The Best Inshore Spinning Reel: 2021 Buying Guide

Kenneth ReavesEdited by: Kenneth Reaves
Michael DarmontReviewed by: Michael Darmont

Last Update:

The Rundown

Best Overall: Daiwa BG (click to see)
“The Daiwa BG features an oversized Digigear for increased torque, an infinite anti-reverse system, and a lightweight Dynamic Cut Aluminum ABS Spool. Ideal for anglers looking for premium reels.”

Best Dual Purpose Option: Penn Battle II & III (click here)
“With the company’s signature HT-100 drag system, the Penn Battle II & III offers a smooth operation and a huge advantage to anglers seeking out the biggest fish in any body of water.”

Best Budget Reel: KastKing Megatron (click here)
“The KastKing Megatron features an aerospace aluminum alloy frame, a zinc alloy drive gear, and a sturdy yet lightweight spool. Durability and functionality within your budget.”

Spinning reels become more popular every year because of their versatility. You can use them either for freshwater or saltwater, and they can also be cast with a notable degree of accuracy.

Today’s top-quality inshore reels feature robust drag systems, precision ball bearing arrangements, CNC machined gear train components, unparalleled functionality, and extreme durability.

Here are the 6 best inshore spinning reels to buy this year.

Sources researched
14
Sources researched
Customer reviews
16,875
Customer reviews
Hours spent testing
14
Hours spent testing
Products tested
6
Products tested

What Is The Best Spinning Reel For Inshore Fishing?

Our Top 6 Picks

Best Overall

Daiwa BG5000 BG Saltwater Spinning Reel, 5000, 5.7: 1 Gear Ratio, 6+1 Bearings, 47.40' Retrieve Rate, 22 lb Max Drag,Black/Gold

Daiwa BG

Best Overall Inshore Spinning Reel

Oversized Digigear for increased torque

A high-performance reel that is equally as rich in cosmetic appeal

Best Dual Purpose Option

PENN Battle II & III Spinning Fishing Reel (All Models & Sizes)

Penn Battle II & III

Best Dual Purpose Inshore Spinning Reel

Full metal body, side plate, and rotor for heavy-duty use

HT-100 drag system for superior line control and fighting power

Best Budget Reel

KastKing Megatron Spinning Reel, Great Saltwater Spinning Fishing Reel, Rigid Aluminum Frame 7+1 Double-Shielded Stainless-Steel BB, Over 30 lbs. Carbon Drag, CNC Aluminum Spool & Handle

KastKing Megatron

Best Budget Inshore Spinning Reel

Aerospace aluminum alloy frame takes a beating and comes back for more

Durable gears resist premature wear

star
star
star
star
star_half

Best High-End

SHIMANO Stradic CI4 1000FB HG Freshwater Spinning Reel

Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 4000

Best High-End Inshore Spinning Reel

X Ship Technology for enhanced durability and effortless casting

Propulsion Line Management System for unparalleled reliability

Best Casting

Penn Clash II Spinning Reel - Lightweight Saltwater Shore and Kayak Fishing Reel for Lure Fishing - Sea Fishing Reel for Bass, Pollack, Cod, Wrasse

Penn Clash & Clash II

Best Casting Inshore Spinning Reel

Leveline System for perfect line lay and enhanced casting range

Wave spring enabled drag for even torque load distribution

Most Corrosion Resistant

PENN 1481260 Spinfisher VI Spinning Saltwater Reel, 2500 Reel Size, 6.2: 1 Gear Ratio, 33' Retrieve Rate, 6 Bearings, Ambidextrous

Penn Fishing Spinfisher VI

Most Corrosion Resistant Inshore Spinning Reel

IPX5 sealed body and spool design for water and contaminant ingress protection

CNC machined gears for prolonged durability

Best Inshore Spinning Reels of 2021

Here are the best spinning reels you need to grab on your next inshore fishing trip:

  1. Daiwa BG
  2. Penn Battle II & III
  3. KastKing Megatron
  4. Shimano Stradic Ci4+
  5. Penn Clash & Clash II
  6. Penn Fishing Spinfisher VI

Daiwa BG

Best Overall: A high-performance reel that is equally as rich in cosmetic appeal

Daiwa BG5000 BG Saltwater Spinning Reel, 5000, 5.7: 1 Gear Ratio, 6+1 Bearings, 47.40' Retrieve Rate, 22 lb Max Drag,Black/Gold

KEY FEATURES

  • Oversized Digigear for increased torque
  • ABS spool for enhanced line capacity
  • Sleek black anodized aluminum housing

The Daiwa BG spinning reel for inshore fishing is equal parts form and function, offering anglers a reel that should not only perform to a high degree of efficiency but look good while doing so. This reel features a sleek black anodized, machined aluminum housing, an oversized Digigear for increased torque, an infinite anti-reverse system, and a lightweight Dynamic Cut Aluminum ABS Spool. If you search for a high-end spinning reel that offers numerous premium features, then this is likely your best option.

