If you are here, it is probably because you wish to take your fishing hobby to the next level. Fishing for a trout or two is great, but every angler knows that the real game is out at sea.
However, you can’t go at it unprepared or will return empty-handed. This is why we researched extensively on best saltwater spinning reels.
Successful saltwater fishing requires good equipment that can withstand the harshness of salt. Not every reel is capable of holding its own against big fish either.
Check out our best spinning reel reviews and buyer’s guide to make an informed purchase that helps you raise your game!
Quick Overview – Top 10 Best Saltwater Spinning Reels
- Shimano Stradic FK – Incredibly strong and affordable reel.
- Pflueger Supreme XT – Smooth and powerful saltwater reel.
- Shimano Baitrunner D – Quality performance at a low price.
- Penn Clash – Innovative reel with plenty of features.
- Daiwa BG – Reliable saltwater fishing reel.
- Penn Battle II – Smooth and capable reel at a low price.
- Pflueger President – Premium performance at a fraction of the cost.
- Okuma Trio – Strong set of performance-enhancing features.
- Okuma Avenger ABF – Fish for live bait with this affordable and capable reel.
- SeaKnight Rapid – Cost-effective reel for first-time anglers
Best Saltwater Spinning Reels Reviewed
A good saltwater spinning reel needs to be more than just light and strong. It should have sufficient protection to remain efficient for a long time.
The following are some of the best saltwater spinning reels that you can consider for your first saltwater angling trip.
1. Okuma Avenger ABF – Best Budget Bait Feeding Reel
Anyone who has taken on fishing as a hobby or a profession has probably heard of Okuma. This fishing equipment manufacturer prides itself on a diverse range of fishing products.
The company’s fishing reels provide value at all price points. The Avenger is its most popular budget offering.
Okuma’s Avenger is available in two variants – a regular ‘B’ variant, and the ABF model we have chosen for our review.
Both the variants are available at a highly affordable price. We would recommend that you go for the slightly pricier ABF. This model comes with a bait feeding system allowing you to catch live bait.
The Avenger works on a 7-bearing system that includes 6 BB and 1 RB. The bearings are stainless steel so you can expect good resistance to external elements and a prolonged lifespan.
The reel’s anti-reverse bearing ensures that the drag functions properly without any jerks and hiccups. The Avenger is capable of a maximum drag of 22 pounds.
Okuma goes with a graphite build and rotor for the Avenger. This material choice makes it a sturdy option that is lighter than aluminum reels.
The graphite build also increases its resistance to saltwater. The Avenger also features a sealed gearbox to isolate the internals from sand, dirt, and other contaminants. It also protects them from corrosion.
- Bait feeding system
- Sealed gear box
- Graphite build and rotor
- Corrosion resistant
- Rare line tangling issue
Okuma does a great job of providing tremendous value for every dollar you spend on this already inexpensive reel.
At this price, finding a sturdy, durable, and reliable reel is an ordeal. With the Avenger ABF, you don’t have to choose performance over price, or vice versa.
2. Pflueger Supreme XT – Strong and Durable Saltwater Reel
The Supreme XT comes as an upgrade to Pflueger’s popular Supreme fishing reel series.
Despite being a budget reel, the Supreme XT sits at the top of its tier. The reel benefits from Pflueger’s rich experience of making fine fishing equipment.
The Supreme XT sports a magnesium body and rotor and a braid-ready spool made from anodized aluminum.
This is a powerful spinning reel that comes ready to tackle the bigger fish. The unique choice of materials adds to the reel’s durability and sturdiness.
However, the materials are also ultralight in this spinning reel, resulting in an overall weight of just 6 ounces.
The drag mechanism has been crafted from carbon-fiber. The Supreme XT features a sealed drag system which protects the internals from harmful elements.
This results in a smooth drag system that eliminates jerks and retains its efficiency over a long period of time.
The inlay knob design reduces the overall weight of the reel by almost thirty percent.
The Supreme XT may be a lightweight reel with a small form factor, but its appearance is deceiving. The reel is powerful enough to reel in fish as heavy as twelve pounds.
This may not be the highest capacity on a reel but is worth a mention considering the reel’s affordable price point. The Supreme XT works on a 9 BB and 1 RB stainless-steel bearing system.
