Best Ultralight Spinning Reels

Best Ultralight Spinning Reels in 2020 – Buyer’s Guide

Why do people decide to go for ultralight spinning reels or ultralight fishing in general? The answer to that is that it offers you an impressive package of benefits plus extra entertainment. 

An ultralight reel can be used for beginners and kids as they start trying out their hands with different equipment; ultralight reels will prove to be the easiest and most comfortable to work with.

Also, if an experienced angler has sustained an injury to his arm that has limited his movement or tolerance, this would be the perfect choice for him as it will significantly cut down on his fatigue and will allow him to fish for more extended periods without tiring. 

One more thing is that it offers a more exciting battle with the fish. With heavier reels, you can easily retrieve your catch while with the ultralight reels, you would have to put up a fight with the fish in order not to lose it and at the same time not to break your rod. 

Throughout this article, we will show you the six best ultralight spinning reels on the market today.

List of the Best Ultralight Spinning Reels:

  • Penn Battle II – Best Overall
  • KastKing Sharky III – Features the Best Drag System
  • KastKing Summer – Best Budget
  • Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 – Best Ultralight Rod and Reel Combo
  • Okuma Ceymar C40 – Best Ultralight Spinning Reel Under $50
  • Piscifun Flame – Best Basic Ultralight Spinning Reel

Comparison Table:

ReelWeightMaximum DragNumber of BearingsGear Ratio
Penn Battle II3.5 oz.30 lbs.55.2:1
KastKing Sharky III15 oz.33 lbs10+15.2:1
KastKing Summer6.9 oz17.5 lbs.9+15.2:1
Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX26.4 oz.13 lbs.3+15.2:1
Okuma Ceymar C4011 oz.17.6 lbs.7+15.0:1
Piscifun Flame15.5 oz.19.5 lbs9+15.2:1

The 6 Best Ultralight Spinning Reels in 2020

1. Penn Battle II – Best Overall

Penn Battle II

Penn is known worldwide for creating devices that aspire for perfection. The main reason why the Penn Battle II is the first on our list is that it achieves the balance between everything that you might need in an ultra-light spinning reel. It is affordable, made out of high-quality materials, and it will last a lifetime.

Moreover, it comes in varieties starting from 1000 and ending at 8000 so you are free to try your hand and discover which one will suit you best. Furthermore, this reel is made entirely out of metal. It boasts five stainless steel ball bearings and an anti-reverse bearing. The side plates, rotor, and spool are all made out of metal as well.

The drag system on this reel is the HC-100 Versa-Drag that’s entirely made out of carbon fiber, which supports the washers on both sites. Besides, it is treated with modified grease that allows it to withstand the continuous friction and deliver an impeccable performance due to its powerful drag maximum of 30 lbs. It also has a gear ratio of 5:2:1, so your catch won’t be able to easily escape. 

This spool here is quite impressive as it can take Super and Braided lines rather comfortably and is designed with capacity rings, which give you knowledge about how much line is still there.

The downsides about this reel cannot even be labeled as faults. It’s just that some people find this reel to be more suited for bigger fish, but the thing is, lightweight fishing is not about smaller fish; you can always go for big catches with lightweight spinning reels. 

Plus, some people find the price to be a little bit high; however, if you want something that’s going to last you a lifetime, you might as well invest a bit more into it.

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Pros:

  • Durable 
  • Smooth 
  • Great drag 
  • Lightweight

Cons:

  • Expensive 
  • Heavy duty

Final Verdict

The final verdict concerning this device is that there’s hardly fault with it. It is the lightest on this list and one of the lightest that you’ll see on the market. It has a great drag and can work with either freshwater or seawater; it is designed to suit both. Hence, if money is not an obstacle to you, then certainly go for this excellent reel.

2. KastKing Sharky III – Features the Best Drag System

KastKing Sharky III

This reel by KastKing is the epitome of durability. It is made out of premium materials for an affordable price. The body and rotor are both made out of reinforced graphite, which allows for flexibility, lightweight, and strength. With 10+1 ball bearings, the process of fishing with this reel becomes one of the smoothest that you will ever experience.

