Spinning reels come in the thousands and many aren’t made for saltwater. You can cut those out right away. When it comes to the best saltwater spinning reel, there’s still a long list of choices. Beginning your search from scratch is a chore but you don’t have to. Your best bet is to take the advice of a seasoned angler and listen to owner feedback.
Guide To Choosing The Best Saltwater Spinning Reel With Following Reviews
What Is A Saltwater Spinning Reel?
The spinning reel mounts and hangs down below the spinning rod. A right handed angler holds the rod with his strong hand and reels with his left. Spinning reels use upright fixed spools with a wire bail that controls the line. Saltwater spinning reels don’t look any different than the freshwater versions.
What makes a saltwater spinning reel different happens on the inside. Saltwater reels must make use of corrosive resistant parts. Stainless steel, marine grade bronze, and anodized aluminum are common ingredients in these reels. The best saltwater spinning reel manufacturers take protective measures even further.
Additional features like shielded ball bearings and sealed gear systems further improve a saltwater reel’s durability. However, you can find all these features and still not have a reel that performs well. Top saltwater spinning reels are made to resist the elements and handle fish without issue.
How To Choose The Best Saltwater Spinning Reel
You know to look for spinning reels with saltwater protection but what about their capabilities? Luckily, spinning reels have the same general specifications. You’ll see this holds true for the rating systems on most every spinning reel. Here’s what you’ll find.
Spinning Reel Specifications
- Line Capacity – This will tell you how much line the spool can hold. Modern spinning reels usually give separate specs for monofilament and braided line. These specs often give a range of two or three line sizes.
- Maximum Drag – This spec tells the power of the drag. The drag works to put resistance against the spool when a fish is pulling. It allows the line to come off the spool at a desired setting. The maximum drag shows the top range. It’s used a guide for power because drags are rarely set to max capacity.
- Ball Bearings – The spec tells you how many bearings the reel uses. The best saltwater spinning reels use between 3 and 10 bearings.
- Roller Bearing – This is a one way bearing which keeps the reel from spinning backwards. It’s also known as an anti reverse bearing or ARB.
- Gear Ratio – The spinning reel handle turns the gears which turn the spool at a faster speed. That’s what gears are made for. This fraction tells you how many times the spool turns per 1 single turn of the reel handle.
- Weight – Reel weights are listed in ounces and lighter is important. Spinning reels get heavy after a couple hours of fishing.
Best Saltwater Spinning Reel Features
Features in a spinning reel will be those special characteristics that make it stand out. A saltwater spinning reel might feature special corrosive resistant properties or a casting lip on the spool. One popular feature among saltwater spinning reel enthusiasts is the baitrunner.
The baitrunner feature allows a spinning reel to act like a conventional reel. Fishing live bait on a conventional reel is easy because line rolls right off the spool. When the bail of a spinning reel is opened, the line comes off the top of the spool.
The only time the spool on spinning reels turns backwards is when the bail and drag are engaged. In other words, when a fish pulls line. The baitrunner feature fixes this by providing two drag settings. One setting is for pulling on fish. The baitrunner setting has almost no resistance which allows small live bait to pull the line out.
Putting Specs & Features Together To Find The Best Saltwater Spinning Reel For Your Needs
You’ll find the right specs in a saltwater reel once you know what you plan to catch. The specs will tell you which reels are made for small species fishing like bluegill and other bream. Conversely, specs like max drag will tell you if the spinning reel can handle big game fish.
These are sometimes selling points but they’re almost always useful. The baitrunner shows a good example of a feature anglers might want or may be able to do without. Who knows how many different models of saltwater spinning reels are out there? The trick is to find features that make a difference in your style of fishing.
5 Of The Best Saltwater Spinning Reels – Our Top Picks
1. Penn Spinfisher V – Saltwater Spinning Reel
Penn is a worldwide name in fishing reels and they know how to do saltwater. This is nowhere more apparent than in the Penn Spinfisher V. Anglers have 10 models to choose from which offers one of best ranges of size in any saltwater spinning reel.
Line ratings start as light as light as 4 lbs in the smallest model and go up to 50 lbs at the top end. Features of the Penn Spinfisher V include a fully sealed gear box and drag system. These reel models can withstand saltwater. Another feature of Spinfisher V reels is the drag system which uses three carbon fiber discs. One on top of the reel and two on the bottom.
Penn Spinfisher V saltwater spinning reels have a full metal body and sideplate. Reel twist isn’t a factor and gear alignment stays precise under heavy loads. The models included offer different versions of the reel. The Spinfisher V comes in standard, live liner, and bail less models. All models sit top of our list in overall value.
2. Daiwa Procyon EX – Saltwater Spinning Reel
Fishing reel and Daiwa roll off the tongue like they were made for each other. Rising above mediocrity in saltwater spinning reels is the Daiwa Procyon EX. Daiwa makes the Procyon in 4 models that carry line from 6 to 14 pounds. These reels aren’t made for big game fishing but work perfectly for inshore kayaks or lagoon float tubes.
