Finding the best saltwater reel for your style of fishing can be a little difficult, especially since there are so many brands, models, and sizes on the market today, all claiming to be the best. Lucky for you, we’ve done all the research and selected what we believe are 7 of the best saltwater spinning reels on the market today.
While there is definitely something on the list for everyone when it comes to the best reel for the money, we like the Penn Spinfisher V. While it’s not the cheapest on the list, it’s a reel that if properly taken care of could last you for many years to come.
Here is the complete list of the reels:
- Penn Battle II
- Penn Spinfisher V
- Shimano Stradic FK
- Daiwa BG
- Penn Clash
- Accurate TwinDrag SR Reels
- Shimano Twin Power SW-B
Our list was curated from top reviews and meant to show a range of price classes to allow you to find the best saltwater spinning reel for your budget, regardless of what that is. Each reel on this list is easily the best in its weight and price class, even if a few of them have a couple quirks.
So, whether you need a reel to start out with that you can rely on for decades to come, or have an unlimited budget for a top of the line, professional level reel, you will find the right saltwater spinning reel here.
Spinning Reel Reviews
Penn Battle II
Affordable and durable, the Penn Battle II was created for the discerning angler on a budget. Loaded with great features and a sturdy assembly from quality parts, this reel provides performance level usability at an approachable price.
Penn chose to upgrade their paints, allowing the reel to better handle saltwater corrosion, but honestly who wouldn’t prefer anodized aluminum to paint. At the price point, however, anodized is a little far out of the budget.
Exterior paints aside, the reel is very well sealed off from water penetration, allowing it to reduce saltwater corrosion as long as the user keeps up with maintenance, and a list of features curated from decades of manufacture allows this reel to consistently make it into everybody’s “best of lists.” If you are starting with a budget, then this reel is a great place to start.
The Penn Battle II comes loaded with great features for comfort, usability, and astonishing quality for the price. A lot of reels in this price class use fancy marketing speech to pull in customers, but the quality of the Penn Battle II speaks for itself with its long list of features that are more than just selling points.
Bearings are extremely important in any reel, but especially in a saltwater reel! While the bearings aren’t sealed completely in the Penn Battle, the balls are made of corrosion resistant stainless steel. This means that as long as you keep up with reel maintenance, this reel could last you a long time.
By using keyed carbon fiber washers in the drag system, Penn has increased their drag capacity by 20% with fewer and lighter materials. This means more performance will be at your fingertips in a simpler, lighter reel.
The Penn Battle II comes with a full metal casing and utilizes new paint this year that is vastly improved from previous years. The metal and paint combination goes a long way in corrosion prevention, durability, and sturdiness.
Its new anti-reverse system works instantly, allowing you to set the hook securely with only as much pull needed to tighten the line. This means less bearing wear and a longer reel life, as well as less effort on your end.
Superline Spool loading system allows you to load up braid only without mono backing, and capacity rings make sure you never over or underfill your line and know exactly how far out your rig is.
The one thing that would make me a little hesitant about this reel is that it’s not fully sealed like some of the others on our list. While this most likely will not be a problem, unless you plan on taking it for a swim, it still should be something to think about.
Overall, this is a great starter reel for somebody that wants a quality, yet affordable reel without breaking the bank. The greatest part is that when you’re ready to upgrade, you’ll still have this reel for a backup or a loaner for a friend. Plus, being such a great reel for the price, it really lays down a solid foundation of what makes a good reel and gives you an idea of what to look for in the next reel you buy. That being said, for a few extra dollars, you can get a lot of the features this reel lacks in the next price class.
If you would like to find out more about the Penn Battle II, you can find more reviews and see the price on Amazon.
If you need a reel that can handle pretty much any fish or condition that you throw at it, then the Penn Spinfisher V just may be the reel for you.
WIth full sealing rubber gaskets in every opening, the Penn Spinfisher V is essentially waterproof, allowing you to take it out on your kayak, in your boat, or wading out from the shore without worrying about too much salt getting into the gearbox.
Even if you’re not super religious about carefully cleaning your reels after every use, this reel should last you a long time with only basic cleaning and maintenance. The Spinfisher V is a great reel for anybody that needs either an upgrade or has a padded budget for a starter.
Being a step up from the Battle II, you can expect a lot of the same features with added bonuses for durability and comfort. The Spinfisher V comes fully sealed, with a full metal body, and a techno-balanced rotor that gives the reel a high dollar feel for an approachable price.
With a full metal body, the Penn Spinfisher V is ready for all the rough and tumble action you can throw at it. Whether you’re in the rough surf or bouncing along the intercoastal in your bay boat, this reel can handle bumps, shocks, and abrasion without worrying about dents and bends.
