Saltwater Spinning Reels – Buying Guide, Reviews, and Comparison
For those of you who need to find the best saltwater spinning reel but don’t want to spend hours going through large numbers of reviews and comparisons, it’s a good thing that you’re here. Since we’ve decided to help you out, we’ve taken the time to go through all the related information on the most sought-after spinning reels currently available. Our team concluded that Shimano’s Baitrunner D is the product you should consider as a first option since it comes with multiple great features such as the Propulsion Line Management. Moreover, this also means fewer tangles and backlash to deal with, while the sturdy yet lightweight aluminum handle allows you to handle it with ease. In terms of performance, the maximum drag is higher compared to other similar models, as well as waterproof for enhanced results. In case this reel is not available in your area, the alternative you should keep in mind is the Okuma Cedros CJ-55S.
Our Top Choice
Offering multiple benefits, such as an improved line lay and enhanced castability, this spinning reel also includes features such as the Propulsion Line Management. Plus, you won’t have to worry about tangles and backlash during use, but you will be able to enjoy a wider range and a light construction.
For the reel to last a long time, you should follow the manufacturer’s indications, since it can otherwise get damaged quickly.
Approved for saltwater fishing, this spinning reel is an excellent alternative for those who need to find a sturdy and reliable solution.
Featuring an elegant design that includes satin gold, blue, and chrome, this reel includes a spool made of machined anodized aluminum, as well as a frame made of cast aluminum. This means that it is both sturdy and light, and also that the necessary saltwater protection is ensured, for carefree trips.
You need to make sure that you clean it properly after each fishing trip, since otherwise dirt can get inside, and this can affect the results.
This is an excellent spinning reel for those who want to use a reliable tool that includes innovative in-house engineering.
With a smooth triple disc drag made of carbon fiber, you will be able to catch fish as heavy as 39.5 lbs. This reel was designed keeping trophies in mind, and this can be seen in the way it is constructed. A unique protection system was also added for the body, rotor, and spool, that keeps water and dirt at bay.
You should check the model’s description and sizes since some users found it to be smaller than expected upon delivery.
Given the many features this spinning reel includes, you should definitely try it out since you’ll probably be very happy with it.
Our top choices
With so many technical specifications to be mindful of and so many brands vying for your buck choosing the best spinning reel for saltwater might give you a tough time. We decided to come to your aid by suggesting a handful of top products, selected based on the marks they received in saltwater reel reviews and positive customer feedback.
Shimano Baitrunner D
This model is known to offer its user the confidence of the brand’s drivetrain and auto-return features. If you decide to give this spinning reel a try, you will also enjoy enhanced castability, as well as an improved line lay, which also means less backlash and tangles. Thanks to its design and construction, this item ensures a comfortable grip so that you can easily maneuver it.
The Graphite Frame, as well as the Propulsion Line Management, are among the additional features that make this a popular choice among seasoned users. Moreover, the maximum drag is higher, while the element is also waterproof for an improved experience. Also, the fact that there is less friction on the line means that things can get a lot easier during intense moments.
Compared to its predecessors, the Baitrunner’s range is wider, while the machined aluminum handle is both sturdy and lightweight, thus allowing you to quickly respond according to the conditions you encounter while fishing.
The reel is approved for use in saltwater, and it can be used with PowerPro, Mono, and Fluorocarbon lines, according to its rating. If you want to enjoy enhanced fishing adventures, this is certainly a reel that you should bear in mind.Buy from Amazon.com for ($165)
Okuma Cedros CJ-55S
This reel impresses at first sight with its handsome coloring, of satin blue, gold, and chrome as well as the good quality of the make. The spool is made from machined anodized aluminum and the frame from cast aluminum, to keep it sturdy but light, while also ensuring good saltwater protection.
Both the “Dual Force” drag system and the “High-Density Gearing” where the result of some innovative in-house engineering. You might not be interested in their precise technical details (the gears are supposed to be especially compact and corrosion resistant), but judging by the feedback this product received, we can conclude they work as advertised.
The Cedros series items are also a little lighter than the equivalent competition, which is always nice when you have to hold to it for hours at end, but some customers noticed that this high-quality compact frame does come with some downsides. Namely, it can be hard to open up for some “field maintenance” and cleaning. This isn’t a deal breaker however since most folks prefer consulting a specialist anyway.Buy from Amazon.com for ($139.99)
KastKing Sharky III
KastKing’s Sharky III is one of those models that simply look great. They are sturdily built to enable you to land trophy fish in both freshwater and saltwater, and the high-percentage fiber-reinforced graphite rotor and body definitely help in this matter.
