Best Saltwater Spinning Reel
For The Money
Saltwater fishing is special for a variety of reasons. Besides reasons dealing with the actual fishing, the feeling of being on the open seas, inland salt lakes, or the shallow flats is tough to match.
And if you're not on a boat and just hitting the surf or a pier you still have the opportunity of hooking up with and landing a trophy. Not just in the sense of size, but the beauty of the fish and the thrill that comes with pulling one out of the ocean.
To land trophy fish, you need the right equipment. In this article, we will take a look at five spinning reel models that we are confident will take care of business while working these large saltwater species.
Why you need Saltwater Spinning Reels
So, spinning reels find most of their action on freshwater lakes and rivers. The design of the reels and the corrosive properties of salt water never made the two a convenient match for a long time.
Fortunately, times have changed, and the usefulness of spinning reels for saltwater fishing applications became more apparent, and manufacturers began designing reels that could handle being out in the salt.
For normal freshwater fishing applications spinning reels do not need near as much line capacity, and while they have some corrosion resistance but the bodies are usually not sealed as well as they are in reels made specifically with saltwater fishing in mind.
With all of this in mind, we think it becomes clear that to successfully fish the salt on a consistent basis you need a reel that was designed and built to be used in those conditions.
Most Important Qualities of
Saltwater Spinning Reels
When deciding on a saltwater spinning reel, there are some qualities you should consider.
5 Best Saltwater Spinning Reel Models
The Saltist is an all metal (aluminum) construction that is highly corrosive resistant and will be able to take the saltwater environment with ease.
For a saltwater spinning reel, the Saltist offers the cranking power, which we just took a look at.
Besides that it also offers a fantastic and fast gear ratio and line retrieval speed at 6.2:1 for all models.
This is often a big tradeoff for spinning rods, and it's a tribute to Diawa's engineering to provide a reel that offers both cranking power and high retrieval speeds.
It's also an incredibly smooth running reel with five corrosion resistant ball bearings.
The Saltist can put out a lot of cranking power for a spinning reel. The Digigear system remains in perfect alignment for a smooth performance even when under duress. This along with the rugged metal housing lets you get into some heavy fish and have a good chance at landing them.
We are also pleased with the sealed drag system on this reel. From the 22-33lb max drag to the consistent and smooth drag pressure and fine tune adjustments, there is nothing that we can complain about.
Line capacity is not going to be an issue with the Saltist. All models offer more than enough space on their spool to match any fish species the reels are designed to go after.
The Saltist also features a dual anti-reverse system that eliminated all back play in the handle and spool. This allows for quick and efficient hook setting power which is needed for saltwater fish species.
These reels are also relatively lightweight compared to other reels of similar design and function. And while they are lightweight, they do not sacrifice power or durability.
We also think that you will be pleased with the reels handle and air bail that make a difference when working fish on the water.
On top of everything else, this series of reels feature incredibly fast line retrieval rates ranging from 44.5” to 53.1” per handle turn.
It’s a performance characteristic that is critical for picking up slack line when fish make runs toward the boat.
- Dual anti-reverse system
- Fast line retrieval
- Awesome cranking power
- Very corrosion resistant body
Overall, this is an incredible performing saltwater reel. It is sealed and corrosion resistant, built like a tank and offers incredible cranking power, and has a smooth and ergonomic feel when casting and retrieving.
Though a bit more money, the Saltist is one of the top spinning reels on the market for big saltwater fish.
There are enough models available of the PENN Spinfisher V to cover any type of saltwater fishing for any species with ten models on the market.
All are designed for the salt, and the smaller models even make terrific freshwater reels as well.
We like versatility, and a reel that can move between salt and freshwater is an extra benefit in our eyes.
The reels feature all metal bodies and are more than able to protect the gear trains from the rigors of working saltwater fish.
It is also tightly sealed in key areas protecting the gears as well as the drag making it excellent for saltwater fishing. Though we always recommend gear upkeep regardless of the level of sealing, you have a little more piece of mind with this reel.
These reels can pump out some major drag pressure with it ranging from 20lbs to 40lbs in the larger models.
The Slammer Drag System used on these reels do not only provide an incredible amount of stopping power, but you will love the range of drag adjustments that can be made as well as the low start up inertia that comes in handy when you get aggressive fish on the end of your line.
We also like to washer positions above and below the spool, and we think it helps the consistency of the drag that this reel produces. The spool also has line capacity rings which will come in handy when working larger and far running fish.
These reels offer very generous line capacities, especially with the larger models. The gear ratios vary pretty dramatically between the small and large models, but this is expected with much larger gears involved.
The gear ratio ranges between 6.2:1 and 4.2:1. The line retrieval speeds stay at a high rate for all of the models ranging from 30” on the smallest 3500 model up to 42” on the 10500 model.
- Built like a tank
- Tightly sealed body and drag
- Lots of size options
- Large handle knob
- High line capacity
- High max drag
- Consistent and smooth drag
- Made in China
- Casting might be lacking
This is probably not the best casting spinning reel on the market, but we are overall pleased with its performance given the build and design of the reel for superior strength and power.
It also handles very well on the water, and for the size and power, these reels contain, they are not too heavy.
Not all saltwater spinning reels need to weigh as much as a small child and be built like a tank.
For inshore or surf fishing, a smaller reel is easier to handle, and often in these situations, you do a lot more casting, and lighter reels make it a lot easier.
The Revo Inshore is the perfect option for these type of fishing situations.
We love how this reel casts. For inshore applications, you cast a lot more than you would on the open ocean. The Rocket line management and Rocket spool lip design lets line come off of the spool with little friction and greatly improves distance and accuracy.