A fully balanced and well protected braid-ready spool ensure smooth and comfortable operation and an even line lay when retrieving your line. This feature gives the same smoothness and functionality of a $500 reel, but for less than half the price.
The only negative thing that I have to say about the Spinfisher is that it’s a little heavier than some of the other reels on our list. While not a huge problem for most, if you plan on casting and retrieving lures all day long, it can take a toll on your wrist.
Overall though, this is an exceptional reel in its price class and my personal favorite. It feels like a high-end reel at a mid-level price because of a long list of fantastic features that make it sturdy, reliable, and smooth. Whether you’re wanting a starter reel that feels like a high dollar option, or an upgrade that won’t make you miss rent, you may want to consider the Penn Spinfisher V series of reels.
If you would like to find out more about the Penn Spinfisher V, you can find more reviews and see the price on Amazon.
Shimano Stradic FK
A shining example of the best saltwater reels, the Shimano Stradic FK was designed with Hagane metal that Shimano designed. The name is a call out to the metal that the legendary swordsmiths of feudal Japan used to make katanas, the iconic sword of the samurai. The metal certainly lives up to the namesake.
Rigid, durable, and light, this trademarked metal alloy allows the Stradic FK to handle bumps, rough use, and long transport with ease. Added to this rigid and durable construction, the Stradic FK includes many design features that put this reel in a separate class from its competitors. Every part of the reel feels comfortable, rich, and expertly crafted.
The Shimano Stradic FK was designed to be a solid, lightweight, and velvety smooth reel that provides consistent, professional level performance within a reasonable price class.
Since it’s a trademarked alloy the details aren’t available but rest assured this baby is super strong, yet incredibly light. Oh, and it’s also corrosion resistant! What more do you need? Did I mention that the entire reel is made of this fantastic metal?
The term “X-Ship” refers to a combination of technologies and features that give the reel more power, efficiency, and a higher quality feel. These include aligning the pinion gear close to the center of the large drive gear for power and smoothness and supporting the pinion with roller bearings to reduce warp and give a more stable feel.
One of my favorite features on this reel is its unique design in bringing the center of its weight closer to your rod, reducing the amount of ballast felt by the user. While it doesn’t actually reduce the weight, it does make the weight more comfortable to wield for a long day of casting lines.
A well-designed spool made with cold forge technology helps to manage expensive line so you’re not wasting time and money on frustrating wind knots. This is great for the angler that doesn’t want to spend all day untangling line and refilling spools with their expensive braids. It also comes with a braid-ready spool.
Other than the price, there isn’t really anything bad to say about this reel except for the fact that it doesn’t have an anti-reverse system like all of the other reels on our list.
While some might balk at a Japanese import, the Shimano makes fishing reels with unquestionable quality and usability. The Stradic FK doesn’t waste your time and money with useless upgrades, either. You won’t beat this reel for the price, weight, performance, and durability.
If you would like to find out more about the Shimano Stradic FK, you can find more reviews and see the price on Amazon.
To start, this reel is just gorgeous. The black and gold colors make for a nice, sharp looking reel that looks as good as it performs. A screw in handle design gives a nice solid feel while operating, and the Digigear system allows for incredibly smooth operation, even under heavy loads, unlike other spinners that have a tendency to warp and feel rough when working hard.
Adding to the quality feel is a drag system similar to the HT-100, but that is roughly 20% stronger and smoother throughout the adjustment range with no jumpiness at the higher levels. All of the features together make a beautiful, yet incredibly strong reel that’s well worth it’s price.
The BG is made a machined anodized aluminum, making it better fitting, better sealing, and much more corrosion resistant than typically painted reels. You can expect the outside of this reel to stay as beautiful as day one for years to come.
The Digigear system has odd-numbered gear ratios that help to reduce wear and helps to balance the load across each gear to reduce wear and tear. Added to this is an oversized gear that allows for insane levels of torque for bigger fish. The fact that each gear is machined also helps to ensure that each component is free of imperfections that cause undue wear to your reel.
A screw in handle provides a solid, stable feel that doesn’t wiggle about with every touch. While it seems to be such a small design feature, it really adds to the overall quality of this reel. That’s really the Daiwa BG’s specialty, little things adding up to making a great, high-quality reel.
The spool is made to guideline efficiently, be hard and durable, and has a great line lay system. This means no wind knots, reduced memory twists, and an incredibly smooth retrieve that will make you feel like you’re fishing with a $500 reel.
One minor flaw in this reel is that the spool is not made from anodized aluminum like the rest of the body. This might lead to some corrosion over time if not properly taken care of after each use.
The Daiwa BG is one of the best reels in its price class thanks to some seemingly minor engineering designs that all work together to create an insanely smooth, steady, and hardworking reel at a price that any angler could afford.
