The 12 Best Ultralight Spinning Reels (in 2021)

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

Last Update:

The Rundown

Best Overall: SHIMANO Stradic FL Spinning Reel
“Packed full of useful features such as the X-Ship gear train technology, corrosion resistant SA-RB bearings, a CrossCarbon drag system, and a rigid Hagane body, the SHIMANO Stradic FL Spinning Reel is perfect for anglers looking for an upgrade.”

Smoothest Performance: KastKing Summer/Centron
“Utilizing a total of 9 ball bearings, the KastKing Summer/Centron offers ultra-smooth performance, making it the best choice for quality ultralight spinning reel free of any hard spots or operational lag.

Best Dual Purpose Option: Penn Battle II
“Featuring a full metal body, side plate, and rotor, HT-100 drag system, and a Superline spool, the Penn Battle II is not only approved for use in saltwater but also in freshwater – great for any angler who resides in coastal states.

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In order to remain steadfast in fishing, one must have the right gear (like an ultralight spinning reel) by their side to make their outing as comfortable and enjoyable as possible while preventing the onset of troubling hand and arm fatigue.

Today’s premium ultralight spinning reels feature inherently powerful drag systems and extremely durable bearing assemblies, while also remaining as compact as possible and are typically corrosion resistant, and up for the task of handling whatever nature throws their way.

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Best Ultralight Spinning Reels in 2021

SHIMANO Stradic FL Spinning Fishing

Best Overall: A reel that showcases an endless array of features

KEY FEATURES

  • X-Ship Technology for reduced gear to spool friction
  • CrossCarbon Drag System for increased fighting potential
  • Hagane body for enhanced durability

The Shimano Stradic FL spinning reel is our #1 recommendation and should make the perfect choice for those who are looking to upgrade from their standard reel, opting instead for a premium grade option. This reel is packed full of useful features that most anglers will find immense value in. Some of the most prominent of these features include X-Ship gear train technology, corrosion resistant SA-RB bearings, a CrossCarbon drag system, and a rigid Hagane body.

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Of these numerous features, anglers are likely to find immense favor in the Shimano Stradic FL’s X-Ship gear train design. This technology eliminates much of the “free-play” found between the gears in most reels. This is accomplished by installing bearings at each end of the pinion gear, effectively eliminating any undesirable travel. This should eliminate spool shafts to gear friction, thereby providing an enhanced degree of casting efficiency.

The Shimano Stradic FL’s CrossCarbon Drag System is another feature which most anglers are likely to appreciate. This drag system uses a series of carbon fiber washers to evenly meter line distribution, even when placed under a significant load. This should also aid in providing smoother than average drag operation, free of any hang ups or uneven spots. As a result, an angler is likely to notice an increase in his or her effective casting distance.

KastKing Summer/Centron

Smoothest Performance: Subdued in cost, but not in features

KEY FEATURES

  • Compact, lightweight design
  • High-powered 17.5 lb. Drag System
  • Utilizes 9-ball bearings for ultra-smooth performance

If you are on the hunt for a quality ultralight spinning reel, that is economical in price, there are likely few better options than the KastKing Summer/Centron series of reels. This series of reels feature a lightweight graphite frame that is compact in design and should be quite durable as well. Each Summer/Centron series reel utilizes a total of 9 ball bearings, which should offer ultra-smooth performance, free of any hard spots or operational lag.

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KastKing Summer/Centron series reels also feature a powerful 17.5 lb. drag system, which will likely afford anglers the opportunity to efficiently fight even the largest of game fish species. This system is constructed ruggedly, featuring a hardened metal main shaft, perfect mesh drive gear, and precision machined pinion gear. These components also serve as a point of enhanced durability, as a reel’s drag system can be a key point of failure among many lesser reels on the market.

Another key characteristic of all KastKing Summer/Centron series reels is that of their high level of visual appeal. These reels come in two separate color combinations, which allow an angler to select that which best suits their individual tastes. These color combinations include black with blue accents and white with blue accents. KastKing Summer/Centron series reels also come in multiple sizes, for use within a variety of applications.