CLICK TO SEE MORE

One of the Daiwa BG fishing reel’s most notable features is its Dynamic Cut Aluminum ABS Spool. In addition, the Daiwa BG features a reversed taper spool face, which allows for 100-percent use of the reel’s overall line capacity. This should enable an angler improved casting performance to reach distant points of interest that might otherwise go unfished.

The Daiwa BG’s use of an oversized Digigear is also a nice touch. This larger than averaged Digigear allows for greater gear-tooth contact and increases the reel’s overall torque. This feature should be pretty popular with anglers who pursue larger fish species on more than an occasional basis.

Penn Battle II & III

Best Dual Purpose Option: As at home in saltwater, as it is freshwater

PENN Battle II & III Spinning Fishing Reel (All Models & Sizes)

KEY FEATURES

  • Full metal body, side plate, and rotor for heavy-duty use
  • HT-100 drag system for superior line control and fighting power
  • Superline spool requires no backing when using braid and includes capacity indicators

The Penn Battle line of fishing reels features the company’s signature HT-100 drag system. This system employs carbon-fiber discs to meter line dispersal with high consistency while maintaining smooth operational characteristics. This can come as a considerable advantage to anglers seeking out the biggest fish on any given body of water.

CLICK TO SEE MORE

Another feature of the Battle II & III line of inshore spinning reels that many anglers will likely find favor in is their ease of adaptability when a braided line is selected for use. Braid can be used in conjunction with this reel without the use of any backing. This should be a favorite feature of anglers who fish frequently and re-spool their reels regularly, as one will likely reduce the time required to facilitate this task.

To further aid in the spooling of the new line, Penn has included capacity indicators on the spool of all Battle series reels. These indicators denote ⅓, ⅔, and full capacities, which should make it easier than ever to determine whether or not you are getting the most out of your reel whenever spooling a new line.

KastKing Megatron

Best Budget Reel: Tough beyond compare, yet fluid in its performance

KastKing Megatron Spinning Reel, Great Saltwater Spinning Fishing Reel, Rigid Aluminum Frame 7+1 Double-Shielded Stainless-Steel BB, Over 30 lbs. Carbon Drag, CNC Aluminum Spool & Handle

KEY FEATURES

  • Aerospace aluminum alloy frame takes a beating and comes back for more
  • Durable gears resist premature wear
  • 30+ pound drag for true fighting potential

If you tend to be hard on your fishing equipment and demand that a fishing reel stand up to anything that you or mother nature can throw at it, the KastKing Megatron is likely to be just what you have been looking for. This reel features an aerospace aluminum alloy frame, a zinc alloy drive gear, and a sturdy, yet lightweight spool, which culminates in a unit that even the most haphazard of anglers will be unlikely to damage or render inoperable.

CLICK TO SEE MORE

The KastKing Megatron also features an astounding 30+ pounds of total drag, further adding to its exceptional ruggedness. The reel’s drag system utilizes a series of carbon fiber discs to provide uniform line control and prevent binding.

The Megatron saltwater spinning reel also features 7+1 MaxiDur double-shielded stainless-steel ball bearings, which should provide noticeably smooth operation under a nearly infinite number of circumstances. This is ideal when attempting to boat sizable game fish that have no intention of being caught.

Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 4000

Best High-End: A reel that includes every feature imaginable and then some

SHIMANO Stradic CI4 1000FB HG Freshwater Spinning Reel

KEY FEATURES

  • X Ship Technology for enhanced durability and effortless casting
  • Propulsion Line Management System for unparalleled reliability
  • Hagane gearing for smooth and precise operation

The Shimano Stradic Ci4+ should make the perfect saltwater spinning reel for any angler looking to upgrade from a reel of basic design to a reel with a host of premium features. This reel comes loaded with numerous amenities that should enhance one’s enjoyment when on the water. Some of the most notable of these features include the reel’s Dyna-Balance rotor, Fluidrive II System, X-Ship Technology, and Hagane gearing.

CLICK TO SEE MORE

The Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 4000 utilizes Shimano’s X Ship Technology, which provides improved gear durability, and eliminates spool shaft friction. As a result, this reel should be highly durable and be significantly more straightforward to cast than several of today’s most widely distributed reels.

