Finding a quality saltwater fishing reel might be a daunting task. There is a plethora of options available from a wide variety of manufacturers, with prices ranging widely and a great deal of overlap in terms of size and features. Because there is no such thing as a flawless “do everything” reel, this is made even more difficult. Surfcasters in search of sea bass in Montauk, flats fishermen in search of tarpon in the Gulf of Mexico, and tuna fishermen off of the California coast will all require very different saltwater fishing reels.
What works for you might not work for me when it comes to selecting the best saltwater fishing reels for saltwater.
There are, however, some broad principles to keep in mind while searching for the best saltwater fishing reel for one’s needs and budget, and we detail the most crucial considerations below. We’ve done the hard work for you and compared hundreds of the top saltwater fishing reels on the market today so you can make an informed purchase.
5 Best Saltwater Spinning Reels
The most common type of reel used for saltwater fishing is the saltwater spinning reel. Spinning reels are reliable tools for fishermen of all kinds, whether they cast from a canoe, kayak, or even the shore. They can range widely in price, size, and style, so it’s vital to think about the aforementioned factors before settling on a purchase. The following is a list of the best saltwater spinning reels, suitable for a wide range of fish, water conditions, fishing purse sizes, and financial restrictions.
Penn Fierce III
Penn Fierce is one of the few possibilities for the best saltwater spinning reel under $100, and it’s a solid one. Whether you’re fishing from the shore, a boat, or a kayak, this affordable reel will perform admirably and even outperform more costly reels from competing brands.
It can take the braided line and comes in a wide range of diameters to meet your needs, with most models costing less than $100.
Even though it costs more than $100, the Daiwa BG is often considered to be the best saltwater reel available. For surf to inshore through offshore fishing, the Daiwa has a stellar reputation for being robust, smooth, and extremely reliable.
And casting it is a pure delight. It is put to use in every corner of the globe in the quest for an enormous range of species, as well as the latest iteration does not fall short of the high standards set by its predecessors.
The Daiwa BG is an excellent option for those on a limited budget but still have a few extra dollars to spare. The BG even performs better than other much more expensive reels.
Shimano Saragosa SW
The Shimano Saragosa is a good saltwater reel. Surf, bottom, offshore, flats, trying to troll Saragosa can do it all. Its drag performance, reliability, and strength can stop even the largest and strongest saltwater creatures. The Saragosa is the best saltwater spinning reel for fluke, sea bass, Corvina, halibut, redfish, sea trout, school tuna, and trophy tarpon—essentially all species worldwide.
Many charter captains use it since it is cheap relative to other spinners with the same performance. This is one of the greatest saltwater kayak fishing reels and may be used for bottom fishing by spinner anglers.
The Saragosa’s only drawback is that it may not withstand the toughest shore-based angling, especially for Northeast fishermen who submerge their reels.
Shimano Stella SW
The Stella SW is the greatest luxury saltwater spinning reel on the market, whether you’re fishing for mighty offshore pelagics or massive inshore species. Stella is our pick despite the fact that Daiwa Saltiga & Okuma Makaira are also fantastic pieces of fishing technology.
The Stella is widely regarded as one of the best saltwater spinning reels, if not the best, thanks to its long history and a large number of prize fish it has helped its users catch. It is noted for being able to run for extremely extended periods of time against nearly total drag without overheating, and it is constructed from the most durable and dependable parts available.
You can do some of the maintenance on it yourself, and replacement parts are readily available. Although it’s one of the priciest spinning reels on the market, it’s worth every penny and then some because of how long it lasts.
Van Staal VS X2
This might be the reel for you if you want a surf-catching fish reel that can handle even the roughest waves. It is common knowledge among saltwater fishermen that Van Staals are the toughest, simplest-to-maintain reels on the market.
Will you be spending extended time with your reel submerged? The Van Staal is made to be reeled in while submerged. The Van Staal VSX is a worthy investment if you are rough on equipment and like to test its limits. When I’m fishing for striped bass, this is one of the greatest saltwater reels we’ve used.
Nonetheless, it has brought in a wide range of seafood from Florida to Maine. It has been put through hell and back and survived reasonably undamaged, which is more than can be said for most reels. In all seriousness, these reels are made to last a lifetime.
How We Made Our Selection?
Before settling on these reels, we spent several hours researching and testing other models. Our entire lives have revolved around fishing. Of course, we can’t possibly know everything there is to know about fishing, so we also consulted with other experts in the field, including journalists, editors, charter captains, and even independent retailers we trust. To further inform my suggestions, we conducted interviews with both experienced and novice fishermen who prefer to fish from boats, kayaks, and the waves. Since reel selection is often a matter of personal taste, we went to great lengths to provide only the highest quality reels in each category.
Reliability & Ruggedness:
Does the reel work best? Will it last? Saltwater fishing is tough, and strong fish will expose any gear weaknesses. We and other anglers appreciate reel reliability and robustness above all else because reels that rapidly succumb to the conditions lose fish. Smooth and sturdy are useless if the reel breaks often. We examined the reel’s body materials to see if they could endure drops and knocks. Composites are sturdy and reliable, but metal helps. Time on the sea with trusted allies & professionals is the only option. That was the genuine test and influenced our selections.
