When it comes to saltwater, a lot of spinning fishing reels are automatically eliminated because they can’t handle the corrosion that comes from the minerals of the salty seas. That’s where fishing reels that are specifically designed to be used for saltwater come into play.
The reel is, after all, one of the most important parts of your fishing rig, and what kind of reel (and its quality) directly determine how many fish you succeed (or fail) in catching.
When trying to choose a reel, there are many things to consider. One of the most important is whether a reel is braid friendly, but there are other aspects to look at such as the smoothness of the drag.
The 8 Best Spinning Fishing Reels in 2018
Over the past few years there has been quite a revolution in the technology. Reels have become easier to utilize and have more features that aid in angling. This makes them not only beginner-friendly, but also greatly enhances the entire experience of enthusiasts and seasoned anglers.
Penn Spinfisher V
If there’s one brand on the market that is known for its quality fishing reels, it’s Penn. The iconic Spinfisher V is arguably one of the most popular choices for fishing enthusiasts and beginners alike, as its excellent build and dependable specs meet the requirements for most individuals.
Shimano Stradic FK
Brilliant for its Price
The Shimano Stradic FK is similar to the Penn Spinfisher V in its versatility and ability to handle all types of environment, which deservedly puts in our out list of the best saltwater reels you can buy.
Abu Garcia Revo MGX
Low Profile and Packed With Features
The incredibly lightweight and high performing Abu Garcia Revo MGX is one of the best performing spinning saltwater fishing reels on the market. This bad boy is a spectacular low profile baitcast reel that combines a compact and supremely lightweight design with an innovative reeling mechanism.
- Weight: 14.4 Ounces
- Gear Ratio: 6.2:1
- Bearings: 5+1
- Line Capacity: Mono 390/4, 250/6, 210/8
- Drag: 20-40lb
The Penn Spinfisher V is made primarily out of stainless steel, which might initially make you doubtful about its saltwater capabilities, but Penn has gone on to create a sealed drag system which is a brilliant little innovation that prevents corrosion from water contamination. This makes the Spinfisher an excellent choice for both saltwater areas as well as others.
Its water tightness is one of its most admired features, but it’s rather underrated for its drag system. This reel from Penn features a sealed HT-100 Slammer drag system that provides a smooth drag by utilizing 3 washers for reliable strength.
The Penn Spinfisher V is made of full metal, utilizing a mix of stainless steel gears, anodized aluminum spool, and a full metal body. This does makes it a tad heavier than some graphite reels, but the bulk isn’t noticeable and shouldn’t get in the way of catching with ease.
In addition to its water resistance and 6:2:1 gear ratio, the Spinfisher V also comes with multiple types of line capacities. It also comes with an instant anti-reverse that locks the handle every few degrees as you reel. This is a highly sought-after feature by most angles, so the Spinfisher won’t disappoint.
- Brilliant water resistance
- Excellent build quality
- Great anti-reverse system
- It is a bit heavy due to the full metallic body
- Retrieval can be sometimes difficult
- Weight: 8.3 Ounces
- Gear Ratio: 6:0:1
- Bearings: 6+1 shielded stainless steel
- Line Capacity: Mono 200/6, 140/8, 120/10
- Drag: 7 – 24lb
Available in five models, the Shinamo Stradic FK trims the weight by featuring a body and spool that is made entirely from Shimano’s signature Hagane material, which is a specialized aluminum chassis which makes it lightweight and robust, greatly reducing the flex you see with some other aluminum spinning reels. In addition to making it lightweight, the material choice makes the Strdic FK corrosion resistant.
The Shimano Stradic FK spinning reel also carries Shimano’s patented X-Ship system with seven high-quality ball bearings to provide a smooth, strong retrieval. In addition to superior function, the X-Ship technology also provides additional durability and longevity to the internal drive system. The bearings of this reel are shielded to stop salt and sand from getting into them.
