Best Overall: KastKing Sharky III
“To say that this reel is a powerhouse would be an understatement. It has a top-notch disc drag, a special shield system, and double-shielded ball bearings. Terrific for anglers who are always up for a challenge.”
Runner Up Option: KastKing Megatron
“For any anglers who are a little rough on their tools, this reel is just what you need. It has a beautiful aluminum frame, durable gears and a 30+ pound drag. It can for sure take anything you throw at it.”
Best Budget Option: Sougayilang
“This is a great choice for a high-quality saltwater spinning reel if your budget is tight. Its features are very impressive, with its 11 ball bearings, S-curve oscillation system, and streamlined design. You won’t regret it!”
Whether fishing from a pier, traveling offshore or targeting brackish bays, saltwater angling is demanding on an angler’s equipment, and so any spinning reel used for saltwater fishing must be up to the task at hand and built with enough fortitude to wage war with the monster fish that call the depths of the ocean home.
High-quality saltwater reels are made from corrosion-resistant materials, sealed from environmental ingress, and feature robust internal components that are hand-selected for durability under extreme circumstances — continue on below to find out the best options you can choose from.
Table of Contents
- The Rundown
- The 10 Best Saltwater Spinning Reels in 2020
- Criteria Used For Evaluation
- Questions & Answers
The 10 Best Saltwater Spinning Reels in 2020
KastKing Sharky III
Most Powerful: Has the features of a spinning reel and the power of a winch
- First-class 39.5 lb. triple disc drag
- Special Intrusion Shield System that prevents water and dirt ingress
- Includes 10+1 saltwater rated double-shielded ball bearings
The KastKing Sharky III is a spinning reel designed to tackle the challenge of hauling in the biggest fish on any body of water. It features a first class 39.5 pound triple disc drag system and 10+1 saltwater rated, double-shielded ball bearings that offer unmatched strength and agility. This is the perfect reel for those who regularly fish for catfish, musky, or striped bass, and any kind of hard-fighting saltwater species.
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Runner Up Option: Tough beyond compare, yet fluid in its performance
- Aerospace aluminum alloy frame that can take a beating and then come back for more
- Durable gears that resist premature wear
- 30+ pound drag for true fighting potential
If you’re the type who can be rough on their fishing equipment, and so needs a reel that can stand up to anything that mother nature throws at it, the KastKing Megatron is just the thing you’ve been looking for. This reel features an aerospace aluminum alloy frame, a zinc alloy drive gear, and a sturdy, yet lightweight spool, all culminating in a unit that even the most haphazard of anglers will be unlikely to damage or render inoperable.
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Best Budget Option: Satisfactory performance at an equally satisfactory price
- 11 total ball bearings for a seamless operation
- S-curve oscillation system for uniform spooling
- Compact, streamlined design for comfortable use
If you’re on a tight budget, but you still wish to purchase a spinning reel that you will be proud to own, then the Sougayilang series of reels is your best bet. They carry several noteworthy design attributes, such as an 11 ball bearings internal configuration, S-curve oscillation system, and an ultra-compact profile. What makes this even better is the fact that this reel can be purchased for less than most will spend on bait during any given outing.
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Penn Fishing Spinfisher VI
Best High-End: A reel that defies the elements and keeps you fishing indefinitely
- IPX5-sealed body and spool design that protects against saltwater ingress
- CNC machined gears for prolonged durability
- HT-100 drag system for proper metering of line
The Penn Fishing Spinfisher VI is the perfect reel for those that wade sandbars in search of trophy game fish, as it is highly resistant to saltwater ingress and corrosion. This reel also uses Penn’s proprietary HT-100 drag system, which offers sufficient line metering capable of handling even the feistiest of saltwater species. To aid in durability, Penn also includes a robust set of CNC machined gears, which can withstand years of rigorous use.
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Smoothest Operation: Precision engineering, for ultra-smooth operation
- 10+1 shielded stainless steel ball bearings for a silky smooth operation
- Robust gear train for enhanced durability
- Sealed aluminum spool to prevent sand and saltwater ingress
If you’re searching for a reel that performs seamlessly even during periods of prolonged use, then the SeaKnight Rapid should be worthy of your consideration. This reel operates in a smooth, precise manner with a well-engineered 10+1 shielded stainless steel ball bearing system. Other notable features include a rugged 33 pound drag system, a robust gear train, and ample water and sand ingress protection.
