Best Saltwater Spinning Reels
Choosing a fishing reel can be a difficult business, especially if you’re new to fishing or simply new to spinning reels.
So what type of spinning reel will work best for you?
There are a number of things to consider before you make that important purchase but we are here to help make your decision a little easier.
Top Choices: Saltwater Spinning Reels
(links go to Amazon. All reels further below)
We have looked into the main features of saltwater spinning reels to give you a better idea of what you should look for before you buy one.
We've also picked out some of the best saltwater spinning reels on the market, so you can compare them and figure out which one might be the best one for you.
Features of Saltwater Reels To Look Out For
There are a number of factors that you should consider before you purchase a saltwater spinning reel. They have various different features, different materials and they come in a range of sizes.
Durability & Toughness (Saltwater vs Freshwater Reels)
Saltwater spinning reels are obviously going to be subject to harsher conditions than freshwater reels, due to the corrosive nature of saltwater. This is why you need to ensure that whatever spinning reel you buy is designed to withstand saltwater.
The types of materials used in the construction of the spinning reel will affect its durability, so pay close attention to what the reel is made of. Stronger components, such as aluminum, stainless steel and carbon fiber will give the reel more strength.
One material you don’t want on your spinning reel is magnesium. While this material may work well for freshwater fishing, it is not intended to be used for saltwater fishing, as it will rust easily if it gets into contact with saltwater and will become unusable.
You also want the reel to be able to work well under pressure, such as when you have a large fish at the end of your line, so having strong components is important for functionality when you’re fishing. It’s also always a good idea to clean your reel after you use it to extend its working life.
Performance (don't be a 'Drag')
Drag is an important feature in saltwater spinning reels and it is this that will determine the size and weight of the fish that you’ll be able to catch. The more powerful and smooth the drag, the more likely you’ll be able to reel in that important catch.
The drag rates vary from model to model but you also want to make sure the drag is smooth to avoid the fish feeling the pressure or causing your line to break. It’s possible to set the drag rate on your spinning reel depending on the type of fish you’re looking to catch.
The drag system on a reel is there in order to prevent your line breaking when you catch a fish. With two discs working together with the line spool and mechanisms that allow you to reel in and out, they can be tightened or loosened depending on your fish. By adjusting the drag you are basically setting the tension of the reel.
The drag system will essentially let your line slip gradually as the pressure is applied by the fish swimming away at the end of it, meaning your line is less likely to snap under the weight of a big fish and you can reel it in smoothly.
The amount of drag that’s available on reels can vary greatly and can go up to around 50 pounds of drag. However, unless you’re planning on catching 200 pound fish, you’re probably not going to need a drag quite as powerful as that.
The max drag you will need is dependent on the type of fish you plan to catch, the line you’re using and the environment you’re in. The max drag rate is the maximum weight the reel can safely handle but you’ll probably find you won’t often need to max it out if you have the correct reel for your needs.
The weight of the reel is important if you’re planning on fishing for a few hours, as a heavier weight reel can get uncomfortable when casting.
You should also consider a lightweight spinning reel if you’re planning on fishing in a canoe or kayak, as you’ll want to keep your load as light as possible.
When choosing a spinning reel, however, don’t just go on its weight. You should still be keeping in mind the other factors, such as durability, and making sure it’s tough enough for the job.
When choosing your reel you will need to consider where you’ll be fishing, for example, how deep the water will be or if you’ll be casting a long distance. As this should give you a better idea of how much length and weight of line you might need, as your choice of reel should be able to hold as much line as you need.
You’ll probably notice in descriptions of reels that they have the line capacity listed as, for example, 4/195, which is the weight of line in pounds and the length in yards. The length will usually go down as the weight goes up, as there will only be so much room on the reel.
To increase both weight and distance you would need a bigger reel with a higher capacity that would let you use heavier and longer line.
Suited Line Types
Spinning reels can usually take both braided and monofilament lines, so the type you choose will likely depend on your style of fishing or your personal preference. Most of the time you will see the line capacity listed for both monofilament lines and braided lines.
Braided line is generally thinner than monofilament, which is why you can often get more line on the spool compared to monofilament of the same weight rating. This may come in handy if you’re likely to be casting in deeper water.
Monofilament, on the other hand, has more stretch and could be beneficial when used for trolling.
The gear ratio on a spinning reel is used to tell you how many times the line will wrap around the spool with each turn of the handle. The lower the number, the slower the retrieve, which can be useful when reeling in a larger fish.
A medium speed might be considered to have a ratio of around 6:1. This means the bail will turn and wrap the line around the spool six times with every one turn of the reel handle. Occasionally you may see gear ratios listed as 6:3:1 which means the bail will turn 6.3 times every time the handle is cranked.
You may need a faster reel if you find yourself trying to reel in a fish that’s quickly heading towards you.
Different Saltwater Reel Materials
By far one of the most popular materials used in the construction of saltwater spinning reels because of its durability, particularly in saltwater. It’s also lightweight.
A lot of times you might find that the aluminum components have been coated in a more saltwater resistant material to give the reel a longer lifespan, protecting it from rust.
