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Saltwater habitats are a harsh fishing environment. The saltwater easily corrodes spinning reel materials that are not corrosion-resistant or waterproofed. Generally, saltwater territories are deep, and saltwater fish species are typically bigger than freshwater fish. As a result, every spinning reel you come across is not suitable for saltwater fishing; you require a strong, corrosion-resistant one.
This article provides you features to look out for in a saltwater fishing reel. We also review the top 8 saltwater fishing reels and answer some saltwater fishing reels FAQS.
If you’re a fan of offshore fishing, Penn’s Slammer reels are a great choice. These are a cut above something like the Penn Pursuit. The black gold finish gives it a sleek and sexy look. Inside, however, is what really counts.
The Slammer III has a full metal body. That includes the side plate and rotor. The source of the name is the Slammer drag system. There’s also machine brass gears. It features Dura-Drag material and 7+1 bearings. If you’re an avid angler of monsters like bluefin or yellowfin tuna, you’re covered. Bump up to the 10500 size. You’re looking at 60 lbs of drag and 540 yards of 80 lb braided line.
The drag here is super smooth. Is it the best in the industry? Daiwa probably has it beat. Depending on which size you buy, you may notice a little bit of gear dragging on your. But overall, the performance is so good. The value speaks for itself and you’ll be happy on your first fishing trip.
Keep your eye out if you’re buying an older or a newer reel. Since 2017, Penn has made these with 7+1 bearings. Some specs still list them as 6+1. That may be true, but it’s an older model.
Waterproofing is top quality. It’s IPX6 rated. That’s an independent rating, not one that Penn made up. That’s worth noting because a lot of companies use their own rating system. Shimano, for instance.
At the end of the day, performance and value are top notch here. For the size of the fish you’ll land with this reel, it’s a great choice.
The price tag of a Shimano Stella reel is enough to knock the casual angler over. This is not an impulse buy at all. This is an investment. So is it worth it? If you’re a serious ocean angler? You bet. And by serious we mean – are you looking to pull in bluefin tuna? Maybe a shark? Then yeah, give this reel a whirl. The 20000 reel can hold 400 yards of 80-pound monofilament line. The 10500 holds 540 of 80-pound. So is it up to par with a conventional trolling reel? Not quite. But if you like the challenge it can be a hell of a lot of fun.
Shimano makes the Stella in 12 different sizes. It’s hard to pick the “best” of the best. It really depends on how you fish and for what. The body is IPX8 waterproof. That means it’s fully sealed against water.
The smoothness of the Stella is exactly what you’d expect for this price. It’s smooth like silk thanks to those 14+1 ceramic bearings. Even when you have a monster tuna on the line, it comes in like butter.
Is the procie prohibitive? You bet. And there is one potential problem. Shimano introduces new reels pretty regularly. There is a chance that, down the road, this reel will get discontinued. If that happens, they may stop producing parts for it. If something goes wrong, that could mean you’re out of options for a replacement.
Shimano offers their Platinum Premier service plan when you buy the Stella. You have a 2-year warranty against defects. As well, you get a discount on maintenance services. You can get anywhere from 50% to 100% off maintenance. Plus there’s a guaranteed 48 hour turnaround. That means when they get your reel for maintenance, you’ll get it back in 2 days. For a top of the line reel, you won’t find anything better.
Size options: 4000/5000/6000/8000/10000/20000 and more
Material: Hagane metal
Gear Ratio: Variable depending on size
Max drag: 29 lbs – 55 lbs
Number of ball bearings: 14+1
Braid line compatible: Yes
Solid warranty and guarantee
Incredible craftsmanship and design
Powerful reel for pulling in huge fish
Steep price tag
That 48 hour turnaround isn’t always 100% reliable.
The Piscifun Viper X 4000 Spinning Fishing Reel has an ultralight yet strong build which offers a smooth, efficient, and powerful operation. It is made of quality graphite, which is molded using new technology for a light and stylish, black and green finish.