Since we’re talking about performance, it is a good moment to take a look at the smooth and reliable triple-disc drag that is made of carbon fiber and that can withstand up to 39.5 lbs. Moreover, the stainless-steel main shaft is oversized, while the strong, high-precision brass pinion gears are not to be overlooked either.
The brand added unique protection for the reel’s spool, rotor, and body that consists of a water-resistant design which works to keep water and dirt out. This is called the KastKing Intrusion Shield System, also known as K.I.S.S.
Plus, we cannot get over how quiet and silky smooth the retrieve is. Thanks to the uniquely designed aluminum spool, you won’t need to use backing line anymore. This product includes many other features, such as the stainless-steel hardware, or the instant lock anti-reverse. That’s why, if you decide to give it a try, there’s a very high chance you won’t be disappointed.Buy from Amazon.com for ($55.98)
While all types of reels should conform to a common set of demands in regards to quality and performance, most of the times a reel’s usefulness is evaluated in relation to how well it suits one particular task. In the case of saltwater spinning reels, they will most often have to contend with powerful, large fish, in an environment prone to causing corrosion to metal parts. What are the characteristics a reel should have to best handle the job?
Resistance is paramount
Since most anglers use them to drag large fish, a good saltwater spinning reel should have plenty of structural resistance. Sure, you might think, “the line will break well before anything else if a shark or barracuda puts up too much of a fight”, and you’ll be right.
But the 50-80 lb that the reel will have to regularly handle add up to a lot of stress over time, on its handle, gears, drag washers, and reel. To this, you can add the special corrosive potential of salt water and salty air.
Cheap models, with a low manufacturing quality, aren’t expected to last more than one or two seasons, so only go for the middle of the range or premium models, unless you are a casual angler only planning to do on-shore fishing.
It’s not just manufacturing quality that influences durability, but also the materials used. The body is generally made out of anodized or cast aluminum, but also graphite in more expensive models.
Both of them do the job well, but the latter usually receives higher ratings because it practically doesn’t oxidize. It is prone to chipping, however, which aluminum is not. The internal parts, gears, and bearings, are almost always made out of stainless steel, which is highly resistant to corrosion.
Line capacity and other things
The second factor to consider is how much test line the spool can hold. This is measured in both overall length and weight, with more being always better. Most oceanic fish swim deep, and often you’ll want to cast your line far from the boat, so only a lot of test line will ensure for a complete sea fishing experience.
Speaking of which, a good reel should have smooth action, and rotate without a hitch even if a small amount of force is applied. This is almost always an indication of manufacturing quality since it’s determined by the number of ball bearings used and the cogwheels having a precise fit.
Fin-Nor OFS BX3-24
A lot of owners enthusiastically commented that these Fin-Nors are basically built like tanks, which is precisely what you need if you’re targeting large oceanic fish that are prone to putting up a fight.
It has a strong, anodized aluminum body, sideplate, and rotor, with most of the internal bits made of machined stainless steel, to ensure both toughness and good corrosion resistance for a salty environment.
Four double-shielded bearings will work side by side sharing the weight of your catch and ensuring you’ll get a smooth operation. Most owners declare themselves delighted at the pleasant sound the whole mechanism makes — an indication that the manufacturer didn’t go cheap on the gears and number of ball bearings.
Made to offer all the leverage you require, even the smaller models achieve a gear ratio of 4,4:1, while the drag is actually a little oversized on all version, so that stingrays or sharks won’t end up running with your line.
There’s plenty of line to be fit on its spool — 400 yards at 65 lb braid for the 85 size, just to give you an indication — so bottom fishing or far casting won’t give you any trouble.
KastKing Sharky II
This KastKing model basically offers all the functionality that an offshore angler would want but at a fraction of the cost of similar products. It has an anti-reverse handle, a good drag with plenty of power, and good water protection.
According to most experts, you can tell the quality of a reel by the smoothness of its operation, with cheaper units having a tendency to “clunk” more or less continuously when turning. This is due to a small number of ball bearings or one of the sprockets on the gears being off.
We’re happy to report that this doesn’t appear to be the case with the Sharky II, that according to consumer reports, has a “very nice, smooth action to it”. This is thanks to its 10+1 balls per bearing and the reinforced alloy drive gear, both of them durable enough and treated to handle the strain imposed by a marine environment.
Once the fish bites, you’ll be able to handle its antics thanks to the carbon fiber drag washers, that are able to hold onto as much as 48.5lb of weight, more than enough for big fish like tuna or Blue Marlin.