Many anglers are also likely to favor the Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 4000’s Propulsion Line Management System. This system is engineered to prevent line twists and tangling, which should positively impact casting and retrieval efforts, while simultaneously enhancing the reel’s overall level of reliability.

Penn Clash & Clash II

Best Casting: Casts effortlessly, operates efficiently, and fights relentlessly

Penn Clash II Spinning Reel - Lightweight Saltwater Shore and Kayak Fishing Reel for Lure Fishing - Sea Fishing Reel for Bass, Pollack, Cod, Wrasse

KEY FEATURES

  • Leveline System for perfect line lay and enhanced casting range
  • Wave spring enabled drag for even torque load distribution
  • Eight shielded ball bearings made of stainless steel for seamless operation

If you are currently searching for an inshore spinning reel that can outlast virtually any other reel on the market, then the Penn Clash and Clash II should be worthy of your consideration. These reels feature Penn’s Leveline System, which employs slow oscillation and appropriate spool dimensions to deliver the perfect line lay, thereby maximizing its effective casting distance. Clash series reels also feature eight shielded stainless steel ball bearings for ultra-smooth operation.

CLICK TO SEE MORE

Most anglers should also find favor in the Penn Clash’s technologically enhanced drag system. This drag system utilizes a series of HT 100 carbon fiber drag washers for improved stopping power and includes Penn’s proprietary wave spring technology for more precise load handling. This carbon fiber drag system is likely to favor inshore saltwater anglers who regularly pursue hard-fighting fish species.

The Penn Clash’s spool is another critical point of interest. This braid-ready spool allows anglers to utilize their favorite braided line brand without a monofilament backing. This should simplify the spooling process and save time when conducting reel maintenance.

Penn Fishing Spinfisher VI

Most Corrosion Resistant: A reel that defies the elements and keeps you fishing indefinitely

PENN 1481260 Spinfisher VI Spinning Saltwater Reel, 2500 Reel Size, 6.2: 1 Gear Ratio, 33' Retrieve Rate, 6 Bearings, Ambidextrous

KEY FEATURES

  • IPX5 sealed body and spool design for water and contaminant ingress protection
  • CNC machined gears for prolonged durability
  • HT-100 drag system for proper metering of line

The Penn Fishing Spinfisher VI should be the perfect reel for those that fish in any weather, as it is highly resistant to water ingress and corrosion. This inshore spinning reel also utilizes Penn’s proprietary HT-100 drag system, likely offering sufficient line metering to handle even the feistiest game fish species. Penn has also included a robust set of CNC machined gears to aid durability, which should stand up to years of rigorous use.

CLICK TO SEE MORE

Of all the features mentioned above, anglers are likely to find the highest degree of favor in the Penn Fishing Spinfisher VI’s sealed design. This prevents water and airborne contaminants from invading the reel’s bearings and should extend the unit’s service life indefinitely.

The Penn Fishing Spinfisher VI also features a set of CNC machined gears, which should offer smooth and seamless operation while also providing next-level durability. This should be a favorite feature of those who fish extensively and put their best inshore spinning reels to the test under a wide variety of circumstances.

What To Consider When Buying Inshore Spinning Reels

Ball Bearings

The smoothness of a reel’s operation directly reflects the count and quality of the ball bearing that it features.

All spinning reels use ball bearings to support their rotational movement and to provide smooth operational characteristics. High-quality reels typically feature a relatively high number of bearings, each uniform in its composition.

Anti-Reverse Function

Quality anti-reverse capabilities allow an angler to set their hook with greater efficiency, thereby increasing the chance of capitalizing on strikes.

Many spinning reels come with an anti-reverse function. This function prevents the line from free-spooling in reverse when pulled upon by a fighting fish. As a result, more forceful hook sets can be delivered, and a reel’s drag system can be utilized to a more prominent extent.

Environmental Conditions

To stand the test of time, the best inshore spinning reel must be capable of standing toe-to-toe with the elements.

When used regularly, a saltwater spinning reel will be exposed to saltwater, rainfall, UV exposure, and airborne contaminants. Therefore, it is essential to locate a highly resistant reel to damage from such environmental conditions. Most importantly, an inshore spinning reel should be as corrosion resistant as possible, or else risk premature failure at the hands of saltwater intrusion.

Budget

While one can find a spinning reel at virtually any price point, one often gets what they pay for.

Spinning reels range in price from as little as $15 to as much as $300. This is of benefit, as it provides feasible options for every angler. However, it is essential to remember that not all spinning reels are created equally. The most economically priced inshore spinning reels are often void of many features which often accompany those found at a more moderate price.

Gear Ratio

A spinning reel’s gear ratio plays a sizable role in determining its value in any given circumstance.

