70 Years Old and Still Spinning: Zebco 33 Spincast Reel Review

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Written By Donny Karr

Donny Karr is a Tournament Angler with more than 20 years of fishing experience and a writer whose work has been featured in magazines for over a decade. He is a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. He enjoys bass and crappie fishing in the lakes around the south-eastern United States. He also fishes for trout in the streams and rivers of the Appalachian mountains. Donny has written for Georgia Outdoor News, Paddling Space, Man Can Outdoors, Alabama Outdoor News, and Bassmaster.


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The Zebco 33 Spincast Reel is considered by many to be a true classic in the fishing industry. This particular model has stood the test of time through the last few decades as one of the most reliable and easy-to-use reels in the entire industry. It’s where the vast majority of anglers likely got their start and offers everything you need to get started in the sport of fishing and the high-level of performance experienced anglers want out of their equipment. 

This reel is one of the highest-selling models in the fishing industry and is a staple at virtually any bait shop or sporting goods store that carries the reel. Many beginner and novice anglers might ask what’s so appealing about the Zebco 33 Spincast Reel when plenty of other models might appeal to the needs of someone looking for the same qualities and characteristics.

In this article, I break down some of the most popular reasons why many anglers view the Zebco 33 Spincast Reel as a true legend in the fishing industry. 

Zebco 33 Spincast Reel
  • 3.6:1 Gear Ratio
  • Tough Ceramic Pickup
  • Simple, Easy to Use Design
  • Strong Reputation

Zebco 33 Spincast Reel Overview 

The Zebco 33 Spincast Reel first debuted in 1953 and was quickly a hit with anglers all over the United States and elsewhere as one of the most well-made, durable, and performance-driven reels on the market then. Many other brands were exploring different spincast varieties, but the Zebco 33 Spincast Reel was outstanding in quality and craftsmanship. 

Since then, the reel has remained one of the most popular models available and it’s not unusual for some anglers to have fishing rods that are well over 30 years old that still function like they’re brand new. 

The reel’s most prominent quality that many anglers associate the Zebco 33 Spincast Reel with is its durability. It’s made with solid materials and a stainless steel cover that helps guard against anything that might damage the inner workings of this spincast reel. 

It’s incredibly easy to use and anglers of virtually any age or experience level can typically get the hang of the simple push-button design. The latest version of the Zebco 33 Spincast Reel is made with all-metal internal gears, which helps add to an already-smooth casting and reeling experience. 

You can also prevent your line from getting away from you with the QuickSet anti-reverse setting, which lets you free the spool to spin backwards or forwards, or lock it in place to make sure you can quickly set the hook on any fish that bites. The Zebco 33 Spincast Reel also features an all-new Bite Alert, which helps young anglers and newcomers to the sport of fishing easily recognize when they’re getting a bite. 

One of the best things about the Zebco 33 Spincast Reel is that it’s nearly impossible to have your line tangled inside the reel. The overall design of the gear system and spool are situated to ensure that the line is easily fed off of the spool without any potential interference from other moving parts. 


The Zebco 33 Spincast Reel is one of the toughest models available and is a great option for anglers looking for a low-budget reel that won’t easily fall apart like some of the cheaper models currently on the market. The body consists of mostly lightweight composite material specially made to be stronger than simple plastic or other construction material. The stainless steel cover is one of the signature characteristics of the Zebco 33 Spincast Reel that makes it stand out from the rest of the field in terms of overall toughness and a unique design. 

The reel and all its different moving parts fit together fairly well, but don’t expect the same level of precision you’re likely to get with a more expensive reel. There is quite a bit of play in the handle that novice anglers likely won’t notice, but experienced fishermen might quickly be turned off by. 

All of the knobs and settings are very clearly marked and can easily be manipulated to suit your own needs. This reel can let young anglers go after small panfish and other species while still offering the toughness and capability of handling larger fish species with relative ease. 

Internal Parts 

The Zebco 33 Spincast Reel is made with a solid internal design that matches its external toughness and durability. Under the stainless steel cover, you’ll see that this reel offers dual ceramic pickup pins that make sure the line is collected in a neat and organized manner while you’re reeling in your lure or any fish that might bite. 

It only features one bearing, but that’s enough for what most anglers want out of a reel like this. It’s fairly smooth and serves its purpose in various environments. The spool is capable of fitting 120 feet of 10-pound monofilament fishing line on at a time and can be used with a smaller sized line if you prefer. The Zebco 33 Spincast Reel comes pre-spooled with 10-lb test mono, which helps to add to the appeal for beginners who likely don’t want to go through the trouble of spooling line onto a new rod. 

