Best Saltwater Spinning Reels 2019 – Reviews and Top Picks

There are plenty of saltwater spinning reels on the market. Such a large variety may confuse even experienced anglers. If you are looking for a robust and durable reel, you may benefit from my professional advice.

Fishing has been a passion of mine since childhood, and almost every weekend I’m out on the water with a reel in my hands. For better practice, I moved to Sandwich – one of the best places to go fishing on Cape Cod – and took a job in a tackle shop. I worked there for over six years, and my daily duty was to answer customers’ questions. During these years, I learned a lot about tech specs and consulted both novices and accomplished anglers.

In this article, I will describe five reels that I personally like. I will cover the basics of what to look for in a high-quality reel for saltwater. With these tips, you will be able to easily make the right choice.

Name
Primary Material:
Gear Ratio:
Warranty:
Price
Name
Primary Material:
Gear Ratio:
Warranty:
Price
№1
Stainless Steel
6:1
1-year limited
№5
Metal
6.2
1-year limited

The Accurate is a reliable brand that is loved by accomplished anglers. Unlike most reels on the market, the Accurate SR-30 is designed, manufactured, and assembled in the USA.

Primary Material:
Stainless Steel
Gear Ratio:
6:1
Warranty:
1-year limited
PROS

American made

Heavy-duty built

Good spoon ventilation

Smooth casting and retrieving

1-year limited warranty

2-year AccuCare Reel Service

Cons

On a pricey side

Considerably heavy

Penn is a well-known manufacturer in the fishing world. It produces one of the finest reels and durable rods. The 9500 Slammer is a high-quality, versatile reel, which is suitable for different types of fishing. This model has excellent water protection that usually can be found in more expensive reels.

Primary Material:
Metal
Gear Ratio:
4.2:1
Warranty:
1-year limited
PROS

Durable construction

Sealed body and spoon design

Full metal mechanics

Smooth cast

Water-resistant IPX6

1-year limited warranty

Cons

Heavy

The Spinfisher VI is available in 11 models that offer different line capacity, drag, and gear ratio. Thanks to outstanding Penn quality and the variety of choice, this is the best saltwater reel for its price for multi-species hunting.

Primary Material:
Aluminum
Gear Ratio:
4.2:1
Warranty:
1-year limited
PROS

Reasonable price for the quality

Sturdy construction

Watertight IPX5 design

Full-metal mechanics

Cons

Under heavy load may appear gear noise

The Shimano Baitrunner D is a series of 4 models, which have different drag, line capacity, and gear ratios. The Baitrunner D immediately caught my attention, when I saw it had a 10-year limited warranty. To provide such a long warranty, the manufacturer should be fully confident in the quality of the product. I even bought one Shimano for myself to test it. After 3 years of abusive hunting, it still operates smoothly.

Primary Material:
Gear Ratio:
4.8:1
Warranty:
10-year limited
PROS

Lightweight

10-year limited warranty

Good for beginners

Saltwater approved

Cons

Rare complaints about the consistency of the spoon speed

It is not easy to find a high-quality reel at a price under $100 because materials and manufacturing are not cheap. However, the Penn can create such a product that has both appropriate quality and an affordable price. Penn Battle II is a series of 8 models with different gear ratio, line capacity, and drag power. You may choose tech specs according to your needs.

Primary Material:
Metal
Gear Ratio:
6.2
Warranty:
1-year limited
PROS

Metal mechanics

Durable construction

Shielded ball bearings

Approved for saltwater

Versatile

Cons

Not recommended for entry-level anglers

Several complaints about reel balance and backlashes

Buyer’s Guide – How to Choose the Best Saltwater Spinning Reel

In the buying guide below, I explain the main factors to consider when buying a spinning reel for saltwater. Not every reel on the market worth your money. To get maximum performance, you need to look a little bit deeper into the tech specs.

Weight

Every ounce of the reel’s weight matters. If your spinning reel is heavy, after several hours of casting and retrieving you will feel the noticeable fatigue in the neck and back. The next day, you will probably beg someone to fetch an ointment to relieve the pain. To avoid such unpleasant adventures, pick the most lightweight reel possible. The optimal spinning reel weight is about 15-35 ounces.

Material and Corrosion Protection

Saltwater causes the metal to corrode faster than fresh water. That’s why high-quality saltwater reels are made of corrode-resistant, lightweight, and hard metals. The construction should be sturdy and rigid enough to reduce the torque that running fish puts on it. The best metals for saltwater are stainless steel and machined aluminum. Magnesium and graphite are an option for components like side plates, but not for the whole construction.