The Shimano Stradic FK’s limited spool capacity does prevent it from being a capable reel for offshore angling, which is why it’s recommend to be used for inshore saltwater casting for bonefish and reds.
The Shimano Stradic FK spinning reel is also available in different sizes. The size range variation includes 1000HG, 2500HG, C3000HG, 4000HG and C5000XG, and each of them have a different price point.
- Smooth performance due to X-Ship system
- Spinning the reel is made easy due to the Shimano Stradic’s superior power
- Good range of sizes
- There is no anti-reverse system
- At the highest range the drag can cause a few problems
- Weight: 10.3 Ounces
- Gear Ratio: 6:2:1
- Bearings: 5+1
- Line Capacity: Mono 255/6, 175/8, 140/10
- Drag: 12lb
Penn is back again with another praiseworthy saltwater spinning reel in the form of the Penn Battle II. This sturdy reel is vowed by many as the best one anglers can buy due to its incredible performance and competitive price point.
The Battle II improves greatly on its predecessor by packing a bigger rotor and spool, allowing it to dish out more power and making it robust. The reel is specifically designed to be used in saltwater and is nearly impervious to damage unlike its older sibling.
Generally, the Penn shares many features with the Spinfisher V, but comes at a lower cost. The Penn Battle II features an aluminum body, side plates, and rotor. This construction is does add a bit of weight, but it makes the reel reliably rigid and durable.
The HT-100 Slammer drag system returns in the Battle II with complete carbon fiber washers inside to ensure watertight operation. These washers are also greased up to give you a high-performance drag that won’t expire quickly.
5 stainless steel ball bearings provide a smooth and dependable action from beginning to end. The Penn Battle II also has a superliner spool that does not require backing and is braid ready.
The anti-reverse is also there, utilizing the final (sixth) bearing, which is an excellent feature that is not found even in some more expensive (and well performing) spinning saltwater reels.
The price range of the Battle II makes it an excellent choice for those on a budget. It is another brilliant product from Penn who take pride in bringing features and performance from their high-end products to the affordable ones.
- Affordable price that makes it a popular choice for beginners and experts alike
- Anti-reverse bearing is a welcome and very useful feature
- Braid-ready superliner spool is great
- Durable build quality
- Metallic body makes it heavy
- The grease in the spool creates additional risk of rust
- Weight: 10.1 Ounces
- Gear Ratio: 5:2:1
- Bearings: 10+1
- Line Capacity: Mono 200/8, 160/12, 130/17
- Drag: 40lb
If catching big game is your thing, then there aren’t many better to do it below the $100 price mark than the KastKing Kodiak Saltwater spinning reel. This beast of a reel is designed to catch big fish and ensure tug of wars with them, giving you the big edge almost every time.
The KastKing Kodiak is essentially designed to take a beating. After all, it’s named after the mighty Kodiak bear, the largest bear in the world. This reel is a part of KastKing’s heavy duty reel series, so you can completely rely on its durability and toughness when out on the water.
Yet despite such an intimidating name and a reputation for catching big fish, the Kodiak spinning reel is surprisingly light compared to many others on this list. It has a solid aluminum chassis with a machined spool. Moreover, it has a whopping 10 ball bearings that can provide up to 40lbs of drag. There is also an additional bearing for a reliable reverse locking mechanism.
This reel is designed to appease the saltwater crowd due to the power and control it offers. It has brass gears and carbon fiber waters lined alongside steel drag washers that reduce the impact of saltwater corrosion. The reel also features with thicker bail wires. These provide strong drag support and greatly decrease the chance of line breaking.
The KastKing Kodiak is a dedicated saltwater fishing reel, and at a comparatively low price point it’s fantastic for catching big game. We recommend it highly to everyone looking to take on some big fish. For its design and components, it certainly deserves to be on the list of some of the best spinning reels on the market.