- Magnesium build and rotor
- 10-bearing system
- Carbon-fiber drag system
- Anodized aluminum spool
- Braid tangles sometimes
The speed and the smoothness of the Supreme XT will leave many users impressed with its performance. The streamlined design of the fishing reel incorporates enough high-end features for it to be included in the big leagues.
3. Shimano Baitrunner D – Best in Baitrunning Performance
Shimano is a brand that is responsible for many innovations in fishing equipment manufacturing.
The company was the first one to introduce baitrunner fishing reels which have now become common. The Baitrunner D, as the name suggests, is Shimano’s baitrunner model.
The reel allows you to catch and use live bait to attract bigger fish. The reel also supports fishing with cut bait.
This lets the fish take the bait and swim a short distance before the hook sets in. The Baitrunner D has been made available in a choice of four models of different sizes.
This mid-range fishing reel features a ton of innovations that result in increased durability and higher performance.
Baitrunner D makes use of a dual-drag system. The primary drag system can be switched off with the flip of a lever.
This enables users to free spool when the bail is closed. The secondary drag system works well with small fish and when catching live bait.
Shimano prides itself on creating smooth fishing reels. Its reels are among the smoothest on the market.
Several unique innovations make this possible, including Shimano’s Fluidrive II gear mechanism.
This mechanism makes use of a larger than average primary gear that is polished for smooth and effortless retrievals.
- Fish with live bait
- Dual-drag system
- Innovative gear system
- Varispeed oscillation
- Small line retrieval
Baitrunner reels don’t get better than Shimano’s Baitrunner D. The reel has incorporated many of Shimano’s innovations to make it one of the best saltwater spinning reels for the money.
Baitrunner D is versatile and powerful, so you can take it on any type of fishing trip.
4. Penn Clash – Best Saltwater Reel for the Money
The Clash line of fishing reels was first introduced by Penn in 2015. The lineup was acclaimed for its versatility, durability, and value for money.
The Clash is a mid-range spinning reel that sits between Penn’s budget and premium offerings.
The Penn Clash is a small and robust fishing reel that sports an all-metal body. The side plates have been designed from anodized aluminum to give the reel added protection against corrosion caused by saltwater and other elements.
The rotor is made from RR30, Penn’s patented carbon resin material that is both sturdy and lightweight.
The reel features a machine-cut CNC gear mechanism. This comprises of aluminum primary gears and brass pinion gears arranged in a tight mesh.
The effectiveness of the gears is enhanced by the mesh holding them tightly in place when the reel is being used.
The Clash runs on a 9-bearing system comprising of 8 BB and 1 RB. The bearing system is sealed so it is protected from the effects of saltwater.
Furthermore, the drag system is lightweight and capable of producing a good amount of drag power.
This is owed to the device’s carbon-fiber drag washers. The washers are designed to accept pressure from both sides.
Such a design enhances the drag pressure by 20% in comparison to other mid-range spinning reels. The washers also eliminate jerks during retrieval.
- CNC gears
- Carbon-fiber drag washers
- Sealed internals
- Corrosion protection
- Line roller needs alignment
The Penn Clash is a lightweight reel that works well for different fishing tasks. Corrosion-resistant materials and a sealed bearing system give the reel enhanced protection against saltwater.
Casting is effortless and the drag is powerful enough to reel in bigger fish.
5. Daiwa BG – Reliable and Innovative Saltwater Reel
Daiwa is another company that has made quite a mark in the fishing industry over the years. It has extensive experience that dates back to 1955.
This has led to Daiwa becoming a market leader in terms of quality and innovation. The Daiwa BG is a premium offering from the company that comes without a premium price tag.
Crafted from anodized aluminum, the Daiwa BG is a lightweight and sturdy fishing reel. A matte black body with hints of polished gold gives the reel an attractive aesthetic.
Being made of aluminum, it is also among the more durable reels we have reviewed at this price. The smooth handle and comfortable knob give it a premium feel and help with extended usage.
The Daiwa BG’s noteworthy performance revolves around its resistance to the elements. The anodized aluminum body and spool protect the reel from the action of saltwater.
