Best Saltwater Spinning Reels

Best Saltwater Spinning Reels in 2020 – Buyer’s Guide

Saltwater fishing is generally pretty exciting, you have to choose a saltwater reel that can go up against strong elements such as wind, current, and all of the abuse that saltwater will expose it to.

Whether you’re fishing onshore or offshore, saltwater reels allow you to deal with big baits designed for even bigger catches. Today, throughout this article, we will help you choose the best saltwater spinning reel out there for you as we have compiled a list of the seven top saltwater reels.

List of the Best Saltwater Spinning Reels:

  • Penn Battle II – Best Overall
  • PENN Spinfisher V – Best Drag System
  • KastKing Sharky III – Best Budget
  • Pflueger President – Best Beginners’ Reel
  • SHIMANO STRADIC HG – Most Lightweight
  • Daiwa BG Saltwater – Best Durability
  • Okuma Cedros High Speed – Best Jigging Saltwater Reel

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Comparison Table:

Saltwater Spinning ReelWeightMaterialMaximum DragBall BearingsGear Ratio
Penn Battle II19.8 oz.Metal25 lbs.5+15.6:1
PENN Spinfisher V29.5 oz.Heavy-Duty Aluminium35 lbs.5+14.7:1
KastKing Sharky III9 oz.Graphite33 lbs.10+15.2:1
Pflueger President8.80 oz.Graphite10 lbs.9+15.2:1
SHIMANO STRADIC HG7.1 oz.Aluminum and Magnesium7 lbs.6+16.0:1
Daiwa BG Saltwater30 oz.Anodized Machined Aluminium33 lbs.6+15.6:1
Okuma Cedros High Speed23 oz.Die-Cast Aluminium33 lbs.4+15.7:1

The 7 Best Saltwater Spinning Reels in 2020

1. Penn Battle II – Best Overall

Penn Battle II

This state of the art reel by PENN simply screams saltwater fishing. It is designed to be the epitome of durability, tolerance, and strength. The whole thing is made out of metal and painted with advanced anti-corrosive paint.

The drag system here is the H-100 carbon-fiber one with a maximum of 25 lbs. Additionally, the bail wire is made out of heavy-duty aluminum. It comes with a gear ratio of  5.6:1 and has several sizes ranging from 1000 to 8000. Nonetheless, we are speaking of the 5000 Size, which is most suitable for saltwater fishing as it weighs 19.8 oz. 

Moreover, it enjoys 5+1 sealed stainless steel ball bearings and comes braid-ready. The thing is you might expect this reel to be quite expensive for all of its features but it is the exact opposite as the reel is quite affordable.

The only defects that have been reported regarding this reel are not very consistent. Some people say that the sealing might be faulty at certain places, while others say that the spool locks in place and will not open. Still, the majority of buyers are quite ecstatic about their purchase and have nothing to complain about.

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Pros:

  • Fully sealed
  • 5+1 ball bearings
  • Affordable 
  • Versatile 
  • Durable
  • Braid-ready

Cons:

  • Faulty seal
  • Spool locks up

Final Verdict

Purchasing this reel is a win-win situation. You don’t pay a backbreaking sum of money and still manage to get everything that you might need for the best saltwater fishing reel. Even the disadvantages that come with this reel are not deal-breakers, and you can say that the majority of buyers have not experienced them.

2. PENN Spinfisher V – Best Drag System

PENN Spinfisher V

This reel by PENN is designed for saltwater fishing. It is protected through placing strong sealing at every meeting point, which makes its maintenance procedure a lot simpler and therefore expanding its lifespan.

The reel as a whole is made out of heavy-duty aluminum, which includes the side-plates, rotor, and bail wire, which is designed with a friction bail trip. The said bail is closed at all times and opens automatically at just the right point during your cast in order to ensure you maximum precision.

The gear system here can manage cumbersome loads as it is a CNC one. The drag system is the impressive HT-100, which enjoys a maximum of 35 lbs. 

This reel is quite versatile as it has sizes all the way down to 3500. However, we are now speaking of the larger size, the 8500, which weighs 29.5 oz. 

The reel enjoys a gear ratio of 4.71:1, 5+1 shielded corrosion-resistant stainless steel ball bearings with the anti-reverse one being instant and an oscillation system, which all aim towards smooth friction-free performance.

Lastly, the spool on this reel comes braid-ready and adorned with capacity rings to show you exactly how much line you have left, ensuring that you never run out of thread. 

The one downside to this reel is the fact that it is quite heavy, and therefore extensive fishing periods might, very well, abuse your wrists, shoulders, and even back.