Penn Battle II

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

While many of the ultralight reels on this list are indeed approved for use in saltwater, Penn’s Battle I & II reels are built specifically for dual purpose use. This means that the Penn Battle line of reels should be perfect for any angler who resides in coastal states, where they are just as likely to fish in saltwater, as freshwater. This reel utilizes a full metal body, side plate, and rotor, as well as five shielded stainless-steel bearings, which are specifically engineered to handle the rigors of saltwater fishing.

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The Penn Battle line of 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 bigger fish on any given body of water. 

Another feature of the Penn Battle line of reels that many anglers will likely find favor in is their ease of adaptability when a braided line is selected for use. The Penn Battle II does not require the use of monofilament backing when using braided line. 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. As a result, anglers should be able to get back on the water much quicker than they previously thought possible.

KastKing Sharky III

Most Powerful: Features of a spinning reel, power of a winch

KEY FEATURES

  • First-in-class 39.5 lb. triple-disc drag
  • KastKing Intrusion Shield System prevents water and dirt ingress protection
  • Includes 10+1 saltwater rated, double-shielded ball bearings

The KastKing Sharky III is a lightweight spinning reel designed to tackle the chore of hauling in the biggest fish on any given body of water. This reel features a first-in-class 39.5 lb. triple-disc drag system, and 10+1 saltwater rated, double-shielded ball bearings, that offer unmatched strength and agility. This is likely to make the perfect reel for those who regularly fish for catfish, musky, or striped bass, as well as a wide variety of small fish species.

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The drag system that is featured in conjunction with the KastKing Sharky III, is engineered for power from every front. The reel’s combination of oversized stainless-steel main shaft, triple disc carbon fiber clutches, and precision mesh manganese brass pinion gear are up to meeting any demand that is placed upon them. This should prove to be of immense value when strategically targeting the largest fish on a given body of water.

Another noteworthy characteristic of the KastKing Sharky III is its unique Shark Fin Braid Ready aluminum spool. This braid ready spool allows anglers to fit the KastKing Sharky III with braided line, without the use of a backing line, as is characteristic of many other reels on the market. This should be a factor that many anglers will find favor in, as less time will be spent dealing with the intricacies of spooling braid, instead leaving more time for fishing.   

Pflueger President Spinning Fishing Reel

Most Reliable: A trouble-free reel engineered to keep you fishing for as long as possible

KEY FEATURES

  • Specialized gearing that prevents line from twisting
  • Sealed drag system for all-weather performance
  • Graphite body and rotor for a lightweight feel

The Pflueger President should be an investment worth making, especially for those that have limited time to spend on the water, and demand the utmost in reliability out of all of their gear. This lightweight reel features specialized gearing that slows oscillation to prevent line twisting and kinks. It’s also fitted with a waterproof sealed drag system, 7-corrosion resistant ball bearings, and a lightweight graphite body and rotor.

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The Pflueger President takes line control to a new extreme by using slow oscillation gearing to prevent line from being wound in a manner that is too quick for efficient spooling. This leads to even line distribution, which means fewer “birds’ nests”, and more time spent fishing, instead of fixing line-related issues. To further compliment this gear train , Pfueger has used corrosion-resistant, stainless steel ball bearings in their President line of reels. This adds another level of depth to the line’s already impressive weather resistance.

Also of note is the Pflueger President’s sealed drag system, which resists water ingress and maintains internal lubrication. This should be an immensely popular feature among anglers, as water contamination, and resulting corrosion can spell trouble for the drag systems of many lesser quality reels currently available on the market. When a drag system becomes compromised, a number of performance-related issues soon become evident.

Okuma Ceymar

Most Versatile: A versatile series of reel, with options for every application

KEY FEATURES

  • Multi-disc, pre-oiled drag system allows for ample line control
  • Quick-set anti-reverse roller bearing prevents freespool of line
  • Offered in a range of sizes for versatility

The Okuma Ceymar line of spinning reels is offered in a variety of sizes, which should be of benefit to those who know what features they are in search of, but are looking for a perfectly sized fishing reel for their particular application. Additionally, this reel includes a number of high-end features, such as a multi-disc, pre-oiled drag system, a quick-set anti-reverse roller bearing, and a high-torque pinion gear.

