Spinning

Top 7 Best Saltwater Spinning Reels (2020 Buyer’s Guide)

Saltwater spinning reels live in the toughest environments and you need one that can handle it.

After considering all the options our top picks were…

It’s not just the salt you need to worry about, it’s the fish too. You’ll be going up against the most powerful fish out there and you’ll need the right reel to back you up.

Getting the right one isn’t that easy.

There’s a huge range of choice and that’s why we’ve put this review together of the best saltwater spinning reels out there… 

The Top Three…

Here are our top three choices from the lineup, each one in its own category.

This is so you can have a variety to choose from depending on your needs.

Best All-Rounder

Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel

Another great reel from Penn. It’s pretty, durable and smooth. The retrieve is awesome thanks to the gearing and ratio, you can get your line in really quickly.

Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel

The all-rounder is about durability, power, and value. This reel needs to do everything without breaking the bank. Whether you’re chasing tarpon or sailfish, we want a reel that can do it and survive the salt at the same time. 

Our best allrounder pick is the Penn Battle II. This reel’s built to survive as long as you take care of it. The drag is powerful, the line capacity is big and it casts like a dream. It’s made of quality materials and will stand the test of time in salty conditions. 

Best on a Budget

Daiwa BG Spinning Reel

A lot of thought has gone into this reel from Daiwa. It’s been made to last in the salt along with all the features you might need out there.

Daiwa BG Spinning Reel

The ‘best on a budget’ category is exactly what it sounds like. First of all, this reel has to survive, and while surviving, do the basics really well. You want a reel that’s well made and also good value.

The Daiwa BG is the best on a budget. It really is great value and it’ll stand the test of time. It’s made from quality materials that’ll last, the drag is big and strong, and the line capacity is excellent.

Editor’s Choice

Daiwa Saltiga Saltwater Spinning Reel

Daiwa has put a lot of technology and durability into this reel. It has been manufactured to avoid reel failure. An issue a lot of saltwater reels face is debris and saltwater getting into the rotor bearing and wearing it away.

Daiwa Saltiga Saltwater Spinning Reel

This is about the best reel out there where money is no object. The reel needs to do everything and more. We’re looking for the highest quality in every aspect of the reel, for all circumstances. 

This has to be the Daiwa Saltiga. The reel is a piece of art when it comes to targeting big fish. You can confidently put a bait in front of a marlin and know the reel’s never going to fail you. It’s built from the best, for the best and biggest fish out there. 

Our top picks…

We’ve lined out our top picks for saltwater spinning reels and pitted them against each other.

Each one’s a winner in its own right and they all have their different strengths…

PENN Spinfisher V Spinning Fishing Reel

We all know Penn makes excellent reels and this one is no different. It’s made to handle the salt and sand, thanks to its watertight durable construction.

PENN Spinfisher V Spinning Fishing Reel

We all know Penn makes excellent reels and this one is no different. It’s made to handle the salt and sand, thanks to its watertight durable construction. Its full metal body, side plate, rotor, and heavy-duty aluminum bail wire will handle the saltiest of environments.

The reel uses the HT-100 Slammer drag system. This system is sealed, smooth, durable and powerful…

The reel uses the HT-100 Slammer drag system. This system is sealed, smooth, durable and powerful. It’s an awesome drag against big fish and stops them quickly. The crank on this reel matches the drag, it’s smooth and you’ll be able to put pressure on a fish when you need it.

Ball Bearings

There are 5 shielded stainless steel ball bearings and instant anti-reverse bearing, while a friction trip ramp prevents any pesky premature bail trips when casting.

Spool Capacity

The Superline spool needs no backing and is braid ready. It comes with capacity rings marked at 1/3, 2/3, and full capacity, making it easy to load and not overfill your spool. This reel comes in various sizes, so you can choose which one suits you best.

Weight

This reel is a little heavy, so casting with it all day will be tiring. It’s sealed but to be honest, no reel is 100% waterproof. Water will get in there somehow. The seals on this reel don’t let the water out, so you’ll have to take it apart to truly dry it.

It comes with live liner mode which allows you to set up to 6lbs of drag while live baiting, after which you can engage your normal drag. It’s super quiet though so you might not hear it when a fish takes. 

Specs

Pros

  • Live Liner system is very useful for live baiting, letting set up to 6lbs of drag before you apply the main drag.
  • The drag is super smooth and powerful.
  • It’s very durable.