Pros:

  • Durable
  • Completely sealed
  • 35 lbs. maximum drag
  • Braid ready

Cons:

  • Heavy
  • Loud live line noise

Final Verdict

This reel is a beast. It is made for saltwater fishing, and saltwater trophy catches. It has a fantastic drag system and is made out of premium quality materials. These materials, of course, come for a price, which is the heaviness of this device. However, it is a heavy-duty piece that will last you ages.

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3. KastKing Sharky III – Best Budget

KastKing Sharky III

Our budget pick for this list will have to be the KastKing Sharky III as it bears a relatively affordable price tag. However, do not let this price tag fool you as this reel comes loaded with options to secure its compatibility for saltwater fishing.

The reel is made entirely out of reinforced graphite, allowing it strength, flexibility, and lightweight as the reel weighs 9.2 oz. The drag system is quite impressive as it is a triple-disc fiber one with strong precision mesh manganese brass pinion gears and a maximum of 33 lbs.  Plus, the main shaft in this system is oversized and made out of stainless steel.

One of the key features that make this reel suitable for saltwater fishing is the fact that it enjoys the K.I.S.S system, which stands for KastKing Intrusion Shield System. This system is a complete seal which makes the reel immune to water, sand, debris, and anything that could clog it up.

It has a gear ratio of 5.2:1, and 10+1 ball bearings plus a Fin braid- ready aluminum spool, which all allow for smooth, accurate casts and retrievals. Besides, it comes in many sizes: 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000 and 5000. 

One of the defects that have been reported regarding this device is that some right-handed fishermen have not been as comfortable while using it as their left-handed friends. Others have reported that it’s not a heavy-duty piece and that wear and tear will take its toll on it rather quickly. Other people have reported loud cranking noises.

Pros:

  • Affordable 
  • Strong
  • Lightweight 
  • Flexible
  • 10+1 ball bearings
  • Sealed drag system

Cons:

  • Prone to wear and tear
  • Better suited for left-handed fisherman
  • Loud cranking noises

Final Verdict

This reel is the perfect choice for you if you want to get the maximum value for your money. The reel is completely sealed, which makes it ideally suited for saltwater fishing. Besides, the fact that it is lightweight, strong, and comes braid-ready can all add significantly to your gain.

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4. Pflueger President – Best Beginners’ Reel

Pflueger President

This reel here brings quite the package to the race. It is called President for a reason as it is highly durable, lightweight, flexible, and ergonomically designed. The whole thing is made out of graphite, which establishes strength, flexibility, and lightweight as the reel as it weighs only 8.8 oz. 

The carbon-fiber handle is ergonomically designed with a soft-touch knob in order to secure your grip and not put too much pressure on your wrists. The drag system on this reel is a sealed multi-disc one with oil felt washers and a stainless steel shaft. It has continuous lubrication, which prevents extra friction and therefore prevents the reel from seizing up on you. Plus, an impressive maximum of 10 lbs. 

This reel is ambidextrous, meaning that the handle can be switched from the right side to the left side in order to accommodate all anglers, and the spool comes braid-ready. Furthermore, it enjoys a gear ratio of 5.2:1, 9+1 ball bearings with the reverse one being instant and slow oscillation gearing, which works towards a smooth operation through maintaining the position of your line and protecting it from tangles.

The only deficit of this reel is the fact that it’s not completely sealed, so if it is dunked in saltwater for a long time, debris and sand will undoubtedly inflict some damage. However, people have stated that continuous maintenance through thorough cleaning does eliminate this problem.

Pros:

  • Durable
  • Strong
  • Lightweight
  • Sealed drag system
  • 9+1 ball bearings
  • Ergonomic design
  • Braid-ready spool

Cons:

  • Not wholly sealed

Final Verdict

Although this reel is designed with the concepts of smoothness, strength, and durability, it is quite straightforward. There’s nothing too complicated about the workings of this reel, which makes it the perfect choice for amateurs and beginners who are starting out their fishing adventures.

5. Shimano Stradic HG – Most Lightweight

Shimano Stradic HG

This reel by Shimano will be your most reliable ally if you are heading for lighter catches, whether onshore or offshore. It has a Dyna Balance rotor, which allows it to weigh only 7.1 oz. However, do not be tricked by its lightweight; it is chock-full of options and features that guarantee its place on this list.

Furthermore, it enjoys Hagane body and gearing, which make this reel extremely strong and durable while maintaining a smooth process. It has a maximum drag of 7 lbs, a gear ratio of 6.0:1, 6+1 ball bearings, Fluidrive II System, and Shimano’s propulsion line management system, which allow anglers to cast longer, broader and smoother.

The X-Ship technology works on eliminating friction between the spool shaft and the gear, which extends the lifespan of your reel as a whole and makes it a lot more efficient. The handle here is quite large and therefore offering a secure group.

