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Zebco 808 Vs 888 Spincast Reels – Which One Is Better?

Zebco 808 Vs 888 Spincast Reels – Which One Is Better?

I remember spending countless hours researching casting rods, different types of reels, and all sorts of fishing gear when I first started fishing. Looking back, I think all that research was unnecessary because a single spincast reel was probably sufficient for my needs at the time.

I put together this Zebco 808 vs. 888 spincast reel comparison to save you time going through the specifications of high-end models like Shimano Vanford or Penn Slammer III that exceed the requirements of most novice anglers.

Both of Zebco’s models provide much more than their money’s worth, so determining which is better can be challenging.

In this guide, I’ll take you through the features of the Zebco 888 and 808 spincast reel models to help you decide which one to take on your next fishing trip.

Bottom Line Up Front

At first glance, the features of these spincast reels seem almost identical. Differences start to emerge when you look closely at ball bearings, line capacities, and anti-reverse systems.

Despite the slightly higher price, I think the Zebco 888 is a better option than the Zebco 808 because its overall construction is sturdier and more powerful, allowing you to reel big fish in.

The Zebco 808 could be a reliable choice for novice anglers who don’t need too much line capacity.

Main Differences Between Zebco 808 vs. 888 Spincast Reels

The main differences between Zebco 888 and 808 spincast reels are:

  • The Zebco 888 has a steel front cover, whereas the front cover of the Zebco 808 is plastic.
  • Zebco 808 supports 20-lb pre-spooled lines, whereas Zebco 888’s line capacity is 25-lb.
  • Zebco 888 has a continuous anti-reverse mechanism, whereas Zebco 808 utilizes a Quickset anti-reverse mechanism.
  • Zebco 808 has bushings, whereas Zebco 888 is equipped with 2+1 ball bearings.

See also: Best Accurate Fishing Reel Reviews

Key Specifications

Model  Zebco 808 Zebco 888
Reel Weight 17.1oz 19.5oz
Line Capacity 20lb 25lb
Ball Bearings None 2+1
Gear Ratio 2.6:1 2.6:1
Anti-Reverse QuickSet Continuous
Drag Type Dial-adjustable Magnum drag Dial-adjustable Magnum drag
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The Key Traits of Zebco 888 and Zebco 808 Spincast Reels

Zebco 808

Zebco 808 Spincast Reel

The Zebco® 808 is the world's most popular large spincast reel, built with the guts to go after big fish in big water.

Its redesigned pushbutton is anchored to the body, for ultimate strength and an incredibly solid feel; with all-metal gears, a single cranking handle, and metal reel foot, you'll have the relentless leverage needed to go toe-to-toe with the toughest fish. 

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The Zebco 808 is one of the brand’s entry-level models, ideally suited for both freshwater and saltwater fishing trips. Its line capacity is sufficient to catch catfish, carp, sea trout, or largemouth bass.

Unlike baitrunner spinning reels, the Zebco 808 doesn’t have a secondary drag system, so allowing the bait to swim freely with this spincast reel may be difficult. Even so, its dial-adjustable Magnum drag can withstand high pressure, enabling you to reel in heavy fish.

Despite its attractive price point, the Zebco 808 isn’t one of my brand’s favorite models because its retrieval isn’t as smooth as the retrieval on the Zebco 888.

Key Features

  • Changeable left/right retrieve
  • The reel has a metal foot
  • QuickSet anti-reverse
  • 19″ per turn recovery
  • Dial-adjustable Magnum drag
  • 24 lbs of maximum drag
  • Bail-alert switch
  • 2.6:1 gear ratio

Build Quality

Zebco’s spincast reel weighs 17.1 oz, in part due to its bushings and plastic front cover, and it’s not one of the lightest spincast reels I’ve ever used. That said, it’s far from being too heavy for most fishing contexts.

The reel’s foot is made of metal, which ensures a secure connection to a rod. Hence, you can easily pair the Zebco 808 with the St. Croix Legend Tournament Inshore or a similar casting rod.

This spincast reel is designed primarily for freshwater fishing, which is why it doesn’t have saltwater protection. However, the brand offers a saltwater version of this reel that can withstand prolonged salt and sand exposure.

The Zebco 808 provides good build quality for its price, and you’ll be able to use it for a long time with minimum maintenance.

Drag System and Bait Alert

Bushings are arguably the Zebco 808’s biggest downside because they might struggle to provide smooth rotation of the shaft parts under heavy loads. The reel’s drag limit is 24 lbs.

However, bushings make the reel less susceptible to corrosion caused by sand or salt, which somewhat compensates for the lack of saltwater protection.

The model’s dial-adjustable Magnum drag system makes it easy to set the line tension and ensures your catch won’t escape due to the low line tension.

The reel is equipped with an alert switch that creates a clicking sound when the fish takes the bait and starts pulling the line. This feature makes the Zebco 808 ideal for situations where you wait for hours for the fish to bite.

You might also like: How to choose a star drag vs. lever drag reel

Gear Ratio and Anti-Reverse

The speed at which a reel picks up a line depends on its gear ratio. Higher ratios indicate high speeds and less cranking power, and vice versa. The Zebco 808 has a 2.6:1 gear ratio, meaning that the reel winds a line around the spool 2.6 times when you turn a handle.

As a result, its cranking power is sufficient to handle most fish, but the model’s line speed is limited. The QuickSet anti-reverse technology prevents the reel’s handle from moving backward while you’re fighting a fish.

Price and Durability

The Zebco 808 is an affordable reel, as its price is just under $30. The model ships with the Zebo Cajun line, so you can start using it right out of the box.

The reel is durable even though it has a plastic cover and bushings, so you can use it for years, even in harsh saltwater conditions, before replacing it. Cleaning the reel with Salt Away or a similar product after every fishing trip will ensure its durability.