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YONGZHI Fishing Reels
Most User Friendly: A hassle-free reel that lets you focus on what matters most: catching fish
- Anti-twist line roller that reduces tangles
- Grooved CNC machined spool for enhanced line distribution
- Precision pinion gear system for superior durability
If you have become frustrated with tangled lines and problematic reel operations in the past, and are now looking for a reliable reel that’s capable of providing years of trouble-free use, then the Yongzhi spinning reel is perfect for you. This reel features an anti-twist roller for better line control, a grooved CNC machined spool for even line distribution, and a precision pinion gear system for effortless functionality.
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PLUSINNO Spinning Reel
Most Versatile: A reel that offers superb operation from stream to sea and everywhere in between
- Precision engineered for both salt and freshwater use
- Braid-ready spool for ease of use
- 19.8 lb. drag for ample fighting strength
The Plusinno Spinning Reel is the perfect option for those who live in coastal states, as they are just as likely to fish in freshwater as they are saltwater. This stems from the fact that this reel is actually designed for multi-faceted use and uses a stainless-steel bearing system, which resists the corrosive effects of saltwater. All the while, the Plusinno Spinning Reel remains compact in design for use in smaller inland fisheries.
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Best Sizing Options: A platform that provides options for every angler
- 5 different sizes for multiple applications
- 14 stainless steel ball bearings for a smooth operation
- 55 lb. drag system with first-class fighting potential
If you’re tired of attempting to make the best of a one-size-fits-all reel selection and would like to locate a reel that provides numerous sizing options, then the Diwa Spinning Reel is the answer to your problems. This reel comes in 5 different sizes, which allows anglers to select a model that’s ideally suited for any application. It also features 14 shielded stainless steel ball bearings for an ultra-smooth operation.
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Most Comfortable: An exceedingly comfortable reel that won’t break the bank
- Powerful 39.5 lb. drag system for sustained fighting power
- Lightweight 9.7 ounce design
- Hardened metal main shaft for next-level durability
The Joyday Spinning Reel is sure to be a favorite of those who are looking for an extremely comfortable and user-friendly reel at a price point that is not excessive in any way. This reel is compact and light, weighing in at only 9.7 ounces. This promotes a high level of angler comfort, even during long days on the water. It’s no surprise if Joyday Spinning Reel becomes a favorite for anglers on all-day offshore excursions.
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KastKing Valiant Eagle II
Best Overall: A reel capable of reaching distant honey holes with a single cast
- Proprietary spool design for enhanced casting distance
- 22 lb. carbon fiber drag system for superior fighting power
- One-piece bail to prevent line snag
The KastKing Valiant Eagle II is the ideal choice for any angler who’s grown tired of fighting an uphill battle with lesser reels when attempting to cast to distant points. This reel features KastKing’s proprietary aluminum spool, which minimizes resistance, and has the potential to allow an angler to cast to distances far over what they previously dreamed possible. Also of note is the Valiant Eagle II’s braid ready spool design, which does not require the use of a monofilament backing.
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Criteria Used For Evaluation
When attempting to locate the best possible spinning reel for saltwater use, there are a few factors that must first be considered. By giving ample thought to each of these factors, you will be better able to select a reel that adheres to your every need.
Criteria #1: Element Resistance
If a saltwater reel is not impervious to the elements, it will be quickly reduced to an inoperable state. Saltwater is naturally corrosive and can do extensive, irreparable harm to the machined surfaces and bearings found within the recesses of a spinning reel. Salt itself also lingers wherever it’s deposited, meaning that even a single exposure can lead to an unstoppable chain of degradation to any affected reel.
This is why it’s immensely important that any spinning reel intended for saltwater use be sealed against water ingress. When sealed properly, saltwater, as well as abrasive sand, is unable to leach into the internal expanses of a reel. A sealed reel will last exponentially longer than reels that do not feature these same protective qualities.
Criteria #2: Drag System
When the fish of a lifetime is at the other end of your line, the drag system of your chosen reel should be capable of efficiently handling the most relentless of fights.
A reel’s drag system uses internal discs to allow a predetermined amount of slip should a fish pull to the point of nearing line breakage. The most efficient drag systems, when properly adjusted, allow anglers to make the most out of their line’s strength by spooling outward before a fish gets loose. This is vital, as poorly built drag systems can hang, causing the line to snap and the fish in question to get away.
The industry’s highest quality drag systems are protected from outside elements, pre-lubricated, and feature a higher weight working capacity. In many cases, drag systems can sustain loads of 30+ pounds, while still metering line dispersal as designated by the chosen adjustment.
Criteria #3: Bearings
The smoothness of a reel’s operation is a crucial factor in maximizing your productivity on the water, and bearings are a key component in this equation.