This reel is designed to work with either fresh or saltwater, no problem whatsoever. Its practicality on any waterfront is due to the K.I.S.S. system, which stands for KastKing Intrusion Shield System. This system seals the entire reel completely, making it safe from water, sand, debris, and anything that could get inside the reel and clog it up.

The drag system on this reel is quite impressive, and this is what allows the line to pursue any type of fish, no matter its size. It is designed with oversized stainless steel main shaft, pinion gears that are made out of precision mesh brass, and the entire thing is made out of triple disc carbon fiber. All these features allow the drag system to have a maximum of 33 pounds and a quick on point start.

The gear ratio here is rather high at 5.2:1, which allows you to bring in your catch before it escapes.

There have been some complaints about this reel, but they are not steady, which leads us to think that the defects are concerned with individual pieces rather than the reel in general. 

Some people have reported that it’s more of a left-handed reel than a right-handed one as some right-handed people have found themselves quite uncomfortable with it. Others have complained about loud cranking and binding noises, while others have said that it’s susceptible to wear and tear as it doesn’t classify as heavy-duty.

Pros:

  • Durable 
  • Premium materials 
  • Affordable
  • Impressive drag 
  • 10+1 bearings 
  • Comes in a variety of sizes 
  • Works with fresh or saltwater 
  • Sealed

Cons:

  • Not heavy duty 
  • Noisy 
  • Suits left-handed people better

Final Verdict

This is one of the best options on the market. It is reliable, robust, offers impressive drag, and is made out of premium materials. All of that comes for a price tag that is not too hefty. It comes in a variety of sizes, so try your hand with a few models before purchasing. We advise you to go for it if it suits your needs as it is an excellent device.

3. KastKing Summer – Best Budget

KastKing Summer

The very first thing that will catch your eye when you look at this reel is the beautiful sleek design; the blue and white paint is perfect for a sunny day of fishing. 

Now on to the basics, the frame here is made out of graphite with 9+1 ball bearings and machine pinion gear, which makes the fishing process a lot smoother. The graphite frame allows for lightness while the hardened metal shaft allows for strength. It boasts a gear ratio of 5.2:1, has several varieties, and a maximum drag of 17.5 pounds. 

Another attractive feature on this reel is the spool. Here, we have a C.N.C. spool, which allows for practicality and precision with your casts. It has also been designed with certain grooves that retain loop for as long as possible, extending the smoothness of your casts. The spool itself is made out of anodized aluminum, which allows it to withstand fresh and saltwater without falling prey to corrosion.

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One more thing is that this reel strives for the comfort of different anglers; hence it offers interchangeable foldable handles that can suit either left-handed or right-handed people.

Pros:

  • Lightweight 
  • Dood drag 
  • Great spool 
  • Impressive design 
  • 9+1 ball bearings

Cons:

  • None

Final Verdict

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this reel. It is perfect for beginners and advanced anglers alike as it offers a lot for a price tag that’s not too heavy on your pocket. The only reason why it’s not at the top of the list is that it’s not revolutionary. Still, it does exactly what an ultralight spinning reel needs to do, and it does so perfectly. This reel would be an excellent choice for anyone.

4. Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 – Best Ultralight Rod and Reel Combo

Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2

This is the only rod/reel combo that you will find on our list, and it has earned its place here because it is the best on the market. Although it is a bit on the heavier side, it is still considered lightweight in addition to being robust, durable, and flexible. 

It is constructed out of graphite and fiberglass, which give it its strength and flexibility. It boasts 3+1 ball bearings, which may sound wobbly, but they have been known to give a smooth performance. 

Moreover,  it features a machined double anodized oversized aluminum spool with an oversized bail wire, which, along with the size variety that the rod itself offers, gives anglers decent freedom. 

