Tackle Critic

Zebco 404 Review

zebco 404 review

Whether you’re a beginner or buying a fishing reel for a child, you don’t need to break the bank on fishing equipment. Technical gear is valuable when advancing your skills as an angler, but a simple setup is all you need to get out on the water.

Beginner anglers will also have better fishing experiences if they start with gear that’s easy to use. Almost everyone started fishing with a spincast or push-button style fishing reel because they’re intuitive and easy to learn.

This guide reviews the popular Zebco 404 Spincast Fishing Reel and discusses its features and qualities. We also compare the Zebco 404 model to our other favorite spincast reels.

Zebco 404 Spincast Reel

The Zebco 404 spincast fishing reel features an easy-to-use “push-button” design and is incredibly durable for the price. It has much better build quality than your traditional Target or Walmart brand reel, and it costs less than $10.

This is a heavy-duty size 40 reel, making it versatile and ideal for targeting multiple freshwater fish species. Compared to smaller-sized reels, the Zebco 404 is better at fighting giant catfish, stripers, and big largemouth bass.

We also love this reel’s aesthetics. It has a tough-yet-sleek design that sets it apart from other “childish” looking spincast reels.

AffordableReduced performance
Beginner-friendly designCheap pre-spooled line
Looks awesome
Reputable manufacturer

Features Overview

The Zebco 404 has a 2.8:1 gear ratio and is designed for right-handed anglers. Unfortunately, the design doesn’t allow you to move the handle, so left-handed anglers should consider the alternatives we discuss below.

While this spincast reel comes pre-spooled with 15lb monofilament fishing line, the line quality isn’t great. We highly recommend you exchange the line with your own because the Zebco 404 casts like a dream with a high-quality fishing line.


Even though this reel costs 10x less than some other models, it has decent durability. The “all-metal gears” protect it from damage while fighting big fish. A rigid ABS housing keeps the interior components protected from the weather and wear, preventing breakage when dropped or even thrown on the ground.

These qualities make the Zebco 404 an excellent option for children that don’t yet know how to take care of their fishing equipment.

The Zebco 404 features a stainless steel handle and a corrosion-resistant design. Regardless of the weather conditions, you won’t need to “baby” this reel.


After comparing hundreds of reel models, we can confidently say this is one of the easiest reels to learn.

Spincast reels are usually known for creating annoying line twists, and this is especially true with inexpensive models. However, Zebco has a patented no-tangle design that keeps your line running straight during retrieval.

The Zebco 404 also has a convenient dial-adjustable drag that allows you to change the force required to pull the line from the spool. This reel even has an anti-reverse switch that keeps the line from pulling in reverse, a feature that’s necessary if you want to have good hooksets and fight strong fish.

Lastly, a unique feature is the 404’s built-in bite alert system. This spincast reel has an indicator that detects strikes, omitting a sound through a built-in speaker. Younger anglers love this design, and it keeps them getting distracted and letting a fish take their rod!

Zebco 404 Spincast Reel Compared

While the Zebco 404 is a great reel, it’s best for anglers on a budget that aren’t looking for the highest-quality equipment. Zebco, which is undoubtedly the best spincast reel manufacturer, makes many other models that may be better for your needs.

Zebco 404 vs 33

zebco 404 vs 33 spincast reel

The Zebco 33 Spincast Reel is one of the manufacturer’s original and most popular designs. While it’s more expensive than the Zebco 404, the 33 model has better durability. An all-metal housing, strong gears, and four stainless steel ball-bearings make the Zebco 33 better suited for heavy use. The Zebco 33 is an ideal middle-ground between the manufacturer’s beginner models and advanced series.

Zebco 404 vs Slingshot

zebco 404 vs slingshot reel

If you’re looking for the most affordable way to get out on the water, the Zebco Slingshot is the most budget-friendly spincast reel on the market. The Slingshot model can be found as a rod-and-reel combo for less than $10 and is designed for infrequent anglers and children. However, compared to the Zebco 404, the slight price difference is compensated by the 404 model’s superior components. The increased durability, casting distance, and tangle-free design make the 404 spincast reel a worthwhile upgrade from the Slingshot series.

Zebco 404 Rod & Reel Combo Review

zebco 404 combo review

If you don’t already own this spincast reel, the Zebco 404 Rod and Reel Combo offers the best value, performance, and balance for this reel model. It can be a challenge finding a rod for the Zebco 404, as many rod manufacturers only make rods for spinning and casting applications. However, Zebco makes a specially-tailored rod to match the qualities of their spincast reel, allowing for farther casts, better balance, and increased sensitivity. The tailored combo also helps prevent line snarls, which can be highly annoying.


Overall, the Zebco 404 is an exceptional budget-friendly fishing reel ideal for children and infrequent anglers. While this model certainly lacks the performance of high-end models, this is expected for the price. This spincast reel will get you on the water, and its ease of use makes it pleasant to use. However, if you’re looking for a high-quality spincast reel, check out our reviews, where we break down Zebco’s top-of-the-line products.

More Zebco Reviews