Cons

  • The Live Liner mode is very quiet when a fish takes.
  • This is a heavy reel and it’ll tire you out if you’re planning on casting all day.
  • The reel is sealed but not 100% waterproof.

Best All-Rounder

Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel

Another great reel from Penn. It’s pretty, durable and smooth. The retrieve is awesome thanks to the gearing and ratio, you can get your line in really quickly.

Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel

the body, side plate, and rotor are made from aluminum…

Another great reel from Penn. It’s pretty, durable, and smooth. The retrieve is awesome thanks to the gearing and ratio, you can get your line in really quickly. The body, side plate, and rotor are made from aluminum so it’ll take a lot of punishment and still keep its gear alignment.

The gearing on this is impressive, you can retrieve so quickly. It’s awesome for topwater fishing or putting the heat on a big fish.

The gearing on this is impressive, you can retrieve so quickly. It’s awesome for topwater fishing or putting the heat on a big fish…

It includes the HT-100 Slammer drag which uses carbon fiber drag washers. If you’ve had a reel that uses this drag, you know how smooth and powerful it is.

Ball Bearings

The reel has 5 sealed stainless steel ball bearings, an instant anti-reverse bearing, a heavy-duty aluminum bail wire, and the Superline spool. This spool is braid ready with line capacity rings making it super easy to fill.

The drag on this reel is fully sealed and you’ll have to look after it. The main gear can go after a few seasons, this is rare and you can easily replace the part. It’s heavy, but it does need to be to deal with big fish. You will get tired if you’re casting this all day. 

Specs

Pros

  • Excellent gearing
  • The HT-100 drag system is so smooth and reliable.
  • It’s built like a tank and will put up with all conditions.

Cons

  • This reel’s heavy but that’s what you need for big ocean fish.
  • The main gear can go after a season or two but these cases are rare and it’s replaceable.
  • The drag isn’t fully sealed but you’ll have to spend a lot more to get one that is.

Shimano Stradic FL Spinning Fishing Reel

Shimano are known for their quality and are always improving their products. This reel’s made with a full metal body, constructed to ensure high rigidity.

Shimano Stradic FL Spinning Fishing Reel

Shimano are known for their quality and are always improving their products. This reel’s made with a full metal body, constructed to ensure high rigidity. The stiffness makes it impact resistant and removes body flexing. This means all your winding power is directed into your retrieve, making it really efficient. 

The drag is super smooth and is made from Shimano’s CrossCarbonDrag…

The drag is super smooth and is made from Shimano’s CrossCarbonDrag. This allows more drag settings along with smoothness. It’s labeled as the smoothest Shimano drag ever, and everyone agrees.

Bearings

Internally the stainless steel bearings are shielded on both sides, reducing the possibility of salt or sand sticking in their rotation. Combine this with the sealed X Protect system and the metal body and you have a reel that’ll stand the test of time.

X Protect gives a water repellent coating and a water channeling, labyrinth construction so water doesn’t make it to the important parts if it does make it in there.

Additional Feature 

And, as with all new Shimano reels, it includes the G-FreeBody system. This moves the center of gravity closer to your hand’s position, to make it easier to cast all day.

The reel doesn’t have the biggest line capacity or max drag, I wouldn’t want to go offshore with it and look for big fish, but it’ll work well for inshore fish. It’s also not fully sealed so you’ll have to look after it very well to keep it alive. 

Specs

Pros

  • Very light, you can cast all day with it.
  • Reduces twisting and backlash by up to 50%.
  • Built with the sea in mind.

Cons

  • Doesn’t have the biggest spool capacity.
  • Isn’t fully sealed. You’ll have to look after it well.
  • Pretty low max drag, I wouldn’t want to go up against a 50kg tuna with this.

Accurate SR30

This reel seems immortal. The quality of design and materials is second to none. It’s made from aircraft-grade aluminum and has barely any plastic parts inside, so there’s nothing to corrode or break.

Accurate SR30

This reel seems immortal. The quality of design and materials is second to none. It’s made from aircraft-grade aluminum and has barely any plastic parts inside, so there’s nothing to corrode or break.

The quality of design and materials is second to none. It’s made from aircraft-grade aluminum…

It uses a twin drag system, the only true one in the world, with a heat-dissipating system. If you have ever dealt with a big fish, you know how hot your reel can get when they take a huge run, and Accurate have built this reel for just that situation. 