It also features stainless steel guides and compression bail springs to minimize the effect of wear and tear on the rod/reel combo. Plus, the maximum drag here is 13 lbs, and the gear ratio is 5.2:1.

Pros:

  • Durable 
  • Affordable
  • No need to look for a suitable rod 
  • Size varieties

Cons:

  • Heavy 
  • Only 3+1 ball bearings

Final Verdict

This combo will save you a lot of trouble when searching for ultralight fishing gear. There’s no need to find the right rod for your reel or vice versa. It’s already done for you in a rod that does its job excellently.

5. Okuma Ceymar C40 – Best Ultralight Spinning Reel Under $50

Okuma Ceymar C40

Upon first receiving this reel, so many customers have confused it for a children’s reel due to its small size. However, this specific reel has the Blade Body Design from Okuma, which decreases the size of the spinning reel, allowing anglers freedom of motion and extended fishing periods. 

The drag system here is a multi-disc oiled filter drug system that has a maximum of 17.6 pounds. One more thing concerning this drag system is that it has a quick start;, no matter how fast your catch decides to flee, it will bring it back in rather smoothly. 

The spool here is machined rigid aluminum, which can take braided and monofilament lines comfortably. The bail wire is aluminum and built quite robustly.  Furthermore, the gearing system here is the precise elliptical, which gives anglers smooth performance. 

This reel boasts 7+1 effective ball bearings, a gear ratio of 5.0:1, a  zinc diecast handle that gives you extraordinary strength and custom EVA handle knobs that secure you a lot of comfort.

One feature that has added a lot to the lightness of this reel is the Okuma RESII computer balancing rotor system, which can maintain very high speeds while still keeping the steadiness and balance of the reel.

It is painted with corrosion-resistant paint, and that’s why a lot of people would say that it’s fit for seawater and freshwater alike. However, people have found that it’s not sealed; that’s why we would prefer for you to keep it to freshwater as sand and other debris could easily get in it and mess it up.

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Pros:

  • Durable 
  • Compact 
  • Below 50 
  • Anti-corrosive  paint 
  • 7+1 ball bearings 
  • Great drag system 
  • Comfortable

Cons:

  • Not sealed

Final Verdict

This reel brings an impressive package in a minimal size. The drag system here is spot on and if you are experimenting with wreck adjustment then it is the perfect choice for you. Also, a lot of people are saying that it is very well-suited for fishing big trout.

6. Piscifun Flame – Best Basic Ultralight Spinning Reel

Piscifun Flame

This reel is ideal for amateurs and beginners. It’s basic but has all the options that a beginner might need. It is made out of graphite with 9+1 incredibly smooth ball bearings, has a maximum drag of 19.8 lbs, a gear ratio of 5.2:1, and a braid- ready spool. 

A lot of people prefer to use this specific reel when going up against larger fish such as catfish due to its ability to put up quite the fight and emerge victoriously. One last thing is that some people have found that the space between the crank and the rod is a little too tight, so you might get caught up in this mess.

Pros:

  • Flexible
  • 9+1 ball bearings
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Crank/rod space is too tight

Final Verdict

The final verdict about this device is that it is excellent for basic use. It will not offer you any revolutionary technologies, but it will undoubtedly give you an enjoyable experience on any waterfront. It is strong, flexible, light, and quite affordable for anyone who is still experimenting with fishing.

How to Pick an Ultralight Spinning Reel

Now that we have shown you our 6 top picks for ultralight spinning reels, we will walk you through the criteria upon which we have chosen these six products. We know that you will conduct your own research; therefore, we have conjectured these features to have on your checklist in order to fish out the ultralight spinning reel that is most suitable for yourself.

1. Material 

With ultralight spinning reels, we know that you’re already in need of a lightweight reel that will help you with smaller catchers. Still, you should always go for quality and never exchange that for lightweight. Your reel will mostly be made out of either aluminum or graphite. 

Aluminum is a lot stronger; it will put out quite the fight. However, it is a lot less malleable and weighs more than graphite. Graphite, on the other hand, is extremely flexible yet lies on the weaker side.