Zebco 888

I see the Zebco 888 as a slightly upgraded version of the Zebco 808 model. Both reels are similar in size and weight, but the 888 model is 2.4oz heavier. So, I suggest exploring other options if you’re looking for a lightweight spincast reel.

Neither reel has saltwater protection, but the Zebco 888 is a slightly inferior choice for sea anglers due to its corrosion-prone ball bearings. However, the 3-ball barring system on this model provides smooth retrieval, making it easier to reel fish in.

In addition, the Zebco 888 has a better drag system than the Zebco 808 model, so the chances of line breaking if a fish applies too much pressure are minimal.

See also: How to choose a fishing rod

Key Features

  • Stainless steel front cover
  • The reel comes pre-spooled with a 25-lb line
  • A three-ball bearing system ensures smooth rotation
  • Continuous anti-reverse technology
  • Metal reel foot and a T-handle
  • 30 lb. drag limit
  • Dual ceramic pickup pins

Build Quality

I noticed the reel’s rugged build and sleek design the first time I saw it. Its stainless steel cover protects the reel from accidental damage while giving it a stylish look.

Zebco’s model doesn’t have saltwater protection, so its lifespan could be shorter than expected if you use it frequently in high-salinity conditions. Still, properly caring for your equipment will reduce the chances of corrosion.

The reel’s build quality is exceptional otherwise, as its ball bearings and all-metal gears are unaffected by heavy-duty use. Zebco 888’s metal foot enables you to attach it to a wide range of casting rods.

Drag System and Bait Alert

Although the Zebco 808 and 888 use the same drag system, the latter has a higher drag capacity. The Zebco 888’s maximum drag is 30 lbs, while the 808 model’s drag is capped at 24 lbs, which makes it less suitable for large fish.

These spincast reels have identical bait alert mechanisms, and both are equally reliable for multi-rod setups. The Zebco 888 has three ball bearings (two + clutch) that ensure smooth and continuous handle operation.

I suggest choosing the Zebco 888 over the 808 model if you need a reel that delivers smooth retrieval action.

Don’t forget that both reels have a 19-inch recovery per turn, but the Zebco 888 can hold up to 110 yards of a 25 lbs line, while the Zebco 808 can be spooled with 140 yards of a 20 lbs line.

Gear Ratio and Anti-Reverse

The most notable difference between QuickSet and Continuous anti-reverse technologies these reels use is that the instant anti-reverse clutch allows you to switch it on and off whenever you backpaddle to release the line from the reel.

The gear ratio on the Zebco 888 and 808 models is the same, meaning that opting for one or the other won’t bring you more speed or torque. The Zebco 888 supports a 25 lbs line, allowing you to handle larger and heavier fish than the Zebco 808.

Price and Durability

I didn’t notice much difference in durability between these Zebco spincast reels while testing them. The lack of saltwater protection and the presence of ball bearings make the Zebco 888 model slightly more prone to corrosion.

Still, you can use this reel for years before noticing the first signs of deterioration. The price difference between these models is less than $20, but I think paying slightly more for the Zebco 888 will pay off in the long run.

Zebco 888 vs. 808 – Pros and Cons

Zebco 808


  • The reel performs well in challenging conditions
  • Switching the bait alert on and off is easy
  • Zebco 808 delivers sufficient torque to reel in trophy-sized fish
  • It offers excellent features at an affordable price


  • The reel might be too heavy for some anglers
  • Retrieve isn’t always smooth

Zebco 888


  • The reel is designed for heavy-duty applications
  • Ball bearings make the retrieve seamless
  • It has a stainless steel front cover
  • The reel can hold 110 yards of a 25lbs line


  • It’s not the best option for sea anglers
  • Learning to adjust the drag can take a while

The Best Alternatives to Zebco 808 and 888 Spincast Reels

There’s no shortage of affordable and durable spincast reel options on the market.

Finding an alternative to the Zebco 808 or 888 won’t take long since industry-leading brands like Abu Garcia, Daiwa, or Pfluger offer a broad spectrum of models that stand shoulder to shoulder with these Zebco spincast reels.

Here are some of the best alternatives to the Zebco 888 and 808 models.

  • Daiwa Goldcast Spincast Reel – Although considerably more expensive than the Zebco 888 or 808, this spincast reel is worth the price due to its rugged build and high-end features.
  • Abu Garcia Max Pro Spincast Reel – A four-ball bearing system and QuadCam engagement system are some of the reel’s highlights, but keep in mind that the model’s drag capacity is just 8 lbs.
  • Zebco 33 Max Spincast Reel – You should consider this Zebco model if you’re looking for a lightweight reel with a 4.1:1 gear ratio.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Fishing Lines Can I Use with Zebco 888 and 808 Spincast Reels?

The manufacturer recommends spooling these spincast reels 25lbs or 20lbs monofilament fishing lines.

Do Zebco 808 and 888 Spincast Reels Support Braided Lines?

Both models allow you to use braided lines to extend their line capacity.

How Long Can Zebco’s 888 and 808 Spincast Reels Last?

These spincast reels can last decades, even if frequently used in saltwater conditions. Their durability largely depends on maintenance.

The Final Verdict

The Zebco 888 and Zebco 808 are some of the most impressive spincast reels I’ve ever used. Both perform well under pressure, so catching a heavy fish is unlikely to damage them.

I think the Zebco 888 is a slightly better option than the Zebco 808 model because it offers a higher drag capacity and makes it easier to retrieve a line.

Nonetheless, the Zebco 808 is one of the best spincast reels in its price range, so you can hardly go wrong if you choose this model over the Zebco 888.

Regardless of which one you choose, you’ll likely use them for more than ten years, so both spincast reels are a steal, given their affordable price.