For the avid angler, the choice of reel is just as important as the kind of rod, bait ,or tackle that is used. The reel you use is not just a matter of preference, it also depends on the kind of fish you are aiming for and the environment in which you’re fishing.
For both novices and experienced anglers, spinning reels can be a great choice due to their versatility, ease of use, and affordability. Let’s talk about what sets this type of reel apart from others, what to look for in a reel, and some recommendations.
Comparison of the Best Saltwater Spinning Reels
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What Makes a Great Spinning Reel?
Spinning reels are the reel of choice for many anglers, whether they are fishing bass on the lake or targeting tarpon along the beach. This type of reel gets its name from the way the reel spins as your line is being retrieved.
The way you cast a spinning reel is by flipping up the metal bail wire, which releases the line for a cast. Then, you flip the metal wire down, and it locks the line in place.
If you’re looking for a great spinning reel, keep in mind the following points:
- The spinning reel should be smooth, quiet, user-friendly, and ready to handle braided fishing lines. It has to cast a long distance.
- Ideally, it should have a well-constructed, light-weight body and the housing should be made from aluminum or graphite. Lightweight reels prevent you from getting tired after repeated casts.
- Gears should be precision machined from stainless steel, and have at least four stainless steel ball bearings. Also look for beefy knob rivets which won’t weaken or loosen.
- Lastly, look for a waterproof sealed drag system, carbon fiber washers, and a front-drag that will stand up to even large fish. Also look for a sturdy, rigid bail and a well-designed ergonomic crank handle.
Pros and Cons of Using a Spinning Reel
- Setup with the Spinning Reel is Straightforward and Easy
- An Easy Reel to Learn to Use
- Can be Affordable Depending on the Type That You Purchase
- A Versatile Choice for the Seasoned Angler Who May want to Use Light Artificial Lures or Live Baits
- Spinning Reels are Excellent for Techniques Where Multiple Casts are Required and the Angler Needs a Consistent, Straightforward Approach
- Less Control Compared to a Baitcaster
Spinning Reel vs. Stand Reels - What You Need to Know
If you are looking to start fishing, a spinning reel is likely the best choice to start with. Compared to other types of reels, such as baitcasting reels, spinning reels are easier to use and learn. They are also generally more affordable. On the other hand, fly fishing reels are more accurate at casting than spinning reels.
Similarly, trolling reels are generally used in deep sea or offshore fishing, where they can be useful in trolling or bottom fishing for big game fish in the sea or a deep lake.
Spinning reels allow you to fish for both small and large fish, with some larger reels providing over 40 pounds of drag.
How to Choose a Spinning Reel
So what makes a good saltwater fishing spinning reel? The traits that make any spinning reel good are of course: smooth drag, quality construction, versatility, among others. There are a few saltwater specific characteristics that you need to take into consideration when purchasing a spinning reel for saltwater fishing.
Biggest of all, is a reel’s ability to resist corrosion. Salt water is incredibly hard on metals, couple that with sand and grit in your reel and you have a harsh environment.
Saltwater reels are designed with materials such as stainless steel, aluminum, and others specifically to reduce corrosion. Proper care and maintenance are still advised.
There are a lot of big fish out there in the ocean. If you plan on getting into some of them, make sure the drag on your reel is up to par. Don’t get caught up in the hype of drag though, as anything over about a 20 lb drag and most people aren’t physically capable of fighting that for extended time periods. If you don’t plan on massive fish, there is no need to step up the drag weight.
Braided Line Compatible
Not all reels are optimized for use with braided line. If you want the option to use this type of line, be sure to purchase a reel and rod that will accept braided line.
Along with sufficient drag to slow big, running fish, you want to make sure you will have enough line to let the fish run. Line capacity in saltwater reels is a little more important than freshwater reels. You want to make sure you will have enough line on your reel to handle a long-running fish. Some smaller reels may not have enough line capacity to do so.