- Great performance for the price
- Heavy duty, powerful reel ideal for catching big game
- Big line capacity
- Anti-reverse system can sometimes malfunction
- The bail can be difficult to flip back
Specs (for middle-ground SR-30 version):
- Weight: 40.3 Ounces
- Gear Ratio: 6:2:1
- Bearings: 14
- Line Capacity: Braid 375/80
- Drag: 35lb
The Accurate TwinSpin SR30 is what outdoorempire describes as the “Cadillac” of saltwater spinning reels, and they’re not far from the truth. Priced nearly at $1000, this best of a machine is meant to offer top-notch, high quality performance and incredible durability.
This deep-sea reel is machined from a solid piece of high grade 6000 series aircraft grade aluminum that offers the rigidity and reliability you’d come to expect from an Accurate reel. Combine that with a titanium spool and drag plates, and you have a nearly indestructible piece of gear.
Of course, with the use of such high grade material, the size and weight (and price) of the Accurate TwinSpin is much larger than what you’d witness on contemporary spinning reels. However, this weight and bulkiness adds to the durability and stability of use.
There is a dual drag system in the Accurate TwinSpin which Accurate aptly terms as TwinDrag. This patented drag system applies equal pressure to both sides of the pool, ideal for targeting big Trevally, Tuna, and Billfish. The stainless steel design of the bearings adds a lot of weight, but it offers a smooth and frictionless drag which gives the Accurate TwinSpin its premium feel.
This reel comes in a plethora of sizes ranging from SR-6 to SR-50. We generally recommend the SR-30 as it performs in the middle.
The biggest downside to this incredible product of mechanical engineering is its hefty price tag. The TwinSpin is not for everyone, which is why it’s not common to see it on the list of best-selling saltwater reels. If you’re a casual angler, you’ll be tempted to use the Accurate TwinSpin less as a functioning reel and more like an antique piece to show off to your friends.
For enthusiasts and professionals though, the Accurate TwinSpin is a fantastic product that will serve both saltwater and freshwater anglers.
The Accurate TwinSpin is not for everyone. It’s a luxury or high-performance spinning reel that is intended for heavy-duty use. In its own niche, it is an incredible product that will definitely serve anyone who buys it well.
- Incredible build with premium materials
- Great TwinDrag technology allows for a smooth, buttery drag
- Very heavy due to the choice of material
- Incredibly expensive and suited best for enthusiasts and professionals
- Weight: 8.1 Ounces
- Gear Ratio: 6:0:1
- Bearings: 6+1
- Line Capacity: Mono 4/155, 6/100, 8/80
- Drag: 4.4-33lb
The Daiwa BG Spinning reels are one of the more affordable fishing reels available on the market. Yet their price is hardly a testament to the performance; the Daiwa BG Spinning reel is very use-friendly and comfortable to use.
Daiwa are highly experienced in creating reels, since the first Daiwa reel was created over 60 years ago, back in 1955. The BG Spinning reels are made for both freshwater and saltwater fishing. They feature a black and gold design painted on an aluminum spool and body.
This gives the Daiwa a fair amount of rigidity and good power. The aluminum spool is also ready to accept braided lines, which is a welcoming feature not found on every reel, and certainly not commonly found in cheaper ones.
The BG Spinning real packs a 6+1 bearing system with an anti-reverse handle. The larger variations feature a double anti-reverse system to counter the weight and provide better control and spinning. There is a manual return bail as well in the Daiwa BG Spinning for close control.
The Daiwa BG Spinning reels come in various sizes. The smaller sized reels are meant for freshwater, whereas the larger reels are meant to endure the more corrosive nature of saltwater. In context of this article, the larger variations are what we’re considering. The larger sizes (4500 and beyond) are the ones with the dual anti-reverse system.
Generally, the Daiwa BG Spinning reels are considered fantastic specifically for catching bass fish. Thus, if you’re an angler looking out for same bass while not spending too much money for a monster reel, the BG Spinning would be your primary choice.