Can you successfully battle and land the fish you intend to catch with this reel? For larger reels used for battling tough fish, this is crucial. We paid special attention to the durability of the reel’s handle, main gear, and stem, all of which are potential weak points.
Lighter reels are often preferable since they allow anglers to spend more time on the water without experiencing weariness. If you do a lot of casting, this is crucial! But a lightweight reel must be durable, and in the end, we’d rather have a rugged reel than a featherweight one.
Is drag powerful, smooth, and reliable? Saltwater fishing requires strong drags that can handle the heat, and we must always be prepared to hook a big fish. This requires a solid and worry-free drag mechanism. We hate hard-to-adjust drags. When battling large saltwater species, a smooth drag with little start-up inertia can help prevent fish breakage.
Is the spool the category’s cheapest? Does it have advantages over cheaper reels? Budget-minded fishers like us seek the cheapest reel that works. We don’t want to squander money on an expensive saltwater reel. Saltwater reels can indeed be abused. Saltwater reels are worth their cost. A cost-benefit analysis was done.
Which Are The Parameters Behind The Best Saltwater Spinning Reels?
The greatest saltwater fishing reel should have this feature. The fish you’re after determines the reel’s strength, size, and kind. Big tarpon around bridges may demand large spinning reels featuring stainless steel gears, carbon fiber drags, forged inner components, and lots of line capacity. However, a low-profile hook and line reel may well be better for fluke jigging in shallow areas over a sandy bottom.
Another crucial aspect is where and the amount of salt water the saltwater fishing reel will be exposed to. Splashing saltwater, sand, or rocks on budget reels can damage them in a few visits. Even if you take good care of your reels, constant use can cause saltwater penetration, rust, and broken parts—nothing to do with catching or battling fish! Wading or shore anglers should consider reel water resistance and toughness. This is less of an issue if you fish from a boat or kayak, or never get the reel wet from shore.
Saltwater reels cost extra. Most reels cost $70–$1,000. Many beach and boat anglers don’t need high-tech reels. Several mid-price reels are quite well-built and will last the typical angler for years.
We’ve found that more expensive reels last longer. Even moderately priced reels cannot battle giant fish under severe drag strains. However, if you fish occasionally on a budget, a cheaper reel may work.
Saltwater reels are available in numerous sizes, and matching the reel to the rod improves comfort, casting reach, and balance. Despite rod length, some species require a big reel. Consider your fish’s needs. To battle tuna and blue-water species, anglers need a large reel with a short rod. Prioritize species needs over rod length and weight.
The Final Thoughts
There is a clear distinction between spinning reels designed for saltwater and those designed for freshwater. A saltwater spinning reel must be durable and powerful to withstand the rigors of fishing in saltwater environments such as the open sea, inland saltwater, and backwater environments.
Improvements in technology have led to remarkable developments in saltwater spinning reels. Modern reels have larger line capacities, thinner braided fishing lines, stronger drags, and better corrosion resistance than their predecessors. Modern spinning reels are ideal for saltwater fishing because they allow for long, accurate casts of light lures & baits to fish that put up a good fight.
What makes a saltwater reel good?
Saltwater fishing reels should be reliable, durable, and strong. Saltwater fish are aggressive and live in harsh settings, which might damage equipment. Freshwater reels can capture a few small saltwater fish, but they won’t survive the first forceful rush from such a mature tarpon, gigantic striped bass, and bull red snapper these fish aren’t as forceful as tuna or even other pelagic species. A decent saltwater reel increases your chances of catching fish.
Spinning reels for saltwater?
Most inshore and offshore species can now be caught using spinning reels. However, the conventional tackle is better for many tactics and fish classifications. Conventional tackle is great for vertical jigging for a range of species, fighting large 500-pound-plus pelagics including sharks, live-lining bait, or fishing for structure-oriented fish like amberjack, tautog, and grouper. For inshore boat and kayak anglers, low-point saltwater-specific baitcasting reels are an excellent alternative to conventional reels and spinning reels.
Is a Zebco 33 or comparable inexpensive freshwater reel saltwater-friendly?
Any reel may be used in saltwater if you understand its limits, and a Zebco 33 has plenty. Most saltwater fishermen use a braided line, which rules out the Zebco 33. we started saltwater fishing in North Carolina’s Outer Banks with a cheap catfish rig. After 48 hours of use, the reel broke. Sand clogged it, the handle wobbled from fighting small sharks, as well as the drag ceased operating. In the end, saving up for a saltwater-specific model will make your trip more joyful. However, a Van Staal or Shimano Saragosa is unnecessary. These affordable solutions will last for years.
Who makes the greatest saltwater spinning reels?
Penn, Daiwa, or Shimano offer great saltwater reels for diverse applications. Van Staals are good for Northeast anglers who dunk their reels. If you’re a boat angler throwing small topwater lures to gulf snook, a Daiwa BG and Lexa may be enough. Giant Mahi or goliath grouper? Try a Shimano Stella. Anglers have different needs.