It is powered by a 6:2:1 gear that produces lightning-fast retrieval even when handling big fish. Its 10+1 stainless steel ball-bearing drag system is smooth and consistent. Its main shaft is reinforced with stainless steel, while the zinc alloy drive gear is coupled up with carbon washers for consistent performance. With this spinning fishing reel, you can forget about broken or stuck lines.
Its design incorporates advanced waterproofing. Its one-way clutch bushing, one-way clutch plate, stainless steel washers, and bearings are dirt and waterproof. It has an EVA knob handle that is ergonomic and offers a non-slip grip.
The CNC machined spool is braid-ready. For its premium quality build, the Piscifun Viper X 4000 Spinning Fishing Reel is sold affordably. This model is available in three other sizes, including 500, 3000, and 5000.
The Penn Pursuit III Spinning Fishing Reel is loved among seasoned anglers for its quality build at entry-level price points. It is designed to be dependable and easy to use, which makes it suitable for beginner anglers.
It is lightweight and corrosion-resistant. Its frame is made of graphite. It operates on an HT-100 carbon fiber drag with a maximum load capacity of 11.8lb. Its 4+1 ball bearings are made of shielded stainless steel to offer a smooth operation. It has multiple line capacity with braided line and monofilament line compatibility.
It comes with three differently sized rings: 1/3, 2/3, and full capacity. Its superline aluminum spool has a rubber gasket; therefore, it does not require backing. You can choose from the various size options, including 2500, 4000, 5000, 6000, and 8000.
Material: Carbon, aluminum, and stainless steel
Gear Ratio: 6:2:1
Max drag: 11.8lb
Number of ball bearings: 4+1
Braid line compatible: Yes
Easy to use
Suitable for small fish
Few ball bearings
Noisy when reeling
Best Budget Choice
5. Seaknight Rapid II 5000 Saltwater Spinning Reel
Seaknight Rapid II 5000 Saltwater Spinning Reel is super light and efficient. It is suited for heavy freshwater and light saltwater fishing. It is suitable for inshore fishing to catch fish species such as bass, stripers, walleyes, catfish, and Northern pike. It is available in different sizes, including 2000, 2500, 3000, 4000, and 6000.
This reel is built to be sturdy and durable. Its exterior and main shaft are made of stainless steel. The exterior’s durability is reinforced with an anti-corrosive coating. It has a CNC aluminum spool that is compatible with braided and monofilament lines designed with a handy line keeper to provide a convenient way to attach the line.
It comes with a foldable handle that has a removable knob. Its updated asymmetric rotor design is 30% stronger to offer adequate torque for a smooth operation. The drag system is enhanced to be water and dirt proof with a drag knob. The reel’s drag capacity is 17.6lb, with the 6000-size having a capacity of 22lb. It has high precision alloy 6:2:1 pinion gear made of brass. It also has an anti-reverse gear
The Dr. Fish Saltwater Spinning Reel 9000 is versatile, powerful, and efficient. This spinning reel is also available in size 8000. It is suitable for game fishing as well as surfcasting to catch big fish.
It has a unique s-body design made of graphite, which is durable and corrosion-resistant.
Its triple carbon fiber drag system offers a maximum load capacity of 35lb. The drag system adjusts accordingly for easy retrieval.
It has 9+1 stainless steel ball bearings for a smooth operation. It has a CNC aluminum spool that has a higher capacity for heavy lines. Its L-shaped, ambidextrous aluminum handle offers sturdy handling. The L-shaped handle, 4:1:1 gear ratio, and precise brass pinion gears offer excellent power transmission and increased torque.
Material: Aluminum, carbon (graphite), and stainless steel
The Cadence Spinning Reel CS5 Pro offers high performance, reliability, and durability. It is super light as it is made of high concentration meta carbon, which is 53% lighter than aluminum but 20% stronger.
The spool is made of machined aluminum to keep the outgoing steady. It has an ergonomic, oversized EVA handle that provides a comfortable, non-slip grip without adding extra weight to the reel.
Its unique torsion control body design offers an ultra-smooth and stable operation. It has 8+1 stainless steel ball bearings that offer sufficient torque. The 5:2:1 gear ratio offers a super-high, ultra-smooth performance, while the CS5 drag system is made of superior quality carbon and offers a high drag load capacity of up to 36lbs.