The largest model offers a max drag of 17.6 pounds which can handle some nice size fish. Features of the Procyon include advanced saltwater protection. Daiwa makes use of their special mag seal which uses a magnetized oil to lock out harmful grit. Procyon spinning reels are kept light with features like a hollow bail wire and air rotors.
Daiwa Procyon reels pay special attention to their spool design. These reels use a wider tapered spool which spreads the line out and allows it to come off in wider coils. Less line memory means the line presents better in the water. Procyon reels provide the smoothest of retrieves with their 7 ball bearing system. Offering added saltwater protection and rock solid features, the Procyon stands out as one of the best saltwater spinning reels.
3. KastKing Sharky II – Saltwater Spinning Reel
KastKing came out of nowhere a few years back after some college friends applied their combined expertise. They put marketing, mechanical design, engineering, manufacturing, and sales together to create fishing reels. The result? Quality fishing reels at prices that make you wonder what the catch is.
The Sharky II is a perfect example of a saltwater spinning reel that meets this description. Starting with a reinforced full metal frame and lightweight aluminum spool, the Sharky II gets better from there. Smooth as can be with 10 shielded bearings, the reel uses a stainless steel main shaft. Brass and alloy gears add strength and computer machining makes them precise.
Sharky II saltwater spinning reels come in 6 sizes that hold mono line from 6 to 25 pound test. These aren’t big game reels though the largest model offers an astounding 41.5 pounds maximum drag. Another big feature that KastKing brags about is the spool on Sharky II reel models.
The spools are narrower and they’re grooved to hold lubrication. Their narrow design makes them lighter but they don’t sacrifice strength. Lastly, having a narrow spool on a spinning reel amounts to more line capacity. All these features make the Sharky II a high quality saltwater spinning reel but the price doesn’t make sense. It makes our best saltwater spinning reel list because the reel is easily passed over when people see the low price. Give it a look and you’ll see what we mean.
4. Okuma Trio – Saltwater Spinning Reel
Okuma joins the family of well known fishing reel companies. The Okuma Trio offers a hybrid design not seen in other saltwater spinning reels. It has a crossover material design that includes a steel frame but graphite side plates. This keeps the reel strong where it needs to be and gets rid of some unwanted weight.
8 ball bearings make the retrieve on the Trio a smooth ride and the drag system boasts a special design as well. The spool of the trio sits in a housing where the drag can be evenly applied. Even pressure comes from drag on opposite ends of the spool, thus the name dual force drag. The spool also uses a combination of materials. The arbor consists of graphite and lips cross over to aluminum.
As for saltwater protection, stainless steel bearings do the work. This qualifies the Okuma Trio as a saltwater reel though it’ll definitely need thorough freshwater cleansing after use. Despite the lack of additional marine protection, many anglers consider the Trio as the best saltwater spinning reel because of its drag. Customer reviews rave about the smoothness of the dual force drag and how the reel crosses over for big freshwater bass fishing. The positives of the Okuma Trio far outweigh any drawbacks and it easily makes our list of top saltwater spinning reels.
5. Daiwa BG (Big Game) – Saltwater Spinning Reel
It’s not a list of top saltwater spinning reels without at least one big game reel. This lands on the Daiwa BG saltwater spinning reel. Going offshore with a spinning setup? It’s time to consider the Daiwa BG. With ten models to choose from, the series can effectively fish anywhere. It’s the heavier models that qualify as the best saltwater spinning reel for big game fish.
The Daiwa 8000 can hold 590 yards of 65 pound braided line with a maximum drag of 33 pounds. If you set that drag to 25 pounds it could put a hurting on huge fish. The 4500 and larger models move from a single anti reverse to a dual system which adds huge value for fighting big game fish. 80 -100 pound tuna put too much pressure on a single anti reverse system.
Daiwa BG reels offer extreme elemental protection. They spin smoothly on 6 stainless steel bearings and have waterproof drags. The black anodized aluminum frame won’t chip and provides long term corrosion resistance. BG saltwater spinning reels keep it light using air rotors and lightweight aluminum. They also provide power in the form of beefed up precision gears. Take one close look at Daiwa BG reels and you’ll understand why it made our list of top saltwater spinning reels. They’re works of art and the price will leave you stunned.
Defining Qualities Of The Best Saltwater Spinning Reel
The best saltwater spinning reel isn’t necessarily the most expensive or the cheapest. Cheap reels can work fine for a time but they usually don’t hold up long. Expensive reels are honestly quite fantastic but they go outside the average angler’s budget. Chances are the model that costs half as much will do the job you need it to and more.
As far as we’re concerned, the best saltwater spinning reel avoids the high dollar or dirt cheap extremes. We looked for reels that fall within a reasonable budget for any angler and that provide true performance on the water. Our top 5 saltwater spinning reels provide what an educated shopper would call value. With proper care these reels will last in tough conditions. When it comes to doing their job, they’ll give you more than you expected.
Have experience with or a question about any of our picks? We’re eager to hear what you have to say. Spark up the conversation in the comment box below.