Saltwater Spinning Reels – Buying Guide, Reviews, and Comparison
If you’re interested in finding the best saltwater spinning reel for your needs but aren’t that keen on spending hours of your time going through online reviews and comparisons, then we’ve got you covered. After going through all the best data available we’ve concluded that the Fin-Nor OFS BX3-24 series is what you should look towards for a spinning reel that will handle the challenges imposed by onshore and offshore ocean fishing. Both casual anglers and specialists alike appreciated its durable construction and its remarkable capacity to handle the biggest species of fish, including 220lb sharks. It also holds plenty of line and the smooth running internal mechanism will give out a satisfactory sound that you will end up loving. If a Fin-Nor of the size you want isn’t available in your area, then the Okuma Cedros CJ-55S will make for a nice alternative.
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.
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.Click to see the price on Amazon!
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 ($123.83)
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.Buy from Amazon.com for: See the Price!
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.