The main shaft is made of stainless steel, while the main pinion gear is made of zinc alloy to offers precision and adequate fish fighting power.
It has an anti-reverse gear. The handle is ambidextrous. It is also braided line compatible and can also be used with up to 12lb monofilament lines.
This CS5 reel can be used for both freshwater and saltwater fishing. It is available in 3 other sizes including 1000,2000, and 3000. The manufacturer backs up the product’s quality with a 90-day return policy for a 100% refund and a 3-year warranty against the manufacturer’s defects.
The RUNCL Spinning Reel Titan II is designed to be waterproof, lightweight, and corrosion-resistant. It assumes a hollow design that keeps it light without sacrificing durability and strength.
It implements an entire shield system for water and dirt proofing. The full outer metal is made of anodized steel, while the rotor has a phosphating coating. This reel has passed the 168-hour salt mist test.
It runs smoothly on 9+1 shielded ball bearings with a 5:1:1 gear ratio. The pinion gears are made of brass, and the main shaft is made of thick stainless steel. Its drag washers are made of carbon fiber.
Sizes 2000 and 3000 have three washers, while sizes 4000, 5000, and 6000 have five washers. The drag system has a maximum load capacity of 44lb. It has a braid-ready spool that can also be used with monofilament lines.
Material: brass, aluminum, brass, carbon, and stainless steel
Kastking has the intention of making the Kastking Magatron spinning the most powerful in the industry. It has a unique, bionic engineering design that makes it stand out while being lightweight and strong. You can choose from 5 sizes including 2000, 3000,4000, 5000, and 6000.
The skeletal frame is made of aerospace aluminum alloy. Its main drive gear is made of zinc, and it has a pinion gear made of brass. Both parts deliver a sturdy and smooth operation to withstand rough saltwater terrain and larger fish. Its T6061 aerospace aluminum alloy spool is braid-line ready. The spool is also compatible with monofilaments. Its handles are made of aluminum and are coated with EVA for balanced and non-slip handling.
Its tripe disc drag system is made of carbon fiber with a drag capacity of 39.5lb and offers excellent run-stopping power. It has 7+1 shielded stainless steel ball bearings and a 4:5:1 that provides adequate.
Looking for a solid mid-range reel? Daiwa’s BG series of saltwater spinning reels are worth checking out. They’re not breaking the bank like some of the premium options. And they’re also a higher quality than some of the budget choices as well. Daiwa can be counted on for smooth operation and quality construction. All that at a very reasonable price.
There are a variety of sizes to suit your needs with Daiwa. At the low end of the scale is the 2500. This has a line capacity of 170 yards at 8lbs. Drag is low at 13.2 lbs. On the other end, something like the 8000 has space for 590 yards of 65 lb braid. That comes with 33 lbs of drag. So you can see, there’s a good range available.
The air rotor is lightweight and the body is machined aluminum. The black color is anodized. The drive gear is large and can handle a lot. If you’re out there looking for tarpon or similar size prey, give Daiwa a try. You won’t be disappointed. You may need to take some time to get used to the weight, though. The Daiwa weighs about 22 ounces. Not a brick by any means, but heavier than some reels. When you’re fighting a big wahoo, you may notice the difference between this and a lighter reel. A lot of this will depend on the rod you pair it with.
One thing to keep in mind about these reels is how Daiwa sizes them. Compare a 4000 Daiwa to a 4000 of their competitors and you’ll see a difference. Daiwa runs sizes large. They tend to be about a full size bigger than the competition.
Shimano is a name every angler knows. There’s a good reason for it, too. This spinning reel is no joke. Made to the exacting standards you’d expect from Shimano. The grips are large and easy to handle. The crank is smooth and steady. No worries about it giving you any trouble here. It features Shimano’s MicroModule Gear II. That’s design not just for smoothness but great power transfer. That said, the low drag tops out at 24 lbs max. Keep that in mind depending on how you like to fish.
This reel is not ideal for heading out on the open ocean. The low drag and limited line capacity will keep you closer to land for sure. But off the pier or in a canal? This is a solid choice.