The same goes for its sealed drag system and corrosion-resistant bearings. The Daiwa BG is a capable fishing reel that can retrieve up to 15 pounds of fish. This comes as a result of its efficient drag system.
The benefit of the ABS cut spool that the device features is that it eliminates line tangling. This is a recurring concern on spinning reels.
Most budget reels fail to provide an effective solution to this problem. Furthermore, the Daiwa BG works on a 7-bearing system comprising of 6 BB and 1 RB stainless steel bearings.
Although the bearings are not sealed, they feature enhanced corrosion protection.
- ABS cut spool
- 7-bearing system
- Efficient air rotor
- Sealed drag mechanism
- Spool is not anodized
Affordable and sufficiently powerful, the Daiwa BG does not disappoint. The reel is as durable and sturdy as it is lightweight.
The exterior, as well as the internal components, provide good protection against damaging elements. Thus making this an excellent budget reel for saltwater fishing.
6. Penn Battle II – Best Value Saltwater Reel
Penn’s fishing reels are frequently included in our recommendation lists. We have always admired the versatility of its offerings. The company is capable of delivering tremendous value at different price points.
The Battle II is a mid-range, affordable spinning reel that comes packed with a number of features.
It may not be the lightest reel on the market, but it feels premium and strong. Featuring a full-metal body and aluminum elements, the reel is sure to serve you faithfully for years.
Penn has included several advanced features but its focus for Battle II is ergonomics.
From the smooth feel of the reel’s body to the rubber-covered knob, this reel is designed for comfort during extended usage.
The weight of the reel does not take away from its ease of use. Instead, it gives the design substance and allows the reel to stand strong in difficult fights against bigger fish.
The Battle II features a carbon-fiber drag system. The HT 100 carbon-fiber makes for a lightweight but smooth and sturdy drag mechanism.
The keyed washer in the drag system increases the drag pressure by twenty percent.
An instant anti-reverse feature reduces the reel’s back play so the hook can be set without trouble. The reel works on a 6-bearing system.
- Full-metal body
- Powerful drag mechanism
- Instant anti-reverse
- Heavier than average
Penn’s Battle II is an affordable and capable spinning reel. It is ideal for both freshwater and saltwater as its anti-corrosive build gives it exceptional durability. It ensures that the reel stays efficient even through continued usage.
7. Pflueger President – Best Saltwater Spinning Reel Under 100
Pflueger has had decades of experience in fishing gear manufacturing. The company started selling fishing gear in 1881.
Since that time, it has grown to become a respected and trusted name in the fishing community.
The President comes under Pflueger’s line of budget fishing reels. The manufacturer uses graphite for its primary construction and for the rotor.
The graphite adds strength and rigidity to the reel without adding a lot to the weight. The President is a strong reel which is ten percent lighter than conventional reels in this price range.
With a polished blue frame and accents of black and gold, the President is an attractive reel. The handle is ergonomically designed to minimize discomfort when handling the reel for longer.
Its steady grip gives more control to users when they are casting the bait and reeling in their catch. Aluminum is used for various components such as the handle.
The President works on a 10-bearing system comprising of 9 BB + 1 RB stainless-steel bearings.
The bearings are corrosion resistant so the reel fares well against harsher use such as saltwater fishing.
Due to the smooth bearings and a smartly designed spool, casting is effortless. During retrieval, the fishing line does not get tangled and the drag system reduces jerks.
- Suitable for freshwater and saltwater fishing
- Smooth 10-bearing system
- Durable and weather-resistant
- Good value for money
- Internals not sealed
Pflueger may be known for its high-end fishing equipment but its budget line is what captures the most favor.
The President is a good example of what manufacturers can achieve on a budget. Its stunning build and versatile performance make it the best saltwater spinning reel under 100 dollars.
8. Okuma Trio – Best Small Saltwater Spinning Reel
The Trio is another impressive line of budget fishing reels from the leading manufacturer.
It is an innovative reel that delivers great performance in a small body and at a small price tag. The Trio is more aesthetically pleasing than its counterpart that we reviewed above.
The Okuma Trio is a small but good-looking piece of equipment. The reel sports a polished metal body with gold and black accents.