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Included in the Okuma Ceymar line is the C-30/C-40 for freshwater use, the C-55 for inshore saltwater fishing, and the C-65 for open water excursions. With such a wide array of purpose-specific models, most anglers will be able to easily locate an Okuma Ceymar reel that is perfectly suited to their needs. This should also provide anglers with a significant degree of reassurance, as they can rest assured that they have located a reel that is specifically designed for the application at hand.

The Okuma Ceymar’s Multi-disc, pre-oiled drag system is also sure to be a hit among many anglers. This system employs the use of felt-style discs that adequately meter drag and line dispersal, leading to a higher degree of versatility when taking on whatever the lake throws your way. This series of fishing reel also features an anti-corrosive anodized coating. This can come as a major advantage when factoring in the longevity of a particular reel, as the elements can quickly lay waste to uncoated reels, rendering them unfit for use in matter of only a few years.

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 smooth, even line dispersal
  • Hagane gearing for precise operation and better gear mesh

The Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 4000 should make the perfect 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 cold forged Hagane gearing.

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The Stradic Ci4+ 4000 utilizes Shimano’s X Ship Technology, which eliminates excess free-play between each individual gear, and should provide improved gear durability, and eliminate spool shaft to gear 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. This will likely find favor among anglers who practice a “cast and wind” style approach, on a rather frequent basis.

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 distance and retrieval efforts, while simultaneously enhancing the reel’s overall level of reliability. This system works by providing a more efficient degree of line guidance, upon dispersal from the Ci4+ 4000’s spool.

SHIMANO SYNCOPATE Front Drag

Most User Friendly: Extensive features, at an extremely economical price

KEY FEATURES

  • Propulsion Line Management for increased casting distances
  • Quick Fire II Technology for ease of use
  • Dyna-Balance capabilities for smooth, seamless operation

If you are currently looking for a high-quality ultralight spinning reel, that can be purchased at a budget friendly price, then the Shimano Syncopate is likely to be your best bet. This reel features Shimano’s Propulsion Line Management System, Quick Fire II technology, and Dyna-Balance capabilities. However, despite such premium features, the Shimano Syncopate can be purchased for less than most will spend on a tank of fuel in their truck.

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Many consumers are likely to find favor in the Shimano Syncopate’s Propulsion Line Management System, which controls the routing of lines onto and off of the reel’s spool. This system promotes a clean, crisp cast, free of tangles and backlash that typically limits a reel’s efficiency. As a result, an angler’s overall maximum casting range should trend upward, with the use of the Syncopate by Shimano, and its Propulsion Line Management.

Also of note, is the Shimano Syncopate’s use of Quick Fire II Technology. This advanced design presents anglers with a conveniently placed lever, that when flipped back, opens the bail without any additional movement. This feature should provide a wealth of additional convenience, and make it easier than ever for an angler to cast with only one hand. As a result, this should be a feature that is well favored by those who spend long days on the water, and wish to fish with the utmost degree of efficiency.

SHIMANO Sedona Fi Spinning Reel

Most Durable: A reel that will outlast the competition

KEY FEATURES

  • Hagane gear train components for unparalleled durability
  • Double-anodized machine-cut spool for increased line capacity
  • Propulsion Line Management System for greater casting distance

The Shimano Sedona Fi spinning reel should make the perfect option for those that spend a tremendous amount of time on the water, and require a reel that can sustain rigorous use. This reel features Hagane gear train components, which are precision cut for enhanced wear protection and class-leading durability. For anglers who fish with any degree of regularity, there are likely few better reels currently available.

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The Sedona Fi spinning reel also features a double-anodized machine-cut spool, which substantially increases its line capacity, over the vast majority of similar market offerings. This feature should be of significant benefit when casting, as a greater length of available line prevents coming up short when distance is of the utmost importance. As a result, anglers are better able to direct their cast as needed, in order to reach isolated pockets of fish.

To further aid in casting, Shimano has outfitted their Sedona Fi series of spinning reels with their proprietary Propulsion Line Management system, which is renowned for its ability to promote smooth line dispersal. This system provides longer casting distances, by preventing tangling and backlash. In order to accomplish this, the Propulsion Line Management system directs the outgoing dispersal of line in a more even manner. This feature should be appreciated by bass anglers, who primarily employ cast and retrieve tactics.