Depending on the type of fishing you do, you should consider gear ratio. A higher gear ratio, a 7:1 and larger, is great for quick retrieves on big lures. Conversely, a lower gear ratio around 5:1 will give you more power to reel in big fish.
Review of the Best Saltwater Spinning Reels
Now taking into consideration some of these important traits in a saltwater spinning reel, let's take a look at some reels on the market. Within this selection, you should be able to find a proper saltwater spinning reel to suit your needs.
Penn Spinfisher V & VI Fishing Reel
Another reel by the trusted name of Penn, the Spinfisher offers anglers another budget option. This powerful and durable reel is ready for anglers and fish of all types.
This full-metal, body reel has been engineered to be watertight. This helps protect the vital inner components from the intense saltwater corrosion, ensuring optimal performance for extended trips when maintenance will be lacking between use.
The HT-100 drag delivers smooth performance with huge ranges in drag weight. Coming fully greased with optimal components ensures long-term reliability. The casting ability of this reel is enhanced with a friction trip ramp to prevent premature bail closing.
This reel too is braided line compatible and comes with the ever so useful line capacity rings. These are all features intended to make this reel durable, versatile, and reliable.
For another reel with a great price point, the Spinfisher by Penn offers great versatility. Available in a variety of sizes, you can find the specific one to fit your fishing needs. This reel is designed for the harsh demands of saltwater fishing conditions and will perform well in most of what you can throw at it.
Sougayilang Spinning Reel
This spinning fishing reel has shielded stainless-steel ball bearings and an instant stop one-way, anti-reverse bearing. The gear ratio is 5.2:1/5.1:1, which is fast and smooth.
The reel also contains precision brass gears, a hardened metal main shaft, triple disc carbon drag washers, a CNC braid-ready aluminum spool, and a sealed carbon disc drag to consistently deliver long, accurate casts and power.
This reel’s superior drag system offers incredible stopping power and will give you long-lasting performance.
With a fast 5.2:1 gear ratio and sealed carbon disc drag, this reel gives you plenty of performance and the drag power to deal with even larger fish. But you should keep in mind the quality control problems that some users have reported.
Best for the Money:
Penn Pursuit II & III Spinning Fishing Reel
For those anglers looking to get out on the water but on a tight budget, Penn has your back. The Pursuit II and III spinning reels are designed for saltwater applications and are done so in an all-affordable package.
The graphite and aluminum construction lends itself well to durability and harsh fishing conditions. The 4+1 ball bearing system is stainless steel to resist corrosion and features instant anti-reverse like some of the higher end reels.
Though this reel can be bought at an affordable price, it still retains quality performance and construction. Available in a variety of sizes, it gives anglers the ability to dial in this reel for their needs.
This reel has got all the basic requirements for a solid saltwater reel and not much more, helping to keep it at an ultra-affordable price for all anglers. This is a reel that can get you out onto the water.
The KastKing Summer/Centron Spinning Reel makes a fabulous addition to your fishing equipment collection. This reel has nine ball bearings with a single instant stop, one-way, anti-reverse bearing, powerful drag, precision pinion gear system, and anodized aluminum spool.
The attractive and brilliant finish makes it look great along with the power launch lip allows for farther casting. The design makes left and right-handed operation easy.
The lighter and stronger CNC machined aluminum spool has a more even line lay, internal grooves for lube retention, and more fishing line capacity.
The KastKing Summer/Centron spinning reel is lightweight, strong, has a powerful drag, and looks great. It is a fine reel for both freshwater and ocean fishing, with plenty of line capacity.
Engineered from durable materials and loaded with fish-fighting features, the Battle II Reel by Penn will continue to catch fish through the years.
The reel features a corrosion resistant metal body, side plate, and rotor. The inner components are all designed for longevity down to the to five sealed stainless steel ball bearings.
The carbon fiber drag system provides maximum drag, and the instant anti-reverse bearing eliminates pullback so you reel without interruption. The spool is fitted with a rubber gasket to make it compatible with braided lines.
Another great feature is the line capacity rings on the spool that easily displays the amount of line that is left.
