first time.
Its other advantages include a relatively fast retrieval rate of 23” per turn of the handle. This is powered by a 4.1:1 gear ratio, which is faster than most other spincast models. With a weight of 9.3 oz it’s also lighter than most other spincast reels.
And while there are other spincast reels that are even cheaper than the 33, this model provides the highest value for money. It retails at less than $30, which is within reach of almost every budget.
- Bite alert
- Dual left/right handed retrieve
- Instant anti reverse
- All-metal gears
3. Zebco Bullet
The Bullet is the fastest spincast reel on the market. With a stunning retrieve rate of 29.6” per turn of the handle, it’s faster than many spinning reels (and even some baitcasters). Its high speed is powered by a 5.1:1 gear ratio, which is higher than that of any other Zebco model.
The Bullet comes with 9 ball bearings, which is way more than most other spincast reels. Combined with its high speed, this makes it ideal for lure casting applications, both in freshwater and saltwater.
Based on its high quality build and features, the Bullet is clearly the finest spincast reel produced by Zebco. However, we didn’t choose it as the best overall model because it is more specialized in its applications than the Omega Pro, which is a better all round spincast reel.
For an in-depth comparison of the two models, check out this article: Zebco Bullet vs Omega Pro.
- Durable all-metal construction
- High speed gear ratio
- Brass pinion gear
- GripEm all weather handle knobs
4. Zebco 888
The 888 is the best Zebco model for catching big fish. With a gear ratio of 2.6:1 it is slower than the other models reviewed above, and this provides a lot of torque for winching in big fighters like catfish, muskie, or salmon.
The raw fish fighting power of the 888 is supported by 3 stainless steel ball bearings, and by its magnum drag system, which can readily handle trophy sized fish that don’t want to come to the boat.
In addition, it also has a bait alert system (also called a bait clicker), which is very popular among catfish anglers. This is ideal for bottom fishing at night, since it enables you to recognize any bite by the sound of line being pulled off the spool.
Similar to the Omega Pro, the 888 also has all-metal gears, which makes it highly durable.
- Stainless steel spool cover
- Dual ceramic pick up
- Magnum drag system
- Bite alert
5. Zebco 808
The 808 is similar to the 888 in many regards, and is also designed for catching trophy sized fish. But there is one main difference between them: while the 888 has 3 ball bearings, the 808 has none, and instead relies on bushings (for an in-depth comparison, check out this article: Zebco 808 vs 888).
Bushings provide a somewhat less smooth retrieval action than ball bearings, but have the advantage of being more robust and durable in saltwater conditions. So this feature makes the 808 ideal for saltwater fishing, where it can be used for catching striped bass, salmon, and even small sharks, without performance deterioration due to corrosion.
The magnum drag system provides plenty of power for fighting big fish.
- Magnum drag
- All-metal gears
- Quickset anti-reverse
What is the best Zebco spincast reel?
In our opinion, the Omega Pro is the best Zebco spincast reel, since it’s a great all round model that covers a wide range of fishing applications. It combines ultra smooth action (driven by its 7 ball bearings) with durability based on its all-metal construction.
Also, while the Bullet undoubtedly has even more impressive retrieval performance powered by 9 bearings, it is more specialized for high speed applications, which is why we chose the Omega Pro as the best overall performer.
Zebco 33 vs 404
We included the 33 in this review as the best spincast reel for beginners, since it combines ease of use with affordability. However, there are a couple of other Zebco reels that are also designed for entry level anglers, most notably the 404.
What distinguishes the 33 from the 404? Well, there are two main differences:
- The 33 has one ball bearing, while the 404 has none
- The 33 has a significantly faster retrieve rate of 23”, while the 404 only has 17”
In other words, the 33 is both faster and smoother than the 404, which makes it better suited for casting lures, while also being a great all round model.
So, if you’re a beginner, we recommend the 33 over the 404, since you’ll have a much better fishing experience. Fishing gear should not only get the job done, it should also be fun to use.
What is the best Zebco 33 reel?
In this review we recommend the standard 33 spincast reel for beginners (since it combines ease of use with great value for money), but there are actually quite a few other variants of the 33, including the Gold, Micro, Max, and Platinum models.