Some deficits to this reel include the fact that it’s not braid-ready, has low maximum drag, and that it does not hold a lot of line.

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Pros:

  • Light
  • Durable
  • Hagane body
  • Dyna-Balance rotor
  • Smooth

Cons:

  • Spool is not braid-ready
  • Small line capacity
  • Low maximum drag

Final Verdict

The lightness of this reel is truly an attractive feature. It takes a lot of pressure off your wrists, arms, and back, extending your fishing time significantly. The fact that it has a lot of other features that make it highly durable certainly does not hurt.

6. Daiwa BG Saltwater – Best Durability

Daiwa BG Saltwater

A company like Daiwa has been making fishing gear since forever, so they know the drill when they are making a life-long reel. This device is made out of anodized machined aluminum, which is protected by what the company calls Hard Bodies. Essentially, Hard Bodies is an anodized abrasion-resistant and corrosion-resistant coating which surrounds the entirety of the reel.

The rotor design for the reel is an air rotor which reduces its weight by 15% while still managing to distribute all of the pressure evenly on the reel as it weighs 30 oz. It has one of the largest drive gear systems, which is the digitally-cut oversized Digigear one. Along with the 6+1 ball bearings, the smoothness of this reel is unprecedented.

Moreover, it boasts a gear ratio of 5.6:1 and a fully sealed drag system with a maximum of 33 lbs. Although the drag system is quite secure, it is not left to fight on its own. The Infinite-Dual Anti-Reverse system always gets that instant hook and therefore prevents back play. 

The spool here is quite capacious and is equipped with a rubber ring that makes it compatible with braided line. It also allows for complete usage of the line as it can be filled all the way to the lip, which reduces friction significantly.

Although we speak mostly of the 8000 size, this reel has different sizes all the way down to 1500, so it does offer anglers a lot of versatility.

On the other hand, the drawbacks of this reel include the fact that the handle is too close to the body, so there’s not a lot of room for hand movement. Plus, the fact that the spool is not anodized as the rest of the reel.

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Pros:

  • Excellent drag system
  • Dual Anti-reverse system
  • Air rotor
  • Durable
  • Digigear drive gear system

Cons:

  • Non-anodized spool
  • Uncomfortable handle

Final Verdict

This reel is a perfect choice for fighting trophy catches such as tuna and bass. It is ideal for all kinds of fishing; saltwater, freshwater, offshore, and inshore. It simply will not disappoint.

7. Okuma Cedros High Speed – Best Jigging Saltwater Reel

Okuma Cedros High Speed

This reel is designed with a narrow blade-like profile, which allows it to be extremely compact as it weighs only 23 oz. It is made entirely out of die-cast aluminum, which gives it a lot of strength. The spool is made out of machined drilled aluminum and has an impressive line capacity.

It has a gear ratio of 5.7:1, 4+1 ball bearings, and precision cut brass machine gear. These factors all work cohesively in order to achieve a smooth fishing experience.

The drag system here is a multi-disc Japanese oil felt one with dual-force washers. It has a maximum of 33 lbs. and excellent heat dissipation. This drag system will not fail you no matter how big your catch is as it’s adjustment is pretty straight forward.

The handle here is ambidextrous in order to suit everyone, and the reel as a whole is treated with corrosive resistant coating in order to protect it from saltwater abuse. Additionally, it has been designed with an elliptical oscillation system and a hydro-block water-tight drag seal, which is an extra layer of protection against sand and debris.

The only downside to this reel is the fact that although the spool is quite capacious, it does not come braid-ready, and the handle can be a little tiresome to switch from one side to the other.

Pros:

  • Small 
  • Anti-corrosive protection 
  • Elliptical oscillation system 
  • Hydro-block water-tight drag seal 
  • Precision cut brass machine gear

Cons:

  • Complex handle
  • Spool is not braid-ready

Final Verdict

Although this device is pretty small, don’t let it fool you as it is the epitome of efficiency. It will get you through several years and for this price point, you get quite the package when you purchase it. Plus, its drawbacks are not deal-breakers.

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How to Pick a Saltwater Spinning Reel

We’ve been, thoroughly, through each saltwater reel. So, now, we will take you on a ride to show you the essential features and options that you ought to keep in mind when digging for the best saltwater spinning reel.

1. Construction

Without a doubt, the construction of a reel while trying to counter elements such as wind, current sun, sand, and debris is detrimental to its success. It must be made out of premium materials that are either anti-corrosive by nature or painted with a reliable anti-corrosive coat. 

Materials that fit such a description include aluminum, graphite, titanium, high-grade stainless steel, ceramic, and carbon composite. Each one of those materials has its merits and deficits. However, their common point is that they are anti-corrosive.