Every reel on the market today relies on a system of bearings to facilitate the necessary rotational force for spooling lines. As a reel’s handle is turned, a system of gears rotate the reel’s spool. This spool rides over a set of ball bearings that minimize friction. However, not all bearings are created equally. Many premium reels use 7, 8, or even 10 ball bearings, while substandard reels usually use far fewer than that. Beyond the number of ball bearings that a particular reel uses, it is also important that these bearings be of high-quality and true in their uniformity.
Criteria #4: Comfort
If a reel is not comfortable to use, it’s probably going to be spending more time stashed in your garage than being used in your boat.
Many anglers spend countless hours on the water in a single given year. During this time, cumbersome reels can become inconvenient fast. Reels of this nature results in hand and arm fatigue, which then leads to aggravation. As a result, those who fish often end up swapping these bothersome reels out for more comfortable ones. On the other hand, lightweight graphite-bodied reels are typically far less restrictive and can be a real joy to use, even when fishing days grow long.
Criteria #5: Durability
Durable reels have the potential to last a lifetime, while reels of lesser quality often lead to aggravation and untimely failure.
Saltwater fishing in particular has a way of pushing an angler’s equipment to its breaking point. Reels of poor quality will fail under the rigors of saltwater fishing, while only those of the most durable construction will continue to provide tireless service from one year to the next. Much of a reel’s durability stems from the quality of internal components used in the manufacturing process. The most hearty of reels typically feature hardened main shafts and CNC machined gears. These high-quality components are designed to handle the abuses imparted upon them by relentless use and repeated shock loading.
Questions & Answers
What is the Difference Between Saltwater and Freshwater Spinning Reels?
There are several key differences between saltwater and freshwater spinning reels, with the most significant of which pertains to the type of components used in each reel type’s construction. Saltwater is extremely corrosive, meaning that it quickly damages metal surfaces. To combat this, saltwater reels are primarily made of stainless steel components, which are naturally corrosion resistant.
Saltwater reels are also typically engineered to feature a greater line capacity, as one can reasonably expect to encounter larger fish in coastal waters than would be the case when fishing in a creek, pond, or lake. Additionally, most saltwater reels have a heavier-duty drag system than those found on most freshwater spinning reels. Again, this is primarily a product of natural expectations toward the size of fish that are expected to be encountered when fishing in coastal waters.
Are Spinning Reels Difficult To Use?
While the idea of using a spinning reel might seem intimidating if you are used to fishing with alternative reel types, there is little to worry about. One can become proficient in the use of a spinning reel in a matter of just a couple of afternoons. In fact, most anglers end up asking themselves why they didn’t make the switch to spinning tackle sooner.
The main learning curve pertaining to spinning reel use lies in an angler’s ability to familiarize themselves with the correct casting procedure. For some, manually holding their line with a finger, while flipping the bail, can take a little getting used to. However, doing so becomes second nature for most after no more than a handful of casts.
Are Spinning Reels Well Suited to Long Distance Casting?
Spinning reels are one of the two types of reels that are ideal for long distance casting, with the other type being a baitcaster. The reason for this is that spinning reels generally hold a significant amount of line on their spools. In fact, many spinning reels can accommodate up to 300 yards of line. While it might be physically impossible to cast to that great of a distance, the line is available for use if needed.
Another reason that spinning reels are excellent for long distance casting is that very little resistance is imparted upon the line as it departs from the reel. The line can flow far more freely from a spinning reel than would be the case with other reel types, such as spincasters. Aside from the technical differences between a spinning reel and other types of reels on today’s market, many anglers find that the use of a spinning reel allows them to cast in a more precise manner, even at lengthy distances. This can be quite helpful when making follow-up casts, in the instance that a prior strike is missed.
Are Larger Reels Better For Larger Fish?
While many believe that a larger reel must be used when pursuing fish of substantial size, this is simply not the case. A reel does not have to be of any one particular size, no matter how large a species of commonly pursued fish might be, assuming that the specified reel is constructed with quality internal components. On the contrary, it is of immense importance that a reel feature a quality drag system, complete with a high operational capacity.
A reel’s drag system meters the dispersal of the line from the reel’s spool when the force imparted upon the line grows too great. When properly set, a drag system will allow the line to “slip” just prior to the threshold where line breakage becomes imminent. In theory, a reel is not limited in size, no matter how large of a fish is being fought, as long as the unit’s drag will suffice when metering line dispersal, thereby avoiding any risk of line breakage.