This abundance of models can make it confusing to choose the right one, especially if you’re relatively new to fishing and not sure what exactly you’re looking for.
The 33 Platinum (check price on Amazon) is the top performer out of all the 33 variants. It has a higher retrieve rate of 26” (compared to 23” in the regular model), which is powered by its increased gear ratio of 4.7:1 (compared to 4.1:1 in the regular model).
In addition to speed, the 33 Platinum also has much smoother action, due to its 5 ball bearings (as compared to 1 ball bearing in the regular model). And since the price difference between the two models is relatively modest, it’s probably well worth the additional investment to get a much smoother and faster reel.
This wraps up our review of the best Zebco reel. All of the models reviewed here are high quality, and you can’t really go wrong if you choose any of them.
So which one should you buy? If you’re a beginner (or on a budget), we recommend the 33. If your budget is not an issue, you’ll get a significantly better experience with the Omega Pro. And if you’re looking for a super fast reel for casting lures, then the Bullet has got you covered.
The new 60th anniversary edition Zebco 33 reel would have rocked R.D. Hull world. Hull, a Texas watchmaker, developed the concept of controlling line from tangling in fishing reels. Later that concept would become the legendary Zebco 33 reel.
Everyone has fished with a Zebco 33. It’s usually the first reel your parents let you cast by yourself and reel in.
No tangles. No mess. Just a bobber, sinker and a nightcrawler threaded on a hook.
Bluegills were no match for you and your Zebco 33. Occasionally, a big bass or catfish would jump on your hook. The battle would seem like it took hours with line zinging out as the big fish would try to get away, but in the end give up so you could have your photo taken with the fish.
As proud as R.D. Hull was about the original Zebco 33, he would have been ecstatic about the 60th anniversary edition Zebco 33 reel (www.Zebco.com).
It’s not your average spincast reel.
Zebco began with updating the outer design. Sleek, dynamic outer covers made of industrial grade brushed stainless steel make an impressive appearance. While rich, black trim highlight the reel handles, thumb release, reel foot and center core.
Internally, Zebco made a few innovative changes to improve the original Zebco 33. It starts with the new T-ring reducing the ability of the fishing line to get behind the spinnerhead. That was always a great frustration with spincast anglers. Now with the no-tangle pick-up pin control arm configuration it’s a thing of the past.
Line speed has also been addressed with the new 60th anniversary edition Zebco 33 reel. Originally, the gear ratio was a slow 3.3:1. It would slowly bring in 18-inches of line every turn of the handle. The new 60th anniversary edition Zebco 33 reel has a blazing gear ratio of 3.6:1 bringing in 19.1-inches every turn of the handle.
Another improvement with the 60th anniversary edition Zebco 33 reel is the thumb push button. It seems to be a super tight fit and solid when pushing in.
Also included is a switch to turn the brake from being constantly in gear to a live bait clicker mode. Catfishermen and other live or prepared bait anglers are going to love that option.
Like the original Zebco 33 the drag can be changed by rotating a drag knob located on the top of the reel. Also the reel can be taken apart by removing a screw located on the side of the reel.
The 60th anniversary edition Zebco 33 reel is a celebration of one of the world’s greatest tangle free fishing reel ever made. It eliminated tangles for millions of anglers across the United States and worldwide.
Even though the new 60th anniversary edition Zebco 33 reel looks a little different don’t be surprised to find out it has the same affect on novice or young anglers everywhere. They will want to pick it up and cast it. That’s not a problem with the 60th anniversary edition Zebco 33 reel because just like with the original Zebco 33 you will never get a tangle or bird’s nest with one.
There is perhaps a no more iconic fishing reel than the spincast. This reel, targeted at the novice angler as a transitional tool between spinning and casting is the go to reel on a countless number of rod and reel combo packages for children up to 12 years old. For those who never outgrow the simplicity of this style reel, Zebco makes an adult version with a full on brushed aluminum shell. In fact, this very same reel is touted as the top selling reel in America year after year! We felt it was about time we took a serious look at this number one seller, so here now, is our look at the vaunted, Zebco 33 spincast reel.
Quality/Construction: The Zebco 33 is a surprisingly stout little reel made with a stainless steel exterior mixed with a composite body. The joint lines where different materials and parts of the reel come together are actually very good but the handle and knobs do exhibit a bit of play in them.