We advise you to go for lighter materials such as carbon and graphite to relieve some of the pressure on your wrists and arms. Still, heavier elements have the advantage of strength.

Consequently, this will be a matter of your own preference. One last thing is to make sure that all of the elements of your reel, inner or outer, are made of the same robust material.

2. Drag

Drag is the resistance that your reel puts up against the escaping fish. Since we are discussing saltwater fishing, you’ll mostly be going for large catches, meaning that you’ll need a more muscular drag system in order to be able to reel the fish in.

It is advisable to go for an adjustable drag system with an impressive maximum. This will give you the freedom and versatility whenever needed, and you’ll never be in want of extra drag. 

Additionally, your drag system should be able to get rid of the friction-produced heat continuously to maintain a smooth process.

One last thing is that the front drag system is a lot stronger than a rear one, so it will definitely prove to be advantageous.

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3. Ball Bearings

Ball bearings are the wheels turning inside a reel to keep it going smoothly. So, the general rule here is that the more, the merrier. However, do not forget the fact that, here, quality matters more than quantity. A low number of high-quality ball bearings made out of ceramic or stainless steel will be ten-folds better than a high number of low-quality ball bearings or brushers.

4. Gear Ratio

The numbers representing the gear ratio stand for the number of full spins that your spool does per one full crank of the handle. In other words, it means the speed at which you retrieve your line.

You would want to go for a moderate one as to not let your catch escape or snap your line. It also depends on the kind of fishing that you’re going for. 

If you’re going to be trolling, pulling top-water spinners or plugs, or just trying to cover large areas then, a high gear ratio will compliment you best. Yet, if you are going to be jigging, live lining, or trying to reel in trophy catches, then a lower gear ratio would suit you best.

5. Spool Capacity

With saltwater fishing, you will naturally be covering large areas while searching for fish. Moreover, you’ll need a lot of torque and line to be able to tire the saltwater trophy catches before reeling them in. Hence, a spool with a high capacity for braided line is mandatory. You don’t want to run out of line while you are fighting your catch.

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6. Spool Design 

It goes without saying that the spool must be made of the same high-quality material as the rest of the reel as it is exposed to the elements and will need all the protection that it can get.

However, one thing that you shouldn’t forget is that with saltwater fishing, you will be using braided line for its strength and versatility. In order to use braided line, you must own a braid-ready spool, which is designed with specific rubber to prevent the braided line from slipping off it.

7. Design

Naturally, you would be holding your reel for extensive periods. You need something that fits well in your hand and does not tire you. Consequently, an ergonomically designed reel is essential; this includes the handle being non-slip, preferably EVA, and relatively oversize so that you can handle it with comparative ease. Knobs, buttons, triggers, basically everything placed on the reel, ought to be non-slip and large enough so that you can access it without trouble.

8. Reel Size

Reel size should be complementary to the type of fishing that you intend to practice, and of course, the bigger the elements of the reel are, such as the bearings, the larger its size will be. 

So, if you are going for inshore fishing, then a medium-sized reel will suit you perfectly. But,  if you choose to do some deep water fishing, a larger reel would be a wise choice.

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9. Automatic Anti-reverse 

This feature comes in really handy when you are fighting the finicky fish of the sea. An instant anti-reverse helps the drag to prevent the backward movement of the spool. Plus, an automatic one releases you from the pressure of having to turn it on at the right point, which will take your focus off of other things.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Next, we’ll walk you through the most common questions regarding saltwater reels and their simplest answers.

Can You Use any Reel in Saltwater?

As long as it is made out of the materials that can withstand saltwater such as aluminum and appropriately protected in terms of sealing and anti-corrosion work, then yes.

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What Size Spinning Reel is Best for Saltwater?

There’s no on-point answer here. The size of your reel will depend on your target fish, fishing type, and technique plus the conditions of your fishing spot.

Final Thoughts

All that we have discussed in this article can be summed up in the fact that saltwater spinning reels need to be stronger than freshwater ones. The best saltwater reel ought to be made out of premium quality materials such as graphite, aluminum, ceramic, or titanium. It also should be either anti-corrosive by nature or painted with anti-corrosive paint. 

According to our research, the best saltwater spinning reel will have to be the PENN Battle II as it strikes the perfect balance between all of the features and options that we have discussed in the buying guide.

If you wish to go for something that’s a little bit more budget-friendly while still offering you all the options that you might need in a saltwater spinning reel, then the KastKing Sharky III would fit you like a glove.

Lastly, if your comfort and practicality depend on a lightweight reel, then the SHIMANO STRADIC HG will not disappoint as it is the lightest on our list. 

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