Even without considering the quality of the materials used, the Trio is a beautiful reel that attracts with its aesthetic.
The build quality will also leave users impressed. It is among the strongest reels we have reviewed at this price.
What makes this small spinning reel so powerful is its dual-force drag mechanism. The drag system utilizes both sides of the spool to achieve maximum drag pressure.
Doing this enhances the reel’s efficiency and smoothness. The multi-disk drag washer and carbon-fiber washer allow the drag system to minimize jerks during retrieval so retrieving large fish becomes easier.
The Trio has an innovative cross-over build. It utilizes graphite and anodized aluminum components for the primary construction as well as the spool.
The combination of these two materials adds to the reel’s sturdiness while keeping the weight light.
The entire construction is weather-resistant with anti-corrosive properties. The reel operates on an 11-bearing system.
- Sturdy and lightweight
- Crossover design
- 11-bearing system
- Dual-force drag mechanism
- Anti-corrosive materials
- A bit noisy
Value spinning reels are rarely marked by their innovation and performance. The Okuma Trio offers an appealing blend of value and high-end performance.
It also impresses with its stylish and sleek form factor. It is the best small saltwater fishing reel to buy on a budget.
9. Shimano Stradic FK – Best Saltwater Spinning Reel
It is not surprising to see another one of Shimano’s offerings topping another one of our recommendation lists.
When a device delivers on its promises and provides superior value at a given price point, it is bound to win hearts and pockets. The Stradic FK is one such device.
The Stradic FK is the most powerful saltwater spinning reel on this list. It is also among the most powerful you can buy at this price.
The Stradic FK may be a relatively expensive offering in comparison to others we have reviewed here.
However, it sits at an affordable, mid-range price that will not put off most buyers and fishing enthusiasts. It looks premium and works as a device twice its price.
There are a lot of things that work together to give this device its exceptional value. At the center of it all is a Hagane body.
Shimano’s flagship material enhances the reel’s durability while keeping the weight as light as possible.
The reel is sturdy enough to withstand anything from minor bumps to considerably rough use. Such build quality is normally reserved for more expensive devices.
To top it all, the Stradic FK makes use of Shimano’s X-Ship technology. This is a combination of features that enhances the reel’s efficiency and performance.
The system comprises of a smarter pinion gear placement that allows for greater energy transfers.
The reel’s high-efficiency gear system is capable of reeling in big fish of up to twenty-four pounds.
- Huge drag power
- Hagane body and gearing
- X-Ship efficiency enhancement
- Sealed internals
- No anti-reverse functionality
Who says you need expensive equipment for big fish hunting? Companies like Shimano have been working to deliver high-end performance at all budgets.
Pack it for your next trip and you will find that the Stradic FK is the best spinning reel for grouper, seabass, and other big fish.
10. SeaKnight Rapid – Best Saltwater Spinning Reel Under 50
SeaKnight is a brand that has dominated the budget fishing equipment market for quite some time. The company’s Rapid fishing reel series is a set of versatile reels that showcase a good set of features.
This is an inexpensive reel that impresses with its durability and both saltwater and freshwater capabilities.
The Rapid is surprisingly well-built for its price. The reel features an all-aluminum build that includes the rotor and the spool.
All the components are protected by advanced anti-corrosion protection that gives the reel an advantage when being used for saltwater fishing.
Both the spool and rotor sport a sealed design that isolates the internals from detrimental elements including salt water.
Not only does this turn the Rapid into a versatile fishing tool, it also boosts the reel’s lifespan. Its bearing system comprises 10 BB and 1 RB shielded stainless-steel bearings.
As the bearings are protected from the elements as well, they won’t lose their smoothness overtime.
Not only is the Rapid durable and versatile, but it is also one of the strongest fishing reels in this price range.
The Rapid is capable of reeling in almost fifteen pounds of fish. This is a result of the reel’s sealed carbon-fiber drag system.
The drag power is sufficient for the average seabass and other big saltwater fishes.
- Anti-corrosion coating
- Aluminum build
- Powerful carbon-fiber drag system
- Sealed internals
- Shaft is made of plastic
The Rapid from SeaKnight is probably the best saltwater spinning reel under 50 dollars that you can buy.