Zebco's 33 Spincast Reel.
Quality Ratings for Zebco 33 Spincast Reel
Frame & Sideplate Tolerance (1-5)
Performance: I've actually never had the pleasure of fishing a spincast reel so I was quite intrigued at the prospect of this review. The Zebco 33 comes pre-spooled with 10lb Cajun monofilament, so I just fished this reel out of the box. I didn't have any traditional pistol gripped rods to fish it with but I did pair the spincast reel with a Phenix Recon PHX-C682L.
Rigged and ready to go aboard a Phenix Recon C682L.
Casting:As it turns out, my single biggest challenge with this reel was understanding and coordinating the casting mechanics which happen to be the complete opposite of a baitcasting reel. With spincast reels, you click the button at the back of the reel prior to starting your swing then let go at the end of the swing, just like you would release the spool on a baitcaster the moment you want to release the line during your cast. Simple right? Not for this enthusiast!
Casting is enabled via this thumbar.
It was so counter intuitive for me, it took a demonstration from Zander for me to understand the mechanics. Even then it took quite a bit of practice. It was quite comical.
Just press the button towards the end of your cast to let your bait fly.
What I found interesting is that this is essentially a spinning reel with a metal housing over the spool to funnel the line through the line guide and then through the remaining guides on your rod - not unlike the Doug Hannon design Microwave guide system by American Tackle.
Construction of this reel is surprising with stainless steel tip and bottom plates and this metal handle.
Retrieve: Then, after your cast, simply turn the handle to disengage the "free spool" just like a typical casting reel. Turning the handle on the Zebco 33 reveals a surprisingly smooth-ish retrieve. There's some noise from the reel but it's primarily from the inner-workings beneath the front dome as the reel performs its magic to wind the line back onto the spool. The gears themselves are actually relatively noise free.
The reel's knobs are nicely contoured but are made from a plastic material that's not all that comfortable to grip.
Performance Ratings for Zebco 33 Spincast Reel
Drag is set via this dial on top of the reel.
Drag: The Spincast 33 comes with an audible clicker for the drag marketed as "Bite Alert". I didn't make use of this feature but can certainly appreciate its application. For those primarily interested in baitfishing this is a great feature to have. Otherwise, when the drag on this reel is engaged, it has a very fine whirring sound just like a typical spinning reel's drag.
Bite Alert is an audible clicker for the drag but it also turns on back reeling.
There's a knurled knob right at the top of the reel under the "Zebco 33" emblem for adjusting the strength of the reel's drag. Performance of the drag itself is better at lighter settings but it does become a little choppy at higher settings.
The Zebco 33 comes with a 3.3:1 gear ratio.
Long-eyelash green eyes well drawn in with a dark pencil, a straight, straight nose and plump lips, richly painted with a delicate milky -violet lipstick. To this impeccable angelic face, having also quite sharp sissy size 2, and gorgeous long legs (shod in shiny red shoes. With a 12-centimeter heel), she somehow looked like a beautiful ancient fairy who was able to drive crazyas a lustful forest satire, and any ordinary man.
And now, unwittingly catching the lustful glances of men in the parking lot (running from her very mincing legs, to the tattoo in the form of Gothic letters "LF". Near her left eye!), she, shining wide with a white-toothed smile, she simply "flew" to her blue Chevrolet.
New 33 zebco
Paralyzed by fear and losing all ability to. Resist, she obediently fulfilled all the requirements and instructions of her lover. Diligently took the cheek, tried to swallow as deeply as possible. A rural girl, Madina from childhood tried to conscientiously carry out any work entrusted to her. The member of Semyon was so huge that from the efforts, tears appeared in her eyes, and the food from her stomach was ready to burst out.ZEBCO 33 Spincast Reel Review
The conversation between the lovers did not go well, and Kolya went to while away the time until nightfall. I had no doubt that they would try to repeat yesterday's fun pastime. In the evening, my mother and I again went to have fun on the embankment. Having had enough, we had dinner in a cafe, and then spent a couple of hours at a disco.
Mom even managed.
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How is it. asked my mother, pressing her lips together and sucking on my earlobe. Like.