On a more exciting note, several companies have started experimenting with magnesium, which combines lightweight, flexibility, and strength together in one reel. Sadly, they are not very popular on the market yet, so if you can go for a magnesium reel, it would certainly be the best choice.

2. Drag 

Drag is a critical factor, one that can make or break your fishing trip. Drag prevents your line from going backward when your fish catches the bait, so you need to purchase a high-quality drag and have a feel for it in order to set it accordingly. 

Your drag system ought to be made out of carbon steel shaft with as many washers as possible. Furthermore, although you might not need your maximum drag, try to go for the highest one that you can find. 

The basics for any drag is that it must be easily adjustable, able to engage quickly, made of the highest quality materials and greased well to avoid any damage caused by continuous friction.

3. Gear Ratio 

Gear ratio is the number of full spins that your spool makes per one crank of the handle. With each type of fishing, there is a corresponding range of gear ratios that will suit it. You don’t want to go too fast with a massive fish, as that might lead to breaking your line or even your rod. You also don’t want to go too slow as that may cost you your precious catch of the day.

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4. Weight

This is the essence of ultra-light spinning reels and ultralight fishing. A good basic rule is that casting should feel like throwing a plate. Hence, the weight of the reel should not pressure your forearm and wrists any more than a plate would. Try to go for the lightest reel possible while maintaining high-quality materials, drag system, spool, and bearings, as many of them as you can.

5. How It Sits in Your Hands 

Most of the reels are easily adjustable; you can unscrew them and screw them back on either the right or the left side of the rod according to whether you are left-handed or right-handed. 

Always try that specific option before purchasing the reel because some reels are better suited for right-handed people, and some are better suited for the left-handed. Make sure that it sits well in your hand, that you have full control over it, and that you are not annoyed by the placement of the reel.

6. Target Fishing Spot Spool 

Saltwater and freshwater are quite different in the effect that they have on fishing equipment. 

When you’re fishing in freshwater, you can get away with having unsealed gear and cutting costs by using lower-quality materials. 

On the other hand, saltwater is not forgiving at all. It is extremely harmful and corrosive to your gear. Always try to go for aluminum anodized equipment that is painted with anti-corrosive paint and sealed completely; that goes for all parts of your equipment. Moreover, seawater means current, current means wind, and that too will have its effect on your equipment.

7. Number of Bearings 

With ball bearings, the rule of the thumb is that the more, the merrier. With standard reels, four or five ball bearings are good enough; however, when you go lightweight fishing, the least number of ball bearings that you can go for would be 6+1. You need all the help that you can get to put up a worthy fight with the fish.

8. Quality Control 

Quality control is a rather general term, so the most beneficial advice would be to check your equipment head to toe when you receive them because these minor faults will come back to bite you and ruin your fishing trip.

Some of these faults could include a bumpy spool that will interrupt the smoothness of your cast, cause birds nest, and breakage to your line. Make sure that all of your screws are screwed tightly, your entire device is sealed and that the paint does not stop somewhere. 

P.S.: some companies will try to put pieces that they know are faulty in the hope that they will be sold in the middle of the patch, so keep your eyes open for that.

Final Thoughts

So, to wrap-up, light fishing is excellent for a lot of people. If you are injured, just starting out, or just need to have a relaxing day at some waterfront while enjoying some light fishing, this would be the perfect choice for you.

The reel that you should go for should be something light and compact while still maintaining high-quality material and anti-damage features. 

Throughout the article, we have tried to gather reels that balance out such features, and that’s why the Penn Battle II is the best ultralight spinning reel as it struck the perfect balance while still remaining in the affordable category. It’s durable, robust, light, and will not fail on any occasion.

Our second best is the KastKing Sharky III due to its revolutionary drag system. Drag is also something that you should always keep in mind because that’s the only thing keeping your line and rod from breaking. 

If you wish to save yourself the hassle and go for a real/rod combo, then the Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 is an excellent choice.

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