Even if your reel is made from corrosion-resistant metal, you should rinse it with fresh water after each fishing trip. From time to time add a drop of oil to the mechanical parts. This will prolong the life of the reel.

Gear Ratio and Ball Bearings

In the tech specs, you probably noticed numbers of gear ratio like 6:1. Gears in a reel multiply your movement. For example, if your reel has gear ratio 6:1 this means that when you rotate a handle once, the spoon spins six times.

Let’s compare different gear ratios.

AspectLow gear ratioMediumHigh gear ratio
ExampleBelow 5:1Between 5:1 and 7:1Above 7:1
How hard is to rotate the handleEasierNormalHarder
Speed of retrieving the same amount of lineSlowAverageFast
Recommended fishing type and baitsBottom fishing, deep crankbaits, deep water spinner baits, swimming jigsShallow spinnerbaits, squarebill crankbaits, shallow castable umbrella rigsTopwaters, jerkbaits, live lining baits, Carolina rigs, shaky heads, lipless crankbaits

Choose the gear ratio according to your fishing preferences. For example, the best saltwater jigging reel is Penn 9500 Slammer III with its gear ratio 4,2:1.

In the saltwater reel, all gears and ball bearings should be metal, no plastic parts. Great materials are stainless steel and duralumin (aluminum plus copper, manganese, and magnesium). It is better to choose a reel with shielded ball bearings, which are protected from water invasion.

Line Capacity

Saltwater species, even small ones, can go quite deep and make long races. A good saltwater reel can hold enough line to follow the fish. The optimal line capacity is above 300 yards.

Braid and Mono Line

There are two most commonly used lines in fishing – braided and monofilament. Some anglers try to choose between them, some use both types. In the table below, I summarize the difference between the line types.

FeaturesBraidMono
Angler levelLearning how to make special knots is time-consuming. Better for accomplish anglers.Beginner-friendly, it is easy to cut and tie.
PriceRather priceyCost-effective
VisibilitySome fish may notice the lineAlmost invisible in the clear water
DurabilityExtremely durableNot for long-term use. Requires frequent replacement
StrengthStrong enough to pull fish quickly. Not stretchy. Knots are weaker than with mono.Knots are strong and shock-resistant.
Casting distanceCD is longer because the line has a smaller diameter.CD is shorter. Due to the thicker diameter, you can’t hold many lines on the spoon.

Compared to braid, mono is more popular. However, many anglers choose a braided line for long casting distance, which is great for inshore fishing. Almost every modern reel can be spooled with braided line. Some models offer special accessories like bails with no gaps in which the line tangles, limit slippage. They are not necessary, but pleasant addition to the whole reel performance.

Drag

Saltwater spinning reels come with multi-disc drag system. It is located on the top of the spoon, right under the drag adjustment knob. When a big and furious fish on the run almost breaks the reel and stretch the line to its max, the drag lets a fish pull line from the reel. This protection is required in the big game fishing. In other fishing types, drag also will be helpful, because you never know how strong will be your trophy.

The recommended drag range is 30-50 lb.; the optimal material is carbon fiber. On the high quality reels for saltwater, the drag should have cutouts on the reel spoon for cooling the air while the spoon is spinning.

Final thoughts

It is hard to choose only one recommended model from the list of top picks. So, I want to highlight three reels:

  1. Accurate SR-30 Spinning Reel has incredible performance. If you have a budget, go for this one without hesitations.
  2. Penn 9500 Slammer III is the go-to option if you like different types of fishing.
  3. Penn Battle II is the best saltwater reel under 100$ that offers excellent quality for the price.

Feel free to share this useful article with your friends and fishing buddies. I wish you good luck on your next fishing trip!

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By Chris Hayes
about author

My name is Chris and I am a hunter, outdoorsman, survivalist of 36 years old from Bosie, Idaho. Being a participant of Ihea-USA, I like big game hunting most of all, especially hunting white-tailed deer. Except hunting, I’m also keen on fishing and gaining new knowledge how to survive in the wild nature. As a professional hunter, I do not stop improving upon own hunting skills and testing new gear, equipment, hardware and weapons. I write articles to share my experience and knowledge with the readers who motivate me for more. For any additional information contact me at [email protected]