The lightweight design also makes this reel, even the larger models, much less fatiguing and you can swing this reel around all day on the pier or in the surf.
The reel also handles extremely well on the water with the extended aluminum handle that has no back play thanks to the anti-reverse roller bearing as well as a large EVA foam handle that allows you to work a hooked fish comfortably.
These reels utilize a gear box that is designed to provide incredible stability around the gears. The smaller models utilize a graphite body while larger models have an aluminum alloy. This design lets you put an incredible amount of stress on the reel without losing retrieval effectiveness.
All of these reels feature six quality high-performance corrosion resistance bearings that keep the reel running smooth and offers some extra corrosion resistant properties to the reel.
These bearings along with aluminum main gears that have been computer optimized provide a smooth running reel, including when a heavy fish is on the other end.
All models have a 6.2:1 gear ratio except for the largest model which has a ratio of 5.6:1.
Accompanied with these gear ratios are line retrieval rates that range from 35 to 40" depending on the model.
These are great numbers for inshore and surf fishing and is a great balance between retrieval speeds and cranking power. You will be able to use lures with faster retrieval techniques, but still be able to use the more traditional finesse fishing tactics or live bait without any issue.
The carbon matrix drag system provides plenty of stopping power for inland and surf saltwater species.
More importantly, the drag is incredibly smooth and can be adjusted in fine increments throughout the drags full range and increases the efficiency of landing fish quickly.
As far as spool capacity goes, you're not going to be able to fit as much line on these reels as others on our list, but for the correct fishing application there is more than enough room, and you shouldn't have to worry about running out of line.
The Level Oscillation system along with the bail roller wraps line back onto the spool evenly and does an excellent job at limiting line twist.
- Wonderful casting
- Great line retrieval
- Tightly sealed
- Great drag system
- Efficient line management
- Lower line capacities
This is a reel that you are going to be able to handle all day comfortably. We love the casting and line management performance as well as it's ability to dish out some cranking power. It has more than enough line capacity and will run smooth for hundreds out outings with its corrosion resistant design.
The Fin-Nor Offshore is one of the best options for big species of saltwater game fish.
The all metal body and stainless steel gears and center shaft make it ideal for exerting some lifting power on large fish.
The gear ratios range from 4.7:1 on the smaller models to 4.2:1 on the largest.
While this might not be the highest gear ratios on our list, they excel in cranking power as we just mentioned.
The aluminum and stainless steel materials used in this reel, as well as four double shielded ball bearings, make it ideal for use in the salt. The body is sealed tight in key areas including the drag system which is quite impressive.
These reels offer incredible stopping power with the drag with a max pressure running between 35lbs on the smallest model and a whopping 60lbs on the largest models.
This MegaDrag system used by Fin-Nor has ten quality carbon fiber and stainless steel washers.
While the max drag is fantastic and you get some good range in the drag settings, at the extreme upper ends of the drag, you do get a little resistance.
We don’t think it’s enough to break off a fish in most situations, but it might be something you need to keep an eye on and have your drag set correctly before a strike just to be sure.
The Fin-Nor Offshore models offer tremendous line capacities ranging from 300yards of 50lb test braid in the smallest model to 475yards of 60lb braid on the largest model. More than enough line to handle any type of fish you might encounter in the ocean.
- Very rugged and durable
- Highly corrosion resistant
- Great line management
- Tremendous line capacities
- High drag pressures
- Drag might be little jerky at upper end
These reels are built like tanks and are highly corrosion resistance, but they also offer fantastic casting and line lay performance. The line management system and smooth rotor lays down line evenly across the spool, and while you can never eradicate line twist completely, this reel gets pretty close.
While the smaller models are great for inshore or surf fishing, the larger models are some of the best spinning reels available for the trophy saltwater game species.
This is our second PENN spinning reel in our list for the top saltwater reels. While some people have issue with these reels being produced in China instead of the United States, it’s hard to beat the quality you get from these reels for the price.
As most PENN saltwater reels, the Clash is built for the salt and built to handle the larger fish that are found in the ocean.
These reels feature all metal bodies that offer corrosion resistance as well as a sturdy housing for the gear train. They also resist twist and torque that is caused by high drag and huge fish. There are seven total models available ranging from a smaller
The gear train uses Dura Gear technology from PENN which means longer lasting gears.
They are cut with CNC gear technology which provides optimal fit and alignment of the gears and makes it easier for the reel to function when under the duress of a trophy fish.
Add to this the eight sealed stainless steel bearings, and you get a reel that functions as well, if not better, under extreme pressure and duress.
These reels also offer a great drag system that is sealed. It uses carbon fiber drag washers that can produce 10 to 30lbs of max drag depending on the reel size. We also like the smoothness of the drag throughout its range and the low start up inertia.
These reels also offer great line retrieval speeds and gear ratios. The line retrieval rates range from 30” to 40” with gear ratios from 6.2:1 to 4.7:1 on the largest model. These numbers give you a lot of versatility in lure presentation and also make them more than efficient at landing larger fish efficiently.
We are big fans of the oversized EVA foam handle that is used on the larger models and think that they make a big difference when you are working large fish and losing control of the handle can spell disaster.
- Lots of cranking power
- Excellent gear system
- Great drag system
- Versatile reel for different retrieval techniques
- Comfortable handle
- May need more upkeep
While these are rugged reels, they might require a little more upkeep when used in saltwater conditions. Though they do have a sealed drag system, there are other parts of the body that might be more susceptible to salt.
So dunking the reels in the surf might not be a good idea unless you want to spend the afternoon taking apart your reel and giving it a full cleaning.