Your fishing expedition won’t be complete without a high-quality saltwater spinning reel. No matter what you’re fishing for, you want to make sure you’re ready to reel in the big catch. A high-quality saltwater spinning reel is a must-have whether you’re fishing inlets or offshore.
Saltwater fishing reels are designed to be larger and stronger than their freshwater friends. Since saltwater fishing reels need to subdue bigger, stronger, and harder-fighting fish, it stands to reason that they should outperform freshwater gear when it comes to landing big ones. We came up with the 12 best saltwater fishing reels available on the market today.
The Shimano Baitrunner D comes in four models: 4000D, 6000D, 8000D, and 12000D. The Shimano Baitrunner 8000D is arguably the most popular in the line thanks to its versatility, especially in handling different varieties of fish.
This spinning reel is packed with features, such as standard anti-rust bearings and a strong, durable aluminum cold-forged spool. It is made to resist salt water and sand with its graphite construction. The side plates feature a black metal finish that not only makes it such a looker but also more durable.
This reel features three anti-rust bearings shielded on both sides. A special coating on the bearings minimizes saltwater damage. The Fluidrive II gearing utilizes a huge and polished master gear for smooth and easy retrieval.
But perhaps the most notable feature is the baitrunner. It is activated by flipping the switch and setting the desired line of resistance with the knob.
The Shimano Baitrunner 8000D sports a gear ratio of 4.8:1, while its maximum drag is 20 pounds.
This is one of the best saltwater spinning reels you can find for less than $100. It is tough, durable, and corrosion-resistant with powerful drag. Even better – it is designed for both left and right-handed anglers.
Available in eight different sizes, the smallest rod comes in at 1000 and the largest comes in at 8000. All models are constructed with a medium-high gear ratio: the 1000 model ranks at 5.2:1, and the 8000 model at 6.2:1.
Regardless of the model, this saltwater fishing reel has a full-metal, rust-resistant body. It also features sealed stainless steel ball bearings designed to withstand harsh saltwater. The rod also sports a rubber gasket, enabling it to accommodate braided lines without slippage and so, eliminates the need for backing.
This spinning reel can deliver smooth performance while catching larger fish. Its HT-110 drag washers offer good drag pressure, while the ball bearings offer smooth operation.
Daiwa is a brand known for producing high-quality yet affordable spinning reels. Its BG spinning reel is another good choice if you have an extra $100 for a saltwater fishing reel. It is durable, versatile, and easy to use. Its aluminum body, waterproof drag system, and dynamic-cut ABS spool make it a silky smooth reel for any angler.
The Daiwa BG spinning reels come in four variations: 2500, 3000, 4000, and 5000 series. Regardless of the model, you will love how these reels are built. It is well-constructed and feels solid in hand without being too heavy. The waterproof drag system is also impressive; it adjusts easily and is a breeze to in a fight with tough fish.
Daiwa also designed this reel to address line management with its large roller, while the pick up on the bail alleviates the line twisting and looping. The bail easily opens and locks, while the ABS sweep lays out line flawlessly.
One of the least expensive but highest-quality saltwater fishing reels around, the Sougayilang Spinning Reel is a great choice for saltwater fishing beginners. It’s not the most durable model out there, but it is lightweight and reels smoothly.
Its smooth performance is due to its 12+1 bearings. It sports a lightweight body for comfortable and easy handling. Weighing less than 400 grams, it features a hollow frame design and is computer balanced, resulting in a lightweight and corrosion-resistant body. With a 5.1:1 gear ratio, it is designed for both freshwater and saltwater fishing. It can easily retrieve small to medium-sized fish, including bass, trout, salmon, and perch.
The bail likewise opens and closes easily, while the S-curve oscillation system ensures smooth line winding. Versatile enough for use with either hand, this reel features an instant anti-reverse system that eliminates handle backlash and facilitates proper hook sets. Plus, the collapsible handle of the reel makes it very easy to store.
Shimano’s Stradic FK spinning reel is highly recommended if you are having difficulties choosing between a saltwater and a freshwater fishing reel. Shimano is known for producing tough, efficient, and smooth saltwater fishing reels.
This Stradic FK Spinning Reel features a highly rigid, impact-resistant metal body. Sleek and balanced in terms of strength and height, it offers enough cranking power for all but the most experienced anglers. The spinning reel is constructed using cold-forging technology with gears that are extra strong and durable.
