The market range continues to grow every year, and it becomes harder to make the right choice without knowing the basics. Below, I explain what to look for in an ideal spinning reel and how to choose the best one according to your fishing style.
A manufacturer’s brand defines the quality of your fishing tool. Even if the particular reel is made in Asia, the head company is still in charge of quality control. In my list, I include only brands with a long history of tackle production and a solid reputation among anglers. Shimano
, Abu Garcia, Okuma
, and KastKing are market leaders loved by both beginners and professionals. Their reels are well machined, they last long even under harsh use.
Manufacturers use aluminum frames for ultralight spinning because this metal is both durable and lightweight. If you see a stainless steel frame, the model is not ultra light. The only part that can be made from steel is the ball bearing system, which doesn’t add much weight.
The small reel weight makes it portable and protects your hands from overworking. To reduce the weight is extremely important if you have weak joints or back, like me. By experience, I can tell that if you cast and retrieve all day long, the next day your back will be tired. If the reel was too heavy, it also can hurts. The lightest model from my list is Abu Garcia Revo. Anglers buy it not only for themselves, but also for women, children, teenagers, and the elders.
Gear ratio for speed
Spinning reels were invented to manage lightweight and small lures. When you operate such lures, you need to cast and retrieve quickly; this is why the spool in spinning reel turns faster than in the baitcaster, and the gear ratio is higher.
The drag system in a reel spins the spool multiple times for each rotation of the handle. Abu Garcia Revo has the most productive gear. Its ratio is 6.2:1, which means that when you turn the handle once, the spool spins 6.2 times.
If the spool spins quickly, you can faster pull a fish from the water. This is convenient for small and medium fish like panfish. When you are catching panfish, faster casting and retrieving will give you more trophies at a time. When it comes to heavy fish, the speed is less important than the power of drag.
Drag System and anti-reverse for better handling fish
The drag system handles the fish and prevents it from breaking the line. When a fish pulls too hard, the drag allows a small amount of line to go out the spool. This way you can control the distance between you and a fish. The anti-reverse holds the handle so it cannot rotate backward. I think that anti-reverse sometimes does more harm than good because turning back the handle can save both the line and a trophy. However, this is a matter of preferences.
Drag power is measured in pounds. This number should be more than your target fish. For a spinning reel, it is more than enough to have 10-20lb drag. The overall construction of a reel will not allow you to handle monster fish. If you want to go after large catfish or trout, you should choose a baitcaster.
In the list, the KastKing III has the most powerful drag – 39.5lb. This is maybe too much. The Abu Garcia Orra SX gives an optimal number – 12lb.
Ball Bearings for smooth casting
The ball bearing system in a reel erases extra vibration and makes the casting smoother. There are three factors that you should take into account:
- The number of bearings. The bigger is better.
- The material. The ball bearings should be metal, no plastic parts allowed.
- The protection from rust.
High-quality reels usually have stainless steel bearings. In my list, two models have the most advanced ball bearing system:
- Abu Garcia Revo Premier Spinning Reel is equipped with 11+1 stainless steel ball bearings for flawless casting. They are protected from corrosion due to the material; however, they are not shielded. I recommend using this reel for freshwater conditions.
- KastKing Sharky III with 10+1 double shielded ball bearings made from stainless steel. This reel will be a workhorse for saltwater fishing.
Do not forget to keep all mechanics well-lubricated and it will serve you for many years.
Other important features to consider
Here are some features that make a reel easier to use:
- An ergonomic handle. The handle should be metal or made from other rigid material.
- A sleek body. For hard conditions, it is better to choose a close-faced design. It protects the mechanics well.
- Well-lubricated internals. Re-lubrication takes your time.
- An oscillating spool that makes the line even. The fewer line tangles you have, the better is your fishing experience.
- High line capacity. If a spool can hold many lines, you do not need to rewind it after each several sessions.
- A braid-ready spare spool. For each line type, you need a spool. If you prefer braid, I recommend braid-ready models. With them, you can tie braid directly to the spool without mono backing.
The last feature is a warranty that covers manufacturer’s defects. Okuma and KastKing reels are backed with a one-year limited warranty. Also, these companies provide the most beginner-friendly customer support. The support team is available and ready to help.
What is an ultralight reel used for?
Such reels are quite popular among professionals; therefore, even if you think that it is not applicable for you, do not judge too quickly. After all, they are perfect for the same-named fishing style. So, whenever you are up for something light, remember, this special fishing reel is very light and perfect for throwing little lures. Plus, it is way more suitable for small-sized fish.