There are some manufacturers that combine materials in order to create a more durable one. Graphite is often combined with carbon fiber or aluminum to create a tough hybrid material that will resist corrosion and is ideal for saltwater use.
Carbon fiber is a durable material that is often used in the construction of the spools of saltwater spinning reels because of its strength.
Titanium is a tough material that is frequently used as a component in saltwater spinning reels. Often you will get a spool made from titanium as it is resistant to corrosion from saltwater as well as being a low density material, meaning it’s lightweight.
Stainless steel is a strong metal that is very good at preventing rust but often you will find that a stainless steel reel has had an additional protective coating layered on top. This coating boosts its corrosive resistant properties and makes the reel last longer, as its components become sealed.
Reel Sizes Explained
Spinning reels come in all different sizes, with each one being suited for a particular style of fishing, and it can be extremely difficult to know how to read the sizes if you’re not familiar with them.
Basically the size of the reel you need will depend on the size of the fish you’re hoping to catch, as well as the length of your rod.
So you will need to determine what type of fish you want to catch and where you plan to catch them before you decide on the size of reel you’ll need.
The sizes of the reels come in small, medium and large. In the small section you’ll find size numbers 10, 100, or 1000, up to 35, 350, or 3500.
The difference in the numbers, for example 35 and 3500, is merely down to the manufacturer, as both numbers mean the same size.
Small size reels are ideal for light fishing in lakes or rivers, in more shallower bodies of water. The size of fish you hope to catch will be smaller and lighter compared to what you might catch with medium or large size reels.
Medium size reels range from 40, 400 or 4000, up to 55, 550 or 5500, and these are better used for lakes, rivers and shallower offshore fishing. The large size reels range from 60, 600 or 6000 right up to 10500, and these are better suited to deeper water fishing, such as from a boat or fishing off of rocks.
Best Spinning Reels For Saltwater
1: Shimano Stella SWB (Money No Object)
The Shimano Stella SWB reel comes in a range of sizes for offshore fishing, from 5000 up to 30000, meaning it could be a great reel if you’re looking to target large, powerful saltwater species.
The 6000 model is a lightweight spinning reel with a gear ratio of 4.6:1 and a line capacity of 265 yards of 12 pound mono line. It has 14+ 1 bearings and a max drag of 29 pounds.
It’s designed to minimize friction between the spool and gears and is designed to allow for improved casting over long distances.
2: Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel
The Battle II is a durable, metal body spinning reel that is crafted with corrosive resistant materials and designed for saltwater use. Featuring aluminum, stainless steel and carbon fiber components, it’s a tough reel that will stand up to the pressure of your fishing.
Its 5 stainless steel ball bearings are sealed for extra durability, providing a smooth drag, while the carbon fiber drag system ensures it has the strength to catch your fish. It also features an anti-slip spool and has markings so you know when you’re getting close to the end of your line.
3: KastKing Kodiak Saltwater Spinning Reel
This spinning reel packs a lot of power into its lightweight frame. Featuring all metal construction with an aluminum frame, stainless steel ball bearings and a carbon fiber drag system, this spinning reel is designed for saltwater use and will let you catch large fish weighing up to 39.5 pounds.
It has 10 plus 1 shielded ball bearings, which produce a smoother drag and bolster its strength. The aluminum rotor is designed to prevent sand or saltwater from getting in, helping to extend the reel’s lifespan.
4: Penn Spinfisher V Spinning Fishing Reel
This spinning reel is ideal for saltwater use with its corrosion resistant all metal construction. It features 5 stainless steel ball bearings with an anti-reverse bearing that helps prevent interruptions when you’re reeling in your catch.
It also benefits from having a friction trip ramp that prevents the bail from tripping, which allows you to cast your line the full range without the bail holding you back. The reel has a powerful drag with greased washers that ensure smoothness when reeling in.
5: Okuma Azores Saltwater Spinning Reel
Featuring a dual force drag system for extra precision and power, this spinning reel is crafted with corrosive resistant materials so it has the ability to perform well in saltwater conditions. It also features a precision click drag adjustment setting, allowing you to customize the drag to suit your catch.
Another feature of the Okuma Azores spinning reel is that it has carbonite and felt drag washers for smooth and strong performance. Additionally, it stainless steel bearings with an anti-reverse bearing to give you more control over your catch as you reel it in.
6: Shimano Socorro SW, Heavy Duty Saltwater Reel
The Shimano Socorro spinning reel is ideal for saltwater fishing, either inshore or offshore. It features durable Hagane gearing with X-Ship technology to allow for a smoother performance under heavier loads and it also helps to reduce friction when casting.
This reel has 5 bearings, including a roller bearing and a powerful Cross Carbon drag.
7: Sougayilang Spinning Fishing Reel with Full Metal Body
This lightweight spinning reel is designed for use in both freshwater and saltwater fishing, so it could be a good choice if you fish in a range of environments. It features a durable machine cut metal handle, which is collapsible for easy storage, and a tough aluminum spool.
Another feature of this reel is that it is has a slimline design, so it’s not overly bulky. It also features adjustable cast control and precision drive components that provide a smooth performance when winding.