Its six ball bearings and one roller bearing are molded well to eliminate friction between the gears and spool shaft. This results in a smooth casting performance. The bearings are also designed to deter entry and damage from salt and water exposure.
Moreover, the manufacturer used Dyna-Balance technology to eliminate retrieval vibration and, at the same time, improve efficiency and smoothness. Lightweight and comfortable to hold even for extended periods, this fishing reel comes highly recommended for bottom fishing, cranking, casting, and trolling.
The drag strength of the spinning reels ranges between 7 and 24 pounds, depending on the size. The gear ratio is 6.0:1 for the shorter models, and 6.2:1 for the larger models.
Another excellent saltwater fishing reel from Penn, the Clash is available in different models ranging from CLA 2000 to CLA 8000. All seven models are constructed from corrosion-resistant anodized aluminum, sealed stainless steel bearings, CNC Dura-Gear technology for smooth and long-lasting gearing, and a carbon fiber drag system.
The weight of the Penn Clash is remarkable considering that Penn is known for its heavy reels. It is, in fact, the lightest fishing reel from Penn with the CLA 2000 weighing in at 8.2 ounces, and the biggest in the range, the CLA 8000, weighing in at 27.2 ounces.
Penn Clash fishing reels sport CNC machine-cut gears, resulting in tightly meshed and extra strong gears. This series also features the Level line oscillation system for a tight and even lay of the line. Expect good casting distances sans wind knots with these reels.
The reels also include 8+1 sealed stainless steel bearings for the smooth retrieval of fish. The bearings are also well-sealed so the reel can hold up even under the harshest conditions. Its bail wire, meanwhile, is made from heavy-duty aluminum that won’t bend easily.
The gear ratio and drag strength differ depending on the size. The drag strength ranges from 10-30 pounds, while gear ratios come in at a low of 4.7:1 for the CLA8000, and a high of 6.2:1 for the CLA2000.
This is a mid-size and mid-range spinning reel that’s good for both freshwater and saltwater fishing. It is lightweight with a gear ratio varying from 5.2:1 for its 2500 model and 6.2:1 for the 4000 model. This rod features a magnesium body and rotor, a sealed carbon fiber drag system, and a carbon fiber handle. This is one of the best spinning reels in its class.
To say that the Pflueger Supreme XT is packed with features would be an understatement. Just look at its magnesium body and rotor, which gives it a lightweight and durable frame. The aluminum spool is double-anodized for improved corrosion resistance. It also sports machine-ported sidewalls for reduced weight without sacrificing durability and strength.
On top of the carbon fiber drag, sealed to keep out grime, sand, and water, this reel also features a carbon fiber handle for a unique look and an easy grip. This handle is up to 20% lighter compared to other aluminum handles of the same size.
The SeaKnight Rapid spinning reel series offers four models. Affordable and durable, this reel is a looker with its bright gold accents. Even better? It performs equally as smoothly. This reel won’t have problems handling bass, catfish, stripers, walleyes, and more.
This reel features a thick main shaft, a sealed spool, and stainless steel bearings and rotor designed to resist saltwater and sand. The body is finished with an anti-corrosion coating.
With a maximum drag strength of 33 pounds, this reel has the power to handle most fish. It is not only well-built, but it also features 10 + 1 ball bearings for enhanced performance. The smallest model has a 6.2:1 gear ratio, while the larger reels include a low 4.7:1 gear ratio, making them better suited for hauling big fish.
In short, the SeaKnight Rapid spinning series is best suited for anglers of all abilities.
The Okuma Trio High-Speed Spinning Reel is a fast, smooth, reliable, and durable spinning fishing reel that works well for beginner or experienced anglers, alike.
One of the most impressive features of this spinning reel is its durable construction. The aluminum body is strong and resistant to flexing but is surprisingly lightweight. Two graphite plates are attached to the aluminum stem and minimize the weight of the reel. This rust and corrosion-resistant reel is thus a good device to use when fishing on open water.
The spool has a multi-piece construction for smooth and efficient performance. Called the ‘dual force drag system,’ it is intended to give users good tension at the bottom and top of the spool. Multiple oiled washers are found on the top, and a carbon-fiber washer is located at the bottom.
As you should expect from a saltwater fishing reel, the Okuma Trio features a waterproof seal to prevent water and sand from damaging its internal components. With nine stainless steel ball bearings, expect this fishing reel to facilitate fast and smooth returns.