If this reel fits in your budget, then it certainly requires some consideration. This reel performs extremely well while looking like a piece of art. Its weight, durability, and price are pretty much unbeatable, too.
If you would like to find out more about the Daiwa BG, you can find more reviews and see the price on Amazon.
A small step up from the Spinfisher V, you can expect the same functionality and usability out of the Clash, plus an upgraded bearing system and a very eye-catching paint job. The Clash was designed to be smoother, tougher, and stronger in a smaller package., but some of the bearing placements are a little wonky. While the Clash can be a great reel, it requires a lot of adjustment and maintenance to get there.
This reel is meant to handle larger fish in a lighter package. While a lot of the features seem a little strange, they do allow the Clash to handle more weight than what would be expected of such a small and inexpensive reel.
The Penn Clash is known for its incredibly even line lay on the spool during retrieval. This is thanks to the Leveline system that uses a reduction gear to regulate the oscillation gears speed. This keeps your spool moving smoothly and allows for a better lay.
It lays the line beautifully on the spool, and with a sophisticated spool shape and bail, wind knots are all but eliminated. With proper care, this fully sealed reel will not only last you forever, but it also seems to get better with time as some of the strangely placed bearings loosen up.
The Clash comes with a super sophisticated machined gear system that has fewer imperfections than cast or forged gears, meaning less wear on each gear tooth as they travel across each other more smoothly. This means a longer lasting reel.
The one thing that I don’t like about the Penn Clash is its knob. After extended uses, it tends to crumble and fall apart.
With that being said, this without a doubt a great reel for the money and definitely deserves its place on our list of the best saltwater spinning reels.
If you would like to find out more about the Penn Clash, you can find more reviews and see the price on Amazon.
Accurate TwinDrag SR Reels
The Accurate TwinDrag SR is a strong, truly heavy duty reel. Made with capability in mind, heat dissipation systems and high-quality gears allow even the smaller models to pull in bigger fish than you’d expect in such a light package. Plus, the heat dissipation features give the reel a very cool, industrial look.
Adding to its sleek design are new colors available with the new generation of reels, allowing you to pick one that matches your gear set if that’s something you care about. The spool can be removed very easily, the housing has a rubberless seal, and the design makes it incredibly easy to maintain. At its price point, you’d be hard pressed to beat it in power, appearance, or weight.
Accurate makes great reels with a lot of patented technology that all works together to make beautiful, high-performance reel. My favorite feature is the rubberless seal. Using very tight tolerance on the machined housing, the Accurate TwinDrag SR manages to keep saltwater out without annoying rubber gaskets that always wear out over time. This not only makes the reel lighter but also aids in making maintenance a breeze.
Accurate’s patented TwinDrag system uses friction washers on each side of the spool. This not only allows for a very strong, smooth drag, it also greatly reduces startup inertia and high drag spikes, allowing for smooth, consistent drag that reduces fish loss.
With such fine threads and well-machined pieces, the spool comes off and apart with ease, allowing anybody with a pair of needle nose pliers to fully maintain this reel without any worry of messing it up or having to buy a bunch of rubber seals every year due to expansion.
The only thing that I don’t like about this reel is its cost. For the price, you could buy yourself four Penn Spinfishers, including rods.
Overall, this is a great reel for anglers with a lot of money to spend. The maintenance is incredibly easy, allowing people with little experience or time to maintain the reel without a lot of fuss, and the reel outperforms almost any other reel available.
If you would like to find out more about the Accurate Twin Drag SR, you can find more reviews and see the price on Amazon.
Shimano Twin Power SW-B
The Shimano Twin Power SW-B is an incredible reel complete with everything Shimano could stuff in it at the target price. The reel is made with a full metal construction using incredibly light, materials that will stand the test of time. In fact, if well taken care of, this reel may outlast you.
Along with its inferior materials, this reel provides design features that give you an incredibly smooth, high quality, and powerful reel. All the gears are cold forged and placed with durability and power in mind, meaning smooth, consistent operation while either free spinning or under load. Even the spool was designed to let go of line in a way that dramatically reduces wind knots. Everything about this reel exudes quality.
This baby is packed with crazy features. It has basically everything Shimano had to give it in a small and light package. The best part is that all of the features work together to increase performance and durability.
The X-tough drag system uses a spring in the adjustment that allows for consistently smooth drag all the way from minnow level, to 60lb beasts. The drag system is also incredibly durable and will last as long as the reel.
This is a technology that uses aluminum wrapped, steel core parts for the bail, handle, and main gear. On the handle, it means there is very little warp and a stable feel no matter what sea monster you’re pulling in. On the rest of the components, this means little to no warp and a lot of protection from bending, thus reducing wear under load and rough use.