It is especially a great choice if you are new to fishing and haven’t determined which type of fish you will be fishing for. Its versatile nature makes it a wise investment for any angler.
How to Buy the Best Saltwater Spinning Reels
Now that you have explored our reviews for the best spinning reels for saltwater fishing, you are almost ready to embark on your gear hunting journey.
To select the best reels from an expanse of others, you must critically assess each reel for its strengths and weaknesses.
This will only happen if you have sufficient information about how reels work and know the important aspects that you need to be looking for.
In this buying guide, we discuss some of the most important factors to consider when shopping for a saltwater fishing reel.
How to Choose a Spinning Reel for Saltwater
As we mentioned before, not all fishing reels will give you great saltwater performance. A good reel will deliver sufficient performance initially.
However, if it is not made for saltwater use, it will lose its efficiency in a matter of months.
Even an expensive reel made only for fresh water will be a waste of money in the long run if you intend to use it for saltwater fishing.
Here are some factors you need to consider, specifically with regards to saltwater fishing reels:
This is one of the most important considerations when searching for a saltwater fishing reel. The material that is used for the reel’s body and internals determines its performance and durability.
Saltwater fishing involves big fish hunting, so you need a reel that is powerful enough to reel in that big fish.
Saltwater is also very harsh on your reel. Therefore, saltwater fishing reels are specifically designed to withstand the action of salt water and other elements.
A reel without the relevant protection will corrode and lose its efficiency in a matter of a few months.
Anodized aluminum is the most popular material when it comes to saltwater fishing reels. In addition to being lightweight and strong, it is also corrosion-resistant and durable.
It may not be as light as some other materials, but it is robust. This allows the reel to perform better when you are fishing for heavier fish.
Graphite is another favored material for saltwater fishing. It has become a common occurrence on high-quality budget reels.
Graphite is not as strong as aluminum but it is lighter. It also features a higher level of corrosion resistance.
The latest innovations in fishing reel manufacturing come in the form of carbon-fiber components. Such materials are lighter than their counterparts and provide enhanced strength.
They are also corrosion-resistant, making them the ideal choice for saltwater fishing and hunting big fish.
The second most important factor when shopping for a fishing reel for sea fishing is its durability. Saltwater has damaging effects, especially on unprotected metals.
A fishing reel that is not designed for saltwater usage will corrode easily. Corroded internals will cease to be as smooth as they are supposed to be to deliver flawless performance.
A good saltwater reel will feature enhanced corrosion protection on the bearings to ensure their durability and performance.
Good saltwater fishing reels feature sealed bearings and drag systems. A sealed system isolates the most important components of the fishing reel.
These are the moving parts and the mechanisms that generate drag power.
Isolating the internals allows them to function in kind of a vacuum. They are unaffected by external contaminants such as sand, so they will provide optimal performance.
They will also face less friction so they will continue to function as advertised for longer.
Sealed systems are also an additional layer of protection against corrosion from saltwater.
Let’s face it, if you are planning on saltwater fishing, it is because you want to raise your fishing game. Fishing for small fish no longer excites you or holds your interest.
For those seeking the thrill of fishing for bigger sea life, a powerful fishing reel is essential.
A good saltwater fishing reel should be capable of reeling in big fish. If the drag system does not generate sufficient power, it could result in a lost catch.
An inefficient drag system will also cause jerks and hiccups which make controlling the fish all the more difficult.
The drag system should be smooth and powerful. The smoothness of the system is as crucial as is its power.
A lot of jerks, while you are fighting a heavy fish, may cause the line to snap. The same goes for a line that faces a lot of friction.
When purchasing a reel, always consider the efficiency and power of its drag mechanism.
Tips on Using a Saltwater Spinning Reel
Plenty of new users who try to get into saltwater fishing lose hope after a few tries. This is because saltwater fishing requires more attention and care than freshwater fishing.
However, fishing in saltwater opens you up to a whole world of big game, if you only know how to get it right.
One of the most recurring complaints that we get from new anglers is that saltwater damages their equipment after just a few trips.
This results in increased costs of replacing the tools if you wish to continue with your hobby.
What most new anglers don’t realize is that a few simple considerations can make their equipment last longer. Furthermore, these considerations will also make fishing a more enjoyable experience.