The reel also includes a unique pre-set knob for drag tension, a bit like an offshore reel, and a spool that can take a huge amount of line, both are key when you’re fishing for giants. 

NOTE

This reel is pricey, but it’s an investment that will last a lifetime. Thanks to it’s incredible durability, it’s really heavy. If you plan on casting all day with this, it’ll hurt. 

Specs

  • Mono capacity YD/LB: 550/30
  • Braid capacity YD/LB: 375/80
  • Max Drag: 35lb
  • Gear Ratio: 6:0:1
  • Ball bearings: 14
  • Weight: 40oz
  • Retrieve rate, per crank: N/A
  • Retrieve Side: Right/Left
  • See the full specs for the Accurate SR30

Pros

  • The line capacity on this is out of this world.
  • Materials used are the highest quality aircraft grade aluminum.
  • The twin drag is the only one of its kind. It’s super smooth and powerful.

Cons

  • It’s really heavy, I mean 10oz more than a heavy reel.
  • This reel is an investment. The price is scary but it’ll last a lifetime.

Abu Garcia Revo Inshore

This reel will put any inshore species to the test. Don’t go taking it offshore though, the spool doesn’t have the capacity for larger lines and you’ll get schooled by a big fish.

Abu Garcia Revo Inshore

This reel will put any inshore species to the test. Don’t go taking it offshore though, the spool doesn’t have the capacity for larger lines and you’ll get schooled by a big fish. The reel has been made for inshore and is designed for saltwater. The aluminum body, machined aluminum main gear, and the carbon drag system are all built to brush off corrosion.

The drag system is smooth and easily adjustable while being powerful…

The drag system is smooth and easily adjustable while being powerful. The reel also includes the Rocket line management system which helps you cast far and accurately. You can put braid directly onto the spool as it’s machined aluminum and braid ready.

Light but Tough

The reel is super light whilst being smooth and durable. It’s perfect for inshore fishing where casting matters and you do a lot of it. I wouldn’t take this reel offshore, it won’t handle big fish. The reel can stick sometimes and the bearings can grind after using it for a while, both of these cases are rare though.

Specs

Pros

  • Super lightweight, you won’t get tired casting all day.
  • Excellent retrieve rate which is important when you’re pulling in lures all the time.
  • Rocket line propulsion system helps you cast further.

Cons

  • It only for the salt. If you wanted a multi-use reel, this isn’t it.
  • There are some reports of the reel arm sticking, but they’re rare.
  • Bearings can also start to grind after some use.

Editor’s Choice

Daiwa Saltiga Saltwater Spinning Reel

Daiwa has put a lot of technology and durability into this reel. It has been manufactured to avoid reel failure. An issue a lot of saltwater reels face is debris and saltwater getting into the rotor bearing and wearing it away.

Daiwa Saltiga Saltwater Spinning Reel

Daiwa has put a lot of technology and durability into this reel. It has been manufactured to avoid reel failure. An issue a lot of saltwater reels face is debris and saltwater getting into the rotor bearing and wearing it away. Daiwa uses magnetic oil to stop this happening and to make the reel smoother. 

The reel is built for durability with its aluminum body, handle and drag system…

The reel is built for durability with its aluminum body, handle and drag system, and you won’t be worried about big fish with it either. It holds so much line, up to 550 yards and can have 66 pounds of drag. If that isn’t a reel built for a big fish, I don’t know what is! The retrieve rate matches the line capacity with a pick up of 50 or so inches per crank.

Weight

It’s heavy, because it’s made for big fish. If it wasn’t it would probably fail against those monsters out there. This isn’t something you want to be casting all day. It’s also one of the most costly reels out there, but you are getting amazing quality with it. 

Specs

Pros

  • Excellent line capacity, drag pressure and retrieve rate combination
  • It’s made with the future in mind, you won’t have to replace it if you look after it.
  • The reel is reliable, no matter what you’re going for.

Cons

  • It’s a little heavy, but as we have said already it needs to be.
  • It’s definitely an investment, but thats because its so well made.

Best on a Budget

Daiwa BG

A lot of thought has gone into this reel from Daiwa. It’s been made to last in the salt along with all the features you might need out there.

Daiwa BG

A lot of thought has gone into this reel from Daiwa. It’s been made to last in the salt along with all the features you might need out there. The body is made from aluminum, so it won’t corrode. The Digigear System makes the retrieve super smooth and it picks up like quick.