A series of gaskets at water penetration points allows this reel to handle all the splashes you put it in while wading in the surf. While it isn’t precisely watertight, it does manage to keep the insides from being coated in salt during heavy use.
A one-way roller bearing cancels all back play in the reel, allowing you to instantly set a hook without worrying about damage to your reel and without having to pull any extra line. The bearings are shielded to prevent corrosion as well.
For the price, I would expect this reel to be fully sealed, but it’s not. It also comes in limited sizes, so if you want to go big, you better look into another reel.
If the Stradic FK won’t cut it, this reel certainly will. While it is a little limited in available sizes, this reel can still withstand most any fish you’ll find inshore. If you need to go bigger, the Shimano Stella has most of the same features in a bigger reel meant for giants. That being said, unless you’re deep sea fishing, the Twin Power has you covered with its endless list of features providing corrosion resistance, durability, and performance that goes well above what you’d expect even at its high price.
If you would like to find out more about the Shimano Twin Power SW-B, you can find more reviews and see the price on Amazon.
Buying Guide: What Makes a Great Saltwater Reel
There are more than a few things to look for when searching for a good quality saltwater reel! You will need a reel that not only meets your fishing needs but also your budget. The main things you need are corrosion resistance, drag, line capacity, and durability.
In my opinion, the number one thing to consider when searching for a reel for saltwater use is whether or not it can stand up to the wear and tear that saltwater can have on fishing gear. You might get away with a few months, maybe even a few years with a reel that is not intended for saltwater use, but eventually the salty seas will take their toll on it. Even if you rinse it off after every time you use it.
For this reason, you want to make sure that your saltwater reels incorporate stainless steel bearings, sealed bearings, and anodized aluminum bodies.
A good drag is a must when battling inshore giants such as bull reds, and huge snook! They provide the necessary resistance needed to tire them out as they make their runs. Important qualities to look for in your saltwater spinning reel’s drag system is a wide range of adjustability, the durability of the system, and low startup inertia.
With adjustability, you can go after a couple different types of fish with one reel, durability will keep big fish from wearing out your drag, and startup inertia is how quickly and easily the drag starts when the fish pulls. This can help prevent broken line and lost leads.
When fishing for saltwater fish, you want to make sure that your reel is up for the challenge and that includes its line capacity. Even, a 5 pound Jack Crevalle can quickly make a run for it that can easily unravel 50-100 yards of line in a matter of seconds. Now just imagine what a 40-inch snook can do!
Different fishing situations call for different measures, but for the most part, you want an inshore reel that can hold at least 200 yards of 12-15 pound braided line. It’s been my experience that if you can’t get a fish to the boat with 200 yards of line, you’re probably not going to catch him anyways. Most inshore runs are short and quick, so 200 yards should be more than enough.
You don’t want to spend a healthy chunk of change on a reel that won’t last. The best saltwater spinning reels are the ones that pass the test of time. To be equipped for that test, your reel needs to be sturdy, well made, well sealed, and repairable. Look for quality parts such as full metal casings and gears, and remember that machined is always better than die-cast.
When braided line first hit the scene, you had to improvise in order to use it on your spinning reels. Braid has a tendency to slip around the spool unless you apply some sort of backing like monofilament or even electrical tape. Times have changed though and most good saltwater spinning reels now come standard with braid-ready spools. Of course, if you want to save a little money on braid, you can still back your spool with the first hundred yards being monofilament and finishing it off with braid.
While not a deal breaker, in my opinion, a reel’s bearing count is something else you may want to consider. The general rule is that a reel with a higher bearing count usually means for a smoother retrieve, which means reeling in that trophy-sized catch just got a little easier.
All the reels on this list are great choices depending on your needs. If you only have a $100 budget, then the Penn Battle II is a great starter reel. It will give you plenty of years, whether you’re fishing in the surf or inshore without breaking your bank.
That being said, the Daiwa BG is in the same price range and has a ton of better features. Decades of reliability or a superior reel? Up to you.
If you have $200 to spend, then consider the Stradic FK or the Spinfisher V. Either reel is a great choice. The Spinfisher has heavier models, though with higher weight capability. That being said, it is a little heavier than the Stradic. Go with the Stradic if you don’t plan on going much further than inshore, but if you plan on venturing offshore, then the Spinfisher might be the right choice.
At $500 you should really get the Shimano Twin Power. Nothing in this price class can hold a candle to what this reel can achieve, and if taken care of, you will never have to worry about purchasing another reel again. If your budget goes even higher, though, then you may as well get the Accurate TwinDrag.
Which one do you think is the best saltwater spinning reels? We’d love to hear what you have to say, and as any angler knows, the list of saltwater spinning reels is truly endless and this is just a small sampling.