There’s a Water channeling, labyrinth construction to keep things running well. The exterior has an X-Protect water-resistant coating. With 6+1 bearings and hagane gears, you’ll be loving every cast.
The proof is really in the operation. Shimano has machined every part of this reel for maximum efficiency. The casts are so smooth it’s a real treat to use. Now, as we said, the low drag and line capacity do offer limitations. You’re not pulling in a marlin with this at all. But if you happen to hook a fish that weighs in at 100 lbs this reel will help you land it after a solid fight.
The Diwa 7000 Spinning Fishing Reel is a high range freshwater and saltwater spinning reel. Its body, spool, and handle are made of aluminum alloy. Its body is ultra-thin and streamlined for a lightweight, balanced feel. Its ambidextrous handle is reinforced for a firm grip with rubber.
It provides smooth fluid cranking with 14+1 sealed steel ball bearings. The drag system is strong and powerful, with a load capacity of 60lb. Its gear ratio is 4:7:1 and has an anti-reverse gear. The manufacturer offers a 1-year warranty. Other available sizes include 3000, 4000, 5000, and 6000.
Material: Aluminum, brass, and stainless steel
Gear Ratio: 4:7:1
Max drag: 60lb
Number of ball bearings: 13+1
Braid line compatible: Yes
Powerful gear train
High drag capacity
Has an anti-twist line roller
Finely adjustable drag
Buying Guide for Saltwater Spinning Reels
The following are the key features of the best saltwater fishing reels:
Made of corrosion-resistant material such as anodized aluminum, high tensile stainless steel, or graphite. Other materials that withstand corrosive elements well include titanium, ceramic, and carbon fiber. Avoid spinning reels made of plastic or light-duty metals.
Heavy-duty build quality. Saltwater spinning reels are heavier and sturdier than freshwater spinning reels.
High line capacity. Saltwater spinning reels come with more guides to adequately support heavier fishing lines. This offers adequate capacity to handle the bigger saltwater fish species and longer runs in deep waters.
The spinning reel should hold an adequate line that can be cast deep into the waters. The line capacity is a factor of the spool size and diameter of the line. The bigger the spool, the more line it can hold. The Penn Slammer 10500 has the largest line capacity of all spinning reels on the market. It can hold 540 yards of 80-pound braided line.
High drag strength to provide adequate power for casting heavier lures and smooth retrieval of the big fish. Experts recommend a 1:2 ratio between maximum drag and line strength. This is to mean that the maximum drag value should be at least half of the line weight. Shimano Twin Power 8000 series, Penn Torque II, Penn Slammer III, and Penn Spinfisher VI are some spinning reels with a high drag strength of up to 60-pounds.
Sealed interior parts. Saltwater spinning reels have sealed bearings, gear, and drag system. The seal serves as a gasket that keeps salty water off the parts. It is worth mentioning that although sealing does not make the spinning reel 100% waterproof, the seal significantly improves the durability of the various parts. Others incorporate actual gaskets and protective coatings.
Sturdy non-slip handles. Stainless steel handles offer sturdy and balanced handling, while non-anodized aluminum handles tend to feel flimsy. If you are keen on grip, go for handles that have rubber or EVA handles.
Powerful gear. The gear ratio determines how powerful a spinning reel is. Gear ratio refers to the number of times a line goes around the spool with a single crank of the handle. A higher gear ratio makes it possible to retrieve your catch quickly. The typical gear ratio for saltwater spinning reels is 6:2:1 on the higher side and 4:2:1 on the lower side. A high gear ratio works well for scouting an area for fish, while a lower ratio works well for live lining bait.
It is worth noting that you are likely to come across larger reels with a 4:2:1 gear ratio, which may seem lower. A lower gear ratio provides the larger reels with more torque for handling heavier lines and catches. Some saltwater fishing reels have a two-speed functionality that allows you to change between two gear ratio options with a simple push of the button.