Penn Conflict II

Best Drag System: Light in weight, but not in quality

KEY FEATURES

  • Lightweight 8.96 ounce construction for comfortable use
  • HT-100 Drag System for unparalleled fighting power
  • 7+1 ball bearing assembly for ultra-smooth operation

If you are currently searching for a reel that is extremely lightweight, yet exceedingly rich in its capabilities, then you will likely find favor in the Penn Conflict II. This reel features a Rigid Resin RR30 body and rotor, which is durable as any such product on the market, yet weighs only 8.96 ounces. This should be greatly appreciated by die-hard anglers who spend an extensive amount of their time on the water, as hand and arm fatigue should be of little to no issue.

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The Penn Conflict II also features a robust HT-100 drag system. This drag system utilizes a series of carbon fiber washers, which should allow it to function to a high degree of uniformity, even in the face of extensive loading and high pressure. This is a feature that is likely to find favor among anglers who routinely target trophy caliber fish, which can quickly test even the heartiest of drag systems.

Many anglers are also likely to appreciate the Penn Conflict II’s quality bearing assembly. This assembly is of a 7+1 construction, which is on par with units found in many of the industries most prestigious ultralight spinning reels. This should provide ultra-smooth operation, during casting and line retrieval, thereby providing value to those who cover large expanses of water in a given day, while throwing crankbaits, topwater lures, or jigs.

Cadence Ideal Spinning Reel

Best Budget Reel: A spinning reel that fits every budget

KEY FEATURES

  • Premium carbon fiber drag system for extensive fighting potential
  • Braid-ready spool for ease of maintenance
  • 10+1 ball bearing system for notably smooth operation

The Cadence Ideal is likely to make the perfect choice for any angler who is new to the use of a spinning reel, and wishes to gain such experience, without spending an exorbitant amount of money. This reel is both user friendly and reliable, yet can be purchased for little more than most anglers spend on bait. This makes the Cadence Ideal an excellent value for virtually any angler on a somewhat restrictive budget.

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Many anglers are likely to find favor in the Cadence Ideal spinning reel’s premium carbon fiber drag system. This system utilizes a series of carbon fiber discs to meter line dispersal, and provide a substantial degree of fighting power. The Cadence Ideal’s drag system features a 20 pound working capacity, which should be more than enough to fight even the most sizable of freshwater species, such as musky, catfish, and striped bass.

The Cadence Ideal spinning reel also comes equipped with a specialized spool, which readily spools braided line without a monofilament backing. This should come as a substantial benefit to those who fish extensively, and find themselves maintenancing their reels and line on a rather frequent basis. As a result, anglers can complete such chores in a more timely manner, and get back on the water far quicker than they might have thought possible.

Daiwa D-Spin Ultralight

Lightest Weight: Extremely light, yet abundant in power

KEY FEATURES

  • Extremely lightweight 5.9 ounce composition for enhanced angler comfort
  • Digigear Digital Gear system for unparalleled speed, power, and durability
  • Specialty ball bearing arrangement for smooth, efficient casting and winding

If you are currently in search of an ultra lightweight reel, that features a rugged reliable gear train, then the Daiwa D-Spin is likely worthy of your attention. Weighing in at just 5.9 ounces, the D-Spin is lightweight enough in its composition, that hand and arm fatigue should be irrelevant. However, this reel is anything but subdued in regards to performance. The Daiwa D-Spin features a Digigear Digital Gear Design, which is more than capable of holding its own.

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The Daiwa D-Spin’s Digigear Digital Gear system is constructed with superior performance in mind. This system provides a precise degree of gear mesh, which eliminates any wasted movement, thereby converting all mechanical input into a wealth of fighting power. The Digigear system is designed to provide unparalleled speed, power, and durability, which should allow an angler to maximize their efficiency when on the water.

Anglers are also likely to find favor in the Daiwa D-Spin’s specialized ball bearing drive, which is intended to promote effortless casting and smooth, even line retrieval. This system of bearings minimizes operational friction, allowing the reel’s spool to operate in an unobstructed fashion. This is a feature that should be highly appreciated by anglers who routinely fish with artificial bait, such as topwater plugs, crankbaits, and jigs, where an extensive amount of reeling is necessary.