The Daiwa BG Spinning real is a great choice for catching bass and won’t burn a hole in your pocket. We recommend the heavier versions for their all-round great performance and good design.
- Anti-reverse system in the larger models is great
- Waterproof drag system
- Excellent for catching bass
- Affordable compared to other products with similar performance
- The reeling can become noisy
- Good value
- Larger versions that are better suited for saltwater are heavy
- Weight: 5.4 Ounces
- Gear Ratio: 7:9:1
- Bearings: 9+1
- Line Capacity: Several sizes available
- Drag: 12lb
At just 5.4 ounces, the Abu Garcia Revo MGX is one of the lightest reels available for saltwater angling. The lightweight is achieved thanks to the clever use of a mix of materials. A one pieceX-Mag alloy frame covers an aluminum gear and is flanked by a carbon C6 composite sideplate. The drag system is also made from carbon Matrix, which is what gives the Revo MGX its incredible lightweight.
Despite the clear efforts to drastically reduce the weight and footprint of the fishing reel, there is almost no sacrifice of strength and reliability. The single-piece frame of the reel ensures there are no joints, which grants extra rigidity and strength to the entire chassis.
In addition to its design, the Revo MGX is also packed with features. It possesses the innovative Infinitely Variable Centrifugal Brake (IVCB-IV for short) system for extra control while casting. This system can be further fine-tuned to suite your preferences.
The bearings of the Abu Garcia Revo MGX are made of stainless steel. Nine of the total ten bearings are ball bearings while the tenth is a roller bearing. This setup gives a really smooth cast and its tight build makes it impervious to corrosion.
Strong, powerful, discreet, and packed with features, the Abu Garcia Revo MGX spinning fishing reel is certainly one of the best fishing products you can buy. Due to its use of high-grade components and compact design (without sacrificing any of the features), this spinning reel will cost you a good bit.
Its price range varies between $260 and $350 depending on where you live and from where you buy. This does put it beyond the price point of many anglers. If you are planning on spending that much money on a fishing reel or are a professional, the Abu Garcia Revo MGX is one of the best choices to invest in.
With a low profile, lightweight design and a set of great features, Abu Garcia delivers once again through the Revo MGX. It’s a high performing spinning fishing reel that functions brilliantly in saltwater and is recommended to anyone who is willing to invest that kind of money.
- Fantastic low profile, discreet design
- Incredibly lightweight
- Excellent set of materials
- Packed with nifty features
- Superb performance
- Price point will turn away some folks
- Weight: 5.6-8.1 Ounces
- Gear Ratio: 5.8:1
- Bearings: 6+1
- Line Capacity: Several sizes available
- Drag: 20lb
Last but not least is the Shimano Stradic Ci4+. Shimano makes it on our list again, this time for a dearer product. The Ci4+ is a major improvement over its predecessor. The new version features top grade construction that is 250% stronger than the material used in the Ci4 and 20% lighter than XT=7 graphite.
All this is possible because of an almost total lack of metallic parts. This reel utilizes lightweight fluorocarbon, ensuring the frame, sideplate, and rotor of the reel will not rust even if used for an extended period in the most corrosive saltwater.
The lightweight due to material choice makes it capable of drop shootings. Not only will the Stradic Ci4+ not corrode, it will also withstand a lot of wear and tear due to the material’s fantastic strength to weight ratio.
The fishing reel comes with a gear ratio of 5.8:1 and has a maximum drag power of 20lbs. It also features Shimano’s well-known X-Ship design, utilizing 6 bearings + one reverse bearing for an ultra-smooth reel. The bearings are shielded adequately to ensure no corrosive material can penetrate them.The X-Ship system combining with the carbon material makes the Shimano Ci4+ one of the smoothest fishing reels to operate.