Relatively light. Very heavy spinning reels will get you tired fast; therefore, it is not ideal for the long runs associated with saltwater fishing. The heavier ones are also harder to handle, especially when retrieving bigger fish that put up a fight. If the reel does not have a sturdy handle and a flexible rod, the stress of the tackle goes to your hands. As a result, you may experience shoulder and arm ache either in the course of a fishing trip or within the next 24 hours. With that said, although a lightweight reel makes it easy to cast over a long distance, the light weight should not come at the cost of quality build.
Offers smooth operation. More ball bearings are associated with a smooth operation. For saltwater fishing, the bearings should be made of stainless steel, corrosion-resistant, and less prone to friction. Go for spinning reels with at least five ball bearings
Have an anti-reverse functionality. It prevents a spinning reel from going into reverse unexpectedly.
Braided line compatibility. Braided lines offer numerous advantages for saltwater fishing. They are heavy-duty, durable, and easy to cast into the deep waters. As such, the spinning reel you select for saltwater fishing must be compatible with braided lines. However, when fishing in shallower waters, you can use heavier fluorocarbon or monofilament lines.
Live-baiting capability. It is not a must-have feature in your saltwater spinning reel, but it would increase your reel’s efficiency and performance. This feature offers live-lining capability whereby a hooked baitfish swims away from the boat in free-spool. Most spinning reels with this functionality have a dual drag that provides tension during free-spool and the other to provide drag to fight fish once it takes the bait. Some spinning reels with this functionality include Penn Spinfisher V live liner, Shimano Bait Runner OC, and Quantum Cabo PTs Bait Teaser, among others.
High ratings and numerous positive reviews. Ultimately you want to go for a reputable saltwater fishing reel that will work well for the type of fish you are targeting. Check the spinning reel’s reviews across various platforms to find out what previous customers say about it. A favorable return policy and warranty policy indicate that the company is confident about its products and stands behind them.
Saltwater Spinning Reels FAQs
Do I need a saltwater rod to use with the saltwater reel?
Yes, like saltwater spinning reels, saltwater rods are built with corrosion-resistant material. They also have a sturdier but flexible build to withstand the harsh saltwater environment and tackle big fish. Most saltwater fishing rods are made of graphite or fiberglass composite, which are corrosion-resistant, durable, and lightweight.
What is the difference between saltwater spinning reels and freshwater spinning reels?
The main difference between saltwater fishing and freshwater fishing is mainly the chemical composition of the water itself, which is high in minerals that have a corrosive effect on the fishing equipment.
Also, saltwater territories are deeper than freshwater habitats, which necessitates different strategies and tackle techniques. Therefore, saltwater fishing requires specialized equipment that can withstand the corrosive waters, cast and retrieve in deep waters, and also handle bigger, heavier fish.
Are saltwater reels spinning reels more expensive than freshwater reels?
Generally, saltwater reels are more expensive than saltwater spinning reels. This is because they are made with higher quality material. They are also designed to be more powerful.
Can you use saltwater spinning reels for freshwater fishing and vice versa?
Technically, saltwater fishing reels are upgraded freshwater fishing reels, and so you could use a saltwater spinning reel for freshwater fishing. However, you might need to replace the heavier-duty and longer lines with lighter ones to suit the shallower waters, characteristic of freshwater fishing.
Contrarily, it is not recommended to use a freshwater spinning reel for saltwater fishing. While you could, it significantly reduces the freshwater spinning reel’s durability as they are made with corrosion-prone materials.
Some anglers argue that you could rinse a freshwater reel thoroughly after using it in saltwater to prevent corrosion. The strategy may work for the spinning reel exterior, but the freshwater spinning reel’s inner parts are not sealed; therefore, they will end up getting damaged.
If you fish in saltwater often, you must invest in a saltwater spinning reel. These reels are specially designed to withstand the corrosive saltwater and offer efficiency in deep water fishing techniques. Our top pick for the best saltwater fishing reel is the Piscifun Viper X 4000. It is powerful, light, smooth, corrosion-resistant, and fully waterproof.
Outdoors, I’m in my element, especially in the water. I know the importance of being geared up for anything. I do the deep digital dive, researching gear, boats and knowhow and love keeping my readership at the helm of their passions.