The first of these considerations is to always choose the right type of gear. As we keep mentioning, not all fishing reels are made for saltwater fishing.
Purchasing a reel that is specially designed to withstand the harmful action of saltwater will last longer than a regular fishing reel.
You should also subject your equipment to regular maintenance. Rinse the fishing reel off thoroughly after every fishing trip.
Reels that are not sealed require special care as the saltwater and dirt can cause lasting damage if left unwashed.
Saltwater vs. Freshwater Spinning Reels
All spinning reels look alike, whether they are made for freshwater or saltwater fishing. However, the type of reel you choose will determine how long it continues to work efficiently.
The following are some of the major differences between freshwater and saltwater fishing reels.
- Saltwater fishing reels are constructed of different materials than freshwater fishing reels.
This is because saltwater has damaging effects on regular metals. For an increased lifespan, saltwater fishing reels are made from anti-corrosive materials such as stainless steel. Lighter materials such as graphite, anodized aluminum, and carbon-fiber have also become a preference. Such materials are lightweight, durable, and sturdy.
- Freshwater reels actually require more maintenance than their saltwater counterparts.
Because saltwater reels come with added protection, including protective coatings and sealed components, they can go longer without maintenance. Freshwater reels feature less protection; therefore, they need to be looked after with more care.
- Saltwater reels are also made to be more capable of bigger fish. They are sturdier, stronger, and able to deliver a more powerful drag. This is because saltwater fishing often involves hunting for big fish. A freshwater fishing reel may not be powerful enough to reel in big fish. There is a chance that the reel will break under pressure.
Benefits of Saltwater Spinning Reels
When you are browsing the market for a new spinning reel, you will have to choose between one of two kinds.
Freshwater fishing reels will look the most attractive as they are cheaper than other reels. Because of their low price, many new anglers jump to purchase these reels without considering anything else.
Freshwater fishing reels are great if you only intend to fish in lakes and rivers. They are ideal for new fishermen because of their low prices.
After all, you do not want to spend a lot of money on a hobby that you are not even sure about continuing.
However, if you are looking to upgrade your reel, we will always recommend spending a few extra dollars on a saltwater reel.
This is because saltwater reels are sturdier and more durable. Even if you don’t intend to fish out at sea, you will still be better served by a saltwater reel.
These reels feature additional protection that makes them last longer. They will also stand up to weather and other elements better than freshwater reels.
For the lazy hobbyists, saltwater reels also require less maintenance. Not to mention, if you ever want to dip your toes in more serious fishing, you will have a capable reel ready.
Best Saltwater Spinning Reels (FAQs)
We hope you now have a better understanding of what qualities a good saltwater fishing reel has. Below, we answer some of the most recurring questions new users frequently ask.
✅ Which Spinning Reel Is Best for Big Fish Hunting?
The drag system and build quality of a reel determines how efficient it is against big fish. Choose a sturdy reel made from aluminum or carbon fiber. Also ensure that the reel features a capable drag system. Any reel with a drag power higher than 15 pounds is capable of reeling in big fish.
✅ Do I Have to Buy an Expensive Spinning Reel?
If you have the budget for it, go ahead. However, we don’t recommend investing in the most expensive reel if you don’t have to. There are several companies that manufacture high-end equipment at affordable prices. Browse the market and choose wisely.
✅ What Is the Bearing System?
A fishing reel is essentially a collection of moving parts. These parts spin with the help of bearings. The more bearings a reel possesses, the smoother it is going to function. We recommend selecting a reel with a minimum of five bearings for a smooth fishing experience.
In this article, we have reviewed some of the best saltwater spinning reels for the money. Any of these will prove to be tremendously capable for your fishing needs.
However, every angler is different, so do match the fishing reel’s capabilities with your requirements before you make the purchase.
Our top recommendation, the Shimano Stradic FK is among the best saltwater spinning reels on the market.
It is an affordable reel that delivers a performance that would cost twice as much if it came from another manufacturer.
If you can’t make the budget of our top recommendation, or simply want a reel to try out before you buy one to keep, try the Pflueger President.
The President is an inexpensive reel that delivers high power, great control, and good durability. It is sure to last you a long time.