8: Daiwa BG Spinning Reel
The Daiwa spinning reel is a lightweight reel that features an anodized machine cut aluminum frame to give it extra strength and durability in saltwater conditions as well as corrosion resistant components.
It benefits from having 7 bearings for a smoother performance and an anti-reverse system to make reeling in easier. It also features a waterproof drag system, which will extend the life of the reel, provided you rinse it off with freshwater after using in saltwater.
9: Penn Fierce II Spinning Reel
The Fierce II is a tough, durable spinning reel made with an all metal frame and a powerful oiled felt drag system. It benefits from 5 stainless steel ball bearings that are shielded to protect against saltwater corrosion, as well as an anti-reverse bearing for better performance.
It has a stainless steel main shaft with an aluminum bail wire and has the benefit of markings to let you know when you’re running out of line on the spool.
10: Piscifun Honor Spinning Reel
Designed to take up less space, this compact spinning reel is lightweight, slimline, with an aluminum and graphite body, and can be used in both freshwater and saltwater. It features 11 sealed bearings, giving you smooth performance as well as extra protection against saltwater corrosion.
Another feature of this spinning reel is its powerful carbon fiber drag, which gives a smooth retrieval. It also features a convenient collapsible aluminum handle, which can be useful if you’re short on storage space.
11: Goswot Left/Right Interchangeable Saltwater Spinning Reel (Budget Option)
Featuring a collapsible rocker arm for easy storage, this spinning wheel can be easily attached to your rod on either the left or right side. It has a lightweight frame and a streamlined design, making it easy to use during hours of fishing.
This great value spinning reel benefits from 12 ball bearings and metal components, and it can be a good choice if you’re looking for a reel for light fishing or if you’re just getting started. This is a versatile reel that can be used for both freshwater and saltwater fishing.
How To Clean Saltwater Reels
Even though your reel might be designed for saltwater use, you should still clean it after every fishing trip to keep it in working order.
The first thing to do to clean is it to gently spray it down with clean water. Using a mist setting on your hose might be better as this can help to prevent salt and grit getting pushed into the components. A fine setting should also prevent your rod from being fired out of your hand.
After you’ve rinsed the reel, use a clean, dry rag to wipe it down to dry it. But you should let it air dry before storing.
You may find it’s necessary to take the reel apart to clean the inside. This can be done according to your reel’s assembly instructions but it can be a good idea to also remove the spool and line to rinse them off.
Oiling your reel can help to keep it working properly and can be applied to the joints and screws on the reel, but not the gears.
Every once in a while it can also be a good idea to grease the gears to keep them working properly. A little amount of fishing reel grease can be applied to the bottom of the gears.
You can also spray on a little furniture polish onto the reel and brush it over with a toothbrush. This can help to protect the components of the reel against corrosion and may even help to reduce any existing corrosion.
What If I Accidentally Drop My Reel In The Sea?
If your reel does accidentally take a swim, one of the best things to do is submerge it in clean freshwater before you do anything else.
It’s a good idea to then take it apart before cleaning it and relubricating it.
Are The Quality Of The Bearings Important?
The bearings on your reel are likely to last longer if they are of a higher quality and built to be corrosion resistant. However, you should still maintain them properly to maximize their lifespan.
Stainless steel and ceramic can be good choices for saltwater fishing because they tend to be more resistant to corrosion.
Should I Use A Baitcaster Instead?
This can be a case of personal preference.
A spinning reel can be a good choice for using light line and light bait and can be easier to use for some anglers than a baitcaster.
With a baitcaster you might find you need a more accurate cast, which may not be ideal when fishing in larger bodies of saltwater.
How Do I Choose The Right Saltwater Reel For Me?
First of all, you will probably need to decide where you plan to fish and what type of fish you want to catch, as this can determine the size of reel you might need, as well as some of the features that might be useful.
If you’re looking to target larger saltwater species, a larger size of reel with a powerful drag system might be better. You may also want a reel with a slower gear ratio and a larger capacity spool, especially if you plan to fish in deep or open water.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to fish in shallower waters, you might find a smaller size reel is more suitable. But a medium sized reel could be a good option if you’d prefer a more versatile reel that can be useful in both shallow and deep water to target a wider range of species.
How Do I Spool The Reel?
Place your line spool (package) on a flat surface with the label facing you. The line should come off of that initial spool in the same direction that it goes onto your reel spool. Load the line onto the reel spool and use the reel handle to slowly wind the line onto the reel.
Reeling In (Conclusion)
Now that you know a little bit more about spinning reels and the features to look out for, you should have a better idea of what to look out for.
The main things to consider for saltwater reels are the build quality of the reel and to make sure that it’s suitable for the type of fishing you plan on doing. For saltwater fishing you need to make sure the reel is able to withstand the damage that saltwater can cause.
Remember that saltwater can corrode your equipment, so keep in mind that your reel’s components should be either corrosion resistant themselves or sealed with corrosion resistant material.
As long as you know the type of fishing you plan on doing, you should be able to make a good choice when it comes to purchasing a new reel. And just remember to factor in the size and weight of the fish and, likewise, your rod.
Have you got a saltwater spinning reel? If so, which one, and why? Tell us all about it below...