The interior features all-metal gears that are, once again, aimed at giving you as much durability as you can get out of the reel. You can catch almost any type of freshwater fish species on the Zebco 33 Spincast Reel and it offers enough cranking power to handle bigger catfish and other species.

One small disadvantage is that this reel isn’t made with corrosion-resistant material, so it’s not suitable to be used in saltwater fishing environments. It will quickly deteriorate if exposed to much saltwater. 


The performance of the Zebco 33 Spincast Reel is about what you might expect with a budget-friendly model like this. It’s not as smooth as most affordable spinning rod models, but is more than capable of delivering enough stability and cranking power for you to handle a variety of different types of fish. 

It’s able to cast out to moderate distances and isn’t well-suited to be used with smaller, more lightweight lures and bait rigs. However, if you’re casting anything that weighs more than a few ounces, you should have no problem casting out to a decent distance. It’s not comparable to most spinning reels and certainly any baitcasting models, but the Zebco 33 Spincast Reel is geared more toward durability and cranking power than anything else. 

The Zebco 33 Spincast has made considerable strides in recent years in the retrieval efforts of the reel. Zebco has now started making these reels with a 4.1:1 gear ratio, which is a slight upgrade over previous models.

This means you’ll be able to gather up more line with each turn of the handle when reeling your lure or bait in, which opens up the potential to control certain types of lures better. 

Zebco 33 Spincast Reel Being Bench Tested
Zebco 33 Spincast Reel Being Bench Tested

Drag System 

The drag system on the Zebco 33 Spincast Reel is where the brand has made significant strides in recent years. Zebco has added a Bite Alert system that helps anglers know when they’re getting a bite when something pulls against the drag hard enough to trigger the mechanism. 

The Bite Alert can easily be switched on or off using a small tab on the side of the reel, making a very loud clicking noise when turned on. This becomes a very useful feature for young anglers who might need a little help in identifying when they should set the hook on a fish that’s just starting to take their bait, or for anyone who wants to set out multiple rods at once. 

Like most other Zebco 33 Spincast Reel from years past, the newest model also features a small dial at the top of the reel housing which can be used to adjust the drag level at any time. You might eventually realize that the drag is not very well-suited for cranking in large fish that tend to pull very hard away from you and is instead more aimed at providing just enough drag for most freshwater fish species like bass and crappie. 


  • Bite alert feature is useful for focusing young anglers.
  • This is a very lightweight reel at under 10 ounces.


  • Low drag isn’t suitable for large fish.
  • It is not suitable for saltwater fishing due to its construction materials.
  • The reel isn’t as smooth as its more expensive alternatives, as its only got a single ball bearing.


  • Model: #33N
  • Gear Ratio: 4.1:1
  • Bearings: 1
  • Anti-Reverse: QuickSet
  • Hand Retrieve: Right/Left
  • Pre-spooled: 10lb
  • Mono Capacity: 120/10lb
  • Retrieve Rate: 23 in/crank
  • Size: 30
  • Color: Silver/Black

Alternate Comparison

SpecificationsZebco BulletZebco 33Zebco 202Zebco Omega Pro
Weight13.4 oz8.5 oz6.2 oz10.6 oz
Mono Line Capacity85 yards of 10 lb120 yards of 10 lb110 yards of 10 lb85 yards of 10 lb
Gear Ratio5.1:14.1:12.8:13.6:1
Retrieve Rate29 inches/crank23 inches/crank15 inches/crank19 inches/crank
Comparison of Zebco’s Spincast Reel Specifications
Zebco 33 Spincast Reel
  • 3.6:1 Gear Ratio
  • Tough Ceramic Pickup
  • Simple, Easy to Use Design
  • Strong Reputation


The Zebco 33 Spincast Reel is an excellent starter model for young anglers or anyone just getting into the sport of fishing. It’s usually priced at a rate that anglers of any skill or experience level can afford and offers everything you need to catch almost any type of freshwater fish in the United States. 

It’s easy to see why so many anglers view this model as one of the best overall for novice fishermen. However, you shouldn’t expect too much out of certain aspects of the reel, such as the drag or its ability to cast very far out with a moderately light lure.

If you’re looking into getting a solid reel for a young angler that wants to go out and have some fun on the water, it’s truly hard to beat the Zebco 33 Spincast Reel. 

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