It is also capable of handling braid up to 10lbs, which is quite good considering the performance of other models in the price range. The Shimano Stradic Ci4+ also comes with a wide retrieval range of 31 inches to 39 inches. It is important for fishing from a long distance, and the Shimano certainly does not disappoint in that category.
To top it off, the reel is also equipped with Shimano’s patented unique propulsion line management system which guarantees casting of your line with little hassle.
Of course, all this comes at a very hefty price point. Coming at a price range between $625 and nearly $700, the Shimano Stradic CI4+ is a premium, high-end spinning reel that is meant for professionals and enthusiasts. You’re probably going to steer away from it if fishing is just a hobby for you.
The Shimano Stradic CI4+ is a perfect choice for enthusiasts and professionals due to its immaculate lightweight design, but with a price point like this, it won’t necessarily appeal to the masses.
- Great lightweight design
- Phenomenal performance
- Material choice makes it impervious to rust
- Shimano’s Hagane Gear concept is excellent
Spinning reels are a lost easier to cast and handle compared to conventional ones. Conventional reels can offer more control when a fish is hooked, but spinning reels make the entire process a lot simpler.
Many big companies like Penn, Shimano, Okuma, Abu Garcia, Accurate, KastKing etc. have put in countless hours of research to greatly improve the functionality of spinning fishing reels. The improved reels have gotten more powerful, smoother, more corrosion resistant, and more durable.
Yet, even then, the market is filled with so many that it can get hard to choose. We have reviewed what we think are 8 of the best spinning reels on the market. These have varying price ranges; some are affordable and suited to beginner and intermediate anglers, while others are high-end costly models that best appease professionals and enthusiasts.
The gear ratio is one of the most important parts of a spinning reel. Gears in your reel behave in the same manner as ones of a multi-speed bicycle; they increase power produced with each turn of the handle.
Higher gear ratio reels are difficult to turn but produce much more power across one full turn, whereas low gear ratio will be easier to turn but will need far more number of turns to retrieve the same amount of line as a reel with a higher one.
If you’re looking to lure fish at faster speeds or covering a large area, a higher gear ratio is preferred. If you want to jig or live line bait, then a lower gear ratio would be better.
There’s no exact number that we can recommend for the amount of bearings a reel should have. There’s an easy copout answer like “as many as possible” but there are some disadvantages to have too many bearings.
Before we go there though, we need to understand what bearings do. Spinning reels have a lot of mechanical parts that move. Damage is often caused by metal on metal rotation. Cheaper reels have bushings that wear out quickly, but better performing ones feature multiple bearings. The more bearings, the smoother the action.
However, there’s a caveat: more bearings equals more weight. A smooth action therefore will likely come at the cost of a bulkier, heavier reel.
What’s more important than the quantity is the quality. A few good sealed bearings will benefit you far more than half a dozen open ones.
Why are there dedicated reels for saltwater?
Saltwater is both highly corrosive and highly abrasive. To make matters worse, spinning reels have moving, rotating parts. A single medium-sized grain of salt or other mineral will cause significant damage to an unprotected reel.
Saltwater reels are built to address this purpose. They’re designed watertight to ensure no foreign object can enter the reel. So yes, if you’re even mildly into angling, you should go for a saltwater, sealed reel that protects against corrosion and abrasion.
Do I actually need dedicated saltwater reels?
If you’re fishing in saltwater, then yes. Freshwater rivers are much more forgiving, but if you’re an enthusiast willing to spend several hundred dollars on spinning reels, chances are you won’t be limiting yourself to just freshwater.
Should I select a reel based on what type of fish I’ll catch?
Yes, you should. Different reels are ideal for catching different sized fish. There is no easy answer to which one for exact. Some work better for certain fish, such as the Daiwa for bass, but others will work best for a different kind.
The size variation of the same model also makes a huge difference in the performance against different types of fish. This can increase your budget quite a bit.
This is a very in-depth research that needs to be carried out not just based on what fish you’re catching, but also where you live and your budget for the reel.