If you often fish, having one of those reels in your collection will pay off once without a doubt.
What is the best lightweight reel brand?
Based on the recent brand reviews and ratings, one of the leaders is Shimano with its Stradic CI4+ model. This fishing reel was developed by Shimano, a well-known producer with an excellent reputation and the highest quality products.
The company is well known for producing durable yet lightweight fishing reels. Anglers from around the world choose Shimano products for their outstanding characteristics and great value for money.
Stradic CI4+ was developed recently but has already earned popularity and become a best-selling reel. It is very convenient to use due to its remarkably lightweight nature. Moreover, you will enjoy the fishing process in freshwater and saltwater alike. It is perfectly suitable for both of them.
Which spinning reel is considered the lightest?
In July 2020, Abu Garcia revealed their innovative spinning reel named Zenon, which, without a doubt, is considered the lightest in the world.
Zenon’s weight is only 4.9 ounces (size 20) and 5.4 ounces (size 30), which became achievable after eliminating several empty spaces. Other distinguishing features include a small body compared to rotor and spool, a single gearbox without a side plate, and an integrated frame.
In addition to that, the reel is paired with a light rod. So, this fishing reel is unbelievably comfortable, even if you need to use it all day long. It fits well in the hands and provides excellent endurance.
Which of the light fishing reels is the best for catching a trout?
One of the best ultralight reels for trout fishing is Daiwa BG Trout. This aluminum spinning reel only weighs 2.54 lbs. It is available in different models to meet all fishermen’s needs.
The Daiwa company developed a reel that stands out with its high quality and forms customers’ top choice. It is suitable for both fresh and salt waters. Significant features of the Daiwa BG Trout reel are:
- Compact design
- Body and side cover are HardBodyz
- Dynamic Cut Aluminum ABS line spool
- Water-resistant dragging system
- Anti-reverse system
Which fishing reel among the light ones is the best for catching crappie?
Based on customers’ feedback and experts’ reviews, one of the leading reels for crappie fishing is Shimano Stradic CI4+ 2500 FB HG. Despite feeling light in your hands, this reel is quite tough. It will not break or cause any problems, even if you need to use it excessively to get a fish with a temper.
Plus, there are some fascinating advantages of the Shimano Stradic CI4+ 2500 FB HG:
- Magnumlite rotor
- Remarkably strong
- Renowned quality
- Body made of strong carbon material
- Pleasantly smooth operation
- Waterproof protection of the core
- Extremely durable
What ultralight spinning reel is the best to use in saltwater?
Penn Battle II 1000 is a great lightweight reel for saltwater, and its weight is only 8.1 oz.
Designed specifically for saltwater fishing, it has a full metal body and rotor. There is an HT-100 carbon fiber that ensures the reel’s remarkable durability. Plus, it is perfectly convenient to use in saltwater as well as freshwater.
Another great option is the Penn Fierce III saltwater fishing reel with a weight of 7.8 oz. Its metal body and side plates add to wire bail made of thick aluminum.
Is it possible to catch a bass with an ultralight fishing reel?
Yes, it is possible. However, for catching bass, the size of the reel has to be over 1000 and 2000. And, of course, that would require some luck and skills.
If that is your goal, below is some advice:
- Choose a reel that has the largest spool diameter.
- Besides, pay close attention to the sharpness of the hook.
- Try turning off the anti-reverse function for better control over the pressure.
What kind of rod suits an ultralight fishing reel?
There are several rods well-suitable for such a type of reel. One of them, for example, is Okuma Celilo Ultralight Graphite Trout Rod. It has good value for cost, which makes it so popular.
The rod has outstanding characteristics:
- Made of sensitive graphite blank including a top-quality handle and a stainless-steel reel seat
- Offers different length models: 4 1/2′, 5′, 6′ or 6 1/2′
Are there any left-handed ultralight reels?
Yes, the majority of manufacturers cover most of the customers’ needs. That includes comfortable reels for left-handed people.
So, if needed, you can search for left-handed spinning reels online. There are usually plenty of them on Amazon and eBay.
Thanks to its spectacular performance, the KastKing Sharky III is the best all-around ultraweight spinning reel. It is easy to control and designed with anglers’ needs in mind. Even if you are just starting up, with a little practice, you will cast without a hinge.