6 Best Inshore Spinning Reels In 2021 (Buyer’s Guide)

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

Last Update:

The Rundown

Best Overall: Daiwa Bg
“Featuring 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, the Daiwa Bg offers premium features for a high degree of efficiency for any angler.”

Best Dual Purpose Option: Penn Battle II & III
“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
“For a spinning reel that’ll last you a long time, the KastKing Megatron is the perfect choice with its features such as the aerospace aluminum alloy frame, a zinc alloy drive gear, and a sturdy, yet lightweight spool – all within your budget.”

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Spinning reels continue to grow increasingly popular with every passing year because of its versatility, use for freshwater and saltwater, and ability to be cast with a significant degree of accuracy.

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

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

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Best Inshore Spinning Reels in 2021

Daiwa Bg

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

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 are in search of a high-end spinning reel that offers numerous premium features, then this is likely your best option.

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One of the Daiwa Bg fishing reel’s most notable features is that of its Dynamic Cut Aluminum ABS Spool. The Daiwa Bg features a reversed taper spool face, which allows for 100-percent use of the reel’s overall line capacity. This should allow 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 a greater degree of gear-tooth contact and increases the reel’s overall torque. This feature should be quite popular with anglers who pursue larger species of fish on more than an occasional basis.

Penn Battle II & III

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

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 the use of carbon-fiber discs to meter line dispersal with a high degree of consistency, while also maintaining smooth operational characteristics. This can come as a huge advantage to anglers that seek out the biggest fish on any given body of water.

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Another feature of the Penn Battle I and Penn Battle II line of 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 the Penn Battle, without the use of any backing. This should be a favorite feature of anglers who fish frequently, and re-spool their reels regularly, as the time required to facilitate this task will likely be reduced.

To further aid in the spooling of 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 new line.

KastKing Megatron

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

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.

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

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+ 4000 should make the perfect saltwater spinning reel for any angler who is looking to upgrade from a reel of basic design, to a model 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.

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The 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 extremely durable, and be significantly easier to cast than a number of today’s most widely distributed reels.

Many anglers are also likely to find favor in the Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 4000’s Propulsion Line Management System. This system is engineered to prevent line twist 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

KEY FEATURES

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

If you are currently searching for a spinning reel for inshore fishing that is capable of outcasting 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 8 shielded stainless steel ball bearings, for ultra-smooth operation.

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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 the use of Penn’s proprietary wave spring technology, for more even load handling. This carbon fiber drag system is likely to be favored by inshore saltwater anglers who regularly pursue hard-fighting species of fish.

The Penn Clash’s spool is another key point of interest. This braid ready spool allows anglers to utilize their favorite brand of braided line, without the use of 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

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, which likely offers sufficient line metering to handle even the feistiest of game fish species. To aid in durability, Penn has also included a robust set of CNC machined gears, which should stand up to years of rigorous use.

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ROf all the above mentioned features, 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 reels to the test under a wide variety of circumstances.

What To Look For When Buying Inshore Spinning Reels

Ball Bearings

The smoothness of a reel’s operation is directly reflective of the count and quality of 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 of which are extremely uniform in their composition.

Anti-Reverse Function

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

Many spinning reels come with an anti-reverse function. This function prevents 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

In order to stand the test of time, a reel must be capable of standing toe-to-toe with the elements.

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

Budget

While one can certainly 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 dollars, to as much as $300. This is of benefit, as it provides feasible options for every angler. However, it is important to remember that not all spinning reels are created equally. The most economically priced 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 how 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. It is important to meter your selection of gear ratio to the type of fishing that you intend to take part in.

Frame

If a reel’s frame is not constructed in a robust and durable manner, longevity will certainly suffer.

A reel’s frame serves as the common point of mount for the rest of the unit’s components. Therefore, it is of immense importance that a frame be constructed to the highest degree of structural integrity. 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 attempting to successfully land a fish of sizable proportions.

A reel’s drag system meters the dispersal of line, when placed under a load. When a reel’s drag is properly adjusted, 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 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 line.

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 line that is chosen for use. It is important to choose a reel that is capable of storing enough line to fish as intended, whether casting or fighting a fish to the boat.

Handle

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

A reel’s handle is the single link which is responsible for transferring force to the unit’s gear train components. Without a sturdy handle, a 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 important to be honest with yourself, in regards to what type of fishing is to be conducted. In general, the larger the species of fish 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 to be assigned a numerical designation that scales upward based on size. 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. By selecting a reel within the middle of these two extremes, an angler should be provided a model with excellent all-around capabilities.

How much drag do you need for inshore fishing?

When inshore fishing, there is little use for a reel with more than 25-30 pounds of drag. 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 that is capable of sustaining a fish’s maximum fighting force for an extended period of time. Instead, a reel’s drag system only needs to be robust enough to overcome momentary runs, before a fish slows in pace.

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

Advantages vs disadvantages?

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 around the world. 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 in order to prevent the development of rust and corrosion. Spinning reels are no exception to this rule, and should be rinsed of with freshwater and allowed to dry after each use. An angler should also thoroughly inspect their spinning reel on a regular basis, 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 the use of 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.