For a great price, this reel by Penn is worth a look. If you are used to using a freshwater spinning reel, the Battle II should be an easy transition into saltwater. Functionally simple, yet designed to withstand harsh saltwater conditions and big saltwater fish. This reel is available in a wide range of sizes to perfectly suit your specific fishing needs.
The Black Gold (BG) reel is a reliable saltwater reel produced by one of the biggest names. Synonymous with innovation and quality in the fishing tackle world, Daiwa is a top contender. The Black Gold line has been revamped with new engineering and design.
This line of reels is crossover reels for both saltwater and freshwater applications. It is available across a large range of reel sizes. From ultralight freshwater setups to offshore saltwater setups, you could find what you need in the Black Gold Line.
This reel too, is braided line compatible, lending to its versatility. On top of that, the 6+1 watertight ball bearings offer extreme smoothness and durability.
The “DigiGear” system in this reel features digitally cut and over sized gears for powerful and tight retrieves on big fish. Some reviewers report this reel being sized slightly larger than other reels.
This reel is powerful and yet priced just right. It is a perfect choice for nearshore or offshore fishing along with freshwater fishing alike. Daiwa is a trusted name for innovation and quality. The BG reel line has been tried and true for years. Pick up one of the newly optimized design BG reels and you will not be disappointed.
Coming in as the best reel on a budget in our reviews, the KastKing Sharky III was newly redesigned in 2018. The new model is built tough to withstand saltwater fishing conditions. This superbly lightweight fishing reel incorporates fiber reinforced graphite to accomplish lightweight durability.
This reel features a 10+1 ultra-smooth ball bearing system for powerful retrieves. The reel is suitable for either monofilament or even braided fishing lines. The carbon fiber drag is similar to that of higher end reels to withstand hard running fish.
The water-resistant seal on the inner components ensures your reel can withstand quick dunks into and splashes with harsh saltwater.
The Sharky III spinning reel comes with many features optimized for saltwater fishing conditions. Users have the option of selecting from five different sizes to fit their specific needs.
High line capacity, durable, corrosion resistant, and all of that at a low and affordable price for all anglers. This is the reel for you if you are on a tight budget.
Saltwater vs. Freshwater Spinning Reels
Hopefully, by now, the demands required in a saltwater spinning reel are evident. It should be clear that what is needed from a reel when fishing for saltwater fish is different than the needs for catching freshwater fish.
When fishing for saltwater fish, you need to keep in mind what type of reel will be able to handle the type of fish you are after. You do not want to oversize or under size your reel too much. You also want a reel that will be suitable to cast the necessary lures or bait that you will be using, where size also comes into play.
The demand of a high performing drag may be more important in a saltwater reel than freshwater. In the ocean, you are likely to encounter big and long-running fish that will take your drag and lengths of fishing line to the limit.
Ultimately though, your biggest advantage of a saltwater reel is it’s engineered ability to resist corrosion. If you take a reel designed for freshwater and use it for an entire season fishing on saltwater, you are likely to experience significant amounts of wear and degradation to your reel.
Tips on Using a Saltwater Spinning Reel
Using a saltwater spinning reel is really no different than using one designed for freshwater. The reel mounts just the same and casts the same. Just think of it as a beefed up spinning reel.
You will spool the reel in the same manner, by tying your line to the spool and reeling it onto the spool while maintaining tension in the line. Reels not designed for braided line must have a monofilament line section to attach to the spool.
Like other spinning reels, you have the option of interchanging spools of different lines quickly and easily. On the end of the spool, will be the drag adjustment dial for most spinning reels, including those designed for saltwater.
Landing big, ocean fish can be a short order away. Take this knowledge and get yourself rigged up with an effective saltwater fishing setup.
Whether it be casting into the surf, jigging for big heavy fish, or lighter weight inshore fishing, you should be able to use this knowledge to find a good setup reel for yourself. Dialing in your setup will make sure you are out there fighting the fish, not fighting with your gear.