A reel’s gear ratio determines how much line is retrieved with every successive crank of its handle. The higher the gear ratio, the faster a reel’s retrieval rate. Most spinning reels feature gear ratios that range from 5.2:1 to 6.2:1. Therefore, it is vital to meter your gear ratio selection to the type of fishing you intend to take part in.

Frame

If a reel’s frame is not constructed robustly and durably, longevity will undoubtedly suffer.

A reel’s frame serves as the common point of mount for the rest of the unit’s components. Therefore, a frame must be constructed to the highest degree of structural integrity. As a result, most reels feature frames composed of graphite, carbon, or aluminum.

Drag

A reel’s drag system serves as its single most important functional asset when successfully land a fish of sizable proportions.

A reel’s drag system meters the dispersal of the line when placed under a load. When a reel’s drag is adjusted correctly, it will allow enough slippage to prevent a fish from breaking the line. Most premium reels feature a carbon fiber-based drag system, which is rugged, durable, and smooth, no matter the load imparted upon it.

Spool

A reel’s spool controls both line retrieval and dispersal while simultaneously protecting this same line from abrasion.

All spinning reels rely upon the rotational motion of their spool to retrieve a line that has previously been cast. Quality spools are capable of storing this line free of tangles and without risk of damage. Many premium reels feature aluminum spools and are compatible with the use of braided lines.

Line Capacity

A reel’s maximum line capacity ultimately determines how far an angler can cast, as well as how much line is available when attempting to fight a fish of sizable proportions.

Every spinning reel has a maximum line capacity, which varies, based upon the size of the line chosen for use. Therefore, selecting a spinning reel capable of storing enough line to fish as intended, whether casting or fighting a fish to the boat, is essential.

Handle

A reel’s handle serves as the point of input for an angler’s efforts and must be rugged yet comfortable on the hand.

A reel’s handle is the single link responsible for transferring force to the unit’s gear train components. Without a sturdy handle, a spinning reel is of little to no value. Additionally, a reel’s handle should be ergonomic and feature suitable grips for all-day comfort.

Questions & Answers

What reel size is best for inshore fishing?

Much of an angler’s choice in reel size comes down to the species of fish which they intend to pursue. Fish vary significantly in size, as does the gear which is used to catch them. Therefore, it is essential to be honest with yourself regarding what type of fishing is to be conducted. In general, the larger fish species being pursued, the larger a reel will need to be. 

Reel classifications often differ between manufacturers. However, it is universally accepted that all reels are assigned a numerical designation that scales upward based on size. For example, while some manufacturers specify their ultralight reels as a size “10”, others would list this same reel as a size “1000”. Alternatively, larger numerical ratings such as size 9 (or 9000) indicate a heavy-duty reel. Selecting a reel within the middle of these two extremes should provide an angler a model with excellent all-around capabilities.

How much drag do you need for inshore fishing?

There is little use for a reel with more than 25-30 pounds of drag when inshore fishing. When fighting a sizable fish, you are not trying to wrestle it ashore but attempting to wear it out instead. Therefore, you do not need a reel capable of sustaining a fish’s maximum fighting force for an extended period. Instead, a reel’s drag system only needs to be robust enough to overcome short runs before a fish slows in pace.

A reel with as little as 20 pounds of drag will prove suitable for use in many cases. However, it would be best to consider what species of fish you will be fishing for before making your ultimate decision. In general, the larger the fish, the more likely it is to find yourself in need of additional drag.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of an inshore spinning reel?

Advantages

Durability

Overall, spinning reels tend to be extremely durable. As spinning reel technology continues to evolve, bearing systems have improved in quality, corrosion resistance has been bolstered, and gear train machining has seen heavy refinement. These gradual improvements have increased the spinning reel’s longevity to a great extent.

Versatility

By their very nature, spinning reels are inherently versatile. This type of reel can be used for nearly every application, making it a true favorite of anglers worldwide. Spinning reels can be cast accurately, offer excellent line control, and are structurally sound enough to boat even the largest of fish without a significant amount of difficulty.

Disadvantages

Maintenance

When used in saltwater, a reel must be carefully cared for to prevent the development of rust and corrosion. Spinning reels are no exception to this rule and should be rinsed off with fresh water and allowed to dry after each use. An angler should also thoroughly inspect their spinning reel regularly or whenever its line is being changed.

Affordability

One might notice that saltwater-approved spinning reels are somewhat more expensive than their freshwater relatives. This stems from upgraded components, which are necessary to withstand operation in highly corrosive saltwater. This includes the use of shielded ball bearings and corrosion-resistant body, spool, and frame materials.