This reel has got it all with a bit extra…

Drag & Line Capacity

The line capacity is huge, the spool is braid ready, the drag is waterproof and powerful. This reel has got it all with a bit extra. The pick up on the bail is made to stop twists and loops for easy casting, although you may not be able to cast this reel all day as it’s heavy. It does need to heavy to handle big fish though.

The roller on the bail can corrode, it’s quite rare and they’re easy to replace. 

Specs

  • Mono capacity LB/YD: 20/550, 25/440, 30/370
  • Braid capacity LB/YD: 50/730, 65/590, 80/440
  • Max Drag: 33lb
  • Gear Ratio: 5:3:1
  • Ball bearings: 7
  • Weight: 30oz
  • Retrieve rate, per crank: 53.3 inch
  • Retrieve Side: Right/Left
  • See the full specs for the Daiwa BG

Pros

  • The drag is smooth and powerful, you can go up against most species and win.
  • Huge line capacity, nothing’s going to spool you on this reel.
  • Built to last.

Cons

  • It’s quite heavy, casting all day won’t be easy but you’ll get used to it.
  • Bail roller can corrode easily when used heavily in saltwater but it’s not expensive to replace.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Saltwater Spin Reel

Here are some things to think about before you buy a spinning reel… 

What are you fishing for?

This choice has a big impact on what kind of reel you get. Do you want a reel that can handle any fish in the ocean or a reel that’s for just for inshore?

If you’re fishing inshore, you won’t be needing a reel that’ll handle a marlin. If you want a reel you can catch snapper with today and big tuna tomorrow, you’re going to need something a little sturdier.

Line Capacity

Line capacity is closely related to the fish you’re going to target. Some fish take huge runs and you just can’t stop them. If you’re targeting big fish which take long runs you’re going to need a lot of line, and therefore a big line capacity.

If you’re fishing inshore you don’t really need to worry too much about this, but you do if you’re going offshore. 

Using Braid

You’re most likely going to be putting braid on your reel if you’re a saltwater fisherman. If you’re a mono person, then this part will not mean much to you. When using braid, you’ll want a braid ready spool on your reel so you can spool it up easily.

TIP

Most reels are braid ready these days, but just check before you buy. 

How Heavy Is The Reel 

Imagine carrying around a heavy bag all day, that’s a similar feeling to having to cast a heavy reel all day. It gets uncomfortable, tiring and can affect your day’s fishing. We don’t want that! If the fishing you’re doing involves consistently casting, you’ll want a lighter reel. It’ll make your time on the water much more enjoyable.

TIP

If you’re after huge fish, like giant tuna, there isn’t really a way around the weight issue, the reel needs to be heavy enough to handle the fish.

Durability & Corrosion Resistance

You’re taking this reel into its most harsh environment, the salt. If it’s not built for the distance, it’ll only last a week before you have to take it apart, clean and oil everything and put it back together. And then it’ll break again!

RECOMMENDATION

Make sure it’s made of corrosion-resistant materials and is as sealed as it can be. This’ll help to keep the mean salt out.

Drag, Strong and Smooth 

When fishing in the ocean, your drag needs to be as good as it can get. The fish you’re going after take serious runs and you’ll need a reel that can keep up. Make sure the maximum drag on the reel is high enough for the species you want to target. The drag needs to be sealed and made of quality materials.

TIP

Test the reel before you buy it if you can. Turn the drag to the maximum and pull line off it. It should be very hard to pull off and be as smooth as butter.

Conclusion

After considering all the options our top picks were…

Best All-Rounder

The allrounder prize goes to the Penn Battle II. This reel’s built to survive, as long as you take care of it. The drag’s powerful, the line capacity is big and it casts like a dream. It’s made of quality materials and will stand the test of time in salty conditions.

Best on a Budget

The best on a budget reel is the Daiwa BG. This reel comes with all the features you need and at the right price. Yes, it’s a little heavy but that’s thanks to the quality of the materials inside it. It’s built to last, has excellent line capacity and a large maximum drag so you can target big fish with confidence when you want to.

Editor’s Choice

The editor’s choice has to be the Daiwa Saltiga. The reel is a piece of art when it comes to targeting big fish. You can confidently put a bait in front of a marlin and know the reel’s not going to fail you. It’s built from the best, for the best and biggest fish out there.

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