This is the heavyweight of the Shimano Saragosa saltwater spinning reels line. This saltwater reel has a 6+1 bearing and a gear ratio of 4.4:1. It weighs around 34 ounces, which is remarkably light for a tough and durable spinning reel.
This reel feels smooth and comfortable, just like the other reels from Shimano. It is made with an aluminum body and sports blue streaks which give an appealing look to its beefy reel leg and frame.
Shimano used its X-Ship technology to enhance the casting and prop up both ends of the pinion gear. This allows the reel to crank smoothly even if a big fish is on the line. The reel was also designed to withstand high-speed fish, like tuna and marlin.
The reel features five anti-rust bearings and one anti-reverse bearing. The reel’s body and motor are made of Hagane material, which can withstand continued use. The aluminum spool, meanwhile, is cold-forged, meaning it is hardened for superior performance and enhanced durability.
The Penn Slammer III 9500 is a heavy-duty, low-geared, and high-drag fishing reel that can withstand years of abuse. It is built to handle ocean-roaming fish like billfish, tuna, and even sharks. Its gear ratio is 4.2:1, while the drag strength handles up to an impressive 60 pounds.
Its body, including the side plate and rotors, is made of heavy-duty metal. Its gears are mounted in a stainless steel bearing system. Penn also used its Slammer sealed drag system on this model, including its Dura-Drag disc for superior strength, reliability, and performance.
This reel is designed for the serious or experienced angler, so you might want to look for another model if you are just beginning to explore saltwater fishing.
Similar to the last fishing reel, the Shimano Thunnus C14 is highly recommended for expert anglers. Lightweight but with the strength to stop big fish, it sports a low gear ratio of 4.4:1 and a drag strength of 25 pounds.
Weighing only 27.7 ounces, this reel can spool up to 230 yards of braid. It features six stainless steel bearings that can last up to 10 times longer compared to standard ball bearings. Its rotor has been computer balanced for vibration-free and smooth rotation. It also features sealed, waterproof drag. This reel is a must for inshore fishermen.
What to Look for in a Saltwater Fishing Reel
When shopping for a saltwater fishing reel, you’ll want to consider the following components.
The best saltwater spinning reel is built to withstand exposure to saltwater, which is corrosive and damaging to metal, plastic, and other materials. Look for fishing reels made from strong and sturdy materials, such as aluminum, titanium, graphite, stainless steel, carbon fiber, and ceramic.
Aside from the material, a saltwater fishing reel should also feature internal components that can protect it from corrosion. These components include seals, gaskets, and protective coatings that prevent sand and saltwater from entering and destroying the internal parts of the reel, including the gears and bearings.
The handle should be well-made, durable, and easy to hold. After all, this is what you’ll be using to operate the saltwater fishing reel.
A saltwater fishing reel’s power depends on its gear ratio, which refers to the number of times the spool revolves with a turn of the crank handle. This determines how easily a reel will be able to haul fish out of the water. A reel with a low gear ratio is easier to turn, though it would need more turns to bring back the same amount of line as a fishing reel with a higher gear ratio.
To give you an idea, a high gear ratio of 6:1 is able to retrieve line quickly and is best suited for retrieving small fish. On the other hand, a reel with a low gear ratio of 4:1 may retrieve the line more slowly but has more power and leverage in pulling out larger fish. If you’re not sure of the gear ratio to get, go for a reel with a 5:1 gear ratio.
Most saltwater fishing reels today are designed to be lightweight for quick retrieval and easy recall. Lightweight fishing reels are also easier to cast over long distances. You’ll also want a lightweight saltwater fishing reel as it is generally more comfortable to use.
You’ll notice that a key specification of saltwater spinning reels is the number of bearings. Like in other components, these are balls made of stainless steel designed to reduce friction in moving parts. As it relates to reels, the number of ball bearings determines the smoothness of a reel’s performance. The more bearings that a reel houses, the more likely it will operate smoothly. This means you can cast smaller baits more easily.
Of course, expect a fishing reel with high bearing count to be more expensive. The general rule of thumb while shopping for a saltwater fishing reel is to find at least five ball bearings.
This refers to the resistance that the hooked fish feels when it is pulled on the rod. It enables the line to withstand pressure from a fighting saltwater fish. Drag strength is measured in pounds. As in the case of bearings, the higher the drag strength, the more expensive the reel becomes.